Tuesday, 24 August 2010

ANONY-MOUSES. A reader questions why I'm letting people comment anonymously when I said I wouldn't. Frankly, because I've given up.  I still want people to use pseudonyms. It's so simple. Just click the Name/URL button and write a "name" before posting your comment. It's absolutely confidential. There's no way anyone, including me, can know who you are and if people use and stick with a pseudonym, comments and discussion will be more useful. It's not easy conducting a conversation with a mouse.

Don't Give Me that Nonsense about the Media Freedom in the Mickey Mouse Press

Q. What does the Fiji Times, the Townsville Bulletin, the Australian and the Courier-Mail have in common?
A. They are all owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd and they've all employed Rory Gibson as editor, editor-in-chief,  chief sub-editor or senior journalist at some time or another.

Rory has the reputation of writing humourous articles. If you're a kookaburra,  you'll really laugh at his latest effort, " Australian tourists turn a blind eye as Fiji's best people persecuted"   in the Brisbane Courier-Mail.

He writes that "it should be a source of profound shame to our country that Australians are going on holidays to Fiji in record numbers."

Why? Because they are gifting "dollars to the coffers of a nation that is run by a military dictatorship little better than any apartheid regime operating in South Africa's dark ages."

Forget that most of the dollars stay in Oz and that thousands of ordinary Fijians live on what's left. Just think back to Soweto, S. Africa 1976.  Police open fire on 10,000 protesters.   Fiji today. No guns fired.   Apartheid South Africa, All ANC leaders, including Nelson Mandela imprisoned, many for life.  Fiji. Short-term arrests but no political prisoners; former Prime Ministers drinking coffee in Downtown Suva.]

And who is the cause of the shame in Fiji? "We can all laugh," he writes unblushingly,  "that our Melanesian neighbours are ruled by a bloke with a name that sounds like an '80s girl band, and assuage our consciences by believing Commodore Bainimarama's claptrap about restoring fairness to Fiji's racist electoral system." Girl band? Claptrap? Restoring?  It wasn't  a racist electoral system?

And what are the effects?
"This Pacific tragedy isn't about whether the Fiji Times is being edited under the baleful glare of one of Bainimarama's gun-toting thugs [Oh, No?], or that an expat gets his marching orders.[Definitely not!]  It's about people like Imrana Jalal and her husband Ratu Sakiusa Tuisolia."  And the rest of his long story is about these "best people" and a court case in which Imrana was sentenced to life imprisonment-- acquitted. 

His conclusion?  "Going on holiday there while this sort of abuse is happening would be like sitting in a cafe sipping a coffee while a mugger attacked a pregnant woman on the footpath next to you, and you ignored it."

So, that's all for the moment from Rory Gibson, former editor-in-chief of the Fiji Times, defender of media freedom. One wonders what his journalist colleagues think about this.

AND HERE'S ANOTHER EXAMPLE,   Did you know that last year "one Catholic district leader" stood firm with arrested Methodist leaders who were planning an annual meeting, and "bravely declined [a Government] deal in exchange for the charges being dropped."? Neither did I. But had the Fiji Times's first cousin, the Sydney Morning Herald, also owned by Murdoch's News Ltd,[my error. It's not.] identified  her as the Rewa High Chief, Ro Teimumu Kepa, we would have known.

Why did the SMH choose to ignore her well known title and call her "a Catholic district leader," which she is not? Catholics don't have district leaders. I can only guess that the story of religious persecution they were advancing looked better if a Catholic was added to the Methodists, who do have districts, whereas a high chief would be less appealing to gullible egalitarian Australian readers.

FIJI SPEARHEADS MOVE FOR MORE PACIFIC UN REPRESENTATION  spearheading a move within the United Nations to increase Pacific Islands representation within the UN system. Fiji's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Peter Thomson, has been appointed to chair a working group to  look at how Pacific countries can gain a fairer share of representation on the many councils, committees and organs of the United Nations. The eleven Pacific Island missions to the UN make up the group. They are the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Fiji-born Thomson's family connection to Fiji stretches back five generations. He left Fiji after his arrest during the 1987 coups, settling first in New Zealand and then Australia, before the Bainimarama government appointed him as its representation in New York. He holds dual citizenship.


  1. When vested interests conspireTuesday, 24 August 2010 at 10:00:00 GMT+12

    Rory Gibson is a disgrace, a once- over- lightly-and-never-mind-the-facts "journalist" in the mould of Michael Field but without Field's accomplishments. This is a gutless, one-sided polemic designed to achieve one thing - the destruction of Fiji's tourist industry through crude emotional blackmail. Gibson is trying to make ordinary Australians feel bad about holidaying in Fiji and choose another destination. And why? because of the regime's "persecution of two of the country's finest citizens", Imrana Jalal and Saki Tuisolia. This is a complete travesty and yet another sign of how these two people are poisoning international opinion about Fiji to pursue their own political ends.

    Under the SDL, this couple was riding high. Tuisolia was number two in the PM's Department and boasted of being Qarase's protege. Indeed wife Imrana told many people that her husband was destined to be PM. Imrana herself was also riding high, on the boards of both Fiji Post and the Fiji Rugby Union as she earned a big international salary for her human rights/development work. Simply put, the 2006 coup shattered their dream of running the country, an indigenous PM and his glamourous Indian wife. And this is the source of their intense antipathy towards the regime. What this article fails to mention is not only their vested political interests but other issues beyond Hook and Chook's failure to get a business licence. Among these are the investigation into Tuisolia's alleged abuse of his corporate credit card while head of the Airports Authority. As usual, in this instance, we're given only half the story, the heartless persecution of two paragons of national virtue. Bollocks. Saki and Imrana still think the rules that apply to everyone else don't apply to them. This is the issue at the crux of their failure to get a business licence for their shop. So far from being a minor thing that produced a trumped up charge, it's emblematic of their whole approach to life, an arrogant sense of entitlement. Like Icarus, they flew too close to the sun and now they're paying the consequences.

    Of course, Imrana is portraying her move to Manila as a flight from persecution but this is just another of a long litany of concocted stories to bolster her international reputation. No one is forcing her to leave Fiji. She's going because her British funded, highly paying job has ended and she has a lifestyle that demands an income that only an international salary can sustain. So off she goes to the Asian Development Bank and a cushy "exile" with a word in Rory Gibson's receptive ear along the way. The truth is this woman is a self absorbed menace and for most people in Fiji, it's good riddance. But for Gibson, Imrana's story has everything, the local Joan of Arc burned at the stake by a merciless dictator. It also just happens to feed into Gibson's own anger at the regime's treatment of the Fiji Times. And it feeds into the Murdoch empire's anger at losing a profitable business because their local management was so woeful. Now, many ordinary Fijians have their jobs in the firing line. It masquerades as journalism but is, in reality, a crude exercise in propaganda to advance the vested interests of the writer and his arrogant subjects. And they want to burn down the house as they leave. Unconscionable.

  2. Appreciate the time and effort you must put into this blog and what I believe is balance Croz; your article on the laughable story by Rory Gibson makes mention that the Sydney Morning Herald is part of the Murdoch stable but it is owned by Fairfax which is an Australian ASX-listed public company.

  3. Bula Croz,
    "A Catholic district leader" could be read a couple of ways:
    1) As you assert, a leader of a Catholic "district"; or
    2) A district leader who happens to be Catholic.

  4. Re: The excitement about the record number of tourists visiting Fiji, does anyone know how much money they have brought in?

    It's all very well that we laud the vast quantity of tourists ignoring various travel advisories, but if they are here on heavily discounted packages then they are adding not a lot to the country's bottom line.

  5. I now understand why the government has left the PER in place for the time being. I suspect that they don't want the Fiji Times starting a similar campaign as the other News Ltd papers are doing in Australia. I expect they will lift it after the 3 month deadline to reduce foreign ownership to 10%.

  6. Croz, the Gibson piece is scandalous on two fronts - his direct assault on working people in Fiji who he must know have no power to change the government. And his failure to report that the "persecuted" Imrana Jalal has already left Fiji for a very lucrative job with the ADB in the Philippines. As for the woman herself, she seems to favour a scorched earth policy for her homeland for not sharing her own inflated view of herself. It's a case of burn everyone else's job on the way out the door to a lucrative one for herself overseas. As for the Filipinos, they've swapped Imelda for Imrana. Good luck.

  7. Croz,

    A silly article perhaps but you too often gloss over some important facts about the current situation in Fiji.

    There are no guns fired because everybody is behaiving. There are no long term arrests because former leaders are obediantly silent. It's sad that 30+ former government ministers don't have the backbone to stand up...for anything. They fear for their family and personal health and I guess that is a individual choice. Most are not wealthy and they worry about money as well. The current military PM knows this and that's why he pulls that string from time to time.

    But lets not pretend because there is no guns or long term arrests that all is well. Why do you think the PER is still in place ?

    What we have is a deeply divided country where the previous leaders have a uneasy acceptance of a unwritten deal with the military - stay silient and out of the way and you can have some sort of normal life. But if you speak up or out and we will come down so hard on you.

    Croz, you are very blind if you see it any other way. Imrana was aquitted but had to live through hell for four years and now she can not work in Fiji. Same goes for her husband. Same goes for hundreds and hundreds of people even losely associated with former government.

    We where recently recruiting for a senior role in Fiji. After an initial screening we had to put the resumes into two piles. 1) Those with any link real or percieved with former government. This pile was promptly rejected and 2) Those who had a link with current regieme, these remained possibles - a sad looking list.

    That's the reality.

    And staying anon is very very important if you want to make any critical comment in Fiji. Otherwise goodbye business, goodbye freedom and you won't sleep easy at night.

  8. Perhaps it is about time the Australian and NZ governments thought seriously about allowing dual citizenship for respective citizens and those who also choose to be citizens of a military dictatorship?
    As an australian I am very uncomfortable with this. Such people want the benefits of democracy and freedom but deny them to Fijians by supporting a coup.
    Give them a choice - either have an Aust/NZ passport OR a Fijian passport - but NOT both.

  9. Persoan freedom, media freedomTuesday, 24 August 2010 at 13:47:00 GMT+12

    It's easy to find poor examples of journalism in Australia and New Zealand. It's also easy to find very very good contributions. Articles often present diffeent views and I think too many people take this as 'bias'.

    Contrast that to Fiji. We now have only one view ever printed - the positive, pro government, pro military, pro coup spin. Around the finges a little bit of mild critism gets through but generally its pretty much rubbish.

    The media decree "development" decree is doing nothing to develop the media. I suspect the PM's idea of develop is fall "fall into line, you only need to listen to me" which is what he tells his troops.

    At the end of the day its not just the lack of media freedom that gets me. Its the complete lack of personal freedom in Fiji. That will stay as long as the PER is in place and perhaps beyond.

  10. Choices ?

    1. Don't get behind the military and government to improve economy and Fiji will at current rates of progress suffer a long and slow economic death.

    2. Get behind the military and government and there is a chance economy can be turned around. Problem is PM and military will then claim this as their success and the reason they had to take over. Bigger issue still is they are likely to use this as the reason to stay on in power....beyond 2014 by deferring elcetions, being elceted or keeping some executive military power.

    What to do then ?

    1. If PM and military want 100% support (and they most certainly need it) they have to stop messing around. Make it 100% clear they will return to barracks after 2014, 100% clear there will be no slippage in time frames, 100% clear they won't hold any executive power beyond 2014, 100% clear all coups cause massive economic damage (including theirs in 2006). They need to publish a real road map with time frames and real milestone and make progress. They need to keep promises and start by lifting PER.

    2. Then it might just be possible for many people to get behind them and this government.

    Mr PM and the Military - the ball is in your court. Show us and the rest of the world you are serious and only then can you expect any serious support.

  11. Fiji accuses News Ltd of “hostile campaign”

    Headline from Fiji live.

    This fiji government really needs to toughen up, wise up and shut up. It is fiji that pushed through a hostile media decree designed to quickly remove news limited from Fiji. So now is not the time to cry about it.

  12. Still waiting for...

    A. Roadmap

    B. PER to be lifted

    C. Government corruption to be uncovered.

    D. Sugar industry reform

    E. Land issues to be solved

    Seriously if I had the freedom this government enjoys in my business - ability to invent any law any day, no opposition from anyone, no negative press in country, no union issues etc I would be running a much larger and very smooth running profitable company.

    They seem to be struggling with all the power they could ever imagine. Maybe they can now understand how hard it is for a real government in a democracy, to get things done.

  13. Putting Imrana aside there are plenty of people who have been sideline by this coup just like many people where sidelined by previous coups. Apart from the many military now in all sorts of civilian roles almost all the people in power where sidelined by previous coups and/or are failed politicians.

  14. Two things:

    1. I've just read Rory Gibson's piece online and it's clearly filed under opinion/columnist. Presumably when it was published it was published in what is acknowledged as the opinion and not news section. Certainly online and presumably in the print version no right thinking reader could have confused what Gibson had to say as Fact (therefore requiring some sort of balance under the conventions of journalism) as opposed to what he is paid to do which is offer Opinion. Is it now the position of the government and this blog that no columnist can write about Fiji in a section marked opinion unless what they think tallies with Suva's view? Clearly, the effect of the PER means no dissent can be broadcast or printed within Fiji - but does that writ run overseas as well? Does that real spell conspiracy in your mind, that columnists and editorialists express their own thoughts in their own opinion sections?

    Plus there did not seem to be an squeals of outrage at Gibson's piece on June 2 'My Island Home' which, while gently querying occasional lapses in value for money, could not have been more complimentary about the real Fiji that we know and love.

    2. I don't know how the Independent appears as part of a critique of News Ltd. The paper has never been owned by Murdoch; was recently sold by interests representing amongst others, the Irish O'Reilly family, to that of a Russian billionaire.

  15. @ "the REAL FIJI that we know and love" and "the BEST PEOPLE in Fiji persecuted".....Come again?

    Some analysis of these remarks is called for: close analysis. Something we are not always good at in The Real Fiji. So, we are to believe that it is a necessary and sufficient condition of "Being the Best" that we are persecuted? This is frankly-speaking, nonsense. And the writer knows so. The "Best People" in Fiji daily struggle to make ends meet, they get up with the sun and go to bed with the moon. They do this day after day after day - no matter who runs the show. These are the "Best People" in "the Real Fiji" - beyond any shadow of a doubt. It is this very bracketing and classification that has brought us to our knees. Such arrogant assumptions - The Colonial Hangover is part of our problem. Is N. Yorks "The Real Deal"? And if so, who said so?

  16. @ Goodbye Freedom

    Fiji is a Land of Exile. No matter how far back you care to go, it has always been required that people had to leave for one reason or another. So what is different now? And why would former Australian PM John Howard not come to understand fully that this is inherently:

    Unworthy of any democracy
    Unbecoming and Unproductive of any Nation State?

    This situation must end. It must be brought to a finality that is equitable and sustainable for Fiji and all who are within Fiji. The Blame Game is counterproductive and a waste of time and energy. The provisions of The Charter are in the main what is required to bring about a desirable outcome. How is this to be achieved? Will the Fiji Economy last long enough to achieve it? All Hands on Deck might be sensible.


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