How Aussies, Pommies, Brij Lal, Usaia Waqatairewa & Paul Holmes See Fiji
(-+) HOW AUSSIES SEE FIJI. If the saying "one picture is worth a thousand words" is correct, the Australian media need not write a single word on the situation in Fiji. This one picture, shown as it is over and over again, could persuade Australians that Bainimarama never changes his clothes. But it's more likely they'll conclude: That's how it is in Fiji, a country ruled by a sour-faced military dictator, with soldiers in the streets terrorising the populace.
I've been criticised for calling this sort of media coverage propaganda but what else can it be called?
However, to their credit the photo was accompanied by a reasonable report that had Bainimarama saying Fiji's stability was his top priority; he was focusing on building a better Fiji not on contesting elections; he had not considered standing in the future elections, but wanted to hand a stable country over to a new government in 2014. He says that process will include ensuring the country's citizens are socially, economically and politically stable, and ready to go to the polls under a new voting system.
Actually the article was almost a direct lift from an earlier FijiVillage report that went on to add the PM's remarks on his return from a tour of the Northern Division (Fiji's second largest island Vanua Levu). The PM said he wanted to provide immediate relief to the farmers who are facing major difficulties due to some policies of the Native Land Trust Board and the Fiji Sugar Corporation.
(o) HELPFUL COMMENTS FROM UK. High Commissioner Mac McLachlan, speaking at a Queens' Birthday cocktail party on Thursday, said several important things:
- Britain stands ready to help "any credible process" that aims to resolve Fiji’s economic and political challenges;
- "there is synergy between Fiji’s economic and political challenges – and that it is difficult to resolve one without the other;"
- Britain recognises the challenges Fiji is going through;
- There is a need to identify and tackle blockages for progress to be made;
- It is important to find sustainable solutions and an enabling atmosphere within which to pursue them.
Such comments, which reflect the diplomatic maturity of Fiji's former ruler, should make the governments of two other former colonies -- Australia and New Zealand -- hang their heads in shame. No wonder Fiji stills holds Britain and the Queen in such high regard.
(-+) FIJI PLANS TO HIGHJACK MELANESIAN SPEARHEAD GROUP. That's what Prof. Brij Lal says. Read it for yourself by clicking on this link. What Brij did not say was that this was long after Australia and New Zealand had pushed for Fiji's suspension from the PI Forum and Pacer Plus discussions, despite the obvious reluctance of other Melanesian countries.
Both move and counter-move are likely to undermine the Forum, and possibly change the whole geopolitics in the Pacific as Fiji is forced to look North for new friends. It could be argued that the first highjackers were Australia and New Zealand. Like so many issues, the conclusion reached depends on where the mental journey started.
(-+) BLOG ATTACKS BAINIMARAMA'S LIFESTYLE. Usaia Waqatairewa of the Sydney-based Fiji Democracy and Freedom says Bainimarama's annual salary and allowances amount to US$60,000 while "half of the people are living in poverty." He said "New Zealand and Australia need to help bring fairness to ordinary people in Fiji. They should do something more to try and push this guy out because he’s not going to go willingly. He’s living there, he’s enjoying the luxury life that he’s never seen before, that he never believed that he could afford before. This guy was entrusted with the responsibility of security and he’s turned it against the very people that’s he’s supposed to be looking after.”
Usaia, Bainimarama's salary and lifestyle is similar to that of former PMs (did you ever criticize them?); his former lifestyle as Military Commander was pretty good; and how precisely do you think Australia and New Zealand should "push this guy out"? RadioNZInternational, what makes Usaia's views newsworthy? His only accurate statement was on the extremes of wealth in Fiji. It's probably worse than five or so years ago but it's not new to Fiji, and the rich-poor gap has increased in many other countries, including the two countries he calls upon to come to Fiji's rescue.
(+) THE AUCKLAND HERALD REPORTS PAUL HOLMES FROM QAMEA, FIJI. In an entertainingly light article, broadcaster and TV personality extraordinaire, loved and hated in equal measure by New Zealanders, Paul writes of his holiday at a Qamea Island resort owned by Kiwis. His comments on the villages devastated by Hurricane Tomas and worker-boss relations at the resort are well worth a read, as is his account of fishing, but most interesting is this extract: "As for Commodore Frank Bainimarama? Well, on the odd occasion when his name has come up, and it hasn't very often, I hear nothing but good. People seem to feel that he is doing well, rooting out corruption in the army and the police.
"There is consternation at the attitude of Australia and New Zealand. Bainimarama has made transport to schools free. This is particularly good for people on outer islands such as this one, where going to school involved a boat ride and then a bus, twice a day. And with us turning up our noses at Bainimarama, the Chinese money is pouring in, wouldn't you know." Well, I never. This is what they think on Qamea, a small island to the east of Taveuni, and a long way from Suva.
A reader writes: "High profile NZ broadcaster Paul Holmes (ex NewstalkZB radio host) is an award-winning Herald on Sunday columnist (N Z Herald) and also presents a political programme on TVNZ called Q&A. He has just been to Fiji staying on an island at a resort called Qamea. Today he wrote his usual Sunday column about his present holiday in Fiji. His anecdotal comment on Frank Bainimarama was interesting because he has not been positive in the past – more neutral to negative. No doubt he learnt first hand about the changes that have been going on in Fiji – from the grass roots people. When we were over in Fiji in May we heard exactly the same comments from “mainland” Fijians, Suva to Nadi.
Perhaps Pacific Forum Secretary-General, Samoan Tuiloma Neroni Slade [who Bainimarama accuses of giving false information about Fiji to Forum members] should go and visit this island resort too! I wonder if Murray McCully read the Herald today."