#AskLW Twitter Q&A on 19 June 2013: Asking was easy; getting answers was not…

Excellent post by Nalaka on recent Twitter Q&A with Lalith Weeratunga, the Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka. The most interesting paragraphs for me are,

“Even more interesting is how contentious and controversial topics were completely ignored. To be sure, Weeratunga isn’t the first public official to do so, and some might even argue that he had the right to choose his questions. (That won’t have been so easy in a physical press conference.)

All the same, it is highly revealing that the top public servant in Sri Lanka chose not to respond to questions on Islamphobia, Buddhist extremism, hate speech, militarisation, human rights and other topics of great public interest in today’s Sri Lanka.

It’s remarkable that such questions were posed, in a public platform, which is more than what the mainstream media (MSM) of Sri Lanka regularly ask at official press conferences given by senior government officials. From all accounts, the monthly breakfast meetings that the President has with newspaper editors is also a lame affair where no critical questions are raised.

Yes, MSM and citizen journalists are not directly comparable. In the prevailing intolerant environment, it is telling that many social media users took cover under pseudonyms to pose questions to the top civil servant of Lanka (while the rest of us asked under our own names). There was even speculation among some tweeps about what might happen to those who ask pesky questions…”

Open Minds! (formerly: Moving Images blog)

Along with dozens of tweeps, I took part in an interesting Twitter Q&A session with Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka, which unfolded from 14:30 to 16:00 Sri Lanka Time on 19 June 2013.

Our questions were posed using the hashtag #AskLW: they are all displayed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/search/realtime?q=%23askLW While most were in English, some came in the local languages of Sinhala and Tamil too.

Groundviews.org, the citizen journalism website, has archived online 2,680+ tweets related to this exchange. Of these, some 1,140 are original tweets (posted since 14 June 2013, when #askLW was first announced) while others are retweets.

Twitter user @gopiharan created a bundle of tweets Lalith Weeratunga answered in the one and a half hours of the Q&A session.

As Groundviews.org noted, “There was no historical precedent for this kind of engagement over social media, especially for someone so high up in…

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