British opposition leader Ed Miliband singling out only Tamils to extend his good wishes for Sinhala and Tamil New Year has run into criticism from Sinhalese domiciled in the UK.
“Miliband showed political immaturity by wishing one community when it’s national festival celebrated by both Sinhalese and Tamils”, says Douglas Wickremaratne, President of the Sinhala Association in the United Kingdom.
He went on to praise the Tamil community for their contribution to the British society and vowed to continue to push for a full, independent, international inquiry into the alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sri Lanka.
In the meantime, British Prime Minister David Cameron wished both Sinhala and Tamil communities in his New Year message. He said “I would like to send my best wishes to everyone in Britain, Sri Lanka and around the world celebrating Aluth Avurudda and to all Tamil communities celebrating Puthandu today. It’s a time when millions of people will be coming together with families, friends and neighbours to celebrate their New Year.”
“But it is also a time to remember the fantastic contribution Tamil and Sinhalese communities make to Britain. We see it around us, every single day – in our schools and our hospitals, in the arts and businesses – you play an incredibly important and positive role”, the premier noted.
Cameron also reminded the Sri Lanka government to go further and continue to offer full support to the ongoing UN investigation.
Wickremaratne told The Sunday Island that Miliband and pro-LTTE groups are in full swing. Ed like his brother David seems to be hell bent on supporting the LTTE diaspora at the expense of hundreds and thousands of Sinhala Sri Lankans living in the UK. It is high time that our High Commission educated Ed that it is the Sinhala New Year which is celebrated by the majority of people in Sri Lanka.
Sinhalese living in the UK are shocked at this insult and the ignorance of the Labour leader. Many Sinhala Labour supporters have changed their minds about voting Labour at the elections on May 7, he said.
A senior official in the Sri Lanka High Commission in London said that they have already taken measures to address this issue with Ed Miliband. Writing to Miliband the High Commission corrected him saying that Sinhala and Tamil New Year is an event celebrated by both Sinhala and Tamil community in Sri Lanka and abroad.
High Commission also stressed the point that there is a significant number of Sinhala community in the UK who help the British economy and they were disappointed that the Sinhala community was excluded in Miliband’s New Year message. It also said that under the leadership of newly elected Sri Lankan President Maithreepala Siresena steps have been taken to enhance the betterment and unity of all communities in Sri Lanka and they expect the cooperation of UK to further strengthen National unity.
President of the newly formed British Sri Lankans Association, Sujith Weerasinghe said that Miliband should apologise to the Sinhala community to the mistake he has done. He further said that his intention was to muster Tamil votes for him at the upcoming General Election but he should not forget that there are a lot of Sinhala votes too.
Die-hard Labour party supporter and President of the Janahada Foundation, Sri Lal Dias said that they have pointed out the mistake to Miliband and he will be issuing a new statement today (Sunday) with the correction.