Why the Messenger?
The Commonwealth Press Union (CPU) which is representative of the press of 54 member nations paid a much deserved resounding tribute to the new government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for its commitment to press freedom.
The CPU was in the vanguard of the fight-back by editors and working journalists, and publishers standing shoulder to shoulder in recent years when the government of the day resorted to every archaic law in the book, and every baton in its possession to pummel the press into submission.

Quite politically correctly, the resolution passed unanimously by the CPU on Friday at the conclusion of its celebrations, in Sri Lanka, left out some of the interesting issues that the Prime Minister broached during his speech at the opening ceremony a few days earlier.

The Prime Minister said 'The balance between seeking greater media freedom, and ensuring that those who wish to oppose the peace process do not misrepresent the government, is a challenge that has to be faced by both the government, and the media. Neither of us can stay away from this responsibility.''

In the paragraph that was preceding this quote, he was referring to the publication of unsubstantiated news, as well as deliberate misrepresentation of issues, saying this could damage the peace process. While there is no question that publication of unsubstantiated news and deliberate misrepresentation of facts definitely cannot and should not pass muster, is the long list of publication of substantiated news, such as the import of a duty free radio station by the rebel LTTE, the opening of law courts, and the imposition of taxes etc., to be similarly considered deplorable?

Could substantiated fears of the dismemberment of this nation be treated as 'deliberate misrepresentation of the facts?" On the other hand, couldn't the despatch of party MPs to Singapore when constitutional reforms granting greater autonomy to the North and the East are pending, be 'causing serious damage to the peace process?" Also, when the government's chief negotiator G. L. Peiris tells the Commonwealth delegates that the LTTE is transforming itself from a terrorist organisation to a political party, is it an act of 'opposing the peace process'' if one asked which political party in Sri Lanka smuggled in anti-aircraft weapons? Will that be to oppose the peace process?
Mass Communications Minister Imtiaz Bakeer Markar told delegates at the Kandy CPU sessions that "democracy may just be the victim of its own success.''

He expressed the view that this was partly due to people's expectations reposed upon various governments to deliver the goods, and partly due to the searchlight of the media highlighting the failures of government. In a sense, this take on democracy is true. Democracy can self destruct, particularly when one is dealing with an organisation that is fascist by its very nature.

While we all dwell on the rather esoteric minutiae of the workings of democracy, one man maintains a stony studied silence on the very peace process that the Prime Minister was taking about. He is the man who told his cadres at his Martyr's Day speech - "the thirst of the Tiger is the nation of Tamil Eelam.''

He then proceeded to leave that particular bit out of the rendition of the speech that was issued to the international community. Not all the Akashis, the Armitages, the Helgasens and the Bellamys of the world have been able to get a clarification from him on that. Who then is, in fact, opposing the peace process?
And why blame the Messenger?

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