6 October 1998


Angry Speaker talks of action over "The Fiji Times" reports

Incident details


(PINA/IFEX) - On 5 October 1998, the Speaker of the Fiji Islands House of
Representatives criticised the country's biggest daily newspaper, "The Fiji
Times", for publishing an Auditor-General's report before it was tabled in
the House. He suggested parliament take action to prevent this from
happening. Fiji Television news showed the Speaker, Dr. Apenisa Kurisaqila,
thumping his table in the House of Representatives as he described "The Fiji
Times" reports as arrogant. The leaked audit report highlighted misuse and
mismanagement of public funds in government departments and the military

**For background to previous harassment of "The Fiji Times", see IFEX alerts
dated 8 and 2 June, 28 May, 9 and 6 April 1998; 8 and 6 October 1997**
Kurisaqila was quoted on 6 October by "The Fiji Times" and the "Daily Post"
newspapers as asking if the House should condone such "arrogant behaviour in
breach of Parliament conventions and traditions which require that reports
must first be tabled in this House." He suggested action by the House of
Representatives procedural committee to ensure reports must first be tabled
in the House before being published. In an editorial headlined "Don't blame
the messenger", "The Fiji Times" commented: "The anger of the Speaker of the
House of Representatives, Dr. Apenisa Kurisaqila, would be better directed
at those ministries that have wasted public money than at the media that
exposed them."

Background Information

"The Fiji Times" has faced a number of actions by the privileges committees
of the elected House of Representatives and appointed Senate over its
reporting of their proceedings and its publication of leaked information. On
5 June 1998 the Senate privileges committee ruled that "The Fiji Times"
breached parliamentary privilege in a report and editorial of 30 September
1997. It said no formal charges would be laid but that the newspaper be
warned that any further breaches would have severe repercussions.

"The Fiji Times" is a previous winner of PINA Pacific Freedom of Information
Award for its efforts to promote freedom of information and its defence of
the public's right to know.


Pacific Islands News Association
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Private Mail Bag, Suva
Fiji Islands
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Fax:+679 3317055
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