Labour seeks Police investigation on TV One report

  • 3rd February 2005
  • 2005
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Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry has written to the Police asking for an investigation into a Fiji TV One report  which predicted the possibility of a Labour win in the next general elections leading to opposition and instability.

TV One claimed the report was compiled by “a company” but did not divulge its name, hiding behind the pretext of legal constraints in not doing so.

The Fiji Labour Party views the report as an attempt to instill fear and intimidate the voter ahead of the 2006 general elections. 

Mr. Chaudhry told the Police Commissioner the report has serious implications on national security and may undermine the process of free and fair elections.  

The ‘report’ predicted that a resurgent Labour Party was likely to win the 2006 general elections but that the Labour Government would implement policies “hostile to the Gujerati business community”. It also claimed that a Labour win would lead to opposition and destabilisation from the indigenous community.

This is highly irresponsible and unethical reporting, deliberately concocted to create mischief and alienate the business community. The Fiji Labour Party does not have policies “hostile to the business community”. Indeed, the Labour Party does not discriminate on the basis of class, creed or colour.

If anything, the business community did very well in the one year that the Labour-led Government was in power. The Party assures the business community that its polices are not hostile and that, indeed, it needs their support to once again revive the economy and bring back the dynamism experienced during its one year in office.

Likewise, the indigenous community was better off under the humanitarian policies of the People’s Coalition Government. In any case, the Police are dealing effectively with elements who have a tendency to create instability to pursue their own personal agendas.

TV One has a responsibility to reveal the authorship of this so-called report and the name of the company that commissioned or compiled it, if this report has to have any credibility.

Otherwise, the Fiji Labour Party will be forced to view it as irresponsible and sensationalist journalism designed to create fear and voter intimidation ahead of the 2006 general elections. It is clearly a move to undermine the process of democracy in this country.

“Such an unsourced report, with its implications on national security, is highly unethical. This is why the FLP has been calling for the establishment of a Media Standards Committee so that complaints of such nature can be dealt with swiftly,” Mr. Chaudhry told the local media.

“TV One’s obvious bias in handling this report is evident from the fact that they did not seek my reaction to it. This was despite the fact that they came to me for an interview yesterday,” he said.

In his letter to the Police Commissioner, Mr. Chaudhry said the FLP was very concerned at such propaganda  being unleashed ahead of the 2006 general elections. 

“It is undoubtedly designed to create fear and to intimidate the voters. It also undermines the democratic process in our country and the prospect of free and fair elections.

Because of its grave implications to national security and a possible destabilisation plan of action following the general elections, or even in the lead up to it, the FLP believes the Police must look into the matter.

It is irresponsible and mischievous of Fiji TV to run an unsourced report on a matter that concerns national security. If the report has credibility and is authentic, and not just a political ploy to intimidate the voter, why hide the name of the company that commissioned or compiled it?

The Fiji Labour Party has twice been the victim of coups that took away its legitimate and democratically won right to govern the country. We are therefore on the alert for any moves to spread adverse propaganda that could undermine the process of free and fair elections or create instability post-elections.

We believe this particular news item by Fiji TV merits Police investigation. Is the author of the report privy to information that could undermine national security, of which the Police and the security forces are unaware?

Or is this, as we suspect, tactics to intimidate the voter and undermine the democratic process? Both are criminal intents and should be investigated. The Police needs to obtain a copy of the so-called report and conduct its own inquiries into the matter.

We live in a democratic society and the people of Fiji are entitled to know the truth about matters that impinge on national security and their individual rights.”