The Sunday Leader

Controversy Over Flag At Demo

By Waruni Karunarathne

Recently  an altered version of the National flag which did not have the two vertical stripes of green and saffron, were used by several protesters supporting the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa in front of the parliament and outside the Bribery Commission. The displaying of the altered flag in place of the National flag created a lot of controversy as the flag contradicts the National flag in the constitution of Sri Lanka.

Among the protesters were several Members of Parliament (MP) who were waving the controversial flag. UPFA Provincial Councilor Udaya Gammanpila and SLFP MP Dullas Alahapperuma were among those visible among the protesters waving the altered flag. When The Sunday Leader inquired about this demonstration, Gammanpila said that they had no intention of distorting the flag and he had no idea that the flag was displayed without the two vertical strips. He added that it was a public protest and therefore could not respond as to what was the purpose of the people who promoted that version of the flag.

“If those vertical strips are missing, we cannot call it the National flag. We had no intention of distorting the national flag. When we were in the protest we did not check as to whether the strips are missing or not,” he added. He insisted that it was done by a group of unknown people without their knowledge.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader General Secretary of Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) Galaboda Aththe Gnanasara Thero said that they have to respect the National flag in the constitution. However he added that the flag that was displayed during those protests was the Sinhalese flag that was hoisted by Wariyapola Sri Sumangala thero in 1815 after taking down the Union Jack. He added that this version of the flag is promoted by a group called Swarana Hansa Foundation. He also said that there are no minorities in the country but one united nation under one flag without divisions. “After the war, they say that we are a one country, one nation and based on that they are promoting this flag,” he added.

When The Sunday Leader contacted Gallage Punyawardena, the founder of the Swarna Hansa Foundation, he said that they have continued to hoist this version of the flag for over 10 years during the memorial day of Wariyapola Sri Sumangala thero that falls on 2nd of March.

According to him, that was the version of the flag that was hoisted as the first flag of the independent Sri Lanka. However he added that at the time, since there were several demands from the minority community to display their representation in the national flag, first Prime Minister of the independent Sri Lanka the late D. S. Senanayake appointed a committee of six persons to advice the government on the design of a new national flag. Accordingly they introduced the two vertical strips in green and saffron to the lion flag which according to him was only a trick to be on good books of the minority.

The late S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike (Chairmen), the  late Sir John Kotalawela, the late J.R. Jayewardene, the late T.B. Jayah, the late  Dr. L.A. Rajapakse, the late G.G. Ponnambalam, the late Senator S. Nadesan, and the late  Dr. Senarath Paranavithana (Secretary) were in that committee according to Punyawardena. Even the late  S. Nadesan who was in the committee had opposed the flag with two strips on the ground that it might create division.

He insisted that the existing national flag have created a division among the races as they are being divided into majority and minority groups in the flag itself and added that people should not continue to feel that division. “Many people have understood that we need to be under one flag that do not promote division and therefore regardless of what is in the constitution people seem to be following this version of the flag. Many people including many MPs have been waving the Sinhalese flag during those protests which indicates that the people do not want to be divided into three groups,” he added. Punyawardena also condemned the statement made by Leader of the Nawa Sama Samaja Party (NSSP) Dr. Wickramabahu Karunaratne comparing the Sinhalese flag to a dog flag and demanded that he retracts the statement which is offensive.

Dr. Wickramabahu Karunaratne told The Sunday Leader that this version of the flag is not the national flag and reiterated that in the dead background the lion looks like a dog. He added that it is illegal to alter the national flag and only a traitor would do that. “It is a hooligan flag hoisted to protect people who had been involved in corruption,” he added. Therefore, he said that it is necessary for the new government to declare a clear position against this fascist activity without letting this spread.

“It is an irresponsible and ridiculous act of the supporters of the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. They are a bunch of racists who are trying to take the country backward,” speaking to The Sunday Leader, Democratic People’s Front (DPF) leader and National Executive Council member Mano Ganesan said. He added that those two strips represent the Tamil and Muslim minority of the country and therefore it is important to have the two strips in the national flag to recognise the representation of the minority. He also added that the altering the national flag is a clear violation of laws of the country. “Nobody can distort the national flag,” he reiterated.

The current Sri Lankan flag as in the Sri Lankan constitution has a reddish rectangular panel bordered by yellow containing a yellow lion passant holding a sword upright and four pipal leaves, one in each corner, and next to the hoist two vertical stripes, green and orange, also bordered yellow together. According to the descriptions, the lion in the flag represents the Sinhala race, the sword of the lion represents the sovereignty of the country, the lion’s tail signifies the noble eight fold path of Buddhism.

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 Muslim race, the border round the flag, which is yellow in color, represents other minor races, the bo-leaves at the four corners of the flag represent Buddhism and stand for the four virtues namely Kindness, Friendliness, Happiness and Equanimity and the maroon colored portion of the flag manifests the other minor religions.

9 Comments for “Controversy Over Flag At Demo”

  1. Lima

    BETTER ARREST THOSE GUYS WHO ARE HOLDING THAT WRONG FLAG ON THAT DAY , IF A NORMAL LAYMAN WOULD HAVE HAD THEN HE IS BEHIND THE BARS , WHERE THE LAW TO PUT ALL THESE BEHIND THE BARS

    EVEN FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT STILL THESE RACIST ARE OUTSIDE

    • Sunil Perera

      The Government (some racist are in) should take serious action otherwise racism will spread. At this juncture where corruption is being investigated, opportunity is favourable for diversity

  2. The two stripes of orange and green, represent Tamil speaking people and Muslims living in the country. This is in the flag to show that it is not only Sinhalese but also others live in that diverse country. The colours have nothing to do with majority and minority. Such an interpretation is racist.

    Even as one nation we are diverse people is the message.

    The lion in the flag was made to look like a dog perhaps to show that all the people in the country are dogs.

    Court action should be taken against the racist culprits

    • ranjith chandrasekera

      Justin’s remarks that lion made to look like a dog perhaps to show that all the people in the country are dogs. In that context do you have any doubt that Sri Lankans are dogs? If not please refrain from such comments.

  3. E N Gland

    The Lion Flag with the Four Bo leaves in the four corners was the original Flag of the country, this is not an altered Flag.
    The altered Flag is the one with the two coloured stripes near the head of the Lion

  4. Raja Perera

    If some people are allowed to sing the national anthem in their language, those who wish to do so should be allowed to carry a modified flag. what’s good for the goose is good for the gander !

  5. what’s wrong carring Sinhale flag????????

  6. lankaeu

    I f you live in europe now days. There are many rassist nazist etc parites . they have many flags close to their national flags. How many sri lankans protests about it. certain politicians in UK , germany, sweden , france etc openly says NO to immigrants, there are papers, tv programes, etc etc regarding those matters. same time thousands of people from middle east and Africa dies in sea trying to enter EU illegaly…. Sri lanka try to live as one country no need a special flags. You have your relatives risking their lives to enter europe etc too. Jesus loves you all as BUddha and others

  7. Yasin

    “The bo-leaves at the four corners of the flag represent Buddhism and stand for for the four virtues namely Kindness, Friendliness, Happiness and Equanimity:
    As far as I know, and taking into view of the recent incidents involving men in saffron robes, who are unaware of this and their verbal abuse and physical intimidation against other faiths are deplorable and have become the international focal point and alarm.

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