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Fiji PM defends Vayeshnoi on radio decision

PM DEFENDS VAYESHNOI ON RADIO DECISION

SUVA: Fiji Islands Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry said media ethics had been breached in the presentation of a radio programme, the Sunday Times reports.

He defended the decision by Assistant Information Minister Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi to remove [Daily Post general manager] Thakur Ranjit Singh, the volunteer host of a bi-weekly programme on [the Hindustani-language] Radio Fiji Two, Tanik Hamari Bhi Suno.

Chaudhry said Vayeshnoi's decision was commendable as Singh had violated media ethics in the programme.

He also criticised the stand taken by the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) president, William Parkinson, on the issue.

"Parkinson should know journalistic ethics and very clearly Ranjit Singh has violated these ethics," said Chaudhry.

PINA had urged the government to refrain from interfering with Radio Fiji prograjmmes if the national broadcaster was to play its critical role in providing the people of Fiji with the information they needed to participate fully as citizens in a democracy.

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation Ltd chairman Daniel Whippy yesterday apologised to the South Indian residents of Labasa who might have been offended by Singh's comments.

"As chairman of the FBC, I have responded swiftly to complaints made directly to me by both the Government and other citizens of Fiji who are unhappy with Singh's comments," said Whippy.

"Singh's comments are personal and not that of the FBCL."

Singh expressed shock at the Government's decision.

"I feel that I have been stripped naked of my constitutional right - which is the right of freedom of speech," he said.

Singh said he had been a frequent contributor to the open column in the dailies.

The Fiji Times said in an editorial: "No matter how hard it tries, the Government cannot justify taking Mr Singh off the air. Voters did not give the Government a mandate to do as it pleases.

The Government's insensitivity to criticism has already lead to threats of regulating the media, revamping the Media Council and public attacks on the media at every opportunity.

"Now, it has crossed the line and introduced censorship."

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