"We have stopped thinking along those lines"
We fully sympathize with the knee-jerk reaction of the National Federation Party and the potential damaging impact [if any] the above letter in the Fiji Sun could have on the party's standing among the non-Hindu voters. But we, equally, strongly believe that running to the Police over a "Letter to the Editor" in the press from a member of the public borders on trying to 'police thought' in Fiji. We are on record of taking a similar editorial position regarding the charges that were laid against the Fiji Times executives and the letter writer [still pending before the Fiji High Court]. For the very same reasons, we condemn the NFP's response. Ideally, the NFP should have written a corrective and sent it to the Fiji Sun for publication. The party could have demanded the letter writer Parmesh Prasad (if its his real name) to provide evidence to support his claims. And, if the paper declined to publish it, then the NFP could have taken it to another level. The party should be reminded of what Amnesty International wrote [30 March 2017] after learning of the charges against the Fiji Times executives and the letter writer to Nai Lalakai:
"The dark days when official censors roamed Fijian newsrooms, telling them what they can and cannot print, are best left in the past. The letter contained controversial views about Muslims. It was not written by any member of The Fiji Times Limited, but by a member of the public and published in the readers’ letters section, without the newspaper endorsing the views contained in it. The letter was distasteful, but its author has a right to their views, as long as they do not incite violence.”
(See AI's full statement at the end of this posting)
Let me make one thing very clear to NFP. No matter how many millions the FFP government pours into the Fiji Sun's coffers, the reading public's perception of that paper as a regime mouthpiece means that those millions will not translate into FFP votes. The danger to FFP is the enemy within - a diehard clutch of FFP Hindu MPs - who are backstabbing Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum because of his religious beliefs. There are those who keep accusing me that I have an ambivalent relationship with the current Fiji Sun because it is under the stewardship of my former journalist colleagues - Peter Lomas and Nemani Delaibatiki - who, like me, were victims of the Rabuka coups, resulting in the winding up of the old Fiji Sun of the same name, and most of us were sent packing into exile. During our golden hey days of journalism, whenever a politician or a party threatened us, we retorted:
"GO, TAKE A RUNNING JUMP". I have not kept in touch with Lomas and Delaibatiki but my only fervent wish is that the two rekindle that old spirit of crusading journalism - without fear or favour. However, its the NFP's right to file a Police complaint, as it states below:
CORRECTION: Dear All, Due to a typographical error, Kamal Iyer in the NFP's letter of complaint to Police against Fiji Sun for inciting communal antagonism is listed as the Party's General Secretary. The General Secretary of NFP is Jagannath Sami while Kamal Iyer is the Administrative Officer of NFP. - KAMAL IYER