WAF workers situation: Fiji Times refutes MIDA chairman’s accusations

Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director Ashwin Raj. Picture: FT FILE

THE Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley has strongly refuted a statement issued by Media Industry Development Authority chairman Ashwin Raj that this newspaper published articles about the “alleged” mass termination of workers at the Water Authority of Fiji without verifying the information.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Raj claimed that The Fiji Times had “proceeded to publish stories on a matter of national interest, stories that have the potential to cause national panic and indeed can have the effect of sabotaging the economy without ascertaining the veracity of claims in relation to the alleged termination of Water Authority of Fiji employees.”

The statement also insinuated that this newspaper had relied on fake news on social media.

In response, Wesley said that Mr Raj’s accusations were completely false.

He said he found the accusation disconcerting given that the chairperson of the authority had made the accusations without verifying his own claims and seeking The Fiji Times’ response, and at a time when unemployed WAF workers were drawing attention to their plight at depots around the country.

“There was nothing fake about our news and it was not based on a social media story,” Wesley said.

“The initial news article on Saturday was based on an interview with the workers’ representative and the workers themselves.

“His claims of mass ‘termination’ were put to WAF and in responding, the WAF board chairman did not specifically deny the fact that there were terminations. He instead gave a short statement which was fully articulated in the story.”

“WAF has never subsequently told this newspaper that the workers were not terminated and has in fact not responded to our requests for further comment this week.”

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