Reactions to Media Decree, Not Disingenuity, Aust PM, Whaleoil Again

FOREIGN MEDIA REACTIONS TO MEDIA DECREE. Predictably these are almost totally hostile, not least from those who, from what they have written, have not even read the Decree. Their main concern has been with the limitation on foreign ownership which could result in the demise of The Fiji Times, owned by Rupert Murdoch's New Ltd.

They chose to ignore that Fiji is not alone in limiting foreign media ownership; the long history of the Fiji Times's misuse of media freedom; and none queried the obscenity of one man owning so much of the world's media and having such power to influence world opinions.  Media ownership is only important to media freedom when ownership is threatened, not when ownership threatens freedom.

Readers are probably correct. News Ltd will continue to mount a campaign against Fiji that will not result into a more conciliatory attitude by the Australian Government.One wonders whether the attack would be less frenzied had the Decree limited foreign ownership to, say, 40% instead of 10% that, in my opinion, should be more acceptable.  I doubt it.  

Congratulations to Leighton Smith for his interview with the A-G on Newstalk ZB. His listeners at least had the chance to hear the other side. I doubt other media will follow.

On April 12 I posted my assessment of the draft Media Decree, noting ten areas of concern.  I will publish a reassessment when I've had time to digest the changes to the draft and their implications. Like so many popular quotations, Thomas  Jefferson's on the media is an oversimplification but, in the context of foreign reactions to the Media Decree, it is not too far off the mark: "The man who never looks into a newspaper," he said, "is better informed than he who reads them, insomuch as he who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is full of falsehoods and errors."

DISINGENUOUS MEANS SKILLED IN CONTRIVING. A reader writes that my comment "Readers who remember Qarase's call to Australia for military help in 2006 and the presence of two
Australian warships just outside Fiji's territorial waters will understand Fiji's reluctance to rely on Australia for protection" is unnecessarily disingenuous and places you [me] firmly in line with other media who spread disinformation through innuendo and distorted presentation of ‘facts’.

"Australia has always denied that they had any intention of involving themselves militarily in what was perceived to be a worrying, but domestic, problem. The country’s main concern was for its citizens and the warships (two, remember – not exactly an invasion force) was on standby IF citizens needed to be evacuated quickly. It was the measured and prudent response from a concerned government. Had Australia been even remotely serious about stepping in, there would have been a great deal more hardware on open display."

My comment concerned three issues: Qarase's call, the Australian warships, and Fiji's (Bainimarama's) reluctance to rely on Australia for protection. The reader is correct in saying that Australia never had any intention of invading Fiji.  PM Howard was quite clear on this point.

But there is no doubt Qarase asked Australia about a possible invasion, not once but three times, and his argument that his enquiries were not formal requests seems, yes, disingenuous.

As for the warships, coups seldom if ever threaten foreigners. It's possible they were there to evacuate Australians, though this would have been a lengthy job by helicopter (and NZ would have been remiss in not also sending a warship to evacuate its citizens). It would have been much better to put on extra Qantas flights to Nadi. But it is at least as possible the warships constituted a "presence," a veiled threat or warning to Bainimarama, and I would opt for this explanation.  The reader is possibly correct in saying "Bainimarama astutely elevated the perceived ‘threat’ as a diversionary measure" but if he did, he was no more disingenuous than Australia in sending them.

For readers wishing to check out things for themselves, these links: Just before the Coup
The Australian; Qarase's denial, Fijian Government. ABC News; Howard's refusal of Qarase's request BBC; and Victor Lal with details on the question: Did Qarase commit treason?  Fiji Buzz.

, Bainimarama stressed "the links between Fiji and Australia in particular in trade, investment, tourism, sports and  strong people-to-people links through the emigration of Fijians to Australia are pervasive, strong and cannot be ignored." He hoped she would re-look at the current policy of the Australian government towards Fiji with the objective of co-operation based on equality and understanding for the mutual benefit of the countries and their peoples.

WHALEOIL HAS TWO SWIPES AT NEW ZEALAND'S POLICY towards Fiji.  Read swipe one. Swipe two is a follow up Read swipe two. Thanks, White Fraqngipani, for these items.


Congratulations for nothing said…
The Fiji Sun has trumpeted Bainimarama's message to Gillard on its front page today as an appeal for an new era in relations with Australia. Are these guys for real? On the same day you send such a message, you effectively appropriate a major Australian owned business in Fiji. Maybe Bainimarama and his idiot thugs think this is all very clever and that the Aussies are genuinely stupid. But this kind of thing makes them look like total amateurs. Your average person in Fiji isn't so stupid as not to see through The Sun either. I used to think it was great that we were getting at least some news about what the regime was doing. But the Sun has veered in recent times from being a "news"paper to a propaganda sheet for the regime. If it wants to damage its credibililty in the eyes of its readers, it's sure going the right way about it. But I guess its owners are just rubbing their hands in glee at all the advertising they'll pick up and the increased circulation they'll get when the Fiji Times is forced to close its doors. So much for improving the quality of the media.
Charlie Charters said…
I'm not sure how you think Thomas Jefferson talking about the rabble-rousing anti-Federalist newspapers he had to deal with validates what is happening to Fiji. If Jefferson was as anti-media as you contend why did he draft the First Amendment - even following the issue in voluminous correspondence with President Madison while serving in Paris as head of the US legation? 'Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.'

Perhaps you might care to share with your readers other Jeffersonian insights on the advisability of rule by the unelected:

Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.

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