Thursday, April 08, 2010

Fiji's Junta Leader Chuffed at Media Decree Progress


Fiji's junta leader, Voreqe Bainimarama, believes the country's media industry has a better appreciation of the government's interest in engaging with it after yesterday's public consultations on the proposed media decree.

He told the Auckland-based Radio Tarana today he was confident the discussions at the Holiday Inn in Suva, had helped industry stakeholders come to a better understanding of his government's aims.

Bainimarama said the government recognised the media's ability to shape public perception and the media, in turn, needed to appreciate where it was coming from.

"What the government is asking with this medica decree is for the media to take greater responsibility and ownership in shaping a new and modern Fiji ... to lay the foundations towards equality, fairneess and a greater degree of ethics and moral principles."

The self-appointed leader was unapologetic about the government's aims, considered harsh by many, and said those in the industry who were unhappy with the decree had to get over it.

"My message is for them to reconsider their position. They need to understand the big picture and how government wishes to engage with it to take the nation forward. Government cannot, and will not, allow vested interest to take over the national interest. The latter is paramount."

Bainimarama chuckled when he was asked about the future of the Australian-owned Fiji Times, under the proposed decree. He said: "That's a question for the Fiji Times to answer."

He went on to say: "The Fiji Times has to ask itself how is it contributing to Fiji's overall development?"

While the provisions in the proposed decree call for media organisations to be owned locally, Bainimarama insisted the regime wanted to attract investors to Fiji and it wanted them to succeed.

In the Tarana interview, he also maintained the decision to abrogate the constitution was that of the former president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, but proclaimed it was the right decision. He said it was neccessary to bring about a clean slate and to create an environment that would enable Fiji's growth and development.

Bainimarama said he was satisfied with the progress his government has made, in the face of many challenges.
"We have a fully independent judicial,  we have ensured law and order is in pplace and the focus is now on reform in the various sectors, in particular  the public service."

He said the government was working towards its election deadline of 2014 and a new and modern Fiji and that a new constitution was a prerequisite to those elections.

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