Dictatorship Crumbling,: NZ Herald Editorial


Freedom of the Press — You’re Joking!
I received an email from Claire Trevett, the deputy political editor of New Zealand's largest circulation newspaper, last Monday. “I read your very good analysis on the Ratu Tevita situation and I was hoping to speak to you at some point today to get some comments on the developing situation,” she wrote. We spoke for a while that afternoon and last Wednesday the NZ Herald published her story NZ may yet admit Fijian fugitive.
It reported two comments contrary to those typically published by the NZ media recently. Fiji Solicitor-General, Chistopher Pryde Pryde was cited as rejecting claims that LtCol Mara would not get a fair trial in Fiji, saying there was no interference by Government in the courts' decisions. And I was cited as saying the situation was embarrassing for the commodore but I believed Ratu Tevita's actions were “ personal and the issue would subside quickly. We all know Fiji is divided,” I said, “but I don't really think Ratu Tevita can split the military from Bainimarama." 
At long last, I thought, a factual article with opinions from people of differing views, leaving readers to form their own conclusions. My faith in the NZ media went up a notch, but it was not to last. 
Cartoons reinforce the written and verbal bias.
On Saturday, the NZ Herald Editorial announced ”Dictatorship's Hold on Fiji is Crumbling. ”  I have no idea who actually wrote the editorial. The Herald does not use bylines and has several editors. The most surprising thing about the editorial is not that it swallowed and echoes Ratu Tevita's story but that it provided not one shred of evidence to support the claim in its heading. 
We learn that “sooner or later Fijians will wake up; that ”dictatorships fall when basic human resentment … can no longer be repressed (and) Fijians have much to resent.” 
We are told that Ratu Tevita's flight “shows that resentments now boil within the regime,'” and, to take the words from the horse's mouth, that Fiji is a "hateful dictatorship;" the PM is “ill, morally and intellectually bankrupt, and acting as a "hand puppet" of Fiji's civilian Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum,” and that Ratu Tevita's YouTube video “also targeted those still serving in the armed forces.” 
We are told Ratu Tevita was arrested before fleeing, and the arrests were “not reported in the censored Fijian media.” In fact, the State Prosecutor asked for his arrest after he appeared in court on a charge of sedition because he thought he (and the other accused BrigGen Pita Driti) were flight risks. But the judge (who, we have been told, is not independent of government influence) disregarded the prosecutor's request and granted them both bail. 
We are told that Bainimarama thought himself betrayed because Ratu Tevita and Pita Driti “had given advice to their commander on how to soften the regime's approach to public dissent.” This is Ratu Tevita's uncorroborated story, and the sedition charge was quite unrelated to this “advice,” if indeed it ever took place. 
We are told “the advice he gave Commodore Bainimarama ... led to his being charged and now his public stand from Nuku'alofa exhibit great courage deserving of national and international support.” 
We are told that “Fiji has predictably dragged out allegations that the formerly trusted colonel is being investigated over missing funds from Fiji Pine.” When, in fact, the allegations were around well before he fled. They had even been mentioned on the anti-government blogs. 
And, finally, we are told “ a leading Fijian Establishment military man is calling things as they are” which leaves me wondering if the NZ Herald invited Ratu Tevita to ghost write the editorial.  As for the heading, the “Dictatorship's Hold on Fiji is Crumbling,” even one small shred of evidence would have given the story some credibility.  
This is the is the state of my country’s reporting on Fiji. 


Credibility said…
Dear Croz,

I find your critique of the Herald a bit unfair and mostly seems to be about them not giving your thoughts too much credibility. I thought your piece was interesting but there not many facts about what is happening here and now.

You then ask why they are taking Rokoului’s statements verbatim. The answer is simple they believe him more than they believe Bainimarama.

Ever since this happened Frank and the Regime have been exposed as a liars.

1- He said Rokoului never handed in his passport. LIE it was handed in the day after the court hearing.
2- Rokoului is being investigated as part of the $3m Pine scam. LIE There is no such investigation and it came as news to all, including the people who would be doing the investigation.
3- Chris Pryde said the Extradition request was sent last Monday night. LIE What in fact they had sent was a personal note from Bainimarama asking for them to send Rokoului back. The Tongans did not receive the extradition request until 9.00 am the following Monday. Did Pryde send it on a canoe? No he lied about when he sent it.

You earn credibility in the media. Frank has none.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Credibility ... I also asked where was the evidence that the regime is "crumbling." This was the heading to the story. There are indications that Ratu Tevita is getting some of his material from Coup4.5, and even you, I think, would consider Coup4.5 an unreliable source.

I understand the extradition documents were received by the Tongan PM's office at 9.00am Tongan time yesterday.
Lesley said…
You know I sent a comment to the NZ Herald on Saturday morning and I mentioned your website - I see they haven't posted it and they have taken away the comment and reply option already so can’t repost the comment. The NZ Herald has shown how biased it is. I want to read balanced opinion so that I can make my own mind up. Thank goodness we have the internet so that I can access all sorts of websites and opinions. I just want to know the truth not an “agendarised” interpretation of the truth. As I said in my previous comment – they did this to me when I disagreed on their stance of man-made global warming. So I sent another comment saying that if they don’t post this one then I will know they are biased towards man made global warming. They posted the second comment. Our mainstream media here in NZ is very biased. These days you have to double-check what NZ MSM publishes.
source said…
C4.5 source


I actually think Ratua Mara has been feeding information to C4.5 for some time. This is why what we are hearing is nothing new. Not the other way around.
Nightmare PR said…
The only thing that is certain at the moment in Fiji is this whole Rokoului saga is one very big headache and public relations nightmare for Frank. Sure they can dismiss him as a fugitive but this he was a key man in the military. Remember this is the military that Frank said was stronger and better than anyone else and the only body capable of turning around the country.

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