President George Manneh Weah says his government is not enemy to the media here, suggesting that journalists have to find a new way if government does not want to work with them because they are constantly against government.
“To all our Fourth Estate, the Fourth Estate we are not your enemy. We are friends, we are partners. You want us to engage, you also have to engage,” he said Saturday, 28 July in Redlight, Paynesville while breaking grounds for a 6.1 kilometer road project connecting ELWA Junction and Coca Cola Corporation.
“If government don’t want to work with you because you are constantly going against the government for what reason we don’t know, then you will have to find a way,” he advises journalists here.
But he says if journalists stay away, “we” will not get to each other, indicating that they need to interact with the government. He suggests that such interaction is not by force but by cordiality “we can achieve what we want to achieve.”
President Weah notes that [journalists] saw what was done for their freedom of speech, reminding them of how they have been speaking for so long but he did not respond to them.
“You know that I listen to you but I don’t respond to you. That tells you if you’re tired speaking you will come on the table so we can discuss,” he says amidst laughter from his audience. President Weah further urges journalists to get factual news, recalling how government was blamed for late journalist Tyron Browne’s death.
But he says in the end government was far away from that, pondering as to “how can a George Manneh Weah harass a journalist he grew up with in the ghetto?”
“How can a George Weah kill a journalist? It’s not possible. Look at me, look at my countenance, you understand. So let us … portray a good image of our country. That is not a joke,” he adds.
He makes emphasis on giving a positive image of Liberia to the outside world, expressing concerns that negative talks about Liberia would scare away partners. President Weah says he is sure that those that are making noise today, 25 years from now they will understand that his government was “the government.”
He continues that journalists should not deceive Liberia’s international partners, but they can go ahead and tell the truth if government is corrupt. “But let me tell you something, if you tell them that the government is corrupt they will not believe you,” he says, arguing that the international community monitor everything that they give to Liberia and they sit with the government every three months.
To this end, Mr. Weah said journalists should start changing their mode of work, warning that by spoiling government’s name, it will only deprive other Liberians of their fair share.
By Winston W. Parley