Tuesday, May 30, 2011 was another sad day for Liberian journalism on Capitol Hill. It was a day of ingratitude and misrepresentation of the level of press freedom being fostered by the Government of Liberia. Hooliganism at the highest level of the government any rational human being may want to refer to it. And instigating and directing such hooliganism was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Alex Tlyer.
Unfortunately, without even analyzing or understanding the motive for Tyler action and its implication, some representatives, including Koukou Dorbor of Montserrado County and Zoe Pennon of grand Gedeh County chose to support the violence against two Liberian journalists covering the Liberian Legislature. Very sad enough for the third person in the Government of Liberia, not being cognizant of his status, to order such violence against the journalists assigned at the Legislature.
“Hey! Hey! I say, take that camera from him; taky fron hin-taky fron hin. Hey, sergean-at-arn, take that camera fron him,” was how uncivilized the head of the ‘people’s representatives’ directed his violence against the journalists who had photographed Representative Matthews Darbolo of Gbarpolu County.
This is the same Speaker of the House of Representatives whose negative human rights records as published in the U.S State Department Report of 2010 continue to follow most activities and utterances of his at the Legislature, his community and other areas- a man who should be the symbol of the House of Representatives.
Why we do believe Speaker Tyler may have had his own reason for ordering Tuesday’s violence against reporters, his best, most reasonable and civilized option would have been to mandate the Director of the Press and Public Affairs Bureau of the House to engage the leadership of the Legislative Reporters Association for redress. Instead, he chose the path of gangsterism which has now become his trade mark in government.
It is our fervent belief that if Alex Tyler should attract any respect as an ‘HONORABLE’ representative, as well as ‘SPEAKER’ of the House of Representatives, such must be reflected not only in his interactions with his colleagues and other officials of the Liberian Government, including the President, Vice President and Chief Justice, but also journalists ‘spending the whole day at the capitol Building just to gather and disseminate to Liberians and those outside, information about their activities.
We strongly condemn Speaker Tyler’s action on Tuesday as not only uncivilized and out of order, but a complete misrepresentation of the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives, and an honorable man.
We do believe that the ‘embargo’ placed on the House of Representatives by the Legislative reporters pending an official apology from Alex Tyler continues to remain a welcome action that the print and electronic media in Liberia must uphold.
We at the NEW DAWN-Liberia do support and stand in solidarity with the Legislative reporters. We also call on all publishers and editors of Newspapers, as well as heads of the electronic media in Liberia to consider the matter as an attack not only on the journalists or their institutions, but the entire media landscape of Liberia by Speaker Tyler and the House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives as an institution for serious and responsible people, and not hooligans and gangsters. If Speaker Tyler and his likes are downhearted and frustrated over the loss of confidence in them by their constituents, the only alternative is to find something else, other ordering and supporting the violence attack on journalists assigned at the Liberian Legislature.