Does the Government Accept Criticism?

This issue was discussed in three comments to a posting last week. They are republished here for readers who, in not regularly checking comments to posts, can so easily miss out on one of the blog's most valuable features — the open exchange of intelligent opinions.

Debate and Opposing Views Needed said...

Croz, I noticed a growing trend from your bloggers celebrating the silencing or removal of the remaining government/military critics. I have no problem with people getting excited about the fact that Fiji has silenced pretty much everyone - that's their right to say as much. It is worry though.

What is worrying is they seem to think that removing all criticism will some how make everything better in Fiji. I suggest it won't. I suggest it makes for a complacent and lazy government.

We need critics, even biased and sometimes misguided ones have their place to draw attention to issues.

For example I at time hate with a passions the unions i have to work with. They are not professional, always angling for a fight and the execs usually are more interested in securing their roles by creating noise than actually doing something for benefit of the majority of their members. Despite all that I fully support the rights of unions to exist. They keep me on my toes as an employer.

Fiji without critics and without debate will become even more lazy than pre-2006. Many of the quotes you have posted sum this up better than me but just thought I would throw in my two comments.

Anonymous SOE said...

@ Debate and Opposing Views needed....

 No need to fear unnecessarily about a failure to ventilate views. That will take place while reforms continue with greater ease as people of character and good qualifications are increasingly positioned where they are required. Previously, under Qarase and earlier governments, the qualifications were there but no character or good judgement to speak of. Often, highly qualified people were perfectly assured that their actions were justified and endorsed in some way: by whom, by what code of conduct, in whose best interest? Their own.

Anonymous Critical Boundaries said...

    @ Debate. No-one is saying all criticism is bad, including, incidentally, the regime, though it is plainly oversensitive when it judges that criticism to be unfounded or unfair.

The problem is that many of the regime's critics are harping critics, unable or unwilling to give it credit for anything lest they be seen to give it even the slightest legitimacy. The main criticism is always the government's refusal to hold an early election. In the absence of electoral reform, this presupposes an election held under the pre-2006 racially based system. For the regime, this is unacceptable and non negotiable. So it judges any criticism about this issue as unacceptable and gets highly irritated when its critics press home the point.

The other sensitive issue is anything to do with the economy and especially comments that the regime judges capable of undermining confidence in Fiji. This is why people like Warden Narsey cop a bucketing even when they're not specifically in the ranks of the regime's political opponents.

On both the aforementioned issues, I think many people would sympathise with the regime even if they're not staunch supporters. We desperately need to remove race as the determining factor in Fiji politics. Now that Indo-Fijians are in the minority, there's no valid reason whatsoever not to adopt the principle of one-man-one vote. And no reason whatsoever to further empower indigenous Fijians with things like qoliqoli rights when their hold over the land is so inviolable and absolute.

On the economy, only the most hard hearted SDL zealot would want to see ordinary people in Fiji suffer from an economic collapse. Yet that's precisely what would happen if the regime can't maintain at least a modicum of confidence in its economic program and keep the tourists coming. Whatever the present threat to general prosperity, you'd have to admit that that likes of Sada Reddy have done an impressive job in keeping Fiji afloat against a tsunami of negativity.

And the maintenance of law and order has been a key factor in hundreds of thousands of Aussies and Kiwis ignoring their government's advice not to visit Fiji in the four years since the coup.

Also to be fair, Frank Bainimarama is showing more practical determination to fix the chronic problems in the sugar industry than any of his democratic predecessors since Ratu Mara.

And thousands of ordinary people in rural areas are starting to see basic services like water delivered after decades of inaction and neglect.

Is any of this acknowledged by the regime's critics? No. Start giving credit where credit is due and some of the intolerance to dissent you refer to might abate. But back the regime into a corner and keep whacking it then it's plainly axiomatic that you'll get whacked back.


Wacked back said…
Wacked back? By the illegal regime? They are unable to 'wack' anything but themselves and do a pretty good job at that. Stop having yourself on Croz.
Military coup said…
Do you know what a coup is?
dreaming said…
The idea that anyone can 'whack' the government
is fairyland stuff. That why they have
a PER. The second two posting suggest they might
be open to some criticism. They are dreaming and have
obviously never felt the mighty boot of
the military on their heads.

The only criticism allowed is that of the past
One eyed critics said…
Listen up you guys. Croz didn't say any of this. So why attack him? These are contributions from his comment page during the week. And on any reading, not only is he merely allowing people to have their say, he's being totally balanced about it. Someone is anxious that all criticism of the regime isn't welcome. Someone else points out why the regime is sensitive. What's wrong with that? Or are you two a couple of strays from one of those other sites where balance isn't permitted?
answer said…

That is the simple answer to the question
SOE said…
@ One-eyed critics:

Surely, this is a situation where we need to remind people that they must have the courage of their convictions. Like Allen Lockington (who does) they need to observe and to make their own judgement on what they see: piecemeal and not wholsesale. Eventually, they will come to judge the Big Picture for themselves? In all places where radical reforms have been undertaken (and the communist-funded miners under Scargill in the UK and the ditto-funded print unions at the London Times newspaper purchased by Rupert Murdoch, who moved them all to Wapping from the City of London), there has been discontent and dissatisfaction. Some are always disadvantaged disproportionately. However, what really matters long term is that those who undertake the reforms do not benefit directly from them in a disproportionate manner. If they do, then the whole exercise will be discredited and counter-productive. The leaders of reform must be above suspicion at every turn. Years hence, they must be able to show that they were and are. Africa shows us this very clearly. Look at: Zimbabwe, South Africa (today), Kenya. Looking ahead, there is always a time of reckoning. How foolish anyone would be to overlook that. The test of history may be shown in the Wikipedia leaks. There are many lessons for many world leaders here. The March of Folly goes on...but the people cannot be fooled indefinitely. Who benfits? This is the salient question. And how?
false said…
No they don't - that is why they have a PER.

If you are not singing the PM's praises you are quickly silenced.
Joe said…

Hi Croz, I understand that you are busy doing other things, I thought you might like to link the above article on your site.

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