|Friday, 29 October 2004|
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Tuesday's attack on the Kandy correspondent of the Lake House group of newspapers, Sanjaya Asela Maturata, while he was in the process of discharging his professional duties, meets with our strongest condemnation.
Our considered opinion on this dastardly act by a person reportedly linked to the UNP, is that it is an assault on press freedom and, therefore, flagrantly violative of not only the fundamental freedoms of the victim of the attack by also of those of the public, who had a right to be kept informed about the developments in Kandy on the day in question.
As should be already known, the backdrop to the attack on Maturata was an agitation by the UNP. Such demonstrations are, of course, permissible in a democracy, and should be considered in order provided they are peaceful, but not so, wanton, mindless violence which is aimed at blatantly suppressing and violating individual and collective rights.
The attack only proves that some of those who consider themselves democrats in this country are in reality hooligans and law-breakers. The attack on the journalist should be seen as reflective of a coercive and fascistic mindset which is the very anti-thesis of democracy in word and spirit.
We call on the law enforcement authorities to conduct a thorough probe on this incident and to bring the offenders to justice speedily. We also call for the imposition of the maximum punishment which is enforceable in these circumstances.
We also strongly urge the UNP to cooperate with the authorities in bringing the offenders to justice.
Numerous have been the occasions on which journalists discharging their professional duties have been subjected to harassment, humiliation and physical harm. Some of them have even met with their deaths in the course of discharging their responsibilities. We call for an end to such inhuman treatment of journalists, who play a vital role in the life of the nation.
A duty is cast on the leaders of political parties and other influence-moulding sections to conscientize their rank and file on practising and preserving democratic values and norms. Party bosses and influence-wielders cannot adopt the hypocritical policy of running with the hare and hunting with the hound.
If there is any seriousness among these persons who matter on introducing media freedoms to this country, they should take the essential step of defending the professional rights of journalists.
Wilde at heart
"The Wilde Myth" may just be the title of a book, but literary giant Oscar Wilde remains an enigma 94 years after his death. Born 150 years ago, Wilde's wild life and literary exploits still fascinate students of literature and laymen alike.
As the hammer falls at the Sotheby's in London today on a vast collection of Wilde manuscripts and other memorabilia, the Wilde mania shows no signs of abating. The collection, said to illuminate Wilde's glory - and shame - in the Victorian era, is expected to fetch more than 600,000 pounds (US$ 1.1 million).
The most expensive item in the collection - estimated at 80,000 pounds - is a working manuscript of a chapter from his only novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray" which includes controversial passages that were later removed.
"The Wilde Myth", a book manuscript by Wilde's lover, Lord Alfred Douglas is also among the goods to be auctioned. Collectors are likely to fall over each other to get their hands on the manuscript, in which Douglas lashes out at the Irish-born wit and writer as the devil's servant. Bosie's rant was considered so extreme it was not published at all.
"He was one of the most powerful forces for evil that has happened in Europe for the last 300 years," Douglas, nicknamed "Bosie", wrote. Wilde's affair with the younger Bosie, son of the Marquess of Queensberry, began in 1891 and led within just a few years to his own public disgrace and divorce, jail and ruin.
Wilde never recovered from the travails of jail, and after his release died an early death, crippled with debt, in a Paris hotel. However, he managed to write the Ballad of Reading Gaol, a response to the agony he experienced in prison.
Wilde's musings were far from devilish. His legacy lives on in countless works, which include "The Picture of Dorian Gray", "A Woman of No Importance", "Salome", "An Ideal Husband" and "The Importance of Being Earnest". He was a master of conversation, renowned for pithy epigrams and dramatic output.
His observations on life have made their way to all the great quotations books. "Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the superior attractiveness of others," he writes in one manuscript.
"A really great romance is the privilege of people who have absolutely nothing to do," reads another. "A man can be happy with any woman as long as he does not love her," goes one of the more famous ones.
Dramatist, novelist and poet rolled into one, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde mocked high society and got away with it. He was a rebel with a cause who truly fitted his own saying that "consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative".
Produced by Lake House