Showing posts from January 25, 2009
This Blog Site and the Pro-Government IG Blog Site
Crosbie Walsh 30 Jan 2009

I added a link to the IG blog (Pro-Govt Blog) because IG's views are important and I'm pleased IG responded with a link to my site, which it describes as "neutral".

This mutual inclusion of links does not, of course, mean that we necessarily agree with each other's individual postings. For the record, I am particularly disturbed by the tone and threats in its recent post Double Minded RFN Bloggers.

It is easy, of course, for "armchair outsiders" like myself to call for reasoned and less emotional outbursts from all parties. It is much harder for those directly involved or affected to remain calm in the face of what, from their different perspectives, they see as obstructionism, insult or worse. It is also rather satisfying to "let fly" at opponents. But this does not mean that such an approach is wise or helpful. Indeed, it could be counter-productive. Old &q…
(o+) Pushing Fiji Regime into a Corner is Not the Way
Opinion. Crosbie Walsh 29 January 2009

The special PI Forum meeting in Port Moresby has come and gone. The Interim Government's case went unheeded. NZ and Australia pressed for firm action. Sir Michael Somare called for further dialogue. Tonga was surprisingly silent given its earlier assurance to Baimarama it would support Fiji if the "promised" deadline for March elections could not be met. John Key reportedly mouthed personal insults at Fiji's Attorney-General. Kiribati and Tuvalu wavered but eventually agreed to support the "unanimous" resolution (Fiji, presumably,opposed it).

Fiji is not to be suspended from Forum membership (the NZ media got it wrong again) but the "ultimatum" to nominate an election date by May 1 and elections no later than December 2009 is going to be hard to meet. Meanwhile, sanctions will remain in place and the Ministerial Contact Group (MCG) will continue to monitor th…
(+B) Why Elections Cannot Be Rushed: Jone Dakuvula*
Original name “Is Fiji’s Suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum Inevitable?”
PacNews 22 January 2009

[Although overtaken by events- the Forum decision is now known - this is an important background paper on why the Interim Government maintains elections cannot be rushed. It deals with Banimarama’s “broken promise” and comments crtically on the roles played by Australia and New Zealand in Fiji’s past and present conflicts. The paper is slightly abridged, with subheadings added and key points underlined]

Why punish us when progress is being made? Suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum is a serious international issue because it would mean continued suspension of bilateral and multilateral aid that Fiji needs at this time, for at least another 12 months. Punishment of Fiji is to continue because we do not have an elected government and we cannot have an Election by March. Is this a reasonable way to treat an important member state of …
(o) Sir Michael Somare Pleads with Forum leaders not to suspend FijiPacNews 27 January 2009

[Sir Michael, with some support from Kiribati, Tuvalu and possibly others, may have persuaded Forum members, pushed by Australia and New Zealand, not to expel Fiji from the Forum. But the "ultimatum" finally agreed upon will be hard to meet unless pressure is also put on those opposing the Interim Government. And unless Australia and New Zealand can comprehend and adopt something of Sir Michael's "Pacific" spirit and heed his wise advice, underlined. ]

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare has made a strong plea to Pacific Leaders not to suspend Fiji from the Forum bloc. He made the plea at the Special Forum leaders meeting underway in Papua New Guinea. In his speech, Sir Michael seemed to accept Fiji’s interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama’s position that Fiji will not return to democratic rule soon.

He said now its not the time for the Forum to…
(-/o+) The Present Fiji Electoral System: Where Some Votes Count Three to Four Times more than others
28 Jan. 2009

Two posts worth looking at are in today's Pacific Media Centre blog feedback. Old Pacific-hand Ron Crocombe has some scathing things to say about the Interim Government (-), to which David Robie responds (o+).

I'll limit my comments (o+) to only one of Professor Crocombe's accusations. He is probably correct is saying that most people will continue to vote along ethnic lines, whatever the system, but he does not say that the present system offers little alternative: 46 of the 71 electorates are Communal electorates in which voters vote according to their ethnicity. The remaining 25 are Open seats.

Neither does he say just how unequal this system (which is based on provinces not population distribution) is. In the 2006 election*, for example, there were on average only 9,437 reg…
(G) Electoral reform first, A-G tells Forum
Fiji Live. 27 Jan 2009

Fiji's interim Attorney-General has told Pacific leaders that Fiji will only hold elections when all of its political players agree on electoral reform. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told the special Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) meeting in Papua New Guinea today that electoral reform has to come first before PIF demands of free and fair elections, TV New Zealand reports.

Fiji's membership of the PIF is one possible sanction up for discussion given Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama's broken promises on a timetable to restore democracy following his December 2006 coup. The 15 PIF leaders, including Australian and New Zealand prime ministers Kevin Rudd and John Key, will discuss what they see as the best measures to get Fiji back on the route to democracy.

Once an electoral system has been established through the reforms, the process for elections can be created within 12-15 months, Sayed-Khaiyum told reporters in Port Moresby. …
(o) Deportation of Fiji Times Publisher
Opinion: Crosbie Walsh 27 January 2009

The deportation of Fiji Times publisher Australian Rex Gardner has been widely criticised by many parties in Fiji. Media Council chairman Daryl Tarte said the action sent a "damaging message to foreign organizations." The Law Society questioned the "process". The Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) claimed further evidence of attacks on a "free press." Citizen's Constitutional Forum chairmanAkuilaYabaki said the act was "unreasonable and ineffective" (no improvement in media reporting had occurred after three previous deportations.) And a Fiji Times editorial asked who was offering such "dubious advice" to the Interim Government . "It is inconceivable", it said, "that a government would take such drastic action on the eve of a regional forum to discuss the nation's future."

One cannot but agree with these judgments, whatever thei…
(o+,o-) Three Letters to the Editor, DominionPost
20 December 2008 on

(o+)In no position to scream
I’d hoped that the new Government would lift the petty, yet vindictive, sanctions on Fiji.It has never done New Zealand any harm and it’s both presumptuous and arrogant for us to try to dictate its form of government, especially when former prime minister Helen Clark welcomed to Wellington and effusively praised Pakistan’s General Pervez Musharraf, who, like Bainimarama, used the military to overthrow a corrupt civilian government that was robbing the country blind.A cynical and unprincipled government such as New Zealand’s, which happily concludes a free trade agreement with communist China - probably the most murderous, odious and environmentally destructive regime on earth - is in no position to preach to Fiji.The campaign against Fiji, driven by an elite of Left-wing, liberal ideologues in the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry, is clearly against our national interests, because it wil…
(o) No wonder Fiji looks to China
Dominion Post Letter to the Editor 19.1.09

The grant of $100,000 to Fiji for the floods that have devastated the lives of thousands, with hundreds fleeing their homes, is another example of the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry’s childish and pathetic response to anything Fijian.It is not even enough to buy a bottle of water for those affected by the floods.How much did New Zealand give to Indonesia?We gave more in special aid to Tonga to buy its support for dismissing Fiji from the Pacific Island Forum. No doubt, Niue will be offered a substantial amount to support New Zealand when Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully visits it.I thought that, with the change of government, our dealings with our Pacific neighbours would rise above being childish, but I was wrong. Nothing has changed at the ministry. Our minister obviously has the strength of a wet bus ticket so there is little prospect of change.Is it any wonder Pacific nations are turning to China…
(o+) NZ and Australian Policies Hindering Democracy Moves in Fiji

Letter to NZ Listener Jan 31-Feb 6 2009

I wholeheartedly support the sentiments in the well-balanced letter on Fiji by Crosbie Walsh of the University of the South Pacific in which he calls for a review of New Zealand's policy against that country (January 17).

As a New Zealander who has been resident in the Pacific Islands for most of the past 60 years, I think the hard-line policy of New Zealand and Australia against Fiji has been a disaster. Most Pacific Islanders feel Frank Bainimarama had no option but to move against a corrupt and racially divisive Government in Fiji. They also believe he is doing the right thing in refusing to hold an election until the voting system is truly democratic.

The travel ban imposed by New Zealand against family members of the Fiji regime and military has severely reduced the goodwill New Zealand has built up over the years throughout the Pacific.

Worst still, it has hampered Bainimaram…