Media Watchdog or Partner; Fijian Identity, Spies, Housing, Blog Poor Taste
Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) President Moses Steven was criticized again criticised for a statement released on International Press Freedom Day, on Monday, which "appears to call on Pacific media to forego its watchdog role and instead become a partner with national governments."
Steven told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat that while in developed societies, participants knew how public debate should be conducted, "we in the Pacific are still adopting these (democratic) systems and a lot of our people don't understand them." That left the way open for "friction". He said opponents of governments should be reported, but the media itself should not seek "to change governments".
Comment. The watchdog role on government sounds great but the media has its own vested interests, it takes sides, and in many "democratic" societies it is part of the establishment it is supposed to watch. Two newspapers backing opposing political parties represents a sort of independence but with so little difference between the major parties, both are essentially backing the same horse with different jockeys. What's happened in Fiji is that sections of the media from at least 1987 onwards, with a blip during the short Chaudhry Labour years, have backed the government horse. But after the 2006 military takeover, both horse and jockey changed; the media continued to back the "old" horse and jockey; and the media-government link was broken because its continued to report biased reports about the newcomer.
There are, of course, legitimate concerns about media restrictions in Fiji even beyond government's legitimate concerns about the media, but Steven does have a point. One size does not fit all. Fiji is not Australia or New Zealand, or Samoa or the Cook Islands for that matter. It is doubtful proposals by journalists from the latter countries to move PINA from Fiji because of censorship would have anything more than symbolic value. I shall post a more substantial piece on censorship on Saturday.
FIJIAN Identity. Yesterday's posting has attracted important comments, not least of which is that the issue could open a hornet's nest at the time when everyone should be focusing on moving Fiji forward. There's also a comment on the Moturiki qoliqoli.
FIJI Gets Spy Agency. That's the latest Radio Australia News heading on Fiji. It's not the first time, as the radio reports, but the choice of heading is a little sinister. All countries have similar agencies. Check out Australian Secret Service Agency.
HOUSING Scheme Delayed. RadioNZI reports "Housing assistance scheme in Fiji will not go ahead" but then goes on to say the government-funded plan to give first home builders financial assistance won’t go ahead, until prices in the under-investigation hardware sector are regulated." There is a big difference between "won't go ahead" and "won't go ahead until." Who writes these headings? As previously reported: "USP Economics professor Biman Prasad has commended Government's new housing plan that will for the first time see collaboration with the private sector and banks. The plan will give up to $10,000 to first homeowners who are able to put down a 20 percent deposit. At an average cost of $100,000 a house the scheme will benefit 1,000 families, and put $100 million into the economy. Prasad called it a "smart way to help the low to middle income group buy houses,and increase economic activity in the construction industry which has suffered badly since the coup in 2006."
FILTHY Blog. The case of anti-government bloggers is not well served by this filthy post on RealFijiNews.