Fiji media condemn ‘distasteful, unacceptable’ threats by former PM

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Former Fiji prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama
Former Fiji prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama (left) with family members and suspended Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho at Suva courthouse . . . condemnation over media abuse. Image: Sophie Ralulu/The Fiji Times

By Rakesh Kumar in Suva

The Fijian Media Association (FMA) has labelled comments made by former prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama this week to media workers of Mai TV, Fijivillage and Fiji Sun outside the Suva courthouse as “distasteful, unbecoming, and unacceptable”.

Bainimarama told the Mai TV cameraman in the iTaukei language on Tuesday: “Qarauna de dua tacaqe, au na qai caqeta yani na muna.” (“Be careful no one stumbles, for I will then kick your backside.”)

The former prime minister also told the Fijivillage cameraperson “watch out, you slip, and then I will kick your backside”.

Earlier in the week, Bainimarama also told a Fiji Sun press photographer “kwan kwan”, a derogatory term commonly used to chase away dogs or animals.

In a statement, FMA said they found these comments highly offensive.

“The FMA continues to reiterate that journalists, photographers and videographers are doing an important work of informing the public, and threats of violence against them is unacceptable,” the statement read.

The FMA stated that journalists had come through a period — 17 years of media repression since the 2006 military coup — where they had been beaten, intimidated, and abused and would not let these threats to deter them from doing their duty.

Former prime minister Bainimarama and suspended police commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho are on trial on a count each of attempting to pervert the course of justice and abuse of office over an abandoned investigation relating to the University of the South Pacific in 2020.

Rakesh Kumar is a Fiji Times reporter. Republished with permission.

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