15 Apr 2015

Fiji Times defends its reporting

3:55 pm on 15 April 2015

The Fiji Times has defended its reporting of comments by the parliamentary opposition, saying freedom of the press and the right to impart information is enshrined in the constitution.

The prime minister has accused the newspaper of attempting to advance its own political interests by reporting comments of the opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa about government-run boarding schools.

The editor-in-chief Fred Wesley says the comments made by the opposition are not opinions of the Fiji Times.

He says both the government and the opposition have the right to be heard.

"In 146 years as a newspaper company the Fiji Times has been accused many times by politicians from all sides of having a political agenda. But we see ourselves as being our job to give our readers information from all sides of politics so that they can make up their own minds about current affairs."

Meanwhile, Fiji's Education Minister has defended the policy criticised in the Fiji Times, the move to allow rural students to take boarding places at three major high schools.

Ro Teimumu Kepa and the presidents of the alumni associations at the schools say there was no consultation and the move is designed to weaken the iTaukei community.

However the prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, says the comments on race were unnecessary and divisive.

Queen Victoria School students in Fiji

Queen Victoria School students in Fiji Photo: QVS Old Boys facebook page

Meanwhile, the Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy has defended the boarding places policy.

He says it won't stop urban students attending the schools as day students, but will open up boarding places for those who desperately need them.

"You don't really need consultation with regard to saying, your child, we'll give you the best school or a better school closer to your home, and here are children who are deprived of quality education and might drop out. We want to give them space in a boarding facility. What is there to consult?"

Dr Reddy says students in rural areas who live close to rural schools, will have to attend them, under the zoning policy.