Fiji Journalists Are 'Mad, Crazy Loonies', Says Senator
By STAFF REPORTERS: August 29, 2002 Wansolwara Online
SUVA (Wansolwara Online/Pacific Media Watch): The news media in Fiji has come under attack in the Senate for the second time this week with a government senator describing journalists as "mad, crazy loonies and stupid people" who needed "to be trained, guided and directed", reports Wansolwara Online.
Senator Mitieli Balaunauca called the media "Satan's agents" and said that editors, publishers, reporters and announcers were racist and naive amateurs who were breaking down the fabric of life in Fiji.
"All they are concerned with is breaking down the fabric of life here in Fiji. They are indeed Satan's agents and forces. They are mad, crazy loonies and stupid people," he said.
On Monday, another government senator, Reverend Tomasi Kanailagi, a former Methodist Church of Fiji president, branded The Fiji Times and Fiji One as agents of evil.
"We follow closely what they are trying to do and know they are the agents of some powerful foreign agencies, agents of evil planning against Christianity, especially the Methodist Church," he said.
Rev Kanailagi's anger stemmed from media reports that the church's finances were not being properly audited. There is also intense debate in Fiji about tithing and the burden it is placing on indigenous Fijians. The Fiji Times has written scathing editorials on the issue.
Rev Kanailagi said the reports were slanted against indigenous Fijians because most reporters at The Fiji Times and Fiji One were Indians.
A Fiji Times photographer was chased away from the church's annual conference in Suva this month. The church collected more than $1 million in donations from members during the conference.
Rev Kanailagi said reports that the church's finances had never been audited were an "unforgivable lie". The media's aim was to see the church "destroyed and perish," he said.
In an editorial on Tuesday, The Fiji Times said making the point that the burden of giving to the church held back the social and economic development of the Fijian community was not an attack on the church.
"We sought to distinguish between willing donations and donations on demand. We repeat that the Methodist Church in Fiji places unfair pressure on its flock to hand over money."
The statements by Rev Kanailagi were criticised by the Fiji Media Council.