The National Council of the Fiji Labour Party in a statement issued today says it deplores the current cowardly stance of the Fiji media which refuses to run statements issued by political parties on issues of critical
importance to the future of Fiji.
The FLP Council which met in Nadi today noted that official statements issued by major political parties yesterday (Friday) denouncing the regime’s decision to trash the Ghai draft constitution, have not been run by the local media although they received wide publicity overseas.
The one exception was the Fiji Sun which ran short extracts from the statements of each political party while FBC news chose to run a joint statement that was issued two weeks ago when the Ghai document was
handed over to the President.
The Council is very concerned that even though censorship of the media has ostensibly been lifted with the withdrawal of the Public Emergency Regulations, the Fiji media remains so cowed and intimidated that it appears to be operating under a rigid form of self-censorship in refusing to run statements that criticise the regime’s policies and actions.
Either that, or it is still under considerable pressure from the Information Ministry on what to print or broadcast.
Either way, the situation is to be deplored. Fiji stands at a critical crossroads today. Developments over the next few months could make or mar our nation. Significant, but unilateral, decisions are being taken by the regime regarding the future of our nation – yet the media has stifled any public debate or discussions on these critical national issues.
It is sad to see the local media merely regurgitating the regime’s platitudes and rhetoric without looking at the accuracy of these statements, without providing any balance or analytical viewpoints.
This is not what responsible media is all about. The Fiji media cannot allow itself to become just a propaganda machinery for the regime which, regrettably, is what it is being reduced to.
Under its code of ethics, it has a moral responsibility and a duty to provide accurate and balanced information, to educate the public on important developments taking place, and above all, to encourage robust debate and discussion on steps Fiji is taking to restore democracy and the rule of law.
The FLP National Council calls on the local media to show courage and tenacity in doing its duty by the people of Fiji at this critical juncture in our nation’s history; or at least in upholding its own code of ethics.
Each of us must stand up for those universal democratic principles and values that we hold dear, without which Fiji faces an unstable and uncertain future as a nation.