Fiji Media Authority Head Critical Of Opposition Leader

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Ro Teimumu calls some journalists ‘props of dictatorship’

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, May 5, 2016) – Media Industry Development Authority director Ashwin Raj says comments made by Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa that some journalists "will be taken to task" should her party form government in 2018 was "incriminatory".

On Tuesday, when the country marked World Press Freedom Day, Ro Teimumu in a statement said while the media had played a pivotal role in telling the stories during some of the nation's darkest times, some journalists were props of dictatorship.

"Sadly, their (some journalists) only aim is to portray an image of Fiji that is fuelled by propaganda," she said.

Mr Raj said "it is a matter of profound irony that the Leader of the Opposition unabashedly lampoons values of media freedom, safety of our journalists including freedom from torture and in the same breath proceeds to vilify those journalists that she deems to be pro-Bainimarama Government overtly threatening that these persons will be taken to task should her political party form government in 2018".

"These incriminatory remarks make a mockery of an Opposition that has premised its ideological stance on media freedom squarely on a media decree that it deems to be draconian," he said.

NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad said Mr Raj should remain neutral and deal with complaints that were addressed to him.

"We don't expect him to continue to defend the draconian Media Decree which almost everyone agrees has destroyed press freedom, forced editors, publishers and media organisations to practise self-censorship," Prof Prasad claimed.

"I maintain that as long as the draconian Media Decree remains, we will continue to see a censored press in Fiji."

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