PERSONAL ATTACKS AND RACISM. In making your comments, remember that while criticizing a person's statements or known position is a perfectly acceptable means of debate, attacking the person and not their statement, is not. Similarly criticizing someone who happens to be of a different race or culture is not racism, but attacking the person because he or she is of that race or culture, and writing stereotypal derogatory remarks about the person's race or culture, most definitely is.
said he appreciates Fiji's adherence to the one-China policy and support for their country's reunification process. Addressing the reception last Wednesday to mark the 61st anniversary of the founding of the PRC, Han said China supports Fiji's economic and social progress and is willing to provide assistance to Fiji without political conditions.
"Urgent disaster relief donation after cyclones last year, Chinese government scholarships, on-going projects like Navua Hospital and low-cost housing are all examples of China's helping hands toward Fiji," he said. During the first half of 2010, nearly 8,000 Chinese tourists visited Fiji,an increase of 32% on 2009.
has extended its sanctions against Fiji for another six months "in order to assist [sic!] the country's return to democracy, respect of human rights and the rule of law." It is unclear how the suspension of EU money to assist the ailing sugar industry and the thousands of Fiji citizens affected will benefit from this ongoing action that has seen the cancellation of sugar allowances, to which Fiji is entitled, since 2007 and no new funds from the 10th European development fund. Ordinary Fijians, one suspects, are far more concerned about the "fundamental right" to work and earn enough to support their families that the supposed absence of "fundamental freedoms" used by the EU to explain its actions.
There is one concession: "Given the deteriorating economic and social situation and in particular a significant increase in poverty, the EU is currently examining possibilities for direct support to vulnerable populations, not channelled through the Fijian government." In other words, they will help ameliorate a situation that they have helped cause. It's a help, of course, but direct assistance to the sugar industry would help far more. And if it went via government, what harm is there in this? The military won't be hitting heads with candy sticks.
Some would see their action as international solidarity against a rogue regime; others a string of carriages (Forum, EU,Commonwealth) pulled by Australian and New Zealand trains on a collision course with Fijian livelihoods.
Hardly had I typed this, than Kevin Rudd's office came out with, "Australia, along with New Zealand and the rest of the international community, remains resolute in calling for a prompt return to democracy and the rule of law in Fiji." There's no doubt about which is the train and which the "rest." There's little doubt also, if this attitude persists, that it will do irretrievable damage to Australia's reputation in Fiji. Unless, of course, Australia can engineer a counter-coup!
CHAUDHRY IN CUSTARDY. Sorry for the pun but he does seem to welcome confrontation. Reports in the "heavily censored" Fiji media indicate that former PM and FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry spent the weekend in custody after being arrested on Friday for holding a public meeting in Rakiraki without a permit, which is a breach of the Public Emergency Regulations. He is expected to appear in court today.
THE TIGER WOODS STORY AND FIJI. "The massive disillusionment over Tiger Woods's womanising is based on the widespread error that information conveyed through the media, often shaped by stars and their handlers, is reliable and comprehensive." -- NZ Listener 2-8 October, p.22. Read on ...
The Media, Some Hard Questions and the
'Dictatorship of the Publishitariat'
'Dictatorship of the Publishitariat'
Playing Devil's Advocate
Speaking at 2010 Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) conference in Auckland on Friday, the keynote speaker, well known and respected Tongan media publisher and media freedom activist 'Eakalafi Moala, said, "Press freedom in the Pacific Islands is under constant threat" while "New Zealand journalists ..took freedom of the press for granted."
He said threats to Pacific media freedom were due not only to "government blocking" (he was especially critical of Fiji's Media Decree, where, incidentally, the Fiji Broadcasting Commission reported his speech!) but also to "the social and cultural fabric of the local community" that accepted Government actions less critically than in Western countries. "Media freedom," he said, "operated more easily within a Western-educated social structure and conduct.”
Taken at face value, most would agree. But I wonder. Is it as straightforward as this? In an ideal world, would press freedom always prevail? Or, to play devil's advocate, should it ever prevail? What, exactly, is media freedom? Can a case be made that restrictions should be placed on the media in some situations? What are those situations? 'Eakalafi talked of cultural constraints in the Pacific but are there no cultural or other constraints in Western societies?
How free, really, is the New Zealand media? Does it truly provide access to information the people need to know? Who decides what we will read and hear and how it is presented? Who decides the news? I'm reluctant to write about Fiji again in this context, but when did the NZ media last report a contrary view on the situation there? How have they helped to explain what is happening, and why? How do they decide who to interview? Do they ever verify their stories?
One can also ask what is meant by information when so much of what we see is sensationalism and trivia. What real balance exists in their coverage? Even media people ask what's happened to investigative journalism.We've never before had so much access to information, but we've also never has access to so much wrong or useless information. Sometimes I ask, do I know more about any matter of consequence because of the media, or am I merely more misinformed? And then I ask myself about the supposed role of the media in a democracy and what it actually does.
Who really is this freedom for? I am not an advertiser or a shareholder in the media. I don't vote for their Boards or sit on their appointment committees. I have no say whatsoever in what they choose to publish or not to publish. I am not part of the media or any other establishment. I cannot vote them out with a letter to the editor or an appeal to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.
When it comes down to the hard questions, we should ask how significantly different are the NZ and Pacific media? Different masters, different circumstances and different stories, but I suspect that whoever pays the piper still calls the tune. My only freedom is the choice to switch off the TV and radio and not read the newspapers. Sometimes, not always of course, I wonder how they dare claim a special, elevated place -- the Fourth Estate -- in a democracy when their power is more akin to a "dictatorship of the publishitariat."
Freedom of the media, by the media, for the media? An overstatement, perhaps. But by how much?