Chinese enters Lankan market as a language of communication

Chinese enters Lankan market as a language of communication

Colombo, September 8 (newsin.asia): Is Chinese beginning to replace Tamil in promoting products or serving customers in the Sri Lankan market? Looking at the Anchor butter packet being sold in the Sri Lankan market one might begin to think so.

Packets of Anchor butter, imported from Fonterra Brands in New Zealand, now carry  information in English, Sinhala and Chinese but not Tamil, though the latter is one of the official languages of Sri Lanka. And Chinese is given precedence over Sinhala which is the language of more than 75% of Sri Lanka’ population.

This is leading people using the social media to ask if Chinese is in the process of replacing the local languages.

Given the increasing number of Chinese in the urban areas,  thanks to the many high-end infrastructure projects being implemented by Chinese companies with loans given to the Sri Lankan government by China, this could very well be so in the not too distant future people say, though only jokingly.

However what is bothering the Minister of National Integration, Reconciliation, and Official Languages, Mano Ganeshan, is not the inclusion of Chinese on the packet but the absence of Tamil.

He has told the media that he has instructed the Commissioner of Official Languages to look into the lapse, though Anchor is a private enterprise and not a public sector company.

Ganeshan said that having information on a product in English and Sinhalese and not Tamil is a violation of the National Language Policy.

But he was quick to clarify that he has no issue with information being printed in Chinese (given the expanding Chinese population with no knowledge of English or any other Lankan language). But it should not replace local languages he added.

Ganeshan said that if the company importing and selling Anchor in Sri Lanka does not rectify the flaw he will personally take action. He refrained from specifying the nature of the action.

New Zealand’s Anchor and Ratthi brands control 60 per cent of Sri Lanka’s milk powder consumption market which is estimated at 85,000 metric tonnes (MT) annually, industry sources said.

The balance comes from Lakspray (12 per cent) and Nespray (8 per cent) which is also sourced from New Zealand, the sources said.

The Fonterra group which sends the milk to Sri Lanka was in deep trouble in Sri Lanka in 2013 when it was rumored that its milk was contaminated. The New Zealand government had to intervene to settle the issue.

Sri Lanka is heavily dependent on imported milk and milk products. The island produces just 10,000 MT of the country’s total milk powder requirement.