Friday, August 28, 2015

More Misinformation: the Anti-Government Rumours


Theocracy is not democracy
The Fiji Sun's Nemani Delaibatiki notes and answers 14  rumours doing the rounds in the social media:

Anti-Government elements, mainly operating from overseas, are now busy spreading lies to try to create fear among the people and destabilise the Government.
They are desperately using social media to try to re-create the events of 1987 and 2000 to cause violence and bring down the Government.
They are an increasingly desperate small minority who will not accept the success of FijiFirst in last year’s truly democratic election. They are realising they have failed and there is no going back to the past unless they can create the trouble of the past.
But their attempts won’t succeed and this is why.
The Government of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is strong and united and has widespread public support in building the new Fiji.
In the September 2014 elections Mr Bainimarama received 202,459 votes out of the 496,364 votes cast.
Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa received a mere 49,485 votes.
Third on the list was Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum with 13,753 votes.
Coming in a distance fourth was Biman Prasad, the National Federation Party leader.
The Republic of Fiji Military Forces and the Police are strongly supportive of the democratic process and the elected Government.
They have assured the public there is nothing to worry about and they should go about their work and life normally.They say they have everything under their control.
Minister for Defence Timoci Natuva reinforced their reassurance in Parliament yesterday.
To show the national situation is normal here’s a selection of rumours being spread – and the facts:

Rumour 1: Armed soldiers in Ba and Tavua hunt sedition suspects.
Fact: They stopped to get supplies on their to way to the interior highlands for a normal live firing exercise. It was advertised in a public notice in the Fiji Sun.

Rumour 2: Dynamite has gone missing from the Vatukoula Gold Mine.
Fact: Some dynamite did go missing and has been traced to local fishermen who are well known for using dynamite from the mine to build their catch.

Rumour 3: There’s going to be instability in streets, similar to 1987 and 2000.

Fact: The RFMF, Police and their line minister Timoci Natuva unitedly reassure the nation it won’t happen. The environment in the country now is totally different to that which preceded those events.

Rumour 4: Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum was detained in the military camp amidst tension with the RFMF.
Fact: Mr Sayed-Khaiyum was on previously scheduled leave and in Cuvu with his family visiting the in-laws.

Rumour 5: Pio Tikoduadua resigned because of a split in Government and differences with Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.
Fact: He resigned because of serious illness.

Rumour 6: Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has no legitimacy.
Fact: The whole country went to the polls last year on the basis of the Constitution. Mr Bainimarama was overwhelmingly elected PM of a democratically-elected Government in a process scrutinised and approved by international observers. It was in this election that the FijiFirst Party received overwhelming votes from youth and women.

Rumour 7: The fight has started to overthrow Government.
Fact: Seventy people in Ra, Nadroga and Navosa have been charged with sedition and incitement. They represent a minority group which has been manipulated and funded by some people who are being traced by Police. Overseas anti-Government elements like Rajendra Chaudhry and Mereoni (Oni) Kirwin are fomenting open rebellion from Australia.

Rumour 8: Joining attempts to form so-called separatist Christian states is part of democratic rights and freedom of expression and association.
Fact: Forming a separate state is unlawful, referred to as an act of sedition. Freedom of expression and association are guaranteed by the Constitution within the bounds of the law.

Rumour 9: There is tension between Police and RFMF over their roles.
Fact: There is no tension, except in the countdown to the Ratu Sukuna Bowl rugby. They complement each other. RFMF stresses it is there to protect the Police and help them in their investigations when the need arises.

Rumour 10: Something is going to happen in September or October. Government’s term will end soon.
Fact: This is nonsense. It will not happen. It’s part of a wish list by those anti-Government forces who still do not accept that FijiFirst overwhelmingly and fairly won last year’s general election and has widespread support. Those who try anything will face the full force of the law as the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has reiterated.

Rumour 11: iTaukei land ownership and rights under threat.
Fact: This is not true but is still promoted by some in the SODELPA opposition. There is no such threat. In fact, as Prime Minister Bainimarama stressed again this week: “Their claim that the iTaukei and their land, religion, culture and identity are under threat is not true. On the contrary, the position of the iTaukei has never been stronger. For anyone to claim otherwise is a lie and the Fijian people should take no notice of liars.”

Rumour 12: Indigenous Fijians feel threatened by insecurity over their land and other resources.
Fact: There are mechanisms in place that strongly safeguard the landowners’ interests in the use of their land and natural resources. Any concerns are dealt with through the same channels.The Fijian Constitution provides unprecedented safety to land. It further recognises the unique position of the indigenous people of Fiji which include the iTaukei and Rotuman.

Rumour 13: Fiji should have been returned to the descendants of the chiefs who ceded Fiji to Great Britain in Levuka on October 10, 1874, instead of to the State.
Fact: If that was true, it would been raised by the descendants of the chiefs in the Constitutional talks in London before  Fiji became independent in 1970. iTaukei land (91 per cent of Fiji’s total land mass) and resources are well protected by the iTaukei Land Trust Board.

Rumour 14: Australian agitator Mereoni (Oni) Kirwin, originally from Matuku, has taken this issue to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Fact: She has not.



Monday, August 24, 2015

Preparing for the Indo-Pacific Century

Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations - 21 August 2015

Preparing for the Indo-Pacific century

The first Forum for India and the Pacific Islands in Jaipur on August 21 will be a historic summit that brings together the interests of India and the 14 island countries of the Pacific. It is India’s acknowledgement of the emerging strategic importance of the Pacific region, and a chance for the islands to turn this into an opportunity for growth, development, and greater security.
BY
Senior Researcher
India will host the inaugural Forum for India and the Pacific Islands (FIPIC) in Jaipur on August 21. It will be a historic summit to put together the concerns and mutual interests of India and the 14 island countries of the Pacific, and chart a way forward in the Indo-Pacific century.
It is important that India and the Pacific nations keep their people aware of each other’s struggles and share their experiences as citizens of a single global community. But the forum this week will go beyond that.
The initiative is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s way of reaching out, of acknowledging the changing geopolitical landscape and the emerging strategic importance of the Pacific region to the global economy and security.
But merely stating that the geopolitical landscape is “changing” is not enough. The landscape is always dynamic to varying degrees, but the global political topography is now shifting faster than it ever has, on a magnitude that parallels no other previous period.
What used to be the strategic “backwaters” of middling local powers in the old order in both South Asia and the South Pacific, may now be right at the heart of the power-plays in the emerging geopolitical setting.
The South Pacific comprises the greatest concentration of the planet’s microstates, with populations averaging 100,000, spread across one of the biggest regions on the planet. But Kiribati, for example, with a population of 103,350 (in 2013) on 33 atolls peppered along the equator, means nothing to South Asia’s billions.
Location, however, matters. Once it is understood that Kiribati, along with its neighbours, has the most effective missile-launch stations on the planet and radio-monitoring outposts, and that it presides at the heart of trade and communication between Asia and the Americas, then the nation’s importance jumps in scale. Besides, along with its EEZ, the population of Kiribati commands an area greater than the whole of India.
In 2012, the previous commander of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, declared from the Cook Islands that the Pacific Islands presided over $5 trillion of commerce each year, “and you people are sitting right in the middle of it.”
Last year, Admiral Locklear was in Tonga to reinforce Tonga-U.S. relations by formalising the National Guards’ State Partnership Program between the Tongan military and the Nevada National Guard.This author asked Admiral Locklear what had triggered this deepening the relationship. He replied: “I wouldn’t have recommended the expense and the resources that we’re going to put forward in this partnership, if it wasn’t important to us as a nation, and to our security architecture in general.”
Such is the criticality of the South Pacific. Therefore, what it could mean to Indian interests, and what India could mean to them needs to be further explored. And the upcoming summit is an opportunity for the Pacific Islands and India to reaffirm frank, equal, and respectable partnerships for development and strategic cooperation.
It is a chance for both sides to talk seriously. For far too long, the two sides have held each other’s concerns with varying degrees of benign disregard.
Prime Minister Modi has made exactly the right overture in initiating this (hereafter) annual forum. Now it’s up to the Pacific Islands to turn it into an opportunity for growth and greater security. And the possible threads for socio-economic cooperation are many.
On his visit to Fiji nine months ago, Modi announced a range of technical and technological projects that could help transform the economies of the region into active members of the global IT community.
Such technical and technological transfers, which were the expensive monopoly of the Pacific’s “traditional partners,” have been a burden and obstacle to development. Especially in the fields IT and communications, medicine, and education.
It is opportune then to state that India could look into giving inputs on space technology; the islands are self-sufficient circumscribed units and space technology would definitely help the economies of the region. Such an exchange would also meet the islands’ expectations.
India can also further explore security interests in the South Pacific, which is at the maritime flank of the South China Sea—the location of deep Indian interests that it must secure and stabilise. In terms of geostrategy, the South Pacific provides an open theatre and adds another layer of access and engagement, freed of the bottlenecks of the ‘Steel Corridor’.
In addition to the geopolitical, economic, and geostrategic interests, India and the Pacific islands can also meet in the arena of global institutions. India, as an emerging superpower, has a lot at stake, especially with regard to a permanent seat at the UN Security Council. The islands, on the other hand, are at the heart of the climate change debate and bear the brunt of its effects, which for them is a serious security concern.
The two sides can also enhance military-to-military exchanges. These are the institutions that provide deep, local, and effective coordination especially in non-traditional security matters like disaster relief. They are also an effective visible symbol for each community.
The FIPIC Summit is an opportunity not to just repeat the routine of “summitism” and dispensation of aid. It is a chance to take the relationship to new heights, and to turn the coming years into decades of unprecedented growth and security.
It is a fresh chance for the Pacific to act as a whole region and not just look for what each island can extract from India, and a chance for India to be a true Indo-Pacific partner.

Tevita Motulalo is the author of a Gateway House report titled ‘India’s Strategic Imperative in the South Pacific’ (November 2013). He specialises in geostrategy, especially as it relates to the Indo-Pacific. He is from the Kingdom of Tonga and was the editor of its oldest English language newspaper, the ‘Tonga Chronicle’, and deputy editor of the ‘Talaki’, one of the main Tongan-language newspapers. He contributes widely to the national and international news media.
This feature was exclusively written for Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations. You can read more exclusive features here.
For interview requests with the author, or for permission to republish, please contact Reetika Joshi at joshi.reetika@gatewayhouse.in, Ashna Contractor at C.ashna@gatewayhouse.in, outreach@gatewayhouse.in, or call 022 22023371.
©Copyright 2015 Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations. All rights reserved. Any unauthorized copying or reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Accusations of Sedition

A week ago, and not for the first time, the social media wrongly claimed Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum had been arrested by the military, inferring unrest in the armed forces that was denied by both government and the military.   At the time,  it was just another example of misinformation spread by anti-Government elements in their  rolling campaign to perpetuate ethnic division, uncertainty and unrest.

A month ago, Ratu Epeli Niudamu of Ra province and 15 others were charged with sedition and inciting communal antagonism (Fiji Village) and two others, allegedly engaged in military style training in Ra province, have been charged today. Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald expects more to be charged in the coming days. (Fiji Sun).

The news made headlines in the UK Telegraph "Fiji charges group with sedition for secret plot to overthrow government." The article said the group was led by a former soldier in the British army, most likely to be an iTaukei according to Lowy Institute researcher Jenny Hayward-Jones..

Speaking to the FijiSun yesterday the PM downplayed the situation, saying it was a “non-issue” and that the police and military have it all “wrapped up” — though he did say he was interested in knowing who was “behind this.” 

Today, speaking at the opening of a sports facility in Tavua, close to the area of supposed unrest, he expressed more concern. Thanking the Tui Tavua for his traditional ceremony of welcome, a reminder that iTaukei customs have never been stronger (”They are at the centre of our national life and will always be a source of pride for every Fijian.”) he went on to speak about the general security situation, stressing that everything was under control and that the state would deal with “any challenge to (its) authority .. There will be no so-called Independent States in Fiji… Anyone who encourages political violence will face the full force of the law. This needs to be understood by every Fijian … Do not be swayed by those who seek to divide us. Do not listen to their lies and false promises."

He asked his listeners to think for themselves and examine the facts: the iTaukei way of life and Christianity are not threatened, they are protected by the Constitution that can be read in Fiji’s three languages.  And the nation has made big steps in providing free education, improvements in basic services, roads, electricity and clean water.

“Where the elite once benefited at the expense of the rest of the nation, Fiji is a fairer and more just society for everyone. And we are currently enjoying the longest period of economic growth in our history, promising more jobs and more opportunities for everyone… Theirs is the mindset of the past – the misguided thinking that led to the events of 1987 and 2000 and tore our nation apart. That thinking was wrong then and it is wrong now …  Where there was division, there is now unity ...  So I urge every Fijian to look to the future and the wonderful possibilities that await us if we stay united and strong.”  (MOI press release).

This view was taken up  by a number of chiefs  cited by the government-leaning Fiji Sun. Bau chief Ratu  George Cakobau questioned their true motives, given that this government has cared  for iTaukei far more than any previous government. Rewa chief Ro Epeli  Maitatini said their actions were uncalled for. “The iTaukei people were united and such an unchristian move would not be entertained.”

COMMENT

But is it and it may be?  It is one thing to say most Fijians are united in their support for government and another to claim that most is all. They may be confused and misled but clearly an unknown number of iTaukei are anti-government. It is these people who need to be addressed by iTaukei leaders starting with the chiefs. 

There has been no word from the parliamentary opposition, most particularly from SODELPA leaders and paramount chiefs Ro Teimumu Kepa and Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, that they totally disown the Ra group, and will only work for change using lawful measures. The absence of such assurances could be taken for passive support but, hopefully, it is more due to the present rift within the party that has called on the leaders to resign. (FijiSun).

While this latest development is important in itself, it once again highlights the need for  the Opposition (and Government for that matter) to constantly remind the public that they will only operate within the law, and in no way promote divisions based on race. 

It also indicates why it is unrealistic to expect full media freedom any day soon. --- Croz


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Another Piece of Misinformation by the Anti's.


NEWS

ANALYSIS: Do We Want Democracy Or Not?

ANALYSIS: Do We Want Democracy Or Not?
August 06
08:242015
At the height of the wildfire that spread this week about a rumour that the Attorney-General had been arrested and detained, I had fielded many calls.
Among them were calls from a  Fijian village, Sydney and New Zealand, all wanting to know if it was true.
If it was true, it would have been on the news. I told the callers it was not true
The truth was reiterated on Tuesday in the Fiji Sun which carried a front page photo of Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum enjoying time with kindergarten children and their parents in Sigatoka.
Later in the afternoon he came to Suva and met Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. It was a normal briefing meeting before PM left for Canada.
The rumour was linked by the perpetrators to the resignation of Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga and the appointment of Commodore Viliame Naupoto as acting Commander of the Repuc of Fiji Military Forces. It also suggested there was trouble brewing in the military.
The rumour was designed by anti-FijiFirst forces to cause a revolt and destabilise the Government.
I was reliably informed that a one of leading trade unionists was busy spreading the rumour.
They fit into this saying: “Rumours are carried by haters, spread by fools and accepted by idiots. People are quick to believe the bad things about good people.”
Their act of disinformation or misinformation tantamounts to inciting to cause revolt and public disorder.
It shows their total disregard of the democratic processes that have been implemented  since last year’s general election.
The question that needs to be asked is what kind of democracy do they want?
Do they want us to go back to the pre-election status quo?
We cannot afford to go backwards. It would cause irreparable harm and damage to this country.
In our democracy we are free to differ or disagree as long as we express ourselves responsibly and within the bounds of the law.
Spreading lies is outside the ambits of the law if it incites feelings of intolerance and hatred that may lead to civil unrest.
Rebel rousers who are stoking anti-Government feelings through lies and deceptions should think seriously about the consequences of their devious and sinister campaign and actions.