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Skate Warns PM Over 'Media Gag'

Skate Warns PM Over 'Media Gag'

PORT MORESBY (Post-Courier Online/Pacific Media Watch): Former Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Bill Skate is ³alarmed¹¹ at [threats] by Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare of silencing the media reporting on the latest political events as they unfold.

Skate, the National Capital District MP, has warned Somare to stop meddling with the media¹s independence and freedom to report news and events according to the ethics of best practice journalism.

"Don¹t shoot the messenger of good or bad news. The media is the eyes and the ears of the public at large and no political leader in his or her right mind should intimidate, harass or persecute news men and women," Skate said.

"To meddle with freedom of the media is like Sir Michael¹s tunnel-visioned quest to secure his tenure in office by deviously seeking to amend Constitution Section 145. Sir Michael cannot coerce the media to report government propaganda at the expense of unbiased journalism.," Skate said.

He accused Somare of punishing political parties for their lack of political support for his controversial proposed amendment to the Constitution¹s section 145 by splitting them, then reshuffling ministers and sacking a major coalition partner from his government.

"Now he has turned on the media by telling them to report responsibility on political events but preferably on the gains of the Somare Government over the last 22 months." Skate said this was not proper, and urged Somare to let the media use its its own judgment on what it reports.

Meanwhile, Skate has named "trivial political pursuits" by Somare and his ministers as the reason behind Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia coming to the country¹s aid.

"Our neighbours are coming to our aid because our Prime Minister and his key economic ministers are busily involved in trivial political pursuits and making money for themselves that they do not care whether or not the nation and the people prosper," Skate said.



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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