Hurricane Tomas: Human Beings and Politics

As Hurricane Tomas moves away from Fiji, only Ono-i-Lau and Votua islands in the southern Lau group are still experciencing gale force winds. They are closer to Tonga than mainland Fiji and are too far south to be shown on the map.

 UNICEF estimates that at least 150,000 people, primarily in Fiji's Northern and Eastern Divisions could have been directly affected by the hurricane (see map).

International airlines.  Air New Zealand and V-Australia including Fiji's own carrier, Air Pacific, have resumed operations in and out of Nadi International airport today, albeit on delayed schedules. Earlier, eleven Japanese travel journalists who will spend a week in Fiji reporting on its tourist attractions were greeted on arrival by Hurricane Tomas.

Tourism Fiji CEO Josefa Tuamoto has confirmed that no tourist was hurt in the wake of the cyclone and there have been no reports of extensive damage to hotels and resorts throughout the country.  Tourism facilities on the main island of Viti Levu (Coral Coast, Denarau, Nadi and Pacific Harbour) and in the nearby Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands escaped unscathed.

Disaster Management (DISMAC) Operations officer, Anthony Blake, said his officials will meet with representatives of donor countries tomorrow to discuss emergency aid needs. “They will start their own assessment once the weather clears.” Meanwhile government's "key priority is the safety of everyone  ... The Red Cross is government's primary provider on the ground at the moment.” The immediate needs for the affected areas include tents and emergency shelters, water storage containers and water purification tablets and

A RNZAF C130 "Kiwi 698" aircraft has arrived at the Nausori airport to conduct aerial surveys and distribute relief supplies to Labasa, and a second aircraft from the Australian RAAF is expected to arrive into Nausori this afternoon, reload for Labasa, and conduct aerial survey of Lomaiviti and Lau. The Fiji military has no airforce and commercial planes are not suited for this sort of work.

Australia will provide up to $US1,000,000 in initial emergency humanitarian assistance following an official request for assistance from the Fiji Government, and provide funding to DISMAC to charter transport such as helicopters and boats to deliver much needed relief supplies to remote communities. Fiji Red Cross will also receive funding to distribute emergency supplies already in storage in Fiji, and enable the local purchase of other essential supplies. Australia and NZ are expected to work closely to coordinate their responses. Australia's willingness to work with the Fiji government is commendable. It contrasts with NZ's flood relief assistance  to the Northern Division last year dealt only with NGOs, bypassing official government channels.  (NZ will also provide $1,000,000).

Media Decree consultations delayed. Hurricane Tomas has delayed public consultations on the Media Decree, which were due to start today. The consultations, deferred until further notice, are expected to be held in Suva, Lautoka and Labasa.

National Youth Day postponed. The PM has announced that the public holiday for National Youth Day next Monday will now be a normal work and school day.  He said this will help the country to recover the days lost. Bainimarama said we must come together as a nation and must also do so for our fellow citizens who have suffered loss of livelihood and shelter.The National Youth Day celebrations will be held at a laterdate.

Making political capital out of disaster.  Australia and New Zealand have commendably avoided linking their humanitarian aid to politics, a position much improved on their politically-weighted  assistance to the Western Division following last year's floods.  Not so the...

,,, the Anti-Bloggers.  I know some readers think I should be less often critical of anti-government bloggers and the comments they attract to their blogsites but I thought they'd like to read about how some such blogs reported Hurricane Tomas.

One blog criticized government for imposing the curfew and asking evacuees to take bedding and food to evacuation centres ("we're in a recession ... surely officials can come up with provisions"). An anonymous comment had this to say: "A curfew for some rain and wind? The jittery regime is jumping at shadows. This indian supported coup is becoming a joke. The sooner the real cleanout starts the better!! Cassava patch runner will be offfaster than a mongoose!!!"

Another anti-government blog was a shade more charitable with news on fundraising in Auckland (vinaka) and NZ government assistance (vinaka vakalaveu), followed by a brief note that the Fiji interim governmnent was  assessing (sic!) the situation!


Jon said…
Mr Walsh

The pointed comments you’ve made about the slanted representation of various stories and/ or headlines in local and overseas media have often been with just cause. However your recent posting “Not so the… the Anti-Bloggers” sees you hoist with your own petard.

Coup 4.5 provided many factual postings on the cyclone unencumbered by misrepresentation or emotion. It seems that by joining all the ‘anti government’ sites together under your by-line, you have (deliberately?) set out to create the impression that all are guilty of trying to make political capital out of this disastrous event.

Furthermore, you should not blame a blog site for publishing the comments received, especially if those comments do not promote violence or stoop to personal attacks. For instance, whilst it’s true that many would agree the curfew was necessary, there were many who did not agree. In the same vein, it isn’t unreasonable to expect the government to provide food at evacuation centres, although it could equally be argued that it’s not government responsibility to do so. Such opposing opinion is part of the open dialogue which you (and many others) have espoused as necessary for Fiji.

This is your blog and you are entitled to write what you feel. However being critical of others leads you onto uncertain ground since you’ll then need to be vigilant that you’re not able to be castigated as hypocritical. With respect, it might be better to ignore postings and comments on other blogs and concentrate your efforts on how to persuade this government to best pursue its chosen path, rather than become involved in moralistic or academic slanging matches with your rivals.
Flush the Jon said…
Jon, with respect, you're a git. Croz Walsh can say whatever he likes about whatever and whomever he likes. It's just idiocy to suggest that he concentrate his efforts on the government and ignore his "rival" blogs. If they transgress, they deserve to be held accountable. It's called free speech, something you presumably want restored in Fiji but have the gall to want throttled here. In any event, the blogs in question aren't rivals. Mr Walsh is not competing with anyone. He says what he says and his readers appreciate it. And they derive a lot more sense and intellectual sustenance here than by visiting all the other Fiji blogs combined. If anyone's hoisted with their own petard, it's you, sunshine. A democrat poseur caught red-handed trying to stifle legitimate debate.
Jon said…
It is, of course, understandable that the lower orders would feel compelled to make a personal attack, rather than a reasoned argument, in attempting to validate their point of view.
Ratu Sai said…
Now look whose hoisted with his own petard, my, my how cravenness people can be.

Like most anti- Government blog sites coup 4.5 is no different they all perpetuate their tergiversations driven by their depraved and convoluted ideology.

But most importantly their dissemination of what they perceive to be news worthy is indeed nothing more than frippery in fact it would be fair to say their integrity and credibility is sacrificed for nothing more than mere misrepresentations.
Diddums said…
All this stuff about personal attacks is absolutely BS. Jon, you call that an attack? You make a gratuitous assault on Croz Walsh, dressing it up with that old hackneyed sweetener "with respect" when it's not respectful at all. And then complain when someone points out the irony of pro-democracy campaigners advocating a clampdown on free expression. There are too many people on this site hiding behind Croz's skirts and screaming "I'm being attacked, not my argument" when they should get out of the kitchen if they can't stand the heat of vigorous political discourse. It's rather odd that for a country that used to settle its disputes with a club, there are so many lily livered pansies complaining about being struck by the equivalent of a damp wettex.
Anonymous said…
Cyclone Tomas is nothing compared to the hot air generated on this site.

Either stick to reasonable posts or concentrate on something that we all care about, like the rugby.

HK free for all
Old friends to the rescue said…
The swift response by Australia and NZ to send aid to cyclone victims in Fiji has been rightly praised by Frank Bainimarama. Whatever our political arguments, it's good to know that when the chips are down, our old friends are still there for the ordinary people of Fiji. Vinaka vakalevu to the two governments and to France, which is also sending an aircraft carrying aid from New Caledonia. We might think the Chinese, the Indians and the Malaysians can somehow take the place of those who disapprove of the course we've taken. But Cyclone Tomas reminds us that we need our traditional neighbours more than ever and must work towards restoring those relationships. For a start, that means sticking to the regime's commitment to hold elections in 2014 and lifting the emergency regulations immediately.
Anonymous said…
Get a life all a yous. The only one with anything worth reading here is old friends. But Jon writes like a dribbly dropping, Flush the Jon makes less sense but far more noise that my old bog, ratu Sai is obviously some SDL throwback wanna be chief and diddums is as much use as a dummy stuck up a child’s crack. Get with the programme and spend your free time helping people who need it who hve been stuffed by the cyclone. Spending your time writing pansy letters to eachother shows why your stupid country is where it is. It’s populated by stupids like you all. Do sOMETHING USEFUL. Even the army which you people love to hate is getting it right and helping more than you lot are

Sick and tired of reading your rubbish
Real trash said…
Thank you, "Sick and tired of reading your rubbish" for such a valuable contribution to the debate. You are obviously someone of great intelligence and mana and we are indebted to you for highlighting our own failings. Now why don't you and "HK free for all" go back to watching the rugby.
Oz Watcher said…
Diddums, you talk about Jon’s unsolicited attack and yet you accuse Croz Walsh of being a cross dresser! What sort of poofter hypocrite are you? Or is it just you wishfully thinking that there were more like you? Fijian men wear sulus not skirts, you moron.

Ratu Sai, English is obviously not your first language, so insult people in Fijian. You will make more sense.

Now I have to get back to work to earn my salary to pay the tax to go towards the aid money to help your country get back on its feet. No, don’t thank me or anyone else in Australia and New Zealand. Just get back to your pathetic bickering.

Oz watcher
Here's looking up your skirt said…
"Poofter, hypocrite, moron". Now that's more like it. So civil of you, Oz Watcher, to take so much heed of Croz's appeal to play the argument and not the man. Sounds like you just joined the "pathetic bickering". Incidentally, no one here cares about someone's English when it's plainly their second language and neither should you.
Jon said…
Diddums, if you feel that my comment to Mr Walsh was ‘an assault’ then you evidently have no idea of the meaning of the word and I suggest that you refer to the dictionary. My thrust of my original post merely indicated the danger of pointing out the splinter in others’ eyes… another hackneyed cliché with which you are also no doubt familiar.

You then mention my ‘complaint’ that I was attacked. No complaint from me about being called a git – merely an understanding that the lower orders usually make up for their linguistic ineptitude by making personal attacks.

‘Clampdown on free expression’? Once again incorrect - in fact if you were to read my post properly you would see that I was asking for understanding that, as far as government supplies go (in this particular instance), two points of view exist and are valid. This is diametrically opposed to that which you accuse me of.

The cut and thrust of reasoned argument is, of course, wonderfully stimulating. However the ineptitude of your response, which takes incorrect assumptions made by the previous, equally incompetent, writer and then embellishes them with further meaningless innuendo, leaves me not so much bathed in the ‘heat of political discourse’ but, instead, disappointed by the lack of mental acuity on display.

‘Could try harder’ is a final cliché that I will offer you – one that you would do well to observe.
Lower orders, high dudgeon said…
Jon Jon, trying to duck and weave your way out of this one by impugning the "mental acuity" of your critics ain't gonna cut it. By any reading, your initial missive to Croz was clearly an admonition to lay off his rival blogs. Your use of the term "lower orders" is a strange one in the Fiji context. Certainly it marks you as an elitist with a remarkably thin skin. And disingenuous to boot. An academic with a chip on his shoulder, perchance?
Croz Walsh said…
I seem to have generated a lot of hot air. Sorry.
To reply to Jon's original comment: I know Coup4.5 publishes some fair posts. My attack was on a not quite so fair one from two blogs I deliberately did not name. Blog publishers are obliged to remove offensive comments. Those on this post that allude to homosexuality clome very close to being offensive.

I think it important to expose irresponsible journalism (including blogs) on Fiji but I agree I have been overdoing it a little lately and the other blog was worse than Coup4.5.

To all of you: Peace! Try to avoid the personal attacks.
Jon said…
Dear Lower order etc

You’ve once again tried to change the subject:
‘…academic with a chip on his shoulder…’,
‘…use of the term lower orders…’ etc, however I’ll do my best to enlighten you.

Firstly in such a class ridden society, with its Tui’s, Ratu’s, Adi’s etc Fiji is an eminently suitable context in which to refer to lower orders. Alas, we no longer have bokola otherwise there would yet be some use to be found for you.

Your claim that I gave Mr Walsh an ‘admonition to lay off rival blogs’ was actually phrased “ might be better to ignore postings and comments on other blogs…” since I thought, and still think, that Mr Walsh’s not inconsiderable talents would be best spent on constructive posts rather than becoming involved in the minutiae of anti government blogs.

However I do sympathise with him in this, since I find myself in the invidious position of conducting the same type of dialogue with yourself

Evidently most of my previous post has been lost on you and I’d try to explain once again but I fear that I don’t know sufficient words of one syllable.
Still on the Jon said…
An intellectual snob, a social snob and with more goalpost shifts than two decades of World Cups. You win, Jon. Feel better?
Proud fijian said…
Dear Posters

Stick to debating the topic and refrain from attacking persons. Its hard to follow a debate and contribute when all you do is ttack people without reason.

Pro IG or not - stick to the topic.
Ratu Sai said…
The self-aggrandising jester is at it again accentuating his educational prowess but the truth be known his idiosyncratic arguments is ad nauseam.

Given that most of his verbosity is indicative of a person suffering from “narcissistic personality” it may be wise at this stage to curtail any further social intercourse with this morosoph.
Jon said…
Still on the Jon -
Come back. It's been fun. Win? I prefer to think of it as 1-0.

Proud Fijian -
It's all a game

Ratu Sai -
Play with yourself said…
Jon, us members of the lower orders don't wanna play with you no more.
Anonymous said…
What reforms?

Let's get back to issues.

Much hot air has been generated in recent months by the gurus in the Public Service Commission about public service reforms leading to better delivery.

Indeed, the interim Prime Minister, chairman PSC and his Permanent Secretary have all been singing the same tune for months now.

But have the much touted reforms really taken place with improved service delivery? Are ministries and departments working smarter? Are the benefits of the ‘reforms’ visible?

To answer these questions, one only has to take a short drive from Suva to Nausori. Get to Nokonoko Road which has remained dug-out for months, work on it having come to a complete halt at the beginning of the year.

Meanwhile, hundreds of residents of the area and thousands who daily ply this by pass stretch between Suva and Nausori, suffer their anguish in silence.

Go further, and at Nakasi begin the gaping craters on the Kings Highway, stretching for about two kilometres. We are told its upgrading works. The craters were dug months ago. Aside from being an eyesore, it is a serious hazard to road users – motorists as well as pedestrians – not to speak of property owners adjacent to the highway.

Drive on and get to Vuci Road and witness for yourself the shocking condition of this long stretch fringed by homes, shops and schools. It is extremely unsafe for pedestrians as well as vehicular traffic.

Some months ago, the Works Ministry had undertaken the upgrading of this road – so we were told. But they have made a terrible mess of it and left it incomplete.

frustrated commuter
President Bainimarama said…
More on the international media front. The global broadcaster Al Jazeera has a Fiji cyclone story on Youtube that refers to Frank Bainimarama as Fiji's president. Ratu Epeli will be pleased. When you see things like this about things you know, you do wonder how much more of the media's output is just plain wrong. Never mind that old dictum about not believing everything you read. You can't believe everything you watch or hear either.

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