News and Comments Tuesday 5 February 2013

WHAT IS TRUE? "Okay, I ask you if any of this is true. How can you know? I haven't given you enough information even to ask better, more sensible, more meaningful questions. The better question is, 'Having heard what I told you ... is it likely to be true?' Let me suggest these categories: true, untrue, likely to be true, unlikely to be true, and, there isn't enough known to answer likely or unlikely." --Elliot Perlman, The Street Sweeper.

NO SURPRISES ON MILITARY.  PM Bainimarama has  reconfirmed that the RFMF will be represented in the Constituent Assembly  and hinted that the military's submission, ignored by the Constitution Commission, has been considered in the new draft constitution. This should  not, however, be taken to mean that the military has political aspirations.  Land Force Commander Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga  says the military as an institution will not support any political party "even if  Prime Minister and Army Commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama decides to form a party."  But soldiers can "vote for any parties they would want to vote for ...and if military people want to contest elections they will do so like any other political party."

"THE MEDDLESOME PRIEST."  NZ Truth editor Cameron "Whaleoil" Slater got a number of things wrong in the recent Fiji Sun article on Michael Field and Fr Barr. I agree totally with his criticism of journalist Michael Field's selective biases, the uncritical "baton-passing" of Field's writings on Fiji by other overseas journalists, and the role of the blog Coup4.5 in disseminating biased and incorrect information about Fiji.    I'd also go along with his reliance on Graham Davis as a reasoned commentator on Fiji but I'd also say that Graham is unashamedly pro-Bainimarama and, like Slater himself, politically right wing which could have influenced their judgement on the left-leaning Fr Barr.

But I  cannot agree with their argument that Fr Barr's work permit was  revoked because of his repeated breaches of his work permit. Slater writes: "Father Barr is an Australian in Fiji on a religious permit which allows him to work for the church and in certain other activities. It does not, however, allow him to engage in politics, something he appears to have forgotten recently with political statements concerning the minimum wage and certain decrees such as the Essential Industries Decree."

It all depends on what you mean by politics, of course, but where has Cameron been for the past 32 years while Fr Barr was writing and working on political issues such  as social justice, fair wages, affordable housing, and empowerment of the poor?  Not to mention his participation in and support for the People's Charter and as the government-appointed chairperson of the Wages Council? Were these not political?  If Fr Barr  has been troublesome and meddlesome, as Cameron  says. then it must have escaped the attention of successive governments for the past 32 years.  Until now. 

Cameron also seems to suggest Fr Barr has no right to speak because he has not taken up Fiji citizenship, but he failed to note that until recently dual citizenship was not possible.  (By the same logic, Fiji-born Cameron, now a NZ citizen, has surely disqualified himself from speaking on Fiji.)

As for his assertion that non-citizens, and especially churchmen, would not be allowed to take part in politics in New Zealand, this is nonsense. My Mother voted in every election for over fifty years and never took up citizenship or applied for permanent residence. And NZ church leaders have been constantly engaged in the very same social issues that have been deemed political in Fr Barr's case. Think Rev Charles Waldegrave QSO, or Archbishop Sir Paul Reeves. 

The whole affair should be put behind us. I am disappointed the Fiji Sun published the article. It only added to the misinformation.  Fr Barr has apologized and the PM seems to have accepted the apology.  We should move on.

CHRISTIAN STATE: NOT AGAIN. On Sunday the new president of the Methodist Church, Rev. Tuikilaila Waqairatu, delivered a sermon  reiterating his support for Fiji to become a Christian state. The call comes as a surprise given that only a week earlier the church said it sought to improve relations with government and government's "non-negotiable" position  that Fiji will be a secular state will be no special preference for any religion.  Equally  surprising is that he chose to deliver the sermon, not to iTaukei whose tradition calls for the unity of vanua. lotu and matanitu (hence the many submissions to the Constitution Commission by villagers calling for a Christian state) but to the Indian Methodist Circuit at the Dudley Church in Toorak.  Unsurprisingly, some church members raised concerns on how Rev Waqairatu had used the pulpit to push through his political views on a Christian State. Early on Monday Rev Waqairatu told Fiji Village he would be making a public statement to explain his position but by the afternoon he had changed his mind and refused to comment.   

SPEIGHT COUP PLOTTER FEARS FOR HIS LIFE. Maciu Navakasuasua, who was involved in the planning and execution of the the 2000 Speight Coup, and who subsequently imprisoned  for three years. has been told he cannot live in Australia and has to return home. The Australian government has denied an application for a protection visa for the whistleblower. Navakasuasua, who works in a mining company as an explosive expert under the name Maciu Naqari, said he feared for his life if he returned home. Navakasuasua expressed disappointment over the decision, saying he was a genuine applicant whose life had been threatened by the 2000 coup supporters in Fiji."The whole of Fiji knows I was involved in the May 19, 2000, coup, and that I was incarcerated on Nukulau for my involvement. Unlike those who are coming to Australia from Fiji and applying for protection, they don't have a life-threatening situation back home compared to what I've gone through and experienced," he said."Failed politicians and businessmen have a gang ready to slit my throat if I ever return home. I can't go home for my life is in danger and my safety is not guaranteed."

Minister for Immigration Joketani Cokanasiga said: "If he is genuine, the government will see how he can be protected."

MASI MOTIFS. A petition is circulating to prevent Air Pacific trademarking/copyrighting 15 traditional masi (tapa) designs. The Fiji Women's Rights Movement is one of the organizations opposed to the Air Pacific action.

EMMANUEL METHODISTS.  A small "branch" of the Methodist Church wants the Bainimarama Government to continue in power after the 2014 election.

REPUTABLE AND DISREPUTABLE JOURNALISM.  Anyone with any knowledge of journalism education in the Pacific knows Prof David Robie's impeccable reputation earned over  many years in PNG, New Caledonia and Fjii. Anyone with any knowledge of the the recent dismissal of Canadian Dr Marc Edge from the USP journalism programme and his hasty departure from Fiji will know something of the chaos he created in his short tenure.  He is still at it, promoting himself on his personal blog and on the anti-government blogs.  Almost all his writings start and finish with "I" with something about democracy sandwiched in between.  I've blocked his personal and vindictive comments on this blog and have otherwise have tried to stay out of the picture.

But I think this article by David Robie  on vendetta journalism and Marc Edge's reply worth publishing, despite Edge's obvious errors of fact. Further exchanges may be found on these links: Edge  
and for Robie Cafe Pacific  and Cafe Pacific.

Robie is also  the author of the book Mekim Nius: South Pacific media, politics and education (USP Book Centre, 2004) which gives a history of journalism education in the Pacific, especially Fiji, and the impact of politics and political intrigue.    He was the head of journalism at the University of Papua New Guinea and the the University of the South Pacific (Fiji) for a decade.

This item is for your information only and does not invite further comment.

Comments

Dictatorship vs Democracy said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Crosbie Walsh said…
The above comment was deleted because it referred to the Reputable-disreputable journalism issue. Both journalist have had their say and, as stated in the item, further comment is not invited.
The real truth said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joe said…
Can someone explain the meaning of the word "non-negotiable" to Waqairatu. There really is no point in flogging a dead horse. If Waqairatu wants a Christian state, the best thing for him to do would be to get 50%+1 signatures from 18+ citizens. There is no point in giving sermons which is political in nature, for a minister of a religion, unsubstantiated. It is perfectly normal for people to vent their anger on blogs, in churches, social gatherings etc., but that does not change facts. The reality is that there has been a 180degree turn for the better. If you are of the opinion that the military did this to grab power, you need to wake up to yourself. Rev Waqairatu, if you are serious about the well being of your people and your country, think of something positive. It will make jack shit difference to have a Christian state.
Joe said…
Maciu Navakasuasua, you will be safe in the new Fiji. Your co-conspirator Waqabaca was an FLP candidate in the last election. I am not surprised that a world democratic icon, Australia, has given you refuge for so long, Kaitani and Brij Lal live here too. Musharraf, the Pakistani coup monger was given a red carpet welcome when he visited Australia. Granted that you did a wrong thing in the coup of 2000, but knowing the facts about chaudhary now, you did the most honourable thing for Fiji and its people.
Anonymous said…
The problem is that the church wants to be king maker and the final law!! Unfortunately that time has passed a long time ago. As for the elites hiding behind the church is no longer an option. Christian state OK but how about all Christians out of politics if you want a christian state. You can not have it both ways. Suggest that the church stays away from politics. The church needs to really understand what the bible is about. The crusades of the past are history. It will not happen again!!
Australiadeport dole bludger/treasonist Kaitani said…
Australia safe haven for dole bludger Kaitani making easy living off Australian taxpayers

Like Navakasusua, Kaitani is safe in Fiji, and Australia should deport him.
Kaitani supported 2000 coup and incited violence. He made Fiji unsafe for others.
How ironical he should claim Fiji is unsafe, and seek asylum under this pretext.
Why are Australian taxpayers money being wasted on this criminal coup supporter?
It's about time Australian taxpayers lunched a movement to get him and other opportunists out.
Australia should not become haven for dole bludgers from Fiji.
These failed politicians and coupists in Australia because they are unemployable in Fiji.
They making easy living off Australian government and taxpayers.
Just like bakewa or sucker fish.

Anonymous said…
Croz,

If a section of the methodist church is promoting/supporting Frank for elections beyond 2014 then they should be quickly stomped on by the full might of the military. I remember Frank making it very clear the churches role was spititual not political and that he would tolerate anything else. Or is he OK with the church being political if it supporting him and his future election ? Lets see if he bans these methodists from meeting.

Anonymous said…
At last you (Croz) admit the real reason Fr Barr almost got kicked out. Frank got upset and ordered it. Thats how he operates. Its how the military in Fiji operates and it says a lot about how government currently operates.
A Bleak future for Fiji said…
Fiji faces a bleak future indeed unless the Fiji military is cleaned up, gets proper professional leadership of people with integrity and immediately takes steps to obtain a balanced racial mix.
Patriot said…
Haha.. Funny had the previous political parties and chiefs worked together we would not be in situation in the first place. The future is bleak for the elites and the old political links! Good bye old influencs.. I am only interested in a new future!! No way will I accept the past crap! Balanced racial mix...never going to happen because Rambo Rabuka messed it up a long time ago.
wash my feet said…
Well said 'patriot'. Now get back to washing bainimarama's feet.
Anonymous said…
To 'wash my feet':

And you get back to washing Speight's feet, or Qarase's, if the qaranivalu's chiefly feet, that of the 'stately' and 'queenly' Temumu Kepa?

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