LEADER of Opposition, Hon. Matthew Wale, has expressed utter disappointment at the gag placed by the Chinese Embassy and Prime Minister on the media during the visit of the PRC Foreign Minister.
It is understood that local media working for foreign western media are not allowed to cover the visit whilst others are only granted limited access.
Only SIBC was allowed to ask one question on behalf of the local media to foreign minister Jeremiah Manele whilst PRC’s CCTV was the only one allowed to ask question to the PRC Foreign Minister.
“What is the whole purpose of inviting media to the press conference when local media are only allowed to ask one question? Local media are also not allowed to ask any question to the PRC Foreign Minister. Such attitude has defeated the whole purpose of a press conference where media should be freely given the opportunity to ask questions not only to our foreign minister but also the PRC minister,” Hon Wale said.
Hon. Wale said this comes as no surprise as PRC is known for strict control of messaging and the narrative surrounding its activities.
The Opposition Leader reminded the Prime Minister and his office that Solomon Islands is a democratic country and media must be allowed to do their work freely.
Hon Wale said he is concerned that the Prime Minister in his haste to please his PRC masters has allowed his office to place an important pillar of our democracy under an unnecessary and what may be an illegal gag.
“Nothing discussed during the Foreign Minister’s visit is private business, and the country has a right to know. It is important that Solomon Islands does not become paranoid about media coverage of its activities and meetings with the visiting delegation,” he said.
Hon. Wale calls on the Prime Minister not to bow to any requests to gag the media.
He said media censorship has no place in our country’s democracy.
“The Prime Minister is the patron of media in Solomon Islands and he should allow the media total and free access to the delegation and coverage of the events and meetings, as a demonstration of the vibrancy of Solomon Islands democracy,” the Opposition Leader said.