#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Plea to ban censorship as part of 'new Fiji'

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Plea to ban censorship as part of 'new Fiji'

The following speech was made by Professor Biman Prasad at the lanch of the Journal of Fijian Studies (Special Issue Media and Democracy), today in Suva.

Fiji Sun Editor and chief guest, Ladies and Gentlemen. This special edition of the Fijian Studies covers the media and the ongoing struggle for democracy in the last twenty years. Media freedom and democracy cannot be taken for granted. The struggle for such freedoms is ongoing. We have not seen the end to this struggle and it may be some time before we see any light at the end of the tunnel.

I am not going to talk about the contents of the journal today as my colleague Shalendra Singh will do that. I want to use this special occasion to make an appeal to the Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

I think the PM in his public articulation has talked about a new Fiji and many people appreciate and understand his desire to take the country forward. In addition, there have been some good policy changes such as the doing away of the telecom monopoly and an emphasis on agriculture as a major source of economic growth.

My appeal to him, however, is that his government should now lift media restrictions. This would be an important step in creating a conducive environment for dialogue and confidence. The current censorship inhibits the government’s own attempts to articulate its own views and some of its positive achievments.

The government’s attempt to stamp out corruption is laudable. However, without free media, any real and sustainable attempts to do this will be thwarted. Many people who may have information and would like to expose some of the corrupt practices are reluctant to do so. A free media would help the government to have a better handle on the level of corruption.

After the 1987 coup, we saw the collapse of the National Bank of Fiji where the tax payers of this country lost more than $250m. This loss could become insignificant if Fiji’s largest Financial Institution, the Fiji National Provident Fund, collapses due to bad management. I know many people, especially those managing FNPF, have refuted earlier warnings, but this could still become a reality in years to come if it is not managed properly.

There are many unresolved questions relating to the handling of the Natadola project and many other investments by FNPF. The government should take a serious view of this and have a thorough and proper investigation into all the dealings on behalf of FNPF in the last several years. Any one found mismanaging the funds should be taken to task. For this we don’t need outsiders to do this. There are enough people around in Fiji to do this. A free media would help in this.

Because of censorship, people are turning to blogs to get their news. These blogs are not governed by any rules or standards. People are being misled and are being incited. Government will have more legitimacy if it allows the media to operate freely and independently.

This would help restore confidence in the country and we could see a faster level of economic growth. It will also allow government to start the process of political dialogue in an open and transparent manner to achieve the political reforms it wants to bring in the next few years.


Anonymous said...

Not being inciteful - simply stating the obvious.

Why is it that the regime is increasingly using Indians as mouthpieces - making statements regarding Viti's future?

Anonymous said...

Free media is not the immediate problem - free and open elections are - a right to select and reject those who govern us.

mark manning said...

It's all well and good to ask for dialogue and good governance now, but only those who created this mess are now realising that it's far far worse than they could ever have imagined.
The problems plaguing Fiji and it's people now, were created by a handful of greedy, egotistical, selfish bastards with only their own interests and self image at heart.
Now, as the ship is beginning to slowly sink into the Pacific, too late do they cry out from the wilderness to turn it back to shore and a previously safe harbour.
The trouble with Indians it seems, they see themselves as smarter than others, yet on this as many other occasions, they have exposed their stupidity by destroying yet another Government by illegal means and decimating the economy, Fijian Culture, their own society and the futures of this generation, their own Children and their Grandchildren.
Ball sucking parasites the lot of them, those involved I mean.
intelligent not, egotistical and maniacal yes !
Arrogance abounds in the Indian Community in general it seems.

Anonymous said...

Cannot say I agree with either of the above remarks. Racist/racial comment is OUT. It is superfluous and never constructive. Who will you choose to govern you in these so-called 'free and open elections'? Why would any of these leopards have changed their spots so readily? Think about it. As we comment, the Chair of the Fiji Rugby Union appears to have chosen that his CEO, charged with corruption and conversion of public money by FICAC, and...on bail....will remain in place pending a trial (to continue to use public money and be paid by it?) So what has changed? Nothing.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon

So - as you suggest - we do nothing - accept the unacceptable?

Your entitled to your views & opinion regarding "free & open elections" - if your sincere excercise your democratic right - abstain from voting - but your suggestion that others be denied this same fundamental right is a sad reflection of your own apathy & arrogance.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous

The FRU is a private organization, not a government body. Only the member unions can make the changes in FRU, not government.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon

Sincere apology (FRU) - my mistake.

Thought you were talking about general elections - too much politics.

Anonymous said...

Much of the Fiji media has only itself to blame for the restrictions placed on it this year.
If the likes of Netani Rika at the Fiji Times had been smart enough to moderate their reporting or approach sensitive issues more obliquely, perhaps things might have been different.
Instead, the Fiji Times has behaved like some first world university rag, preaching its right to media freedom while pursing an openly partisan agenda against the regime.
It took more than two years for Frank B to launch a formal crackdown whereas someone like Lee Kuan Yew would have whacked the media right from the start.
Editors like Netani need to realise that the Fiji is more like Singapore than Australia and New Zealand and the Fiji Times simply can't expect to be as boisterous as its other Murdoch stable mates around the globe.
Yes, we all want media freedom but that freedom needs to be tempered with responsibility when local politics is so volatile, race relations are strained and the country's general well being depends on maintaining stability.
I haven't seen any acknowledgment of this by senior media figures in Fiji. So they shouldn't be at all surprised that the gag is still firmly in place.

Anonymous said...

Mark Manning, for you to begin a sentence with "the trouble with Indians is..." shows a level of racism that has no place in modern Fiji.
It's called racial stereotyping, my friend, and puts you in the same category as the worst of your extremist kaivata in the SDL.
Of every brained thing you've ever said in these columns, this is the biggest giveaway that you're a stooge for the ethno-nationalists, not some moral crusader for democracy.
Indeed, you have forfeited your moral right to make any pronouncement on national issues whatsoever and ought to be banned from the internet for inciting racial hatred.
Shame on you!
The trouble with Australians is....

Anonymous said...

Freedom of the media entails more that just the Fiji Times.
As for M&M comments.

Why is it whenever somebody attempts to defend iTaukei rights their immediately branded "etho-nationlists"?

Racial & cultural disharmony within Fiji "is & always has been" the Elephant in the room - bring it out - lets examine it.

Anonymous said...

Elephant schmelephant.

Racial and cultural disharmony hardly needs to be dragged out of the room in Fiji and examined. We've been banging on about it for generations!

Taukei rights have been enshrined in law since Sir Arthur Gordon. Political supremacy plus more than 80 per cent of land for the Fijians and only the Fijians.

What needs defending? It isn't under threat!

siti said...

It is one thing to defend Fijian rights. It is another to attack other racial communities or to stereotype any racial group. Shame on you Manning. Fiji has no place for blatant racist hatred.

Anonymous said...

@ schmelephant.

Case you haven't noticed enshrined laws laws & rights aren't worth anything right now.

Only one thing & one thing only will prevent the Taukei suffering the same fate of NC Kanaks - Australia's Aboriginies - NZ Maoris - US Hawiians & Native Americans & others - constant vigilance.

So long as there remains an Indian political presence in Viti - its under threat.

Anonymous said...

Isa Mr Taukei, so the 38 per cent of Indians still living in Fiji deserve no "political presence" because you personally feel threatened.

You poor old thing. Having most of the land wasn't enough. You needed the Qoliqoli Bill to rip the rest of us off at sea. And you wanted to claim everyone else's meagre freehold title and free George Speight just to spit in everyone's face.

Thank God for the dictatorship, I say, if this is what democracy means in Fiji; the disenfranchisement of an entire race.

Ignorance was once something to be ashamed of, even amongst the dimmest kai colo like you. Now it's splattered across the internet like a tide of elephant veka.

Anonymous said...

Qoliqoli bill.

The Cakaulevu Reef in Macuata
is a perfect example of the dangers of unrestricted Indian commercial exploitation.

This once sustainable recource had sustained Taukei for generations -
to the Indians its merely another oppurtunity to make easy money - in the case of an Indian fisherman recently interviewed by the Fiji Times.

"I fish so that I can save enough money so we (family)can all emigrate to NZ".

Suggest you take a close hard look at yourselves and your motives before you start accusing others (indiginous people) of discrimination.

By the time you people have finished with it it'll all be gone - just like yourselves - then what?