|Professor Biman Prasad ... sound credentials - for democracy and a free media. |
Photo: Republika Magazine
In a speech to a working group of the rejuvenated National Federation Party, he handed out a few bouquets to the Fiji scribes.
Professor Prasad was at pains to acknowledge the handicaps that journalists faced in Fiji under the Media Industry Development Decree (MIDA), saying that while this remained in force, the 2014 general election in September “cannot be free and fair – period”.
And unlike many other politicians, he actually knows what he is talking about with the country’s media. In 2008, he was co-editor of a Fijian Studies academic journal with the theme “Media and democracy” in Fiji. And this followed a rare Pacific media textbook textbook Media and Development: Issues and Challenges in the Pacific Islands. In both collaborations his partner was then USP head of journalism Shailendra Singh.
So his commitment to media freedom is sincere and well-argued. But after eight years under this military backed regime, it is hard to think back to the days when Fiji actually had a feisty, truly independent media, arguably the best in the region.