67th Independence Day - February 4, 2015:
National flag unites all communities
We obtained our own
identity and our destiny would not be determined for us but determined
We remember that the Independence of Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was known)
was obtained on February 4, 1948 from British Rule, by smooth transition
after India gained its independence.
Our patriots declared that we are a people created equal, free to
think and worship as we feel. We were no longer colonists. We obtained
our own identity and our destiny would not be determined for us but our
destiny will be determined by us.
We honour our patriots who contributed towards that endeavour. There
shall be one law for all. The territorial law of Sri Lanka shall be the
same for the entire country.
The National Flag of Sri Lanka represents the country and her
heritage as rallying device that integrates the minorities with the
majority race. The Sri Lanka National Flag is an improvisation of the
civil standard of the last king of Sri Lanka, Sri Wickrama Rajasingha.
The civil standard had a passant royal lion with a sword in its right
fore paw at the center, and a bo-leaf on each of the four corners on a
plain border. When Sri Lanka gained her independence from Great Britain
on February 4, 1948, it was the Lion Flag of the last king of Sri Lanka
was hoisted once again. The first Prime Minister of independent Sri
Lanka, D.S. Senanayake, appointed a committee to advise the government
on the design of a new national flag.
The design approved by the committee in February 1950 retained the
symbol of the lion with the sword and the bo-leaves from the civil
standard of the last king of Sri Lanka, with the inclusion of two
vertical stripes green and orange in colour. The significance of each
symbol of the national flag is -
The lion in the flag represents the Sinhala race. The sword of the
lion represents the sovereignty of the country. Curly hair on the lion's
head indicates religious observance, wisdom and meditation. The beard
denotes purity of words.
The handle of the sword highlights the elements of water, fire, air
and earth. The nose indicates intelligence. The two front paws purport
to purity in handling wealth. The vertical stripe of orange represent
the minority Tamil race and the green vertical stripe the minority
The border round the flag, which is yellow in colour, represents
other minor races. The bo-leaves at the four corners of the flag
represent Buddhism and its influence on the nation. They also stand for
the four virtues - Kindness, Friendliness, Happiness and Equanimity.
The maroon coloured portion of the flag manifests the other minor
religions. The national flag was hoisted for the first time on March 3,
A National Anthem should be sung in its original version in the
original language it was composed. All citizens should learn the meaning
whatever race they belong. The national Anthem should be sung in Sri
Lanka only in Sinhala. One national anthem, one nation.
Article 7 of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of
Sri Lanka states, “The National Anthem of the Republic of Sri Lanka
shall be Sri Lanka Matha, the words and music of which are set out in
the Third Schedule”.
The third schedule contains only the words in Sinhala. As such the
only valid and legal version of the National Anthem is the official
Sinhala version. Sri Lanka's literacy rate is very high, all citizens
can know the meaning of the national anthem and sing it within an hour.
A national anthem is a patriotic musical composition that evokes and
eulogizes the history and traditions of its people, recognised either by
a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention
through use by the people.
Certain etiquette may be involved in the playing of a country's
anthem. These usually involve military honours, standing up, removing
headwear etc. In diplomatic situations the rules may be very formal.
Sri Lanka Matha is the national anthem of Sri Lanka.
The words and music were written by Ananda Samarakoon in 1940 in the
Sinhala language, and was officially adopted as the national anthem on
November 22, 1951 by a committee headed by Sir Edwin Wijeyeratne.
The demands of an outraged community have been met. We have achieved
a victory for a safer world, for our democratic values, and for a
stronger Sri Lanka. We fought and liberated the people held in hostage,
what we achieved and what we have to do now to advance the peace and
together with the people, forge a future of freedom, progress and
Finally, we have averted the wider war this conflict might well have
sparked. Now, we're entering a new phase - building that peace - and
there are formidable challenges, the foremost amongst them is the
democratic process, economic development and the Rule of Law.
Development & Foreign Policy
We must build and develop our country. For that to happen, the
European Union must plan for tomorrow, not just today. Our friends the
United States, China, India and the United Kingdom must assist us in our
endeavour. They must provide most of the resources for this effort, but
it is in Sri Lanka's interest to do our part as well. We must pave a
path to a prosperous shared future, a unifying magnet more powerful than
the pull of hatred and destruction that has threatened to tear us apart.
Challenges. Sri Lanka still faces great challenges in this world, but
we look forward to meeting them.
Patriotism. Patriotism is the ground norm of Civilized Society. As
citizens we owe allegiance to the Constitution of Sri Lanka. Civil
allegiance is the duty of loyalty and obedience which a person owes to
the State of which he is a citizen.
Peace. We learnt that however much we strive for peace; we need a
strong defence capability where a peaceful approach fails. Whatever the
dangers of the action we take, the dangers of inaction are far greater.
We must work as a community to ensure that everyone not just a
privileged few get the collective ability to further the individual's
interests. The governing idea of modern social democracy is community
founded on the principles of social justice.
That people should rise according to merit not birth; that the test
of any decent society is not the contentment of the wealthy and strong,
but the commitment to the poor and weak. But values aren't enough. The
mantle of leadership comes at a price; the courage to learn and change;
to show how values that stand for all ages can be applied in a way
relevant to each age. We learnt that equality is about equal worth and
not equal outcomes.
We are not alone in this. All round the world governments are
struggling with the same problems. The program of reform is huge. We
must have co-operation, determination and consensus.
We are a community of people, whose self interests and mutual
interest at crucial points merge and that it is through a sense of
justice that community is born and nurtured. This is the moment to bring
the faiths closer together in understanding of our common values and
heritage a source of unity and strength.
By the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more together than
we can alone. We must reach beyond our fears and our divisions to a new
time of great and common purpose. Let us trace the roots of affirmative
action. Let us determine what it is and what it isn't. Let us see where
it has worked and where it hasn't and ask ourselves what we need to do
The writer is an Attorney at Law (USA and Sri Lanka), Solicitor
(England and Wales), Barrister and Solicitor (Australia) and a
Consultant Advisor on Resolution of Conflict, international waters and