Tuesday 12th May 2020
SPEECH BY SOE CONTROLLER
JATF OPERATIONS COMMANDER DONALD YAMASOMBI
MEDIA DIALOGUE WORKSHOP
- Minister for Communications, Honourable Timothy Masui;
- Mr Gianluca Rampolla, UN Resident Coordinator PNG;
- Ms Joy Caminade , WHO;
- Ms Ban Khalid Al-Dhayi , UNICEF;
- Members of the media;
- Invited Guests;
- Facilitators of this program.
Good morning to you all.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to deliver this statement on behalf of the Police Commissioner and the Controller of the COVID-19 State of Emergency Mr David Manning.
Thank you for the opportunity to attend this forum, “Collaborations – Reshaping News Coverage in Papua New Guinea” and to be able to speak to the media which is an important group of people who are assisting in the fight against COVID -19.
I agree with that business is not as usual now under COVID-19. Organizations, companies and individuals and I might add Governments are trialling new ways to conduct business and to remain relevant in these uncertain times.
I agree with the UN that as numbers of COVID -19 patients rise in some countries, fall in others and create an uncertainty among all, the need for accurate and assuring information is at an all-time high to combat misinformation and conspiracy.
In the UN Secretary General’s police brief on Human Rights and COVID-19, he emphasized that, “This is a time, more than ever, governments need to be open and transparent, responsive and accountable to the people they are seeking to protect,” and that “a free press operating within an open civic space are vital components of the pandemic response and need to be nurtured.”
He further said that any restrictions in time of national emergency must be provided by law and must conform to the strict tests of necessity and proportionality. The public also has a corresponding right to receive media output, and a right to information.
The title of this program perhaps state clearly what is required for PNG at this moment in the wake of a serious global pandemic. And if I may be bold enough to say at the outset, this is perhaps the new normal for journalism in PNG in the face of such a threat. It is not headline journalism or scoops that should matter but responsible journalism. Whilst we have the threat of COVID-19 all around us, and the need therefore to impart news that will enable our people to protect themselves, the media also holds the power to create fear, panic and anxiety and can throw our country into chaos and lawlessness.
So at this critical juncture in our history collaboration is required, collaboration between the media and government and with the private sector as well as between the media themselves to agree as to what is news.
May 3 is a special day for the media Industry globally. It is a time when the world reflects on World Press Freedom Day and reaffirms our commitment globally to press freedom.
The media plays a very important role in our society. I for one believe in a free press and in freedom of information. I thank the media for being a partner in informing and educating our people over the years and especially recently in our combined fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The media as always, is at the forefront of collecting and analysing important information and passing that onto the masses. In this pandemic the information is not only geared towards informing the public but also at changing and mitigating risk behaviours as well.
This is also a time, more than ever before, that the government needs to be open and transparent, responsive and accountable to the people they are seeking to protect, and a responsible, cooperative and collaborative free press operating within an open community space are vital components of the pandemic response and need to be nurtured.
This is very important if we are to keep the COVID-19 pandemic from spreading and at the same time offer some comfort and confidence to our people. What is unfolding before us on a daily basis is no longer normal news developing but a matter of life and death, and how we wield the pen can add to our people’s suffering, magnify their misery or help us contain the threat and give our people the advantage and the tools required to fight this pandemic.
On that note I again repeat the concerns of the government through the Minister for Information and Communications in regard to the varying degree of mis-information and inaccurate and sometimes false information on COVID-19.
I agree that we are fighting a war with an invisible enemy and this is where we must remain vigilant and be on guard at all times. Having access to the right information places us in a better position to mitigate the direct risks of COVID-19.
Let me remind us as professionals in our respective career that we have a duty to serve this nation. Most of us in the public service have taken an oath and that we must remain committed regardless of any circumstances that may come our way.
For you in the media industry, whilst your goal is the pursuit of truth, I would urge you to rethink your priority in what information you want to put out and how you want this information to go out. During this pandemic is it important getting a scoop or do we work well together in keeping our country safe because in the end we are also keeping ourselves, our families and people safe.
In going forward, we have to adapt to the new normal, and as such we expect a lot of resistance and turbulence. The new normal demands for a change in the livelihood of ordinary citizens. This is a time of uncertainty, or fear, hunger, worry and so many problems. But we have to be a voice of reason, of courage, of encouragement and of hope.
I see the media in the forefront of helping to shape the new normal for PNG. And this can come through constant dialogue and from workshops such as this that helps each of you to reassess your strategies, network and forge a collaborative approach towards not only maintaining a free press but also in keeping our citizens alive.
Constant dialogue and coordination between the major players in the media industries is a fundamental aspect of charting the way forward to provide accurate and timely information to the society.
On this note, I want to encourage you all to take this opportunity to seriously discuss matters concerning the media and public information and your role in the new normal.
As much as possible, we want independent and professional journalism free from political and commercial influence and ensure fairness, fact and accuracy in all reporting. But I would go even one step further to ensure we in the media profession are responsible as well.
With these remarks I once again thank all journalists and media workers for your tireless work in reporting this pandemic. You are amongst our frontline responders in this fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and while you do your job, consider your safety at all times.
Media contact: Chief Superintendent Dominic D. Kakas, BEM, DPS
Team Leader – COVID-19 Media & Public Information Joint Agency Task Force
Mobile: 75430557: Email: email@example.com