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FIJI: Think about the future not the past, adviser tells USP student journos

An investigative journalism course workshop for University of the South Pacific students being conducted at Fiji Television by Professor Robert Hooper of the University of California, San Diego. Image: Bob Hooper/PJR

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Item: 8230

Edward Tavanavanua

SUVA (Institute for Peace and Democracy / USP / Pacific Media Watch): Fiji must start thinking about the future and not the past as it moves towards democracy, according to the director of the Indonesian Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD).

The IPD, based on Udayana University campus in Bali, works closely with governments in the Pacific, Asia and the Middle East to encourage democratic change comes from within the system.

Dr Ketut Erawan, whose expertise is in political economy, visited Fiji last week to talk with government officials, academics and University of the South Pacific student journalists on how Indonesia had moved from military rule to democratic reform.

Speaking to 60 USP student journalists on March 12, Dr Erawan said he was confident that countries facing political conflict could and would find ways to make the transition to democracy.

Dr Erawan drew comparisons between Indonesia’s moves to a democratic government in the late 1990s, after 28 years of military dictatorship, to Fiji’s current move to elections in 2014,which he felt was the right choice.

“We never come and try to preach, this is our solution – no,” Dr Erawan said.

“We try to encourage the solution to come from inside.”

Crucial tool
Dr Erawan urged soon-to-be journalist professionals that the media could be a crucial tool in helping make the change to democracy.

“Media can become one element to transform actors of democracy, either military, civil society to become democratic,” he said.

Dr Erawan said journalists had a “sacred duty for making sure the future is safe for Fiji.”

He added that Indonesia’s transformation came as the result of its people forming a common bond in being Indonesian, and that the Fiji media and government need to help its citizens to do the same.

“Democracy is home grown,” Dr Erawan said.

“Be a Fijian, total Fijian, and then other identities will follow.”

Dr Erawan said there was no template for democracy, there was always a different vision.

He said every country had a different history and Fiji just needed time to rewrite its own vision of democracy.

Edward Tavanavanua is a student journalist at the University of the South Pacific.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence.

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