Daily Mirror editorial /23 June 2011
Freedom of expression is an unalienable right enshrined in democracy. It is not a privilege that any government can deem its right to deliver the citizens as and if they so desire. The defeat of the Private Members motion on a Right to Information Bill by 63 votes speaks volumes of the tragic laws Sri Lankan society has today forced itself in to.
The decision by the government to vote against the Bill, mocks its own pledge to introduce a Right to Information Act not so long ago. More tragically it denotes the lack of commitment the legislators; clouded in their perceptions by corruption and opportunity, have towards the people they represent.
With corruption; the flagrant abuse of politics that is the contributor of an ever increasing cost of living that the masses can ill afford, the necessity for a mechanism that provides the citizenry to hold accountable those that must be; is a right that can not be denied. No political entity can expect to be above such scrutiny. Sri Lanka remains the only country in South Asia denied the ‘luxury’ today.
National Security; undoubtedly a serious concern for a war ravaged country like Sri Lanka, can no longer however be dangled as an anathema for every ill. Certainly, moving out of the debris of a three-decade war, is not an exercise that will prove easy to any government. In view of the international pressures fed by a well funded Tamil Diaspora this is an unenviable task that has the potential to risk elements of security in the wrong hands and the wrong policies. Yet, if the people especially in the North and the East are to breathe in the freshest airs of peace and freedom, then such rights must be theirs to enjoy. Societies throughout the world that have respected such rights today stand witness to the benefits they provide individuals.
Sri Lanka can not hope to enjoy the riches of any other form of freedom until it has the right to these that are core of civilized societies. The denial of such fundamental of rights will only serve to further alienate the country and its government denied its rightful place in global history. The mandate we deem to enjoy can not be perceived a sword to provide the people victim.
Democracy can not be seen to be exercised but effectively felt by the people in every aspect of the rights they place their mandate to governments to uphold. Any denial of such rights; however trivial a discussion the government believes it must receive in society; deserves condemnation. Nor, must it be allowed the glorification it does today.