Stop attacking the media, says Ali

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Political activist and CSO Alliance member Shamima Ali and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Picture: FT ONLINE

Human rights activist Shamima Ali says Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum should stop attacking media organisations such as Communications Fiji Ltd (CFL) and The Fiji Times and start answering the questions put to him in a truthful manner.

She was responding to Mr Sayed-Khaiyum’s response during a media conference in Suva yesterday.

When asked to comment on a statement by Ms Ali that he (A-G) failed to adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols during a recent tour of the Western Division, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said he was not aware of the statement because he had not read it.

He went on to question a CFL journalist if he was a police officer to be asking questions related to the statement.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said he had noticed Ms Ali commenting a lot on issues and suggested she wanted to run for the general elections.

“Leave the media alone and concentrate on the mess you have made of our country,” Ms Ali said in response.

“The journalist during today’s press conference asked a very pertinent question on following COVID-safe protocols.

“Just answer the question asked by the journalist and stop obfuscating the issue.

“If the heat is getting too much, then give up some of the numerous portfolios and concentrate on getting our country back on track.”

Ms Ali said every Fijian had a right to ask questions of elected leaders and the leaders had a responsibility to respond.

“As a citizen of this country who has dedicated 36 years of her life to eliminating violence against women and girls, child protection and human rights, I have every right — as any other citizen — to highlight and speak on issues of national interest and I will continue to do so.

“Is the A-G saying women do not have the mandate to speak on any issue apart from women’s issues?

“Apart from my right as a Fijian citizen, it is my business and the business of every single Fijian to speak on issues that concern us.

“It is not only the prerogative of politicians.

“The A-G should remember that he is paid by us and is accountable to us and not the other way around. “He should also remember that when grants are given by foreign donors and development partners, we have every right to know how it is going to be spent. “Instead of going around telling the Fijian people not to listen to “jhoot” and “lasulasu”, the A-G would do well to take the same advice. And he should always remember that when he points a finger at anyone, four are pointing straight back at him.”

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