Showing posts from April 19, 2009

(-+) The Coup Was Not Necessary: Expert

One of the especially sad things about the Fiji situation is that family, friends and colleagues often find themselves on opposite sides. It never was, as the media mostly present it, a case of baddies versus goodies. I find myself in this situation with regards to a letter published in The Australian by former colleague Robbie Roberston. Robbie, now of Adelaide's La Trobe University, has written three books on the 1987 and 2000 coups, one co-authored with his wife, Akosita Tamanisau, and he wrote most of the political section in my Fiji: an Encyclopaedic Atlas(see advertisement, in left column). He's an expert on the earlier coups (supposedly carried out to defend ethnic Fijian rights) but I think he's misread the 2006 Coup (the first where Indo-Fijians were not the scapegoats).
Here are the points he made (RR) and my responses (CW).RR: “Fiji emerged from those political storms [the 1987 coup] stronger than ever, with a hugely sophisticated and active civil society, a dy…

(-+) One Picture Worth a Thousand Words: Fiji Military Has Tanks?

It's been a mad week. What with Bainimarama's award for services to humanity and Salinger's dismissal from Niwa (see post below, "Unbelievable But True") but now we have Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum saying, not only that overseas media are portraying a lot of false images about Fiji, but (read on...)

“I understand, for example, in Australia – one of the TV stations was showing tanks when they were talking about Fiji – the pictures in the background. The military does not have tanks in Fiji. You have old file footage being shown as current footage - but not saying ‘file footage.’ You have a lot of sensationalism. You have media organizations reading [anti-Government] blogs. That doesn’t of course help.”

(+) Clinton Told Australia NZ Misleading Over Fiji

Suva (RF Online/Pacific Media Watch): Appearing at a congressional hearing in Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is again urging Fiji to restore democracy as soon as possible. But yesterday when the subject of democracy came up again. American Samoan Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin came to the defence of the Fiji government. In a question to Clinton, he said regional heavyweights Australia and New Zealand had been painting an inaccurate picture of Fiji’s political scene. Returning from talks in Suva, he said the democratic system in the country had been unfair for years, and Fiji was not ready for proper elections. He told Clinton the situation in Fiji was complex, and for too long Canberra and Wellington had been allowed to take the lead. He said:

"It makes no sense, Madame Secretary, for the leaders of Australia and New Zealand to demand early elections for the sake of having elections in Fiji, when there are fundamental deficiencies in Fiji's electoral p…

(o) Unbelievable But True : Fiji and NZ

The two most unbelievable news items last week were, first, in Fiji, Cdre Bainimarama being invested with a Companion of the Order of Fiji for his “eminent achievement and merit of highest degree and service to Fiji and to humanity at large” Fiji? Possibly.Only history will tell. Humanity? Huh! Most of humanity doesn't even know Fiji exists!

And secondly, in New Zealand, Jim Salinger's dismissal from Niwa.* Salinger is NZ's internationally renowned top climate change scientist. What was he sacked for? Talking to the media about glaciers (sic!) without permission. And we criticize Fiji!!!
*The state-owned National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

(o) Kiwi's "Scary" Arrival in Nadi

Queenstown Times columnist Miranda Spary's arrival in Nadi airport recently was nerve-wracking, with a large military and police presence keeping the crowds out amid much yelling and chaos. But it turned out it was just a crowd welcoming home the Fiji Sevens rugby team after winning in Hong Kong. That was the scariest moment of the visit to Fiji. In fact, it was the only scary moment.

[The article goes on to describe economic problems due to the downturn of tourism, the recent floods, devaluation, and the effects of ill-informed NZ media information...

Every New Zealander interviewed there said they had received phone calls and emails from panicky family and friends worried for their safety.

While the media is telling people it is unsafe, the official New Zealand travel advisory service does not. It simply explains the current political situation and says to be alert to any deterioration, especially in Suva, which is not the main tourist destination. Having said that, co…

(+) Kiwi Laywers Committed to Fiji

Based on Fiji Live 21 April 2009 New Zealander Christopher Pryde, reappointed today as Fiji's Solicitor-General, has criticized NZ Law Society president John Marshall QC’s comment that lawyers should not accept office with the Fiji government. Pryde said people could bury their heads in the sand and wish that things were otherwise, but the fact remained that the President had abrogated the 1997 Constitution. He called NZLS president's advice “paradoxical.”“It is precisely at this time that Fiji needs good, competent lawyers to assist it and I am pleased that all the New Zealand lawyers working in the various ministries and departments in Fiji, including in my office, have committed themselves to staying on and seeing the country through this difficult period. The reappointment of people, including lawyers, to government positions and judges to the judiciary is an important part of that process without which, the road will be longer and rockier.”

(B) Fiji Crisis: Behind the Headlines - Fr Kevin Barr

In a special feature for Pacific Media Centre, long time advocate for Fiji's poor, Fr Kevin Barr, traces the factors that led to the Abrogation of the 1997 Constitution on April 18th and the promulgation of the Emergency Regulations, and comments on what is happening now and the way forward. If you read nothing else about Fiji, read this: the situation in a nutshell.

Links to NZ Over-the-Weekend Discussion on Fiji

New Zealand radio and TV gave much attention to Fiji over the weekend, and for a pleasant change some programmes presented a range of opinions. Listen to David Robie, Barbara Dreaver and Ranjit Singh on TVNZ Media 7. The Cafe Pacific site also has a copy of my separate posting on the Sunday Group. Click here. Listen to Robie on Shine TV saying that Australian and New Zealand policies have backfired. And to Ranjit Singh saying that the media is not telling the full story.

TV1 had a lengthy interviewed with Ballu Khan, with whom I sympathise at a human level because he was very badly beaten up by the military in the early days of the Coup, but otherwise is a person in whom I do not place a great deal of trust. His later comments were similar to those of Baidrokadroka (mentioned in an earlier post) and our PM John Key. All of these statements could be seen as inflammatory and decidedly dangerous interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, whatever their government. For this…

(o) Radio NZ Sunday Group Discuss Fiji

To listen to lawyer Janet Mason (Wellington lawyer who represented the Great Council of Chiefs), Waikato academic Dr David Neilson (who was part of the FHRC enquiry into alleged irregularities in the 2006 election), radio journalist Richard Pamatatau (RNZ Pacific Issues correspondent) and Crosbie Walsh (this blogger) discuss recent events in Fiji -- what led up to the present "mess", opinions on how it may be resolved, and what New Zealand can do (and should not do) to help -- tune in to RadioNZ . The 30 minute programme was chaired by Chris Laidlaw and produced by Christine Cessford. If the 19th April programme is no longer available, check the Sunday Morning Archive to the left of the RNZ page for 19th April..

Feedback so far has been very positive. Vinaka vakalevu to Chris, Christine, and fellow discussants. Apologies to Janet for butting in. I think Chris handled us all very well but it's a pity the format did not allow for a some discussion between discussants.