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SOURCE: Pacific Islands News Association (PINA), Suva

A woman journalist for American Samoa's daily newspaper was slapped in the face by a former lawmaker who is now a government adviser to the territorial House of Representatives, the newspaper "Samoa News" alleged on 14 June 1999. The adviser, Gus Hannemann, was said to be upset because journalist Fili Sagapolutele reported that Hannemann is paid more than House of Representatives members but spends a lot of time living in Hawai'i.

Sagapolutele, a senior journalist with "Samoa News," used government records and information from the Legislative Finance Office to report that Hannemann - the House Liaison for Government Affairs - got a US$ 5,000 pay increase in mid-March. He now gets US$ 31,000 a year, which is more than the 21 members of the House of Representatives and also the 18 members of the Senate, she reported.

The incident happened in a hallway of the legislative building, "Samoa News" reported.

The "Samoa News" also reported that two U.S.A. government officials, who were in the territory for American Samoa's minimum wage hearings, witnessed it. The newspaper said its reporting of Hannemann's salary increase followed earlier criticism of the hiring of someone who did not live in American Samoa.

"Samoa News" editor Scott McPhee said that any hostile act against a reporter is unacceptable. "Our reporters are only doing their jobs. Public information is just that - public. The public has the right to know how every penny of their money is being spent and reporters have every right to pursue that cause. We will continue to report salaries of all public officials who are paid with taxpayer money."


June 16, 1999


SOURCE: Pacific Islands News Association (PINA), Suva

**Updates IFEX alerts of 11 June, 4 June, 21 May and 7 May 1999**

Broadcasters in the Fiji Islands are getting more information before commenting on a new bill regulating broadcasting being proposed by the new Fiji Labour Party-led coalition government. The proposed bill was announced by the President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, in his speech outlining government policies at the opening of the new Parliament on 15 June 1999.

The previous government, defeated by Labour and its coalition partners in general elections in May, had been reviewing all media legislation. It consulted broadly with the media and community through a review conducted for it by the Thomson Foundation of Britain.

"The Fiji Times" of 16 June quoted William Parkinson, managing director of commercial radio station operator Communications Fiji Limited, as saying: "We will need to sit down with the new government and discuss the licensing of broadcasters because the only license we have now is the technical license."

Francis Herman, general manager of Public Broadcasting with Island Networks Corporation, said: "We need to look at the context on which government proposes to license broadcasters before we make any comment."


The Fiji Islands has among the most diverse broadcasting in the Pacific Islands, with government-owned public and commercial radio stations, private sector commercial radio stations, community and religious radio stations and commercial and community TV stations.

Following his election last month, new Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry pledged on 21 May to not legislate against the media or impose media licensing, "The Fiji Times" reported. But Chaudhry said media organizations, starting from management, need "a lot of tuition," the newspaper reported.

He complained during the general election campaign that some media organizations were biased against his Fiji Labour Party. He alleged a "media plot" to prevent Labour from winning. This charge was vigorously rejected by the media, especially "The Fiji Times," which is the biggest daily newspaper and also publishes Fijian and Hindi-language weeklies. It pointed out that politicians from all political sides were alleging media bias against them and in favor of their opponents (see IFEX alert of 7 May 1999).

For further information, contact: Nina Ratulele, Coordinator PINA Pacific Freedom of Information Network

Pacific Islands News Association Mailing Address: Pacific Islands News Association Private Mail Bag, Suva Fiji Islands Street Address: Level 2, Damodar Centre 46 Gordon Street Suva, Fiji Islands Tel: +679 303623 Fax: +679 303943 E-mail: Internet site:

The information contained in this alert is the sole responsibility of PINA. In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit PINA.

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