Selected Comments of the Week

I'm delighted at the number of comments this week. They are an essential part of any worthwhile blog. Here are a selection, not necessarily the best, for who can judge that, but sufficiently diverse and controversial to solicit further comment. To make the most of your time on this blog, always check out the comments. Some of the following comments are abbreviated.

What Sort of Democracy Do We Want?
Rather than look back and argue about the relative merits of the democracy we had, wouldn't it be preferable to debate the democracy we all want? I'm deeply concerned that as the months go by, the consultations the regime promised seem to have stalled. Rather than issuing reassuring noises about the delay, the PM has started to signal that ordinary people want the dictatorship to continue beyond 2014. This is totally unacceptable and in breach of every undertaking he's made previously, both to the people of Fiji and the international community. 

We even have the likes of Croz saying he merely trusts that Frank will stick to his promises, rather than delivering the requisite "or else". I want a lot more debate about what those of us who've given conditional acceptance to the regime will do if it breaks its solemn undertakings. 

Frank needs to know that this is non negotiable and that the current acquiescence he enjoys will turn to hostile opposition unless he delivers what he promised - elections by September 2014. He needs to start the process now with the consultative process he also promised but which seems to have been put on the back burner. The longer he prevaricates, the more people will wonder whether Frank's true agenda for himself is President for Life. – Action Please.

The Surfing Areas Decree and More ...
Anyone who keeps half an eye on the government website will realise that decrees have been proclaimed thick and fast recently. Just yesterday saw the promulgation or formulation of several important decrees, two of which might otherwise be missed under all the hype surrounding the media decree, but which in their own way might be considered far more important:
the Capital Markets Decree 2010,  Compulsory Registration of Customers for Telephone Services Decree 2010,  Land Use Decree 2010, and the Surfing Areas Decree 2010 that “aims to liberalise access to any surfing area in Fiji and thereby enhance Fiji’s image as a premier surf travel destination.”

The Surfing Areas Decree has lauble aims. The difficulty is that there are several resorts which presently have exclusive use over certain areas and presumably their business model is based on that exclusive use. They will no doubt be overjoyed to realise that the decree:
overrides any existing interest by any person or body in any surfing area.’
cancels any existing instrument of title, including any lease or licence, without payment of any compensation’ and
excludes any challenges in the courts against the cancellation of any existing interest in any surfing area, …for the betterment of the tourism industry without [incurring] any legal or administrative hurdles.’

I’d be interested to hear your reader’s views on this, which is clearly a continuation of this government’s policy of enacting retrospective legislation without allowing legal challenges from affected parties.

The Fiji Judicial system is barred from deliberating on any matters pertaining to decrees or their ramifications. Under such circumstances, it’s small wonder that the government considers the judiciary ‘impartial’. Perhaps a better term would be ‘irrelevant’. – Qoli gosh.

The Fiji Times ...
Sitting here in Oz this morning, with the Fiji Times saga the top story on ABC TV, you get the feeling this is easily the biggest mistake Frank has made. The media is full of talk of the seizing of a foreign business asset, the impact that will have on foreign investment and the loss of jobs in Fiji. News Limited is openly castigating the Australian Government for not doing enough to confront the regime. Which means that on the eve of a federal election in which it will be desperate for the support of Murdoch newspapers, News is waving its own big stick at the government. So it seems inevitable that Australian pressure on Fiji will be revved up. They're also talking openly in Murdoch's Australian newspaper about going after Fiji in the capital markets.

The disaster here is that we'll now have 3 months of relentlessly negative publicity, culminating in a dramatic climax when the deadline expires. If no-one local buys the Fiji Times, we'll see 200 people dumped on the street and a 1000 more affected indirectly. And all when the Fiji economy is on its knees.

What the hell was the regime thinking? Why start a fire in another part of your bure when you're fighting a blaze at the front?

Who cares about the Fiji Times going down? Good riddance.
There are times that the sovereignty of a nation and the protection of it's citizens, economy and industries comes first before anything else. Any student of counter espionage closely following the Fiji Times reporting style in the last 20 years can clearly see elements of subversive activities in its selective and manipulative editorial stances. Using the cover of media freedom, freedom/rights to publish, the Fiji Times has been slithering like a snake undermining Fiji's sovereignty by manipulating the minds of its readers through selective editorial. If you guys don't believe me, just ask Mahendra Chaudary's Fiji Labour Party who has been suffering throughout their existence as a politcal party especially during the 1999-2000 period.

The Fiji Times or media freedom is not sacrosanct that it becomes untouchable by ruling governments. Any government in the world has the right to dismantle, destroy or close down any organization that has an ulterior agenda to destabilize the state. In the Fiji Times case, its been going on for years.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the real reason behind the Fiji Times subversive activities. A politically unstable Fiji plays into the hands of Australia and New Zealand's agenda of subjugating Fiji's sovereignty and therefore increase influence in Fiji and the Pacific. So the Fiji Times, being the oldest and most widely read newspaper in Fiji, played the role of the master manipulator for Australia and New Zealand push to dictate and control Fiji's politics.

What I don't understand is Australia and New Zealand stand against Bainimarama. The more they take this hardline stance, the more their trule agenda on the Pacific get exposed. This is probably the reason why Fiji is moving ahead in joining the non-aligned movements. – TheMax.

Fiji Times Before the 2006 Coup
Professor Nandan, for whom I have great respect. was incorrect in his assertion that the Fiji Times was 'full on okay' prior to December 2005. One would beg to differ. The Fiji Times since before the 2000 attempted coup d'etat (during the Chaudhary led government) was "off beam". It was manipulative, racist and absolutely provocative in the extreme. 

When the uprising took place and hostage taking in Parliament lasting 56 days, the Fiji Times was by no manner of estimation objective, balanced or sound in its reporting. It contributed allegedly to the disaster from which we are still suffering in Fiji. There are liability issues here: large ones. Innocent lives in Fiji were lost and parliamentarians were terrorised, taken hostage and held at gun-point for almost 8 weeks. That was terrorism in its most obvious manifestation. 

Did the Fiji Times ever allude or dare to call it this? No, it did not - not once. All responsible at the Fiji Times (owners/publishers/editors/journalists at that time) are accountable and responsible for the lack of clarity and clear stance. They are accountable to the Nation State and to the People of Fiji. No ducking or diving can distance them from this responsibility. They all know who they are. Most are still with us. Most have never deemed it necessary or required that they should apologise for their failures (though some of their compadres have from within Natabua Prison). No doubt they will be allowed easy access to Down South with all expenses paid. Will they all accept? No doubt they will - with alacrity! – Red Dragon.

@ Lipstick,
This administration may not be the best answer, but it is less damaging than the previous "elected" regime. – Cornileus.
My Relatives Back Home Can No Longer Afford a Decent Sunday Lunch.
Croz, I now live overseas, and every time I go back (about twice a year), I see the people are a little bit sadder, the streets a little bit bleaker.

No, it isn't a very scientific way of measuring the opposition to (or support for) the current group in power but it's no worse than you sitting at your computer in Horowhenua, deciding to take a solitary trip to Fiji, returning to your heated home in Horowhenua and saying what is happening in Fiji is good.

My relatives back home can no longer afford a decent Sunday lunch. Five years ago they could have a chicken or some fish. Now they are lucky if they can afford a tin of tuna flakes. A tin, Croz, a tiny tin. For a family of six.

The children have to wake up extra early now and walk for 45minutes along a busy main road before they catch a bus to school. It's not because there is no bus servicing the area - there is a bus stop 50 metres from their home - they just can't afford to catch the bus from there. I did not find this out until my recent visit, but their mother was making her children's underwear out of discarded pieces of sulu.

Of course, you would not know this if as a stranger, you approached them, stuck a microphone, camera or tape recorder in their face and said: "How are things now?" The Fijian way is to give you a big smile and say "Set!"

Now, the people who are endlessly holding debates on this or any other blog, are not representative of ordinary Fiji citizens. No ordinary Fiji citizen can afford access to the internet. The people on your site (me included) either live overseas or if they live in Fiji, have a good enough standard of living to be able to afford a luxury like the internet. Our Saturday shopping is free from having to make endless concession within a limited and rapidly shrinking budget.

So our pontificating about the pros and cons of the last four or so years means nothing. We do not represent the ordinary citizens who have had no opportunity to have their say. And those are the people whose real views we should get. Not the plump-cheeked, armchair experts who sit in front of their computers and presume to know what is best for the country.

To get those genuine views, you need to have a relationship with the people who need to somehow make a small tin of tuna flakes feed six people on a Sunday, and who are lucky to be able to have cassava or rice with unsugared lemon tea for the rest of the week. For weeks on end. – It's Not Ideal.

Comment on the Above Comment. "It's Not Ideal" is not attributing blame to any single cause, and indeed there is more than one cause,  but the reaction to the post-Coup situation by Fiji's "traditonal friends" certainly has not helped. It is just not possible to hurt a government without also hurting the people. Croz

 Faith in the Media
I've lost all faith in the ability of the media to provide the truth - even the BBC. One-sided, biased, lying, reporting by ommision, manipulative - you name it.

Having seen on NZ television, to give the impression that Fiji was unstable and unsafe, the lying swine had file footage of the 2000 coup, and US TROOPS ON PATROL IN AFGANISTAN! Then you wonder why my rellies ring up concerned about our welfare. 

Wake up Kiwi. 

"A man from the wilderness asked of me, 
How many strawberries grew in the sea
I answered him as I thought good,  
As many red herrings grew in the wood."         – Cornelius.


Apete Naitini said…
Mr Walsh how much Fijian are you, how much Indian/Muslim are you and how much different are you.

You do not know the Fijian very well as you seem to highlight nor the my brothers the Indians. You are trying very hard to be a statemanship type block and in that event you become like the colonial powers.

You may have the noblest of intention but you in the event you have landed yourself in the land of wanting to be but infact you really did not know us fromt the very first bell.

I am following your articles and have liken it to a monday morning quarterback.
TheMax said…
@ Apete Naitini

You don't make sense and you are as irrelevant as the SDL government and those anti-Fiji iTaukei like Sai Lealea in NZ, Waqatakirewa and Savu in Savu in Australia. Why don't you look up Prof Walsh's profile? Maybe you'll then realise how well-informed he is about Fiji and the Pacific. Do your homework I would suggest.
Not again! said…
More total crap from contributors about colonialism. What the hell are you guys on about? Fiji hasn't been a colony since 1970, Australia offloaded PNG in 1975 and NZ offloaded Samoa way back in 1962. Yes, the French still have "colonies" in the Pacific but since when have you been French, Monsieur Naitini? The "colonial powers" you talk about are a convenient scapegoat for your own abject failure and that of your fellow citizens to make a success of nationhood. It's not the white man's fault. On the contrary, you were given every chance to make a success of independence and you blew it. The more people on this site go on about colonialism the more they resemble petulant adolescents continually blaming their parents for their own shortcomings. Get over it.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Apete, Your comment is difficult to answer. Are you asking me my ethnicity (and writing me off because it's the wrong one) or attributing my comments to neo-colonialism (and writing me off as a colonialist)? Either way, I don't see why. This blog provides news and sincere opinions from me and the blog readers. If you have an opinion that provides information or might help Fiji move forward, come join us. Best wishes, Croz

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