Saturday, July 01, 2006

About Artur's brother conspiracy and rattling the snake the Standard Way...

Why Michuki has no business being in Government

We return prominently, albeit reluctantly, to the matter of the alleged Armenian brothers, their criminal act of drawing guns at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the utterly and totally unacceptable manner in which the Government handled their recent exit from the country.
We revisit this matter not because the Government has instituted a commission to investigate the activities of the despicable duo, but because Mr John Michuki, the Minister for Internal Security, has decided to use our brilliant coverage of this unfortunate saga to threaten the media in general, and the Standard Group, in particular.
Despite the fact that this is not the first time that Michuki is threatening the media, we wish to state from the outset that on this, and on many other issues of huge public interest, that touch on or threaten to jeopardise or compromise the security of Kenya or the national interest, we will bend the knee to none.
We are not threatening. We are not boasting. We are just saying that Michuki’s threats, his misrepresentation of facts against us, and his threat to order a repeat of the illegal March 2 invasion of our downtown offices and Industrial Area-based printing press, will not stop us from seeking good governance and attacking bad leadership.

What is Michuki saying about the Standard Group in particular, and the media in general, in his paid-up adverts and what is the truth?

He implies that under the Narc Government the media have experienced an environment of expanded and consolidated democratic space, but they have failed to use this responsibly for the good of all, but have instead pursued vendetta and witch-hunting.

What is the truth? We pursue no vendetta or witch hunting. Neither do we have a political agenda nor are we beholden to one. Our position has been that the handling of the security docket by Michuki has been woefully and deplorably inept. It is why — and on the basis of the evidence available — we have called on the President to take decisive action against the minister.

Why? We believe the minister’s insensitivity and unbridled arrogance, best expressed in his remarks about the March 2 raid on the Standard Group and the admission that he sanctioned it, have done more harm to investor confidence, tourism and Kenya’s image in the world, than all the failures of the Narc administration put together.

Michuki accuses the Standard Group of allowing itself to be used as a mouthpiece of "certain not-so-well-meaning partisan interests" and calls us the "worst offender" in this regard. Having endorsed a certain standpoint, Michuki says, no amount of clarification, explanation or additional information would cause us to change our direction.

What is the true position? It is that we have been steadfast in our conviction that the entry of the Armenians into this country, their stay and recent melodramatic exit, point to a serious lapse in our security apparatus and cast serious aspersions on the powers of judgement of Michuki, his officers and others in positions of authority.

For the record, we wish to state that our sister title, The Sunday Standard, was the first publication to demand that the sooner the country was rid of the two Armenians the better it would be for all of us. And what had they done? One of them had arrogantly told Michuki to shut up!

But we were not surprised that the minister kept quiet about the slur and our rush to his defence. When we complained officially and legally that armed and balaclava-clad people believed to be State agents had raided our premises, shut down KTN, carted away computers, burnt newspapers and disabled the printing press, Michuki’s response was that we deserved it and had brought it upon ourselves.

The minister says editorial policies, visions and mission statements are exercised more in the breach than observance, resulting in gross disservice to readers, viewers and listeners. Indeed, Michuki says media are purveyors of ethnic hatred, civil strife, breakdown of law and order and anarchy.
Is that right? Hardly. The minister, who declares that the Government is obliged to strictly follow the law and will operate in an accountable and responsible manner, justified the raid on the Standard Group by saying its titles and station were about to broadcast and publish material injurious to State security.

If this had been the reason for the midnight raid, we would like to believe that the Group would have by this time been arraigned in court for the incriminating material the State sought to extract from the computers seized from our offices.

Then comes the inevitable threat. Michuki says the propagation of the alleged ills by the media "must come to an end". He says this must and will happen because irresponsible attitudes and outputs can cause untold damage to the vital national interest. What does this portend?
That the minister could, taking the cue from the March 2 raid on the Standard Group and the recent emulation of it by elements that attacked Hope FM, unleash terror on the media? That Government could champion laws to fetter operations of the media he and those of his ilk perceive to be hostile to the Government?

Our considered view is that whether through legislation or terror, Michuki will fail miserably in his misguided war against the media.
Finally, we are convinced that Michuki’s problem is that he does not like the intense scrutiny he has come under because of the manner in which he has handled the Armenians. He must know that as long as he is a public servant, he will remain under the searchlight of the media and public who pay his salary and upkeep so that he can look after their security.

It is this that informs the Standard Group’s quest and conviction that Michuki has miserably failed in his duties as Security minister. And this has nothing whatsoever to do with our neglecting our robust editorial policy, but rather because we are guided by it.