Friday, May 25, 2012

Biased Fiji Sun Reporting Lambasted by Chaudhry

Radio NZ International News


The leader of the Fiji Labour Party Mahendra Chaudhry says the Fiji Sun newspaper has become a puppet of the interim government and abandoned basic media ethics.

On May 15th the newpaper published an article based on comments from the Ministry of Sugar’s Manasa Vaniqi that criticised Mr Chaudhry’s complaints about the state of the sugar industry.
Bainimarama Stooge & Puppet-Manasa Vaniqi
Mr Chaudhry, who is the National Farmers Union general secretary, says he then sent a statement to the newspaper in response but it was not published.

This week, the Fiji Sun published another article that stemmed from a statement by the Ministry of Sugar, again criticising Mr Chaudhry.

“That is not the only instance in the past few months. It has been the same story, there has been absolute bias on behalf of that newspaper, in fact it’s a puppet of the regime, people know it.”
Mahendra Chaudhry says the sugar industry has been declining rapidly in the last three years, and says when the regime took over it dismantled key industry institutions in which farmers were represented.

Chaudhry's rebuttal of the illegal regime's attack follows on former PM Qarase also putting out a similar statement (read below) pointing the finger at the current regime for the sad state of Fiji's sugar industry.

SDL PRESS RELEASE

The leader of the SDL Party, Mr. Laisenia Qarase, said today that the “blame-game” in the sugar industry should stop. He was responding to a media release from the Ministry of Information in which the Government has placed responsibility for our insolvent sugar industry on the former SDL Government.

The truth is that during the SDL five-year Government (2001-2006) the Fiji sugar industry performed well with a sugar output of 330,000 tonnes in 2006. During the present Government’s administration, sugar production has declined dramatically to a non-viable level of around 130,000 tonnes per annum. At this level of production the industry cannot be sustained and it will eventually fade away.

Mr. Qarase said that the SDL Government had obtained the necessary funding for the upgrading of the four sugar mills. In addition, the SDL Government had also secured a financial grant of around $350 million from the European Union to fund improvements to our sugar farms over seven years from 2007 to 2012. This financial grant from the EU was withdrawn following the military coup of December, 2006. The military Government proceeded to implement the sugar mills upgrade from loan funds secured by the SDL Government.

Mr. Qarase said, however, that the SDL Government’s implementation plan was thrown overboard and a different plan put in place. This is one of the reasons why the sugar re-structure has been a failure. To make matters worse the $350 million grant from the EU has been withdrawn because of the coup. This component of the re-structure package was crucial to its success.

Mr. Qarase said that if the SDL Government’s sugar re-structure plan had gone ahead without interruption, Fiji’s sugar production should be around 400,000 tonnes of sugar in 2012. Instead, sugar production is now around 130,000 tonnes per annum.
This total failure of the Government’s sugar plan cannot be blamed on the SDL Government or anyone else. They must accept full responsibility. The buck stops with the present Government. It is a mess that they themselves created.

Stop the blame-game!
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