Afamasaga: Media Coverage Needs to be Done Properly

Minister of Communication, Infrastructure and Technology, Afamasaga Lepuiai Rico Tupai.

The Minister of Communication, Infrastructure and Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupai calls media coverage of an incident during the games, very unfair. The Minister has expressed his disappointment at the angle used by the media to broadcast the incident, highlighting the news coverage does not fully capture the full story.

The incident that has gathered a growing interest on facebook, shows the Minister responding to a request by the media. See link for full footage

The Minister pointed out that their actions, and what was not shown on the footage highlights intentions to drive a negative image of his leadership.

“I think it was quite unfair in how they did it, it was pre-discussions to find out what they wanted – it’s very unfair. The footage also doesn’t show other questions asked by one of the girls – that was never shown, and those are proper answers. Their intentions were to make us look bad.”

The Minister with a background in communication highlights an important role played by the media in the country’s development, but there’s a need to do it properly. He also highlighted the need for better communication system in place to provide assistance for ministers – as he’s not the only minister that was under the same situation. View other footage

“The media is very important – the country needs to know the information. But we need to know the issue, so we can prepare.”

“Like the Prime Minister, he knows who’s coming on Monday, on Tuesday and they are able to prepare and do the background search”.

“When I’m asked a question I usually request (information) from my secretary before I can reply.”

“We don’t have a proper system in place to guide us, or provide faster information for all the ministers. I was asking them to give me time to get the details of what they(media) were asking for. But what was shown on the footage were the pre-discussions about finding out what their [media]request was”, says Afamasaga.

 “I’ve been too friendly… I don’t mind doing interviews on the spot. I really don’t mind. I’m a media person, I come from a communication background, so I understand, but just wanted to do it properly.”

“But I think we have been too lenient, and I think we need to get the questions ahead of time – for us to do our quick background search about the issue”, the minister cheerfully added.

The minister who was in a rush for official responsibilities was side tracked by the media for an interview, but was not aware of the requested issue at the time. He stated that he just needed to find out details, according to the Minister.

Afamasaga also highlighted the importance of our unique traditional approach in how we engage the leaders, as part of the incident was influenced by overseas media.

 “These are tactics by overseas media, not our ways, the local media understands that – we must be respectful in our ways. If it was done by local guys(media) they would have been respectful”

“If it was done properly I would have given detailed answers”.

The minister expresses his strong support behind disseminating the information for everyone. He made it clear that information is free, and they open their doors to everyone. There’s also confidential information, but for important reasons. He also mentioned the change in thinking by the Government towards information sharing.

 “But we encourage quick contact and easy contact by everyone, just like how we face issues with everyone every day.

“Before us, CEO’s and ministers were not allowed to talk to the media directly. The issues were to go to the Prime Minister.”

“We have an open door policy now – where we look to welcome everyone. We open our doors to everyone. Whoever comes in and wants to discuss something, we open our doors.”

The minister also noted better means for future situations, and advises his fellow colleagues to make arrangements as he believes it’s a better way forward for these situations.

 “But it’s also time for Government to do some orientation programmes in terms of guidance for media – not necessarily about who to refer the issue to, but preparing ministers on how to face media. What and how to respond to questions, and guiding steps. Like step 1, how to respond to questions and 2, 3, 4, 5… because sometimes we end up looking very bad. It’s about properly setting yourself up to face media.”

“But there are issues that can’t be public because there is an important need for, and people need to understand.”

Mr. Tupa’i stated that this issue doesn’t take much of his focus from carrying out his responsibilities.

 “These things are not worth losing sleep over it, it’s just about having the right attitude and keep smiling.”

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