DEPOSED FIJI GOVERNMENT LOST PROPAGANDA WAR, SAYS TV JOURNALIST

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By Shital Ram USP Journalism Student

SUVA, Fiji Islands (August 30, 2000 - USP Journalism Programme/Pasifik Media Watch/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Fiji Television journalist Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum believes ousted Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry lost the "propaganda war" over the recent Fiji political crisis, saying the deposed Labour Party-led coalition government failed to communicate its policies to the public.

Speaking to journalism students at the University of the South Pacific last night, Sayed-Khaiyum said Chaudhry had the media "on the back foot" from day one.

"It was a propaganda war between those trying to destabilize the government and the coalition government. And the coalition government lost the war because those trying to oust the government made more effective use of their propaganda."

Sayed-Khaiyum says the coalition government knew about the misrepresentations over indigenous land but it did not push strongly enough to have its side of the story heard.

The 1997 constitution contained safeguards over land and indigenous Fijian rights but this was not sufficiently understood by grassroots people.

He said education was the key to the future in Fiji.

Better understanding by the people of their rights and the constitutional and democratic system of government would pave the way for better understanding between people.

"I don’t believe there is a big gap between the two major communities," he said. "Better education will help raise the understanding."

He expressed concern at how some people who openly supported rebel leader George Speight at the parliamentary complex after the May 19 takeover and the following spate of crimes were still freely walking the streets of Suva.

"Why are only George and his other guys on Nukulau? Why aren’t charges being laid and investigations being carried out on the involvement of some other people implicated in the coup?" asked Sayed-Khaiyum.

He reminded the media that it had a duty to push for those people to be investigated.

Sayed-Khaiyum was speaking at a journalism research workshop which featured the ABC Four Corners documentary "Cyclone George" by top Australian investigative journalism Chris Masters.

Title -- 2936 FIJI: Deposed government lost ‘propaganda war,’ says TV journalist Date -- 30 August 2000 Byline – None Origin -- Pacific Media Watch Source -- USP Journalism Programme, 30/8/00 Copyright -- USP Journalism Programme Status -- Unabridged

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