Good News from Cakaudrove, SFO Threatens NZ Journalists, EU's €, Bruce Hill, Usaia's FDFM and Me

GOOD NEWS FROM CAKAUDROVE. Reports from the Cakadrove Provincial Council meeting in Somosomo, Taveuni,  are that the paramount chief of Cakaudrove, the Tui Cakau Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, who is also the head of the powerful Tovata Confederacy, comprising, Cakaudrove, Bua, Macuata and Lau, says he now agrees with changes imposed by the Government for the betterment of the country, and that it is time to forget the past and for everyone to work together to make Fiji a better place to live in. 
Map from Walsh: Fiji: An Encyclopaedic Atlas, 2006, USP.

This, in my view, constitutes a major change in the Fiji political scene and offers hope of early reconciliations and faster progress with the reforms leading to the 2014 elections. Its significance is confirmed by the response of Sai Lealea,  a popular anti-goverment blogger, on his blog Fiji Coup 2006. He writes from Wellington:

"Coming from my paramount chief, this is indeed a monumental decision. It is one I will have to consider in terms of my position against the current illegal regime in Fiji, if indeed it is confirmed as a statement from the Tui Cakau ... I have been heavily guided in my opposition to the illegal takeover of the government of Fiji in 2006, by the principled stance taken by the chiefs of Fiji and the Great Council of Chiefs ... In the event the Tui Cakau's call  to the people of Cakaudrove to support the current regime's initiatives is confirmed, I will be reconsidering my current stance in line with my paramount chief's direction.  In such a case, I will be emboldened by the fact that his call is for supporting the initiatives currently implemented to benefit the people of Cakaudrove, especially those greatly in need of assistance, and those who contribute to the coffers of government through taxes."

Ratu Naiqama said this was a new beginning for the people of Cakaudrove and he hoped there would be widespread support for whatever decision was made. He said development efforts undertaken by the Government continued to lift the standards of living of the people [and] he had never heard of Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama trying to stop the assistance to his people. The latter remark is especially significant because overseas anti-government critics had claimed Government development moneys were only being spent in rural areas loyal to government, or used as bribes to win over areas with uncertain support.

The Roko Tui Cakaudrove Ro Aca Mataitini said the two-day meeting would ensure that the people embrace the reforms outlined in the People's Charter for Peace and Progress. The Government would always respect the Vanua and in return the Government hoped the Vanua would do the same. He said the people of Cakaudrove needed to open their hearts and accept the changes that were currently in place. After the two day meeting which ends today, the Tui Cakau, Provincial Council Chairman Emitai Boladuadua and the Roko Tui Cakaudrove will make an appointment to meet the Prime Minister. For the FijiVillage account, click  here.

Our media raised hell about the Fiji Media Decree.  What it didn't tell us was that 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. I only found out because of "Sarah's" comment on yesterday's posting.  Had we known this when the international media was calling the Fiji Media Decree "draconian" we would have been in a better position to form an informed opinion. Source:  Scoop.

EU ASKED TO RECONSIDER ITS STANCE. EU Ambassador Peceli Vocea has requested the EU to relax its stance on Fiji. EU suspended assistance amounts to over €24 million in sugar subsidies (and  would do This means withholding development aid worth about 30 million euros ($44 million) and subsidy payments to sugar farmers amounting to 115 million euros ($169).

TRYING TO BE AN IMPARTIAL JOURNALIST. Bruce Hill rang me after my postings (19 October) which suggested a lack of balance in his interviews with Rev Yakabi and Usaia Waqatairewa, and I thank him for that. I think he genuinely tries to be impartial but his choice of topics and those interviewed indicate just how difficult it is to modify the internalised positions we grow up with.

Bruce thinks democracy is the best system of government and has no sympathy for those who overthrown democratic governments. I agree. But I doubt Fiji under Qarase was a democratic government and I think Bainimarama is just as genuine as Bruce in wanting a democratic government.  Bruce thinks some people in Fiji would not talk to him because they were afraid but it is just as possible they are tired of answering the same loaded, anti-government questions. I suggested he ask people what questions they would like to be asked, and thought he would get a better response with this approach.

Bruce knew little about Usaia Waqatairewa and the FDFM but thought they represented a significant number of emigré Fijians. He cited their recent meeting which drew people from all over Australia. My information is that they struggled to get 200 people to the meeting and those attending were exclusively ethnic Fijians.

In the course of the conversation Bruce directed me to his earlier interview with three ethnic Fijian SDL supporters who had been declined refugee status in Australia. The abuses they cited were in 2007 and towards the end of the programme the Australian authorities said they had no information to support claims of ongoing abuses.

Here is the link to Bruce's programme. His interview is fair but why the choice of topic and informants, and the late denial by Australian authorities?


coups ok if they remove non democratic governments said…

So you agree with Bruce that we should not
support the overthrowing of a democractic
government but since you view Qarase's
as un democratic you fully support
the over throwing of it ? Have I got this
right ?

On that logic the current PM's government
is not democratic - not even close, so
you throw your full support behind
someone to overthrow this government.
Bruce on the blower said…
Croz, don't you love journalists who are so sensitive to criticism that they ring you up personally to express their indignation and hurt feelings? Thin skinned is the term that most readily comes to mind. So Bruce Hill "thinks democracy is the best system of government". Hello Bruce, so do we! The problem is that there's never been democracy in Fiji in the way you understand it - equal votes of equal value. If you'd done your research, you'd know that this has been the case ever since independence 40 years ago. That's right, not one man one vote - as you understand democracy in Australia - but a system loaded against everyone other than indigenous Fijians. Funnily enough, the former is what the hated regime wants, the latter is what the so-called Democracy and Freedom Movement wants. Yes, I know, strange but true. Now, wouldn't it be more logical for someone like you - doubtless, in your own mind, a passionate seeker of the truth - to support a process that might actually produce real equality for the first time rather than blindly defend a system that is so patently unequal and undemocratic? Another thing, Bruce. You "don't know much about Usaia Waqatairewa but think he represents a significant number of emigre Fijians".Think! Is that the basis for reporting something like this as fact? The truth is, Bruce, that for all your righteous indignation, I don't think you properly understand all the facts of an admittedly complex situation. And until you do, you'll be a legitimate target for criticism for your unbalanced, naive reporting. Next time you "don't like" something, at least try to find out what it is you don't like. If you did, maybe you might change your mind about who has the stronger case. Maybe you'd actually prefer to see a Clayton's democracy in Fiji - the democracy you have when you don't have democracy? Maybe you're also making a deliberate choice to give prominence to indigenous supremacists masquerading as democrats and unquestioningly promote their cause? I ask this in the hope that it at least gives you pause for thought. Croz is a wise and good man and I trust him when he says he thinks your motives are sincere. But can I humbly request that you and certain other Australian journalists at least try to understand the real issues in Fiji? Yes, it's a bit like Alice's Wonderland, a place where frauds and shysters pose as the just while the just are often unjustly cast as villains. But if you can wrest the many mirrors away, the truth is there for someone of your talents to see. In the meantime, please resist the temptation to harass the Great Oracle of Horowhenua. On this stuff, he's right because he's done his research and you're wrong because you haven't. It's just that he's too polite to say so to your face.
Cakaudrove in revolt said…
Croz, yes the latest news from Cakaudrove is interesting and may signal a change in attitude on the part of some indigenous Fijians to the regime. Yet this is hardly a pronouncement from a person of real mana in Fiji, given the sorry history of the present Tui Cakau. Many of his own people will have already judged him harshly for his support for successive coups and the extremist indigenous cause. I suspect this won't be seen so much as a Damascene conversion as the Tui Cakau finally caving in to Frank Bainimarama because he has no choice. His own people are already in open rebellion against his rule. What you haven't reported is the way in which he railed against his own supporters at the same gathering for not obeying his commands. Does that sound like a guy in control? I don't think so. For someone like Sai Lealea to say what he has about having to consider changing his own position says more about Sai Lealea than anything else. Here's an educated guy who's been a long time opponent of the regime saying he might have to turn turtle because of what his paramount chief has to say? How pathetic. I think the most important thing to come out of the Cakaudrove meeting was the Tui Cakau's comments about the growing incidence of witchcraft among his own people. The power of draunikau seems to have extended to Wellington and given Sai Lealea a touch of the lialias. Hocus pocus, whichever way you look at it. The last Tui Cakau but one - the late, great Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau - would be spinning in his grave.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Coups ok ... My agreement with Bruce was conditional. It did not give a carte blanche to any government that called itself democractic. Please re-read more carefully.

@ saras'sista ... You write a lot but rarely seem to check your claims beofore doing so. Please read something on British and French arrangements with their former colonies as conditions of their EU membership, then follow this up with Lome Convention and Cotonou Accord. And then ask yourself, is the EU decision consistent with the original principles of engagement, and whether its now cancelled assistance could be better labelled as an obligation and not aid in the more limited use of the word?
Joe said…
@ Croz,
sara'ssista genuinely raised issues about the current situation in Fiji, impacting on its people as a result of the 2006 coup and subsequent reactions by democratic nations. Why would you bombard him/her with Lome convention/Cotonou Accord.
Lome(1975) was replaced by Cotonou in 2000. Here is an abstract from the Cotonou Accord that may interest you Croz:
Almost all ACP member-countries had already undergone a political renewal prior to the signing of the Cotonou Agreement, and although some countries are still experiencing problems like civil war, they are increasingly few in number. The rise in democracy is seen particularly in the progressive development of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, organ of cooperation between the European Parliament and parliaments of ACP countries, into a true Joint Parliamentary Assembly of democratically-elected parliamentarians, in keeping with the spirit and letter of the Cotonou Agreement.
Joe said…
What a great news from Cakaudrove, Croz. Even greater news is that ex coup mongers like Inoke is foreign minister, and NBF debtors are prominent ministers in this illegal govt. Is it too much for you, being in a position of influence, to say to the people of Fiji that 8 years is a hell of a long time to wait to be enfranchised again? We do understand the situation in Fiji, but 8 years? As I read it, Croz is the only voice, and the OZ & NZ govts are out of synch or irrelevant. What is the right thing to do Croz? Engage with a military dictator in a civil manner or in a language that he understands?
sara'ssista said…
@ croz , it is my understandint hat this regime is interim...and are on a very, very shaky and extra legal basis . Why on earth would the EU feel the need to negotiate with a regime that has no mandate and feels unaccountable. Perhaps you could illustrate how the original princilples of the agreement envisaged dealing with a regime installed in a coup and whether any future elected govenment need feel bound by any loans, agreements, decisions or decrees etc. You presume to suggest that they should give and feel obligated nommatter the political circumstances at the time. Rather naive. BTW, 8 years is not a military dictatorship, please lets all acknowledge this.
Jon said…
It seems that no one, not even yourself, has yet picked up on the delightful irony of Sai Lealea’s comment:

“…I have been heavily guided in my opposition to the illegal takeover of the government of Fiji in 2006, by the principled stance taken by the chiefs of Fiji and the Great Council of Chiefs ... In the event the Tui Cakau's call to the people of Cakaudrove to support the current regime's initiatives is confirmed, I will be reconsidering my current stance in line with my paramount chief's direction.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought this coup was as much to do with encouraging the proletariat to shake off their chiefs’ feudal shackles as it was to root out corruption etc etc.

If so, then Mr Lealea’s comments should be seen as a cause for concern, not celebration.

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