The Parliament and the Media Workshop
Hon. Dr. Patrick Herminie
Speaker of the National Assembly
Wednesday 16th July, 2014 at 9am
STC Conference Room
Minister Jean-Paul Adam
Leader of Government Business
Leader of the Opposition
Honourable Members of the National Assembly
Representatives of the IPU and Media Houses
Ladies and Gentlemen
It gives me great pleasure to address you this morning, at this very important workshop on Parliament and the Media; another milestone in the reinvigoration and strengthening of the relationship between our institutions.
Allow me to express my appreciation to all here present for having made a special effort to attend.
Indeed, the media is one of our most crucial co-partners in the enabling of the public’s enjoyment of their “right to know” and the furtherance of human rights. Their presence is without a doubt vital for a functioning democracy and in the quest for good governance. It is therefore only fitting that a good working relationship exists between parliamentarians and journalists if both are to adequately fulfill their duties.
The National Assembly of the Third Republic has for over 20 years been established as the forum where the social, cultural, economic and political concerns and views of the Seychellois people are brought to the fore, and the media is encouraged to educate and keep the public informed of parliamentary activities and the role of parliament, in the empowerment of the people, thereby sustaining our vibrant democracy. Whilst we truly appreciate the strides made in strengthening the working relationship between the media houses and the parliament, we welcome the twice weekly re-transmission of debates in the National Assembly by the SBC, we feel that there is still room for improvement; may this workshop provide us with the opportunity to iron out all differences and misunderstandings that still persist between us.
The media has evolved beyond reporting on the agenda laid out by the government and into the serving of news that contributes to critical thinking among the general public. Whether this shift in roles is borne out of demand for more competent coverage and comprehensive content, or merely out of competition, the media has assumed a pivotal role which we must harness if we are to effectively communicate our various political agenda and the inner workings of the National Assembly to the general public. Whilst the National Assembly remains obliged to the traditional and social media in raising its profile, both nationally and internationally, I also feel that it is high time that the institution develops its own capacity to transmit its deliberations, hence the urgent need for our own broadcasting unit.
Ladies and gentlemen,
For years, the National Assembly has striven to enhance the facilitation of the media’s operation by protecting the freedom of expression, the right to information and press freedom, thereby filling the divide between the members and their constituents.
While it is true that the Parliament and the parliamentarians, as representatives of the people, possess ultimate legitimacy, it is as equally true that the media plays a decisive role in shaping public opinion. It is the media after all which assists the community in their decision by providing the public with information about the actions and opinions of parliamentarians. In this regard, we have published the conditions for media coverage, a transparent system of media accreditation thereby supporting a strong professional media, pursuing fact-based, fully substantiated reporting in the spirit of good journalism. The aim is to foster the public’s respect and esteem for both the media and parliament as providers of accurate information and informed opinion.
The Seychellois nation has over the years evolved into a melting pot and the National Assembly is testimony of what is possible when a nation decides to unite and chooses a future of hope and progress, hence our motto; unity in diversity.
In the words of Hon. Max Sisulu, the former South African Speaker:
Where there is a multiplicity of views, it is important that every voice gets heard and is seen to be heard.”
In our endeavor to promote peace and stability in our small island nation, let us remain guided by the constitution in maintaining a National Assembly of the people, by the people and for the people; an ideal that inspires and involves us all. As the media reaches the broadest number of people most efficiently, it is thus enshrined in our procedural rules that no law would be passed abridging the right to expression.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, in closing, let me now, on behalf of the National Assembly, seize this opportunity to congratulate and thank our partner, the Inter Parliamentary Union, for facilitating and supporting us as we take on new challenges in our quest for progress. You have our sincere appreciation!
I would also take this opportunity to underscore that the role of parliament in gender empowerment and the role of media in gender sensitization cannot be underestimated, and these are agendas that the National Assembly will support relentlessly.
Mesdames et Messieurs,
Je suis convaincu que cet atelier sera une belle occasion pour tous ceux présents d’échanger, d’apprendre et de mieux se comprendre. Mon souhait le plus cher est qu’il ait une meilleure compréhension réciproque des attentes entre nos Parlementaires et les professionnels des médias. Je souhaite que les deux groupes se sentiront bien en mesure de discuter librement de leurs préoccupations. Sur ce, je souhaite à tous les distingués participants ici présents des délibérations fructueuses.
I have now the pleasure to declare this workshop opened.
Je vous remercie de votre attention!