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Fiji Times Exposes Terrorist Linked Journalists

Fiji Times Exposes Journalists With Links To Terrorists

Issue No: 211; 19 November 2000

The People's Coalition Government issued a media release on11 November 2000 on the need for a responsible press (see http://www.pcgov.org.fj/press_rel/responsible_press_11nov.htm).

The Fiji Times did not publish the release.

On Wednesday 15 November, however, it published a long letter from one T Sova of Nasinu titled `Hidden agenda' making references to the People's Coalition media release. The letter started:

"It puzzles one's imagination to note that the People's Coalition has emerged to state that the Fiji Times has a hidden agenda in reporting events following the mutiny".

What is puzzling is that there was no coverage of the Coalition media statement by the Fiji Times or any print media for that matter. What then puzzles ones imagination is where did the letter writer T Sova get the report that the People's Coalition had stated that the Fiji Times had a hidden agenda.

Commentators believe that the letter was either written by a Fiji Times journalist or that the journalist passed on the media release to some T. Sova.

The letter also refers to a 12 November article in the Fiji Times [written by Fiji Times journalist Margaret Wise] titled "Uncertainty hangs in the air" and endorses the view that Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara survived so long because of old boy network and strategic marriages.

The Sova letter also states: "Currently one English daily is making a big hue and cry about discovering who gave orders for the former president to be evacuated from his palace. If that person were to be found I suggest that he or she be nominated for the Noble Prize for peace. If this country is to prosper democratically and peacefully then the chess game has to cease". Sova's reference is to the Daily Post where columnist Mesake Koroi had stated that the mastermind behind the attempted coup of 19 May can be found by finding who gave the orders to evacuate the President. It is now well known that the order for the evacuation was given by ex-PM Sitiveni Rabuka.

If we used the terrorist George Speight's phrase, one does not need to be an Einstein to figure out who wrote the letter and on whose behalf.

The Fiji Times has of late become so reckless as to fully expose itself as a paper employing journalists with clear links to the terrorists who wreaked havoc on the nation.

Last week one Fiji Times journalist appeared in the Labasa Magistrate's Court for the charge of unlawful assembly. The journalist, Ruci Mafi, together with a radio journalist (Therese Ralogaivasu) have been accused of actively supporting the terrorists who took over the Labasa military barracks (see full story and background: http://www.pcgov.org.fj/archive/2000-08/no9.htm).

The Fiji Times has now tried to project this charge as a purge of media freedom by linking it to the arrest and detention of 3 Radio Fiji journalists by the military 3 weeks ago. Its 14 November reporting of the case against its own journalist devoted over 40% of the space to the Radio Fiji journalists arrested by the military. It stated: "Their case follows the arrest of two Radio Fiji journalists an dits acting chief executive over a story the army claimed was not true".

The Times followed up with another article on 15 November titled "Tarte hails journos" and referred to the two journalists charged in Labasa. Tarte, the Chairperson of the Fiji Media Council, however, stated more generally that journalists should be commended for their efforts in risky situations. On those arrested, Tarte stated that journalists, like other citizens, must abide by the law.

After the attempted coup of 2 November, the Fiji Times led the charge against the military for the military's assault against the military barrack held by terrorists. It fell just short of calling for the deposition of the Military Commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

The Fiji Times is owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Its publisher is Australian Alan Robinson, and (nominal) editor is former sports writer Samisoni Kakaivalu.

END

Provincial Councils Don't Represent Fijian Opinion – Chief

Issue No: 210; 19 November 2000

Provincial Councils should not be taken to represent indigenous Fijian opinion on the Constitution.

This was stated by Bau Chief and former Judge Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi in TV's Close-up Program this evening. Responding to a comment that ethnic Fijians seem to have rejected the 1997 Constitution, Ratu Joni stated that the views of ordinary Fijians needs to be sought through a well-designed questionnaire and a referendum on the issue. He stated that the consensus mode of decision-making in provincial councils did not allow for free expression of views of ordinary people. He stated that the ordinary people often felt that by expressing their views they would hurt those wielding traditional power.

So far the Cakaudrove and the Macuata Provincial Councils have rejected the 1997 Constitution after their think tanks, headed by civil servants, made such proposals. Former PM and the attempted coup conspirator, Sitiveni Rabuka had also spoken at the Cakaudrove Provincial Council.

The Great Council of Chiefs meets on 27 November in Suva where the Constitutional matters are expected to be discussed.

END

Justice Gates Threatened

Issue No: 209; 18 November 2000

Justice Gates has been threatened by unidentified thugs.

This was revealed by the Acting Commissioner of Police Moses Driver in a TV news interview tonight. Driver did not divulge any further detail of the threats but stated that the security force was providing Gates protection.

Gates delivered the highly acclaimed judgment on the 1997 Constitution and state institutions on Wednesday 15 November.

Driver confirmed that the police was on full alert because some people who did not fully understand the Gates' judgment and the process of law may be planning to take the law in their hands.

On Friday afternoon, a bomb threat at the Lautoka courthouse led to the evacuation of people from the building housing the Court and sealing off of the road leading to the courts by fully armed soldiers.

It is believed that some elements involved with the 19 May and subsequent terrorist activities are behind the recent campaign of destabilization.

END

UGP Members Clash On Constitution Ruling

Issue No: 208; 18 November 2000

United General Party officials have clashed over Justice Gates' ruling on the 1997 Constitution.

One of the two UGP members of Parliament and UGP President David Pickering has been quoted in today's Fiji Times as saying that the support provided to the interim regime against the ruling by Judge gates by UGP vice-President David Blakelock was "scandalous, ridiculous and naïve". Pickering stated: "The law of the land should be followed. It is not a question of what you like best. Mr. Blakelock is a capable man, loyal to the law of the land and I believe that he did not write that statement".

UGP is a Coalition partner of the SVT and NFP. One former UGP member informed the People's Coalition that the fact that the UGP's vice-president issued a statement without the knowledge of the President and the President's claim that the statement was not written by the Vice-President seriously question the integrity of some leaders of the UGP and their sincerity to democracy in Fiji.

Many members of the UGP have expressed similar disgust at Blakelock's condemnation of Justice Gates' judgment. Earlier, some key members of UGP, including Mick Beddoes, Prudence Rouse and Dan Rouse had resigned from the UGP in protest at the UGP's decision to participate in the interim regime's Constitution writing exercise.

A day after the Gates' ruling, Blakelock stated: "To attempt to remove it [Qarase regime] at this stage would, in our view, lead to more uncertainty, fear and probable instability. The nation has to consider what is politically possible and realistic at this difficult time." He further stated: "The Gates' judgment represents one judgment by one judge in one case. The legal process, therefore, has to continue."

Blakelock's statement, remarkably similar to statements issued by the Qarase regime, was carried on the interim regime's official website on 16 November.

END


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