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Takeuchi Denies Most Of Samoan Editor's Editorial

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SUVA (Pacnews/Pacbeat/Pacific Media Watch): Veteran Pacific journalist Floyd Takeuchi has claimed that Samoan publisher and editor Savea Sano Malifa "misinterpreted" a conversation he had with him at a bar in the Samoan capital, Apia, which resulted in a controversial editorial about Fiji's crime situation, Pacnews reports.

Savea, editor-in-chief and owner of the Samoan Observer, had sparked controversy in Fiji with a strongly worded editorial in which he claimed Takeuchi had described Fiji as "roiling in violence, its economy collapsing like a house of cards".

"I did not tell Malifa the Fiji economy was collapsing like a house of cards," Takeuchi said.

"What I did tell him is that we had a major problem when the group that I was travelling with arrived in Fiji - we were attacked within 12 hours of our arrival by an armed, masked mugger. And what I did say was that Fiji seems to be at a crossroads - there's an increase in lawlessness in the urban areas - there is no question about that.

"There seems to be hope in the business community, among people that I spoke with, that this might be a good year in Fiji, but they still had some major challenges to overcome," Takeuchi added.

"But [the economy] certainly wasn't collapsing. "

On questions about his comment in the editorial that there was "something about Melanesians which attracts violence", Takeuchi outrightly denied that he told Malifa anything of the sort.

"Well, I neither thought those thoughts nor said those things. I'm not too sure, quite frankly, where that came from," Takeuchi said.

"But having travelled to Fiji since the mid-70s on business, having worked there in the mid-90s [as editor of the Daily Post] , having a wide circle of professional and personal acquaintances, that wouldn't even enter my mind, to tell you the truth."

Takeuchi was concerned that Savea wrote down many things he did not say and that Savea never asked him to be on record - like a journalist should, saying he hoped he would not have to live through another time to be misrepresented in an editorial.

He added it was "unfortunate" Savea Sano Malifa wrote the editorial like he did, saying he was "sorry" he got "dragged into it", adding he could not answer on whether it was "a dose of old fashioned Polynesia-Melanesia rivalry"



PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

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