Investigations into blackout breach

By Lice Movono

NO MEDIA organisation breached campaign blackout restrictions but the Media Industry Development Authority says it will investigate individuals who broke the law on social media.

MIDA chair Ashwin Raj confirmed that ‘vigilant members’ of the public had forwarded names of people who had continued to ‘campaign’ which had been disallowed since the blackout came into effect midnight on Sunday.

The authority is aware of social media pages set up to imitate credible Fijian media organisations and said the onus was on voters to verify all news.

Raj said complaints from the blackout period included offensive remarks made at candidates and officials who were aligned to particular parties.

“These people have always been angry, their political bias – they threatened physical assault on my family, they threatened physical assault on journalists they perceive to be pro-government,” Raj said.

“All right thinking people should be condemning all of that. Just because your political views are different, it doesn’t mean we should promote, encourage and laugh at violence. These people are enemies of democracy.”

He defended the blackout period and said it was instituted to give people a ‘reprieve’ from campaigning and independently decide who to vote for.

“For people who claim this is a suppression on freedom of expression and all that. No its not, you’ve had all the time and exposure to the debates. Please respect the fact that people want to have the space to just cast their vote,’ Raj said.

Calling overseas Fijians who refused to comply with the blackout ‘idiots’, Raj said these people had done a great disservice to the people of Fiji.

Raj was speaking at the opening press conference conducted an hour after polling stations opened.