2022 General Election: ABC gets it wrong – Saneem

Mohammed Saneem. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

THE Fijian Elections Office is “deeply concerned and astonished” at the way the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) allegedly propagated false information.

Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem was responding to a story published by the ABC today titled “Fiji’s attorney general caught in extraordinary dispute days out from national election”. This was referring to the National Federation Party (NFP) allegations about the presence of the Attorney General at a printery .

He said despite the FEO publishing a statement to correct the misinformation in a letter by the NFP, an ABC reporter based in Fiji went ahead and published her opinion and labelled the FEO’s response as “defensive.”

The NFP claimed FijiFirst general secretary Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum visited Star Printery in Raiwaqa in the early hours of last Thursday but the reason for his visit was unknown.

The NFP further claimed he ordered that CCTV cameras on the premises be turned off and claimed he refused to leave at the request of FEO officials because ballot papers were being printed. It alleged that the police were called, and Mr Sayed-Khaiyum refused to leave at their request. He said the ABC reporter “miserably fails to understand” that the NFP allegations were without any evidence or merit.

He said she failed to understand that on December 1, Star Printery had already stopped printing ballot papers.

Mr Saneem said FEO was concerned that the ABC attempted to portray the entire electoral process in the manner it did, based on the incompetence of one reporter.

He said not only had ABC concealed critical information, but it had effectively contributed to the disinformation propagated by the NFP. The entire story that was published appeared to have been designed to bring disrepute to the Fijian electoral process, he said.

He said the reporter mischievously proceeded to pass judgment on several matters and appeared to give her personal subjective opinion.

He said ABC also covered the FEO response in such a poor manner, and failed to inform its audience of the most critical facts that proved that the allegation is incorrect.

The SOE has urged the ABC to issue a public apology and provide precise explanations for its actions without reducing the prominence given to the initial story.

A copy of the letter sent to ABC was posted on the FEO’s Centre for Credible Information Facebook page.

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