FACT CHECK: Is Tamil language replaced by Chinese from public signboards in Sri Lanka? Here’s the truth…

Misleading Social

We have debunked several misleading content, which implied that Tamil language had been replaced by Chinese Mandarin script in some of the key public places in Sri Lanka. Here are few examples: Link 1 | Link 2

On a similar note, photos of a name board, which did not feature Tamil text, was shared once again, especially among Tamil social media users in Sri Lanka. However, Factcrescendo Sri Lanka investigation revealed that this was a temporary signboard and setup by China Harbor Engineering Corporation (CHEC) as part of Colombo Port City construction.

Social Media Posts:

“Welcome to new #SriLanka The #Tamil language is replaced by Mandarin! May be Chinese are going to be the second ethnic community in Sri Lanka” read one of the Tweets which had shared the viral image of the name board.

The image had text in Sinhala (මැද උයන) and Chinese (中央公园) which meant “Central Park” in English can be seen below.

Tweet 

We noticed a number of similar posts being shared among Facebook users as well.

Update : Similar posts highlighting the nameboard were viral again in May 2021 especially in Twitter and below is such a viral tweet with a lot of engagement.

Tweet | Archived

Fact Check 

We noticed a logo along with some Chinese text, at the bottom of the name board, which gave the impression that this could be a private signboard belonging to a Chinese company. 

A keyword search revealed that the logo represents China Harbor Engineering Corporation (CHEC), the construction company in charge of Colombo Port City.

We inspected videos about Colombo Port City and came across a video on the proposed Central Park of the Colombo Port City, which had featured the same location. Here is the full video, titled “Port City Colombo | Sri Lanka” published in the “Travel with Wife” YouTube Channel in January 2020.

Image comparison from a screen capture (38th second) of the above video and the viral images revealed that it is the same location as seen below.

In the video, Chief Landscape Supervisor – Chinthaka Athaudage speaks about beautification plans of the proposed Central Park at the Colombo Port City and explains how his team has overcome the challenges of growing flora and fauna on this environment. He also mentions that Central Park construction is part of phase II development of Colombo Port City.

Hence, it is clear the image is not a recently setup name board and it had been setup by the CHEC construction company to demarcate Central Park Construction site of the Colombo Port City.

In order to get more details about the sign board, we contacted a company official from the Colombo Port City and got the below response from the PR team.

“Port City Colombo is still under construction and all the sign boards erected within the site is for the benefit of the site employees or authorized visitors. 

As the majority of employees are locals, the contractor had used Sinhala language for the signboards while also used English and Chinese as there are considerable number of foreign workers also at the site.

Port City Colombo has not yet been opened for public due to the ongoing construction and when the time it will be opened, all sign boards will be erected as per the government regulations for such boards.

However when this news was published with misinterpretation, Port City Colombo has requested the contractor to remove these sign boards.”

Here is a news report in which CHEC Global website had reported signing ceremony of cooperation agreement on the International Finance Center Complex of Colombo Port City Phase I recently. CHEC has a China Harbor Sri Lanka Regional Company located in Colombo.

Update : In view of the image of the above nameboard being re-shared on social in May 2021 Port City Colombo had published the below clarification confirming that the temporary nameboard was removed back in December 2020.

Conclusion 

From our investigation, it is clear that the viral image used to claim that Tamil language has been omitted from name boards in Sri Lanka is clearly misleading. The name board was set up by the CHEC construction company to demarcate Central Park Construction site of the Colombo Port City.

China Harbor Engineering Corporation (CHEC) had created these temporary site demarcation boards at the Colombo Port City for the benefit of the site employees or authorized visitors. Chinese language was used since there were a number of Chinese workers at the site. 

Colombo Port City officials confirm that it is not yet open for public and once opened all signboards would be erected as per government regulations. Colombo Port City confirms that the temporary nameboard was removed in December 2020

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Title:Is Tamil language replaced by Chinese from public signboards in Sri Lanka? Here’s the truth…

Fact Check By: Sathyajith Subasinghe 

Result: Misleading

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