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Fiji: Media Lacks Business Expertise, Says Boyd

SUVA (Pacific Media Watch): Businessmen implicated in Fiji's May 2000 coup could have been identified if local journalists understood and were fully aware of the political and economic development before and after the crisis, the Sunday Times reports.

Australian High Commissioner Susan Boyd said yesterday that because there were so few local reporters who specialise in the field and the lack of attention given to to the business community by the media, the businessmen escaped the law.

Ms Boyd spoke at the opening of the AusAID-sponsored Pacific Media Initiative (PMI) Developing Business and Finance Pages workshop hosted by the Fiji Times in Suva.

She said the media had the role to expose the interests of the businesses such as:

* Who is benefitting?

* What is the relationship between one business and another?

* What is the relationship between a particular business to the government?

* Who is involved in the business?

"All these things are important for the people to know and understand, for it to be out in the open," Ms Boyd said.

"These are not secret matters. The media needs to disclose this information, to investigate deeply into these matters.

"If there is something seriously wrong on the business side they need to expose it.

"The same way it is the role of the media to investigate if there may be something wrong with the government side."

She said business was as important a player in the national economy as the government and it therefore needed the same media attention.

She said that when closely analysing the situation of May 2000, business people were certainly part of the civil unrest.

"The source of the unrest at that time causing the disruption in Fiji were individuals with business and economic interests," Ms Boyd said.

"They were certainly part of the mix that was fuelling the unrest."

Citing the mahogany business as an example, Ms Boyd highlighted:

* The concern about who controlled mahogany.

* Who would derive the financial benefits?

* Which company was involved in the deals?

* Who was behind it?

"It's important in terms of understanding the political and economic development to understand the role of business and the role of individual busines people," she said.


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