Analysis | Politics

SODELPA, Opposition Failing Fijians Again With Fake News

It is indeed shameful that party members continue to play political football with the lives of Fijians, which undermines the Fijian tourism industry and as a result, the Fijian economy.
19 Feb 2020 10:38
SODELPA, Opposition Failing Fijians Again With Fake News
National Federation Party leader and Opposition member Biman Prasad (right), with SODELPA Opposition members Mosese Bulitavu (left) and Viliame Gavoka (facing camera) after they walked out of Parliament on February 18, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Analysis:

The Opposition is causing large amounts of unnecessary panic among thousands of Fijians and their families by spreading fake news and misinformation on social media about the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic affecting the world.

Unfortunately, it seems that neither Lynda Tabuya nor any members of SODELPA have any intention of doing any proper research before making false claims on social media.

Failed petitions

In the latest comedy of errors by Ms Tabuya, she shared an online petition, and made comments which wrongly claimed that all COVID-19 patients would be taken to the Navua Hospital.

Hilariously, the petition also claimed that the virus would be carried along the south-easterly trade winds putting the entire country at risk – something which you would expect an MP with a law degree to easily pick up as being completely false. Unfortunately, instead of doing research or even a basic Google search, Ms Tabuya decided to share the petition and boost it ensuring it paid to boost the post of social media reaching thousands of Fijians.

Now, with the technology available to us, it doesn’t take a genius to Google how viruses work. They spread from person to person. A virus requires a host to replicate and it won’t survive for long without one – certainly not being carried along trade winds.

The SODELPA MPs, including leader Sitiveni Rabuka, also caused unnecessary panic to residents living in Navua and surrounding areas. Possible quarantine centres were set up all around Fiji as a precautionary measure as per international best practices – and not only in Navua as insinuated by Opposition.

Fake news that the Navua Hospital would be room to Chinese COVID-19 patients also didn’t help and was fuelled by comments like “the Navua Hospital was funded by Chinese”, posted on social media by the SODELPA MP.

The petition was started by Ratu Suliano Matanitobua, also a SODELPA MP.  Other MPs who shared or signed the factually inaccurate petition included Mr Gavoka, Niko Nawaikula and a plethora of Fijians who were tricked by SODELPA.

It is indeed shameful that SODELPA continues to play political football with the lives of Fijians.

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Ripple effects of fake news

Spreading false news and rumours like this greatly undermines the Fijian Tourism Industry and as a result, the Fijian economy.

Did the SODELPA leader or Mr Nawaikula think about the Fijian mother who didn’t get to sell her handicraft because Australian families cancelled their trip to Fiji after seeing their fake news? The answer is no. They did not think about this because the only thing they can think about is how to attack the FijiFirst party in any way possible to gain votes.

Did they consider how this would affect the taxi driver, the farmer and every person who is in one way or the other dependent on our turim sector?

Sadly, SODELPA leadership and, in fact, the entire Opposition, don’t bother to hide this anymore. Fijians have become accustomed to them nit-picking every little thing, without providing any realistic input themselves.

There are more than 550,000 Fijians on Facebook and their petitions can barely get 2000 signatures. This new strategy of petitions has greatly failed the Opposition and can be added to their list of growing failures.

And the biggest failure of all is them failing Fijians families who needed the correct news to protect themselves from the coronavirus but instead, a stream of fake news and incorrect information.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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