On the eve of Dasain the government slyly passed an ordinance amending some media laws. There wasn't even enough time to discuss it properly and Dasain was upon us-which was probably the intention. That same day the Election Commission declared that municipal elections will be held on 8 February. Then there was another breaking news: His Majesty in his Dasain address instructed the Election Commission to hold general elections in April 2007. All these announcements mean the country will now go into election mode. If the polls are free and fair, it will open the door for the constitution to be activated and the government to be run by the people's representatives. But the way the government is going about gagging the press, it doesn't give us much confidence. In fact, it shows that authorities are not trying to be open but are bent on clamping down. If the media makes mistakes, there should be punitive action. There is no doubt about that. The press must be accountable, responsible and disciplined-no two opinions about that either. If the media indulges in unnecessary defamation or libel it should either prove it or be ready to face the consequences. Britain, the US and India, which have mature media, have similar provisions. Increasing fines for journalists or placing restrictions on reports about terrorist activities are not unusual. But these measures were announced when there was no elected parliament, before Dasain, without public debate and without homework. This raises suspicions about the government's true intention. The government must now try to allay these suspicions by convincing the media that its intentions are honourable.