The National Federation Party (NFP) has called for the immediate dismissal of Ashwin Raj from his post as Chair of the Media Industry and Development Authority (MIDA) and Director of the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission (FHRADC), because of his suggestions to stifle freedom of speech on national television.
Following is the statement issued by Professor Biman Prasad, Member of Parliament and Leader of the NFP.
The suggestions by Mr Raj on Sunday, April 2, 2017 on FBCTV Current Affairs Show ‘For the Record,’ urging the State to pursue the regulation of social media are shocking and must be condemned in the strongest terms.
Chilling and Unconstitutional
The NFP strongly condemns these suggestions to the State by Mr Raj, which we know are all being said under the pretext of “responsibility. It is chilling, unconstitutional and could be easily wielded as an instrument to again stifle the voices of the people of Fiji.
What we find further disturbing are his pointed attacks on political parties and then the further justification of these attacks, to bring in regulation over social media.
The NFP sees this as a blatant attempt to stifle the voices of political parties in the lead-up to elections next year.
Fiji already has in place a heavily regulated media industry, with draconian laws, and penalties. There is no need to introduce further laws to stifle civil liberties. There is instead a great need to repeal these laws.
Our citizens had taken to Mr Raj himself their complaints on communal antagonism against FBCTV for the programme ‘Wasea Basha.’
However, Mr Raj merely brushed these off as not meeting the ‘threshold for inciting communal discord.’
It seems that he has conveniently changed his mind on what such a ‘threshold’ constitutes when this has concerned the State and its representatives.
We are also appalled with the false accusations and political commentary that have emerged from Mr Raj in defending the statement of Fiji’s Ambassador to Geneva, Nazhat Shameem at the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council.
His statement was based on an inaccurate lengthy version of the Ambassador’s statement, which the Fiji Mission in Geneva continued to have on its website and furthermore made some serious political commentary and opinion of what he thinks is true.
Photo Caption: Ashwin Raj