TONGA – A prominent publisher in Tonga says media freedom and access to information is the worst that he has seen. Kalafi Moala said the current government was trying to control channels of public information. He said the government responded to criticism or probing questions by making statements to ridicule the media. Last week Tonga dropped two places to 51 in the Reporters without Borders freedom rankings. Moala said it was not an accurate reflection of the country. “The drop in the ranking of two is so small compared with what we as journalists on the ground here in Tonga are experiencing. This is the worst in 29 years of working as a journalist and publishing here in Tonga. The last three and a half years has been the worst that I have seen in Tonga”
MEDIA FREEDOM IN PNG ‘NONEXISTENT’
PAPUA NEW GUINEA – A senior journalist in Papua New Guinea says there is no media freedom in the country and journalists are often working in fear. Media freedom advocate Titi Gabi said local media had become a public relations entity for the powers that be. The United Nations sets May 3 as World Press Freedom Day to raise awareness about the importance of a free media. Gabi said the day is simply a reminder of the many issues that exist in PNG. “With interference from outside influence, right up to setting the news agenda to bribing journalists, to threats of court action against journalists. There is a lot of censorship, there is a lot of control. We no longer enjoy media freedom so World Press Freedom Day is really a sad day here in PNG.”
CALL FOR TUNA TO BE PROCESSED LOCALLY
VANUATU – Vanuatu’s Minister of Fisheries Matai Seremaiah has made a call for all Vanuatu-caught tuna to be processed at the country’s Sino-Van Fish Processing Plant. The plant has not processed any fish since it was built 14 years ago because Port Vila has no facility to accommodate fishing boats. The ministry’s acting director general, Benjamin Shing, says Vanuatu does not enjoy the maximum benefit from its lucrative tuna industry as tuna is offloaded to be weighed then shipped abroad. Shing was speaking on behalf of the minister to mark World Tuna Day on May 2.
HIGH-SPEED DEALS FOR KIRBATI AND NAURU
KIRIBATI/NAURU – Deals have been signed this week to help fund submarine cables to get high-speed internet to Kiribati and Nauru. The Asian Development Bank said it signed agreements with ministers from the two countries. The bank’s providing a US$21.6 million grant for Kiribati and a $US15 million grant for Nauru. The initiative is co-financed by the World Bank.