Open Letter from Artist Stan Blanch to Radio New Zealand

Attn. Programme Manager, Radio NZ

Dear Sir,
Listening to Radio NZ via streaming on the internet from here in Suva Fiji, I was bowled over by Mike Field's comments and  disinformation this morning. I am in the progress of painting a landcape in oils on canvas and almost dropped my brushes!!!!.

What a load of complete nonsense Mike told you. Mahendra Chaudhry, former PM of Fiji, was arrested a few days ago. He is now out on a $500 bail and  has to report to a Police Station once a week until his trial.

What Mike didn't tell you that Mahendra is a trade union activist and is believed to be associated with multiple recent sabotages of sugar mills around Fiji.The men with him were also trade union organisers. Alleged sabotage has been frequent and is always associated with the boiler systems in the plants affected.

Further to this, Chaudhry is facing criminal investigation and  charges for making substantial cash gifts to his family of Government monies and secreting very large sum of money out of Fiji into an Australia Bank Account.

Just drinking Kava with friends????  Ha! The police here have better things to do here than hassle people for the sake of it.

The Man is corrupt. Mike Field's is simply pissed off for being banned from Fiji and using RNZ as a vent for his spleen.

My family has over a hundred year old association with Fiji. I have an Uncle who has served in NZ Washington and London as an ambassador. Also a Cousin who served as Fiji's Chief Justice until 2008.

I can tell you first hand Fiji is great at present. You can ask any man on the street, things are growing and stable. The people who are not happy are some of the Ratus who were strangling the Indian cane farmers with lease increases that threatened their economic viability. Also, A handful of top Indo-Fijian businessmen who were able to grease the wheels of their businesses with bribery and paid almost no tax.

Under the old system pre-Bainimarama era, the country's infrastructure — roads, education, health, telecommunications — were being terribly run down. These days capital is being injected, money is spent and these dishonest bludgers who paid no tax, now have more auditors crawling over them than fleas on dogs. Fiji is a lovely place!.

The general consensus on the street from Fijian and Indian alike is that Bainimarama is doing a great job.

In future just try & get a balanced commentator.

Stan Blanch J.P(NZ), Dip.Tchg, Dip Art ( Honours)

* The painting is by Stan Blanch, 'Atiamuri, the place where I grew up.'  He now spends most of his time in Australia.

Editor's note.  The letter has been edited following what, in retrospect, I see as legitimate complaints from readers. To me the letter is of interest because of his gut reaction to Michael Field's unbalanced report and his observations of opinions on the street.  There have been several complaints about the NZ media recently. I'll report on some of them later in the week. The letter was originally published in Scoop.


Makes me blanch said…
Croz, I'm astonished that you ran this. It is an ill conceived, ill considered rant. Apart from being highly defamatory of Mahendra Chaudhry, it simply lacks class. Adding Stan Blanch's pedestrian honorifics to his shoot- from- the- hips commentary simply compounds an appalling error of judgement on your part.
Anonymous said…
It speaks volumes to me that you should have chosen to censor Mr Blanch’s letter in order to portray his comments as balanced, reasonable and not libellous to Mahendra Chaudhary. If you did the same to Michael Field’s reports, that paragon of hyperbole and misinformation could also be seen to be fair and reasonable. So why would you choose to censor one, but not the other? Don’t you feel that in doing so you’re demonstrating the same foibles which you quite rightly decry in the Murdoch media?

In between the censored stripes, Mr Blanch also appears to have his dates or facts awry. If his cousin was Fiji’s Chief Justice ‘until 2008’ then he is presumably Chief Justice Fatiaki’s cousin, since Gates J. was Acting Chief Justice from Jan 2007 and CJ from May 2009. Alternatively he could be CJ Gates’ cousin, but I wonder about Mr Blanch’s reticence to name the CJ who he purports to be the cousin of.

You mention that Mr Blanch ‘spends most of his time in Australia’ and he himself, doesn’t allude to any more than that his ‘family has over a hundred year old association with Fiji.’ Unfortunately he’s made no mention of the length of time he himself has lived in Fiji, since that would give him far more credibility with his readers.

Mr Blanch goes on to say that based on his first hand information (ie he presumably lives in Fiji and not Australia at present) that ‘any’ man on the street will say that things are growing and stable. The number of pessimistic local comments to this website alone should give lie to his claim. Much as those of us who live here would like to report otherwise, ‘things’ are not growing in several fundamentally important industries such as sugar and construction.

‘Makes me blanch’ said it far more succinctly and I believe you’d do better to take a leaf out of Scoop’s book and take down this letter altogether rather than leave it on your website in its censored, and still incorrect, form.

Pro Gov said…
Well said Stan, nothing like a good rant to clear the air. For all the others on this site who DON'T like what is being said because we are PRO Government then i suggest you all leave or add something constructive to the conversation. Fiji is moving ahead, there never will be a place in Fiji for Michael Field or for most of you who sit behind your computers and complain, complain, complain. Im really sick of listening to the same old garbage you spew forth. Change your tune and change your attitude.
Pro this Pro that said…
@ pro government

Just imagine the table have turned again. You are on the outside - shut out from commerce, harassed by military, silenced, pursued and even physically abused...

Now how do you feel when those dishing out their own justie to opposition say to you "change your tune and Change your attitude".

If the PM and his team are to have any chance of success they are going to have to be a lot more tolerant to different views, they are going to have to confess to their many mistakes and sins over the last four years.

This is not a simple good v evil war. There is as much good in those on the out as those in power and as much clouded water on both sides.
Terry Evans said…
It is a paradox Stan that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own.

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