Mainly Media, Fiji Times, Tourism, Corruption, Phone Decree, Investment

ONE PICTURE's WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS. Saturday Suva, their readers could have thought. This is the photo used on Saturday by the Sydney Morning Herald to illustrate an article on Fiji. It's more truthful than the tanks one paper used soon after the Coup (Fiji has no tanks), and not much worse than always seeing Bainimarama in military uniform, but it's pretty deceitful nonetheless. Small excuse that below the picture in small, easily missed print, it read, A soldier guards a military checkpoint in Fiji's capital Suva in 2006.The article was written by Michael Field.

MY LETTER TO THE UK NEWSTATESMAN. "Your story is misleading and very one-sided. What else would you expect John Hartigan to say? 

His company is an aggrieved party. There are concerns about the Media Decree but it also has some commendable features, including a code of ethics that many readers of the Fiji Times would say is long overdue.

"For a contrary, and I think more balanced account, of this and other political happenings in Fiji,  I invite your editors and readers to visit my blog  I have studied Fiji since the 1960s, worked and lived there for nearly ten years, and my most recent visit was two weeks ago.   Concerted negative reporting by the foreign media is not helping to resolve a very complex situation." I urge readers to use every opportunity to comment on media websites when they report misleading stories on Fiji. 

JOKE OF THE WEEK. A Coupfourpointfive article by Suliasi Daunitutu from the  Fiji Democracy Movement in Australia talked about the "foreign journalists who try to give an unprejudiced insight to events that have unfolded since December 2006." Come on, Suliasi, name one!

GOING OUT WITH ALL GUNS BLAZING. A reader writes, "Rupert Murdoch has launched his predicted offensive against Fiji with two explosive stories in today's Australian newspaper. The length and tone of these clearly indicate that News Limited intends to bow out of the Fiji Times with all guns blazing. Whatever the merits of these stories, the damage that will be inflicted on the country will be enormous. The regime was warned and so was everyone else. Now, we're going to be taught a lesson in the realities of the international marketplace. One of the stories is plainly aimed at deterring Australian tourists from visiting Fiji. The coming weeks will be very ugly."  Here's two from the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal and The Australian. With all the points raised, there is no need for further comment.  One Two. 

KIWI TOURISTS PREFER FIJI. Most New Zealanders prefer to spend their holidays in Fiji despite political differences, according to Tourism Fiji Regional Director Sala Lesuma. Political differences have never deterred New Zealanders from coming to Fiji.

"We focus in on what sells Fiji and why people are coming to Fiji. The politics will continue but I think they [tourists] are mature enough, they are educated enough, they know Fiji. They have had a love affair with Fiji for the last forty years. They are fair enough to realize that politics is politics, we are going to Fiji for holidays and nothing's going to stop us".

AUCKLAND TO SUVA DIRECT. Flight FJ 430 arrived at Nausori on Friday, the first of a weekly service between Auckland and Suva that will also assist connections to Labasa, Taveuni, Kadavu, Savusavu and to the eastern maritime regions. Flights will increase to two a week next month.The national carrier brings in over 66% of tourists annually.

.Tourism Fiji Regional Director Sala Lesuma says more infrastructural development is needed in Labasa to attract more tourists. "People need things to do other than just sit by the pool and sip Fiji Bitter, If the infrastructure is there, Tourism Fiji will promote Labasa and the North for sure".

THE PHONE DECREE. I have been informed the phone industry is in agreement with Government that this legislation was needed. Industry stakeholder were involved in drafting the legislation but are concerned about two particulars: the thinking is that the penalties are too high and that registration cannot be completed by the time stipulated. They will meet with the Minister this week to discuss these concerns.

Phone registration is required in most developed countries. It is compulsory in Australia. In NZ only prepay registration is not required. India recently introduced it and operators apparently had to cut off 20 million users!

. Over the last five months more than $400 million dollars worth of  foreign investment projects have been approved by Government, most of which have been in the tourism, commercial, industrial and agricultural sectors. A number of other local and foreign investment proposals are in the pipeline. -- Minfo.

THE DAILY POST AND EMBEZZLEMENT. Could any reader tell me how the 10% foreign ownership limit in the Media Decree affects the Daily Post? My understanding is that Australian Alan Hickling owns 51%, Government 45% and CJ Patel 4%.  But according to the Sydney Morning Herald, Hickling now owns 80%. The Herald also revealed that Hickling "Doing due diligence after the sale [six years ago], they [was] 'gobsmacked' to find a $1 million injection of government funds had been embezzled." Was anyone brought to court for this?


Assist please? said…
Bula Croz,

The links to The Australian aren't working and I'm having trouble finding them. can you help?

The Land of the Blind said…

New Statesman's story was one sided but it was not, in any way at all, misleading.

John Hartigan's comments might have been those of an aggrieved party but they are no less valid for being so. The same comments have been made by many others in a variety of businesses in Fiji.

I confess that I don't read The Sun very often, but I have yet to see any opinion pieces it has run extolling the virtues of the media decree. If you know of any, I would be interested to receive the links.

If you can't find any such opinions in this pro-government newspaper and if the only 'pro-decree' reports you can find were made by members of the interim government, then do you think you might have misgauged the relief with which the business community and public of Fiji view the media decree?
Walker Texas Ranger said…
Alleged embezzlment of public money at the Daily Post six years ago would come as no surprise. Is this why beleaguered journalists were harassed and threatened to the point of having to take refuge eventually away from Fiji? The alleged conversion of F$1m of taxpayers' money now required investigation and all associated directly with it must face charges. Taxpayers are fed up with this and no limitation should be placed on such investigations leading to serious charges by FICAC. Journalists Without Borders take note. The Editor of the Daily Post was former Prime Minister Qarase's close relative and this was trumpeted often. By the way: what did Alan Hickling do about this? Sit on it?
Defending the indefensible said…
Croz, I agree with Land of the Blind that there is nothing exceptional in the New Statesman article and certainly nothing to warrant your accusation of ignorance or bias.

It puzzles me that you are so enamoured of a decree that may lay down a code of ethics for the first time but is also highly punitive and weighted in favour of the state.

I'm especially disappointed that you would defend - as you have in this letter - a decree by a non-elected regime that punishes Individual journalists who transgress vague notions of acting against the "national interest".

What is the"national interest", Croz? History shows that in any dictatorship, the "national interest" is really the interests of those in power holding the guns.

The regime's motivation with its Media Decree isn't to bolster accountability in government and the public's right to know but to protect it from criticism.

I hope the New Statesman takes up your suggestion to examine the decree more closely, though not by visiting your site, where its more sinister features are glossed over by someone who ought to know better.

Stripped to its essentials, this is a bad law enacted in anger at the transgressions of one media outlet. Nothing more, nothing less.
Anonymous said…
It surely would be shocking if Alan Hickling doing his 'due diligence after the sale (six years ago' of 80% of the Daily Post newspaper found out that close to $1million of our taxpayers' money had been embezzled - ....and then failed to inform us of it? Shocking and completely beyond the pale. The Daily Post played a scurrilous role in Fiji for many years. It allowed people to be continually harassed, terrorised even, co-operated in this and now we find out, it stole taxpayers' money. Off with their heads! All of them and Mr Hickling may take his place along with all the others. Here we may suggest is an example of an Australian so-called investor who only now reveals the truth. Did he make a complaint to FICAC of late? And if he did not, we demand to know why. Too many gung-ho Australian investors in Fiji with questionable and tainted backgrounds. They need to be rooted out.
Anonymous said…
In the uproar about the Media Decree most have forgotten to scurrilous Daily Post. Is it fair to ask if Australian major investment has anything to do with the tone, the content and the conduct of a media entity? Most of the attention has been focused on the Murdoch-owned Fiji Times but the Daily Post also played a shocking role in the past decase under a guise of assumed intellectual and politically-correct reporting and opinion. They were allowed to get away with murder (literally and metaphorically?). The treatment of many of their own staff was a disgrace and through this they encouraged and gave succour to thugs acting outside their oft-changing premises. If it is found that they also embezzled public money, then our estimation of them was essentially correct.
Missing link said…
How come only two comments here, Croz? It says six but....
. said…
@ Missing link ... I've no idea. I do occasionall reject comments but they would not be counted, and if I reject comments after they've been posted, they would show up as Comment rejected. Do you or anyone youo know have any ideas?
Puzzzle said…
Now it says eight when there are only five. Gremlins in the system?
John said…
I was a fairly unbiased journalist who can no longer practice in Fiji.

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