Saturday, September 26, 2009

Address By Fiji P.M To 64th Session Of UN Assembly.

Fiji's Prime Minister, J.V. Bainimarama's address to 64th session of the UN General Assembly. (PDF copy of speech)
Fiji Village article.

An article originally appearing in described the experiences of University of Idaho Graduate who is interning at Fiji's Permanent Mission to the United Nations based in New York.

"I was there all week basically as (the Fiji delegation's) eyes and ears," he said.

Despite ongoing political unrest in Fiji, Donahue said he had "no problems at all" interacting with his supervisors and co-workers in the mission.

He said people realized the importance of setting aside the country's problems for the sake of positively representing Fiji to the United Nations

The intern described a situation:

He did get to experience some political controversy when the ousted president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, spoke to the U.N. General Assembly.

"I didn't know that he was going to be there," Donahue said, adding that there was suddenly security everywhere. "I was just stuck in the middle of it." Donahue said the internship was beneficial because he learned hands-on about the inner workings of the United Nations and the different ways countries approach each other.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Homophily Divisions-Pacific [Old] Media Reports On Fiji. [Updated]

According to Wikipedia Homophily:

Homophily (i.e., love of the same) is the tendency of individuals to associate and bond with similar others. The presence of homophily has been discovered in a vast array of network studies. Within their extensive review paper, McPherson, Smith-Lovin and Cook (2001) cite over one hundred studies that have observed homophily in some form or another. These include age, gender, class, organizational role, and so forth.

In their original formulation of homophily, Lazarsfeld and Merton (1954) distinguished between status homophily and value homophily. Status homophily means that individuals with similar social status characteristics are more likely to associate with each other than by chance. By contrast, value homophily refers to a tendency to associate with others who think in similar ways, regardless of differences in status.

Cafe Pacific most recent posting highlights the new launch of Pacific Scoop website, a seemingly non-partisan, in-depth coverage of Pacific island current affairs. Albeit edited by AUT's Media Center.

Croz Walsh's latest posting laments about the inaccuracy of reports, making up the total Amnesty International final communique, also reported in a Pacific Scoop article.

What was totally amiss, was an opinion article dated Sept 8th 2009, that was published also in Pacific Scoop, authored by Thankur Ranjit Singh, titled "Pacific Media Fail To Appreciate Fiji Problems" which basically rebutted the Tongan journalist's (Kalafi Moala) recent opinions about Fiji.

Moala's opinions was published in Maitangi Tonga (M.T)website dated Sept 6th.

The excerpt of M.T web article:

Bainimarama's coup-coup land

06 Sep 2009, 16:13

Nuku'alofa, Tonga:


THE question is not whether Fiji's dictator Frank Bainimarama will fail or not, but rather when? Yes, when will he realise that he will never succeed in his false and conceited quest for a reformed Fiji?
Someone could stop him dead in his path before he comes to his senses.

When the military ruler declared his coup to oust the elected Qarase government in 2006, there were those who applauded him for his vision for a new Fiji, a Fiji that they claimed would be fully reformed and free of racial discrimination in its electoral system.

Even though there were those who decried the idea of another coup, many were nevertheless hopeful that maybe this coup was a good coup. Finally we have someone who is fighting for the "good of the country," they said - for the good of everyone, indigenous Fijians, Indo Fijians, and every other race that calls Fiji home.

There are no good coups. One coup sows the seeds for the next one, and so it goes on into a vicious cycle difficult to break. As one entertainer joked, after your third coup you can easily become a coup-coup land.

But that was 2006, and the sentiments that accompanied the many declarations of good intentions have all faded away, and no one except Bainimarama and his cronies seem to have any more faith that this military dictator is better than his other coup predecessors. In fact he may be the worst, and furthermore he has already taken Fiji down the road to self-destruction and despair.

This is not primarily because of the external pressures - the dismissals from the Pacific Forum and the Commonwealth and the many economic and political sanctions against Fiji as a result of actions of the Bainimarama government. Those are bad enough, but whenever you have a government that violates the basic freedoms and rights of its own people, it is only a matter of time before there is an implosion that will not only discard that kind of a government but will also thrust that unfortunate nation into abysmal political, social, and economic turmoil.

Fiji is already on the edge of disaster, and Bainimarama does not seem to care, as he continues to deepen his imperious treatment of the various institutions that have held Fijian society together and guarantee its freedom.

Here are some of Bainimarama's fanciful actions that have brought him the fear of the locals and the wrath of the international community: his abrogation of the Constitution and the whimsical dismissal of the Court justices; his disregard of the Chiefly system of Fiji; his violent and hateful treatment of the media; his violation of the rights of the Methodist Church to meet in their annual conference; his creation of a New Methodist Church to be a religious instrument to prop up support for his policies; his defiance of regional and international calls for restoration of democratic processes; and his opposition to dissent, attempting to create a society not of national unity but of national uniformity.

There has never been anyone in the history of mankind that has done the kind of things Bainimarama is doing and survived. Those dictators and rulers in every generation, in any nation, have always failed. They were doomed to fail once they violate the very principles that make any society keep itself alive and growing.

Just as a fall from a sixty-storied building will most likely break every bone in the body, and surely result in death because of breaking the law of gravity, Bainimarama's fall is guaranteed. You do not break the laws of nature or the human laws of morality. The laws break you. Thus the question now is what can be done to soften the blow on the rest of Fijian society? How long will it take for Fiji to recover from this incredible nightmare?

In particular, the treatment Bainimarama has dished out to the Fijian media has been unprecedented. Foreign publishers and journalists have been deported. Those with dissenting views have suffered incredible harassment, and so have those who have tried to report the truth of what goes on in Fiji. Censorship is imposed on every newsroom in the country.

Notable among those journalists whose rights and freedom have been grossly violated is Netani Rika, editor of the Fiji Times. His house has been smashed by some of Bainimarama's goons, and his car was firebombed.

Rika's family had to seek refuge elsewhere because of the danger they encountered at their family home. Rika himself had received phone calls from the Commodore on several occasions, swearing at him, threatening him, simply for not complying with the kind of coercive editorial manipulation imposed on the Fiji Times.

More recently after a lecture tour of Queensland, Australia, in which Rika talked about the difficulties he was experiencing with his colleagues in Fiji, he was again threatened even before he returned home. This time, it was a death threat. Rika had to take cautionary measures to protect his family, since he took this threat quite seriously.

Death threats against journalists are not common in the Pacific Islands, at least not like in Philippines, Sri Lanka, or Pakistan where journalists are killed just for doing their job. Even in Bainimarama's Fiji, you do not threaten to kill someone just because you disagree with him. But that which was not common is now the norm in an island nation that is destined to crash land because the skipper flying this "island paradise" is consumed with a vision that is impossible to implement.

The vision is not only wrong, but his way of trying to fulfill it is wrong and grossly immoral. Even God Almighty does not coerce people to believe and love him. He has gifted humanity with the freedom to choose, for as a God of love, he understands that love must involve the freedom to choose.

Bainimarama wants a society that must conform to his ideal, and he is doomed to fail because you cannot force a people to obey. Well, maybe for a while, out of fear, but that is an impossible social scenario to sustain.

If dealing a harsh hand to the media was not enough, Fiji's dictator decided he was going to bring the country's largest church group to subjection. A Methodist himself, he seems to take pride in the fact that he needs to suppress any and all dissenting elements within the Methodist Church.

Two of the Methodist church leaders were arrested for allegedly violating the Public Emergency Regulations (PER), and so was Rewa's Paramount Chief, Ro Teimumu Kepa, for announcing the Methodists will still have their conference at her district despite the dictator's ban.

Kepa declined to make any immunity deal with the State and opted to make a not guilty plea for inciting under PER.

Whether the Methodists will stand up in defiance of the Bainimarama edict or not is of no consequence. The Commodore had already acted to create and support the New Methodist Church, a fundamentalist brand of the Church that is seeking mass conversions to its ranks, and certain actions from the Police are now touted as "orders from the Holy Spirit."

According to Rika, it's a "Jesus Crusade" that is comparable to the rule of the Taliban. Bainimarama's government believe that if they can convert everyone to their brand of Christianity, they will consequently create a "Peaceful Society."

And so, Fiji is experiencing a roller-coaster ride in which a dictator takes out all the fundamental pillars that have held together society, and seeks to impose a personal utopian vision on a people whose lives have started to be adversely affected in every realm.

Kalafi Moala

However, the most intriguing thing about this mysterious deletion of the Pacific Scoop article (authored by T. R. Singh), was that: a Google Blog page search (as of 11am US PST. Sept. 8th 2009) lists the article; but it is dated 29th Nov. 1999 posted by admin, who obviously wasn't a very keen reader or scholar of Fiji's recent political history.

The events showing on these censored Pacific Scoop articles (courtesy of Google blog search), clearly remarks about the recent happenings, a decade after 1999.

Case in point, the description of a google blog search listing of T. R. Singh's opinion piece refers to Qarase's regime.

SiFM Fact Check:
Qarase did not enter politics until after the 2000 Fiji coup
and was nominated as the Interim PM in 2000 post-Fiji coup, according to a BBC article.

The excerpt of BBC article:

Profile: Fiji's Laisenia Qarase
Laisenia Qarase
Laisenia Qarase: Softly-spoken former banker
When Laisenia Qarase was first appointed Fiji's prime minister in 2000 as a response to the coup attempt which saw the toppling of the elected government, his political skills were an unknown quantity.

His interim administration was charged with organising the general election, formulating a rescue package for the ailing economy and drawing up a new constitution.

Laisenia Qarase
Born 1941
Educated Suva Boys Grammar School
Commerce degree from University of Auckland
1983 - managing director Fiji Development Bank
1998 -head of Fiji Merchant Bank
July 2000 - appointed interim prime minister
Just over one year later, Mr Qarase, an ethnic Fijian, has demonstrated his political acumen by winning office at the head of his own newly created party, the nationalist Soqoso Duavata ni Lewenivuana, taking 31 out of 71 parliamentary seats.

His campaign focused on indigenous Fijians' fears of political domination by the minority ethnic-Indian population which already controls much of the islands' economic life.

The softly spoken former banker first spelled out his programme in July 2000 when he issued his blueprint to move Fiji forward from the political coup, promising political priority for native Fijians and affirmative action to advance and accelerate their development.

But he insisted no one will be disenfranchised or excluded in his planning a common future. He said ethnic Indians, who make up 44% of the population, would not be left out in the cold when the new constitution was drawn up.

Ailing economy

Until last year, Mr Qarase, 59, had been better known as a banker than as a politician.

Mahendra Chaudhry - rejected by Fiji's voters
His career has seen him managing the Fiji Development Bank before leaving public service in 1998 to head the Merchant Bank of Fiji.

One year later he became a senator, nominated by Fiji's powerful Great Council of Chiefs.

Before the May 2000 coup, Mr Qarase was a constant critic of the government of ethnic-Indian Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry.

As a banker he is acutely aware of the detrimental effect the coup has had on the country's economy.

Fiji's economy has been undermined by the crisis, with sugar production halted, tourist resorts closed and thousands of jobs lost following trade bans.

See also:

10 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Nationalist sworn in as Fiji PM
09 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Fiji risks new ethnic gulf
06 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Fiji vote 'rigged' says former PM
03 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Fiji
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.

Conspiracy by Scoop or Google or both?

That particular article appeared in the Pacific Scoop website, for a couple of hours and was mysteriously deleted.

Below is the original url of the Pacific Scoop web article:

Unfortunately, this unadulterated censorship which the Pacific media keep insisting is prevalent in Fiji and the Pacific are also guilty of the same sin. This area of editing (which is apparently used in Pacific Scoop)where dissenting views against the main stream media talking points are blocked by the very gate keepers, who complain at the drop of a hat about media freedom restrictions.

Yet, when these main stream media are measured against the same standards, proof of hypocrisy exists.

It is also a reminder of the echo chamber existing in the world wide web, where double speak and innuendo is prevalent, and those without critical thinking skills will soak up this dribble without any second thought and echo the same lies.

SiFM readers are mostly omitted from that segment of dumbness.

On The Media (OTM) explores this subject "echo chamber" and "cyber cascade" which the Pacific media in general has fallen..

OTM also discusses the issue of echo chamber and its influence on new and social media, internet communication. Factored into that network, was a foundation built on Homophily media trends.

Apparently, AUT media studies (among other so called Pacific media experts) have yet to identify, address these issues (in academic papers)on echo chamber reporting, homophily tendencies and its influence on new media and its effects within the Pacific.

So much for these over priced journalism schools and self glorified experts.

Brooke, Clive and Ethan at Aspen

Over the summer Brooke hosted a conversation with Ethan Zuckerman, founder of Global Voices, and Clive Thompson, technology writer for the New York Times Magazine and Wired.

The topic was homophily: the tendency for individuals to seek out others who share their preferences and ideas. While some would argue this phenomenon has existed forever, Brooke, Clive and Ethan discuss whether the internet exacerbates it or, instead, exposes people to new ideas.

Discussion on MP3 player, posted below.

Besides the underhand practices of gutter journalism, that is so pervasive in certain corridors of main stream Pacific Press rooms, other opinions give contrasting perspectives.

One such view is from Indian Weekender (I.W) Editor in Chief, Dev Nardkani.

The excerpt of the I. W opinion article:

West’s attitude to Fiji has changed region’s geopolitics
Thursday, September 03, 2009 Dev Nadkarni

[Image Left] Suva's bustling town centre. Fiji is the gateway to the Pacific. Photo: Dev Nadkarni

Fiji’s suspension from the Commonwealth on September 1 was a dead certainty. Its earlier suspension from the 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum didn’t deter it and it would have been naïve to think that the threat of this week’s suspension – it’s third from the Commonwealth since independence – would make the Fijian administration change its mind.

Commodore Bainimarama has repeatedly said that there will be no turning back from the roadmap that has been set for the country to hold elections in 2014 after the reforms planned in the troubled nation’s political system are completed.

The fact that there is little that the Western world can do about it is beginning to dawn on its leaders after more than two years of a stubbornly belligerent stand that involved slapping a slew of sanctions aimed at crippling Fiji’s administration, which they undoubtedly hoped would bring it to its knees. This has simply not happened and that tack has all but come unstuck.

Responding to Fiji’s suspension from the Commonwealth, Murray McCully, New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs has said there will not be any more sanctions from New Zealand’s side. There simply can’t be. It’s a sign that New Zealand and Australia have now realised that the isolationist strategy they have stuck to since early 2007 has not worked. In fact, it has only ended up hurting innocent Fiji citizens more than anyone else.

Despite suspending it, Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma has said that the 53-member grouping will continue to engage with Fiji and is sending a delegation to Suva later this month.

Fiji is too be important to be trivialised with the insensitive approach that New Zealand and Australia have had toward it over the past two and a half years. It has always been the gateway to the South Pacific and will remain so. Any attempts to shift it to a neighbouring country like Samoa – which Samoa’s leadership has repeatedly sought – is wishful thinking and well nigh impossible for reasons of its inferior infrastructure, costs and sheer logistics, which New Zealand and Australia simply cannot afford.

Despite suspending it from its membership, the Pacific Forum is still headquartered in Fiji. This is akin to the United Nations, based in New York, suspending the United States from its membership. In the words of a senior Pacific Forum functionary, “The Forum needs Fiji far more than Fiji needs the Forum.”

Nature abhors a vacuum and the one created by New Zealand and Australia has been quickly filled by aggressively ambitious China. The Asian economic powerhouse has stepped up both its profile and investments in Fiji. As well as a huge new embassy, the Chinese are helping Fiji catch up with infrastructure investments that have received a setback. A new super luxury hotel with Venice-style waterways and gondolas is one of the bigger private sector investments that is coming up near Nadi.

The geopolitics of the Pacific has been in slow ferment for about two decades now with Asian powers like China, Taiwan and Japan playing increasingly important roles in its development. It will now begin to accelerate. And the West’s handling of the Fiji situation since early 2007 has already proved to be the catalyst.

Changes in the UN Law of the Sea has enabled Pacific Island countries to redraw their continental shelf boundaries to include several million additional square kilometres of open ocean to their exclusive economic zones (EEZ). This will vest them with rights to farm greater swathes of their waters and prospect larger areas of the ocean bed for minerals and oil, something that has already begun to happen – and no prizes for guessing which country is in the best position to win the lion’s share of those prospecting and mining contracts.

Though it puts up a brave face, so worried is the Western world of the changing geopolitics of the Pacific, which is the world’s last largely untapped resource-rich region, that a couple of months ago US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rather ingenuously said that the US was “not ceding” the Pacific to anyone.

Her use of the word “ceding” is interesting. One can only cede when one possesses something. It betrays the West’s – certainly the US’ – long held belief that the Pacific is its own backyard.

Nothing could be farther than the truth. And its attitude to Fiji has helped in no small way in crashing that belief.

Dev Nadkarni is editor-in-chief of the Indian Weekender and a former journalism coordinator at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji.

Update On Pacific Scoop Article (recently updated 8:25 GMT)

T.R.Singh's Pacific Scoop (P.S) article reappears almost magically as SiFM post initially pointed out its absence. The new Pacific Scoop Reposting of T.R. Singh's article. Albeit retitled.

The excerpt of the reposted P.S article:

When the Pacific media is misinformed about democracy Fiji-style

PJR_15_1 _Cover_2009

Cartoon: PJR/Malcolm Evans

Opinion – By Thakur Ranjit Singh

A recent Fiji Tourism advertisement on Television New Zealand, showing an Indo-Fijian lady doing a salutation Namaskaar in front of the iconic Nadi Temple, is not only unusual but historic as well.

This is because in the so-called pre-coup “democratic Fiji”, the other 40 percent of the population never existed in any tourism promotions and hardly existed under Laisenia Qarase’s democratic regime. They are the persecuted and envied Indo-Fijians.

Indo-Fijians in the Pacific exceed the populations of Samoa, Tonga and the whole of Polynesia and Micronesia put together. Yet when one looks at the role Samoan and Tongan media personnel and journalists play in Fiji affairs, one would assume as if Indo-Fijian journalists – like their absence from tourism brochures and promotions – do not exist in media circles as well.

Indeed, they do not. This is because of ethnic cleansing in a supposedly democratic country. It was with the intention of helping fill that gaping vacuum that I took up postgraduate media studies in Auckland.

While the Indo-Fijian editor of the Fiji Times, Vijendra Kumar, was removed by original coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka in 1987; this author – as the Indo-Fijian publisher of the Daily Post, was made redundant by the Qarase regime in 2002 for refusing to bow down to the so-called Lauan Mafia and for exposing the ills of an undeserving Qarase regime under the pseudonym of “Liu Muri”.

Another bold and fearless journalist at the Daily Post, Josephine Prasad, who was caught up in Parliament during George Speight’s 2000 coup, was unceremoniously removed from the paper by Qarase’s cousin Mesake Koroi, because She was becoming too bold in exposing the ills of Qarase regime.

Another promising Indo-Fijian journalist trained at the University of the South Pacific regional journalism school, Mithleshni Gurdayal, also found things at the family-run Daily Post frustrating so she left and now works in India.

None of the other print media, all controlled by indigenous Fijians, allowed any Indo-Fijians to rise up, as has been done in Fiji’s racist civil service under Qarase regime.

Shedding tears

When journalists from Samoa and Tonga have a field day in either Pacific Freedom Forum or other media outlets in shedding tears for a Fiji democracy that failed to deliver social justice, there was no Indo-Fijian journalist in sight to rebut the nonsense coming out from Polynesian countries which themselves are bereft of the democracy they want for Fiji.

Therefore, despite my very deep respect for Kalafi Moala, (the publisher and editor-in-chief of Taimi ‘o Tonga and the Tongan Chronicle,) his opinion and pronouncement of Fiji and Voreqe Bainimarama in Pacific Scoop, (Why Bainimarama will fail in his quest for a ‘reformed Fiji’) if left unchallenged would be an affront to those scholars who call on students of journalism like me to dig deeper.

Bainimarama has removed two very strong divisive Fijian instruments that have been the main reason and cause for the coup culture in Fiji. The two institutions for which Moala shed tears are the Great Council of Chiefs and the Methodist Church.

During Speight’s coup, 1997 constitutional architect Dr Brij Lal had the following to say of the Great Council of Chiefs, a supposedly august body:

“Formed by Sir Arthur Gordon soon after Fiji became a crown colony in 1874, it occupied an honoured place in Fijian society as the government’s and the Crown’s principal adviser on indigenous affairs. Sadly it stands today as a diminished body of dithering men and women, confused, partisan, manipulable, unable to exercise their much sought after – and much hoped for – role as the custodians not only of indigenous Fijians but also of Fiji’s broad national interests.

The chiefs have grieviously breached the trust bestowed in them by the nation. They listened to Speight’s pleas for Fijian paramountcy, but there was no place in their deliberations for the voice of a multiethnic democracy and the defence of a Constitution which they themselves had blessed just three years ago.

They have showed themselves to be parochial men and women, bereft of a broader vision, chiefs with a small ‘c’. Unelected, unrepresentative and dominated by chiefs of the east, especially from Speight’s Kubuna confederacy…”

Chiefs saluted
When Indo-Fijian statesman Justice Jai Ram Reddy had addressed this body in the 1990s, he saluted the chiefs as and for being the chiefs of all the people of Fiji, including Indo-Fijians. Unfortunately, this body failed to live up to that expectation, and Bainimarama was perhaps not entirely wrong to say that they are good for drinking home brew under a mango tree.

The chiefs, split on provincial and confederacy lines, many deeply involved in national and local politics (like Ro Teimumu Kepa), have degenerated as chiefs for their confederacy, province and villages. National interest and statesmanship, as evident in Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, escaped their blinkered gaze.

As for the Methodist Church, the biggest casualty of coups in Fiji has NOT been democracy but Christianity, as its shepherds used pulpits to promote racial hatred and used the Bible to bash the non-believers.

To have a better appreciation of Fiji’s Methodist Church, Moala should read the article on the role the Assembly of Christian Churches, led by the Methodist Church played during 2006 election to ensure Qarase’s racist regime won the supposedly democratic elections.

They breached Electoral Regulations by indulging in blatant fundamentalist election campaigning during actual election time. They put the fear of God and catastrophe (like tsunamis and floods) in people and voted for religious and indigenous superiority above democracy. So, I beg to ask the proponents of democracy, what democracy are they talking about?

As far as shedding tears for media, the Fiji Times is celebrating 140 years in Fiji – it was established in Levuka in 1869 – 10 years before Indian indentured labourers came to Fiji.

Human rights abuses

In a history of indenture by Dr Lal, The Violence of Girmit by Professor Vijay Naidu, and untold tear jerking suffering in Rajendra Prasad’s Tears in Paradise, there are numerous tales of gross human rights abuses and exploitation of Indian labourers by the colonists.

Has anybody read any cry from this supposedly revered media for defence of the human rights of ignorant and poor people who were tricked into slavery in Fiji? Is it still continuing to protect the interests of the powerful and the mighty institution?

In academic research done in 2005 on the reporting of the 2000 coup, clear bias of the paper was established where the newspaper was seen to be a proponent of elitist interests, be they commercial or chiefly.

I do not disagree with some of the things Moala has said; especially the rise of fundamentalist new Methodist Church – the “Talibanisation” of Christianity and am totally opposed to persecution of Netani Rika and other media personnel and I am totally opposed to treatment of journalists as exposed in the Amnesty International Report yesterday.

But it needs to be realised that the media in Fiji is not entirely faultless, and especially the race card element in Fiji media needs to be brought under closer scrutiny.

I have one former journalist from one Fiji press here and she has stories of how the Fijian editor picked Fijians for strategic stories and left Indo-Fijians to do insignificant stories.

The disease of racism did not spare Fiji’s newsrooms and its Fijian editors. It is interesting to see more research being done on the Fiji media and I hope that the Fiji media is capable of standing respectfully and unhurt by the escalating academic gaze and interest.

The research that has been done does not portray as holy a picture as many would have wished.

Active politician
Moala’s defence of Ro Teimumu Kepa would have been justified if she was only a chief. No, she is a fully active politician first, and the Methodist Church is the spiritual arm of Qarase’s
Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua party (SDL).

When as Minister of Education in Qarase’s cabinet, she imposed an apartheid policy under which the children of rich Fijians could gain free form seven education while destitute children of displaced Indo-Fijian farmers could not get this deserving help because of their race.

Is this the type of democracy Moala and his supporters want for Fiji?

What I sense from Moala’s article is more heat than the light – it is heavy on emotion and weak on facts.

His coming to the defence of Netani Rika in particular and other indigenous Fijians in general is commendable and even understandable. But where were these champions of media and human rights when Indo-Fijians were victimised, robbed, raped, humiliated, persecuted and blatantly discriminated against on grounds of race under a democratic Qarase government that they want back now.

Those outsiders from Fiji and removed from the environment of Fiji’s population and racial mix, and racial politics are no experts in pontificating on issues, about which they have not read widely, had not experienced first hand and hence have little understanding of.

More complex
Fiji’s issue is far wider and deeper than mere media rights, indigenous supremacy, religious freedom and customary systems.

As a former publisher of a Fiji newspaper during the turbulent Speight times and having experienced the wheeling and dealing of racial manipulation at the high places, this makes one very skeptical and questionable about the model of democracy that outsiders want to impose on Fiji.

Perhaps Moala and others pushing Fiji for democracy should heed this cry from an Indo-Fijian who abandoned his democratic Fiji for the United States:” I would rather be a dog in America than an Indo-Fijian in Fiji”

Is that the model of democracy that Moala and his media supporters want for Fiji? That is the type delivered by Qarase.

Thakur Ranjit Singh is a former publisher of Fiji’s Daily Post, a political commentator and a postgraduate student in the School of Communication Studies at AUT University. These are his personal views.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Driving The Samoans Up the Wall.

Courtesy of Croz Walsh blog regarding Samoan PM's recent comments about an invitation to Interim Fiji P.M, Frank Bainimarama, reported by Scoop article.

PM Tuilaepa ‘invites’ Bainimarama to Samoa for dialogue

8:53 August 31, 2009Articles, Fiji, Pacific Headlines, Samoa

By Tupuola Terry Tavita in Apia

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has suggested possible ways in which to re-engage with the Fiji interim government following the Pacific Islands Forum’s reaffirmation of its membership suspension in Cairns earlier this month.

The Prime Minister says in an interview with the Samoan government newspaper Savali it would be useful for the interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama to come to Apia for a talanoa (talk) session with him.

“There are plenty of direct flights between Fiji and Samoa and I would personally invite him over for a chat if he would come,” the Prime Minister said.

“I guarantee his safety and diplomatic immunity,” said Prime Minister Tuilaepa.

“In fact, he’ll be treated in chiefly fashion.”

During such a visit, the Prime Minister said, he would take Bainimarama around the country, giving him an insight into how things are done in Samoa.

“The Samoan traditional systems of government are along similar lines as in Fiji,” said Tuilaepa.

“Fiji’s ratu system and Samoa’s matai system have similar foundations and social underpinnings. The Samoan matai system dates back more than 3000 years and is still vibrant and relevant to this day.

“I want Bainimarama to see for himself whether there are ways that we do things in Samoa that could help resolve the current situation in Fiji.

“Bainimarama may be disenchanted with Fiji’s traditional chiefs, but the matai like the ratu of Fiji are by culture and by virtue the decision-makers of the people. It’s a system you have to work with and improve, not work against.

“I’ve also been told that Bainimarama has some Samoan connection … so this is perhaps an ideal opportunity for him to get in touch with his roots here. Who knows, he may want to be bestowed a Samoan chiefly title.”

For instance, there was the Tuilaepa title in Samoa, the Prime Minister said, which compares to the Tuilakepa title of Tonga and the Tui of the Lakemba Islands in Fiji. This was one possibility, the Prime Minister said.

Such a visit, he added, would also allow the commodore to observe Samoa’s modern government, and governance practices.

“We have a lot of opposition here. A lot of newspapers who often publish nonsense about government and government policy. Our media also think that I say similar things about them. But we get along fine. We talk, we smile at each other and we pray together. No hard feelings.”

A visit to Samoa by the Fiji interim Prime Minister, Tuilaepa said, would also be an indication that dialogue and lines of communication between the region and the global community with the Fiji interim government were still open.

“Fiji is not being abandoned nor cast adrift. It’s up to the commodore if he wants to engage in dialogue.”

The Prime Minister said that he has some understanding of the motives behind the 2006 coup, but the fact is, no democratic system of government in any country is perfect. It is why, he said, all democratically-elected governments have proactive systems of controls, checks and balances.

Tuilaepa concedes that democracy has its faults. However, he said, “until a better system is developed, democracy is still the most representative, most transparent system of government available.”

“If Bainimarama is sincere in his good intentions and hope for his people, then he should swiftly return Fiji to democracy. He should immediately stop suppressing the media, immediately cease suppressing people’s right to free speech and freedom of opinion and stop interfering with the church and people’s rights to religion and worship. He should also immediately refrain from interfering with the judiciary and justice system. These are the very pillars of democracy.”

The longer Bainimarama forcefully stayed in office, Tuilaepa said, the deeper the economic, social and governance problems would be for Fiji.

“He may have wrested power from the former government to clean up corruption, but governments are human institutions where corruption is inherent in all its forms and manifestations. We are already seeing signs of corruption in his own interim government. The only way to combat corruption is to have in place the appropriate systems of controls, checks and balances that can only be established through acts of Parliament under a democratic government.”

“No aid donor or funding agency in their right minds will throw money at countries ruled by military regimes brought to power via a military coup.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa admitted that he had a “soft spot” for Fiji as he had had many Fijian friends and colleagues throughout his long political and diplomatic career.

“They are our neighbours and we share a common history, ancestry and culture. If all else fails and Bainimarama refuses to budge, then it might come down to a development none of us in the Pacific would want to see.”

Tupuola Terry Tavita is editor of the Samoan government newspaper Savali.

The issue of Samoan P.M, Tuilaepa's overreaching statements about Fiji has been raised by an earlier SiFM post. As the SiFM post alluded to the domestic opposition facing Tuilaepa and his brain child of changing driving laws from LHS to RHS and the accompanying political firestorm.

Unsurprisingly, Tuilaepa's future may hinge crucially on the outcome of this ill-thought out program for Western Samoa and the lagging financial hidden costs, among legal eventualities-two areas which are seemingly unaccounted for or simply swept under the rug, to cater for this faulty premise.

A Wall Street Journal (WSJ)video outlines the dimensions of the loggerheads regarding the issue of Samoa's change of driving laws effective Sept. 7th 2009. (posted below).

Unfortunately, Tuilaepa's plan sailed through the "democratic elected" Parliament of nobles, undoubtedly with some Trans-Tasman acquiescence and horse trading. The concept of plan B was supposed to supplement the PACER Plus revenues, based on the assumption that, the global economy was to remain steadfast or grow more based on consumer demand.

Realistically the free trade negotiations with South Pacific island nations, was founded on a sweet heart deal, signed sealed and delivered. Today, neither holds true-not the lofty financial spreadsheets using flawed data, nor the veneer of democracy using erroneous computational models generated by Wall Street, with the collusion of US Congress.

Apparently, Fiji derailed that pie-in-the-sky free trade negotiations, and the very concept is now facing sterner resistance by island states among others, recognizing the dangers of unfettered imports and the blantant absence of checks and balances.

Now that plan B is now plan A, since the PACER Plus negotiations is basically on ice in some quasi government official/private consultant's office. That outcome was projected considering the Melanesian Spearhead Group's (MSG) recent public positions, subsequent to their meet in Suva, according to a Solomon Star article.

The excerpt of the article:

MSG: Include Fiji in PACER-Plus
Wednesday, 26 August 2009

MELANESIAN Spearhead Group country members agree that Fiji should be included in PACER-Plus trade negotiations.

Ahead of the Melanesian Spearhead Group Foreign Ministers meeting in Suva yesterday, country members said Fiji should be included despite its suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum.

Speaking on behalf of the MSG last night, Papua New Guinea’s Rima Ravusiro, who is the secretary, said it was part of their Vanuatu, PNG and Solomon communiqué before the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Cairns last month.

“MSG leaders believe Fiji should be part of the PACER-Plus discussion taking into account their legal opinion,” Mr Ravusiro said.

Fiji was suspended from the Forum in March for not meeting a forum deadline on holding elections.

It was than excluded from negotiations on the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER)-Plus.

However, Mr Ravusiro said there had been positive development shown by Australia and New Zealand with regards to their stand against Fiji.

“At least there has been some improvement shown after they considered Fiji to be part of the negotiation on the two regional trade agreements,” Mr Ravusiro said.

Fiji said it has every legal right to be part of the negotiations meetings and that its role in such trade agreements is separate to its Forum status.

Australia, New Zealand and Samoa have led the push to exclude Fiji from negotiations despite criticism of this.

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