News and Comments Thursday 9 February 2012

9.2.12   FLP also opposes new decree. Click here.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK.  "Most of you commenting here [on Facebook] on our Native Fijian tradition and culture (and anything else on Fiji) should also know your place, you are vulagi's (visitors). We have been kind enough to allow you to leave (live) in Fiji with freedom even to the extend of giving you the vulagis the compulsory to learn Native Fijian as they do in most highly intellectual countries where speaking their the native language is compulsory."

THE STATE PROCEEDINGS AMENDMENT DECREE.The announcement of this decree seems to have raised more questions than answers.  The anti-blogs, Pacific Freedom Forum and several readers of this blog see it as an infringement of media freedom and some Suva journalists are clearly not sure what to make of it. The Fiji Government says it will help open dialogue.  Radio NZInternational, however, see it as "unbalancing the playing field before the elections." They cite a Dr Mark Hayes — who they describe as a "veteran journalism educator in the Pacific" and as a "Pacific media scholar" —  as saying it could be used  "to flush out potential political opponents."

I disputed RNZI's description of Dr Hayes's credentials because they give his comments more credibility than I think they deserve. I have also written to RNZI suggesting they check the credentials of those they interview and that they seek fresh, informed views on Fiji from both sides of the political divide.

Several readers have attacked me (see comments) for attacking the man and not his argument. This was certainly not my intention.  I deliberately did not dispute Dr Hayes's argument because this was not the issue with which I was most concerned, viz,  RNZI's enhancement of his views by crediting him with inaccurate credentials.

My other reason for not commenting on his and other people's views on the decree was because I do not fully understand its  possible use or misuse, or how it differs from similar legislation in Commonwealth countries. I will comment when I receive legal advice.

Meanwhile, it is heartening, unnoticed by the anti-bloggers, that the online Fiji media have published contrary views on the issue: LISA WILLIAMS

The Suva High Court has consolidated two cases involving the three who are accused of defrauding the Native Land Trust Board. The case has been adjourned to March 8th .

DR MERE SAMISONI'S appeal for a bail variation so that she may travel overseas has been adjourned until  February 15th. Her lawyer Samanunu Vaniqi said "she will not flee the country as all her business and assets are here." State representative Helen Whippy did not object to the relaxation of the curfew but needed seven days to file for an affidavit.

.  I would agree with Rajend Naidu. Most itaukei and Indo-Fijians got along fine. Rajend argues that bad leadership caused the coups.

Yes and no, depending on what is meant by "bad."  I would argue that the race card played by politicians was the main cause. Too many Itaukei were convinced by their "bad" leaders than the Indians wanted to take over Fiji. So it was not race as such but the use of race to retain political power that was the root cause.

. "Looks like you're are one of the few that has gained from the regime or their largesse contract or appointment, maybe family member appointed, probably you should just say that," says regular commentator Sara'ssista who disagreed with the other commentator's interpretation of events, I did not publish her comment. Neither would I publish a comment that  Saras'sista is only against the Bainimarama government because her family have missed out on the perks they enjoyed under Qarase. Many, but not all,  people with opposing views are honest and wish Fiji well, with no personal benefit to them or their families.


Kahukiwa said…

RE:Dr Hayes

I agree with some of your argument - the need for opinion from both sides of the political divide - but I'm not sure just how much of an 'expert' one needs to be when providing commentary on this regime.

I don't have a Phd. but I'm inclined to agree with those bloggers who feel that there is a bit more to this privileges decree that the enabling of frank and open discussion - and that is based on the adage 'Past performance equals future performance'.

Of course, the regime may well come up with a logical explanation......
yea yea said…
Well the Fiji labour party certianly has some concerns about the new decree. They see it as giving current government free run to attack any potential opposition.

See their web site.
DECREEsing Faith said…
@ Meanwhile, it is heartening, unnoticed by the anti-bloggers, that the online Fiji media have published contrary views on the issue:

I looked at your 4 examples and I am sorry I could not see anything heartening for one looking to find Media freedom. Not one article published a contradictory view. Nor one article published any of the possible pitfalls with this decree that the “antis” have highlighted.

Fiji Live just had an edited version of the Min info press release

Fiji Village just quoted parts of the decree

Fiji Times ran an edited version of min info release plus a quote in support by Fiji media watch

Fiji Sun had the Min info piece + lots of quotes from Khaiyum. Fiji TV saying they could not comment and Communications Fiji saying they are guided by the Media Code of Ethics.

All of these pieces would have been allowed to run with a censor in the room. There is no change.

If we see the media printing Chaudhry’s quote tomorrow then I will believe there is a change.

“Mahendra Chaudhry says the new State Proceedings Amendment Decree means those who are slandered by the un-elected government cannot take any action in court to sue for defamation or libel.

Mr Chaudhry says Fiji is becoming like a banana republic and he doesn’t know why the regime wants this kind of protection against its political opponents.”
Croz Walsh said…
@ Decreesing Faith... It is unlikely two of the three FijiVillage articles would have been published a month ago. The oomment by Lisa Williams, though muted, was essentially critical. Note also that Chaudhry was particularly outspoken and he has not been detained, as he could well have been, under PER. This is going to be a slow process and everyone seems to be testing the ground.
Who is the real deal Mark? said…
I wonder is mark Hayes and mark Manning are the same people.
Re-education in the Chinese and Russian mould? said…
We shall continue to say what must be said. There shall be no departure from 'The March of Folly' liberally quoted from over the past six years and donated in various editions to those who should know this important analysis of history from Troy to Vietnam almost by heart? One or two chapters might now be added and they would cover: The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989; 9/11 and the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; the phenomenon and on-going Saga of the Arab Spring and the emergence of the new Theatre of Power Play: the Asia/Pacific Region. Is Fiji prepared to participate in this rapidly developing arena? It will prove very demanding and domestic politics will need to be removed to a backburner. Comments on the various merits of 'vulagi' will need some rapid efforts at 're-education'. Surely, the Chinese are experts in this field? And the Russians have years of the Gulag Archipelago behind them....should be of considerable assistance.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Wo is teh real deal ... No. They are different people.
Kahukiwa said…
Bit naughty, cutting and pasting, but I think we can safely assume that Bill Hodge is qualified to comment...

Professor Bill Hodge, from Auckland University’s Law faculty, says the State Proceedings Amendment Decree turns the concept of parliamentary privilege on it’s head.
The coup installed military regime in Suva says the decree extends protection against prosecution for reporting minister’s statements to the media, and is intended to facilitate open and frank discussion between government, the public and other stakeholders in the lead up to Fiji’s parliamentary elections in 2014.
The interim government says the decree is consistent with law about parliamentary privilege in Commonwealth countries, but Professor Hodge told Pacific Beat’s Bruce Hill, that’s simply not true.
“First of all it’s a decredd that purports to change fundamental rights and one wold think that can only be done by statute,” Professor Hodge said.
“To say that it is consistant with parliamentary privledge is totally beserk, bananas, bizarre.
“Parliamentary privledge is designed to protect MPs in the house proceeding in parliament, not to protect executives in their personal capacity”.
Professor Hodge said the decree fails the very basic requirements of constitutional law.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in any parliamentary system porporting to be under the heading of parliamentary privledge”.
Mahen Chaudhry fan said…
Mahen Chaudhry should shut up and crawl back into his hole.

This man has no credibility left.

He was quite happy to be part of the unelected regime until the stench from his secret bank account became too much for the military council and they kicked him out.

Mahen Chaudhry built his career by attacking corruption and nepotism.

But that's for others.

As soon as became PM he appoints his son as his private secretary.

He also tries to give his daughter's father-in-law the Labour Party's allocated senate seat.

It's called keeping it in the family, Chaudhry style.

It wasn't enough that he made all that money in the name of Fiji's poor - he also had to grab positions for his family.

Disgusting - this man's greed knows no bounds.

The amazing thing is he still fancies himself as somewhat of a royal in Fiji - what a laugh!

The fact that this failed politician is still opening his mouth shows what a shameless and unprincipled man he is.

Chaudhry was given a great opportunity to be Fiji PM but destroyed himself, the Labourt Party and Fiji's Indian community by his greed and nepotism.

This man has sullied the name of Fiji Indian community and brought them suffering by his unethical and probably criminal behaviour.

He should be hiding in shame, not speaking out.

But then, as I said, he is shameless and he thinks we are stupid.
jaylen watkins said…
News and comments are wonderfully described.

Best tests
DECREEsing faith said…
@ Croz,
Fiji Live and Fiji Village have run Chaudhry's story. Fiji Village included the line about Fiji becoming a Banana Republic.

So I agree the media censorship has loosened a little.

I note Khaiyum said "‘parliamentary privilege like powers’ given to the Prime Minister and government ministers under the State Proceedings Amendment Decree will not be abused."

Without any checks and balances it is very tempting to abuse powers and requires great discipline, which has been sadly lacking from the regime thus far
sara'ssista said…
Yes and you selectively decided not to discuss the comments that were aimed at myself and the presumptions about who i am and my loyalties and implied agenda. I have previously made it very clear I have/had no particluar loyalties to any party or politician and am more than happy to see any or all of those that committed crimes to go to gaol. I, unlike others, am not selective about who is charged and gaoled and how long they will actually spend before the yellow ribbon selectively appears. None of my immediate family or myself have ever worked in the fijian military, public service or government funded positions, nor have any desire to do so. I have no agenda to excuse any behaviour or encourage immunity for anyone who committed crimes under the constitution. What i do object to is creating decrees on an ad hoc basis to cover your own misdeeds, legitmising a regime that came to power illegally, abusing and dragging people to court on spurious charges, delaying, then claiming that justice in done, PER etc . This may be old news and negative to some , because discussing the regime's abuses are inconvenient to their 'reform' and 'crack a few eggs' argument, but the regime will be held accountable for this and i will be inb the front row of the trials when they happen.It will be busy time.
Beginning of the end said…
The absurdity of recent dectrees by the military regime are sound indicators of the beginning of the end. Fiji is going down the path of sham democracy under a repressive umbrella of totalitarianism and dictatorship. As in places like Syria this will not last. In the end it will be brought down, as it has been elsewhere. There are many signs but most telling for me is that the regimes's new found friends stand out in preventing the end of the gencide and bloodshed in Homs, Syria. This tells us a lot about the current regime in Fiji.
Anonymous said…
Please post the Fiji Labour Party statement - visitors to this blog are commenting on it so it only fair to have it posted here so readers can read in full and respond properly.
An Antithesis to Racial and Religious Hatred said…
Now we are getting to the nub of how racism permeates every aspect of life in Fiji: has, does and will continue to do so unless countered by an equally powerful argument. This argument must transcend race and religion. It should be the argument of how Public Money is derived from taxation and how taxpayers transcend race and religion. Taxpayers fund economies. No one else does. Hypothetically, their funding of an economy should be capable of withdrawal without full representation and freedom of speech and information.

However, the argument will only work in practice if those using taxpayers' money are seen to be:

1) Honest upholders of the Law.

2) Responsible and moral in both public life and in their private life also. There must be coherence.

3) Give due respect to all who remunerate them and show this through consummate delivery of public service at all levels of society.

4) Bind the Civil Service and all other cadres in Fiji with Codes of Conduct which are honourable and deliver self-esteem.

5) Treat all citizens equally and justly with respect and a parity of esteem which is demonstrable daily.

6) The integrity of all who are remunerated by public money is to be demonstrable: transparent and accountable at all times, in all places throughout Fiji. Failures of honesty and abuse of office and public funds will be treated promptly and openly by due process. No exceptions even to the Highest Office in the land.

7) Intolerance of race, religious persuasion will be seen to be a shameful indulgence which threatens the very survival and security of the State. Imposing this by decree is unlikely to help. It is likely to inflame matters because "Shoot the Messenger" is the Fiji Way. So, a coherent and cogent message must be used at all levels of society and those who deliver this message must be Citizen Upholders of the Law with proven records of unblemished public service. In any forum anywhere within Fiji they must be capable and able to face the people and merit their trust.

8) Education at all institutions within Fiji must reinforce this Code of Conduct. It must be shown even in Primary School that public office requires a certain behaviour and the personal benefit to the detriment of national development is a shameful way of life: regardless of religious belief. The Secular Way should be shown as valid in itself.

9) Hypocrisy must be 'outed'. Fijians are quite able to detect it. What they find abhorrent is its continuance in placed of power.

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