Frank Bainimarama's speech about media freedom at the Asia Institute for Broadcast Development conference in Nadi are in total contrast to the realities being practiced by Fiji's dictatorship regime.
Coupfourpointfive has picked a few examples of Bainimarama's lies:
1. Bainimarama's claim that the Public Emergency Regulations is a temporary measure is a lie. The PER has been in force for three and a half months. Two weeks ago he told Radio Fiji that the regime intended to impose the PER for the rest of the year.
2. His claim that the PER is contributing towards a stable socio-political platform is also a horrendous lie. It is causing increasing levels of disquiet and disenchantment amongst ordinary citizens who are denied access to basic information about economy, the sugar industry, tourism, increasing levels of unemployment, rising poverty, increasing inflation, deteriorating infrastructure like water, roads and sewerage. By denying political parties and trade unions an opportunity to air grievances facing the people through the media, the regime in suppressing the truth is only hiding the rot that is spreading like cancer in the economy and its support services.
3. Bainimarama must be thinking the people of Fiji live in dreamland by saying the regime believes in media freedom and democracy. Apart from imposing absolute censorship, the regime, between February 2008 and January 2009, has deported three expatriate publishers - one from Fiji Sun and two from Fiji Times for being courageous in exposing scams and scandals. The exposure of the $2 million secret stash of Mahendra Chaudhry and deportation of two publishers over this is a perfect example.
4. His statement that the regime must support interests of media owners and journalists to make them more capable and responsible is a downright lie. What Bainimarama should have stated is that the regime is supporting those who are loyal and faithful to his dictatorship regime.
Communications Fiji Ltd (owners of radio stations Legend FM, FM 96, Navtarang, Sargam & Viti FM) news director Vijay Narayan and Fiji Sun publisher Peter Lomas are perfect examples media owners and journalists who are pro-regime. Narayan has a consistent track record of obtaining exclusive interviews with Bainimarama who always refers to him by calling his first name, Vijay.
In a special Fiji Television program on the Forum Island Leaders Meeting of October 2007 held in Tonga, television footage aired during the program showed both Bainimarama walking with Narayan intimately with his arm flung over Narayan's shoulder like both were best buddies. The standard of Fiji Sun severely declined even before the imposition of PER as soon as Peter Lomas became the new publisher.
He chose to print a story about tourists on the front page of its 11th April issue instead of the abrogation of the Constitution a day earlier (see right side of blog for the article). In the editorial of that edition written by Lomas or under his directive, the newspaper preached that the regime and the New Legal Order was the reality and we should not be worried about suspension or expulsion by the Forum and Commonwealth.
The regime is supporting Fiji Sun by placing civil service advertisements or statements from the interim ministers in the newspaper.