News and Comments Saturday 7 July 2012

Matt Seigel 
STOP PRESS.  Graham Davis's take on the Qarase and Chaudhry manoeuvres. Link

WEEKEND READING.  • Allen Lockington Column • Taking Power to the People  • The Constitution-Making Handbook  • Are Girls Smarter than Boys? I was hoping to write on a letter in the Fiji Times by Navosavakadua that linked communal seats to i'Taukei identity, and on the FijiTV/TV Decree issue, but time ran out. I hope to have time next week. CLICK ANYWHERE ON POST TO READ IN FULL.

IF YOU WERE TO REPORT ON FIJI, IS THIS WHAT YOUR FOCUS WOULD BE?  Matt Siegel, a Sydney-based  American  journalist correspondent for the New York Times, recently spent nearly two weeks in Fiji during which time he travelled freely around the country, accompanied by his camera man, and he had lengthy interviews with PM Bainimarama,the A-G Sayed Khaiyum, and former Fiji Times editor Netani Rika.His media releases so far (a NY Times article (link) and an interview by ABC's Bruce Hill (link), focus almost entirely on the relative absence of media freedom.

This is obviously a matter of interest and concern for some people in Fiji and, obviously of considerable concern for the media, but it is hardly the only or most important issue facing the country, or the majority of Fiji's citizens. If he were a tourist agent, an economist or an environmentalist, it would not be surprising if he had reported exclusively on tourism, the economy or the environment, but he is a journalist reporting to a wider audience. That an experienced journalist choose only to report on the media means either that he thought this is really the most important issue facing Fiji, or that he thought it more marketable, or that he sought to put the situation in Fiji in a particular light for his American and Australian audiences by not reporting on many other important issues. Fiji does not lack for issues on which informed, reasonabe comments can be made. Why then did Siegel chose only one?

What journalists do not report often tells us more about their priorities and perceptions than what they tells us. Siegel may correct the imbalance if he writes further articles —one short article hardly pays for the two-man two-week visit— but I wouldn't bet on it. Related article: Graham Davis on Grubsheet.


THE QARASE TRIAL OPENS.  Graham Davis provides this useful background to the case, and a link to the first mornings's proceedings, in his blog Grubsheet.

HASSLE-FREE VOTER REGISTRATION Vereimi Raselala, 69, of Cunningham said he was surprised with the new process."The registration process is very good. There is a special section and sitting arrangements for the elderly. The elderly citizens are also given first priority." He said previously voters had to wait in long lines.

TOUGH LAWS BUT NOT FOR CASUAL USE. Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, persists  in saying that criticism of the new regulations that took effect earlier this year are based on either a misunderstanding or entrenched biases."Eventually people will see that while the new regulations contain strong law and order provisions, the government has no intention of using them unless absolutely necessary."

In the same article, the PM is reported to have told the New York Times “I wish I had done this in 2001.” He described his tenure as PM as a "cooling-off period" before an eventual return to democracy.

FLP AND SUGAR. The Fiji Labour Party website seems pleased  to announce the poor start for sugar mills in the 2012 season.

ECONOMY IMPROVING. The Reserve Bank is forecasting an expansion of  2.7%.



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