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A case for Fiji’s grassroots citizenry and media to be better informed, engaged for democracy

Volume 16, Issue 2

October, 2010

From page
127
to page
146
Bhim, M. (2010). A case for Fiji’s grassroots citizenry and media to be better informed, engaged for democracy. Pacific Journalism Review, 16(2): 127-146.
UNESCO WPFD: Media Freedom in Oceania
Author(s): Mosmi Bhim
Publication date: 
October, 2010

Democracy in Fiji has been top-down where primarily the middle class and the wealthy elite have understood its true merits and values. Politicians, professionals, academics and civil society organisations, rather than the grassroots population, have been at the forefront of advocating against coups. Democracy was described as a ‘foreign flower’ by ethno-nationalists for two decades. Some critics see it as having failed to work properly in Fiji because a lack of infrastructure and development means grassroots people are not sufficiently informed to make critical decisions and hold leaders accountable. This, and a lack of unity, led to a failure of widespread protests against coups. Civil society, political activists and individuals were isolated in their struggle against coups. The media has been a key player in anti-coup protests as it relayed information that enabled networking and partnership. Media censorship since April 2009 has restricted their role and violated citizens’ Right to Information. This article argues that for democracy to work, the infrastructure and communications technology needs to reach the masses so people are adequately informed through an uncensored media.