COLOMBO: The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka's Tamil majority Northern Province, C.V. Wigneswaran, touched off a new political controversy when he said in Jaffna on Monday, that he does not favor Sinhalese-Tamil marriages before the Tamils get equal rights in the country.
Wigneswaran was responding to Provincial Governor Reginold Cooray's suggestion at the 9 th National Scouts Jamboree, that Sinhalese-Tamil marriages be encouraged to bring about national reconciliation.
The Governor was only reflecting a general Sinhelese view that ethnic admixture will obliterate the Sinhalese-Tamil ethnic division, and there will be no basis for the Tamils' seeking a separate ethnic enclave in the North and East of the island.
Perhaps the Governor, who is a Sinhalese, also thought that Chief Minister Wigneswaran would welcome mixed marriages as his two sons are married to Sinhalese. But he was wrong.
Wigneswaran did acknowledge that his sons are married to Sinhalese, but insisted that such marriages should not be encouraged until the minority Tamils attain parity with the majority Sinhalese in terms of rights.
Many in the audience wondered if Wigneswaran has one set of norms for his family and quite another for others, and thought that it was in bad taste to make such an uncharitable remark in a public function in which Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena was the Chief Guest.
However, it subsequently became clear that Wigneswaran was speaking for the Tamils who feel overwhelmed by the Sinhalese especially after the defeat of the LTTE in Eelam War IV. They constantly complain of the "Sinhalization" of their "traditional homeland" the North and East. Inter-marriage ill-fits their concern about self preservation in what they feel is still a hostile ennvironment.
The Tamil daily "Thinakkural" said in an editorial on Wednesday, that the Tamils should be wary of inter- marriages in the post war situation because given the presence of troops of a victorious army composed of another ethnic group,only the down trodden sections of the host community will be trapped into such marriages, as history shows.Given that possibility, Wigneswaran's assertion cannot be dismissed as being unwarranted, the daily said.