PINA STATEMENT ON FIJI GOVERNMENT ACTION AGAINST

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PACIFIC ISLANDS NEWS ASSOCIATION (PINA) Suva, Fiji Islands

STATEMENT January 4, 2000

THE FIJI TIMES

The Fiji Government¹s refusal of a work permit for the editor-in-chief of The Fiji Times is a clear attempt to interfere in the newspaper¹s editorial independence.

That¹s the reaction of Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) president William Parkinson to the Fiji Government¹s decision to give Fiji Times editor-in-chief Russell Hunter 28 days to leave the country.

Mr. Parkinson said The Fiji Times is being victimized by the Government because it is doing what any decent news organization should be doing, informing the public without fear or favor.

But it seems this Government does not like scrutiny, Mr. Parkinson said.

Mr. Parkinson said the decision to refuse a renewal of Mr. Hunter¹s work permit clearly contradicts previous statements about investment and the employment of expatriates.

He said some companies seem to be able to employ expatriates easily while The Fiji Times -- a major employer, taxpayer, and investor in Fiji -- is being singled out for different treatment.

Mr. Parkinson also said on the one hand the Fiji Government is criticizing the professionalism of local news organizations. But on the other it is kicking out of the country someone who is contributing significantly to the development of professionalism through training.

He said The Fiji Times, through publisher Alan Robinson and Mr. Hunter, have unstintingly helped PINA¹s efforts to provide training both in Fiji and the rest of the region. This has even included willingly providing training for their direct competitors.

He said it is nonsense for anyone to suggest that The Fiji Times is not totally committed to the development of skills and expertise locally.

Mr. Parkinson repeated PINA’s view that the business of hiring executives should rest with the boards of companies and not governments.

For more information, contact Nina Ratulele, PINA Administrator, at pina@is.com.fj 

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Damodar Centre, 1st Floor 46 Gordon Street Suva, Republic of the Fiji Islands Tel: (679) 303 623 Fax : (679) 303 943 Postal Address: PINA, Private Mail Bag, Suva, Fiji Islands Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

 

PINA SLAMS EXPULSION ORDER AGAINST FIJI TIMES EDITOR

SUVA, Fiji Islands (January 4, 2000 – Orientation Oceania/AFP)---The Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) claimed Tuesday that Fiji’s government was trying to interfere in the editorial independence of the country’s main daily newspaper by refusing a work permit for its editor.

The Rupert Murdoch-owned Fiji Times says its editor-in-chief, Russell Hunter, has been denied a three-year work permit extension and had instead been given a month to finalize outstanding matters and leave the country.

Last October, Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry accused the Times of distorting and doctoring news and of "fanning the fires of sedition and racism."

PINA president William Parkinson said in a statement that the Times was being victimized by the government "because it is doing what any decent news organization should be doing, informing the public without fear or favor."

Parkinson said that some companies seemed to be able to employ expatriates easily "while the Fiji Times -- a major employer, taxpayer, and investor in Fiji -- is being singled out for different treatment."

PINA, a regional association of news organizations, believed the business of hiring executives should rest with the boards of companies and not governments.

For additional reports from Orientation Oceania, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Sources/Orientation Oceania.

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