28 November, 2020

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No More HE Crap: An Independent Media Sounds Sooooo Good

By Sudat Pasqual

Sudat Pasqual

Sudat Pasqual

I love the aftermath of elections in our country. It is all about upholding our rights and dignity. Those lovable leaders we elect just can’t seem to wait till they can give us all these goodies.

The just concluded presidential election was a little more entertaining than usual because of the entire cross over drama and the drama kings and queens involved in the process. There was something in it for everyone.

One of the promises by the winning candidate was that he will ensure the independence and the freedom of the media and there was also a bit of a murmur about investigating the killings and disappearances of journalists during the Rajapaksa rule. Good to hear. The only thing is that we have heard similar promises before and after elections and then its business as usual. And just in case someone in Sri Lanka is not aware, since independence in 1948 all of Sri Lanka’s governments have been formed by either the United National Party (UNP) or the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP); on their own or as a coalition with other smaller parties. So, by extension any curtailment of media independence has been done by one of these parties.

I say we call the President, Mr. President. No more HE crap

I say we call the President, Mr. President. No more HE crap

Coincidentally, the new cabinet of President Sirisena is mainly made up of (you guessed it); members of the UNP and the SLFP. That’s right; the same 2 parties who have done all the killings, intimidation and the involuntary exiling of journalists since 1948. While the Rajapaksa regime may have been the most obnoxious in terms of suppression of the media and committing violent acts against the media, the 1980’s were also quite harrowing for media personnel. President Ranasinghe Premadasa was not a great fan of the non-President Premadasa adoring media. Many non-President loving journalists lost their lives, livelihoods and were hounded out of the country during both these presidencies.

The killings and the intimidation were swept under the carpet and the murderers and the intimidators lived happily ever after. Some might even have had their careers enhanced by their deeds. That sadly is where we are at this present moment in time.

But hope springs eternal, especially if you have lost a loved one or had to make a hasty retreat out of your own country to save your life. A new President elected mainly on the promise of stopping the abuse and bringing about a just and fair society naturally brings fresh hope.

Unfortunately, hope can be fleeting; a mirage in an uncaring environment. That is the down side. There is an upside to this whole sorry mess as well, but it will require some intestinal fortitude and solidarity from the brotherhood of journalists. Positive change can be brought about by a few simple acts

Let’s start by asking our government, no let’s TELL our government that we don’t need a Minister to handle us. Let’s tell them we are not going to recognize the legitimacy of such a ministry because the government’s track record on media freedom is abysmal and to expect the media to believe that the government will guarantee them the freedom to act freely regardless of political affiliation or beliefs is imbecilic. Let’s also tell the government that if they are serious about ensuring the freedom of the press, state owned media institutions must be relinquished to the private sector or handed over to independent entities as suggested by Uvindu Kurukulasuriya of the Colombo Telegraph.

We must also stop being so deferential to public servants like the President, the Cabinet and members of Parliament. These folks are OUR servants and not the other way around.

I say we call the President, Mr. President. No more HE crap.

Ministers will be addressed as Mr. Minister and MP’s will be MP so and so. How many of these guys can even spell honorable, let alone act honorable?

Regardless of financial hardships, if we are to be truly independent we must shun any and all state patronage of the media. We need to make it clear that we will not accept any government handouts.

Also, let’s start supporting each other regardless of political ideology and stop seeking the approval of foreign media organizations. We cannot be independent if we have to appeal to foreigners every time there is a crisis at home.

Let them enjoy their organic, Rain Forest saving, fair trade chocolate lattes in those chic cafés in Oslo, New York, London, Paris and Toronto. I am sure they earned it by covering the suffering of the proletariat in places like the Vanni.

They need us to justify their existence; we want to make a difference.

Here’s to the full Monty.

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Latest comments

  • 9
    0

    In addition to getting rid of the HE crap, let’s also get rid of the “your lordship” crap for the judges. “Your Honour” is the modern version. Interesting, isn’t it how these ultra nationalist yokels still want to be addressed by colonial honorifics?

    • 1
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      Wow…..! Bloody good writing….Thanks Sudat this enlightenment.

    • 2
      1

      Sudat Pasqual –

      “I say we call the President, Mr. President. No more HE crap.”

      Agree, Amarasiri long advocated using the US Terminology, Mr.. President.

      “Ministers will be addressed as Mr. Minister and MP’s will be MP so and so. How many of these guys can even spell honorable, let alone act honorable?”

      Good. Mr, Minister, if the President is Mr. President.

      However, those who committed crimes, need to be punished, by the law. If not, people need to punish them, French Revolution Style.

      I

  • 6
    0

    ‘I say we call the President, Mr. President. No more HE crap’

    I’d agree. You want our politicians to stop being sychophantic, fawning, ingratiating bastards. Come now is that possible?

    In Sinhala there are at least 5 words for the English word ‘You’. And these words are graded in terms of respect from ‘Obavahanse’ down to ‘thopa’. And the use of these words is taken very seriously indeed. Try calling someone ‘umba’ and see where it gets you. Class consciousness, servility and pomposity are endemic in our society.

    Now I am fully aware that terms of respect like Your Highness, Eminence, Honor etc are also used in the English speaking world but they do not carry so much weight and ‘you’ is the common term used in almost every situation.

    As an example of this the former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is just referred to as ‘Gordon Brown’ although strictly speaking he is ‘The Right Honorable Dr James Gordon Brown MA, PhD, MP’.

    How different to our politicians.

  • 4
    1

    We have to eradicate “SIr” culture too. When we have this strong hierarchical identification present in the society, how young ones can think independently.

  • 0
    1

    .

    “I say we call the President, Mr. President. No more HE crap.”
    _________________

    I do not agree, what if the President a “She”?

    :-)

    • 1
      0

      Madam President

    • 1
      0

      You say Madam President.
      That simple

      • 0
        0

        [Edited out]

  • 2
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    I think the public display of worshipping dignitaries must stop too, especially of those in power who call themselves ‘servants of the people’. It is degrading to see proud citizens of a country, who having given such people the power to represent them, end up looking like serfs and vassals of these very same representatives, when they prostrate themselves before them. In bending themselves they also bend their minds in subservience rendering themselves incapable of standing up when such duty holders fail to fulfill their responsibilities.

    I can never forget the humiliating manner in which Pavithra Wanniarachchi prostrated on all fours before MR at some public event. If this culture of worship of power could have warped the mind of a powerful Govermnemnt minister into subservience one can imagine what it had done to the minds of the ordinary citizen! It also explains how the corrupt MR family and the cronies that surrounded it was kept in power for so long by a fawning public. Therefore in order to restore good governance it is not possible to dismantle the politico-legal structures that stand in the way without turning over the psychological soil that allow these structures to spread its roots in the people.

  • 0
    0

    I see that Sudath has done a Sergei Bubka

  • 1
    0

    Yes, no more HE crap, indeed. And while we are about it, let us also do away with referring to the President’s wife as First Lady or to his family as the First Family. In this so called Democratic Socilaist Republic of Sri Lanka, there should be no room for First families!

    To me, it is not merely not right, it is also plain ludicrous that a President to whom power flows from the people whom he solemnly swears to serve, should be elevated to a position from where to lord it over them.

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