Taiwan Ambassador to the Marshall Islands, Steve C.C. Hsia, center, presents a $20,000 check in support of a Summit on Democracy to be held in Majuro early next year to representa:ves of the Pacific Media Ins:tute Daniel Kramer, led, and Giff Johnson. Joining them in support of the ini:a:ve are, from led back: Ni:jela Speaker Kenneth Kedi, President David Kabul, and presiden:al advisor Fred J. Pedro. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

Majuro will be the venue for a first-of-its-kind Pacific summit on communica:ons and democracy early in the new year, organizers announced recently. The Marshall Islands Summit on Democracy: Public Engagement, Communica:ons and the Media is scheduled for Feb. 23-27, 2023 on Majuro Atoll, capital of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

The Pacific Media Ins:tute, a locally incorporated non-profit organiza:on, is hos:ng the unusual conference, which will bring together the na:on’s poli:cal and government leadership; na:onal media execu:ves; students at College of the Marshall Islands and the Majuro campus of the University of the South Pacific; and senior journalists from across the Pacific.

In a show of strong support for the summit, the Republic of China (Taiwan) Embassy donated US$20,000 to support hos:ng of the Summit on Democracy. Taiwan Ambassador Steve C.C. Hsia presented a check for this amount to Pacific Media Ins:tute representa:ves last week at the office of President David Kabua who, together with Parliament Speaker Kenneth Kedi, has endorsed the Summit.

“We greatly appreciate the ROC/Taiwan’s strong support of democracy and its willingness to commit funding in support of the success of the next year’s Summit on Democracy,” said PMI representa:ve and Marshall Islands Journal editor Giff Johnson. “This is the first media freedom advocacy ini:a:ve of its kind in the Marshall Islands.” The Pacific Media Ins:tute launched Project Democracy this year, a mul:-event program to encourage vo:ng and  ac:ve poli:cal debate.

“Our Cons:tu:on’s Bill of Rights enshrines media freedom and freedom of expression,” said President Kabua. “These are important rights for all of us to enjoy and protect. Because of this, I am happy to lend my support to Pacific Media Ins:tute for the Summit on Democracy with government leaders and representa:ves of the media in early 2023. Greater understanding and apprecia:on of  these important issues is fundamental to sustaining our democracy.”

“I am delighted to endorse the ini:a:ve by the Pacific Media Ins:tute to organize the first Summit on Democracy: Public Engagement, Communica:ons and the Media,” added Speaker Kedi. “Media freedom is an essen:al part of any func:oning democracy. I appreciate our media reaching out to RMI Government leaders to discuss these important issues, par:cularly in an elec:on year.”

The summit will focus on the role a free press plays in strengthening democracy in the

Pacific Islands. The summit’s tenta:ve program includes a vigorous discussion on democracy and the news media with elected na:onal leaders, breakout sessions on challenges facing the news media in the Marshall Islands; and workshops for government and NGO public informa:on officers and students.

The Pacific Media Ins:tute, which will mark its first anniversary in February 2023, is aiming for the following outcomes from the summit:

  • Increased awareness and acknowledgement of the fundamental role of the news media in a democracy by government leaders, with an emphasis on the na:onal elec:on to be held in late 2023.
  • Training for government and NGO public informa:on officers in wri:ng, deadlines, and understanding what is news and what is not.
  • Raised youth and community awareness of the important role of media, democracy advocacy, and elec:on par:cipa:on through PMI’s Project Democracy outreach events during and ader the summit featuring regional media experts par:cipa:ng in the summit.

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