Mark Edge replies to Thakur Singh

Marc Edge, PhD Suva Re: “Western way not be best way for Fiji,” Fiji Sun,  May 1. I found Thakur Ranjit Singh’s personal attack on me insulting, given my credentials,
04 May 2012 09:32

Marc Edge, PhD

Re: “Western way not be best way for Fiji,” Fiji Sun,  May 1.

I found Thakur Ranjit Singh’s personal attack on me insulting, given my credentials, particularly his advice that I need a lecture on peace journalism from his Master’s thesis supervisor at AUT, Professor David Robie.
I’m also pretty sure that I have more than sufficient depth to appreciate the arguments for development journalism.
After all, I have been studying and teaching International Journalism and Global Media for the past 14 years at universities in four countries.
I just don’t agree that the development journalism model would be the best one for Fiji. I would prefer to see a free press here to shine a light on powerful groups and people in society and thus help guard against corruption.
Fiji’s recent media reforms, I believe, should be sufficient to allow a press that is both free and responsible. The problem in the past seems to have been a lack of responsibility, which is why press freedom was temporarily restricted.
I think that prohibiting hate speech in then Crimes Decree will go a long way to raising the level of political discourse here, which apparently has been a problem at times.
I even agree with aspects of the Media Decree, such as limiting foreign ownership and cross ownership of media, which should allow for more diversity of ownership and thus of viewpoints.
I have come to USP from Canada to help raise the standards of journalism across the South Pacific, not just in Fiji. I don’t have a dog in this fight.
Thakur Ranjit Singh, on the other hand, was a dog in this fight. I found his thesis interesting, but I do not feel that it qualifies as a work of scholarship. His bias is not only obvious from the outset, it is even explicitly stated.
Like a prosecutor, he sets out to prove a case, and he musters some impressive evidence.
It is obviously biased and one-sided, however. Similarly in his column, his self-serving criticisms of the Fiji Times are coloured by his apparent outrage at not being offered a position as its publisher.
Whether he aspires to be a journalist or a scholar from now on, I think he needs to raise his own level of discourse.
Are you really sure you want press controls in Fiji such as those in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia? These are authoritarian societies where little political discussion is allowed.
In Singapore, where I taught for several years, the same party has held power continuously since that country achieved independence in 1959, largely through its intimidation and tight control of the media. As a result, there is almost no political opposition in Singapore.
Following a number of elections, the government has controlled all of the seats in Parliament.
I have outlined my arguments against Singapore-style press control, and why the system of press control enabled by Fiji’s Media Decree is quite different, in the paper that can be found on my website at www.marcedge.com.
I wish to point out that the views expressed above are my own and are not necessarily shared by the University of the South Pacific.
I will address publicly Thakur Ranjit Singh’s contention that Fiji is “not ready for First World media freedom” at our World Press Freedom Day event on campus.

Fijisun Ad Space

Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.

By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.