Fiji Labour Party today labelled the Media Bill proposed by SDL government as vindictive, draconian and an outright attempt to gag the Media in Fiji. The Bill if enacted will take away Media freedom essential for the purpose of free and fair reporting of government activities said the assistant Secretary General, Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi.
The appointment of Media Council under the authority of the Minister is an effort to manipulate the Council, defeating its role and objectives. Thus the impartiality of such Council appears to be cynical and is indeed questionable.
Transparency and Accountability of any government is co-related to the empowerment of media to objectively and impartially report government activities, therefore it must not be subjected to influence or subversive pressure as intended in the proposed Media Bill. People have a right to know of government activities and media plays this vital role of disseminating information with freedom and responsibility.
The 1997 Constitution under section 174 requires the Parliament to legislate the ‘Freedom of Information Act’ so as to allow members of the public rights of access to official documents of the Government and its agencies. The People’s Coalition government had introduced the freedom of information Bill (No. 4 of 2000) in Parliament, which was halted by the events of May 2000.
The current government is not interested in pursuing this Bill obviously because of massive corruption in Government Ministries and departments where millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money is being abused and misused. The real motive behind the proposed Media Bill is to suppress and control the Media after it brought to limelight massive scams rampant within the government machinery under the SDL Leadership
Information Minister, Simione Kaitani’s comment that his government is pursuing the Media Bill from where it was left by the SVT government and the People’s Coalition government is an outright lie.
Fiji Labour Party opposes such dictatorial policy displayed in the proposed Media Bill said Mr. Vayeshnoi.
Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi – MP