'Whaleoil' on Travel Bans, Gavoka Jailed, Yabaki
NZ Blogger 'Whaleoil' on Travel Bans
Right-of-centre political satirist Whaleoil posted this on his blog after the McCully-Smith fiasco in Auckland:
Murray McCully was asked if there was any move to relax the travel ban placed on leading members of the regime, Mr McCully said: “We have nothing to reward.”
"On the other hand we certainly haven’t gone out of our way to try and help Fiji return to democracy. Instead New Zealand and Australia have placed impediments in the way of progress.
"Why won’t the NZ and Australian Foreign Ministers admit that the travel bans are not working? They have been in "place for nearly 5 years now and it hasn’t altered the Commodore’s stance one bit. Fiji simply doesn’t care anymore what the “rest” of the world thinks and is moving on to fresher, newer pastures – leaving NZ and Australia behind. All the travel ban has done is stop good, capable Fijian civilians from taking up government positions because a lot of them have family and friends in NZ and Australia and want to be able to travel freely – so the Military take on the government positions – someone has to do the job. The travel bans need to be relaxed. If it makes the NZ and Australia governments feel better then keep them on Frank Bainimarama and the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum – they are probably too busy to come to NZ or Australia in any case. Relaxing the travel bans on civilians (and judges) will mean that instead of working behind the scenes, good and capable Fijian civilians can openly help the Fijian government without fear of reprisal and a travel ban being slapped on them.
"In the end, all that the NZ and Australia travel ban stance has done is just hinder and slow the Fiji Road Map progress towards democracy and a one-man-one vote democratic election."
While the NZ Government has been pandering to officials and representatives of one of the most non-democratic countries in the world another little country that isn’t democratic but is much closer to NZ than China will ever be sets about ignoring our foolish foreign policy stance and is making new friends. Read also about his coverage of the Fiji- Arab League visit.
Aftershock: In the Wake of a Prophecy
People not living in Fiji must be scratching their heads in amazement that the prophetic warnings of an hallucinatory pastor would see the government warning public servants to turn up to work, schools warned to stay open, bereaved families not burying their dead, people preparing emergency shelters and moved to higher grounds, tourists cutting short their holidays, and police arresting the pastor and another man, Bill Govoka, for emailing tourist operators warning them of the impending prophesised disaster. Photo: Bill Gavoka.
But in Fiji, where people have been nurtured from childhood on the apocalypse stories from the Old Testament (Ezekiel, Revelations) and to a lesser extent, the New Testament (Luke), this is not so surprising.
That is why so many people believed the warning that at 2:30 pm yesterday Fiji would experience a major "natural" disaster, and why even the skeptical harboured doubts. The joke of the day was: Overheard: "I don't know why some pastors like to make predictions like this, I don't believe in these bloody things." As he made his way to higher ground.
The gullible are not persuaded by science. They are not impressed that on a typical day 28 earthquakes are recorded worldwide; that since the beginning of the month New Zealand has averaged an earthquake a day, or that Fiji and NZ are part of the Pacific "Rim of Fire" where earthquakes are a regular event. This is Fiji and it won't be the first or last time some little known pastor will make national headlines.
What makes this time different politically is that Bill Gavoka sent emails to tourist operators warning them of the event. He said it was his duty. Afterall, look what happened to tourists in the Asian tsunami. Hmmm!
A just credible story were he not a supporter of the ousted SDL Government. Did his duty also lie with them? Tsunamis, even hallucinatory ones, are not good for tourism or the economy. So Bill is in gaol pending charges under the Public Emergency Regulations.
Another difference is that the arrest of someone who added to general panic, and clearly broke PER, has been protested by Citizens' Constitutional Forum CEO, the Rev. Akuila Yabaki, who claims "the act of circulating emails to people about a claim made by a religious group about an impending disaster shouldn’t be classified as a crime."
"Everyone," he says, "has a right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Everyone has a right to freedom of opinion and expression. And these things, things like numerous predictions, which have been made before by religious leaders all over the world about impending religious disasters in the world, should be taken with a sense of humour and just forget it. We don’t think it's a crime.”
I usually agree with Akuila on most things but on this I must differ. I see Gavoka's actions as an abuse of freedom and no joke. My most generous interpretation is that he's naive or "not quite with it", but it's far more likely he knew exactly what he was doing. And actions that may result in public disorder or harm the economy are breaches of the Public Emergency Regulations.
Is the person who cries "Fire!" in a packed upper storey dance hall or a sports stadium not guilty of a crime? Or a person who phones the police about an non-existent bomb at an airport?
One reader wrote: "Thanks to Bill Gavoka tourists are checking out of resorts to leave the country. I know this for a fact because my cousin called me from the biggest tourist resort in the Mamanucas. This is a major blow to our struggling economy." I cannot verify this account. Perhaps the tourists were leaving anyway. But if they weren't, What's funny about that?
Thakur Ranjit Singh also has an article on the prophecy.
The Max, another reader writes: "Some of the people who belong to this Pastor's church were the very ones Bainimarama removed from the country's leadership. I'm told Gavoka is a member of this church and if you care to know, resigned from Fiji Visitors Bureau and in his own words "to join the SDL office and prepare for their election campaign" which was supposedly to be held last year. Other members were disgruntled SDL supporters. What I believe happened was that their hatred of Bainimarama consumed them so much that they had a "vision". The vision was the prophesy that a severe natural disaster was going to hit Fiji. " Can anyone verify these comments?