Qasase Is/Isn't Shamozzle*, PER, Lagoon Resort, Fiji Forests
(o-) QARASE'S PENSION. Yesterday we welcomed a statement from Radio Australia and Michael Field that Qarase's pension was among those to be reinstated. Today the PM's Office says it is not. The incident once again illustrates the importance of Government pre-empting releases from anti-government sources, and not having to counter the reporting of events after they have been reported.
The Lagoon Resort incident reported below provides another example. A Government News Agency, responsible for all government press statements, is urgently needed. Perhaps this could be a further task for the Acting Permanent Secretary for Information.
P.S. A note to "Roy" and others commenting on this issue. These are not FNPF pensions!!!!
* Shamozzle = A problem that really isn't necessary, or that could easily be fixed, but usually isn't.
(o) MY PAPER ON FIJI BLOGS AND 'CYBERNET DEMOCRACY'. Several readers helped with the comments for the paper I presented at the Pacific Islands Political Studies Association conference in December. The paper, Political Blogs on Fiji: A 'Cybernet Democracy' Case Study has now been published in the Pacific Islands Journalism Review. If you would like to read it now or later, copy this link to Mediafire, and then sscroll down to the pjr file Fiji Blogs. Alternatively click here. http://www.mediafire.com/?j3zgmndzijb To check out and possibly subscribe to PJR, founded by David Robie, click the links in the left hand column.
(o-) WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH PER? Last week we were told the proclamation of the new Media Decree was very close, and then the Public Emergency Regulations would be lifted. Now Government has extended PER for another 30 days from 28th May.
PER came into effect on April 10, 2009 following the abrogation of the 2007 Constitution and has been extended on a month-to-month basis ever since. It is important Government gets its relations with the media back on track as soon as possible. Extending PER won't help this. There now also seems no further need to have restrictions on public meetings and other rights of assembly. Abuses of these rights can be handled by the police.
(-) INCREASING THE NEGATIVES FOR TOURISM AND INVESTMENT. It's strange. While Government and the tourist industry are working hard to grow the industry, and while everyone knows the effect of negative reporting, hasty action by the Fiji Development Bank, and insenstive on-site handling of a resort mortgage dispute by Homelink Security (a private firm staffed by former military officers), has generated more negative news for the intrepid Michael Field to release to the world. Ignore his several errors and exaggerations. This is par for Field when reporting on Fiji. The kernel of the story is bad enough. Why on earth has the FDB stopped the Lagoon Resort at Pacific Harbour, west of Suva, from operating while it disputes a mortgage issue? The mortgage was not foreclosed. The sensible thing is surely to keep the resort open so that it may earn money to repay the mortgage and keep its staff employed.
The NZ resort's owners, Jim and Heather Sherlock, are well known in National Party circles. They are exactly the sort of people to persuade the NZ government to "ease up" on Fiji. Let's hope they continue to do so. Their application for an injunction will be heard in Suva today, but the resort has been closed for 16 days already and forward bookings have been cancelled.
(+) CORRUPTION COMMISSION AND FJI FORESTS.The FICAC is to investigate the suspicious sale of Fiji Forests shares.