Former TBC boss defends claim interview was example of “highly unfair and partial” news

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'Ahongalu Fusimālohi (L) and Nanisē Fifita (R)

Former Tonga Broadcasting Commission (TBC) general manager Nanisē Fifita has denied claims that an interview she conducted while she was at the broadcaster was a classic example of unfair and partial news.

Fifita did not deny claims the interview was one-sided and that she failed to seek responses from those who were being attacked during the interview she hosted.

Instead she invited Kaniva News to “look at the one-sided coverage on the same (and other issues) by other media.”

“Are you looking into that as well or just picking on TBC?” she asked.

The interview in Tongan was recorded and uploaded online in 2014, but it recently became a point of heated debate and discussion among social media users, with many criticizing it for what they saw as its partiality and imbalance.

In the 42-minute Youtube clip Fifita interviewed former Prime Minister Lord Sevele regarding a Parliamentary report on how the TP$119 million loan from China was spent.

The report grew out of inquiry by a Parliamentary committee led by Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva while he was leader of the Opposition and Dr Sitīveni Halapua.

The report infuriated Lord Sevele and this showed in the way he attacked Hon. Pōhiva and Dr. Halapua during the TBC interview.

Lord Sevele believed he was being accused in the report without giving him a chance to reply.

Unfair

‘Ahongalu Fusimālohi, the former chair of the TBC board, said if he had  been chairman at the time of the interview the piece would not have been aired without the other side being given the opportunity to respond.

“If we’re talking about fair and impartial reporting then the article is neither fair nor impartial,” Fusimālohi said.

“Therefore it is a bad example of what I would call fair and impartial reporting. It is highly unfair and partial.

“Had I been Chairman at the time, I would have intervened and prevent it from being broadcast.

There are also certain parts of the interview that contains derogatory remarks about ‘Akilisi and Dr. Halapua that borders on slander and libel.”

The interview

During the interview Lord Sevele strongly criticised the Parliamentary committee.

Lord Sevele criticized the report as unjust.

At one stage in the interview Fifita interrupted and accused Pōhiva and Dr. Halapua of having a conflict of interest because they previously questioned how the Chinese loan was spent and at the same time they were also given the task of investigating it.

Hon. Pōhiva and Dr. Halapua were not featured in the interview.

Lord Sevele told Fifita Dr Halapua and Hon. Pōhiva had “lied” when they said in their report he had been to China.

“’Akilisi and Sitīveni, where did you get this lie from”, Lord Sevele asked in Tongan.

“They lied in their report.

“It is a blatant lie.”

In the interview he called on Hon. Pōhiva and Dr. Halapua to get out of Parliament and stop hiding in the House and use taxpayers’ money to create a report to intoxicate (“fakakonahi”) and defame (“fakaongoongo kovi’i”)

Sevele repeatedly referred to the duo during the interview as liars.

He downplayed the role of committee members, saying they did not understand the tender process

Lord Sevele said they were confused and lacked understanding.

Lord Sevele told Fifita the report abused and falsified Parliament and it was unfair that it came from two MPs who wanted to lead the nation.

“Get outside if you know there was work that had been done wrongly. Do not hide under the nation’s money,” the noble said in Tongan.

“These people misled the people of the nation.”

Responses

Fifita told Kaniva News: “If you toe the line that the TBC has been attacking Mr Pōhiva through news and programmes from the past, I wish to put on record how TBC had to knock back or edit many programmes sponsored by a number of individuals and groups that were very damaging to Mr Pōhiva.

“As TBC solely relies on such commercial income to finance its entire operation, it was a decision that had to be made and to refuse broadcasting of such content.

“As for the debates on social media, people have a right to express their views and I respect that.

I hope this is not a witch-hunt on TBC in effort to justify some one-sided and unsubstantiated claims!”

Fusimālohi also said: “My role as Chairman was to bring back public trust by making sure that TBC is the main medium where people keep up with current affairs and that TBC can be highly trusted and relied upon for providing accuracy, reliability and impartiality of our news coverage.

“TBC must be a public service that is associated with a broad array of public attitudes and behavior that underpin democratic principles, reflecting a communal identity at all times.

“This is what we have been lacking for quite some time because of the changing nature of Tongan politics and social behaviour.”

The main points

  • Former Tonga Broadcasting Commission (TBC) general manager Nanise Fifita has denied claims that an interview she conducted while she was at the broadcaster was a classic example of unfair and partial news.
  • Fifita did not deny claims the interview was one-sided and that she failed to seek responses from those who were being attacked during the interview she hosted.
  • Instead she invited Kaniva News to “look at the one-sided coverage on the same (and other issues) by other media.”
  • “Are you looking into that as well or just picking on TBC?” she asked.

For more information 

The interview of Lord Sevele by Nanisē Fifita

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  1. Faka’ikai’i ‘e he pule lahi ki mu’a ‘o e Fakamafola Lea ‘a Tonga (FLT) e pehē ko e faka’eke’eke na’a ne fakahoko lolotonga ‘ene kei ‘i he fakamafola lea ko e fakatātā mahino ia ‘o e ngaahi ongoongo ‘ikai napangapanga mālie mo filifilimānako ‘oku tuku mai ‘e he fakamafola lea ni.

    Na’e ‘ikai faka’ikai’i ‘e Fifita ‘a e tukuaki’i ne fakafa’ahi taha ‘a e faka’eke’eke pea ‘ikai ke ne kumi ki ha tali meia kinautolu ne fai hono ‘ohofi lolotonga e faka’eke’eke ko ‘eni ne ne fakahoko.

    Ka ne fakaafe’i ‘e ia ‘a e Ongoongo ‘a e Kaniva ke vakai ki he ngaahi ongoongo fakapalataha ‘i he ngaahi ‘isiu tatau ka ne fakahoko ‘i he ngaahi mitia kehe.

    “’Oku mou toe vakai’i mo ia pe ‘oku ‘ai pe ‘e moutolu e FLT?” ko ‘ene fehu’i ia ki he Kaniva.

    Ko e faka’eke’eke ko ‘eni ne tuku hake ia ‘i he 2014 ki he ‘initaneti ka ki mui ni mai ne hoko ia ke fai ai ha tipeiti mo ha alea lahi ‘a kinautolu kuo nau faka’aonga’i ‘a e mītia fakasōsiale ‘o tokolahi ne nau fakaanga’i ‘o pehe ne fakapalataha mo ‘ikai palanisi.

    Ko e fo’i kilipi ‘eni miniti ‘e 42 he Youtube ne faka’eke’eke ai ‘e Fifita ‘a e ‘Eiki Palēmia ki mu’a ko Looti Sevele ‘o fekau’aki mo e līpooti faka-Fale Alea ki he anga hono ngāue’aki ‘o e pa’anga nō ‘e $119 miliona mei Siana.

    Ko e lipooti ‘eni ‘i ha faka’eke’eke ‘e he kōmiti ‘a e Fale Alea ne tataki e he ‘Eiki Palēmia ‘Akilisi Pōhiva lolotonga ‘ene kei ‘i he fa’ahi fakaanga.

    Ne faka’ita’i ‘e he līpooti ni ‘a Looti Sevele pea na’e hā ‘eni ‘i he anga ‘ene ‘ohofi ‘a Pōhiva mo Dr. Halapua lolotonga e faka’eke’eke ‘a e FLT.

    Na’e tui ‘a Looti Sevele na’e tukuaki’i ia ‘i he līpōti ‘ikai ‘oange hano faingamālie ke ‘ai ha’ane tali.

    Na’e pehē ‘e ‘Ahongalu Fusimālohi ko e sea ia ki mu’a ‘o e poate FLT kapau na’e sea he poate he taimi ne tuku ange mai ai ‘a e faka’eke’eke ko eni na’a ne ta’ofi kae ‘oua leva kuo ‘oange ha faingamālie ke ‘omai ha tali mei he fa’ahi ‘e taha.

    Pehē ‘e Fusimālohi na’e mātu’aki ‘ikai fea pea filifilimānako ‘aupito ‘a e faka’eke’eke ni.

    “Kapau na’a ku sea he taimi ko ia, na’a ku mei tu’u vaha’a ke ta’ofi ‘oua ‘e fakamafola”, ko Fusimālohi ia.

    Na’e toe pehē foki ‘e Fusimālohi ne ‘i ai e ngaahi konga ‘i he faka’eke’eke na’a ne tuku hifo mo fakaongoongo kovi’i ‘a Pōhiva mo Dr Halapua.

    Lolotonga e faka’eke’eke na’e fakaanga’i lahi ‘aupito ‘e Looti Sevele ‘a e kōmiti faka-Fale Alea.

    Na’a ne fakaanga’i e lipooti ‘o pehē ne ta’efaitotonu.

    ‘I he konga ‘e taha ne hū atu ai ‘a Fifita ‘o ne tukuaki’i ‘a Pōhiva mo Dr. Halapua ‘o pehē ne fepaki ‘ena fiema’u koe’uhi ne na ‘uluaki fehu’ia ‘a e anga hono fakamoleki ‘o e nō mei Siaina taimi tatau toe ‘ange pe ia ke na fakatotolo’i.

    Na’e ‘ikai ke fakakau mai ‘a Pōhiva mo Dr. Halapua ki he faka’eke’eke ni.

    Na’e fakahā ‘e Looti Sevele kia Fifita na’e loi ‘a Dr. Halapua mo Pōhiva he’ena pehē ‘i he lipooti na’a ne folau ki Siaina.

    “’Akilisi mo Sitiveni, ko ho’omo ma’u ‘a e loi ko eni mei fe?”, ko e fehu’i ia ‘a Sevele lolotonga ‘a e faka’eke’eke.

    ‘Oku loi ‘ena lipooti, ko ‘ene lau ia.

    Ne ne toe pehē foki ne fa’u mai ‘e he ongo tangata ni ‘a e lipooti ke fakakonahi ‘aki e fonua mo lau’i kovi.

    Na’a ne toe lī ki lalo e ngāue ‘a e kau mēmipa he kōmiti ‘o pehē ne ‘ikai ke mahino kia kinautolu ia e founga hono tenitā ‘o ha ngāue.

    Na’e fakahā ‘e Looti Sevele kia Fifita na’e hanga ‘e he līpooti ‘o pāusi’i mo lohiaki’i e Fale Alea pea ta’efe’unga ke ha’u mei ha ongo tangata ne na feinga ke na tataki ‘a e fonua.

    Ne ne ui ai ki he ongo tangata ni ke na hū ki tu’a mei Fale Alea ‘oua te na toitoi mai ‘i he pa’anga ‘a e fonua.

    Na’a ne toe pehē ne takihala’i ‘e he kakai ko ‘eni ‘a e fonua.

    ‘I ha tali ‘a Nanisē ki ha faka’eke’eke he kaveinga ni na’a ne pehē kapau te ke muimui he fakakaukau ne pehē ne ‘ohofi ‘e he FLT ‘a Pōhiva he’ene ngaahi ongoongo mo e polokalama ‘i he kuohili, kuo u faka’amu ke fokotu’u ki he lekooti na’e ‘ikai tali ‘e he FLT pe ko ‘ene liliu e ngaahi polokalama lahi ne siponisā ‘e ha ni’ihi taautaha mo ha ngaahi kulupu ‘a ia ne kaunga kovi ia kia Pohiva.

    Na’a ne pehē foki ‘oku fakafalala tefito pe ngaue ‘a e FLT ‘i he pa’anga ‘oku hū mai fakakomēsiale ke fakapa’anga ‘aki ‘a hono fakalele, ka na’e fai pe ‘a e tu’utu’uni ko ‘eni pea ke ta’ofi ‘a e ngaahi polokalama peheni.

    Na’e ‘eke ange foki ki ai ke ‘ai ha’ane lau ki hono fakaanga’i ‘e he kakai ‘a ‘ene faka’eke’eke ne fai ‘i he mitia fakasōsiale ‘o pehē ne fakapalataha pea na’e totonu ke ‘omai ‘a Halapua mo Pōhiva ke nau polokalama fakataha mo Sevele ke fea.

    Ka ‘i he’ene tali na’a ne pehē ‘oku ‘i ai ‘a e totonu ia ‘a e kakai ke fakahā ‘enau fakakaukau pea ‘oku ne faka’apa’apa’i ia.

    Na’a ne pehē foki ki he Kaniva na’a ne ‘amanaki pe na’e ‘ikai ko hano tāketi’i ‘eni ‘o e FLT ke fakatonuhia’i ‘aki ha ngaahi tukuaki’i fakafa’ahi taha mo ‘ikai mafakamo’oni’i.

    Kaekehe ne toe pehē ‘e Fusimālohi ‘i he faka’eke’eke mo ia kau ki he polokalama faka’eke’eke ko ‘eni ko hono fatongia he taimi ne hu hake ai ‘o Sea ke fakafokifoki mai e falala ‘a e kakai mo fakapapau’i ko e FLT ko e ma’u’anga ongoongo tefito ‘a ia ‘oku fai mei ai hono tala muimui’i ‘o e ngaahi me’a ‘oku hoko faka’aho pea ke falala’ia ‘a e FLT ‘i hono tuku mai ‘a e ngaahi ongoongo ‘oku tonu, falala’anga pea ‘ikai filifilimānako.

    Na’a ne pehe kuopau ke hoko e FLT ko ha sēvesi ma’a e kakai ‘e ō fakataha mo ha ngaahi tō’onga mo ha ‘ulungāanga ‘oku ne poupou’i ‘a e ngaahi pilinisipolo fakatemokālati, ‘o ne hulu’i mai e tu’unga mahino ‘o e fe’inasi’aki fakakomunio he taimi kotoa.

    Pehē ‘e Fusimālohi ko e taha ‘eni ‘o e ngaahi me’a ne ‘ikai ke nau maa’usia ‘i he taimi lahi koe’uhī ko e natula e liliu ‘a e politiki mo e tō’onga fakasōsiale ‘a e Tonga.