(o+) Oz NZ-Fiji Relations, Blog Blocks, Anti-Govt Blogs

What a weekend!

Fiji lost to Scotland, and I've spent too much of the weekend, with help from friends in Fiji, trying to find out why blog links to Fiji were down again.  More on this below.

One interesting development over the past few days had been the mounting calls for the NZ and Aust.Governments to take a re-look at relations with Fiji. Nik Naidu of the Auckland-based Coalition for Democracy in Fiji, for one thinks their attempts to "steer Fiji more quickly towards democracy isn’t working.” He says the Fiji Government is now even more entrenched, and he can't understand why ANZ won't engage directly with Bainimarama. They "must take an unusual approach to the situation with Fiji for the sake of its people," he said.

The Fiji New Zealand Business Council has taken a similar line.It says "there comes a point when countries need to be co-operating to boost trade and forestall the impacts of the global recession." The Council called on NZ to drop its travel ban on Fiji "as a demonstration of goodwill."

Dr Rod Alley of the NZ Centre for Strategic Studies, however, said "there's no point  [of dealing directly with Bainimarama]... the man’s conduct lately has been pretty obdurate and these options of somehow getting a line to Bainimarama are going to take patience and I’m afraid some time.” [I know Rod from way back. Much of what he writes on many topics makes sense, but I don't know how a political scientist can comment on a situation as complex as Fiji's with so little direct experience of the country. And I don't know why the NZ media keeps seeking comment from similar experts.]

To cap it off, tonight's TV1 Sunday programme Discussion with a Dictator (sic!) interviewed Bainimarama who, in explanation of the HighCom expulsions, said "We wanted to tell NZ we can't stand any more bullying." Before you listen to the full interview (see below), be warned you'll hear the same old questions, see the same old flashbacks, and once again hear of the plight of Barbara Dreaver (The interviewer said she can't visit her family in Fiji. Bainimarama replied that many of his people had similar difficulties visiting NZ!) and Netani Rika who has hidden "4,200 censored news items" for later use. The positives mentioned? Subsidized school lunches and free buses. But they never really got around to talking about Bainimarama's plans for the future -- which Bainimarama had been told the interview was supposed to be about.

Sunday: Discourse with a dictator - Part 1 (8:15)

Sunday: Discourse with a dictator - Part 2 (7:28)

Blocked Blogs
The recent event that most affected me was the (hopefully temporary) blocking by Fiji internet service providers (Fintel, Kidanet, et al.) of all blog sites with blogspot and wordpress addresses. I am informed Government instructed the blocking, but this is denied by some readers.

Earlier in the week I added links to anti-government blogs and then removed them. The first act was a flamboyant display of democracy intended to encourage a reciprocal display by these blogs, almost all of which only provide links to other anti-government blogs.  Then events brought me back to earth. The second act was because, after reading some of their recent postings and comments -- and having their advocacy of violence pointed out to me by a comment on the posting An Appeal for Your Help (S.O.S.) -- I considered it inappropriate to provide access to what could be their very dangerous advocacy. These people denounce Bainimarama's "overthrow of the rule of law" and then curiously advocate, bluntly and by interference, his murder?

I found readers' comments on the S.O.S. post (currently 22) on the blocking and blogsites most interesting and I think you will, too. And while you're looking, please help me by answering the four S.O.S. questions that were the purpose of this posting -- until it was so neatly hijacked for a higher cause.  You may do so either by adding a comment to the post or by emailing me croz.walsh@xtra.co.nz

The weekend was made worse by the continuing run of appalling weather. I’m not sure who we can blame.


Anonymous said…
The comment made by Dr Robert Alley is extraordinary to my way of thinking. If you work for a Centre of Strategic Studies (I and I have known people who did in other countries) your professional obligation is to so thoroughly inform yourself, directly or through others who speak the vernacular), that you have a firm handle on "obdurate leaders", notwithstanding any difficulty. Is this not the lesson we learned from 9/11 attacks on New York City and the Pentagon? My then acquaintance told me it was and that he felt they had failed their country: they could not assure its safety from operatives they did not fully understand.
Anonymous said…
Netani Rika is a bloody idiot telling the world he has 4,200 stories stored up to release when media restrictions are lifted. Nothing could be more designed to ensure the clampdown stays to the detriment of Fiji as a whole. This guy sorely needs to be brought into line by his editorial masters in Sydney. Rika has presided over the demise of a once commendable paper and his undergraduate attitude shows the folly of News Limited entrusting the FT to a politically motivated local. Bring in a real editor who understands the restraint needed at the present time and send this menace to some Murdoch outpost like Tasmania. Anywhere but Fiji.
Anonymous said…
Absolutely agree with the last post. In common with his associates present and past, he seems to think that this is all a 'Great Game'. People's lives and livelihoods have for years depended upon this man and his tricks and sleight of hand. Enough is enough.
Anonymous said…
Frank badly needs some decent PR advice judging from the TVNZ interview. He ought to know from previous experience that Janet MacIntyre was always going to give him a hard time. So perhaps he should never have agreed to do the interview. But equally, having decided to do it, he should have presented himself as the picture of sweet reason rather than the petulant, irritable figure that appears here. What else is TVNZ going to do but reflect all the woeful misconceptions of NZ Inc that have marked their response to his coup right from the start.

Not a single reference to racial equality as the leitmotif of Frank's agenda, just more bleating about "democracy". What democracy, Janet? The kind that makes second class citizens of everyone except the indigenous elite? Is that what you want in Fiji? You could have at least given it a throwaway mention.

And God save us from that dreadful harridan, Barbara Dreaver. So she's from Kiribati? So what? Is this the best TVNZ can do in the way of a Pacific correspondent? Woeful. Anyone would think she was Mother Teresa the way Janet droned on and on about the supposed injustice of her exclusion from Fiji. None of the audience gives a toss.

And bloody Netani Rika. "I'm moved by the dedication of my journalists". Give us a break. Yeah we're moved too... in the bowel department. Netani, the "truth" - as you so self righteously styled it - is that you've deliberately and willfully chosen to ignore a host of stories that you should have reported. And the proof of that is that your competitors did even under the same restrictions. Censorship, my arse.

Anway, more of the same from the same tired, old crowd in Suva, lapped up with alacrity by their credulous interlocutors from the land of the long drawn out yawn. I think the biggest threat to Fiji isn't Frank but those sausages being dished out to the kids under his school lunch plan. What's wrong with roti parcels or palusami?
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Anonymous said…
Well, Croz, your influence extends to some very unusual quarters.

That last post seems to be from a London house of ill repute. How gratifying that they're so keenly interested in events in Fiji.

The British satirical magazine, Private Eye, used to talk about "Ugandan discussions" when referring to illicit relations of the kind offered by "Overnight Escorts".

"Fijian discussions" sounds a lot more exotic by comparison, don't you think?
Croz Walsh said…
@ 123

At long last, something to laugh about!
Anonymous said…
The next thing for Netani Rika is the eventual closing down of the Fiji Times and him thrown into exile in his home island in Lau just like his Messiah Qarase.