FIJI TIMES EDITOR, NETANI RIKA, SAYS CENSORSHIP MEANS MAJOR EVENTS GO UNREPORTED

Rowan Callick, Asia-Pacific editor | May 08, 2009
Article from: The Australian

THE editor of the Fiji Times newspaper, Netani Rika, has spoken out for the first time about how major events go unreported because of military censorship imposed in the Pacific nation.

Mr Rika spoke at a UNESCO workshop in Samoa planned originally for Fiji’s capital, Suva.

It was moved to Apia, said Susuve Laumaea, the Papua New Guinean chairman of joint organiser the Pacific Freedom Forum, because it would have been impossible to hold it in Fiji. Mr Rika, whose newspaper is owned by News Ltd, also owner of The Australian, would not have been permitted to make his speech in his home country following last month’s abrogation of the Fiji constitution and the continuing state of emergency under Prime Minister and 2006 coup leader Frank Bainimarama.

“Basically, any story on government must put the interim regime in a positive light or it will not be permitted, even if balance is provided in the form of a comment from a minister or senior public servant,” Mr Rika said.

He said that after April 10, when the constitution was abrogated, judges were sacked and the military government was reappointed until at least September 2014, media organisations were told each would be allotted a censor accompanied by a plainclothes police officer.

“We were not told from whom the censor would need protection,” he said. “The number of censors and of police officers has increased. In Fiji, it is often the case that rules can change from day to day without warning or explanation.”

The Fiji Times Sunday edition published following the imposition of censorship carried white space in place of stories culled by the censors, and was now a collectors’ item, Mr Rika said.

“It was a sensation and drove home to the people of Fiji the point that we were powerless to tell the truth, to tell the country what it needed to know.”

But the newspaper’s management was told by the Government’s information secretary that white space was not permitted, he said.

Instead, he said, “we continue to cover stories which do not portray the interim Government in a good light and inundate the censors with copy”, which “more often than not is declared unfit for consumption and knocked back”.

“It is an extremely frustrating exercise.”

The newspaper provided comprehensive coverage of the closure last week of Air Fiji, the country’s oldest airline, Mr Rika revealed. However, “the censor on duty did not allow our reports to run unless we carried a quote from a specific minister”.

“We refused, and pulled the story. The following day, we placed the same stories in front of a different censor – no worries, the issue was covered.”

**************************************************
MAY GOD BE WITH YOU AND YOUR FAMILY MR RIKA, AND KEEP YOU ALL SAFE FROM THE GROSS INTIMIDATION BY THE MILITARY AND ILLEGAL REGIME APOLOGISTS.

THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT SIKUA FROM THE SOLOMON ISLANDS, THE TUVALUANS AND OTHERS LIKE THE MAORIS WITH TUNNEL VISION NEED TO ABSORB AND TRY TO UNDERSTAND.

CENSORSHIP IS ONLY EVER ENFORCED IF THE GOVERNMENT (THESE IDIOTS LED BY VOREQE BHAINIMARAMA ARE ILLEGAL, IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW) OF THE DAY HAS GROSS ATROCITIES AND MAJOR FISCAL IMPROPRIETIES TO HIDE. VOREQE BHAINIMARAMA AND HIS COUPSTERS HAVE COMMITTED BOTH OF THESE AND MORE UNDESCRIBABLE CRIMES.

IF MR RIKA OR ANY OF HIS FAMILY MEMBERS ARE HARMED, THESE COUP APOLOGISTS ARE GUILTY FOR EXACERBATING THE DESPERATE SITUATION WE ARE FACED WITH IN FIJI THAT WE DO NOT WANT OR NEED.

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4 Responses to “FIJI TIMES EDITOR, NETANI RIKA, SAYS CENSORSHIP MEANS MAJOR EVENTS GO UNREPORTED”

  1. Discover The Pleasures In Collectible Hobby | Baby & Parenting Says:

    […] FIJI TIMES EDITOR, NETANI RIKA, SAYS CENSORSHIP MEANS MAJOR EVENTS … […]

  2. Budhau Says:

    Fiji Times brought it unto itself – we all saw how the Fiji Times went for Chaudary in 2000 and helped create the environment that led to the 2000 coup.

    Here is what that Field guy had to say about Fiji Times back then:

    “The Rupert Murdoch-owned Fiji Times, then under particularly
    intellectually barren editorial leadership, engaged in unethical, unsourced
    and frequently wrong scandal-mongering about the Chaudhry government.
    Chaudhry was right at the time: ‘Since taking office, my government has had occasion to be extremely disgusted by the antics of some elements in the media who have used the medium of the newspaper and television to further their own personal agendas to discredit the government’.”

    Freedom of expression is not an absolute right. The state can regulate speech if there is a compelling reason to do so.
    Here, national security trumps Fiji Times right to freedom of speech. Just like the Fiji Times created an environment for the 2000, it was going the same route – get the masses going against the regime.

    Whether you like the regime or not – you do understand the need for the regime to cover it’s ass, so we have censorship now – their CYA policy.

    While we all want a free press and a democratic nation – it is people like the folks at the Fiji Times, by behaving irresponsibly have contributed to the mess that we are in today.

    No one is condoning Franks actions – and we all know how Frank might react – so what did the media get by printing newspapers with blank spaces in it, or writing stories about paint drying – that 30 day extension of censorship – that was Frank giving them a finger because of the media folks trying be smart asses.

  3. senijiale Says:

    Or… it was another stupid kneejerk reaction by the jerky tinpot dictator after the Fiji Times Ltd gave him the finger with those blanket spaces on paper depicting the gray matter between Bainimarama and cohorts’ flappy ears, haha! And yes Bud, whilst no freedom is an absolute right expect for life perhaps, there were recourses for redress as is the case in all civil societies until the Pig took over and eventually chucked out the judiciary, remember?

  4. epeli Says:

    I’m not sure where the f… you so-called Fiji citizens are writting from but did you know that since after the abrogation of the constitution by the Military IG, over 100 Fijians have been arrested by the Military and so-called Fiji Police and we don,t know of their whereabout?
    The Media are not allowed to report these and there are no court system to deal with this travesty.
    People are been checked at the Airport by the Military are put back on the airplane and sent back to where they came from, whithout anyone been told or the media to report-etc,etc,.

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