Monday, November 30, 2009
Looking Back: Speight’s psychological warfare
"Every day, the rumours were deliberately planted by Speight’s psychological warfare machine, targeted at the military as well as civilians, as a means of inciting violence, psychological control and inducing submission. These were reinforced by Speight’s daily interviews, news of burning, violence and theft and reporting of happenings in Parliament where the hostages (members of the ruling party) were still being held. The Fijian radio stations repeatedly played nationalistic speeches by nationalist leaders and sermons by Methodist church leaders ...."
What a funny Commonwealth we live in
The soon-to-be-announded sinister Crimes Decree
Victims of Internet crimes committed in Fiji now have access to legal resources with the institution of a new Decree introducing new charges. Full story.Ratu Epeli comments on its significance for human trafficking. There's no doubt this new decree will soon be labelled sinister.
The Sydney Morning Herald ...
"Fiji's Squatter Settlements" Kate Geraghty
"An unholy alliance of Church and State", Paul McGeough
And for good measure, in Green Left, hear what Brij Lal has to say about the military being intent on holding on to power.
Why don't you give Frank a ring?
I wonder how many other Prime Ministers offer this service. Any complaints about the civil service, just text message Frank on your cellphone. The number's 01. One of two specially assigned officers will reply, and often Frank will attend to it himself. Come on Kevin and John, you're not going to let a dictator beat you at this. Full story.
I've heard someting about $2 million the Fiji Electricity Authority had to pay Niranjans for four defunct HIAB Trucks. If true, is it corruption, incompetence, or what? And why has Government said nothing?
In delivering the 2010 Budget for Fiji, Bainimarama said the primary focus of his government shall be on the economy for the next three years.
He said he has commenced the process to hold a Dialogue Forum from February 2010 consisting of people who are positive, interested and forward looking in realizing the true potential of this Pacific island nation.
'The Dialogue process will not, however, deter the government's focus on the economy."
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in www.connectme.com.fj/news/opinion. I thank Allen and Connect for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.
But can the entourage tour Lautoka - on foot. That is how you will get to meet the people, Sir. Please don't just meet the tree top people. We at the grass roots would love to meet you also.
Likewise all City Fathers around Fiji should take time out from their busy schedule and take long walks to meet the citizens.
They could make it a 30 minute work like the AD on TV says, get fit and meet the people at the same time. Take different routes every so often and by the end of the year you will have met every almost everyone.
P.S. Isa, our President did come to the West, but he only came as far as . well, we do hope you will come to Lautoka one day Sir.
Not to worry, we in Waiyavi still fancy a good old talanoa session with you. But if pressing issues cannot bring you to us just yet, then we will wait for as long as possible. In the mean time I will use that new grog cloth and buy a new one when do you come.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
This letter from a Friend
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
SEE 'SPECTRUM SAGA' BELOW FOR UPDATES SINCE MONDAY.
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:
(o+) Snippets: IMF, Land Reform, Labasa's New Health Unit, Violence against Women, Constitution Retentions, Corruption Suspicions
WHEN SOMEONE SAYS SOMETHING NEW.
AFTER TWO WEEK OF CONSULTATIONS IN FIJI,the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has advised Government that rushed civil service reforms could result in the loss of experienced manpower. The retirement age policy that saw 2,044 civil servants go home earlier this year was part of the Civil Service Reform. The IMF also advised Government to stop borrowing, and reduce its reliance on the Fiji National Provident Fund as a source of finance. Full story.
WORK ON A LAND DATABANK has started at the Ministry of Lands and Minerals, working closely with the Native Land Trust Board. The work is part of the Ministry's 2010 - 2014 Strategic Planlaunched in Suva on Tuesday. Outcomes will assist land reform aimed at better land use and accessibility, needed to save the sugar industry and open more opportunities for tourism and agriculture. The reforms, part of the 2010-2014 Stategic Plan, will benefit landowners financially and not affect their ownership. The Plan was undertaken following community-wide consultations. Government says Fiji also needs the reforms so that State lands, minerals and groundwater resources are utilised and developed to provide better returns to the country's economy. Full story.
THE KOREAN-FUNDED ACCIDENT AND EMERGENCY UNIT IN LABASA, the main town in Fiji's second largest island, is the largest in the country. The Unit cost $2.5m. Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma said the project was to ensure people in the North received the best health care."With the completion of these new units, we are determined to make quality health services more accessible to our people." Full story.
FIJI'S WOMEN'S RIGHTS MOVEMENT is organizing 16 days of activism starting Wednesday. November 29th is International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, and December 1st World AIDS Day. Full story.
PARTS OF 1997 CONSTITUTION WILL BE RETAINED. Listen here to Radio Australia's interview with Attorney-GeneralAiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. PM Bainimarama had earlier informed visiting EU officials that clauses on the rule of law, the judiciary, human rights and democratic principles will be re-authorised by presidential decree. The main element to be changed is the race-based electoral system.There never was any intention of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater."
MIDDLE EAST RECRUITER QUESTIONED. Timoci Lolohea, head of the Meridian Services Company, has again been taken in for questioning by Police following fresh complaints that he has received money in exchange for promises of jobs in the Middle East. It is suspected he was at the centre of a scam where more than 20,000 people allegedly paid a total of more than $3 million after being promised jobs in Kuwait. Full story.
Dave Aidney, Chairman of Transparency International Fiji, said he is disappointed but Government is making progress. A major problem is finding good prosecution lawyers as some of those charged are hiring Queens Counsels and are being let off on technicalities. Fiji is also updating many of its integrated Acts in an effort to reduce corruption. Attorney General and Minister for Anti-Corruption Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum confirmed no approaches were made to his office by Transparency International when the annual survey of the 180 countries was conducted. Full story.
Former Post Fiji Top Guns Go on Trial
Radio Fiji announces the trial on corruption charges of two former Post Fiji executives. Full story.
Here's the story. Attorney-General Sayed-Khaiyum's family investment company has sold a "personal property, including a large residential block of prime land in the heart of Suva city to business tycoon Tappoo Group of Companies...The price remains undisclosed [but] Coupfourpointfive has established that it was sold at an inflated price, in return for concessions and benefits from Sayed-Khaiyum who is also tourism minister."
Come on. Where's the "clear" conflict of interest? Why should the price be disclosed? How did your informant know an "undisclosed" price was "inflated"? Where was he sitting when he heard Khaiyum and Tappoo discuss "concessions and benefits"? You do nothing for your cause by publishing weak stories like this, based presumably on rumour, speculation and prior bias, and nothing for your blog's credibility.
Monday, November 23, 2009
At noon Australian EST The Rupert Murdoch-owned The Australian publishes Rowan Callick's "Fiji Strips Licences from Broadcasters." Callick repeats the negatives mentioned above, cites Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith repeating the same negatives: the Attorney-General's "absolute power" (Khaiyum is actually the Minister responsible); no appeal to courts; "effectively seizing" the licences; no compensation; five years jail; FBCL will gain at expense of FijiTV -- that is owned by Yasana Holdings that "represents the 14 ethnic Fijian provinces" (sic!)
At 3:45pm Melbourne's HeraldSun (another Murdock paper) reports Smith saying it's a "very bad sgn"; Khaiyum can strip broadcasters licences "at whim," and he'll raise the new Fiji situation at the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers' meeting in Trinidad on Tuesday.
At 7:38pm NZ's Pacific Scoop publishes The Australian story.
At 9:16pm RadioNZ does the same.
Sunday 22nd (but Saturday 21 in the USA). At 7:19am FijiToday publishes "Fiji Radio Spectrum Nationalized" and quotes from The Australian.
Sunday 22nd (in Fiji, Australia and NZ).
At 6:31am RadioNZ cites The Australian and Smith's remarks.
At 10:45am Fiji-based blog FijiToday reports RadioNZ's "Clampdown" item.
At 12:48pm Coupfourpointfive copies and publishes Callick's The Australan article via AAP.
At 2:30pm RadioNZ reported "NZ 'Disturbed' at Reports of Fiji Media Clampdown". The item, circulated by PacificMediaWatch, reported the NZ Government was "disappointed" with the "revocation" of broadcastng licences; quoted Smith's earlier remarks; said that Fiji media had to "justify" their airwave use; quoted Khaiyum ("It's to plan a future better use.."); cited Foreign Minister McCully spokesman ("it's determined to limit any public criticism"); said Media Freedom Committee spokesman Tim Pankhurst wanted more pressure on Fiji; to conclude with Australian media "Fiji's TV and radio broadcast this weekend on a temporary basis." [As if they were all to be put off air any minute.]
At 4:34pm NewsTalkZB reported McCully as disappointed and saying Khaiyum's explanation "doesn't wash."
PacificMediaWatch published Saturday's HeraldSun report.
FijiSun on-line publishes Khaiyum's "Get Your Facts Right" item.
Khaiyum said ANZ were making "false allegations and misleding comments" and urged them to read the Decree. He said spectrum allocations will follow a tender process that will "complement Government's objective of transparency and accountability and minimize corruption."
RadioNZ at 6:59am in "No Threat to Freedom of Expression in Fiji" reports Communications Fiji, that has 60 percent of the Fiji radio market, CEO William Parkinson as saying he "does not fear anything sinister. The haphazardly-managed airwaves are due for a shake-up." Canterbury Uni Jim Tully, however, said government control of ariwaves threatens freedom of speech, especially in remote [sic!] island nations such as Fiji which rely heavily on broadcast media."
At 10:08am EST an ABC interview with John Westland of Radio Australia "Interim Fiji Government Revokes Broadcasting Licences" had Westland talk of the "taking away of licences" and it having more to do with "who gets a licence," before he went on to say: "Frankly [with so little detail] we just don't know." Much of the interview is repeated on the Radio Australia News at 1pm EST.
At 12:20pm FijiCoup2006 publishes Khaiyum's FijiSun item.
At 7:11pm FijiLive does likewise. "denies muzzling media freedom.. [wants] an efficient system."
PacificMediaWatch reports that Fiji MaiTV welcomes the Decree. CEO Richard Broadbridge said they'd applied for a VHF licence nearly two years ago but had had to use UHF even though one broadcaster had more VHF channels than needed. He called the Decree "a step in the right direction to ensure all broadcasters are treated fairly, and that TV and radio stations are available to users easier and cheaper."
At 8pm FijiCoup2006 reprints the AAP on Smith saying the Decree was "a very bad signal". and did not remove the error about the "14 ethnic Fijian provinces."
And since some will think me "bad" for publishing this, and "There's no denying that if you think them bad, they are bad and nothing they say or do will convince you otherwise," three more bad thoughts won't hurt: Who are Coupfourpointfive's inside sources? Are they journalists like themselves? How is it that Rowan Callick and The Australian get so much inside information from Fiji? Is it merely coincidental that The Fiji Times, The Australian and the HeraldSun are all owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, that also owns major papers in every Australian city, Wellington's DominionPost, and, incidentally, the Wall Street Journal and The Times?
And they talk of power, and control of the media!
Anti-Government blog FijiCoup2006 publishes FDN and RFN item. Very strong anti-Sayed Khaiyum comments with racist undertones currently in the blogosphere.
Anti-Government blog FijiDemocracyNow publishes "NZ Streamcom admits it was used by Aiyaz Khaiyum to effect new broadcasting decree RFN" that is re-published by companion RawFijiNews. This is what they took from the Radio Australia Pacific Beat interview [See below and my new post 25th.]
PacificScoop publishes this blog's "Spectrum Saga". PacificMediaWatch printed it for circulation and, hey presto, its on Radio Australia.
Radio Australia (7pm, EST) summarises its Pacific Beat interview, citing NZ consultant company Streamcom head Simon Jackson as saying the Fiji Government had done the right thing."In fact, what we think is happening is that the Fijian government is currently trying to address years of neglect and mismanagement and actually corruption.And we found evidence of that and the way that radio spectrum had been managed."
Radio Australia Pacific Beat interview of Nick Naidu (NZ Coalition for Democracy, against) and Simon Jackson (Streamcom, for the Decree)
Tuesday 24th.Citizens Constitutional Forum CEO Rev. Akuila Yabaki called on Government to use the Decree only to improve efficiency, saying existing licences should not be revoked, and broadcasters must not be pressured into accepting any deal that compromises their role in society. He thought an independent statutory body a more transparent and appropriate authority that the Minister of Information.
Anti-Government blog FijiDemocracyNow publishes "Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum corruption must be stopped" that is re-published by companion RawFijiNews. It lists of "Facts" includes the claim the Decree was kept secret for ten days. Actually, it was promulgatged on the 10th, reported by RadioFiji on the 12th, LiveFiji (in passing) on the 15th, and FijiTV on the 17th.
Monday 23rd.At about 12:00pm (USA?) Solivakasamablog asks "Is there a Muslim conspiracy occurring in Fiji? (with the two Khaiyums, two Shameems and Aziz involved)....How can Indigenous Fijians sit and watch while these evil people tear their beloved Fiji apart?" and then reprints Saturday's HeraldSun story. A person commenting writes of Al Qaeda cells!
At about 9pm (USA?) Solivakasama reprints Saturday's The Australian article, and under a heading "All Talk No Action for Oinklets" says he "can't wait to see the boys from Delainabua [military barracks] sink their shiny boots into their [oinklets'] smugness."
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Work is also underway on the process of having a common name for all Fiji citizens(with indigenous Fijians to be called i-Taukei) and the abolition of race-based entry qualification for scholarships. Kau said common name consultations requires a lot of work. The outcome will be included in the new constitution.Full story.
(+) SUVA'S REPORTED CRIMES HAVE DROPPED to 1360 from 2285 at the same time last year, and work between Police,City Council and the public hopes to make the capital crime-free. Initiatives include community involvement in four "crime watch" zones; crime prevention committees; and an aggressive approach towards addressing crime which included stop and search on suspects, apprehending warrantees, and frequent raids on drug dealers, bootleggers and pawn shops. Full story.
(o) WITH TWO BOMB THREATS (BUT NO BOMBS) THIS WEEK, Defence Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau thinks they are the work of pranksters but does not exclude political motivations. He said "there were some people who still did not agree with current leaders and they would always intervene with the stability of the Government ... bomb threats and death threats were not something new, because they had gone through a lot since the beginning of the year." The phone calls "targeted" the Suva Central hotel and TFL National Stadium. Full story.
(o) THE DRAFTING OF A CHILD WELFARE DECREE has been approved by Cabinet. The Decree results from an increase in child welfare litigation for physical and sexual abuse, neglect and deaths. Under present legislation medical professionals are not legally bound to report such cases. This results in under-reporting and the notion that the welfare of Fiji's children can never be adequately addressed due to paucity of reports and information. Full story.
(-) POTENTIALLY SINISTER USES OF NATIONAL SPECTRUM DECREE The Australian appears to have picked up a report from Coupfourpointfive about Government's new powers over radio frequencies. Full report.
Coupfourpointfive provides a detailed analysis of the new decree's possible uses and abuses. I'll make up my mind on the decree when I have more information. But with three blog blockages in three weeks (and possible leaks in IP security) Government does seem to have stepped up its internet surveillence. Perhaps with good cause if the bomb threats reported above were politically motivated. Full report.
(+) POSTSCRIPT. I will be commenting on the last item as soon as I've finished tracing the threads. Meanwhile, I'm not convinced with the spin from blogs and the overseas media. One correction: The Australian report appears to have preceeded Coupfourpointfive, though both could receive their information from the same (journalist?) sources within Fiji. And both put the worst possible interpretation on what may just be a move to rationalise radio and TV wavelengths. Neither commented on the Liquor, Income Tax, and Gambling Decrees also announced this month. Couldn't they find something wrong with them, too?
Saturday, November 21, 2009
STOP PRESS. Click here for the Fiji reaction.
Griffin, NZ-biscuit makers since 1864, is "outsourcing" some of its production to Fiji.
The NZ reactions?
- Manufacturer: "did not believe the political situation in Fiji would affect the company."
- Union (looking after its members):"It's a surprise to me – I thought it was all made here."
- Green Party MP Keith Locke: Griffins could be exploiting poor worker conditions in Fiji. "There is effectively a dictatorship in Fiji [which] has undermined the ability of unions to operate freely and to maintain or improve the conditions of the workers."
- The NZ Union was unable to prevent Griffin closed its Lower Hutt factory a year ago with a loss of 228 jobs. The outsourcing is not directly related to the closure although both, of course, are to do with costs and profits.
- Wages are lower in Fiji (hence the move) but isn't providing on-going jobs, helping Fiji exports and restoring a little of the massive NZ-Fiji trade imbalance, less patronising than giving aid?
- The Fiji Government has introduced minimum wages in a raft of industries. This is something no previous government has done and something unions had little to nothing to do with.The initiative, Keith, came from the "dictatorship."
The ultimate irony: Griffin is owned by Australian-based Pacific Equity Partners, and is no longer a Kiwi firm at all. Pity the paper doesn't spend as much energy researching Fiji -- and educating the public that countries can have coups and still make biscuits! Full story.
What's in a Word? A Lot
Coupfourpointfive reports the Government-EU meeting under the banner "Regime Begs EU for Sugar Funding". Begs? Asks? Explains? The posting was otherwise informative but the heading led readers towards the interpretations intended: the loss of EU help due to the Coup, the "contradiction" between Kubuabola's "plea" and Bainimarama's stance and "change of tune", and, of course, the downturn in sugar production caused by you-who-know. Journalists are, of course, entitled to their own opinions but opininons and polemics should not be presented as news. Things are bad. The sugar industry is in crisis, as it has been for several years. And the EU and Government, as reported earlier in this blog, "will now follow-up on the major outcomes of the discussion with the aim of ultimately resuming formal consultations."
Oppose the Government by all means, Coupfourpointfive, but less negative reporting would not detract from your cause -- it may even help it.
Now we are experiencing another price war. Our telephone companies are trying to outdo each other. Digicel and Vodafone have always been seeing to be at each other’s “throat”, so to speak.
Digicel came up with a fantastic offer – “Top up and get $100 free talk time”. Vodafone, not to be out done went one step better and offered a quadruple up, amongst other things. TFL may do something – seeing they also have mobile phones.
Friday, November 20, 2009
He said this commitment was evident in the decreeing of recent new legislation “and the resurrection by decree of those essential elements of the abrogated constitution dealing with such matters”.
Bainimarama also briefed the EC officials on the programmes of institutional, judicial, constitutional and electoral reforms that are in place to begin in 2010 and in subsequent years and the reasons for these reforms, and issues pertaining to the Strategic Framework for Change, the National Dialogue Forum and the Public Emergency Regulation.
Senior EC and Fiji government officials will now follow-up on the major outcomes of the discussion with the aim of ultimately resuming formal consultations. Full story.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
(o) Snippets: Pensions, Debt, NLTB, Prices, Brij Lal, ECREA "Widespread Dialogue" , HIV/AIDS, PSYCHIATRIC CARE
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
than the Others:
He was in Suva during very troubled times with two significant events. The first was the takeover of the Chaudhary government by George Speight in May, 2000 and the second one was the attempt on the life of Commodore Bainimarama by rebel soldiers on 2 November, 2000 through a mutiny.
During those troubled times, he was holding the fort at NZ High Commission and was an exemplary ambassador for Aotearoa, and added pride to this profession by standing stall and being different from other ambassadors by talking his mind without any fear of speaking the truth, even if it meant crossing the boundaries guarded by strict diplomatic protocols.
When the AUT’s Pacific Media Centre’s Dr. David Robie was heading the Journalism School at USP, in Suva, His Excellency Tia Barrett was the Chief Guest at the Journalism Awards almost nine years ago, on 24 November, 2000. The address he gave to the graduating students is still fresh in my mind and it had ruffled a few feathers in the then Interim Fiji regime, some of who still harboured ethno-nationalism and beat the indigenous drums.
While himself being indigenous person of Aotearoa, he was bold to have gone beyond the call of his duty to put the ethno-nationalists in their place.
“What is difficult to accept in this dialogue on indigenous rights is the underlying assumption that those rights are pre-eminent over other more fundamental human rights. This just cannot be so, not in today's world. Where the confusion lies, in my view, is with the thought that indigenous people have a prior right over land and the sea and their resources and therefore by extension over the political, economic and social institutions of a country,” he had told the Fijian students.
He had reminded the journalism students that nowhere was it written in any holy scripture that because you were indigenous, you had first rights over others in their daily rights. He had maintained that one should be respected and highly regarded as an indigenous person, but respect was earned and not obtained on demand. He reminded that while the Compact of 1997 Constitution of Fiji accorded a special place for the indigenous Fijians in the polity of the nation, the respect there still needed to be earned.
His talk some nine years ago was so prophetic and would be well remembered by the elements in the Maori community in the recent controversy on the indigenous issue. What he had said in Suva in 2000 would have stood tall in that controversy:
“Being indigenous, in my view, demands high levels of achievement and competency in both our traditional cultural values and in the demands of today's globalised world. That is a tall order, and requires more of us indigenous peoples than of the non-indigenous. But in fact, I think the well-educated, well-rounded, successful indigenous person stands tall as an outstanding achiever. Unfortunately, there are so few although there are examples in both your and my history.”
Barrett had even ventured to lecture to the chiefs about their role and also the responsibilities of Churches, both of which were found to be wanting by the current Fiji regime. What people like Tia Barrett in diplomatic positions proved is that diversity in such positions enriched the profile of the country and if any lessons are to be learnt is that a diplomat like Tia Barrett in Fiji would have been well placed to bridge the huge chasm that currently exists between the two countries.
He had lectured the journalists on the concept of development journalism where the timely and accurate facts fulfilled the thirst for knowledge so that people could make the changes needed to improve their lives in this globalised world. Whether Fiji journalist heeded this call remains debatable, but what is certain is that modern –day ambassadors in troubled countries like Fiji have much to learn from His Excellency Tia Barrett. His departure leaves a huge vacuum in his line of thinking of the Pacific issues and we hope New Zealand continues to be blessed with proud sons like Tia Barrett.
On behalf of my former country-people from Fiji, I join in to extend our condolences to the Barrett family. May his soul rest in peace.
(Thakur Ranjit Singh is a postgraduate student in Communication studies at AUT, and had met Tia Barrett in Fiji whilst he was the Publisher of Fiji’s Daily Post)
Sunday, November 15, 2009
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.
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 email@example.com
The weekend was made worse by the continuing run of appalling weather. I’m not sure who we can blame.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
In two weeks time I'm giving a paper in Auckland at the Pacific Islands Political Science Association conference. The paper is titled Political Blogs on Fiji:Cybernet Democracy or What?
There are three areas where I especially need your help, although your comments and ideas are welcome on anything relevant. They are:
1. Other blogs. Anything you can tell me on where they are located and the general identity (no names needed) of their publishers.
2. Among the people you know, who reads blogs? My impression (and I could be quite wrong) is that most readers are ethnic Fijians and Others (few Indo-Fijans answered my poll questions and there's no other way I can identify readers' ethnicity). Most people only read blogs that agree with the way they think?
3. Your opinions on the indirect and direct influences of blogs, particularly on the Fiji Government, anti-Government and the "middle ground" in Fiji, and on public opinion, the media and politicans overseaas, most especially in Australia and New Zealand. Do you think blogs can influence and change people's opinions?
Unfortunately, there's no reward, but your help on all or any of these topics really will be appreciated. You don't need to write a lot. Anything, however brief, will be useful. Please reply by commenting on this post or by emailing me firstname.lastname@example.org
If you intend to help, please do so now or ASAP. Time is running out.
Illustration,Morse code for SOS by Fondear