News and Comments Friday 14 September 2012

WEEKEND READING (Updated). • Allen Lockington column • Why Fiji is not the "Mauritius" of the Pacific by Biman Prasad   •  Constitution Commission Submissions by Vijay Naidu, Jale O.Baba and Pacific Dialogue  • Changes in Constitution Making Pt IV: the 1982 Election by Subhash Appana.

BEWARE WOLVES IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING. The ultra-nationalist CAMV (Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua) party, that was absorbed into the SDL party prior to the 2006 elections, has been reborn in preparation for the 2014 elections. It is now professing multiracialism, unity and other ideological views far removed from those when it last stood for elections. Asked why, spokesman Ropate Sivo said it it was for the sake of political survival. "It’s the only option Fijians should go now. I am a full blooded i-taukei…and if i would have remained there with those sort of stand, i won’t get anywhere." Well, he's honest to this extent, at least.

This is the party formed by prominent chiefs and supporters of the 2000 Speight Coup which wanted the offices of the President and PM reserved soley for ethnic Fijians and for Fiji to be declared a Christian state. Its six seats in the 2001 election were needed by Qarase's SDL party in government, and the SDL responded by the raft of racist measures that finally led to its demise. Unable to pay the high legal bills of its members charged with coup offences, it dissolved into the SDL ahead of the 2006 Elections.

The SDL and FLP  parties, of course, say they need to change nothing.  They have always been multi-racial!

There could be a need for the new constitution to state the requirements of parties contesting elections to ensure their constitutions, policies, leadership and membership are genuinely multi-racial.

GIVE BACK ALL STATE LAND. A Nadroga submission to the Constitution Commission
called for the return of all state land  and the abolition of ALTA and the land banks because land owners are not getting a fair return compared with leasees. Concerns like these need to be addressed, (and where needed, misconceptions corrected) if  more iTaukei land is to be brought into production.

THE LEAP THAT INSPIRED A NATION. A tribute to Iliesa Delana by Graham Davis.
Breaking news. Following the celebrations today to mark the achievement of Fiji’s first Paralympic gold medal by high jump athlete Iliesa Delana, the Fijian Government will be donating a house as a gift for his win in London. Government has allocated a piece of land at Housing Authority’s Tacirua East Stage 1 subdivision and Housing authority staff and engineers from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces will collaborate to construct a 2 bedroom house, to be completed before Christmas this year.

NINE POLICE OFFICERS SUSPENDED.  An internal investigation is underway following their suspension for alleged corrupt dealings "with various members of the public." All staff have been reminded that no officer is above the law, and that any officer found to be engaging in corrupt or illegal dealings will be punished in accordance with Fiji's laws. -- Based on MOI release.

JOURNALISM FACES 'TOUGHEST TIMES.' AUT and former USP Head of Journalism Prof David Robie says journalism in Fiji has taken a beating, but is "surviving strongly". "we've now a generation of journalists coming through that have actually not experienced living in a free media environment and that poses a lot of challenges," he said, and now needs to rebuild.

MEDIA DENY SELF-CENSORING. Despite claims by USP Head of Journalism Dr Marc Edge,
four media  media organizations have so far confirmed that there is no self censorship in their newsrooms.

They include the Fiji Times where Editor Fred Wesley said journalists are not afraid as claimed by people from outside the newsroom. Fiji Broadcasting Corporation’s Manager News Indra Singh followed suit, as did Communications Fiji Limited which runs Legend FM, FM96, Viti FM, Navtarang, Radio Sargam. Fiji Village, that conducted this survey, said it did not practise self censorship and no one, including USP’s Journalism Head Marc Edge, has ever spoken to our journalists about this matter.

Fiji Sun Publisher Peter Lomas also denied self censorship and said his journalists were not afraid. Further, he said no one from the Fiji Sun newsroom had ever heard from Marc Edge who he thought "to be rather remote from the daily news media." He did not even speak to a Sun Deputy Editor who was part of a panel in the recent Media Symposium Dr Edge organized at USP.

Alex Perrottet, however, presents another view on the issue which gives some weight to Fiji TV's refusal to  comment.

My own position is this.  The Fiji situation is in the balance and could tip either way. The media's special role should be to help move the Dialogue process forward. Submissions made to the Constitution Commission continue to show how uneducated and confused many people are.  Giving equal prominence to all views in these circumstances  will merely add to the confusion.  Media freedom is an important issue but at this point in time, with PER lifted and far greater opportunities to publish material, it is a lesser issue, and the skills and influence of journalists should be brought to bear to help  ordinary Fijians better understand the substantial issues that need resolution.

Should journalists feel insufficiently  informed to write on the issues, publishers should  seek feature articles from informed local people.  All that is required is a statement of the issue, its pros and cons and likely  implications.  Where writers add their personal  opinions, they should be shown as personal opinions.



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