Sangster Saulala, a Tongan Cabinet minister with experience in publishing, called at the Pacific Parliament for media training. Training can help make media responsible and professional he said in the New Zealand Parliament in Wellington during April 2013 where he gathered with 70 Pacific Parliamentarians for the inaugural Pacific Parliamentary and Political Leaders Forum.
Sangster Saulala called for media to give people access to the truth.
But the Minister of Agriculture was not happy when the media became political, linked to opposition in Parliament, he said in front a Tongan delegation including the Speaker, government ministers and non government MPs.
He calls for personal political views to not affect journalists’ writing.
The Tongan comment was made during a debate on the motion on “The importance of a free and open media in our Parliaments”. The motion adopted was “that members note that the information technology revolution is penetrating the remotest corners of the Pacific and presents opportunities and challenges – it should be used to promote democracy and the value of a free and open media, and to advance public debate and political accountability”.
Former broadcaster Sangster Saulala amplified his comments to APEN by saying that in Tonga, media supported by the government and opposition clash. “”Opposition media attack you if you support the government”. The minister wants “fair and balanced media” – and offered the New Zealand Herald as an example.
Radio New Zealand’s political editor and former chair of the Press Gallery in the New Zealand Parliament, Jane Patterson, and the manager and training coordinator in the Fiji based Pacific Islands News Association, Matai Akauola also spoke to the Pacific Parliament on the role of the media.
From Anthony Haas, at Asia Pacific Economic News Bureau at the Press Gallery in the New Zealand Parliament for the Pacific Parliamentary and Political Leaders Forum, 18-22 April 2013.
Updated 20 April 2013