Pacific Media Centre Pacific Media Watch Pacific Journalism Review Asia Pacific Report

NAURU: Majuro newspaper slams suspension of outspoken MPs

Opposition MP Kieren Keke, who is one of the three suspended from Parliament for speaking to the international media.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Item: 8645

NAURU (Marshall Islands Journal / Pacific Media Watch / SBS): The Marshall Islands Journal newspaper has published a scathing editorial about the suspension of three opposition members of Parliament who were found "guilty" recently of giving interviews to the foreign press.

The suspended MPs are former foreign minister Kieren Keke, Mathew Batsiua and Roland Kun who were accused by the Nauru government of "intending to inflict maximum damage to Nauru's reputation".

They are now suspended until they release a written apology to the international press and "renounce their earlier comments as contrary to the national interest", SBS reported.

Earlier this year, the government attempted to make it unaffordable for the international media to investigate Australia's deportation camp in Nauru by instituting a non-refundable $8000 visa application fee for international journalists.

The editorial in the Marshall Islands Journal, the country's leading weekly newspaper, said:

If this is the way the Nauru government treats its own members of Parliament, I certainly wouldn’t want to be an imprisoned refugee depending on their kindness,” commented one wag in Majuro recently.

The wag was referring to the abominable treatment being doled out by the majority party in Nauru’s Parliament against three opposition members “guilty” of talking to foreign journalists. The government treats such conversations as treason and went to the extreme of ordering the removal of one opposition member from Parliament for what they consider unacceptable disobedience.

Unfortunately, this is not a new tactic of the Republic of Nauru. In the years since independence in 1968, similar vacations from normally accepted democratic guidelines have been taken. Unfortunately, such dalliances all too often are reported as humorous incidents because they are so glaringly inappropriate.

Recently, for example, Nauru introduced an $8000 fee to be paid by any journalist wishing to interview anyone in the Republic. Ha, ha! Except their behavior isn’t funny and should be treated for what it is: a shameful indication of unacceptable behavior.

To wit, we suggest the following: establish and apply a set of sanctions against Nauru, sanctions such as removal of landing rights for Our Airline, restrictions on Nauruans getting visas for travel, refusal to provide economic assistance. Nauru’s behavior is laughable up to the point wherein it affects you personally. Let’s treat it like the scourge it really is.

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Sanctions on Nauru?

Thats true. Don't forget, Nauru is also distributing phosphate rocks to the RMI every now and then for their sea barriers.

Nauru sanctions

I really wonder if the Editor of the MIJ really thought about the consequences of his/her suggestion on RMI to place sanctions on Nauru. Stopping Our Airline coming to RMI would deal a blow to the RMI in terms of travel to the southern Pacific states including to Australia and New Zealand. Nauruans traveling to Majuro inject huge sums of money into the RMI economy each year. Trade between Nauru and RMI is increasing. If the MIJ wants to stop all these, then please MIJ do something about it and speak to your President. Nauru's President will be more than happy to comply and Nauru can turn its attention elsewhere and spend its money there. Then again, RMI leaders are wise and do not poke their noses into the affairs of a neighbouring country, especially when the information published is based on recycled information from other media outlets and totally lacking understanding and depth of what exactly transpired in Nauruan politics.

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