News, Thoughts, Appeals and a Congratulations at the End of October


Quid pro quo
 The PM's gaffe has titillated the news waves. He said he saw no reason to give development priority to the Northern division where so many people had voted for SODELPA.

I can understand how he feels. Government has poured development money into the Northern Division at a level not matched by previous governments. But no one, and certainly no prime minister,  should say this sort of thing.

But that, unfortunately, is the PM's style. Fortunately, his bark is far worse than his bite and his advisers will ensure that all development initiatives are fairly distributed irrespective of how people in an area have voted.

The UN Human Rights Council 
The review of Fiji's standing by the UN Human Rights Council has produced two critical statements, the first by Media Development  Authority  Chairman  Ashwin Raj that accused international media of bias in reporting the Fiji elections; the second by Reporters Sans Frontières and the Pacific Media Centre that called for the repeal of the Media Decree and introduction of a Freedom of Information law.  My view has always been that no one should demand rights if they are not also willing to assume the reponsibilities that come with these rights.  The Raj statement makes no reference to rights and the journlists' statement no reference to responsibilities.  They  condemned what they called the "blackout" on reporting in the 48 hours before the election and the lifting of travel bans on journalists like Michael Field.

I have no problem with either of these issues. It is not unusual to prevent  politicking in periods close to an election day and I doubt their argument that an open media would have cut accusations or instances of fraud. I'm happy with the international observers view that the elections met  all reasonable standards and that their was no evidence whatsoever of fraud.

And I most certainly would not allow Michael Field to re-enter Fiji until the shows himself capable of writing reasonably objective news items, or at least being able to clearly state whether he is writing news or opinion, not his usual unstated mix of both.

Fiji and the Pacific Island Forum
A not dissimilar news item was Fiji's "up you" response to the Pacific islands Forum's invitation to resume its membership. Fiji said it was not interested as long as Australia and New Zealand remained  members. Fiji said that their role as aid donors gave them too much influence on the opinions and votes of other members.

I would expect Fiji's position to change over time and for it to resume membership, but the two big brothers need very seriously to consider Fiji's objections. With the emergence of the Pacific Island Development Forum and Fiji's Look North policy which has seen it establish diplomatic relations with a large number of countries, Fiji is unlikely to respond favourably to what it may see as bullying tactics. And if other Pacific nations follow Fiji's example, Australia and New Zealand will have even more to think about.

Who really leads SODELPA?
A Fiji Sun article raised the question of who really leads SODELPA, suggesting that Ratu Naiqama and not Ro Teimumu was the real leader. The party rigorously denied this but I have no doubt that Ratu Naiqama will play a major role in the choice of policies and tactics.

Parliamentary exchanges have unfortunately shown no signs of improvement but it is early days yet, once the shouting is over and they get down to work one hopes that all parties will place Fiji's needs, and not their party's needs, first. I looked to intelligent, reasoned people such as Aiyaz Sayed- Khaiyum and Dr Biman Prasad to lead by example and advise their more fiery colleagues to desist from knee-jerk reactions.  The speaker's rulings will also play an important part in maintaining the dignity of Parliament.

Quo Vadis?
I have been wondering for some time whether to continue to publish this blog.  To a large extent, it has achieved its purpose. A democratic, non racist government has been elected in Fiji, the media and other commentators, in Fiji and abroad, are providing more evenhanded news and critical analysis. This is reflected in the falling number  of people reading the blog. Once 10,000 or more people visited the blog weekly; now numbers have dropped to between one and 2000 —sometimes with more visitors from the Ukraine from Fiji!

The blog has now been running for over eight years, typically with between three and five postings a week. I think the need for news from blogs has passed but they can still still serve a useful purpose with articles based on single issues and scope for readers comments. Something like the comments made by Taxi Driver and others on  the postings asking what the government and opposition should do.  I would do the like two or three people to share the responsibility of continued publishing along these lines. Please send me an email croz.walsh@xtra.co.nz if you are interested. It need not to be a lifelong commitment. Short term or a rolling involvements would also be appreciated.  I would envisage one major posting a week together with Allen Lockington's  weekly column.

Update of my media survey
Some 117 people completed my survey questionnaire which I am now in the process of analysing. I hope to get the article to Steve towards the end of November at which time I will publish a brief summary of conclusions on the blog. Vinaka Vakalevu to all you participated.

A political geography of the election results
I'm hoping also to write a political geography of the elections which will show the locations from where the parties, and where local and the independent candidates, drew their most support. For this I need to be able to map the location of polling stations but so far the electoral office has not replied to my request for help.  If anyone has maps of the polling stations, perhaps they could photograph the maps and email them to me. Similarly, if anyone can explain the numbers allocated to polling stations, please let me know.

Congratulations, Steve
I know that readers who know him would wish to join me in congratulating Dr Steven Ratuva on his appointment as Professor of Sociology and Director of the prestigious Macmillan Brown Centre at the University of Canterbury.

My S.O.S. to you
So, I am asking to your help in the continuance and ideas on the future direction of the blog, and for your help in locating the election polling stations. Please do not be bashful in coming forward.

 -- Croz




Comments

Jim Anthony said…
Whether this blog survives or not is neither here nor there. If it had a purpose then that purpose has, apparently, been served. Bottom line, I really don't care either way.
Fiji should and must stand its ground regarding membership in the Forum. Australia and New Zealand have, and continue to,act as imperial powers, thinking mainly of their hegemonic interests in the region. The Pacific ocean does not belong to either Australia or New Zealand, or to Australia and New Zealand. The Pacific ocean is neither Australia nor New Zealand's 'arc of vulnerability'. That kind of Monroe Doctrine thinking ought to be abandoned by both Australia and New Zealand and their other ANZUS partner. There is no reason whatsoever that Fiji should trust with Australia or New Zealand. Foreign policy and diplomacy are not about trust; they are about protecting interests. Fiji must protect and maximize its interests. Looking North has so far, on balance, served Fiji well. That emphasis should continue.

Your 'quid pro quo' section: The PM's style is far from 'unfortunate.' I happen to like his style. In real life politics to the victors go the spoils. You don't vote for me, go get your resources from somewhere else. I think that's fair enough. Mr. Walsh, you should stop practicing the slimy art of being a missionary--seeking to impose your values on 'other people.' Every once in a while your dark side becomes apparent--and, quite frankly, it is embarrassing.


On the matter of changing media policy: I have a different view. Continued carefully calibrated control is still necessary. People like Michael Field should continue to be kept out. What claim to any kind of fame does Michael Field have? He's a minor wart on the arse of history. Let him be where he is. So, Croz, I agree with you on Michael Field. My guess is that people like Field never change; they're too stuck in their ways, too stupid, And, as you know, you cannot fix stupid..

People like Brij Lal should also continue to be kept out. In my view Brij is "a man for all seasons with a face for every occasion". He has shot his wad. I have heard it said that Brij Lal has been playing footsie with Australian Intelligence (surely an oxymoron) operatives, some working under cover in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs.

Fiji should strengthen and further modernize its army and build a military think tank to train and educate its best and brightest. Fiji should expend resource--from foreign or domestic sources--to expand its Intelligence capabilities, both human and technological. China and India can help and should be asked to do so. There are other alternatives.

Nobody really cares who leads SODELPA except, perhaps, the SODELPA hierarchy. What the new government should do is to keep a close eye on where SODELPA's money comes from. There are right wing money fronts in Australia and New Zealand which will try to funnel money to local organizations in Fiji to bolster their capacity to make life difficult for the new FF government and to sow the seeds of discord and instability. in the country. It is the job of domestic Intelligence services to keep a wary eye on this form of foreign interference in Fiji's domestic affairs.

As for the level and quality of Parliamentary debate, knowing Fiji as well as I do, I venture this opinion: The level and quality of Parliamentary debate will remain low, boring, shallow and simplistic. The level and quality of members of Parliament, on average, will remain fairly mediocre as, broadly speaking, the level and quality are now.

Even if the Croz Walsh blog closes its doors, life in Fiji will go on. the more realistic people among us just hope that the 'ups' will, in the general wash, exceed the downs. But you never know. Strange things happen in history -- all the time.
Dhalow said…
Croz, Jim just submitted his cv
Jaati Bhai said…
Exactly my thoughts.

Methinks this guy is looking for a job from the new government
%$#@! said…
I expect as usual , your advise to the PM will be ignored, 'his advisers will ensure that all development initiatives are fairly distributed irrespective of how people in an area have voted' and you know this how ?? More explanations and interpretations of what the thug REALLY means. How many more years, (given he has already had eight years) will it take for him to think before he speaks or let someone who is educated, do it for him? Always ready with an excuse eh croz. Lets remember this plonker was the best Fiji has to offer the globe.
lusita& said…
Oh but Croz you have declared your own luv and bias for the regime so many, many times.
74er said…
Jim ?? bit of a rant really. Looking North has so far, on balance, served Fiji well.wat garbage!!! eight years of India and China helping???!! Fiji still goes cap in hand to big brothers in the region, EU, US, looking for help and handouts. I don't see India or China rushing in to help. Fiji talks the talk but knows that China doesn't do anything without a very clear agenda and they could care less about fijians democracy, living conditions, trade etc actually.
junta idiots supporters club said…
Does the junta government need a toilet cleaner?
Taxpayer said…
Jim Anthony has provided some thoughtful comments in the past. But "You don't vote for me, go get your resources from somewhere else. I think that's fair enough" is a stupid remark. From where do you think government get its income? Without the taxpayer 'government' is akin to a homeless bankrupt.

The mistaken idea that its 'fair' to withhold capital development from an area (and remember that a significant majority of tax revenue raised just goes to paying for government itself, not on capital works) is not only wrong headed, but taken to the next level (ie collection of local tax, by local tax officials and disbursed directly into the local community) could lead to a balkanisation of Fiji.

Bainimarama may have perceived not being voted for as a slight. So be it. His response should have been far more thoughtful and measured if he wishes to be taken seriously as the Prime Minister.

Taxpayer
Taxpayer said…
The level of close mindedness on display in this particular posting of Jim Anthony is strange.
'Continued carefully calibrated control [of the media] is still necessary'
'Michael Field should continue to be kept out'
'Brij Lal should also continue to be kept out'
Evidently he doesn't trust himself to read alternative views expressed in the media and prefers to cede the responsibility of determining what is acceptable to someone else. Who does he have in mind to look after our best mental interests? Obviously we can't be too careful about our thoughts. Jim evidently feels they're dangerous and require constant supervision by others.

It's ironic that he should castigate Crosbie for 'seeking to impose [his] values on other people' when, by advocating the stifling of dissenting voices, this is precisely what he's trying to do himself.

I suspect he, like Crosbie, considers himself a cut above the common herd. An elite thinker capable of a far broader perspective than the common hoi polloi that make up the rest of the voting public.

Think again.

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