Broadcaster Warned By Military
SUVA (PMW): Fiji's military forces have warned a local broadcaster who has had controversial links with the insurrection forces led by detained rebel George Speight to stop his attacks which "ridicule" the army, according to the Daily Post newspaper.
The Daily Post reported on 15 September 2000 that the army had complained to the military-installed interim administration about the broadcaster.
Although the paper did not name him, he has been identified as breakfast show host Tukini Cama of FM96, a station operated by Communications Fiji Ltd, owned by Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) president William Parkinson.
During the peak of the insurrection after Speight's rebels seized Parliament on May 19 and held the elected government hostage for 56 days, Cama was in the spotlight over an apparent quasi-journalist role close to the rebels.
He also featured in an incident in trying to get to Nukulau Island, the makeshift prison near Suva now holding Speight and 20 other rebels charged with treason.
According to the Daily Post, military spokesperson Major Howard Politini said: "While we recognise the right of people like the broadcaster concerned to express their opinion, we will not accept public ridicule of the institution.
"Our servicemen have sacrificed a lot since the beginning of this crisis and have also lost their lives in the service of their country," he said.
The military also wrote a letter of complaint to the interim administration, the paper said.
Major Politini said the army would not tolerate such behaviour as it belittled the sacrifice of servicemen, was highly insensitive and deeply offensive.
"We question his impartiality, particularly as he is closely associated with one of those that the army incarcerated at Nukulau and was taken off a naval patrol boat bound for Nukulau after boarding under false pretences," he said.
Director of Telecommunications in the Ministry of Communications Josua Turaganivalu was cited by the newspaper as saying the military was justified in its complaint.
The newspaper did not gain comment from Cama or the radio station. However, in the September 11 edition of the University of the South Pacific journalism programme newspaper Wansolwara he was quoted as saying allegations of his "closeness" with the rebels were just a "headache".
"We were there [in Parliament] to tell a story," Cama said. "In Fiji, you are connected to anybody because it is so small; you know them either through blood or through circumstances."
PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH ONLINE: http://www.pmw.c2o.org