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OPINION: Biman Should Not Preach Media Freedom if He Can’t Practise It

National Federation Party Leader Biman Prasad cannot profess to champion free media one minute and become critical of media asking him hard questions the very next. It is regrettable that
03 Mar 2018 10:16
OPINION: Biman Should Not Preach Media Freedom if He Can’t Practise It
The National Federation Party’s second set of provisional candidates with the Party Leader Biman Prasad (sitting middle), president Pio Tikoduadua (sitting third from right) and vice president Leba Seni Nabou (sittind third from left).

National Federation Party Leader Biman Prasad cannot profess to champion free media one minute and become critical of media asking him hard questions the very next.

It is regrettable that Mr Prasad has once again picked on the Fiji Sun and the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation for putting the spotlight on him and the Party. He did this again yesterday during the announcement of 10 more provisional NFP election candidates.

What Mr Prasad did not say was that the Fiji Sun has always sought comments and clarification from him and his party before printing anything regarding NFP.

He cannot deny that more often than not, Mr Prasad chooses not to answer questions sent. Or his response is something completely irrelevant to the question.

It’s coming closer to election time. Mr Prasad is obviously worried by his and the NFP’s recent poor polling.

What Mr Prasad did not say was that in the countdown to the last election the Fiji Sun gave NFP space for a weekly column to advance his views. It is something no other media did. And, NFP had made the most of it.

So what happened to spark this latest outburst from Mr Prasad amidst the mounting polls pressure he faces?

Fiji Sun had questioned Mr Prasad about the ‘big businesses’ he was claiming were in cahoots with the Government.

He did not name them.

Fiji Sun had questioned Mr Prasad what were the 15 basic food items that he was speaking about while campaigning in Labasa.

Today, he mentioned that butter is one, but when the Fiji Sun had questioned him, he chose not to respond to the question.

Fiji Sun had sent Mr Prasad five specific questions about his campaign meeting in Labasa.

He chose not to answer the questions.

Instead, after the analysis on butter and the world price of butter was published, NFP Member of Parliament Parmod Chand informed the Fiji Sun’s North Editor Shratika Naidu that the Fiji Sun was no longer welcome to cover any NFP campaign meetings.

Is this Mr Prasad’s definition of media freedom?

What is his definition of media freedom?

Is it only media freedom if the Government is held accountable? But not when the NFP is?

On February 2 when NFP’s 31 provisional candidates were announced, Mr Prasad had urged journalists to ask the NFP and its members hard questions and to hold them accountable.

That is exactly what we did when we realised that Mr Prasad was not being very open with people in Labasa when he failed to make full disclosures about the real story about the price of butter increase.

When the Fiji Sun highlighted that the price of butter had increased worldwide and turned the heat back on Mr Prasad, he could not handle it. He lashed out at the Fiji Sun in a truly dramatic style.

Well, here’s some free advice for Mr Prasad.

Stop preaching media freedom if you cannot practise it.

Stop the one-sided hypocrisy when it comes to the news media.

Edited by George Kulamaiwasa

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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