Chaudhry Breaks PER: So What? Rika a Goner, Talkback=Dialogue? Rural Electrification

CHAUDHRY BREAKS PER LAW: SO WHAT? "He was detained with the others, including his driver [sic!], and a local National Farmers' Union executive Sanjeet Maharaj and accused of holding a meeting with a police permit, the Fiji Times reported on its website.They were remanded until Wednesday."

Sometimes authorities should close their eyes to minor breaches of the law, and this was one such time.  Chaudhry's arrest draws attention to PER when it needs to fade away. His arrest provides him with a stage to poke fun at government that will be lapped up by Government detractors, in Fiji and overseas. Chaudhry revels in controversy and confrontation. Even the rabid anti-government blogs, usually critical of Chaudhry because he is FLP and Indo-Fijian, are hailing him as a hero. His arrest and impending court case will confirm in the minds of the politically important "middle Fiji" just how far the country is from dialogue, and again raise questions about government's "true" agenda. Support for government among Indo-Fijians, FLP supporters and unionists will lessen.

And to what purpose?  Chaudhry ignored is harmless. It would have been far better to let the sleeping dog lie. No military person could have been involved in this action: the choice of battle field was so obviously not to their advantage.

RIKA A GONER. To no one's surprise, Netani Rika is no longer the editor-in-chief at the Fiji Times. The announcement of his resignation which he described as "something of a sacrifice" for the good of the company, was made by new publisher Dallas Swinstead yesterday. Sunday Times, Nai Lalakai and Shanti Dut editor Fred Wesley has been appointed acting editor-in-chief of all the Motibhai papers.

There's no question that Rika had to go. As Editor, his newpaper's open, unfettered  and sometimes personal, confrontation with Government and one-sided reporting from 2000 until April 2009 must have been a factor in Government's general media crackdown. The Fiji Times led the media assault against Government and was accordingly more heavily censored than other media.  More balanced reporting might have produced a better outcome for all concerned.

People will be divided on his resignation/dismissal.  Some see him as a courageous torchbearer of democratic and media principles; others are less kind. I think had he played his cards more wisely (or responsibly, depending on your position), much that has happened to the Fiji media since April last year -- PER, censorship, the 10% limit on foreign media ownership, even the Media Decree --  may have been less restrictive. From any perspective, he has left his mark. I wish him well in his likely new home Australia.
Rupert Murdoch owes him one. Or does he?

DOES TALKBACK RADIO EQUAL DIALOGUE? Given the level of censorship that overseas media say exists in Fiji, I'm surprised the Fiji Broadcasting Commission had a live talkback show where listeners expressed divided opinions on government’s proposal to share lease money equally among the people and not give a bigger share to chiefs which is the present practice. Some callers thought that chiefs should not be viewed the same as the people as they inherit and are given more responsibilities, and sharing lease money equally would downgrade chiefly titles. Others welcomed the Government proposal and said it was a long time coming, as many chiefs were not performing or serving their people well. PM  Office Permanent Secretary Pio Tikoduadua told callers government welcomed their views on the issue.

RURAL ELECTRIFICATION: PART OF THE ROADMAP. Four villages on the inland border of Navosa and Ba provinces (Nawaqadamu, Uto, Vunamoli and Vagadra) now have electricity.  Village Project co-ordinator Osea Naiqamu said, “We approached the previous government in the late 90’s and our prayers just got answered almost 10 years later.’ The project  cost $1.3m and the villagers paid for the wiring of their individual homes. Rural electrification is part of the Government's infrastructure activities aimed at encouraging commercial activity, improving rural school performances, living standards
and comforts, and encouraging  many of those who have left to return to their villages  to bring the abundant land available into commercial production. -- Based on2010 No:1588/MOI.

Comments

BASA said…
The so called live talkback had about a 5 second delay. I know this as my brother rang up and asked a question. I guess this was to ensure no anti government sentiment was expressed. This is just another form of censorship while claiming to be free and open.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Basa ... Maybe but they are good reasons for some delay. And the public's views were being sought. Be positive.

@ M.B.N ... You choose to call my opinion a circular argument, and so it might be. I prefer to see it as the alternative approach the Fiji Times could have taken in very difficult circumstances. I'm also not persuaded the Fiji Times was ever balanced in its coverage since at least 1998. See my views in a response to a student journalist to be published in this coming Weekend Reading.
Croz Walsh said…
@ M.B.N... I failed to respond to your second comment on "employment" to which I wholeheartedly agree. But, given the small size of Fiji where everyone knows everyone and people so often take contrary comments too personally, I wouldn't have expected anything else. That it has alway been thus is a poor excuse, I know. Can you suggest anything you or I could do to change this?
M.B.N said…
@ Croz

Yes to some extent it has always been that way with grudges etc but more now than I can ever remember. A friend is a son of former politician and for that alone will never get a job at a company with any government ownership.

Probably not much you can do but companies in Fiji could take the lead. Looking at the multinationals in Fiji they seem to have picked up some good staff albeit into other Pacific countries. Look to PNG and you will see a lot of Fijians now working for multinationals there. I expect given the right timing they will return as Fiji is still paradise to live compared to PNG.

The company I work for actaully checks names informally with the military before recruiting which is sad but practical. The military would do well to say they have no issues with more people.

The PM and his team could also drop there pursuit of every former board member and CEO of government entities. It's like if you had a relationship with the previous government your are guilty by association. Any businessman who didn't have a relationship with previous governments (and this one) would not be doing their job well.

Lets not forget that Mac Patel was on the outer big time - removed from boards, roughed up by the military and talk of many charges of corruption. So maybe the military are prepared to move on an forget....if it's in their favour like a now Pro Military paper !
Croz Walsh said…
@ M.B.N. ... This is a very serious issue that deserves greater exposure than is possible in a comment. Would you please provide me with more examples and details (while protecting the identify of the people concerned) so that I will be able to write a full article and perhaps make a formal complaint to government? Alternatively, you may care to write the article yourself or we could do so jointly.

The most efficient way for us to communicate would be by direct email but if you think I cannot be trusted with your identity, we could struggle to communicate via the blog. My email address is croz.walsh@xtra.co.nz You have my word that your identity will not be revealed to anyone else.
Walker Texas Ranger said…
@ M.B.N.

There are many persons and many corporate entities that did not just co-operate with past corrupt governments, they colluded and they aided and abetted long-standing and deeply penetrating corruption. Some of these people are still around: the former editor-in-chief of the Fiji Times was not conspicuous in his desire to 'out' such people or such bodies. This is why FICAC is necessary. A strong Anti-Corruption Commission with teeth via the Crimes Decree has been required. It was required back in the mid-1990s when the NBF failed. Brought down by unethical and corrupt conduct on the part of those who served even the Board. Why pussyfoot about this? Corruption is objectively demonstrable. Unethical conduct through conflicts of interest - undeclared - is also demonstrable. Why the agonised thrashing about? Confusion is quite misplaced now. It is the last hiding place of scoundrels?
Elementary, my dear Rika said…
One statement above all explains Netani Rika's untenable position, not just in recent months but for the last couple of years. It came at the time of the expulsion of his then boss, Evan Hannah, and provides a clear insight into the Napoleonic scale of his ego. He told ABC Australia that the Fiji Times had effectively "become the opposition" in Fiji and despite Hannah's expulsion, was "determined to continue its struggle" against the regime. Not to report the struggle - its legitimate role - but lead it on behalf of the people. This is when this guy crossed the line and sealed not just his own fate but the fate of his proprietor, the biggest media mogul the world has ever seen. In the eyes of the dictator, the Fiji Times was no longer just a routine nuisance but had declared itself an active political player. How Rika thought he could ever prevail under the circumstances is astonishing. The only possible explanation is that his heroic ego is matched by something that must have come from his religious upbringing - a persecution complex and tendency to regard martyrdom as a friend. A sad but ultimately inevitable demise. And a lesson for both News Limited and Mac Patel of the dangers of placing any newspaper in the hands of an ideologue pursuing a destructive personal crusade.
IMPRIMATUR said…
@ Elementary, My Dear......

Could not agree more nor put this argument more elegantly and succinctly. With regard to "Shareholder Value"...what shareholder value is there in leading a newspaper to be closed down? (as the new Publisher so correctly commented to one unsmart interviewer last week) Or.....was it deemed (erroneously) that others through contributions had become shareholders too? By alleged initial and then annual donations to a certain political entity which was embarked upon seeming ethnic cleansing by various policies and strategies. Is it not singularly of interest that we learn Australia is to give haven to such a person? Under the guise and name of democracy, this extraordinarily misguided editor-in-chief turned a formerly respected and esteemed daily newspaper into a most dishonourable crusade for racism and, worse, racial supremacy. Do such people qualify now for havens in either Australia or New Zealand? If so, then some of us should ask why? Or is re-education through assimilation the goal? Maybe the 'born again' Fiji Times will tell us in the fullness of time? It might have been thought that Burma or the Democratic Republic of North Korea would be better suited to such a task? The harm done to us all is considerable over very many years. It will not be forgotten soon. The hundreds and thousands of Fijians who have felt obliged to leave the country of their birth may eventually forgive: they will never surely forget.
M.B.N said…
@ Croz - Sorry I think I've said too much already.

@ Walker - not every businessmen is corupt and the gereralisation is not helpful. Nor is every military person a thug or in it for personal gain....but I do understand how people jump to such conclusions.
Roadmap said…
Reference again to the mystical ROADMAP....remind me when where the public of Fiji going to see the roadmap again ?
Fairy land quote said…
Just noticed the gem of a quote from our self elected PM, in particular the underlined part. Clearly he must have made a mistake

I think what he meant to say was

"pro-coup properganda is essential – within our respective countries"

not

"meaningful dialogue is essential – within our respective countries"

The PM may just indeed beleive in much of what he is doing but there exists no evidence to date he believesin open dialogue.

The opportunity for dialogue is even less today han it was 18months ago. My way or the highway. I'm the boss, do as I say not as I do....these are his basic operations framework.
MC said…
On FLP leader

A good starting point would be for the PM and military to confess they actually sacked MC as finance minister because they woke up to the fact he was out to destroy business and therefore the economy and because he had even more personal grudges than the military.

But I guess they allowed him to resign because he was the one who signed off on their inflated back pay and benefits and the militaries over spending.

Frank promises transparency but delivers little.
Radiolucas said…
@ Texas Ranger

If corruption is objectively demonstrable, would you care to explain as to why the military have not identified the so called guilty parties? All they have done is claim that certain people are corrupt, then fail to prosecute - why? A complete lack of evidence? Or are they choosing not to prosecute because of their own internal devices - it is easy to argue that they are more corrupt than the politics they sought to replace.
Walker Texas Ranger said…
@ Radio Lucas

Many people have evidence concerning the corrupt. Let them now all come forward in the national interest. Of course not every business man or woman is corrupt. But let me assure you that very many are. What have you done about them, Radio Lucas? Time to get busy! The evidence is ample and not purely anecdotal. "The Truth hurts: but Silence kills". From the South African Truth & Reconciliation Commission. Too many prepared to remain and stay silent. Will a removal of the PER makes things easier for you? It is doubtful but just go to it and prove us wrong.
Corruption Fighter said…
@Walker Texas Ranger

You claim that Walker Texas Ranger didn't try hard enough to out corruption under the Qarase Government, but he and all media are now forbidden from even asking questions about corruption.

What about the scandal of Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum's alleged dealings with Tappoo, which have been aired on another blogsite but cannot be mentioned in the heavily controlled media. They can't even be raised under Parliamentary privilege, because we don't have a Parliament.

So how do you, Walker Texas Ranger, know that allegations against business interests and the Qarase Government are true, but those against Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum are not?
sara'ssista said…
So this new paradigm shift in fiji.. muzzling ANY opposition to a military regime, forcing out foreign ownership of newspapers now means that they can't even report accurately whether the editor and his deputy have actually been required to resign , whether they have resigned or been sacked. Is this too hard. And still the PER is in place. So we still get potholes, sports news and pro regimebadly reported what proprts to be 'news'. I hardly sure people prefer the current craven and cowardly media with cartoons and international sports news to investigative, fiercely independant and independant news media.Is this what you wanted? Weren't these people reporting about the flaws in the last government policies?? oh that right that weren't barracking loudly enough while troops took over the legally eleected government of the day. Do they really think poeple are goeing to forget and forgive this??? And eactly what was the point of the comment from the very helpful PS for information?? information to tell us that the PER is being reviewed, just like democracy, personal liberty, censorship, free judiciary, government audits etc I suppose. Surely Croz you can find a positive spin for this??
Walker Texas Ranger said…
@ Corruption Fighter and evidence..

Simple: I have myself seen and read five hours of documentary evidence. It has been carefully assessed by more than me and it applies to particular areas of corrupt conduct in Fiji. It would be difficult for any one person to have access to all evidence of all corruption going back twenty or so years. But I am satisfied that what I have been shown is evidence with names and dates over a period of more than eight years. It is also supported by victims of corruption who are prepared to testify. Who believe fully it is their public duty to do so. In Fiji's best interest as well as their own. This is surely what we mean by patriotism in action?

On your latest suggestions, I have not seen evidence. But it might exist? If it does, then take action. It would need to be more than a blog post. You call yourself a "Corruption Fighter". Go fight!

Corruption must be confronted no matter where it exists. Fiji has now signed the UNCAC Convention and the UNCAC Team were addressed by me and others like me who have witnessed corruption within the judicial system.

Fiji Day is nigh. Do not delay or demur.
A fear of fear itself? said…
@ Corruption Fighter..explain your credentials!

Further to what was posted earlier, it is time for this "Corruption Fighter" to come clean with your credentials. Who said that questions may not be asked concerning corruption and those who perpetrate it? Regardless of who they may be and where they operate, if they are corrupt and if there is evidence to expose them, then do so. Timidity just does not do in this endeavour: " WHO DARES WINS"....a Motto well known to most of us. Remember: any valid question concerning corruption which fails to receive a valid answer - is a sign of corruption in itself. So what is to stop you or anyone else proceeding forthwith? The United Nations Anti-corruption Convention is signed by Fiji: the A-G himself saw to this. So what is your dilemma?
Radiolucas said…
@ WTR and Fear

"WHO DARES WINS" is the motto of the SAS. I am not sure what that has to do with any discussion regarding corruption nor what the high accolades of the SAS have to do with Fiji.

Merely claiming that corruption exists (or existed?) then exhorting everyone else to go and find it is a bit weird given the PER and the current political climate in Fiji.

There has to be evidence and if there is, to whom do you take it? To the regime? If it concerns one of them what is there to say that they won't turn on the whistle blower and bury it? I have heard anecdotal evidence of such responses.

As you will all appreciate, noone I know enjoys being taken up to the barracks to enjoy the military regimes hospitality and it would not be a particularly clever move to make to go to the government and accuse their public figures of corruption - you can imagine how well that would turn out.

This is in spite of the UNAC - I hardly expect a government that wilfully disregards its own legislature and constitution to have due regard for international obligations - in any event what about the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights? (for example, the military regime has had no real regard to, in particular, Articles 9, 10, 18, 19, 22 or 27.)

Understandably, most people continue to ask questions via blogs and anonymous emails. The military regime continues to fail to answer or address these accusations - probably because to address them would mean that they would have to acknowledge criticism and accept some blame, something that they have refused to do for the past four years.

So perhaps Fear is right: "any valid question concerning corruption which fails to receive a valid answer - is a sign of corruption in itself."

Further, if WTR is involved in some form of anti-corruption taskforce, perhaps the accusations are things that he should truly consider? Having said this, I am betting all my money that nothing could come from it simply because of the political reality that he must work within.
Corruption Fighter said…
@Walker Texas Ranger

Who am I? What are my credentials? I'm a private citizen, a nobody, but I do have the education to ask the right questions. And one of those questions is why, after nearly four years, we haven't seen a major conviction for corruption - no FHL scalps, for one thing. Even the charges - mostly expenses fiddling are no justification for a coup.

What you now have to explain is how it is that YOU have seen all this evidence. If this is the result of official investigations, then it would be corrupt to show it anyone but the DPP or the courts where cases are tried. Even the police investigating wouldn't be likely to see it all, eight years of cases. Inappropriate access to such sensitive information would itself, more than likely, be corruption. Maybe you're Teleni, who's got so many corruption questions hanging over his head it's not funny!

More likely you're Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, who is also the subject of corruption allegations on Coup Four and a Half. As allegations against him are only allegations, even if backed by apparent names and places, we have to be sceptical, but the real issue is censorship. No-one can criticize Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, let alone throw corruption allegations against him anywhere except in the blogs. The clamp-down on freedom to scrutinize government is itself a form of corruption of government.
Walker Texas Ranger said…
@ Corruption Fighter and Radio Lucas....

Time for a well-earned break. No one who is entrusted with the public's rightful desire for justice where endemic corruption is on-going over many years would be foolish enough to rise to your bait. However, "WHO DARES WINS" is quite appropriate in this enterprise. Sufficient to say that not one dollar of taxpayers' money has been employed. Private citizens are quite able to achieve results without this. Indeed, had more private citizens employed their own money earlier and shown just a zillionth of the SAS's sagacity and courage, we would not be in the mire that we are now. Rest assured there is plenty to be done and the newly-appointed Commissioner of Police will receive our full support. He also could do with your own. A very Happy Fiji Day to you!

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