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FOROYAA is right, but…

May 27, 2014, 9:40 AM

FOROYAA expressed the opinion in the paper’s editorial on Monday that “the media should not disseminate such information…” – referring to reports such as our ‘MP wants a monarchy in Gambia’ story in Friday’s edition of The Point newspaper - and further pointed out that the media has a mandate “to uphold the principles, provisions and objectives” of the country’s constitution. FOROYAA is entirely right.

However, the same media is also mandated by the same constitution “to provide access for the expression of divergent views, including dissenting opinion”, as we also highlighted in our editorial comment on Monday.

So what MPs say in the debating chamber of the National Assembly will be fit for news, especially if allowed by the speaker.

Yes, the media must carry all sides, even the “Odd Story” type, as Reuters does every day.

This will be done, even when we risk giving respectability or lending credence to calls made by people with questionable motives or brains.

Actually, the media must be mindful of being accused of irresponsibility in conveying dumb remarks; however, it must allow all views to be aired – not suppress them unless they are seditious, defamatory or in the nature of committing “contempt of court” or “contempt of parliament”, etc.

So let the debate go on; let all views be heard; and let the media facilitate this debate, which the constitution has enjoined on the media - especially the public media.

Let’s give the people (whose intelligence we trust) a chance to hear all views and decide – who is making foolish remarks and who is speaking soberly with his brains intact.

In fact, we have always wondered why MPs who make certain remarks are not publicly rebuked by our national authorities, who have sworn to protect and defend the constitution.

The debate on the adjournment motion is one time in the assembly, when MPs are free to comment on any issue - of course, within the bounds of the Standing Orders.

That means they have a platform to speak their mind. But does that include making remarks tantamount to undermining the Republican constitution?

Indeed, we have always asked ourselves whether making such a call is not tantamount to undermining the constitution – the supreme law of this nation – and therefore akin to committing treason.

Is calling for anything other than propping up the existing system in place not the same as advocating for changing the very basis of our government?

In our view, just as nobody in his right mind would call for a rebellion, so also nobody in his right mind should call for changing the republic for a monarchy – as FOROYAA rightly pointed out, that would be a most retrograde step, in this 21st century when all progressive nations are making all efforts to attain genuine democracy.

To us, for MPs to use the platform of the assembly debating chamber to advocate reactionary ideas is a misuse of their right to free unhindered speech in the assembly’s debating chamber – a right which is also guaranteed by the constitution.

What we can safely add is that there is, at this point in our history and national advancement, no right thinking Gambian who wants this country to revert to a monarchical government.

FOROYAA is right, but let us clarify that for the purposes of news reports, it is in order to report such news.

However, for the purposes of the newspaper editorial, one can choose to comment (as FOROYAA did) on the contents of news and to go on to enlighten the reader.

That would be in order, and newspaper editors definitely have that responsibility to the society.

But it’s OK to highlight all news, including – as for example Reuters does daily – the “Odd Story”.

"The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses."

Malcolm X