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.

'. 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.  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.


Shamozzle watch said…
Croz, you're right again about the erratic nature of government decision making and the relaying of information to the public. Both the pension and Lagoon Resort issues should have been handled much better. But what hope is there of avoiding the shamozzle you refer to when the regime doesn't even concede a problem? You'll note that Frank told the Fiji Sun this week that any government statement from now on would emanate either from him or his PPS, Colonel Tikoduadua. This tends to suggest that Sharon Smith Johns doesn't have the authority we might have expected to properly manage and coordinate the government information effort. This is the problem with all dictatorships - that all ears hang on the every word of the dictator. And when that dictator is as capricious and inconsistent as Frank has sometimes been, no one is bold enough to ever act independently, no matter how sensible a particular course of action might seem. It's not about getting a government news agency happening, as you suggest. The information ministry is quite capable of disseminating the message. It's about deciding what that message is. And this is why there's an urgent need for a shrewd media advisor in the PM's office to interpret his wishes, help decide what a particular course of action should be, and then work with the ministry to get that message out. Only then will there be a consistent voice from the regime and the country. It's a sound strategic communications effort that Fiji needs, not a mishmash of ill conceived and badly executed decisions that make the place look like a shamozzle even if a cogent battle plan exists in the PM's head. But try telling them that. For them, the media is an irritant to be circumvented and censored, not corralled in an intelligent way and moulded for their own strategic purposes. Fix this and so many of the regime's problems would be solved virtually overnight. For those who speak with one voice are easily understood.
TuMa said…

The link to your paper on Fiji's blogs takes us to Mediafire but no further.

Would be grateful if you could provide a URL to the paper itself.
Roy said…
there was never a claim that Qarase and others lost their FNPF pensions. What i claimed is that there was convention on former leaders getting a pension and the fact that it can be ARBITRARILY taken away because the recipient disagrees with the self appointed militray junta leader is a cause for concern. Just as he can take away anyone's entitlements without any redress.It is now predictable Croz that you missed this point and sought to muddy the waters. Impartial, hardly.
No urgency on emergency said…
Re the PER: The regime says it will be lifted after the media decree is promulgated. And why hasn't that happened? Because all hell will break out on the international front as soon as it is. If the foreign ownership provisions aren't modified, it'll be all out war from Murdoch's global media empire. Not to mention a fresh wave of international condemnation about the punitive nature of the decree and the certain departure of PINA from Suva. It took a long time for this to dawn on the PM and the AG, who seemed genuinely stunned by the backlash when the draft decree was announced. Another example of the regime's depressing tendency to shoot itself in the foot. They seem to have decided that it's infinitely better to continue the PER until a face saving compromise can be reached.
Field headlock on Sherlock said…
Poor Jim Sherlock. As if he didn't have enough trouble already without entrusting his story to the miserable Michael Field. I see Jim has had to issue a general plea to the NZ media to ignore Field's story because he got the whole thing wrong. Doubtless motivated by his hatred for Bainimarama, Field portrayed Sherlock as being in conflict with the regime when the regime had actually tried to help him when the FDB shut him down. I've met Jim a few times and he seems like a thoroughly decent bloke. He's certainly not the only small tourism operator in Fiji to find himself in a cash-flow bind at the moment. Believe me, lots of people are hurting, especially those like Jim who are off the well worn tourist beat in the west. Some in Vanua Levu and Taveuni are especially desperate. Jim certainly didn't deserve to be chewed up and spat out by the grubby Michael Field. Maybe what you say, Croz, about Jim's links to the National Party in NZ didn't help either.
Vinaka turaga said…
Well done, Croz, for your piece in Pacific Islands Journalism Review. A good read. Very comprehensive and generally spot on. I hope the journos covering Pacific affairs learn something from it, especially in being able to identify the true propagandists whose word should never be taken as gospel.
Roy said…
Qarase pension - 'it illustrates once again' why you don't have a military run public service who presume to be dab hands and experts on everything and rule by fear and threats to bring people into line.And who either consult the like-minded for reassurance or insult, arrest, ignore and assault anyone who diasagrees.I hope there is no presumption that we just wait them out and they will just get better at governing and return power to voters when it suits.
Anonymous said…
Many taxpayers in Fiji would not choose to fund a pension for Qarase, or Rabuka or even Mahendra Chaudhary. All have played politics and ensnared themselves in nefarious conduct which has not served the overall and overarching public interest. The interest of the Fiji taxpayers is to come first. It is where that money goes and how it is deployed that matters most. Arbitrary decision-making will not attract nor sustain investment. That is a known fact anywhere. We need people in government who understand business, who have clean hands and who fully understand the consequences of any action. Increasing transparency would help. Increasing attachment to accountability to the taxpayers of Fiji (who, after all, do not disclose their race, religion nor poltical beliefs when they pay tax). That is the way forward and that is the ONLY way forward.

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