The MIDA Chairman (Mr Ashwin Raj) and Media Censorship Professor Wadan Narsey (13 April 2014)
The MIDA Chairman (Mr Ashwin Raj) and Media Censorship
Professor Wadan Narsey (13 April 2014)
Since 2009, most of my serious opinion articles have been censored from the Fiji media. In the last few months I resorted to writing Letters to the Editor, simply to try and raise important issues with the public. Most of these letters were also not published until Mr Ashwin Raj was appointed as Chairman of MIDA, and I began cc’ing my Letters to the Editor to him, after which roughly a half began to be published.
I was surprised therefore to receive the following email from Mr Ashwin Raj (dated 28 March 2014)
Dear Dr. Narsey,
While I acknowledge your contribution to public discourse on matters germaine to national interest, it is imperative that I am not openly (or otherwise) copied in the quotidian nature your correspondence with the media. Given my position as Chairman of MIDA and given my ongoing efforts in ensuring that both MIDA and the Fijian media remain independent, fair and transparent at all times, this act of openly copying me each time you request the media to publish your letters and opinion pieces can be construed as an act of coercion.
You are, of course, most welcome to approach MIDA in the event that your articles have been systematically excluded by the Fijian media. ….. from my press conference this week … I am requiring all media outlets to disclose their in-house editorial policy. The public or any other concerned entity has the right to know why some letters, articles and opinion pieces get published to the exclusion of others.
I replied to him the same day:
Dear Mr Raj
You know that I have been one of the few academics who has been writing serious feature articles for the newspapers (and giving interviews to television and radio) on matters of public interest for the last thirty years, usually on economics but also on politics, constitution and governance . .. Put together, they are the equivalent of several substantial books. …. (I attach a list of these articles, published by the media and lately, only on the blogs)…
Of relevance is that the numbers of articles published by Fiji Times and Fiji Sun, have been as follows:
You can see clearly, how just this one academic has been effectively censored by the media…..
I am also virtually banned from interviews by the television and radio stations, which interviews used to be quite common before 2010 … Currently I am only interviewed by international media….
I have also resorted to Letters to the Editor, which, while not a satisfactory medium for the ideas I write about, nevertheless have the potential to make the public aware of important issues. But even those Letters to the Editor were initially not being printed.
… I am personally affronted that my basic human right to communicate my views to the public, has not just been eroded but totally denied……
Since you have been appointed as Chairman of MIDA, I have been cc’ing my Letters to the Editor to you, so that you can see at first hand, which letters are printed and which are not. I have a page on my blog site which makes this clear.
I am happy to note (and I thank you) that more have been printed since you have been appointed as Chairman. My cc’ing the letters to you is not to “coerce” you in any way, but to make you directly aware of the censorship that is going on……
I look forward to your ascertaining from the media
(a) What exactly is their general policy
(b) Why they have censored some of my Letters to the Editor and
(c) Why they do not take the kinds of articles from me they used to publish regularly prior to 2010.
I look forward to you communicating your findings to the public and to me, as a directly affected and concerned citizen and tax payer of Fiji.
Professor Wadan Narsey
I am still waiting for a reply.