6 May 2004

Fiji group objects to Vijay Singh being labelled Fijian

3:40 pm on 6 May 2004

An indigenous Fijian pressure group has raised strong objection to the international golf celebrity, Vijay Singh, being described as a Fijian.

The Viti Landowners Association says in every population census in Fiji, the country of his birth, Vijay Singh is officially defined as an Indian.

The point has been made by the association's president and George Speight's treason trial lawyer, Kitione Vuetaki, who has taken strong exception to Vijay Singh being described as Fijian in news reports and by Fiji Television after his record victories in recent weeks.

Mr Vuetaki says indigenous Fijians want Fiji TV to respect media freedom by reporting the news accurately and truthfully without adding its racist and political agenda.

He says in labelling Vijay Singh a Fijian, Fiji TV is using a powerful instrument of social control to violate the basic human rights of indigenous Fijians as a distinct ethnic group.

Mr Vuetaki says calling Vijay Singh a Fijian was not an accidental slip of the tongue, but a deliberate ideological choice to displace the indigenous Fijian people by renaming Indians as Fijians.

The Chief Executive of Fiji TV, Ken Clark, says his organisation is not choosing to displace the indigenous Fijians.

Mr Clark says people should recognise things they have in common more than differences and Fiji TV is not trying to offend indigenous Fijians.

"It would be out of character for our organisation to apply a label for that purpose. Mr Singh is doing remarkably well in his sporting endeavours lately and I congratulate him for that and I think most people who live here are quietly proud of his achievements. That's where the emphasis should be placed."

The Chief Executive of Fiji TV, Ken Clark.