Monday, March 30, 2009

David Neilson: Why Banimarama wants to solve things his way

The People's Charter is central to understanding the Fiji situation and its future under Commodore Frank Bainimarama. First World Governments try to push this regime back to the ballot box, but the interim head of state is intent on following through on the charter's goals, however long that may take.

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Hail To The Chiefs!

Fiji Times article titled "Redemption" covers the Fiji Rugby Sevens win in Hong Kongs, after a decade in the shadows.
Hong Kong Sevens tournament is a fun filled tournament, that attracts a lot of colorful personalities to the Happy Valley, since its inception in the early 1970's.

A video of the sights and sounds of Hong Kong 2009 was posted on Youtube.

A fresh video posted in Youtube, displays the celebrative mood by the victorious team members of Fiji, as seen from the grand stand.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

The Real Measure Of Altruism In Fiji.

Hibiscus Trust Fiji just posted a video on Youtube, about their actvities around Fiji detailing the difficulty of obtaining health care in Fiji.

The Hibsicus Trust was founded by Sadhana Smiles, a 2007 Price Waterhouse Coopers Victoria/Tas Franchise Women of the year; is a consultant from Victoria, Australia and Director of Real Change. Smiles's own blog.

Smiles passionately shares her experiences and describes a sad story in her blog.

The excerpt:

Cost of a life was $2.00

As we approach international woman’s day let’s celebrate our political, social, business and economic successes and in recognition of the theme this year stop violence against women and girls. I also ask that you pause and consider for a moment women in countries who today still do not have equal rights. And that the measure of success of equal rights is not just about politics, business and economy but also about health and education.

I want to share a story of beautiful woman who died simply because she could not afford a $2 bus fare. Leba lived in Fiji where over 60% of the population lives below the poverty line. She regularly had pap smears however in 2004 she could not afford $2 for a bus fare to go and collect her results. Two years later her doctor told her she had cervical cancer by which stage it was too late to treat. Her husband died shortly after, she lost her home, could not work and had to move her family into a settlement where 8 of them lived in a home the size of an average bedroom in the western world. She could not afford pain medication or dressings and her children watched her die an undignified death. No human should have to go through this.

Our trust supported her in her final days; she lost her battle to cancer on the 18th of November 2008. She left behind 7 kids who are now orphans. Her wish was for two things, her kids stay together and they get an education. Our trust (Hibiscus Trust Fiji) is ensuring that this occurs.

Sadly Leba’s story is not unusual, she lived in a country where education on women’s health is not a priority, where doctors do not conduct regular breast exams and pap smears, where once diagnosed you could be waiting for 12 months for any form of treatment, where chemotherapy is not readily available and alarmingly there is no follow up on positive results. More often by the time women find out they have breast or cervical cancer it is too late. Women are not taught how to check their breasts, or sent reminders for pap smears.

Many women suffer sexually transmitted diseases which they have caught from their husbands; they cannot afford to go to a doctor or the bus fare to the local hospital leave alone buy drugs for treatment.

As we celebrate international women’s day pause and think about our sisters who live in countries where because you are unable to afford a bus fare it makes a difference between life and death; equal rights is not just about the vote, or equal pay, board representation, promotions... it is about basic human rights, basic health care and simply the opportunity to live your life.

Ask ourselves how can we make a difference? What can I do to make sure that these stories do not become the norm no matter where women live.

One can almost say, Hibiscus Trust is making a real change for people in Fiji;  and their quiet achievements, sets their outfit apart from the rest.

Unlike some other prima donna NGO personalities. Case in point: Fiji Womens Crisis Centre coordinator, Shamima Ali, who apparently lives under the spotlight of media attention. 

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The Limelight Of Political Stripes. (Updated)

Fiji Village (FV) article quoted from Fiji Military Commander, Pita Driti when he dressed down, the Fiji Women Crisis Centre Coordinator, Shamima Ali.

The excerpt of the FV article:
Driti tells Shamima to stay out of politics
Publish date/time: 27/03/2009 [17:04]

The military has today called on the Coordinator of the Fiji Womens Crisis Centre Shamima Ali to stop getting involved in politics.

RFMF Land Force Commander Colonel Pita Driti said Ali should concentrate on tackling the rise in sex related offences and stop blaming the events of December 2006 for the increasing statistics.

While speaking from NZ, Shamima Ali said it seems her words have had an effect for Colonel Driti to be responding to her. Meanwhile, Colonel Driti is now calling for a period of silence from the politicians and NGO's to ensure that the political forum is successful.

He says the political parties and NGOs have to stop attacking the RFMF and the interim government if they want Fiji to move forward. Shamima Ali said they cannot be silenced and will continue to speak out.

Stuff Magazine article also covered the comments.

The excerpt of Stuff article:

In a bizarre outburst the head of Fiji’s land forces has claimed the military is fighting to prevent the nation falling into an abyss of genocide and civil war. Fiji Military (RFMF) Land Force Commander Colonel Pita Driti has issued a statement while his boss and coup leader Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama is out of the country.

Bainimarama seized power in Fiji's fourth coup in 2006. Within hours of Bainimarama leaving for India, Driti called for the closure of the top circulation Fiji Times which he said was attacking the military government.

After a burst of criticism, Driti this afternoon has responded saying that those who attacked him have not experienced anarchy."Many of us experienced it slightly in the civilian backed coup of 2000 when rebels almost took over the country," he said in reference to the George Speight led coup. "That is anarchy in a minute scale and the RFMF is trying to prevent Fiji fall into the abyss of lawlessness and disorder with mass genocides, ethnic cleansing and battle between warlords, let alone civil war - now that is a national security angle that I am speaking from on behalf of the military as the final bastion of law and order," he said in a single sentence.

Among those who criticised him was Shamima Ali who leads Fiji's Rape Crisis Centre. Driti said she should "focus more on her field of work and stop babbling..."Her conclusion that the rise in such social crimes is due to the current political trend, is cheap and very nonsensical, because these crimes have a higher percentage rating in stable democratic countries the world over. "She should not waste her time trying to be an expert in politics even though we know that she is being paid to babble away with her nonsense," Driti said.

Fiji Times article.

While some of these NGO's have used the media to further their own agendas, these celebrated icons must also take the blame for their own incompetence. Take for example, Shamima Ali's role in the Fiji Womens Crisis Centre, which at times takes a back seat role for her over indulgence in the political sphere.

It appears that Ali has been negligent on the job for the empowerment of women in the rural areas of Fiji, who are more in a crisis than their urban dwelling counterparts.

While the issue of Freedom of the media, may blur the contentious issues being raised by the Fiji Army; it does raise the argument about the limits to free speech; which some of these libertarians in Fiji have obfuscated. Croz Walsh's recent blog post highlights the static imbalance in Fiji Times articles.

While Fiji Media Council head, Daryl Tarte is quoted in Radio New Zealand online article:

“The media in Fiji, just as in Australia, is entitled to be be partisan if they want to be. It’s probably more dangerous to be partisan in Fiji than it is in Australia but the fact is that I think most media in Fiji are trying to report as objectively and in a balanced way as they can. It is very dangerous for them not to do so. And the examples of the recent attacks on the editor of the Fiji Times is evidence of this”

While media in Australia may be partisan, it does not give license for the Fiji media to adopt that same paltry excuse for unbalanced coverage. It is a fact, that Tarte has been a Pollyannic mouthpiece for the litany of ethical violations, committed by the Fiji media.

While the Fiji Media Council is currently under review, it also means that any remarks made by the current chair, is seen as operating under the old rules; despite the tabling of its much anticipated report, by the review team. The actual Fiji Media Council(FMC) 2009 Review Report (PDF).

Other recommendations, include a staff change, according Fiji Times article. Cafe Pacific blogger, David Robbie also addressed that issue is an earlier posting.

The excerpt of Fiji Times article:

Review urges staffing change

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A REVIEW committee on the Fiji Media Council has recommended that full-time staff listen to and discuss complaints against media organisations.

In their report on the Fiji Media Council, the review committee said it believed that the efficient running of the council could no longer be entrusted to unpaid, part-time volunteers. The committee recommended that paid workers were needed to discuss the complaints.

"Given the ambitious nature of the council's objectives, especially in its aim of improving the standards of the Fiji media, the council needs the services of an executive secretary who can serve a number of
functions," stated the report.

The report said a paid employee should be available at a known office address to provide complainants with someone whom they could discuss their complaints. It said having permanent staff would enable the council to maintain its website.

The exceprt of Radio Fiji article:

A report on the review of the Fiji Media Council says government has no place in the regulation of the media. Prepared by a three member team led by Jack Herman, and comprising of Suliana Siwatibau and Barrie Sweetman, the findings are based on submissions and oral interviews.

The report says, both the government and the Media Council need to work together. It further says despite the level of rhetoric from partisans on either side of the media-government adversarial relationship, it is the view of the Review that the Fiji Media Council has maintained a proper relationship with government. The Review's belief is that the government has no place in the regulation of the media. The report was tabled at yesterday’s Media Council meeting.

While SiFM does not cordone violence, it also recognizes the fact that some media outlets in Fiji are actually culpable in "falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater" and used their gate keeper role to silence dissenting opinions and artificially skew their content (articles, Letter to the Editor) potraying a one sided coin.

Even the UN has deliberating on a resoulution that limits free speech, according to Jerusalem Post article.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Field Of View.

Fiji's Interim Prime Minister, Frank Bainmarama is reported in the local dailies, is in the midst of a second Indian sojourn; the current trip was funded by the Government of India.
Micheal Field, a disgraced New Zealand journalist and self declared expert of Pacific Island affairs, has published an article in Stuff magazine, titled "Fiji Abandons NZ for Indian Healthcare" insinuating that Bainimarama's real intention for the Indian trip was to seek medical care.
This medical reason, quoted by Field was loosely based on Bainimarama's alleged heart treatment at Wakefield hospital in Wellington, New Zealand. No source was offered by Field, to verify or fact check the article contents, with regards to the cost of health care contract for Fiji's military personnel. If Field's assertions on Bainimarama's treatment were to be true, this would mark a breach of patient confidentiality, by the hospital in question.
It would be rather selective on Field's part not to highlight the potential India has, in terms of world affairs. Unfortunately, what Field's article did accomplish was more of the same snarky cynicism used in drive-by-journalism.
Judging from Field's economical use of the truth as judged by the Broadcast Standards Authority of New Zealand, any information borne by Field should taken with a pinch of salt.
The excerpt of Fiji Sun article:

Bainimarama travels to India

Fiji Sun

A government delegation is in India to negotiate a property made available for the construction of a new office in New Delhi where Fiji’s High Commissioner to India could work from. Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama left for India yesterday accompanied by Public Service Commission Permanent Secretary Parmesh Chand for the talks.

According to an interim Government statement, the visit is a follow up on an earlier visit by Cdre Bainimarama in February, last year to inspect facilities at the Batra Hospital in New Delhi for overseas medical treatment of RFMF personnel. He will be in India until next Tuesday and is also accompanied by his wife, Mary and a personal security officer. The trip has been funded by the Government of India.

“In this visit, the interim Prime Minister will also take the opportunity to conclude discussions with the Government of India on the purchase of a property made available to Fiji for the construction of a Chancery in New Delhi,” the statement said.

“The subject property has been offered to Fiji in view of the strong and deepening bilateral relationship between the two countries at a hugely discounted price.”

Cdre Bainimarama in his capacity as acting interim Minister for Foreign, International Cooperation & Civil Aviation would also take the opportunity to meet the Minister for External Affairs of the Government of India, Shri Pranab Mukerjee. Ratu Epeli Ganilau will act as interim Prime Minister in his absence.

Unsurprising, the focus on India is not limited to Fiji. An audio documentary funded by Stanley Foundation's Rising Power series titled "India Rising" has added to the global interest in India's coming out party.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

WTO General Council Review Of The Trade Policies Of Fiji

Brussels, 25 March 2009: A new report by the world’s largest trade union body, the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation), on core labour standards in Fiji has been issued today to coincide with the Trade Policy Review of that country at the WTO. The actual report (PDF).

Recommendations by the Report.

  1. The government of Fiji needs to put its legislation into conformity with ILO Conventions on trade unions’ rights.
  2. The government should establish appropriate protective measures to prevent undue interference in trade union activities from the Registrar.
  3. Staff working in prison or correctional services should have the right to organise.
  4. The requirement that more than 50 per cent of the paid-up members vote in favour of a strike is too restrictive and is a substantial obstacle to the exercise of the right to strike. The legislation should be amended accordingly.
  5. The government should ensure that no compulsory arbitration at the request of one of the parties or of the Ministry of Labour can be imposed to end a strike, except under the strict conditions provided for by the Convention.
  6. Legislation should be enacted to prohibit employers from hiring strike breakers.
  7. The government of Fiji should actively promote collective bargaining including in EPZs.
  8. The legislation against discrimination needs to be amended so as to provide for the ILO concept of “equal pay for work of equal value”.
  9. The government need to increase efforts and budget to tackle gender discrimination in employment and remuneration so as to improve women’s position on the labour market.
  10. The government needs to fight income disparity among ethnic groups by promoting decent work for all.
  11. The government of Fiji must amend its legislation so as to make sure that children below 15 years of age are not admitted to employment.
  12. The government of Fiji must strengthen the protection of children and young persons from hazardous work by determining, after consultation with the social partners, a comprehensive list of hazardous occupations and activities.
  13. The government of Fiji should establish systematic monitoring on child labour with special attention to the informal sector and low-income communities.
  14. The government of Fiji must investigate allegations of children being trafficked.
  15. In line with the commitments accepted by Fiji at the Singapore, Geneva, and Doha WTO Ministerial Conference and its obligations as a member of the ILO, the Government of Fiji should provide regular reports to the WTO and the ILO on its legislative changes and implementation of all the core labour standards.
  16. The WTO should draw to the attention of the authorities of Fiji the commitments they undertook to observe core labour standards at the Singapore and Doha Ministerial Conferences. The WTO should request the ILO to intensify its work with the Government of Fji in these areas and provide a report to the WTO General Council on the occasion of the next trade policy review.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Mr. Rudd Goes To Washington

KEVIN Rudd will land in Washington today and encounter an atmosphere vastly different to that of a year ago when he first visited as Prime Minister. Then, George Bush was president, Barack Obama was fighting Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, and the global economic crisis was barely a blip on the radar.

Whether or not the issue of Fiji comes to the forefront of discussion is any one's guess. However the subject of the global economy will undoubtedly be the centre piece of the agenda, coupled with Australia's commitment to provide troops for the surge in Afghanistan.

Australian casualities have risen recently and whether the nation in general has an appetite for more will certainly factor in to the calculus; against the back drop of disdain, for any continuation of John Howard's policies.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

From Stones to Rocks and Rocks to Molotov Cocktails

UPDATE (Events since the main post was written) In the early hours of Sunday morning, 22 March, the homes of (former Colonel) Sakiusa Raivoce, a security firm recruiter for Iraq , and Fiji Times chief editor Netani Rika were attacked by molotov cocktails (bottles filled with an inflammatory liquid, and fitted with a wick).

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

They're At It Again. This Time Sir Rabbie

In a feature, "PM's Office in Damage Control as PNG Queries Insults," the Fiji Times reports anger in PNG after it was reported the "[Fiji] interim administration rubbished the integrity of former PNG prime minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu after rejecting him to be chief mediator at the upcoming President's Political Dialogue Forum."

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

International Bar Association Member Disputes Fiji Report

Q.C. Clive Grossman, a member of the International Bar Association, said the report contains grave misstatements, is highly misleading and above all no attempts have apparently been made to verify any of the facts from sources other than from Fatiaki's solicitor Graham Leung.

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Fiji Snubs Former PNG PM in Election Talks

PORT MORESBY—Fijian leaders have rejected former Papua New Guinea prime minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu as chairman of an election taskforce because he is a "puppet of Australia and New Zealand

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fiji's Media Industry & Their "Daily Show" Moment.

David Robie's blog, "Cafe Pacific" recent posting covers one of the recent posting by Croz Walsh, who focuses the spotlight of attention at the Fiji media itself, in their reportage of the news cycle.

There are some parallel issues between the attempt by Croz Walsh's blog, to scrutinize the media in Fiji and Jon Stewart. Both draw attention to the media's ethical responsibility to provide truthful facts to a particular story; as opposed to dressing up slanted opinions, as the gospel truth.

In actual fact, the media in the US are currently being scrutinized for their role in reporting on the economy. Media also reviews the media in a recent post titled "The Media's Deliberate Stupidity".

One of the most honest watcher of media stories, comes from America's prominent comedian, Jon Stewart whose popular progam "The Daily Show" is itself a parody of a news presentation.

Jon Stewart recently interviewed CNBC host Jim Cramer, in an excellent segement called Brawl Street, examining the media's role in financial reporting.

Stewart's interview of Cramer provided some ratings jumps, according to Entertainment Weekly article.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Zealand’s Imperialist Attitude Toward Fiji

In what John Key has described as sending “a strong message” Pacific Forum leaders voted earlier this year to suspend Fiji from the Forum unless the interim government sets an election date before May 1.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Looming Shadow- China's Growing Influence In The Pacific

'The western nations' continuing tough stand on Fiji will not only draw Fiji closer to the Asian powers, notably China, but also the other Pacific Islands nations that are eligible to draw down aid from the allocated US$600 million.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Who owns the [Pacific] forum?

DR Roman Grynberg says initiatlly the Forum and its secretariat, then called the South Pacific Economic Community, was there to provide technical assistance to the islands, hand out small bits of cash for training and workshops and to service the annual meetings of leaders.

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US Ambassador To Fiji, Wants Jim Crow Democracy.

While it is fortunate that freedom of religion is vibrant and strong throughout the Pacific, it is unfortunate that democracy is yet to be realized in Fiji.

In actuality, the type of democracy which African American McGann wants for Fiji, is the equivalent of Jim Crow legislation and reduces the ambassadors logic to nth degree hypocrisy and duplicity.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Fiji President for Cuba Cooperation

Suva, Fiji, Mar 5 (Prensa Latina) Fijian President Ratu Josefa Iloilovato advocated Thursday for expanding cooperation with Cuba, by welcoming Cuban ambassador Jose Luis Robaina.

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Fiji interim PM: Not surprised with CMAG report

SUVA, Fiji, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Fiji's interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said on Thursday that the government was not surprised with the statement issued by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) on Fiji situation following its London meeting on Wednesday.

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Video of the CMAG meet (posted below).

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Last Week in Fiji; Fourth Week of February

Two further examples of what must be called ongoing, negative "media-generated news" hit the streets last week [...] This is not reporting the news; it is creating it.

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