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Media Industry Development Authority Chair Hits Out At Prasad

Media Industry Development Authority Chair Hits Out  At Prasad
National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad (LEFT). Media Industry Development Authority chairperson Ashwin Raj (RIGHT)
August 04
11:00 2017

Media Industry Development Authority chairperson Ashwin Raj has described as hypocrisy National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad’s selective championing of media freedom.

Mr Raj was responding to a statement by Mr Prasad who asked why he did not defend The Fiji Times against criticisms from politicians. A copy of the statement was sent to the Fiji Sun by concerned sources.

Mr Prasad had referred to recent comments about the Fiji Times by Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Mr Raj reminded Mr Prasad of the many instances when he had been quick to point a finger at the Fiji Sun and the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation for their coverage. He  reminded him that media freedom could not and should not be used selectively, when it suited politicians like him.

Mr Raj said: “The Honourable Attorney-General and Minister for Economy is well within his right to question the veracity of reports produced by the media as it pertains to his portfolio as much as the media is in reporting matters of national interest.

“Expressing concerns about the lack of accuracy, balance and fairness in media reports is within the permissible narrative of the law and not an attack on press freedom. It is imperative to note that the Fiji Times has unabashedly published the findings of the Auditor-General without any obstruction.  However, once the media does publish, it equally opens itself to scrutiny. This is how deliberative democracy works,” he said.

Mr Raj also called out Mr Prasad on his hypocrisy, and quoted some of the words Mr Prasad had used in the past when releasing statements regarding the Fiji Sun and the FBC.

“While the leader of the NFP has occupied an indomitable moral plateau from which he is unabashedly lampooning a very selective application of the ideals of press freedom, he has conveniently forgotten that the NFP and its leader have launched several public attacks on the Fiji Sun and the FBC accusing them of ‘peddling half-truths and lies’ and as a ‘living proof of absolute unethical, unbalanced and inaccurate journalism’, a ‘shameless mouthpiece of the FijiFirst Government’s propaganda against the Opposition” whose ‘stories are doctored’.

“Does this not constitute an assault on press freedom? These media organisations too are reporting on matters of national interest.

“The NFP and its leader cannot selectively treat its preferred media as liberalism’s sacred cow while taking the other two media organisations to the guillotine.”

Mr Prasad in his statement said: “The silence of Mr Ashwin Raj is deafening. He is quick to chastise opposition political figures for comments that he concocts are racial and breaches the Bill of Rights of the 2013 Constitution, yet he remains totally silent when the A-G as the Chief Legal Officer of the State repeatedly attacks one particular organisation, in this case the Fiji Times.”

Edited by Naisa Koroi


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