News and Comments Monday 21 May 2012
Predictably, the anti-blogs supported Australia. They did not see it as a "big" Pacific neighbour once again using its weight to swipe at its "small" Pacific neighbour, but this is the way it will be seen by its other "small" Pacific neighbours, most of whom have been the subject of Australian bullying.
Nor did they see it as an insult to Fiji; not just Bainimarama and his government: Fiji. Fiji needs the best possible access to its Asian and global neighbours, not exclusion. The anti-blogs repeatedly crow about Fiji's economic difficulties. They think they are hitting out at the Bainimarama government, but it is ordinary Fijians who are suffering thanks in no small part to the policies of its supposedly friendly neighbouring governments. This is the Government release on the PALM exclusion:
Fiji won’t be going to PALM 6: PM Bainimarama
Fiji will not be attending the sixth Pacific Island leaders meeting (PALM) in Tokyo, Japan this year. While thanking Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda for inviting Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola to the meeting, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said Fiji will not attend as it “is meeting of leaders”. The Prime Minister was not invited.
Prime Minister Bainimarama said despite this Fiji is committed to promoting high levels ties between Fiji and Japan as Fiji and Japan have long enjoyed an excellent friendship. He invited the Japanese Prime Minister to visit Fiji later this year to enhance these political and economic ties.
Prime Minister Bainimarama said Fiji has recently engaged with the international community at an unprecedented level. He said the constitution consultation process towards the 2014 democratic election had started and the government remains focused on implementing the roadmap for democracy and sustainable socio-economic development.
He said the government has received the full support of most members of the United Nations for the roadmap.
“With the recent conclusion of the UN Needs Assessment Mission and the visit by the Forum Ministerial Contact Group, we expect to remain fully engaged with and receive the full support of all members of the international community on our way forward to democratic elections based on what is best for Fiji and its people,” the Prime Minister said.
THE AUSTRALIAN-FIJI DISCONNECT. Read about it in Graham Davis's Grubsheet
PETITION AGAINST PUBLIC ORDER (AMENDMENT) DECREE 2012. "We the undersigned hereby affirm that the Public Order (Amendment) Decree 2012 (POAD) must be removed immediately to effectively engage all stakeholders in a democratization process environment." NGOs that have signed so far are CCF, FWCC, FWRM, FEMLINK, Interfaith, ECREA National Council of Women,Soqosoqo Vakamarama, and the Methodist Church. It is a pity most are also decidedly anti-Bainimarama government. A more representative mix would have been more persuasive.
CCF, that is organizing the petition, may have taken its bridge-building role too far. Its non-specific reference to "a democratization process environment" (and not the constitution and electoral reform process) will attract anti-Bainimarama people but they could also use CCF and the petition as rallying points against constitutional and electoral reform. These organizations must be constructively engaged in the constitution dialogue, and not sit obstructively out on the side as Qasase, Chaudhry, the Methodist Church and some of them did during the NCBBF consultations that led to the People's Charter.
FIJITODAY. Readers will know I think FijiToday is the more fair anti-government blog, though it's probably more accurate to say it is the only one. It's style is to add a heading to an article already published, usually in the Fiji print media. In doing so, of course, it adds a twist to the story as these two recent headings show:
"Government a reluctant provider of aid for its own people." I don't know what was "reluctant". Some 18% of the total aid money (most was from Aust and NZ paid into the Red Cross) was paid into the PM's fund and this 18% was given out as food and other relief aid to families. Local people were the main contributors to the PM's fund. They do not have the resources of Aust and NZ. And there was no more in the fund. Government, of course, will pick up far larger bills to repair the infrastructure damage. And where will Aust and NZ be then?This is not a competition between aid givers but I think it a little deceptive of FijiToday to have given its post the heading it did.
The other heading read: "Fiji Police Force’s “professional assessment” was that it was unsafe for a gay march ……but we CAN control the 800,000 other citizens." The twist here is that the Police had a simple choice: ban the march because of security, or call in police (and military?) reinforcement to protect the marchers. They do not ask: protect from whom? Who might the attackers be? Or ask about the motivations and political affiliations of those who may have verbally or physically attacked the marchers. Tolerant as FijiToday and other anti-blog pretend to be, I suspect a fair number of those most likely to have attacked the marchers would have come from their own ranks.