Michael Field Is At It Again: Is this "Vindictive, Deceitful Journalism"?

"KIWI PAIR CAN LEAVE FIJI WITH JUST 2 BAGS."  Under this heading, Michael Field  writes, "a New Zealand couple made prisoners in their own resort in Fiji are being forced out this week with one piece of baggage each."

The alleged "imprisonment" commenced two months ago when the couple failed to meet outstanding loan interest repayments. Field does not mention these debts and provides little to no background or explanation for their eviction and deportation except a presumed capriciousness by Government and brutality by "soldiers" (reservists working for a security firm).

All he said was, "The Sherlocks' ejection comes as the military regime of Voreqe Bainimarama has begun issuing decrees – which cannot be challenged in court – effectively seizing foreign private property."

The couple have lived in Fiji for 22 years and are Fiji citizens. I doubt Field's story that they are being  forced out of the country. But it is no surprise that if they are leaving, they will do so with only two bags. Their "three containers of personal possessions" would be hard to fit in a plane. 

MY ENQUIRIES SO FAR indicate that the Sherlock affair is to do with a Fiji Development Bank foreclosure due to unpaid loan interest, and nothing else. I am told Jim Sherlock refused to speak to Field because of his earlier misreporting of the affair.  At the worst it is a matter of unwise action by the bank and/or ineffectual legal representation by the Sherlocks' lawyer. Absolutely nothing points to government's or the military's involvement, as Field claims.

I understand the Sherlocks are not even leaving Fiji, but are moving to their other resort.  And there is absolutely no truth in Field's claim that "Most of the Sherlock family belongings, including photos, a wedding dress, a car and many rare New Zealand books, have been seized."

"A KIND OF MUGABE LIKE LAND GRAB."  In his other story under the same general heading,  Field stated, "Another New Zealand family, who do not wish to be named, have been told to leave their farm by a military-linked ratu or village chief." I put this story to three reasonably well informed people. With no prompting at all, all three thought he had made the story up, and it does seem a little odd. What ratu, or ordinary citizen for that matter, is not linked with someone in the military? And who was it, a ratu or village chief? The two are not the same. An anonymous family, farm, ratu or chief does not make a very convincing story.

But on his blogsite, Field who has not been in Fiji for several years, claims to know of, and I quote, "the beginnings of a kind of Mugabe land grab. I know of large well-managed properties around Viti Levu where people aligned with the Bainimarama regime are now getting doubtful orders from the corrupt courts to have land seized. In one case, a prominent military appointed court official has managed to get orders seizing white leased farmland without any compensation to the leaseholder."

Since at least one of these alleged evictions has gone through the courts, and there is no further need for anonymity, I wonder why Field does not spell out the details so that others may check his story.

FIELD'S STORIES DAMAGE FIJI ECONOMY AND LIVELIHOODS.  By the time I am able to comment more fully, Field will have inflicted more damage to the credibility of Fiji as an investment destination. This is not the first time his stories have had the potential to adversely affected the Fiji economy and its people's livelihoods. Two months back he misleadingly reported a typhoid outbreak in Fiji's most popular tourist area when he knew the area affected was nowhere near the tourist area and highly unlikely to affect tourists. And he still persists there's a cover up.

Someone to whom I referred his two latest stories called them "vindictive, deceitful journalism and an abuse of New Zealand's media freedom." 

I shall have more to say on his latest claims when my investigation is complete.

Readers who subscribe to papers that have published this story may care to complain or write to the editor.  I  shall contact Pacific Scoop.

DISCLAIMER: One reader, "who does not wish to be named", thinks I have accused Field of  vindictive, deceitful journalism.  This is not the case. I have disputed his "facts" and  his selective use of information, and in trying to get to the bottom of what is happening, I have reported others who doubted one of his stories, and one who questioned his ethics.  My  only addition to his recent stories was the use of speech marks and the question mark in the heading.  We will have to wait to see whether or not his stories are substantially incorrect or misleading, and even then we won't know for certain that he knew his stories were wrong.  Only he knows that.


Well done Michael said…
Yes croz - another excellent article by Michael Field about this human rights abusing military junta. It has really shaken the illegal AG amongst others. Have taken your advice and written to the newspaper congratulating him on his latest high quality piece of work.
It is a pity coup media like the FBC don't report facts like these instead of just coup 'happy snaps'. Keep up the good work croz.
daucina said…
Michael Field lives in a nightmare which he daily recreates in his mind. Unfortunately, for most of us and especially the poorest of us, his nightmares have enduring consequences: for which he will one day be held fully accountable. He knows very little of what he writes and he insufficiently understands what he does know. Better now to depict him as a sad, incompetent and unprofessional scribbler and spinner of make-believe. There is a story to tell. It will have to wait until 2014?
Invictus said…
It would be fair to say Michael Field appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of imbeciles for within this baseness his ego prospers.

I cannot in all good consciousness stand by and let this mendacious and immature dullard scribe nothing more than prevarications he is devoid of sound judgment infact his credibility and integrity was found to be substandard.

It appears every once in a while this narcissist raises his head above the parapet to keep the world informed of his journalistic mediocrity.
Joe said…
It is because of the likes of Field, there is a media decree in place.
It's astonishing to me that the NZ media publish his stories without checking them for FACT.
Anonymous said…

I think the Government is doing enough on their own to destroy potential investment. They don't need Mr Fields work.

Retrospective changes in investment rules send a clear message. Lucky the other major investors have been quiet. For example business got stung an extra 15% tax for two years if they remitted profits (now reversed and trumpeted as Government supporting business but this same government brought the rules in).

The 'thugs' and 'brutal' headlines have really upset Frank but at least his foreign minister has admitted that in 2006 this was true. There is still plenty of thuggery in Suva - just ask anyone who gave their support to the previous government. Government and Military are still settling old scores. The threat of violence is always there - thats why people and business comply.

Croz you are always asking for helpful suggestions and often giving advice on what NZ or Australia must do. Here are a few things I think Fiji Government should do.

1. Decide if they want to be friends with Australia and NZ or not. If yes then stop the wild outbursts and work on a plan to re-engage.

2. Be flexible - even bringing the election forward say 6 months would be signal that they are prepared to negotiate. Why the hardline on this one ?

3. Deal with some of the respective poor decisions made after the coup that continue to dog them. For example remove Mr Kean from Navy command. You have to live what you preach. maybe hand back the back pay - no one believes the PM never took a day of leave in all his career. On Kean surely he must be replaceable ? There are plent y of other example eg soliders released early. Also stop army taking people to the barraks and put a professional police person in charge of the police.

4. On the media decree give the FT 12 months to sell or scap that component altogether.

5. Start the dialoge forum TODAY, get a draft new voting system out soon. It's not surprising that people are becomming suspicious about 2014 when nothing is being done to work towards it. The claims of 'we are concentrating on economy' are rubbish. Government have to be able to do both. 50 Degrees have been pumped out so clearly they do have some resources for doing this stuff.

6. Lift the public emergency NOW. Gov promised they would. There is a lot of self regulation happening anyway and that wll continue.

7. Learn to live with critics. It's part of being Government. Don't react to everything. Accept some critism - change things accordingly and for other critism just ignore it.

Some of these are big asks but this government has a huge credibility problem internationaly and has to get on the front foot.

on the side lines in Viti Levu
. said…
@ Friendly advice ... Thanks for the email. Your further ideas would be welcome.
sara'ssista said…
@croz, so the headline that you have used for your purposes is entirey suitable? This would be the same type of headline that you accuse the Fiji Times of using to damage the nation?? I think there seems to be more than enough vindictiveness and deceitfulness to go around and you certainly play your part by continually defned an indefensible regime and then vent your spleen on an article as if he has caused the damge to the country's reputation, a reputation that was trashed years ago by Rabuka and the begiining of the era of the junta and banana republic.
. said…
@@ More advice ..Thank you for the further ideas. If I knew who you are, I'd shout you a beer! Or two!

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