By Luke Nacei in Suva
Social media posts by two outspoken Suva-based lawyers have been raised in Parliament over a critical culture “that has been created”.
Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told Parliament the lawyers, Jon Apted and Richard Naidu, were from a law firm that specialised in commercial law.
“But talking about confidence, let me read out these two Twitter or Facebook posts, I think: this one says, ‘Oh, well, who are we li’l folks to com-plane’.
“The next one says, ‘May be it could do a fly-past of the Minister of Economy to symbolise their strategy which, as far as I can see, is hope and prayer’.
“If we have principals of these types of law firms who Honourable Prasad [opposition National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad] and them get the advice from, they used to be the former lawyers of NFP on record, what is the hope of instilling confidence in the private sector?
“I think, I was told that they may have pulled this down after that, we got screenshots of it, but Mr Speaker, Sir, this is the kind of culture that has been created.
“We need to be able to refocus, if you really are concerned about the future, to be able to ensure that we are focused on the future, be able to provide the assistance to the people who require it now, but only God knows what is going to happen in six months’ time.
“Is there going to be another fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth variant? What are you going to do then? So, Mr Speaker, Sir, we cannot just simply think about it here and now.”
Pacific Media Watch comments that this is an astonishing assault on freedom of speech by a government minister.
Besides being a leading Fiji lawyer, Richard Naidu, is a former award-winning journalist and widely regarded as a social justice and media commentator.
Last month, he was the keynote speaker by Zoom for the Auckland-based Coalition for Democracy in Fiji’s Dr Timoci Bavadra memorial lecture in honour of Fiji’s 1987 prime minister who was deposed in the first coup.
Pacific Media Watch says that the minister should be more concerned with Fiji’s spiralling covid infection crisis than spending time criticising social media posts.
Luke Nacei is a Fiji Times journalist.