Military Spies in Oz; Media and Blogs: From Sublime to Ridiculous and Venomous;

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Grassroots & Democracy, Fiji Times & PER, Villag...": Please re-post with a pseudonym. Anonymous comments are not published.

DISGUISED MILITARY SPY ON OZ FIJIANS. A rumour spread by anti-Government Fijians in Australia is that the Fiji government is sending disguised military people to spy on them.  Even ABC's Bruce Hill found this difficult to digest. Read the full story.

Fiji Village also reports on the story,  discounted by Permanent Secretary at the Prime Ministers Office Colonel Pio Tikoduadua. " Some Fiji residents," it said, "who are on tourist visas in Australia and are seeking political asylum, are now starting to allege to the Australian media that there are some Fiji soldiers in Australia who are spying on the Fiji community there."

"On a panel discussion on Radio Australia, some Fijian overstayers assisted by a Pastor Livai Leone and the Fiji Freedom Movement based in Australia, in an act of desperation are now starting to make these claims with no clear and sufficient evidence." With Australian Immigration having rejected "thousands of applications from Fijians on tourist visas who want political asylum over the past year or so. [there is] other option available these individuals [but to claim ] Fiji soldiers have somehow gone to Australia to spy on the Fijian community and report back to Fiji  ... The Permanent Secretary said there is no point in doing that and it would just be a waste of time. The claims are just out of this world and ridiculous."

Editor's Preamble. This post is devoted to  items that show how ridiculous much media and blog "information" is on Fiji.  We need to remind ourselves from time to time to ignore such publications.They divert us from fully covering  events in and about Fiji, and the more sensible comments they attact.

But -- having said that -- we also need to recognize that while  some are based on sloppy reporting, sensationalism and idle gossip, others are targeted gossip and deliberate manufactures  intended to destablish the present political process in Fiji.  The continuance of PER, the Media Decree and Government's slow progress  towards more inclusive dialogue are in all probability influenced by this potentially dangerous garbage.  And in this, it achieves its purpose.

 ANOTHER MEDIA STORY STRIPPED BARE?  The supposed major difference between the mainstream media and blogs is that the former's stories are usually verified and verifiable, while blogs, unimpeded by such professional ethical requirements, can, and often do, publish anything if thit suits their purpose. Thus, while most mainstream media will generally not publish rumour, there are exceptions. This is when a paper becomes a blog. Witness this story by The Australian defence writer, Mark Dodd. 

Dodd has no firsthand knowledge of Fiji. Most of his stories are on Australia's role in Afghanistan, its defence capacity and visits from overseas warships. This in itself is no problem – lack of knowledge has not prevented others from writing on Fiji – but most make some attempt to verify their stories. So what is the story and who are the sources in Dodd's 270-word spiel on Fiji?

The Story. Growing unrest among ordinary Fijians with Fiji's economic isolation and the failed promises of the coup leaders. Take each word one at a time. Unrest? Rumours by overseas-based blogs, each disproved within a week. Growing? The latest rumours. Economic isolation? Caused by which nations? Failed promises? What? When? Still no specifics. Ordinary Fijians? 

Source number 1.  “One Fijian insider who asked not to be named: 'I have a feeling something is happening … maybe a move (by Bainimarama) to be more politically inclusive'.” Great! But how does this support the “growing unrest?” The insider talks about possible inclusiveness, not strikes, riots and street protests.

Source number 2.“Australian National University's Fiji expert, Brij Lal says: "deepening dissatisfaction" was taking hold across Fiji … "gossip and rumour" were flourishing … splits were emerging in the military … LtCol Tevita Mara, the commander of the country's biggest army formation -- has been ordered on leave pending a corruption investigation.… 40 per cent of the population now lives below the  poverty line.”  Rambling thoughts, possibilities and hopes perhaps, but still nothing tangible, no evidence, no facts.

And finally, the coup de gras*, the final "evidential" stroke: “The (Australian) Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is playing down rumours of another coup. Officials confirm "background noise" that Dodd says is “linked to rising public unease over the past two months” [but] “its travel advice to Fiji remains unchanged at the second lowest safety setting -- to "exercise caution" due to the unresolved political situation.”  So? The Australian Government discounts the rumours.

Summary of my deconstruct: one (sic!) unnamed insider who does not mention unrest; Brij saying rumours have been around for two months, and the Australian government's unchanged travel advisory.

The “evidence” is all based on rumour, mostly published in overseas-based anti-government blogs, all of which, to date, has been shown to be unfounded. The latest one had the Attorney-General and PM arrested when the AG was already overseas and the PM was seen carrying out business as usual long after his supposed arrest. And some of the blogs have still not corrected their errors.

This is not the usual verified and verifiable story we might expect from a reputable media outlet.

* Usually merciful  death blow intended to end the suffering. of a wounded creature.

NOW BELIEVE THIS! Sideswipe: Sign of the Times by Ana Samways"Bad Weather Ban. After months of no news in the newspapers, Fiji residents are now banned from getting reports of bad weather. "Drought reports and updates will only be issued by the National Disaster Management Office, reports the Fiji Times Online, a directive to the Fiji Meteorology Service to stop issuing media statements on the current dry spell. Ministry of Works and Public Utilities head Colonel Timoci Natuva said the directive was intended to prevent any negative comments that would impact on the country's economy, particularly the tourism industry."
No news, Ana? The Fiji media is full of it. How else could you have got the rest of your story that, incidentally, I couldn't find in the Fiji Times?  And what's so sinister in the NDMO's instruction to the Met Office?  I suggest you check out the media: even the online versions have the forecasts.


Credibility matters said…
The junta seems to be having an increasing credibility problem. It doesn't really matter what a few military regime 'supporters' think - internationally the press and media reports are portraying the military regime, which 4 years ago used guns to overthrow an elected government, in a very negative way. And the continuing use of the PER and suppressive censorship is only making the situation worse for the junta. Surely they must realise this situation is not sustainable?
Coup de what? said…
Are you looking for a coup de gras or a coup de grace??
Payback time said…
Croz, I suspect the "unnamed source" of Mark Dodd's story was none other than the CEO of News Limited, John Hartigan, who was in Suva yesterday for the formal hand-over of the Fiji Times to Mohtibai. It would have been one of the less pleasant tasks of his career and he would have been plied by gossip and rumour by his kai vata at the Fiji Times. So it's fair to assume that this was News Limited's parting gesture to Fiji - a crude smack in the mouth. Good riddance but there'll be a whole lot more where that came from. When you've pocketed a rumoured $12-million for an asset you were touting for $160-million, I'd imagine it rankles mightily. And the bully boys at News Limited like Mark Dodd, urged on by their bosses, will be eager to strike back.
PER said…
If everything in Fiji is so fragile that the PM and/or President can't go overseas with out fear I would suggest they stay at home.

Many are suggesting the PER needs to stay in place because of all the rumors doing the rounds. This makes no sense to me as the rumors continue and the PER is in place.

Blogs have become popular because of the PER and heavy censorship of the media. Who in Fiji had ever heard of a blog before December 2006 ?

The real reason the PER remains in place is because it gives unprecedented power to this government and military to crush any voice that does not sing its praise - its as simple as that.

Having achieved such power they do not want to give it up. And every day they don't give it up the likelihood of them ever giving it up becomes more and more remote.

Take for example the Sugar Industry. Imagine if the current PM/Sugar minister had to actually face his critics and personally respond to the crisis in the sugar industry. Nope - won't happen, too hard and besides most doubt that even after nearly four years the PM knows anything about sugar.

They will keep the PER in place and keep their heads in the sand.
Critic said…
Granted there is lots of rubbish rumors and blog news doing the rounds but most reasonable people take that for what it is - rubbish.

However we don't expect the same from government. The latest response from government has really made me sick. They have claimed that anti-government Fiji citizens are not targeted in Fiji. This type of down right lie really upsets me.

The military do keep lists. People on these lists are warned and sometimes 'visited'. If you are known as anti-government you become unemployable. Obviously no government role or government entity will touch you and most private enterprise will also avoid you for fear of retribution.

If you are a critic of government lodge a complaint with FICAC and see it dust binned. If you are a critic call the police when your house been burgled - they won't come.

The PER makes it very easy for government and the military to silence critics and the game is just as much about retribution as it is silence. The idea that critic are free in Fiji is complete rubbish.

How can I be so sure ? I'm a critic (not anti-government, just critical) and I have been targeted. I can handle the personal threats and even the odd rough up or run around the barracks but my ability to earn a income is now gone and that does hurt.
excuses said…
Excuses, excuses, excuses

That's all I hear from bloggers wanting to keep the PER
Or apologising for the government for doing so.

The PM and AG like to tell us there is a government
in place and a cabinet that makes decision and
that the majority of people support them
as proven by the charter.

Everything is normal then, so why a PER ?

Perhaps because deep down they know they did the wrong thing and that
their guns can't protect against public opinion so best
suppress it at all costs.
@ Pacific Scoop re Fiji Bloggers failing to make any credible suggestions to move Fiji forward.....

One would beg to differ here. There may be excrutiatingly slow and almost imperceptible change of opinions but it is taking place in unexpected quarters. This may be tested by visiting those quarters and then making a careful judgement of nuanced changes of position within arguments. The rate of change will mean years of adaptation in thinking and the economy will not be able to withstand such a tortured process. However, the propensity for change of mindset is there. Nothing much will be achieved if the Blogosphere is shut down or access is curtailed. Ideas are what count in the move towards substantive change. Then, ideas must be converted into reality and sustainable progress. Dialogue is still to be featured and every effort must be made to facilitate dialogue in safe places for those whose thoughts are shared in Good Faith and whose aspirations for a better life extend towards all Fijians without exception. The level of stress is high. One would suggest that post-traumatic stress is still evident. This has been garnered from previous Dialogue Forums. So, a constant effort has to be made by the Government and the assistance of the International Community to facilitate Dialogue processes and to be as inclusive in this as is feasible. Accumulated stress in society is unhelpful for nation building and it promotes violence and crimes which prey on the vulnerable: the elderly, women, children, homosexuals, the disabled, hiv/AIDS sufferers, all who suffer from chronic medical complaints. On going social stress which is undiagnosed and not able to receive proper treatment is a denial of full human rights by every definition on hand. More transparency is required so that citizens come to know that their government truly cares for their welfare devoid of past political affiliation. Let the Fiji Times under new ownership now make this its daily concern. There is much to atone for.
Son of Fiji said…
Let them talk. Let them spread the lies. Laugh at them as they do so. And all the while keep the PER firmly in place. Ultimately the only thing these blogsites do is ruin their own credibility - not the Fiji governments.

God Bless Fiji.
kadi vuka said…

A couple of cases of blatant plagiarism on overseas news websites in recent days.

Today it's the sports story in the Sydney Morning Herald about Lote Tuqiri with Glenn Jackson's byline. (

And here is the original written by our very own Emoni Narawa: (
Corruption Fighter said…
Honestly, Croz, you amaze me. You give unquestioning credence to any promise from the military regime but turn into a hardened sceptic for anything the critics say.

You dismiss the idea that the military regime would send people to Australia to spy on the democracy movement but you accept assurances that the military regime stands for a race free Fiji.

Why do you believe their promises? The military is a race based institution and the civil service is still dominated by the same race. They protest against sanctions aimed at travel to Australia and NZ and claim they prevent the appointment of competent people but the fact is that there are Indo-Fijians who could be promoted within the civil service but they're over-looked.

If you can't seen this you must be blind. There are none so blind as they who will not see.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Coup de grace... It can be spelt both ways.

@ Corruption fighher ... Read the ABC story. After extensive investigation, Bruce Hill said the ABC found no evidence to support the story. And Bruce is definitely not pro-Bainimarama. Nice quote! Croz
Joe said…
So, Fijilive editor was detained for publishing rumours about Teleni, was he? Oh!! and Russell Hunter was deported for a rumour about Chaudhary. FT publisher Evan Hannah was deported despite a High Court order signed by Justice Filimoni Jitoko.
Please read this article to refresh memories:

Popular posts from this blog

Lessons from Africa

Fijian Holdings Scandal: Betrayal by their trusted sons