Political Round Up for the First Week in May
Thank goodness. There's some new news this week. But first the old news:
|FLP, NFP, PDP, SODELPA|
I've no doubt there will soon be complaints about the announcement of "pre-voting" by voters in remote areas. It was originally announced that voting would be a one day affair. The difficulty of collecting ballot papers from islands that can only be accessed at high tide seems to have been overlooked.
Some guilty forever; others not guilty at all
I would have thought Beddoes and the SODELPA leaders would have asked themselves what they were doing during the coups of 1987 and 2000. I cannot recall any ONE of them condemning these coups, and Rabuka's coup in particular was all but officially endorsed by the Great Council of Chiefs and the leaders of the Methodist Church. How come they can be forgiven when Rabuka is not? Mistaken, Rabuka might have been, but at least he had the guts to stand up and act on what he then believed in, and the courage later to admit he was wrong.
PIDF in; PIF still outThe Pacific Islands Development Forum headquarters was opened in Suva during the week. The PM used the opportunity to highlight how it differs from the Pacific Islands Forum from which Fiji was suspended on the initiative of Australia and NZ. The PIDF comprises a mix of government, civil society and business leaders. The PIF comprises governments and is dominated by Australia and NZ. The PM said Fiji will be in "no hurry" to re-join PIF unless it is "reconstituted".
NZ Foreign Minister Murray McCully says he is asking the Fiji government to readmit NZ journalists Michael Field and Barbara Dreaver who were blacklisted in in 2007 and 2008 for their biased and inaccurate reporting.
"We've made it clear," says McCully, "that the New Zealand public will be deeply interested in these (election) issues. It's not going to be particularly helpful to have an election campaign take place with New Zealand journalists banned from being present. The Attorney-General and I had quite a constructive dialogue on that topic and I made it clear that if I need to I'll make representations on behalf of New Zealand journalists."
I wish the Minister was correct in describing the NZ public's level of interest in Fiji politics. Unfortunately, Fiji is rarely mentioned and when it is, it is by reporters as biased as Field. My own excursion into broadcasting, on RNZ's Nights with Bryan Crump, was cut short on the grounds that it did not fit the programme format.
Readers will recall that Michael Field's distortions were a major reason for starting this blog, and that earlier postings identified some of them. The reporting of a so-called "cholera epidemic" as if it threatened Fiji's major tourism areas is a case in point.This was not a mistake. Field certainly knew where the places were. He chose to submit an inaccurate report, and in my book that constitutes bias. Dreaver used a one year old report of an outbreak in Vanua Levu, claiming it was current.
Minister McCully may have forgotten that the NZ Broadcasting Authority found Field guilty of inaccurate reporting on Fiji. It did not find what he has written as lacking "balance" (his use of terms such as dragooning, kangaroo court and Star Chamber is apparently acceptable) but his reporting then and since has only reported negatively on the Bainimarama government. Bias is evident not just in what one writes and the choice of words, but also in what one chooses not to write.
My advice to Minister McCully would be to ask that NZ journalists other than Field and Dreaver be admitted. Field and Dreaver are much too discredited.
Anthony resigns. Stakes his future to PDP
The first item of breaking news today was that unionist Felix Anthony had stood down as General Secretary of the FTUC and the Fiji Sugar and General Workers Union because he wants to be elected as the leader of the People's Democratic Party at Saturday's conference in Lautoka. The Razor poll indicates that the PDP is the preferred political party of about 9% of those polled.
Far more important, because it may yet have a bearing on Mahendra Chaudhry's chance to stand in the elections, was the High Court ruling announced by Justice Paul Madigan mid afternoon on Friday. Chaudhry was ordered to pay $2 million by June 30 or face a sentence of 15 months imprisonment, with no parole for 12 months and ordered to comply with the Exchange Control Act by repatriate his funds to a local dealer by July 31. He is also barred from travelling overseas until his fine is paid or sentence is served.
Chaudhry was convicted early last month on three counts of violating the Exchange Control Act with respect to $A1.5 million he had invested offshore without the knowledge and approval of local authorities. Reacting after the decision, Chaudhry told FijiLive he was feeling relieved as the case had been ongoing for four years. "I am relieved but I cannot say that this is the end of my political career."
He said his lawyers will need to study the sentencing. More to follow........ Fijilive
Fiji Broadcasting reports that Justice Madigan "ruled that Chaudhry’s conviction will remain which rules him out of contesting the general election."
NEW GOVERNMENT PUBLICATIONS
Fiji Focus newspaper publication (Issue 7) published on Sunday April 27th, 2014 is now online and can be accessed on the following link: http://www.fiji.gov.fj/Media-Center/Fiji-Focus.aspx
Also, the latest NODA VITI (Issue 4) is now online as well and can be accessed on the following link: http://www.fiji.gov.fj/Media-Center/NODA-VITI.asp