By Arieta Vakasukawaqa in Suva
FijiFirst party general secretary Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum claims they are fighting The Fiji Times and Communications Fiji Ltd — not political parties — in the lead up to the 2022 general election.
He said this while taking a swipe at The Times during a news conference this week at the FijiFirst party headquarters in Suva.
Sayed-Khaiyum claimed the two media organisations were “always parroting” the People’s Alliance and the National Federation Party “without checking the facts”.
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“We are not fighting other political parties, we are fighting two mainstream media organisations — Fiji Times and CFL,” he said.
“The Fijian public know that. This is why we have our live Facebook when we have conferences, because we don’t expect these people to do any justification in terms of what we are saying.
“I urge you if you are serious about your profession and the organisation you work for, are independent, not just say ‘independent’.
“The saying goes [that] the proof is in the eating of the pudding.
“We have a seen a continuous propagation by Fiji Times and by CFL, simply parroting whatever the PAP and NFP says without checking the facts; we have a very sad state of affairs today.”
Sayed-Khaiyum cited as an example that when NFP reported the FijiFirst party to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption about placing a banner on the Civic Car Park, The Fiji Times continued to publish commentary from NFP general secretary Seni Nabou.
“They have absolutely no idea of what due process means, they have absolutely no idea, neither Fiji Times nor does CFL have any idea what an independent process means.
“They throw these words around, bending these words around, yet not understanding what [they] mean.”
Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley responded that The Fiji Times was being attacked — “as usual” — for doing its job.
“We strive for fair and balanced coverage of the news, especially now as political parties go into election mode,” he said.
“Understandably the pressure is on the government to respond to statements by opposition parties. We offer them a platform to clarify issues and to make statements.
We refer all opposition party criticism to the government for comment. The government rarely, if ever, replies.
“We are not here to make the government look good. We offer a platform for every party to voice their opinions. Some choose to use it and some do not.”
Arieta Vakasukawaqa is a Fiji Times reporter. Published with permission.