Friday, July 30, 2010

Cut Your Coat, According To Your Cloth.

1546: J. Heywood "Dialogue of Proverbs" 1. viii. c1,

I shall Cut my cote after my cloth.

SiFM hat tip to Jenny-Hayward Jones latest blog post. Jones is a regular contributor to Lowy Institute- Melanesian program, returning after a period of absence.

A welcome change from the shoot from the hip, confidence man: Graeme Dobell. A good example of an arm-chair correspondent-much perceived in the region as a barnacle of malcontent (among others), along with any other similar Trans-Tasman diplomatic shenanigans. Heretofore.

Examples as outlined in an earlier SiFM blog posting.

The excerpt of Jones' opinion:

Undermining the Pacific Islands Forum

The Myer Foundation Melanesia Program

by Jenny Hayward-Jones - 30 July 2010 11:01AM

On the surface, Fiji’s Engaging with the Pacific meeting held at Natadola last week appears to undermine the integrity of the Pacific Islands Forum. The meeting was convened after Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Edward Natapei deferred the Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders' meeting which was to be hosted by the incoming chair — Fiji’s leader, Frank Bainimarama.

Commodore Bainimarama blamed Australia for inducing Vanuatu's Prime Minister into deferring the MSG leaders meeting and expelled acting Australian High Commissioner Sarah Roberts to demonstrate his annoyance.

Bainimarama’s assumptions and Graham Davis’ suggestion in The Australian that Australia used a $66 million aid package to 'strong-arm' Natapei fundamentally misunderstands not only Natapei but Australian diplomacy.

Bainimarama, underestimates Natapei’s own sense of national pride and integrity and desire to protect the regional organisation he will chair from next week. Hosting and chairing the Pacific Islands Forum is a matter of some pride for Pacific Island nations.

Bainimarama’s MSG-Plus meeting threatened to undermine the Forum and thus to undermine Vanuatu’s position as incoming chair. Bainimarama has also slighted Natapei by declining his offer to assist Fiji with political dialogue. Natapei acted in the interests of Vanuatu and the Forum, not Australia.

Australian diplomats undoubtedly discussed the issue with the Vanuatu Government but Canberra’s aid dollars would not have been used as leverage. Melanesian governments have long experience of continuing to attract significant aid from AusAID regardless of any behaviour that Australian foreign ministers and officials might regard as disappointing. Australian aid to Vanuatu is not under threat because of its relationship with Fiji.

The Natadola meeting was not just a meeting about Fiji; leaders and representatives from eleven Pacific Island countries discussed 'trade, security, sustainable development, good governance, climate change' — all issues regularly on the annual Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ meeting.

Fiji’s press statement after the event was openly critical of the 'current model of Pacific regionalism to effectively address key development and governance challenges' — a thinly veiled attack on the Forum.

It was not clear which of the leaders present intends to take up the apparent endorsement of Fiji returning to the regional fold at next week’s Forum Leaders’ meeting — in para 7 of the communiqué. I agree with Rowan Callick and Sean Dorney that Forum Leaders will hold the line on Fiji’s suspension from the Forum.

They will all sign up to a communiqué drafted by the Forum Secretariat next week in Port Vila that will probably contradict the communiqué (drafted by the Fiji government) that they signed up to last week in Natadola and few of them will give a second thought to this contradiction.

Leaders have an opportunity to use their 'engagement with Fiji' to help improve the situation in Fiji but are more likely to leave their Natadola statement to buoy Bainimarama and their Port Vila statement to isolate him than implement the kind of actions that will assist the people of Fiji.

Bainimarama’s meeting may not in itself undermine the Pacific Islands Forum but the region’s leaders themselves will undermine the organisation if they continue to pay little heed to the statements they sign and do not demonstrate conviction in their own leadership. Australia can ill afford not to be represented by its Prime Minister in Vanuatu next week.

Photo by Flickr user pand0ra23's photostream, used under a Creative Commons licence.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

When Things Are At the Worst, They Begin To Mend

Online Editorial 7/16/2010.

The excerpt:

Stand united as a nation

An increasing number of countries are sending representatives to Fiji next week.

They are friends of Fiji coming to engage with our Government in a meeting at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa, Natadola Bay. They are doing so despite the Australian and New Zealand government efforts to isolate Fiji.

Those who are coming are showing now how wrong Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natapei was in abruptly calling off the Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting here, as wanted by Canberra and Wellington.

Amidst all this the warning by Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama about Canberra and Wellington's intention to divide and rule is timely and should be heeded. They have managed to do that with the Melanesian Spearhead Group, thanks to Mr Natapei.

Their next focus will be on the people of Fiji.

It was only last week that Australia's influential national newspaper, The Australian, published a comment from an unnamed Australian Foreign Affairs official. He, in effect, called on the people of Fiji to rise against Commodore Bainimarama's Government.

The Australian, by the way, is the flagship of News Limited, the Australian company which still controls and owns The Fiji Times.

Canberra and Wellington saw the Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting here under Commodore Bainimarama's chairmanship as a threat to their attempts to dominate the region. They were obviously shocked by the growing support Fiji was getting from other island nations.

They obviously felt threatened by their inability to dictate to Fiji and Commodore Bainimarama. They obviously were worried about the growth of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, the one major regional body from which they are excluded and cannot dominate.

Commodore Bainimarama, his Government and the Fiji Military Forces have a vision to steer Fiji forward.

They want to do away with all those problems which have hindered our progress since we got our Independence in 1970.

Out are going outdated laws inherited from a colonial past.

Out are going corrupt practices. Out are going racial discrimination.

Out are going the politicians who exploited and thrived on the politics of race.

Out are going the web of dirty racial politics which led to bloodshed.

A better Fiji is being built.

So what's bad about that? Canberra and Wellington don't agree.

But the welfare and the development of the people of Fiji are the least of the priorities of the politicians and bureaucrats in those capitals.

Their priority is to be able to dominate the affairs of the region, including ramming through the so-called PACER Plus trade agreement while excluding Fiji from the negotiations.

We should heed the Prime Minister's call.

We must stand united as a nation.

We must not let others divide us for their own exploitive political and trade purposes.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Give A Beggar A Horse And He'll Ride To The Devil: Why Did the MSG Leaders Change Their Minds?

Croz Walsh's Blog -- Fiji: The Way it Was, Is and Can Be: Why Did the MSG Leaders Change Their Minds?: "Opinion Crosbie Walsh 13 July 2010 Background Exactly one year ago today the Melanesian Spearhead Group resolved to ask the Pacific Islands ..."

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A Snarky View From A Kiwi Pinocchio - Michael Field Is At It Again: Is this "Vindictive,...

Croz Walsh's Blog -- Fiji: The Way it Was, Is and Can Be: Michael Field Is At It Again: Is this "Vindictive,...: "'KIWI PAIR CAN LEAVE FIJI WITH JUST 2 BAGS.'  Under this heading, Michael Field  writes, 'a New Zealand couple made prisoners in their ow..."

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