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SUVA (PMW): Fiji's Daily Post group, through an editorial in its Sunday
edition, has rejected charges that it is a "mouthpiece of government"
and has vowed to continue to speak out boldly.
The editorial in the Sunday Post on 27 August 2000 comes in the wake of
Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's launching of the company's new Hindi
weekly Ramneek Post on August 24.
The military-backed interim government has a controlling 44 per cent
interest in the company inherited from the previous government of
Sitiveni Rabuka and maintained by the deposed Fiji Labour Party-led
coalition government of Mahendra Chaudhry.
The editorial said: "This paper will always support the conciliatory and
healing process [since the arrest last month of the leaders of the May
19 insurrection].
"However, as [we] have stated in the past, we as the Fourth Estate, are
the mouthpiece and conscience of the people. That is more the reason to
be so in the existing trying circumstances where we do not have an
elected government.
"Therefore, despite the fact that the government holds majority shares
in our company, we are not the mouthpiece of government.
"If anything, we have, on occasions been more critical of it - and
boldly so - than anybody else where we found legitimacy to be critical.
"Today, we are highlighting an issue which we feel needs to be
Some media analysts have indicated that the Daily Post's editorials were
often more outspoken and courageous than their two rival newspapers'
opinions during Fiji's political crisis.
In the accompanying editorial, headlined "Child of our hope", the Sunday
Post joined the nation's school management boards in criticising the
interim government's decision to reduce its per capita grant to all
secondary schools by 50 per cent.
"One thing has become abundantly clear with some of the government's
decisions are that they are in great haste to dismantle the policies and
directions mapped out by the People's Coalition. We think it is time the
interim administration swallow the bitter pill and give credit where it
is due.
"This paper applauds the initiative of the deposed government in giving
priority to social welfare issues such as education, health and poverty.
For this reason an Education Commission was set up to forge an effective
path for learning, human resource development and education in this
At the Ramneek Post launching on August 24, Prime Minister Qarase had
said the media must ensure that his administration was open, honest and
accountable in the absence of Parliament.
He also called on the media to promote national reconciliation and unity
to foster a mutually caring and compassionate society.
"The media must also be a tool of development and nation-building,
rather than a forum for creating and exacerbating racial suspicions and
tensions between our communities," Qarase said.

Title -- 2930 FIJI: Daily Post group vows to speak out
Date -- 27 August 2000
Byline -- None
Origin -- Pacific Media Watch
Source -- PMW, 27/8/00
Copyright -- PMW
Status -- Unabridged


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