I CONGRATULATE The Fiji Times for being a finalist in this year's "Newspaper of the Year Awards". According to your paper, more than 700 entries were received and "this year's competition has been tighter than ever".
I note that The Fiji Times is the oldest newspaper in Fiji; having been established back in 1869 in Fiji's old capital, Levuka.
The paper has come a long way.
It has sailed and navigated through many stormy seas and uncharted waters.
Somehow, the paper has always managed to find a safe port.
It has withstood the test of time and all the challenges that confronted it.
In particular, The Fiji Times endured stints of censorship from the Government.
This dated back to 1987 and the subsequent political upheavals that our country went through.
Since December 2006, censorship by the State again showed its ugly head. The Fiji Times, like our people, persevered.
As I had said before through this column, The Fiji Times was and still is the voice of the voiceless.
It has highlighted the plight of many people that have suffered in silence at the hands of those that should be protecting them.
The paper shared the tears and sorrows of those that lost loved ones, again, at the hands of our supposed protectors.
Many a complaint, against the Government and other authorities would not have surfaced but for the resolve of this paper to publish them. It appears that the word fear and its many manifestations are absent from its ethos.
To Fred Wesley and your team, in my books you represent more than a "newspaper of the year". You represent courage. You represent resilience. You represent freedom from fear.
Indeed, for Fiji and it's peoples, as the fourth organ of the State, you represent hope!