Showing posts from May 2, 2010

Media Censorship and the Roadmap

Opinion -- Crosbie Walsh

“In fact the transformation is almost total,
it’s almost like a revolution. -- Steve Ratuva.

The Fiji Times Deputy Editor, Sophie Foster's recent address at the World Press Freedom Day Conference held at the University of Queensland contained no surprises.  Of course, a 100% of journalists or their colleagues experienced censorship last year. Of course, censorship is a crude, blunt instrument that should not be tolerated under normal conditions.

Sophie's courageous  paper brought no new insights into these matters, but it was illuminating to learn what Fijian journalists thought they could (and could not) report, and it raised the all-important question of how long censorship can be maintained without seriously undermining Fiji's capacity for democracy -- and with it, Government's  Roadmap intended to lead to a better, fairer Fiji for all citizens.  Without media co-operation, it could be a never-ending road.

The need for censorship following the…

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in I thank Allen and Connect for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.

Enforce the Law Please
I went down to the Lautoka market as usual on Friday to meet friends, have a yarn and get an update on what was going on in and around Fiji. I went to my favourite watering hole and it was empty except for the owner and a friend who didn’t look very happy.  I was told the Lautoka City Council had enforced the law about no smoking and drinking yaqona in the market. “Hooray”, I said. But what I was extremely glad about was the no smoking law. Now this is one law that I wish could be enforced everywhere. If I had the authority I would ban smoking in the streets also.

But we sat and lamented that our friends had moved to the other side …

Sophie Foster's Censorship Survey and How Bainimarama Could Lose the Match

Several readers have queried Sophie's claim that 100% of journalists interviewed by her said they -- or their colleagues (and this is an important extension that was not generally reported) -- had experienced censorhip. The readers were concerned that Sophie said nothing about her survey methodology? How many were interviewed, and from which newspapers?

Sophie is the Deputy  Editor of  The Fiji Times, the most anti-Government and most heavily censored paper. Every journalist in Fiji knows Sophie and her opinions on censorship. From my own Fiji research experience, I know that who asks the question influences answers. Sophie's survey results are therefore highly suspect. But I'm prepared to accept her 100% because the statistic is meaningless. In today's Fiji I would expect most journalists -- or their colleagues -- to have experienced censorship. [ Photo:Sitiveni Sivivatu photo Fiji Times. Read on to see its relevance.]

Sophie's findings on what sort of articles j…

Agricultual Scam, Chinese, Kai Solomoni Injustices, Fiji Helps Australia, Bio-Diesel, Girmit Announcement

AGRICULTURAL Scam 2001. The Court of Appeal has dismissed all nine grounds of appeal filed by former Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests, Peniasi Kunatuba who is serving a four year sentence for his role in the $16 million agriculture scam of 2001. Judges Justices John Byrnes,  Paul Madigan and Priyantha Fernando all ruled that Kunatuba had been lawfully convicted and properly sentenced. Agricultural implements distributed in the "scam" were used to buy ethnic Fijian votes in the 2001 Election.

CHINESE Businessmen have expressed an interest in two FNPF projects, the Momi Hotel and the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.

KAI SOLOMONI Injustices.
In February last year my post "Solomon Community Wants to Return "Home" described the terrible injustices done to the descendants of Fiji's first indentured labourers, from what is now Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. Yesterday I received this comment: "Thanks Walse for the blog. I …

Chiefly Disputes, No More Racism, Poor Accounting, NZ's Phillip Taula

CHIEFLY Money. Who should receive money from land leases and other entitlements is the main cause of chiefly disputes in the country, says  an official of the PM's office. Kisoko Cagituevei told FBC News that differences over who should hold chiefly titles should not happen, but money was causing most of the disputes to drag on. Cagituevei says it must be clear that a chief’s responsibility is to his or her people and not to money. He says officials from the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs are visiting districts and villages that are having chiefly title disputes to help solve the issue.

"NO Racism in Fiji After 2014."  The RadioFiji heading is not quite what PM Bainimarama said. Racism cannot be removed by government decree or elections. Overseas studies have shown that residual racism, affecting 5-15% of the population, remains whatever governments do to remove it. A similar proportion probably believe the earth is flat.

 The article went on: PM said that "the new g…

Media Watchdog or Partner; Fijian Identity, Spies, Housing, Blog Poor Taste

MEDIA's "Self Appointed" Watchdog Role. Who Watches the Watchdog?
Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) President Moses Steven was criticized again  criticised for a statement released on International Press Freedom Day, on Monday, which "appears to call on Pacific media to forego its watchdog role and instead become a partner with national governments."

Steven told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat that while in developed societies, participants knew how public debate should be conducted, "we in the Pacific are still adopting these (democratic) systems and a lot of our people don't understand them." That left the way open for "friction". He said opponents of governments should be reported, but the media itself should not seek "to change governments".

Comment. The watchdog role on government sounds great but the media has its own vested interests, it takes sides, and in many "democratic" societies it is part of the…

Fijian Identity, Tourism, Radio Oz, School Farms, the Provinces, Japan, Femlink, Anti-Govt Blogger

WHO Am I? Fijian Identity.  Fiji’s Attorney General says all Fijian nationals are Fijians, not just indigenous groups.  But Viti Landowners and Resource Owners Association's Ratu Osea Gavidi says the issue is very complex and the term should not be prostituted.“There are those people who immigrated to Fiji over 150, 200 years ago who even then, they are third and fourth generation of those, still have not been able to understand and practise fully what it takes to be a Fijian.” [Ethnic Fijians had no common name for themselves until the late 18th Century when Tongans provided this name to European explorers. i-Taukei is more authentic and appropriate.]

SO-CALLED Political Uncertainty is Not Fiji's Main Tourism Problem. If you think it's only Fiji having to offer ridiculously low tourist packages, read about the competition from Phuket, Bali, Vanuatu, Hawaii, and soon, the Cook Islands.

READING the Alphabet ABC-wise. "Unlike the rest of the ABC, which is funded directly …

Election List, PR, Promises, Corruption. Mehodist Church, Sandalwood, Termites

WHAT Needs to be Done Before the 2014 Elections.  Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola  said Government had an unswerving commitment to holding general elections in 2014.

”The timeframe takes into account the necessary reforms needed to be carried out for the future good of Fiji; the drafting of a new Constitution, which will also contain new electoral provisions with the fundamental democratic tenet of one man one vote and removal of race-based constituencies; consultation with the people of all 14 provinces and Rotuma on the draft Constitution; the creation and demarcation of constituencies pursuant to the new Constitution; revision of the National Register of Voters on a house to house basis; new Constituencies Lists; all the preparations required for the conduct of the elections; and the actual holding of the elections.”

Referring to recent "unfortunate" comments by Samoa’s PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi about Fiji, he said notwithstanding the comments, the Fiji governm…


The Downturn in Backpacker Tourists. Last week's Fiji Islands Backpacker Association conference in Nadi heard president Error Fifer  attribute the backpacker downturn since 2007 to the "removal of Fiji as a free stopover by Air New Zealand on their round-the-world tickets, the slowly developing international financial crisis, increase in bed capacity, competitive airlines operating in NZ and Australia offering a choice of low airfares, negative comments by overseas media, and the inability to adequately market our product overseas and many of us, and not fully utilising the internet as a marketing tool". [Map:  Pink shows backpacker accommodation. Click and zoom (Crtl +) to enlarge.]

This followed the sharp upturn from 2004-06 due to "increased arrivals, the expansion of Awesome Adventures, the consolidation of FEEJEE Experience locally, political stability, the start of operations by Virgin Blue and industry activity during those years."Tourism Fiji has indic…