(o+) Nick Naidu and Simon Jackson on the Spectrum Saga


Radio Australia's Bruce Hill interviews Nick Naidu (NZ Coalition for Democracy in Fiji) and Simon Jackson (Head of Streamcom whose report led to the National Spectrum Decree.) Naidu says outsiders should do nothing to help the Fiji Government. Jackson thinks the Government is on the right track with the Decree. November 25th. 2:00 EST.  Full report

Some extracts below:

NAIDU: ... the timing [of the Spectrum Decree] is quite interesting, it's a time when shortly after  the media has been censored [actually it was in April] and it appears that the censorship hasn't worked as well as the regime most probably wanted it. So could this be a way to further control or muzzle those organisations or media outlets that were not playing ball with the regime.

It's very sad that while the people of Fiji the average person is suffering, and poverty is getting out of control, unemployment at its highest level, the economy is suffering. While all that is going on we have New Zealand and Australia as governments are standing up and imposing sanctions but at the same time a lot in the private and education sector, professional areas have decided to go and support this illegal regime with no concern ethically for what they're doing and the harm that they're doing to Fiji as a nation and its people by indirectly giving the regime a stamp of approval.

HILL: But Simon Jackson ... says such criticisms are wide of the mark. He says Fiji's interim government is simply trying to clean up the allocation of frequencies after years of neglect, and there were no political motivations involved.

JACKSON: I agree that there should be an ethical basis to the work you do for anyone  ...we would not have undertaken this work if we believed that there was any ill intent. In actual fact what we believe is happening is that the Fijian government currently is trying to address years of neglect and mismanagement and actually corruption, we've found evidence of that in the way that the radio spectrum has been managed in Fiji. So we tender to do some work to actually come up with a strategy for reorganising their broadcast band and I think you can see from the reaction of people like CSL, who have over 60 per cent of the market in Fiji radio, commercial radio, and people like My Television; these are the ones who if the government actually had some nefarious intent, these are the ones who would be concerned. And they're not saying that, what they're saying is look, this is good, there's been a problem here that needs to be sorted out. 

Also the fact that the Fijian government is involving the ITU, which is the International Telecommunications Union, they're actually an arm of the UN. So it's not like this is something where somebody has decided let's find a cunning way to take frequencies away from people, because to be honest if indeed they were acting as an evil dictatorship they could do that without having to go to this extreme couldn't they? They're doing a lot of work and doing it in the right way for somebody who's trying to do something underhand.

HILL: How did your company feel about doing business with the Fiji regime?

JACKSON: ... we did some research first, ... we took some time to talk to people in the Fijian community here in New Zealand, and look honestly it was very confusing. I found conversations that we were having with people on the street and people in New Zealand, like the first time that we approached somebody, we said oh look isn't it terrible what's going on in Fiji? And this guy who was an ethnic Fijian came and said no, it was great, and that kind of really confused us. But we have found more people supporting the changes if you like, plenty of people who may not support the regime, actually may not support the people doing the reforms, but it's really hard to find somebody who doesn't actually agree with the intent.

HILL: But Nick Naidu thinks there's a wider principle at stake.

NAIDU: ...professional organisations that these individuals or companies belong to should speak out. The governments concerned should support their sanctions by also making it clear to the private sector what their views are in terms of doing business as usual with Fiji ...  they should reprimand those members for taking part and propping up illegal regimes like in Fiji.

HILL: But that characterisation ... is disputed by Simon Jackson. He says corruption is no longer part of doing business in Fiji and that's a positive development.

: When we were doing this work we had people coming to us and saying what did it cost you? People who had been doing business in Fiji for a long time, and we were saying what do you mean? And they said well how much did you have to pay to get the contract? And it appears that the normal operating procedure in Fiji has been that if you pay good money for a contract it would be rude to expect you to actually do the work. So we think, we didn't really notice any of that at all, but people we talked to they were sort of disbelieving that that's actually the way that things are happening at the moment ...

We have in the course of doing this project spent some time on the ground. The stories about, we never saw a soldier, we never saw any evidence of the kind of behaviour which is described as being sort of everyday activity in Fiji. The one thing I came away from from actually meeting people in government there was that these people are not politicians, they make, they seem to have almost no media nous, they call a spade a spade. But what their intentions are seem to be really I guess noble.


Anonymous said…
Corruption in earlier allocations, seems to be a major reason for the clamour from the Australian Foreign Minister and Australian Broadcast Corp.

What else lies beneath these allegations- more underhanded practices that have been cordoned by the greased palms?
Anonymous said…
As someone who directly works in the ICT industry in Fiji, what the current government is doing is actually the right thing. For years there's been neglect and what is being done is simply the right way to go.

Every other thing that people like Nick Naidu are trying to say is simply to attract attention to themselves.