Monday, January 28, 2008

Creeping militarisation of Sri Lankan society?

A report that the Defence Secretary wants censorship imposed got me thinking.

see link:

to quote from the link above, the Secretary apparently said:

"I think that there is no need to report any thing on the military. People do not want to know how many and what kind of arms we acquired. That is not media freedom. I tell without fear that if I have power I will not allow any of these things to write. I told the President that we need to bring press censorship at the beginning. I have been telling that we need bring in laws that can punish harshly for these reports… We need criminal defamation law…"

He seems to brook no criticism.

This comes hard on the heels of another report that the Sri Lankan military plans to start a television station. Apparently broadcast will start with two hours a day of programming and eventually end up as a 24 hour channel, with news and entertainment programmes.

Keen readers of the local press may have noticed a series of advertisements - usually half a page in all the major newspapers showing members of the army, air force and navy interacting with members of the public. Similar advertisements were aired on television. The theme was, if I am not mistaken, Api Wenuwen Api which roughly translates as We for Ourselves. The campaign has been running for around a year if memory serves me correctly and seems aimed at intertwining the armed forces with the population in general. Henceforth the armed forces are not to been seen as a branch of government but as a part of society, and an important part at that.

The military, it seems is stepping out of its traditional role of guardians against external threat into ordinary civilian life.

Does this point even further involvement in civilian administration, perhaps to the extent of martial law?

I have raised the possibility of a coup on Indi's blog and David Blacker argued that the regimental structure of the army would not permit such a thing to happen. However, a creeping dictatorship seemed likely and I wonder if these are further steps down that slippery slope.

Post script:

Groundviews carries an article on this subject here:


Queen from Another Planet said...

I'm not sure how accurate this is, but it's something I got from a advertising industry person. When the 'Api Wenuwen Api' campaign started almost 1 1/2 years ago, I couldn't understand what the point of it was. It was explained to me that the point was to show the forces in a human light. The idea apparently was to make the forces more acceptable to the masses, because there had been a negative impression of them and also to make the people more open to anything military. Personally, I thought the campaign was a weak if this indeed was the idea.

Jack Point said...

Thanks for the input.

I remember now the exhibition at the BMICH, (where a soldier was demonstarting a grenade and it went off)

again another means of bringing the military into wider society?