Minister says kava is a sensitive issue, tells reporters to leave kava meeting

The Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity, Matai Seremaiah, has told the writer of this article, Kizzy Kalsakau of Buzz FM, Loic Teilemb of VBTC and Cameraman Terry Thomas to leave and not stay to cover the Kava Industry Meeting after his opening address at Owen Hall yesterday.

The minister announced the ban to the reporters after major kava businessman, Peter Colmar indicated that the media was not allowed to cover the meeting, in line with an email from the Acting Director General of Agriculture.

The media did not receive the instruction.

A number of attendants of the meeting have expressed alarm at the decision to stop the media from covering the meeting.

One commented on what this implies for media freedom in Vanuatu, saying: “In this day and age, it is strange to send reporters from such an important meeting”.

Another sent the following email: “This is not a good sign unless they have something that they don’t want to public to know about. After all, kava is almost everybody’s business”.

Minister Seremaiah specifically referred to Daily Post’s front page article — “Noble Kava Policy watered down?” as an example to avoid “sending the wrong message to the public”.

Kava, he said is a sensitive issue. He said a decision would be made at the end of the meeting on how to convey the outcome of the meeting to the media.

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