(+) A Counter-NZ Herald Editorial

Opinion to Counter an Opinion
Crosbie Walsh
 (Top photo: NZHerald, showing either that Bainimarama has not changed his clothes for the past three and a half years, or that their photographer is on holiday. Bottom photo taken by NZH photographer on holiday in Fiji. He expressed surprised Bainimarama had another set of clothes. The Herald only had photos of him in uniform.

The latest NZHerald Editorial on Fiji  "Decrees show NZ must stay firm on Fiji" has really put the cards on the table.  If we had any doubt before, we now know how little they know about Fiji and how they see NZ's paternalistic role in the Pacific.

The Editorial opens by sympathising with the "democracies as they fight to ostracise, shame and sanction dictatorships around to their own way of thinking." This short sentence needs deconstruction. Who are the democracies? Australia and NZ. How do they fight? By ostracism, shame and sanctions. They do not seek to understand or offer assistance to speed up Fiji's Roadmap (if the Editor has heard of the Roadmap). Press on with all the well-worn negatives that in the nearly four years since the Coup have produced no positive results.  And Why? To turn Fiji to our "way of thinking." I can't believe this. The sun sank on the British Empire decades ago along with the White Man's Burden.

The Editorial continued by condemning the "tiresome subject" for floating a draft Media Decree;  passing legislation giving immunity to "Bainimarama's crew," and decrying the lack of "commitment to a restoration of a proper democracy." Let's take this one at a time.

First, this is what the Herald wrote on the draft Decree: "It is a remarkable document, one which would make Zimbabwe proud and Singapore blush." There's a lot wrong with the Decree as now worded. If the Editor wants to know what, he could check out the ten points in my analysis posted over a week ago.  But I also provided a background on why the Decree was thought necessary and I stressed it was only a draft. As for Singapore blushing, doesn't the Editor know that Fiji consulted with Singaore advisors and the Fiji Decree was modelled on Singapore. Does he think we should also "stay firm" on Singapore, or it is just a little too important to be bullied?

Secondly, the immunity legislation. The Editor failed to mention that this also included immunity for the perpetrators of the 2000 Coup,  and neither did he mention that, much earlier, Rabuka, the frontsman for Fiji's 1987 Coup, not only passed immunity legislation but had the immunity written into the Constitution.  Or didn't he think this information relevant?

Thirdly, we'll forgive the ignorance displayed in the phrase about "restoration" and "proper" democracy.  The Editor clearly has no idea of Fiji electoral history. But there's no excuse for him not knowing about what is happening in Fiji now. Only last week Bainimarama made another statement committing his so-called "crew" to elections in 2014, and, although slightly delayed due of Hurricane Tomas, dialogue consultations may be expected soon (UN observers in Fiji last week consulted NGOs and others on the dialogue progress). Further, the infrastructural aims of the Roadmap are progressing well. Extensive consultations on the new Constitution will be held in 2012.  And  electoral reform consultations soon afterwards, giving at least twelve months for new, non-racist, parties to form and prepare for "proper" elections in 2014. 

It's all there on the web, if the NZHerald Editor and his colleagues chose to open both eyes. And it's there, also, on my blog, if he would like contextual comments. Given his concern for democracy and media freedom, I wonder why he so rarely never invites contrary comment from informed New Zealanders who think New Zealand has got it wrong.

My confidence in NZ media freedom has been a little shaken lately. As one of several people he could consult, I cerainly won't be standing by the phone.


Anonymous said…
This is the same kind of interest in regional issues that prompted a Sydney radio station to send a horse racing reporter to Suva to cover the 2000 coup.
Kai Viti said…

Your lack of confidence in the NZ Herald for its understanding of Fiji, is matched only by your obsession of the illegal regime and its undemocratic rule. No wonder they would not be interested in your biased analysis of the Media Decree.

All of us who are from Fiji know how ill informed you are of the reality on the ground, painting a distorted and sympathetic picture of the illegal regime and its punitive policies on my relatives in Fiji.

It is time you grow up Croz and accept that the likes of The NZ Herald and other media in NZ and Australia are more concerned about the reality on the ground than your perverted view of the illegal regime in Fiji.

No wonder they would not be interested in reading your so called neutral analysis because it is simply NOT NEUTRAL.

My relatives are telling me what it is like on the ground and the fear of speaking out in case they don't get any government assistance for the Tomas cyclone damage they have just experienced.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Kai Viti

You obviously have not read my analysis of the draft Media Decree. Had you done so, I doubt you would call it biased. I mention ten areas of concern that I think the Government should address before it becomes law.

You could scroll down to the posting or use this link. http://crosbiew.blogspot.com/2010/04/draft-media-industry-development-decree.html

I look forward to reading your comments on the analysis.
Kumala Vula said…

"And electoral reform consultations soon afterwards, giving at least twelve months for new, non-racist, parties to form and prepare for "proper" elections in 2014."

Your statement above astounds me greatly and confirms your bias in favour of the illegal regime in Fiji. You're insinuating and castigating previous democratic governments and labelling parties as racists etc.. Just where is your evidence Croz?

You come up with all sorts of allegations and simply forget previous governments were elected and have a legal mandate to carry out their policies. Just like the National government in power in NZ had a policy to relook at the Foreshore and Seabed legislation.

You are simply and sadly a mouthpiece and an apologist of the illegal regime in Fiji by restating its position to exclude established parties in Fiji and labelling them as "racist and previous elections as perhaps "improper".

As a Fiji citizen, this all confirms to me your shallow and biased position on Fiji and that you have become uncritical of the illegalities of the regime in power in Fiji in your obsession to paper over the problems brought about by the illegal take over of a democratic government.

You seem to find it convenient and gratifying to just casually label the previous governments as worse than what we have now!!! How sick is that given that they had a legal mandate.

I take it then, it will be ok for you if the NZ military just takes over the government of NZ. Then you will be first up with your analysis saying unequivocally that the previous regimes were undemocratic and racist.

Admit to your bias Croz. All of us can see through it. Do so in order to salvage your battered reputation and pride as advised by the likes of Michael Field and no doubt NZ Herald privately.
get some rest croz said…
You seem to be getting increasingly confused? There is no government in Fiji - it was taken over by men with guns - do you know what guns are? There is a junta that was found illegal by the high court judges who were then sacked. No government!
And don't tell everyone but bhaini is a military man and that is why he wears a military uniform!
He is an excellent case study in why the military - in any country - ahould NEVER be involved in politics. It just doesn't work.
Agreeing to disagree said…
Kai Viti, Croz Walsh is entitled to call things as he pleases in Fiji. The fact is many people agree with his views. And they're not blindly supportive of the regime. In many instances, he's been critical of its failures. Quoting your relatives as the source of your information is hardly persuasive. So why don't you enjoy the opportunity Croz provides to put a counter opinion without resorting to insult. I admire him for even bothering to engage you. If it was up to me, you'd be taken up to the camp and given a good hiding.
Where's the gun? said…
Oh, here come the exclamation marks again. They've let the dogs out. SDL mongrels baying for blood. Shoot em.
Kumala Vula said…

Now you are allowing psychos to advocate shooting innocent people??

Has it not escaped them the SDL party was legally elected in Fiji? Just like the National govt in NZ was legally elected!!

It means therefore they have the right in law to implement their policies until they get booted out at another Election by the people of Fiji. Such is electoral mandate and integrity, something the current illegal regime in Fiji does not know anything about.
Rabid white kumala said…
No, kumala vula, I didn't advocate shooting the innocent. I had an overwhelming desire to shoot you. It's only figurative, so no need to get your sulu in a twist. But those exclamation marks of yours strike me as hysterical and offensive. You're entitled to your opinion but not to scream at those who don't agree with you. Croz Walsh deserves respect, not abuse.
Kumala Vulavula said…
Good,Rabid white kumala, name the place and time and happy to see whether your mouth matches your cowardly action.

No doubt you're mouth just like the coward Voreqe in Fiji who has to go around with a fleet of security detail and armed guards - tells about their fear in case innocent people will dish him their right treatment.

But you see their time in jail will surely come.. Just like for you Kumala Vula, Ulukau no doubt..
White Frangipani said…
The NZ Herald is biased against the Fijian government. Yesterday I commented on this Editorial and referred to Croz's and Cameron Slater's Whaleoil blog about the Fiji media decree, but NZ Herald did not post my comment. They did post two anti Fijian government comments though. Today they have posted more of a balance. It is good that Kai Viti and friends comment on your blog Croz - they will learn something more positive about what is happening in Fiji.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Kumala Vula,

This is the timetable announced by the government. Where is my bias in this?

There's no secret either about my general position. I think Fiji is better served by "moving forward" along the lines indicated by the People's Charter and the Roadmap than by "going back" to the limited, racial democracy of the Qarase era.

This, of course, means I accept the reality of the Coup without approving it. It also explains why I criticise government actions. BUT ALWAYS, my positive and negative comments are intended to be helpful and in the interest of Fiji's people.

This frequently involves me commenting on the bias of the NZ media and the short-sightedness of my government over Fiji.

I also often use + - and o signs to indicate political leanings. There're usually more + than - because almost all other blogs and the mainstream media rarely publish anything positive about what the Fiji government is doing. And it is doing a lot.

I make no claim to know the "complete truth" (whatever that might be) but everything I write is thoughtful and honest.

Having explained my position, what is yours? If you were the Fiji PM, what would you accept and reject from the Bainimarama agenda?
Kakana lasu said…
Time to roast the kumala vula, I think. Why waste a bullet on a simple vegetable?
Let's be charitable said…
Ever notice how almost all these SDL types can't write anything without frothing at the mouth? All these exclamation marks, capital letters and angry outbursts are a sign of being genuinely unhinged. The poor dears are either skulking around in fear in Fiji or pacing up and down in utter frustration in exile in Auckland or Sydney. Life must really be hell for their wives, kids and pets. Just imagine being a dog in an SDL household? Isa, all those random kicks. Kumala Vula has the added burden of having to hide behind a ridiculous nom de plume for fear of being unmasked. Imagine naming yourself after a root crop? Kemudou. Talk about a personality disorder. So, Croz, try not to be too hard on the poor thing when he breaks ground like the Icelandic volcano to spray us all with SDL dirt. It must be painful enough to be on the wrong side of history without all these people on your site constantly reminding him or her of the fact.
Amos said…
@ Kumala Vula

The MC led labour party romped to victory prior to the "Speight" coup. Then Q was put in as interim PM and SDL won the next election. Why?

Some of the people I know in Fiji said "whats the point voting for Labour, there will be a coup if we do". At the election where SDL came to power there were more votes counted than voters.

Is that your idea of democracy??

Fast forward to 2006. The Unity Bill was about to be passed in the parliament even though it breached a number of UN charters for its "rascist" content.

Is that your idea of democracy?

Fair for all?

Your kidding, right??

You talk about what is happening "on the ground". Give us some examples. They won't get cyclone AID !!!!!!! What sort of junta despot would give such aid. Mugabe?? I don't think so. You attack VB and then say your contacts in Fiji are too scared to speak out in case they miss their hand outs !!!!

The REASON your relatives are suffering is largely due to the sanctions from countries who have made no attempt to understand Fiji and its political history.

You represent the reason why Fiji needs change.
Keen observer said…
I'm Fiji born, live in Australia; in 1999 I took my wife and children to Fiji to show them where I was born, lived and went to school; it was obvious to met then the country was headed for trouble, those at the top looking after themselves alone; I have visited regularly since just after the Speight coup and grew more and more disheartened as I saw the blatant corruption and racism of the then government - and the continuation of those at the top taking careof themselves first and foremost. Democracy, or contrived democracy as was the case in Fiji, failed to deliver for the general populace of the nation because the nation lacked leadership that thought in the interests of the country as a whole. No wonder the commander could take it no longer, after handing over leadership to one he perhaps thought could be trusted. As I read it, and as I hear it on the ground, the present leadership is in the main doing more for the people of Fiji as a whole than years of posturing by elected governments. Australia and NZ have to recognise that their headmastership approach of a bygone era are not appropriate; they need to enter serious dialogue and seek to work with the present leadership to help establish a 'new' nation. Perhaps a bit flippant but ask the Australian and NZ governments how they came to be today - their record of indigeonous affairs is not a clean sheet. You'll never find the prefect reporter, commentator, analyst but to my mind Croz is the most balanced writer on the Fiji situation that I have come across - keep up the good work Croz!
Kaila! Yay!! said…
Bravo, Amos, for reminding us about past stitch-ups by the indigenous elite who posed as democrats but were, in fact, the real dictators in Fiji. This whole "election now" campaign isn't about democracy at all. It's about thwarting the introduction of real democracy - one man, one vote - when the election playing field is finally leveled in Fiji. That's when the likes of the SDL will no longer be able to manipulate the political system for their own ends and their own enrichment at the expense of their fellow countrymen. No wonder they're screaming blue murder. They're joining the ranks of the rest of us - out of their government Pajeros and back on the Vatuwaqa bus. Good luck!!! ( those exclamation marks signify glee not anger, Croz, so please excuse me for the kaila )
Oi lei! said…
Now, here's an interesting piece from David Robie's Cafe Pacific that adds weight to the recent "insider" piece on the Fiji Times that has upset Russell Hunter and a few others ( see Coup 4.5 )


Skeletons at the Fiji Times said...
The most sordid untold story relating to the Fiji Times is the way management turned a blind eye to two of its reporters having sexual relationships with a former Prime Minister while he was in office. You could argue that any other woman doing the same thing was entitled to her privacy. But both these FT reporters started their affairs during the course of their professional duties and received preferential access to information in return. Management knew that the scoops these women got were a direct result of pillow talk. They should have been carpeted, if not sacked, for unethical behaviour but weren't. That made a whore of the grand dame of Fiji journalism as well.


Memo Mr Hunter: Maybe people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones? Weren't you the FT editor during some of this time?

April 20, 2010 1:38 PM
Vaka malua said…
Amos, I agree with you too but puh-lease. No more exclamation marks and capital letters to make mundane political points. Don't allow yourself to be dragged into the same hysteria as the White Kumala, Kai Viti and these other SDL loonies. Remember the old saying: Speak softly and carry a big stick.
snoopy said…
@Kumala and friends do not understand the concept of bias. Just because Croz and many many others can see some of the good work the the Government in Fiji is doing it does not make them biased. Croz has on many occasions also pointed out what he believes the Govt is doing wrong eg the PER.

Keep up the great work Croz!!
Anonymous said…
i continually find it amazing that croz presumes to give advice and suggestions to an illegal and discredited regime about how to make it's illegal decrees or to 'improve' them. Firstly... getting advice from singapore doe not make it any more credible...secondly if all perpetrators were summarily shot by firing squad , few would take the same path and presume to give themselves immunity.... thirdly as a starting point...taking over parliamentary democracy even if flawed, is not a good step by any measure, let alone all the other illegal decree's and measure this bunch have taken.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Anonymous. You ignore the reality of what is in Fiji (and try to matters on from there) just as you ignore the reality of posting comments on this bblog. You must use your real name or a pseudonym to post a comment on this blog. All other comments are "illegal." Please re-post according to this rule, or your comment will be deleted.
sara'ssista said…
croz..it is your reality ....perpetuated by like minded apologists for the 'cup half full' illegal regime. And feel free to correct...where else in the region is this type of regime necessary and the types of media decree's necessary. You also end to have a rather officious colonial manner of ticking off people about the rules. Perhaps it is better spent emailing the illegal government and detailing their abuses up to this point and my very real fear is that your degree of comfort with this regime is entirely what gives them confidence. it appears to be a war of wearing down sentiment and allowing people to accept the unacceptable. Have some spine.

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