Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Too Much Unrestrained Freedom?

-->Recently, a large number of my friends and relatives around the country spotted me on BBS TV - bearing a microphone in hand and wildly gesticulating like a man possessed - making some speechless points!


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A friend commented that I was so driven by emotion that I was dumbfounded for words. Another smart Alec opined that I was a masterful shadow-boxer. However, the best comment came from my dad who too had seen me, for a fleeting moment, wordlessly making some points on BBS TV. Apparently, he had called up my sister to ask if I was joining politics. A mute politician? Preposterous!

You might wonder why I am suddenly the center of so much attention among my friends and relatives and why such a huge ruckus is being kicked up about my mute appearance on the BBS TV. The reason is that I was invited by the Bhutan Center for Media and Democracy to be on the panel that was discussing: Freedom of Media. How is freedom of the media understood in Bhutan, how do we fare in terms of free speech? What about our regulatory environment?

I had made some very scathing remarks against the media as a whole, how they had so far failed to live up to their enormous responsibilities as the Fourth Estate. How most of our young reporters are forever stuck in that state of infanthood. How, even after so many years, they are not being able to mature into responsible, committed and passionate custodians of the nation’s conscience. How some of them have usurped their right to free speech by being irresponsible and damaging in their reporting.

I had also touched on the subject of the RTI Act being proposed as a knee-jerk reaction arising out of some hurt ego and whether we have evolved enough to fully understand the responsibilities that come with freedom and whether we are mature enough to understand and respect the enormity of the empowerment that the RTI Act can give us.

I had also reminded them that if they were not getting the information they seek from government agencies, it was because they antagonized the source of the information and that they lacked tact and skill in handling prospective sources of the information they seek.

I had categorically stated before my talk that being critical was not being negative. I am on record (the entire proceedings were being tape recorded and video filmed) where I had pleaded with the media to be more responsible and not to add bewilderment to the already confusing state of affairs as a result of our lack of experience in a brand new form of governance.

It is obvious from the way my words were censored and muted by BBS TV, that my opinions were not well received by the media. That is fine but that kind of behavior throws up a very serious question:

How can the media in Bhutan grow into a responsible public apparatus if they can silence and moderate opposing and uncomplimentary views about themselves? Who then regulates them? Is the current state of affairs among our media houses the result of too much unrestrained freedom?

Think about it.

8 comments:

  1. Yes,I think most media persons think that attacking the govt regardless of the issue is demonstrating their freedom of speech. This shows their inexperience and youth and this is understandable and forgivable. But quite a few could be lazy journos accepting and publishing articles in their names just to fill in their quota of stories. These sources could be well meaning individuals but they could also be vested interests dressed up as concerned citizens. Its OK to accept such stories too, but the journalist is irresponsible if he reproduces the story word for word, without checking facts. He has then just reduced himself to a useful tool, a pawn,in the hands of interest groups.

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  2. Wow, great article acho Yeshey. I enjoy following you and your writings!

    Lekey

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  3. huummmmm......I am wordless........CENSORED!

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  4. Okay, so that’s what you were doing when you were earnestly gesticulating on TV trying to convince your contemporaries that Right to Information is indeed a serious issue! I too saw you for a few seconds, but did wonder why you were put on mute! Well, our Media were born with a silver spoon in their mouth in terms of getting away with whatever was reported or published as we have yet to hear of any media being reprimanded or punished for erroneous reporting. Even after all the space given for their growth, they have certainly not matured if they are going to censor their own! Anon.

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  5. They always demanded freedom of speech and just when someone illustrated freedom of speech if they censor then what were they asking for so far? I think they will have to justify why they silenced you.

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  6. Sir, it's rather disheartening than feeling agitated by what media has done to your freedom of speech in the show. If freedom of speech is what people aspire for, if people are demanding for right information, then you should not have been silenced, people have the right to hear your each and every single words that you sincerely utter for their own beneficial--creating a room for improvement.
    Another thing, what I found important is that when Media produce a news, I think a right amount of research and a factual evidence is required to deliver the informations to citizen.

    P,S, how I wish I saw your talk on the show. Staying abroad and hearing such news fill me with utmost aghast and thinking what else is going to happen....

    Thanks for sharing Sir.

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  7. ahh I missed out on that show.

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