For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
[July 05, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian] Rajpal Abeynayake’s column this time like most of the times, misses the whole point of the argument of Mr. J.C. Weliamuna’s article, which he tried to undermine. The point of Mr. Weliamuna’s article is to call for the freedom of association to operate without being subjected to repression.
There are bad NGOs as much as there are very bad journalists. There are journalists who change their political views like the winds. And there are many whose existence depends on curry favoring the powers that be. That does not mean that such journalists should be repressed. The very foundation of freedom of expression is that bad once should also be allowed to exist. If the bad once are repressed the freedom of expression as a whole would suffer. That has been the view of Supreme Court of the United States and that any way that stand to commonsense.
Rajpal quotes Gramsci, the way devil quotes the Bible. We will not contest the devil’s rights to quote the Bible. Rajpal can have his fun quoting Gramsci. However since the argument here is not about revolutionary theory, such quoting is not relevant to the argument.
Rajapal says nothing new when he says that NGOs should be transparent. There is very simple way to archive that. That is to have a credible corruption control agency that will stop or at least minimize all kinds of corruptions and will generate transparency to a humanly possible extent. The duty to create such a corruption control agency is with the government. If the Government has fails to do that Rajpal should take the matter up against the government. If he devotes his column every week for this purpose we would have reason to class him among the good journalists. Those journalists who are not willing to do it are hypocrites.
Some NGOs may be supporters of the status quo. If they are that a government with any intelligence will not suppress them. Suppressing implies that there is conflict of interest. The Government suppresses journalists that challenge them and some of them have been killed. The Government allow others who support them. Those who are allowed to express freely are the ones who support the status quo.
Not all the journalists are bad all the time. There is room to improve particularly if they have been reading Gramsci. When we see Rajpal engage in a constant battle to create a credible corruption control agency as that exists in many countries, for example Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC),the readers will recognize that there is a link between what he quotes and what he in fact believes and defends.
At that stage, we will have good discussion with him about Gramsci. At this stage, it is enough if there is freedom of expression and association for the good, bad and the ugly.