Fiji 'Refugees', Eradicating Poverty, NZTV Condones Racist Comments, Fiji Media, Fuel and Gas

FIJIAN 'REFUGEES' CLOG AUSSIE ASYLUM QUEUE. A small handful of ethnic Fijians in Australia may have genuine concerns about returning to Fiji because of their political views,  although there is no evidence that the Fiji government has persecuted any returnees, and there are certainly no instances of imprisonment, torture or deaths that would warrant concern today.  News that Fijian refugee applications are causing delays in applications from other countries where persecution is real leaves one thinking how selfish the bulk of these applications must be.  Economic and anti-Bainimarama migrants masquerading as political refugees – and, I assume, using refugee quotas far more deserved by others – says much about the gullibility and paranoia of the applicants.

USP's Development Studies Professor Vijay Naidu,  says his studies reveal economic reasons are the main reason for people leaving Fiji.“We are not having everyday political turmoil in the country but the economy is not expanding and the labour market is not expanding. The cost of living is going up and so they are looking for opportunities elsewhere.” Some 5,000-6,500 people have been migrating overseas each year since 1995. The latest figures show 2009 numbers were at just over 5,000. Professor Naidu said before the 2006 coup emigrants were mostly Fiji Indians but indigenous Fijians are now making up more of the diaspora.

ERADICATING POVERTY. Sunday was the day the UN set aside as  International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Today and tomorrow Government's Eradicating Poverty Unit has organised campaign at the Civic Auditorium.  Minister Leweni said the main thrust will be on showing ways to access to decent work and opportunities for learning and training. The poor needs to be "empowered to effectively participate because they play a vital role in combating poverty.” NGOs will display the crafts they were taught during the skills training that was conducted as part of the build-up to the Poverty Eradication Day.

Government has in place a number of pro-poor programmes in the various ministries which include: Family Assistance Scheme, Poverty Alleviation Program, Care and Protection Program for Children, Food Vouchers, Grants to Voluntary Organizations, Women Plan of Action, Cottage Industry Development, Free School Tuition, Textbooks Assistance, Bus fare Assistance, and more land made accessible for productive and economic purposes. -- Based on 2010 No: 1731 /MOI.

. There were 1,500 public complaints to the NZ Broadcast Standards Authority about the comments of TV1 broadcaster Paul Henry. On his Breakfast programme Henry, referring to the Governor-General's position,  had "jokingly" asked PM John Key if he was "going to choose a New Zealander who looks and sounds like a New Zealander this time?"

Our present GG is Anand Satyanand, New Zealand-born and raised, of Indo-Fijian parents. A few days earlier Henry had mocked a senior Indian politician and Commonwealth Games official Shiela Dixit (pronounced Dix-it), calling her "Dick Shit."  Earlier still he had disrespected or mocked immigrant doctors, a woman with prominent facial hair and  a woman with learning disabilities..." Listener Columnist Diana Wichtel wrote (16 October): "From mispronouncing names that don't sound Kiwi to deploying the 'c' word to calling people retarded: many ill-advised thoughts, having bypassed his brain, come to of his mouth." She thought there was "now nothing left for him but set his pants on fire to get attention."

As the Listener editors pointed out, when the daughter of former UK PM Margaret Thatcher "made a single off-air racist remark... she was dumped by the BBC." Not so with TVNZ.  First it said Henry was only saying what many quietly thought (sic!), and a day later announced his "temporary suspension." The Listener said his employment "by any other reputable public broadcaster would [have] ensure[d] his dismissal." 

The Listener called for Henry's hide and the hides of the TVNZ management that condoned his outbursts because they helped TVNZ's popularity ratings and advertising earnings.  The Listener pointed to the "progressive slide" in the quality of of TV news and current affairs "to the point where it's debatable the public is getting the quality of service expected of a state-owned broadcaster: full, fair and reliable coverage of news." 

So, if we turn this NZ situation back to Fiji: it's always a question of balancing media freedom with media responsibility. In Fiji, we hope recent signs of responsibility will be matched with more freedoms.  In NZ, we too often need less freedom and more responsibility — and, to quote the Listener,  the occasional "full, fair and reliable coverage of news" on Fiji.  [The issue will receive more attention in this "Weekend Reading".]

. Calling overseas comments on the Fiji media "superficial" USP Journalism head Shailendra Singh said “there are people in Fiji fed-up with the media fixation on race and politics year-in-year-out. The fact that the media is reporting ‘cat and dog’ stories is not necessarily a bad thing." He said "some overseas journalists, full of “idealism” but out of touch with the ground realities in Fiji, were giving a misleading impression of the everyday situation in the country." “What kind of journalism should Fiji journalists practice?” he asked.“ Fiji journalists were being realistic, pragmatic and operating and surviving as best as they could in the environment that they were working in. 

RUSSELL HUNTER, former publisher of the Fiji Sun and deported from Fiji 18 months ago for his anti-government position, has now, without warning, resigned as development editor from the Samoa Observer from which he periodically lobbed long-distance shots at Fiji and helped form the new regional media association PacMA. He said, “I do not feel that I have delivered what I came here to deliver and am not convinced that I will be able to do so. I wish the Samoa Observer every success in the future." Editor-in-chief Savea Sano Malifa and publisher Muliaga Jean Malifa of the Samoa Observer News Group (SONG) accepted his resignation.  -- My source: Pacific Media Watch.

FUEL SELF-SERVICE. Having failed to persuade Government to ease price controls, the country's fuel retailers will switch to self-service today, at a cost of  400 attendants losing their jobs.

A geologist thinks one prospective offshore drilling site 30km from Suva could meet 50% of Fiji's demand.


Liu muri overstayers not refugees said…
The notion of large numbers of Fijians having to seek asylum in Australia on political grounds is laughable. To anyone who thinks Fijians are being persecuted, I'd ask them to get a grip by reading the following story in today's Fairfax newspapers in Australia:

THE torture of a Papuan man by Indonesian security forces, seen in a video that emerged this week, is likely to be repeated, according to the man who led a landmark study into the unrest in Papua for the Indonesian government.

''I am not surprised,'' said Muridan Widjojo, editor of The Papua Road Map, when asked about the video, which shows a Papuan man, believed to be Tunaliwor Kiwo, stripped naked and then poked with a burning stick in the genitals. ''Given the dominant anti-separatist security perspective among [military and police] officials both in Jakarta and in Papua, similar conduct would very likely take place again in the near future.''

Mr Kiwo is believed to have been killed, while the other Papuan man brutalised in the video is reportedly in hiding, terrified of being killed to ensure his silence.


Now THAT's repression. Is this kind of thing happening today in Fiji? No. And yet to hear the rubbish being peddled by pro-democracy activists in Australia, you'd think that large numbers of Fijians have something to fear. No-one makes a fuss in the Australian media about what is happening to the poor Papuans at the hands of their Indonesian oppressors. It's all about the oppression in Fiji. The double standing is breathtaking. Fijians in Australia are using all this talk as an excuse to do what they've always done - try like hell to avoid being bundled onto FJ 910 for the flight home. They're overstayers, not refugees, and big liu muri to boot for blackening the name of their country to pursue their own selfish ends.
Genuine reason to fear said…
Only two people in Australia need to be worried about returning to Fiji - those SDL stooges Usaia Waqatairewa and Tui Savu. These guys have done a lot of damage to Fiji's reputation with their relentless campaign of lies and misinformation and have every reason to fear a trip to the barracks if they ever return. As for everyone else in Australia, forget it. People in Fiji are getting on with their lives. Have a good time and keeping sending the lavo!
Media matters said…
What kind of journalism should Fiji journalists practice? Good journalism, like everywhere else. Well researched, comprehensive and well written. But with the added responsibility of not unduly accentuating division or igniting racial and political tensions. The best authority on these matters is the 1920's editor of the Guardian, CP Scott. He said the "primary office" of a newspaper is accurate reporting and famously stated: "comment is free but facts are sacred". Shailendra Singh is right to identify that the Fiji media had been too fixated with race and politics at the expense of other issues. In too many instances, it was fueling extremist opinion rather than calmly reporting the facts. How else to explain the indigenous fear of domination and loss of rights when their real position as land owners was so unassailable? Their leaders were manipulating a credulous media to distort the truth, aided and abetted by some editors pursuing personal agendas. It's very disappointing to see Mr Singh being vilified as pro-coup for pointing out an inconvenient truth. As head of journalism at USP, surely that is his job. In nascent democracies, journalists need to be more responsible than their big-city counterparts, use their power wisely and sparingly and be active partners in national development. It wasn't happening in Fiji before the 2006 coup and that's a fact.
Cheeky Darky said…
Croz, forgive me but the Paul Henry episode shows how backward your own country really is when it comes to racial stereotyping. I was astonished to see the infamous clip of Henry vilifying Madam Dixit. It wasn't just a sly or subtle back-hander but a full blown, cringe-making racist assault. In almost any other country, the guy would have been sacked on the spot. But it took NZ days of agonising about political correctness and freedom of speech before this oaf was canned for good. It was the same with Paul Holmes and his reference to "cheeky darkies". A mild slap on the wrist and then back on air. You Kiwis like to think of yourselves as a tolerant, easy going bunch. But clearly for some of your media people, that tolerance doesn't extend to cheeky darkies like us.
Mma Ramotswe said…
@ Russell Hunter..

Has Russell Hunter discovered a conscience? Almost four or five years too late? Mr Hunter had conflicted interests in his time in Fiji. He sadly sold out to his own interest and abandoned not only the fight against organised crime (yes, ORGANISED) and the deserving people of Fiji. Mr Hunter has much to answer for - not unlike his co-frere at Fiji Times, Netani Rika. When organised criminals were just beginning to peep up and over the radar, neither of these highly placed men chose to confront them. Instead they took cover in comfortable, ideological roosts. Shame on them both. Organised crime has a hold on many people and many locations within Fiji. It is now up to the Fiji Police Force to ruthlessly root them out under new and promising leadership. Mr Hunter may go elsewhere and ponder how impotent and unhelpful he was in Fiji. It might so easily have been otherwise had he demonstrated just a modicum of courage, just a little less hubris. His gender bias also requires attention. In fighting crime, Russell Hunter, there is 'No Gender'. We recommend to you 'The Full Cupboard of Life' - Alexander McCall Smith and the Saga of Precious Ramotswe?
Walker Texas Ranger said…
The Full Cupboard of Life - winner of the Saga Award for Wit!

Russell Hunter should not be daunted at the prospect of reading this book. It is witty and amusing. The Saga Award is given by a company which specialises in services for the Over Sixties in the UK. Their cruise ships come regularly via Fiji....and Samoa!
sara'ssista said…
what an interesting 'take' you have on fijian refugees. I don't even need to debate the merits of whether people are or are not refugees from fiji. Apparently it is they who deternmine whether they would feel persecuted if they should return to fiji.... not 'arm chair retirees quick to sell out others rights'. But I would suggest how would you know even if they were to be persecuted. perhaps a ministry of information media release claiming as such, or perhaps a newspaper report .Oh no, we don't do that 'accountability thing''s all too 'negative' ( a bit like complaining too hard that your husband beats abd rapes you ) and of course they can come back.....just no 'negativity' because we all know what happens don't we !!!Perhaps this regime is going to send observers to Burma to see hop it is really done. oh wait, they don't allow observers either......
Proud Fijian said…
"SFO demands newspaper's SCF files"

Read this story and imagine if it was FICAC in Fiji. There would be outcry from foreign media and the Australia and New Zealand.
State of continuing defiance said…
Another story in the Fiji Times this morning referring to Frank Bainimarama as Prime Minister. About time. But why does the FT insist on using the term "the state" to describe those who govern us? Is there someone with both a sense of history and a sense of mischief on the sub's desk? It was the grandiose French emperor Louis X1V who said "L'etat c'est moi" or "the state is me". Is this a subtle dig at Frank the dictator? Surely it's "the government" or "the regime" in Fiji's case?
Hunting for clues said…
Anyone got any inside information on what happened to Russell Hunter in Apia? What does he mean by his cryptic comment? He was obviously hired to do something that he doesn't feel he was able to deliver. Russell is always popping up on Coup 4.5 but no clue there yet either.
Economy no ? said…
The economy may well be the main reason many continue to migrate but the question we need to ask is has the Coup had a positive impact on the economy ?

The answer to this questions is no. GDP has been negative every year since the coup. Foregin investment remains very low and business confidence remains very low. These are unlikely to change until after 2014 or when we see a change of government and return to law making that needs more than just the whim of a Military to create laws.

Yes (before everyone jumps in) the economy was no star before 2006 and there have been some other events in the last fours year like floods and GFC impact. However when you look at the report card the PM and his team have failed to restore economy to 2006 levels and failed to take it forward.

Sadly the PM has completly underestimated what it would take to get the economy growing. His own personal failure to have any psoitive impact on the sugar industry is a case in point. Perhaps understandable because I would struggle to run a military if someone askd me to do so tomorrow having only worked in private enterprise for 25 years.
The only positive is tourism who are a well organised and professional group. They lobbied hard and government listened (post Mahen anyway). However even tourism will need new properties built if demand continues to grow and that requires foreign investment.

The key to getting the economy going (which is the key to funding some of the good poverty programs starting to emerge) is improve confidence and investment. The only way to do that is to throw out the notion that nothing can be done on a new constitution or work towards free and fair elections until 2012. If the PM brought that process forward he would have a half reasonable chance at the international community believing him and investment starting to return.
Sugar sugar said…
'Reconsider sugar stand' State urges EU (Fijilive)

It's a reasonable request and a reasonable answer would be for Fiji's military government to reconsider it's stance. Starting work on returning Fiji to democracy (a better democracy) today would be a good start in stead of insiting that Fiji do nothing on that fron until 2012.

The PM made it clear ealier he didn't want or need the EU funding. His change of tune is realistic. Now he needs to be realistic and consider his own "stance". Being flexible is not his strong point but maybe he can learn to, he probably has to if he has any chance of saving the sugar insudtry.
Get your facts right said…
get your facts right like you are incessantly lecturing others to do - the name of the chief minister of delhi is Ms Shiela Dikshit...hope this helps.
Sarah said…
But didn't they jump all over the Fiji Media Decree and here we see very similar penalties. Sorry if its done in Australia and New Zealand its ok, just not in Fiji.

The Serious Fraud Office Act 1990 gives the SFO powers to execute search warrants on media offices and to charge journalists who attempt to "obstruct investigations" with imprisonment for 12 months or a fine of up to $15,000; with publishers facing a $40,000 fine.
Debate and opposing views needed said…

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 some this up better than me but just thought I would throw in my two comments.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Get your facts right ... The name can be spelt either way.
@ Sarah ... Thanks. Using this Thursday.
@ Debate ... I'm in broad agreement. Responsible criticism is essential for a properly functing government. The problem is that irresponsible, divisive criticism and commentary(and military ways of doing things) have made government wary of ANY criticism. I think we all hope things will improve soon.
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.
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.
Stuff Up said…
Hi Croz

Could you check with Fairfax the evidence support fo their article and headline stating "Fiji Out of Favour with Kiwi's"

I have read the International Travel and Migration Report: September 2009 and there is no mention of fewer travellers to Fiji in September 2009.

I believe a reporter has made the stats up (I might be wrong).

Article here - you have to download the pdf file
PM has doen what ? said…
@ critical boundries

Sorry but what exactly has the PM done to fix the sugar industry in the last four years ?

With regard to Sada Reddy you will find he is one of the main reasons business confidence is so low. He hates foreign companies nearly as much as Mahen did in his time as finance minister.
Stuff Up said…
Hi Croz

This link has more detail.

It does support a drop in Visitors in September.

However, there was a 5.1% increase in visitors to Fiji in the year ended September 2010. Hardly supporting the “Fiji out of favour of Kiwi Travelers”.

Also September was the month of the Earthquake in Christchurch. More people also travelled to Samoa from New Zealand for the Tsunami Anniversary in September.

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