Blogs Politically-Motivated: Fiji Journalists Should Counter Untruths

Tuesday May 31st 2011, No:1118/MOI.  Think Fiji First. Statement by Sharon Smith-Johns, Permanent Secretary for Information, 

First let me take this opportunity to thank you for your attendance.
I wish to address the issue surrounding media coverage regarding the ex soldier Ratu Tevita who is in Tonga awaiting extradition.
The media in New Zealand and to some extent Australia have helped fuel rumors regarding this person and the false accusations targeted at the Fijian Government and its citizens.
I must stress to you all that reading these anti Fiji blog sites is not a source of credible information, these sites are run by politically motivated individuals who are mostly failed politicians and a smattering of disgruntled journalists. The majority of those commenting are from overseas and not from Fiji.
These blog sites have nothing positive to contribute to the growth of Fiji. They propagate rumors and stir up emotions to destabilize this country. Suffice to say the local media have unfortunately fallen for this trap and have used false information to lend false credibility to these stories.
The media has been misled by these baseless reports and have been used as a tool to further the interests of this select group of people who have proven to be anti Fiji.
Let me draw your attention to some examples of this false reporting.
Reports have suggested that Fiji is currently under 24 hour military roadblocks and people must be very cautious when traveling to Fiji. This is totally misleading and malicious.
I also bring to your attention the recent report by a New Zealand journalist that states that Fiji will not be having elections in 2014. No one from Government made that statement. It's false reporting and deliberately used to question Fiji’s commitment to holding elections. Let me state one more time, Fiji will go to elections in 2014; we have clearly said this time and again. 
A direct consequence of this incorrect and unfair reporting is the upgrading of the Australian Government’s travel advisory. We all know that there are no road blocks – there is no trouble. I am sure those Australians currently on holidays in Fiji, or doing business, can confirm this. The unnecessary travel advisory will not only hurt the Tourism Industry but the people of Fiji.
Why can’t journalists in Fiji counter the overseas media and correct this misreporting, why are we not doing more to stop the spread of these intentionally damaging and spiteful rumors, you ladies and gentlemen know exactly what is going on in this country, you have the tools to inform the world of what is really happening on the ground in Fiji, please use your collective power to work together to build a better Fiji.
As the case of Ratu Tevita is before the courts there will be no further comment from the Government.
Let me urge the media to stop using any anti Fiji blog sites as a credible source of information.
Let me also urge you today to put Fiji first and report in a fair and balanced way.
Lastly let me urge you to be objective and ‘THINK FIJI FIRST’.

Comments

No trouble - really ? said…
No roadblocks and no trouble = No need for a Public Emergency Decree ?

Sharon if you where announcing a lifting of the PER because everything is normal and Ok in Fiji then we could beleive you. Unfortunately we can't because you insist on continuing to you the decree to silence local media even though you have your own media decree in place.
Roadblocks said…
There has been a increase in the number of road blocks since Ratu Mara left for Tonga. You would have to be blind or never leave home to not see them. Then again they do tend to wave through government cars !
Fair enough now what can government do said…
Fair comments on the overseas media and the blog sites. Perhaps Sharon and government could take a more active role is promoting transparency in government. I suggest :

1. Release the pay details of all governemnt ministers and board members. Show us that no one from the military has benefited from this coup.

2. Release the auditor general reports from 2007 to now. Show us this government is doing a better job than the previous one.

3. Address claims of military brutality. This is a ahard one because we all know it happened again and again. Maybe here they need to make sure it stops from today.
Anonymous said…
Can I suggest if government is more honest it will help the cause. We where told Ratu was going on leave and assured he was still trusted officer (blogs correctly said he was being investigated and had fallen out eith Frank). We where told it was all normal (blogs again correct - it was not normal leave).

We have been told from day one that the military are the only ones who can bring about change and are better, cleaner, more efficient, loyal than everyone else (blogs have exposed corruption just like the rest of Fiji).

We where told no one in the military would benefit from this coup (blogs have correctly identified that almost everyone in the military has benefited from the coup).
Anonymous said…
So its not enough to silence the local media you now want hem to go on the attack and defend and promote a government that was declared illegal ?
Is that it? said…
Sharon
After being off the radar for weeks is that really the best you can do?
Anonymous said…
Sharon and Croz,

You describe these sites as anti-fiji blogsites. A more accurate description would be anti-coup, anti-dictatorship or anti-government web sites.

You and you bosses have made it very clear that the RFMF will not tolerate ANY OPPOSITION to how it thinks or what it does. Any negative comment or even perceived negative comment could land a person on charges under the PER or probably a beating in the first instance.

Now it may surprise you that opposition and alternate thought do exist. So if they are chanelled into websites it is because of a vacum created by you.

What you then have is only one avenue for the reasonable and insane. This is your doing. Reasonable people will ignore the insane but there is plenty of reasoned comments on anti-government and even pro-government sites (like this one).

When will this government grow up and realise they can't just point guns at everyone to fix things.
Some positive news said…
How about a more positive press conference Sharon. Why not update the local media on the progress in preparing for inclusive dialogue, a new constitution and elections ? Some dates and milestones would be useful. We are all waiting and I'm sure the press will give such god news a fair run.
truth and lies said…
Yep everything on the blogs is untrue. The only truth is that which comes from government and the military. Everyone in government and military speaks the truth (unless they leave the government or military then they only speak lies).

Bottom line is there is probably some truth in some of the things Ratu is raising and probably some lies. At equally some truth in governments spins and some lies. Problem is government would have us beleive we ahould only listen to them
Islander said…
Sharon and Croz

You can't be serious in beliveing the lies that keep coming out from this interim government!

Tell the inteim rulers of this country to be honest and up front for a changedd and they may get some credibility.

Its incredible that you both beleive that a couple of unelected people know better then the people of Fiji, colletively.

It is even more incredible that you continue to go out of your way to push their agenda!!
Priya Sinha said…
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