Disinformation #3. Bainimarama "Fiddles while Rome Burns"

Disinformation #3
FijiToday's stories about helicopters, drunken parties and a hopeless police force. FijiToday stoops to lows more usually associated with Coup4.5.

Disinformation is intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately. It should not be confused with misinformation, information that is unintentionally false.

My first two Disinformation exposures were from Coup4.5. In  #1 a trio of the Chief Justice and the Shameem sisters had met secretly on New Year's Day at the Macau Hotel in Nadi to plan their draft Constitution and the Dialogue procedures.  All three deny the meeting and one sister was overseas at the the time of the alleged meeting. My exposure was published on March 23rd.

In #2 Coup4.5 revealed a Muslim plot under the heading "Muslim Network Stealing iTaukei Land." The PM had allegedly given  Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum a "carte blanche to create the Land Bank, which quickly established a new system of rules to abolish the Native Land Trust Board and  allow 'the State' exclusive proprietorship..." So now, "Khaiyum and his power circle ... have their eye on Fijian land. To achieve his goal, Khaiyum has had to remove the bureaucracy in the land tenure systems to allow more flexible provisions favouring foreign investments.(He) has now not only eliminated Native Title Rights but has empowered the Muslim Network considerable powers to legitimatise its actions to govern Fiji indefinitely."

One has come to expect this sort of nonsense from Coup4.5.  They earlier had Bainimarama at death's door and the military arrest both Bainimarama and Khaiyum.  When I checked this story with a Fiji contact he said Bainimarama was out of the country and he had just seen Khaiyum.  Coup4.5 has never once withdrawn these stories or admitted they were were wrong.

Now it's FijiToday's turn
Until recently, I had considerable respect for the moderate anti-Bainimarama blog FijiToday.  They were critical and put a negative twist all almost all their news from Fiji. In reporting the current flood situation, for example, they say police leadership was responsible for the unpreparednees, prisoners and not enough soldiers were being used in the clean up, people were left in the evacuation centres with no food, and one hotelier said police would not come to the aid of his tourist guests. The blogsite however, does provide information and occasionally publishes "good" news.   The one thing they did not do was engage in serious disinformation but that seems to have changed recently.

Bainimarama can't fit into helicopter
The first sign of worse to come was their report that Bainimarama had not used a helicopter to inspect the damage because he couldn't fit in his large security escort.

Bainimarama "fiddles while Rome burns"
This was followed by a story that the PM, Cabinet and senior army officers were partying, like the Roman Emperor Nero,  while "Rome burned" or, in this case, Nadi flooded. "This was happening," they wrote, " as the people around Fiji were calling for help and the senior officers were getting laid (sic!) and drunk at the Presidents House." The party-goers were reported to have caused $2,500 worth of damage.

What actually happened? 
As with most disinformation there was an element of truth.  The "party" was in fact a cocktail party for the Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders hosted by the acting President in the absence of the President who was in Tonga for the King George Tupou V's funeral. It was a formal state occasion. No one was obviously drunk and there was no riotous smashing of glasses and furniture.  A toast was proposed by the acting President. No speech was made by the PM who had been drinking water for the first hour and was most certainly not drunk.  The Nadi flooding was reported at 5am on Saturday morning, some hours after the "party" had finished.

I doubt FijiToday made any efforts to verify their story. They wanted bad news and they got it.   Their disinformation is in the implied debauchery and callousness of the Bainimarama government. An official and rather staid gathering becomes a riotous party. A toast by one person becomes a drunken toast of the PM. A flood is re-timed to fit a story.

As noted in the Disinformation #1 posting, "A common disinformation tactic is to mix some truth and observation with false conclusions and lies, or to reveal part of the truth while presenting it as the whole."

Police in disarray

FijiToday has now published another disinformation article which names three senior police officers sent on leave while being investigated for corruption and a further four who will be "sacked shortly" for various alleged offences, mainly plotting against the government. Once again, a mixing of some truth with much conjecture.

The big claim this time is that the Police Commissioner is about to be axed and given the "diplomatic posting in Asia  region which was advertised this month." This seems strange.  The Police Commissioner accompanied the PM on his inspection of flood damage last week and they seemed on the best of terms.

But we will wait and see, hoping that if proved wrong FijiToday will have the honesty to retract their story.  Meanwhile, the disinformation is serving its purpose showing  the police force to be corrupt, incompetent, and generally anti-Bainimarama.

I am sad FijiToday has chosen to make political capital out of a national disaster, and hope they will not make disinformation a regular feature. If they do, they will have joined Coup4.5 and lost much of their credibility. Their special contribution, as "moderate" critics whose news and opinions are noted by moderate people. is at risk. And all moderate contributions will  be even more needed in the coming months.


Anonymous said…
Fiji Today has gone down since it allowed other people to put stories on its site. It sent emails to many anti ,moderate and pro government sites and people trying to get a more balanced input but it seems only the antis took up the offer. I think a good oppertunity has been missed.

Doug Batson
Anon of course said…
This posting highlights a fundamental problem with your blog site. You believe everything that comes from Sharon and the Ministry of Information, because I assume that is where your ‘true’ version of the story came from.

There is an element of truth in the Fiji Today story and in your version of events.

There was a cocktail party at Government House for the MSG leaders. All the MSG leaders had left by 9.30 PM. Bainimarama and his cronies continued partying until 1.30 AM. The band was made to keep playing until the dictator left. Your friend Sharon was there until 1.30 and left with Bainimarama; If she told you otherwise then she was lying to you.

I heard this version of events from a member of staff at Government House. The longer serving members of staff there were somewhat shocked by the behavior of the so called Prime Minister and his cabinet. They were also somewhat surprised to see Khaiyum, a practicing Muslim, drinking heavily.

The staff did not finish their cleaning up until after 4 am.

If my memory serves me right Nadi airport was already cut off on Thursday so to say the flooding was not reported until 5 am on Saturday is in your words Disinformation. I quote “Disinformation is intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately.”

As for the story of sex in the kitchen and the damages I cannot confirm so I will assume they are untrue but everything else above is true and told to me by someone who was there.

I have 4 major concerns here.

1- Bainimarama was getting drunk while his country was facing the worst floods for a very long time.
2- Some of his cabinet and senior military officers were in a similar state and they would be expected to take a leading role in emergency situation.
3- He was getting drunk on the budget of Ministry of Foreign affairs. The bar should have closed at 9.30 when all the guests had left. Johnny Walker Blue Label as you know is not cheap.
4- Disrespect was shown to some of the MSG leaders after they had departed.

I have no idea if you will publish this post but even if you don’t take it from me you are as guilty of spreading Disinformation as Fiji Today. You just do it for the other side
Anonymous said…
I agree with the Fiji Today's ability to gravitate to bad news or skew otherwise neutral stories into a negative tone.

Here are some examples:

Fiji turns down NZ "no strings" aid for voter registration.

It was noted by a Croz's post that featured a comment from Fly half:
flyhalf said...

The issue of the ANZ aid was discussed in the Press conference for Const. Consultations Part 1 (21.40min).

One condition for the ANZ Aid (according to the video) was that the joint AUS/NZ wanted to have direct talks with the Canadian manufacturer of the voter registration equipment.

AG raised a red flag, on the issue of 3rd party involved with election process of an independent and sovereign nation.

Video in English

Part 1

Part 2
Monday, April 2, 2012 2:42:00 PM GMT+12:00

Fiji Mints Silver Coin, but did not disclose that coin was not officially endorsed by Reserve Bank of Fiji and was a minted coin by a private entity. To obscure this fact, the website of the coin dealer was not published on Fiji Today.

Reporting the 2007 death of Tevita Malasebe as occurring in 2012 and claiming that the reports were not covered in the Fiji media.
This particular story, Fiji today later posted a correction but offered no apology whatsoever.
Anonymous said…
I don't know what to make of this either, Croz. Is it disinformation, misinformation, or a real scoop?

I hope it's only misinformation, not disinformation, as I'd hate to see Fiji Today go the way of the Fiji Sun, only on the opposite end of the political spectrum.

I also hope it's not true because Naivalurua is the only adult left in the government and the only senior officer the rank and file respect. If he's pulled out, will the whole house of cards collapse? I want Bainimarama brought to justice, but I don't want to see Fiji come unstitched in the process.

Other oppositionists tend reflexively to tar Naivalurua with the same brush as Bainikhaiyum, but I've been fairly impressed with how Naivalurua has handled this portfolio, under the circumstances. I'd love to see him arrest the coup leaders on the charge of treason, but until then, I'll just be grateful that Fiji has someone competent in the position.

s/ Dakuwaqa

think he does what he can Funny how Naivalurua is never near the tent pole when the whole thing collapses.
Only Malt Whisky Drinkers pass muster! said…
Who is inside the tent pissing out? And who is outside the tent pissing in? (President Lyndon Johnson)

A valid question; an accountability question; a fundamental question of integrity in governance. Because there are many of us who refuse to pay for JW Blue label from our taxes and have half the Cabinet allegedly drunk 'on the job' when we need help with evacuations. When the real people should have been concerned about the state of the tide, the weather maps were being carefully surveyed (US Naval Station Hawaii and Neville Koop's Satellite coverage), important decisions being made about human lives at risk.

Is this disinformation? One suspects not entirely. Having arranged our share of three civilised events at Government House in the past ten years, the suggestion that staff were left to clean up at 0400 hours is in itself revealing and bears a ring of truth. If nothing else, this is 'Conduct Unbecoming' and more to the point, dishonourable conduct at that. It is also a gross betrayal of public trust.

One would suggest you quickly test your informants, Croz. If they lie to you more than once, ditch the lot of 'em .......FAST! They are hardly worth trifling with: deceivers and hypocrites and a shockingly common taste in Scoth. Only malt whisky and those who drink it at their own expense pass muster!
Black Douglas said…
How infuriating to continually come across this word 'elite'. Elite who? The drinkers of Johnny Walker Blue label purchased at public expense? No wonder the departing MSG leaders were purportedly shown disrespect. One has observed personally the Japanese Ambassador two years ago shown blatant disrespect: by an alleged imbiber of JW Blended Whisky. No manners, no discernment, 'pas de formation'. That is what we get for our taxes! No one left to enjoy an Islay malt anymore in Fiji and it shows. Meantime, the rain continues to fall. Have pity on the poor and the dispossessed! For no one in power does.
s/Daucina said…

Presumably, he is never near the tent pole because he has adroitly positioned himself 'outside the tent pissing in'?

(former US Ambassador to Fiji Bill Bodie quoting USPresident Lyndon Johnson circa 1983)
Walker Texas Ranger said…
Criminal conspiracies to defame and to defraud are operating all over Fiji. They are operating at every level of society and they are confident of impunity. This has to be stopped and it must be far reaching in effect. The 'Grabfest' is becoming a daily occurrence.

How many are we unaware of yet? Seven Police Officers in Ba is just the tip of an ice-berg (this was opportunistic crime it appears). For it is not only the Police but the criminal minds who surround them and who pull their strings that must be apprehended and stopped in track before they bring us all down. That is their undoubted goal.
The Killing Fields in Downtown Suva! said…
Now the organised crime has spilled out onto the street: Victoria Parade in Suva. A murder takes place right out in the open. This used to be confined to Nadi,mostly at night, on your doorstep. Are we moving into another place where a night out in Suva may mean gruesome despatch, from behind by paid assassins? This is what Serious Organised Crime, Trans National Crime brings in its wake. The binge drinkers and traffickers are here to stay.We have entertained them and encouraged them by offering impunity for almost eight long years!

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