Judge for Yourself

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MIDA, the Media Authority, chastised FijiTV for broadcasting Ratu Timoci Vesikula's recent speech at the Tailevu Provincial Council meeting, saying it was a "hate speech" that violated the Constitution.

Government opponents and foreign journalists say MIDA is restricting media freedom.  The question is whether, in the Fiji context, Ratu Timoci's speech was a "hate speech" and whether FijiTV acted responsibly in not editing the part of his speech that could be considered racist and offend Indo-Fijians.  You be the judge. Here's the link to the FijiTV news item

And here, thanks to FijiLeaks, is a translation of the part of the speech that could be offensive:

"If you think that you'll get support from other communities just because of the Constitution that you have put together, then I can boldly state to you right now, "Forget It". If the people, the Vanua, do not back you, you will certainly not return to office.

In my experience, the Vasu (the Indian Community) will sweet talk you and get what they need. They don't want you to lead them. All they want is the Constitution that you have put together, all they want are the changes that you have brought about to government, that you have brought about and the investments. I would like to warn you that these upcoming elections will not be an easy one for you. Because we have lived for a long time with each other. Water cannot mix with kerosene."

Ed. Comment. I note that  Dr Wadan Narsey has questioned whether it was a hate speech, waving it aside  because Ratu Timoci, a Bainimarama supporter,  raised real issues and because there's also Indo-Fijian racism against Taukei, and racism is also evident among Indo-Fijians.

He's right, of course, racism is repugnant wherever it exists, but I think there are two issues here (a) was the speech (as seen in the passage quoted) racism, an unfortunate mix of words that suffered in translation, or merely an expression of fact and reasonable opinion? and (b) Was the speech of sufficient importance for MIDA to have reacted so strongly?

My own view on (a) is that Ratu Timoci stoked up some old stereotypes that border on racism, but his main point was that Bainimarama will need vanua (Taukei) votes to win the election, and he should not rely too much on other communities; and on (b) that an an expression of disappointment, or even a warning, could have been given  to FijiTV.  MIDA's reaction was over zealous. As a result, two issues, racism and media freedom, are now blurred, and MIDA's independence and credibility is now being questioned. I see nothing sinister or foreboding in  MIDA's reaction. It's more a question of not knowing when and when not to act, and this should improve with experience. -- Croz


Anonymous said...

Short of murdering your family Croz, what exactly does Baini have to do before you utter a word of criticism? This stuff from MIDA is exactly as prescribed by Herr Gobbells - and I know taking NZ superannuation safely in your Fiji-distant home, now addles your brain... but can you not see just how slavish to the cause you have become? Your's is not appeasement - it is corruption.

Crosbie Walsh said...

Bunkum! Almost hysterical. The article produced all available evidence, invited readers to judge for themselves, and then offered an opinion based on the evidence. Instead of attacking me for having an opinion, why don't you offer your REASONED opinion?

Anonymous said...

Agreed that MIDA's reaction was over zealous. This Ashiwn Raj chap is too young and inexperienced for the job. He is out of his depth. he needs to be replaced before he does more damage to the country.

Anonymous said...

Hello! This sounds like the deranged troll who regularly stalks this blog and personally attacks Croz.

justice for junta scumbags said...

He is just another junta facist. Like the other dregs supporting this human rights abusing regime. They will all be brought down - one-by-one...Mara, Driti, Chaudry, Yabaki etc etc. Watch the space - only a matter of time before the military backlash against this treasonous clan who have lied, cheated, taken freebies and filled their own pockets.

Manase said...

MIDA has done exactly the right thing. What Vesikula has done is inciting disaffection with the government through hate speech. He thought he would get away with it because he is a known as a staunch supporter of our PM. But we see right before our eyes is the shuffling for position in the upcoming re-distribution of power in Fiji. In order to manage this re-distribution in an effective manner, institutions such as MIDA, FICAC, police and first and foremost our military forces need to be on full alert. Disruptions will be launched from the old and racist politicians, attacks against our AG and our PM will come from foreign media and from anti government blogs, lies will be spread and at the end, we will end up with a parliament where our PM cannot rely on the clear majority he needs to continue his reforms and his liberation of Fiji from the neocolonial grip of New Zealand and Australia.

QUEENIE said...

Wadan Narsey does not know the difference between 'racism' and 'prejudice'. USP's Sociology 101 is recommended.

Every ethnic group is likely to favour its own members and may look down on other ethnic groups. That is 'prejudice' which is common, though objectionable.

But 'racism' is a different concept. Racism is defined as 'prejudice' that is permitted, facilitated and implemented by the nation state where the government uses state power and control to transform human prejudice into state policy (eg apartheid in Sth Africa or Nazism in Germany). That is why after World War II the UN drafted its 'Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)'. Fiji signed CERD and has to abide by its tenets. If prejudice is expressed by a dominant group that holds political power in the state - defined as either the traditional state (the chiefly system) or the modern state (parliamentary system)- that is 'racism' and unlawful. Vesikula and Kotobalavu are included in the 2nd category. These are are sentiments they held when they were officials in the Fijian state and implemented such policies; they obviously still think the same. They should have been prosecuted in the past and should be now. 'Hate speech' is prohibited by international law- defined as 'speech inciting hatred towards any minority group'. If anti-semitism can be seen as racist, so can anti-Indian speeches whether by Caucau or Vesikula. Vesikula's speech and MIDA's response should be seen for what they both are. There is no excuse for being ill-informed and under-educated about these things in election year.

Anonymous said...

There was a case against Ratu Timoci but Ashwin Raj bungled it really badly. he should be removed as MIDA Chairman.

Bring on the backlash said...

The fool Raj is nothing but a facist bully. He is underestimating the anger he and the cowardly facists behind this illegal regime are generating amongst Fijians. .

Anonymous said...

BEWARE OF FALSE FIJIAN RIGHTS PROPHETS: The Lands Minister in Rabuka government in 1998, Ratu Timoci Vesikula, had offered Suvavou landowners $3million "to forget their compensation claim of $2billion"