Opinion

EDITORIAL: Those Who Have Nation’s Interest At Heart Will Shun ‘Fake News’

All politicians have a responsibility. It is expected of everyone aspiring to hold public office to be truthful, to be honest and to go about their business diligently. More so
09 Feb 2018 18:19
EDITORIAL: Those Who Have Nation’s Interest At Heart Will Shun ‘Fake News’
National Federation Party’s Feroz Gulam Mohammed

All politicians have a responsibility. It is expected of everyone aspiring to hold public office to be truthful, to be honest and to go about their business diligently.

More so when we are heading into the general election, it is the responsibility of those aspiring to sit in Parliament to stop the spread of fake news.

We have seen two instances this week where two candidates from two major political parties spreading fake news.

National Federation Party’s Feroz Gulam Mohammed posted up on Facebook that he was ‘told’ Sigatoka Hospital had run out of oxygen. He was questioned on the same issue by this newspaper.

The fact is Sigatoka Hospital had not run out of oxygen. This was confirmed by the hospital.

As a person aspiring to represent you and me, or in his case the people of Nakasi, it becomes his responsibility to check the accuracy of that information before posting it on a public forum. He cannot pass the buck to the person who supposedly gave him that information.

He is the public figure here; he is the one hoping to be elected into Parliament. The buck stops with him and no one else and by spreading information that has been found to be untrue, what is his motive? To get a few more votes? But at what cost? At the cost of his integrity?

In a video interview with this newspaper, Mr Mohammed made a number of claims. A look at the Facebook page which he administers also shows he has total disregard for anyone whose views are not aligned with his position. This is sad. It is unbecoming of an aspiring Member of Parliament.

The second person’s case is even more worrying. Mosese Bulitavu who has practised law for years and has been a SODELPA MP for four years shared a doctored video which was heavily edited to show Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in bad light.

His argument is that he did not edit the video and that he did not know it was edited. That is a very shallow argument. That video was edited very poorly. It was not done by a professional and even a person who has never had any experience in video editing can see that it had been fiddled with.

Instead of checking its authenticity, Mr Bulitavu spread that message not only on the SODELPA fan page but on a page which has more than 100,000 followers. Is this responsible?

NFP leader Biman Prasad has also found himself to be in controversy. He retweeted a tweet which claimed Fiji Sun’s front page article on temple desecration was an attempt to scare voters back into the arms of FijiFirst. Not only does such a tweet trivialise the grave issue of sacrilege it also casts serious aspersions on the ruling party.

His argument is that retweeting did not mean he endorsed it, but he has spread that message and is equally culpable.

Misinformation or the misinterpretation of truth was the hallmark of the old style of politics. It appears there is an attempt to use it in this election. It led to tension and ethnic violence. Some were killed and many were hurt in the process.

We do not want to go back to that dark past. Many if not all Fijians today want a peaceful and stable Fiji. It is, therefore, incumbent on all politicians to seek and speak the truth.

It is the responsibility of all politicians worth their salt to shun fake news. If they do, they will gain more respect and favour in the eyes of the voters they are trying to woo.

Those who genuinely have the national interest at heart will treasure this sacred responsibility.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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