The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has received a deposit slip for US$100,000 (one Hundred thousand USD) from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf towards the union’s construction project.
The Liberian leader recently announced the donation through Deputy Information Minister For Administration Cletus Sieh when the Union observed its 44th founding anniversary. The PUL is an umbrella organization that seeks the wellbeing of Liberian Media institutions and journalists.
The President told the union that she received the donation from friends and has place the money into a special account at the International Bank in the name of the union.
Making the presentation at a brief ceremony attended by an eleven member Executive Committee of the PUL at her Foreign Ministry Office, President Sirleaf said she made the appeal for the money to friends since government did not have any allocation for such amount in the budget.
The President told the Union that while she anticipates additional donations from outside sources, her government was contemplating including the media in the next national budget.
She assured that the request for the money was made out of her desire to see a modern facility erected for the Union as is in other countries in the sub-region. She dismissed the impression that the gesture was intended to influence the reportage of the media.
Receiving the amount, PUL President George Barpeen expressed thanks to President Sirleaf for the money, adding that it was a manifestation of government’s commitment to develop the media.
While describing the gesture as magnanimous, Mr. Barpeen assured the President that the donation will be used for the intended purpose.
Prior to receiving the deposit slip, PUL has on Wednesday, 8th October, 2008 commended the president for the gesture.
“ The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has welcomed the recent announcement by Deputy Information Minister Cletus Sieh of the Government’s contribution of One-hundred Thousand United States Dollars to its Headquarter Project, in Sinkor,” a statement signed by the Union’s President George Barpeen noted.
The statement described the gesture by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and the Government as magnanimous, noting that such amount will go a long way in the progress of the institution.
The Union said money came as a result of an appeal to President Sirleaf last year during two separate meetings between her and media executives, including the Leadership of the Union.
The Union said it remains steadfast in upholding its social responsibility, adding, “We will remain resolute in exposing the evils that tend to undermine freedom of expression and pres freedom in Liberia.”
Opposition To the Donation
Meanwhile two past Presidents of the PUL, Messers Isaac Bantu and Emmanuel Abalo have fiercely excepted to the position of the current Press Union Administration in Monrovia to solicit and a accept monetary award of $100,000 towards the construction of the Union headquarters.
The two former Press Union officials, in a joint press statement, said they view the acceptance of these funds as an exercise of poor judgment and a grave compromise of the stated goals of the Union – to remain a watchdog and conscience of the Liberian society.
Abalo and Bantu said the position of the PUL President Mr. George Barpeen that “this will in no way deter the Union from upholding its social responsibility” is highly questionable and presents a major challenge to the image and perception of the Union locally and internationally. Prior administrations of the PUL have always made the effort and sacrifice of upholding the highest principles of propriety.
“The Press Union has some of the best trained media personnel and we encourage the Union to exploit the talents of these individuals and undertake a well organized and long range platform aimed at raising the needed funds in a dignified manner for the completion of the Union’s headquarters”, the two former PUL presidents asserted in their statement.
On the other hand, they said, “we encourage the Union to maintain a constructive engagement with the government and all stakeholders in Liberia in upholding the God-given and constitutional right of freedom of speech and press freedom without fear or favor”.