Saturday, 22 August 2009

PFF@PINA 2009 --New PINA leadership must step up and restore credibility

PFF position on inaugural Pacific Media Summit/PINA 2009: 
For immediate release: Friday 14th August 2009 -- Questions over the future and credibility of the Pacific Islands News Association must be urgently addressed by the newly elected leadership says regional media watchdog the Pacific Freedom Forum.  These include immediate expulsion of the Fiji Ministry of Information if it is found to be a PINA member, seeking help to address grievances which split Vanuatu's media and cast a cloud over the 09 inaugural media summit, and putting in writing what PINA means when it talks about 'engaging' with Fiji's military leadership.

Other urgent matters include basic, written guidelines covering PINA's rules of procedure in a handbook for all members and intending members. This will help future PINA conferences and AGMs to run more smoothly, says PFF Chair Susuve Laumaea of Papua New Guinea.  "Apart from Fiji newsrooms directly affected by the PER and military censors, other Pacific journalists and national media organizations who are PINA members cannot report with authority against the military regime in Fiji and its suppression of media freedom if the PINA leadership is perceived to be entertaining military censors. It's un-nerving at least and hypocritical at worst."  "While we congratulate the new PINA executive and thank the outgoing office-bearers for their leadership since PINA 2007, it was obvious to our members at the Port Vila convention that better organisation of the conference program and AGM was needed. This could have helped avoid the resulting criticism and friction over issues of membership and voting rights. As well, we had present military censors who were clearly uncomfortable and defensive over being in the midst of a media freedom summit," he says. 
"Engaging is the Pacific Way. It should always be the preferred option. But it needs commitment from both sides to work. One has to engage within boundaries that do not compromise your founding creed or your credibility in the eyes of those you represent. Putting it in writing will help PINA's leadership explain why it has failed to do the most basic of actions -- expel a member who was in fact attacking the human rights of other members. I applaud Netani Rika for his walkout on his own session, but also wonder why other PINA members did not do the same in disappointment. Session and workshop resolutions were loosely or not minuted, speakers were pulled at the last minute to include those perpetrating threats on a panel of media freedom heroes, and we have yet to see a PINA communiqué which provides the true justification to funders and those of us who were not there, for the event even taking place."  "The PFF formalised its request for partnership and placed it before the AGM of the outgoing and incoming leadership. We accept that in the rush of the AGM, this and other important matters were relegated until the next meeting of the new executive later this year. It is our intention to continue our work in parallel with a strong and transparent PINA, in ways that support the founding credo behind both PINA and PFF: media freedom for a better Pacific."   PFF will be submitting a draft MOU for consideration by the new PINA executive.   "We acknowledge that the new leadership is already mindful of the task ahead, and stand by prepared to assist in any way possible," says co-chair Monica Miller," but we feel the promise of a renewed and fresh new PINA has yet to be met, particularly in the wake of the 2009 Pacific Media Summit. "  "A regional organisation which touts media freedom as its basis for existence cannot afford to have its premiere biennial event close under a cloud; and we fully support the will of PINA's President Moses Stevens and his Vice-President John Woods in acting quickly and effectively with the PINA Coordinator Matai Akauola, to address the issues surrounding such a loss of faith."   "PFF and other organizations engaged with, or wanting to engage with PINA, will be watching carefully for Mr Stevens to prove himself and his leadership credentials. Given what happened amongst journalists in Vanuatu in the lead up to and during PINA 09, it's clear he has to begin to hone and prove all these skills in his own backyard," she says.--ENDS.  
CONTACT:   PFF interim Chair Susuve Laumaea | Sunday Chronicle Newspaper | Papua New Guinea
Mobile: 675-684 5168 | Office: 675-321-7040 | Email:  PFF interim co-Chair Monica Miller | KHJ Radio | American Samoa
Mob    684 258-4197 | Office 684 633-7793 | Email: 

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