By Laksiri Fernando –
I have received a surprising letter from Mr KT Rajasingham, the Editor of the Asian Tribune and wish to publish his email letter and my reply to him as they are testimonies to the ongoing censorship and perhaps indicating what more to come in the future in respect of freedom of expression, academic freedom and the rights of academics. As they are self-evident, no further comments are added.
Letter from KT Rajasingham
Dear Dr. Laksri Fernando,
Thank you very much for contributing your articles and report to Asian Tribune.
I now find that your reports are no more exclusive to Asian Tribune.
Furthermore, I observed the gradual change in your position which is gradually developing contrary to the stance of Asian Tribune.
Therefore, I have decided to inform with much reluctance that I am no more interested in publishing your pieces In Asian Tribune.
I am sorry, I am informing this with a heavy heart.
Thanks and regards.
Reply to KT Rajasingham
Mr KT Rajasingham
11 November 2012
Dear Mr Rajasingham,
I was surprised to receive your email this morning informing me that you “have decided to inform with much reluctance” that you are “no more interested in publishing” my pieces in the Asian Tribune. You have also added that you are “informing this with a heavy heart.”
First, I like to thank you for giving me the opportunity so far to express my views in the Asian Tribune. So far I have contributed over hundred articles to the Asian Tribune and as you would remember, the first one was titled “UN Intervention is Necessary in Sri Lanka” dated 31 December 2005. In that very article I criticized the President’s comments on the ‘Tamil homeland concept’ as insensitive. The second article was a response to you on 27 January 2006 titled “Emerging Political Scenario in Sri Lanka: A Response to Rajasingham” persuading you to work for a united Sri Lanka and for a common cause unhesitatingly when you in fact were extremely disillusioned with the Sinhala majoritarian policies including the government policy.
I did of course supported President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the government during his first term to end the war and when he contested for the second time, but by always marinating my independence, distance and commitment to democratic principles and policies, including fairness to the minority communities. This was one reason why I was reluctant to write his Biography when you proposed it with his consent. It could have compromised my independence. I cannot recollect any instance that you didn’t publish any of my articles sent to you, except my opposition to the 18th Amendment. In fact you opened a special column for me with easy access for anyone to go through my previous articles. This column was given much prominence.
It is of course correct to note that I have become a strong critic of the government policies for obvious reasons after the 18th Amendment, and irrespective of this situation you have been so far publishing my articles without reluctance. I have never been writing to the Asian Tribune exclusively except on few instances where you particularly requested me to do so. My articles to the Asian Tribune also were published in The Island and Daily News or other web based newspapers almost throughout.
I feel sorry if you have come under pressure from certain quarters not to publish my articles as they are critical of the government and government policies. I am led to presume this is the case since you clearly state that you are writing to me ‘with reluctance’ and ‘with a heavy heart.’ I need not to tell you that (if that is the case) it would constitute a major issue of freedom of expression and it’s opposite, Censorship. It would be worse if it is self-censorship.
I however thank you for writing to me without merely using the guillotine. Please note that I have to go public on this issue.
With kind regards,
Dr. Laksiri Fernando