Michael Field’s Latest Attack on Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum Shows He Knows Very Little about Him, Muslims, Indians or Fiji
If his latest blog posting “Profile of a megalomanic*: Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum” (that he would not dare to publish in the mainstream media), NZ journalist Michael Field shows that, despite his trips to India, he knows nothing about Indians and Muslims, and even less about Fiji’s Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Taking his statements one at a time, he writes:Field: Sayed-Khaiyum is “a lonely, inadequate megalomaniac.” Walsh: But Aiyaz got married in March, as Field later states, so what does he mean by lonely? Aiyaz is known to work long hours and is seen as the legal architect of most of the Government decrees so he can’t be all that inadequate. As for megalomaniac: he has several portfolios, as do all members of the Bainimarama Cabinet (the Qarase had 31 portfolios compared with the present nine) but having more responsibilities does not make one a megalomaniac.
Field: Sayed-Khaiyum is “deeply unpopular,”and “disliked.” “Central to the dislike among indigenous and mostly Christian Fijians is that Sayed-Khaiyum is Indian Muslim.” Walsh: I am unaware of any particular dislike for Indian Muslims. In fact, they seem to have integrated more with the indigenous population that Hindu Indians, and one, Aziz Mohammed, is a senior military officer. But the dislikes that counts are those of former BrigGen Pita Driti and Ratu Tevita Mara for Sayed-Khaiyum because this probably led to their being sidelined by Bainimarama which, later, led to the charges of sedition. The anti-Government blogs also single Sayed-Khaiyum out for frequent vindictive attacks, and make the unlikely claim that Bainimarama is Sayed-Khaiyum’s puppet. Field seems merely to have added another dollop to their racism .
Field: “ A reflection of Sayed-Khaiyum’s power was his known government salary: F$336,000 (NZ$240,000). Bainimarama pays himself F$267,000 (NZ$191,000).” Walsh: I have no way of knowing his salary (and neither has Field) but my understanding is that it is not based on adding up the normal salaries of the portfolios.
Field: “His aunt, Nur Bano Ali of accountancy firm BDO Ali … handles the payroll for the government, including her nephew’s.” Walsh: So what?
Field: “Bainimarama’s 2006 coup was regarded in Fiji as a counter-coup; all previous coups had been indigenous Fijian led, while the 2006 was to restore Indo-Fijian power.” Walsh: Only those deposed from power made this assessment. Many independent observers in Fiji, of all races, thought it was to prevent the further abuse of power by the extreme ethno-nationalists in the Qarase government.Field: “Fiji’s Muslims are liberal Sunni, the Sayed-Khaiyums are followers of the Ahmadiyyas, a break away group from Islam.” Walsh: Wrong. Sayed-Khaiyum is a Jamaati Sunni Muslim, and the Ahmadiyyas see themselves as no more a breakaway group than Christian protestants see themselves as breakaways from the Catholic Church.
Field: “A distinctive looking man, he wears tailored suits and heavy gold jewellery.” Walsh: It’s pretty obvious what Field is implying: Sayed-Khaiyum is foppish, vain, ostentatious. I did not find him this way. But Field seems not to have noticed that many well-off (and not so well-off) Indians and other Asians wear heavy gold jewellery. For young women, this is a sign of maturity; for men an investment and sign of success. Gold is important in Indian society and at birth baby girls, and even boys, are given presents of gold by grandparents, uncles, aunties and other close relatives. The same is true among some Chinese, especially those in southeast Asia.
* Small typo? It should be megalomaniac.