By Ian Johnstone, former manager of RNZ International
All across the South Pacific, tribute is being paid to broadcaster and journalist Shiu Singh who has died in his home in Suva, Fiji.
The sad news will be carried throughout Micronesia, Polynesia and Melanesia via media networks such as PACNEWS, which was pioneered and built up over years of dedicated hard work by Singh.
In the 1960s, as Singh began a term of service in the RNZAF, his homeland Fiji and many other Pacific colonies of Britain, USA, New Zealand and Australia were preparing to become self-governing or independent, but were hindered because their only communication links were with their colonial masters.
- READ MORE: The PACNEWS media service today
- Radio Happy Isles: Media and politics at play in the Pacific – a history of PACNEWS
Pacific Islanders heard no news from or about their neighbours, and had no chance to talk with each other, swap advice, exchange experiences.
In the 1970s, Singh, now back in Fiji with a fine reputation as a current affairs broadcaster set about changing that state of affairs.
Soon after helping to establish the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) he took on the daunting task of gathering, editing, compiling and re-distributing Pacific news right across our region. It is largely because of his dedication and professionalism that PACNEWS exists today.
Singh overcame many challenges, including a threat by Fiji’s military government to censor bulletins and destroy the credibility he had worked so hard to establish.
His response was to say goodbye to his beloved Prabha and family and – after a two-day hiatus – resume the much valued PACNEWS from a new home in Vanuatu.
We mourn the passing of an outstanding public broadcaster who gave great service to Pacific people in the course of a distinguished career marked by reliability, honesty, impartiality and extremely hard work.
Vinaka vaka levu, Shiu. May you rest in peace.
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.