Repentant Rabuka, Graduates, Land Reform, Media Decree, Walsh "Dumped"

Rabuka: I Was Wrong

Major-General Sitiveni Rabuka, OBE, MSD, OStJ, architect of Fiji's first coup that overthrew the Fiji Labour Party-led Government of the late Dr Timoci Bavadra in 1987, and who later in the same year carried out another coup to stop the return to civilian rule, visited Viseisei village in Ba yesterday to apologize to the Bavadra family and pay his respects to past President the Tui Vuda Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

His chief-backed SVT party won the 1992 election and Rabuka became the PM. He lost the 1999 election because extreme Fijian nationalists felt threatened by the SVT "reconciliation" with the Indian National Federation Party.The subsequent fragmentation of the ethnic Fijian vote and near demise of the NFP resulted in the election of Mahendra Chaudhry's mainly Indian Fiji Labour Party-led government that was overthrown a year later by the "Speight" Coup, another attempt to protect the interests of extreme nationalists and the ethnic Fijian elite. Significant, in the context of' the recent Limitation of Liability for Prescribed Political Events Decree 2010, Rabuka passed legislation to prevent prosecution for the 1987 coups, and later, although not a chief, he chaired and was made a life member of the Great Council of Chiefs.

Those who most criticize Bainimarama now in the name of "democracy" were singularly silent on Rabuka and events from 1987 to 2000. 

Rabuka now admits he was wrong. He said "justice finally kicked in" when the soldiers came and took his Government 4-wheel drive vehicle and his Prime Minister's pension was scrapped earlier this year.

Unemployed Graduates. The Chamber of Commerce estimates that only 35% of the 1,000 recent graduates from The University of the South Pacific will find jobs, due to the  difficult economic climate. A USP spokesman said: “It may take a little bit longer for students to find jobs. The job market has not grown at the same rate as we’ve produced graduates. So naturally there’ll be some difficulties in finding jobs, but graduates who’ve got very good results [will] get absorbed in the employment market sooner or later.”

Land Reform.  The PM's Office is  working on measures to to bring more land into productive use with long, secure leases that will benefit both landowners and tenants.  The measures are essential to encourage commercial farming, crop diversification, and resolve problems pertaining to the ailing sugar industry that has seen production drop sharply this year.

Fiji's First Food Symposium
held today was told that milk imports increased from $39.4 million in 2004 to $62.5 million in 2008 while production and the number of registered farmers decreased. Major developments to boost the dairy industry will be discussed when the PM meets Rewa Dairy Cooperative Board members and farmers tomorrow.

Media Decree. The Ministry of Justice is still working on the draft decree. A-G Sayed Khaiyum said "We are currently transcribing what was said at the consultation and are going to give copies to all participants." Some useful suggestions were madeat the Consultation, participants will be "kept in touch," and the Ministry is open to receive further oral or written comments.

  Walsh "Dumped"
Media independence and the Fiji Politically-Correct Brigade
Reprinted from David Robie's Cafe Pacific*

WHAT ON earth has happened to Radio New Zealand? Or rather, Nights host Bryan Crump? He has apparently dumped professor adjunct Crosbie Walsh, the most informed New Zealand-based blogger and commentator on Fiji affairs (naturally you would expect this calibre as former and founding director of the development studies programme at the University of the South Pacific). Walsh is such a tonic after the plethora of one-eyed and sensationalist anti-Fiji blogs that clutter cyberspace. (Photo: RadioNZ)

According to Walsh, Crump rang him last night, saying he didn't want the blogger/commentator on any more on Nights programmes. Why? Apparently because Walsh "feels too strongly" on Fiji issues (why not? ... he lived there for more than eight years) and he "borders on the emotional" for this programme.

Crump added: "It's not what a lot of my colleagues want to hear." Take this as you wish. Three more planned programmes on nights for Walsh for June, September and November have been canned.

Crump  reckons the Nights spot works best with "commentators" and Crosbie is seen as an "advocate". In fact, Walsh goes to great lengths to get some sort of balance in his blog commentaries, something sorely missing with many media commentators on Fiji. To be fair to Crump, he did invite Walsh to a symposium on Fiji later this year and, according to Walsh, was keen to interview him early next year.

From all reports, Walsh had an enthusiastic response to previous Nights programmes. This has got Café Pacific wondering, especially when it is considered how unbalanced both Radio New Zealand and Radio Australia frequently are on Fiji commentaries. Opponents of the regime regularly have a field day, but many commentators who try to provide a bit more depth into explaining the Fiji "revolution", as Auckland University's Centre for Pacific Studies political sociologist Dr Steven Ratuva described it last week, or are not sufficiently PC or are too "soft" on the regime, are sidelined.

A good example of this was a "stacked" Radio Australia feature by Bruce Hill marking the anniversary of the abrogation of the Fiji constitution one year on - four interviewees with a vested interest against the regime: Deported Fiji Sun publisher Russell Hunter - an Australian now living in Apia and is currently development editor of the Samoa Observer; an Australian judge, Ian Lloyd, who ruled against the regime; Australian National University professor Brij Lal - one of the three architects of the abrogated 1997 constitution; and Fiji Law Society president Dorsami Naidu versus Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum. Where was the independent commentator to balance this line-up?

Where was the independent commentator to balance this line-up?

Incidentally, this piece by Thakur Ranjit Singh challenging "media freedom" in Fiji as peddled by the media old guard, is likely to ruffle a few feathers.

* Professor Robie, currently Head of Journalism at AUT, formerly held similar positions at the University of PNG in Port Moresby and the University of the South Pacific in Suva. He has written extensively on the South Pacific over many years.

The story is also  covered in Pacific Scoop.


Proud fijian said…
Fiji shoud be investing more money in the trades and agriculture and pushing for students to go into this fields.

Forget about BA's and BSc's. We need more people to be farming the land and producing for local use and export.

More investors for local adventure tourism with villages as partners. Major hotel chains keep money overseas.

Look at this for example
White Frangipani said…
So Croz Walsh has suddenly been dumped from Bryan Crump’s Radio Nights show. WHY doesn't Radio NZ's Bryan Crump want Croz Walsh on his show any more? What is the real reason? I reckon it is because Croz tells the truth about Fiji and what is really going on there. Bryan Crump's colleagues don't want to hear anything positive because they only report the negative and Radio NZ now has a track record for reporting stories without checking the true facts first. They would not have liked what Croz said about the misinformation in NZ media during hurricane Tomas and what Croz said about Ballu Khan because the Ba Province story involving Ballu Khan has not been reported here in NZ.
Ba Province Blames Ballu Khan for Million Dollar Losses
Talk about the lack of freedom of the media in Fiji - Radio NZ and other mainstream media here in NZ have consistently been biased in Fiji news reporting - probably because a bunch of NZ journalists have been kicked out of Fiji so they all have their noses out of joint. NZ journalists all know each other - like one big happy family and they stick together to defend each other. Radio NZ needs to practise what it preaches about free press. The reality is that Radio NZ’s definition of free press is a figment of their imagination. Radio NZ is definitely biased when it comes to the truth about Fiji. No one could be more balanced than Croz Walsh and he was a breath of fresh air. The other night Croz was probably just too positive about Fiji. If he had told a few “untruths” maybe they would have been happier! Minister of Broadcasting Jonathan Coleman needs to ask a few questions about the taxpayer funded Radio NZ and whether the NZ taxpayer should continue to pay the wages of those who run Radio NZ and Radio NZ journalists whose personal agendas flow through to what is being reported on national state funded radio. Croz Walsh's dumping has now proved that Radio NZ is a very biased radio station full of agendas and needs a big spring clean.
Wake up Fiji said…
Yes, it's a great shame that Croz has been dumped and that the Radio NZ and the ABC are so biased in their selection of commentators. But I'm afraid Frank Bainimarama and his dopplegangers have to share a large part of the blame.

Bryan Crump is merely reflecting a widespread view in the media in Oz and NZ that the Fiji government is beyond redemption - a repressive dictatorship whose behaviour is simply indefensible. And unfortunately there are several things that give them ample justification to think that way.

1/ If Fiji was on a genuine path to restoring democracy, why hasn't the National Dialogue Summit taken place? The months are slipping by and nothing's happened. If you announce these things, they've got to actually happen for you to have any credibility.

2/ Punishing individual local journalists for their stories is a disgraceful notion, and another sign of the regime's blinkered pursuit of anyone in Fiji who doesn't bark "yes sir!" when the military gives its orders.

3/ Appropriating a foreign owned business unilaterally and without warning -as in the case of the Fiji Times - will return to haunt the regime like none of its previous dumb ideas. News Limited plans to close the Fiji Times and put more than a thousand people out of work. Apart from the immediate catastrophe for Fiji Times employees, the country will lose a media outlet with an unbroken 140 year history.

4/ Rupert Murdoch is the biggest media proprietor the world has ever seen and will doubtless make Fiji pay for its impertinence. A wave of negativity will be unleashed and his journalists will seize on everything they can to destroy the country's image. Anyone who doesn't believe this doesn't know Murdoch, who routinely makes and breaks US presidents and British and Australian prime ministers. When he tells Kevin Rudd to stop reengaging Fiji and bring it to its knees, he will. Rudd's political survival depends on it.

5/ The international business community will be askance and outraged that Fiji seized a major business from a foreign owner with the stroke of a pen. Investor confidence will be smashed because if Fiji can do this to News Limited, it can do it to any other business in the country. Again, if you think Murdoch's global media empire won't exploit this, you're an ostrich.

My point is that the regime seems intent on making fresh enemies at every turn just when it needs understanding and support to avert a serious economic slump. If you look at Sada Reddy's latest comments on the economy, our position is highly precarious. We are on a knife edge and it could go either way, just limping across the line with small positive growth or falling under the bus. Don't believe me, look at the evidence.

Sugar is in crisis and could collapse altogether. Tourism is OK but the margins are small, it's at the mercy of the weather and our national airline could go under from the surge in foreign competition. And in the middle of all of that, the regime sparks a foreign investment scare by forcing the closure of the local assets of the world's biggest media mogul. No more Fiji Times, Nai Lalakai or Shanti Dut - gone.

When the eleven hundred people either directly employed by News Limited or whose jobs depend on the company are suddenly put on the streets, maybe someone might wake up to how dumb an idea this all was. Even if News Limited was prepared to sell to one of the Gujarati elite or Yasana Holdings or whoever, would things be any better for us? These guys have even less idea of the importance of quality journalism and an independent media.

This is what Bryan Crump and his media mates are seeing in Fiji. Powerless to do anything else, they're kicking the dog - in this case Croz Walsh. But believe me, it's just the start.
Wake Up Fiji 2 said…
I keep hearing Fiji people say we can survive without the rest of the world, if the rest of the world doesn't like what happens in Fiji. WRONG. And the proof of that is the Reserve Bank's warning yesterday that Fiji has lost the ability to feed itself. We imported $520 million worth of food in 2008 and Sada Reddy says the balance of payments situation will get worse if we can't produce more ourselves. What is happening Fiji? Is all that land lying idle because we're too lazy or complacent to get off our fat arses and work? This is another red alert that Fiji better get its act together and fast.
White Frangipani said…
@”Wake Up Fiji 2” - It would be good if the Fiji government had their own news agency within government so that mainstream media stories/reports/criticism or even the issues you have raised can be can be answered or qualified. However the point is, Radio NZ which is owned by the state and paid for by the NZ taxpayer, SHOULD NOT be taking a political stance on Fiji and the dumping of Croz Walsh. Radio NZ has finally shown what they are really all about. After suspecting for many years that RNZ had become politically "agenda-ised", (especially during the Helen Clark years), the Croz Walsh dumping has just shown that the rumours were true. The NZ taxpayer should not be paying the wages for any mainstream media organisation or journalists who manipulate news stories to suit their own personal, political and biased agendas. Bryan Crump and his media mates need to have an open mind - if they call themselves journalists.
"Wake Up Fiji 2" what do your comments mean "But believe me, it's just the start." Are you a journalist or do you know journalists who are intending to copy with gusto the bias stance of Radio NZ?
White Franipani said…
Sorry - I meant to ask "Wake Up Fiji" not "Wake Up Fiji 2" Are you the same person?
Senikau talei said…
White Frangipani, what I meant is that if the Media Decree is promulgated, News Limited in forced out of Fiji and the Fiji Times closes, there will be a tsunami of bad publicity. And in spite of my own sympathy with the regime and its multiracial agenda, it will only have itself to blame. It has time to reverse some of the more odious provisions of this decree and it should do so as a matter of urgency. Getting rid of News Limited will not to good for journalism in Fiji, as the good people at Pacific Scoop have pointed out. It's worth reading the link Croz has given us to their site.
Scott said…
The story regarding ex-PM Sitiveni Rabuka apologising to the family of deposed PM Timoci Bavadra contains a doubtful explanation for the SVT's loss at the 1999 election. It is claimed that: 'He lost the 1999 election because extreme Fijian nationalists felt threatened by the SVT "reconciliation" with the Indian National Federation Party.The subsequent fragmentation of the ethnic Fijian vote and near demise of the NFP resulted in the election of Mahendra Chaudhry's mainly Indian Fiji Labour Party-led government.'
Given the small number of 'extreme Fijian nationalists' this explanation simply can not account for the massive electoral swing which reduced the previously majority SVT party to less than ten seats at the 1999 election. The 'fragmentation of the ethnic Fijian vote' is also in doubt when most Fijians voted for other Fijian parties than the SVT. The more likely explanation for the ethnic Fijian vote than 'extreme nationalist' dissatisfaction, is that there was a massive anti-SVT/Rabuka vote.
Elections are as often won by voters voting against a government as for their opponents. 'Time for a change' is a powerful slogan for just this reason.
The corruption of the Rabuka-led SVT government, privatization with loss of jobs and income which continued up until the election, as well as a number of other factors, including increasing poverty, gave many ethnic Fijians good reasons to vote against Rabuka and the SVT. Any party but the SVT was a constant statement by many people in May 1999. Rabuka was told by CID prior to the election that he would lose but his arrogance prevented him from believing this.
One of the reasons why the following Laisenia Qarase governments did not have deep popular support, such as would have produced a widespread uprising when the 2006 military takeover occurred, is that these governments followed much the same direction taken by Rabuka. When poverty of many ethnic Fijians increases under 'their' government, it is unlikely that most voters will accept slogans ahead of food and jobs.
However unlike Rabuka, Qarase was lulled into a false sense of security because he thought he could count on a military consisting primarily of ethnic Fijians who would support his policies. A paradox of current Fiji politics is that a largely ethnic Fijian military is, in its public pronouncements at least, against policies which were central to previous governments dominated by 'extreme' Fijian nationalists. No wonder Australian and New Zealand governments, which have tolerated and supported earlier 'racist' policies are confused.
Liu Muri said…

It is a common fact that Radio New Zealand and Radio Australia, both have been prepared to sacrifice their balance and neutrality by deliberately sidelining those commentators who tend to shed some clearer light on Fiji contrary to the beliefs of NZ and Australian Government and their mainstream media, which are birds of the same feather when it comes to reporting on Fiji situation, hence they flock together.
What I said in simpler English is that I fully agree with David Robie and his comparison to show that Radio Australia deliberately chooses commentators who will sing from their (Radio Australia's) and the Australian government's song sheet on Fiji situation. Perhaps I need to remind Campbell Cooney on the Julian Moti saga where the Australian mainstream media compromised its journalistic principles, to ensure it sang from Australian Government and its International Police's song sheet. And that included Radio Australia.
Pacific people have become very sceptical of Radio Australia in particular and their mainstream media in general. It has failed to properly understand and appreciate the Pacific.
Good on ya, David, continue with your honest analysis. As far as Fiji issue is concerned, Cafe Pacific, the Pacific Scoop, Croz Walsh’s site and the Pacific Media Centre hold more credibility than publicly-funded Radio Australia and Radio New Zealand put together, because these government- funded media agencies fail to appreciate and refuse to see the other side of Fiji.
Remember, watchdogs do not bite their owners!
They also appear to be reluctant to allow free commentary on any alternative solution other than the election and Westminster model of democracy which have failed Fiji more than once! Please David, keep up the pressure so that these watchdogs can be persuaded to balance their barks.
Invictus said…
Repentant his not, it’s all about appearance without substance he deserves nothing less than to be whipped with a cat-o'-nine-tails twice a month for the rest of his miserable life.

What I would like to know is how/why he was awarded an OBE?
Kumala Vula said…
Croz Dumping:

Well finally Radio NZ has woken up to the innate bias of Croz Walsh, whose one-eyed position in favour of the illegal regime in Fiji. To parade himself as an informed commentator on Fiji my foot!

Anyone can see through his so called analysis and commentary of the situation in Fiji as totally lacking of the reality on the ground. I mean the people are being abused and their human rights trampled upon. The Fiji Constitution has been abrogated and we have a dictator running the country. Yet you would never know from Croz's opinion pieces if this was the case in Fiji.

He writes as if he has Fiji's interest at heart but to salvage his tattered reputation as a retired academic. Just because he worked at USP does not make him an expert on Fiji.

Frankly, I would rather listen to someone with the passion and courage and one who speaks the truth about the illegalities committed by the regime in Fiji and the fact that we have an illegal regime there who are just keen on hanging on to power as long as they can. Croz is far from this and Radio NZ has finally woken up to it.

Best advice for you Croz, retire in peace and leave Fiji to those who have birthrights and ties to Fiji unlike your flimsy link as an uninformed foreign academic.
White Frangipani said…
Kumala Vula please list and give specific examples of the innate bias Croz Walsh writes. Radio NZ has not finally woken up - they have been awake for a very, very long time - it is us - the ones who pay their wages who have finally woken up to Radio NZ and how they are so biased in their news reporting – not only on Fiji but on other issues as well. You say you would rather listen to someone else's opinion on Fiji. Who then? There is more to this dumping and I suspect it has a lot more to do with the "Journalists Fraternity" here in NZ and probably Fiji - even worldwide. Kumala Vula if you say Croz Walsh is biased then maybe you are too.
Truth will always win in the end. From what I have read, Croz Walsh does not make up stories, he does not twist and manipulate the truth and he always checks his source of information and he is prepared to be critical of the Fijian Government, if there is a valid reason to be critical. I can not say the same for other Fiji blogs and Radio NZ. I presume Kumala Vula that you were born in Fiji and are not a foreign academic.

Popular posts from this blog

Lessons from Africa

Fijian Holdings Scandal: Betrayal by their trusted sons