FIJI PRIME MINISTER CHAUDHRY SLAMS MEDIA

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PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH Annandale, Australia and Suva, Fiji Islands

*The new Fiji Islands government has had an ongoing critical view of the local news media since the election campaign in April-May 1999. See website: http://www.pactok.net/docs/pmw/ for additional information, including PMW items 2240, 2239, 2228, 2226, 2208, 2202, 2196, 2193, 2191, 2137, 2129.

SUVA, Fiji Islands (August 15, 1999 – Pacific Media Watch/Sunday Post/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry has lashed out at "elements of the media" who are trying to destabilize and discredit the new [Fiji Labour Party-led coalition] government in policy matters.

"We are only too aware that many of the pro-people measures that we intend to take as a government will meet with strong opposition from certain quarters. The battle lines are often drawn before we begin to take initiatives," he said at the Fiji Labour Party Convention at the Girmit Centre in Lautoka yesterday.

He gave the example of the FLP's election promise to introduce a national minimum wage.

"Even before government could initiate dialogue on this, certain elements in the media, who are no doubt there to protect the interests of the establishment, began a campaign to distort and discredit government's policy on this, stirring up all kinds of hysteria on what we plan to do.

"These are people who have had it too good for too long, people who have exercised power by keeping our two major races divided on baseless prejudices and fears."

He said that the groups are fighting back to hold on to their power bases and their fears are articulated behind the guise of private sector interests, media freedom, freedom of expression, and other such abstract notions.

He warned them that government would proceed undaunted in its mission to improve the quality of life for its people.

"At the same time we have set ourselves another very important mission, and that is to bring our people together," Mr. Chaudhry said.

"We are working on measures to remove value added tax from basic food items, from medicines, educational supplies and other products, and those measures will bring the weekly food bill down by between 10 to 15 percent in most cases."

Title -- 2295 FIJI: Prime Minister Chaudhry condemns media Date -- 15 August 1999 Byline -- Fanny Enna Origin -- Pacific Media Watch Source -- Fiji's Sunday Post, 15/8/99 Copyright – DP Status – Abridged

FIJI EDITORS APPEAR BEFORE PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE

SUVA, Fiji Islands (August 12, 1999 - Pacific Media Watch/Daily Post/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---The editors of the two daily newspapers in the Fiji Islands appeared before the Parliamentary Privileges Committee yesterday to answer allegations of breaching parliamentary regulations.

Jale Moala, of the Daily Post, and Samisoni Kakaivalu, of The Fiji Times, are alleged to have disregarded a parliamentary ruling which "expunged" supplementary questions raised by Opposition Leader Ratu Inoke Kubuabola regarding alleged abuse of public funds by Poseci Bune while he was the country's Permanent Representative at the United Nations.

The questions were ruled out of order by Speaker Dr. Apenisa Kurisaqila.

The Daily Post page one report, which appeared on July 2, was written by Wainikiti Waqa-Bogidrau, who was also present at the meeting.

The Daily Post Co., Ltd. was represented by Suva lawyer Gyneshwar (G. P.) Lala. [The Fiji Times, Ltd. was represented by Munro Leys lawyer Richard Naidu.]

The meeting yesterday was chaired by Attorney-General Anand Kumar Singh.

* The committee will report back to the House of Representatives on its recommendations.

Title -- 2291 FIJI: Parliament summons editors Date -- 12 August 1999 Byline -- None Origin -- Pacific Media Watch Source -- Fiji's Daily Post, 12/8/99 Copyright – DP Status – Unabridged

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