(-+) This Level of Censorship is Unnecessary and Counter-Productive

Opinion 
FijiLive reports that CCF's Rev Akuila Yabaki  "has welcomed the Government’s participation at the recent United National Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva." Almost certainly Yabaki and the Citizens' Constitutional Forum (CCF) said much more than this but, just as certainly, it was censored out.
Photo: Cafe Pacific.

Recently CCF appealed by email to people to publish their concerns about an independent judiciary because censorship prevented  publication in Fiji.  FijiLive's "abbreviated" release proves their point: the one "positive" comment was allowed; all other comments, no matter how constructive, were not. 

This blog reluctantly recognizes that full media freedom is not possible in Fiji at present, and is probably justified in the short term. Long before censorship was imposed, we were highly critical of media bias against the government, most notably by The Fiji Times

But this blog also condemns this unnecessary high degree of censorship on two grounds: First, CCF is not unsympathetic to what government says it it trying to do. Indeed, it participated in the NCBBF/Peoples' Charter process and has co-operated in a number of government dialogue initiatives. But CCF is also, and justifiably, concerned about government over-stepping the boundaries of good governance in its haste to implement reforms. CCF is not saying the judiciary is never independent, but that it must been seen to be independent, and on occasion has seemed not to be. This is a reasonable warning in the circumstances. 

Secondly, in these same circumstances, one would hope government would see that the  CCF could play a vital role in its own plans. It is a fair and independent watchdog on government; it provides government with feedback from the "middle ground" of which it is a part,  and it is respected and closely watched in Fiji and overseas. 

Government and its censors should recognize that only the inept and inebriated believe a country has only "positive" news. It takes a mix of good, neutral and negative news to make the positive news believable.

Who better to provide this than the highly respected Rev. Yabaki and the CCF!
 -- Crosbie Walsh.
Footnote: There's still no decision on whether The Fiji Times and FijiTV will be included in discussions on the Media Decree. If these two giants are excluded, how meaningful is the participation of others? And what has government to lose by their inclusion?

Comments

Reality exposed said…
Oi, Croz. Where are all your usual pro-regime correspondents like Qanibulu and TheMax? Still reeling, I'll wager, from this very anti- regime posting. Good for you in seeing the folly of the latest developments. And shame on them for choosing to resort to silence rather than confront the gruesome reality before us all. We now know that the regime is so sensitive to criticism, even of the mildest sort, that it will do anything it can to prevent the population from being exposed to all but the most supine propaganda. It's an absolute disgrace and some of your correspondents need to have a good look at themselves for defending the indefensible. A pox on the lot of them.
Qanibulu said…
Seems to me the most noise being made about censorship in Fiji comes from those living outside the country. The ones in Fiji just cant believe their luck.

In fact some democracy huggers and civil libertarians in Fiji are praying that the censorship laws continue, at least until after they have their photographs taken running around the paddock at the Army's QEB.

Rumour has it that the Australian government is handing out Temporary Protection Visas like lollies for those who claim victimisation by the IG.

The white ants are coming out of the woodwork.
Qanigoebbels speaks said…
So typical of you, Qanibulu, to strike a "don't care" and "never say die" pose when you're so comprehensively pinned to the mat. Or more like the black knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, still spewing blood and idle threats when you no longer have any leg to stand on. So typical too, for you to resort to the tired old ploy of "us" - as in those hapless ordinary souls in Fiji blinded because of censorship - and "them", the regime's critics abroad who actually know more about what's going on in their homeland because they can access a free media. With your zeal to have a Fiji reared purely on government propaganda, Qanigoebbels might be a better name for you under the circumstances, Frankly, tau, there's no need for white ants with the kind of insular mentality you've displayed here. With its obsession with censorship, the moral edifice of the regime is collapsing from within.
Censors Rule said…
Read humorous posting on FijiToday about censorship.
Avid said…
Qanibulu, the Rudd government got rid of TPVs in 2008 so those rumours are clearly exaggerated!

More seriously, Cros, could you justify your claim that 'full media freedom is not possible' in Fiji? Surely an alleged bias against the IG by The Fiji Times is no justification for preventing any criticism at all from being published?
Croz said…
Avid, My concern in that a totally uncensored media would be as biased as it was before (see my earlier posts last year that substantiate this claim), this time acting as an unintended catalyst for those seeking to violently overthrown the government. Have a look at the barely disguised threats of violence and assassinations that regularly surface in the anti-government blogosphere.

The situation is far from ideal but I hope the situation will improve once the Media Decree is in place. I'm told that's sometime this week.
Wondering said…
@ Croz, Dear Croz, I would disagree with you on the premise that the Media Decree will end ensorship of thep ress. In fact, i believe it will make it a hundred times worse. It will make it a criminal offence to publish / broadcast any piece of news that brings to light mismanagement or poor handling of public funds, trust, and confidence by any state or quasi-state insitution. Where then can the ordinary Jone, Prasad and Mere can to know about huge increases in the military budget, the slashign of health budgets, how the FNPF contitnues to squander workers funds by making extremely poor investment choices, how water cuts and electricity cuts are adding burden on the average citizen, news reports about home invasions, rapes, incests, murders etc? Believe me, the censors even knw are blocking event the simplest of stories about crime in Fiji. How do you justify that? It would be akin to an ostrich burying its head in the sand. The public has the right - as taxpayers - to know everything going on in the country! A Media Decree will put an end to this.

My friend, i repeat, you are sadly mistaken if you think the Media Decree will make things better, it'll make it a million times worse. How would you feel, living in NZ if the Key Government introduced a similar media legislation? You would not be able to criticize actions of the Government that you have a problem with! So if its unacceptable to you, why should it be acceptable to the people of Fiji?

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