Fiji AG Says Newspaper, Opposition Politicians 'Spreading Misinformation' About Sugar Industry

Sayed-Khaiyum blames opponents for 'politicizing the industry'

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, May 16, 2017) – Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says The Fiji Times and some politicians, are spreading misinformation about the sugar industry and the closure of the Penang mill in Rakiraki.

While making the announcement on a major assistance package for cane farmers, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said with government's continued unprecedented assistance to farmers, some organisations and politicians like the National Federation Party's Professor Biman Prasad and Fiji Labour Party's Mahendra Chaudhry had politicised the industry.

"It would also be very prudent to mention that unfortunately, many of the issues that have come to the fore, and I am going to continuously say this, and I do not hesitate to say this, it is essentially The Fiji Times that is creating a lot of disquiet, that are spreading a lot of misinformation," he said.

"And we see various politicians doing that, we have remained quiet, we have not ventured into making any political statement regarding that, we are simply focused on the work that required attention, we are simply focused on the reforms that requires attention, and we have not given skewered perspective to it."

He said The Fiji Times had been involved in a lot of mischief making about the industry.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said there would not be any additional burden to those who used to take cane to the Penang Mill.

He said any additional cost for transportation of the cane from Penang to Rarawai would be picked up by FSC working in conjunction with the government.

Responding to claims made by Mr Sayed-Khaiyum, The Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley said the newspaper strived to present news in a fair and accurate manner.

"Our charter is to strive for accuracy and balance with the intention to do justice to every story we print and picture we use. It is unfortunate that we have been attacked again," Wesley said.

He said the newspaper had no agenda on issues regarding sugar cane farmers and the industry itself, except to be their voice on issues that concern them.

"And that is what we strive to do every day — to be the voice of the people.

"We strive to offer people, regardless of their political leanings, or status in society, a platform to voice their concerns and have a say."

He said The Fiji Times would continue to work hard at being a good and responsible newspaper.

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