Showing posts with label Aust/NZ media bias. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Aust/NZ media bias. Show all posts

Thursday, November 07, 2013

The New Battle for the Pacific: How the West Is Losing The South Pacific To China, The UAE, And Just About Everyone Else.

Far from being small island states, Pacific Island countries are showing themselves as large ocean states, with vast fisheries, potential seabed resources, and increasingly important geostrategic positioning - as the range of military bases dotted throughout the region can attest.

However, just as the region is showing its importance, Western influence is waning. When the larger Western powers pulled out of the region following the end of the Cold War (the United Kingdom, for example, closed three South Pacific High Commissions in 2006), they turned to Australia and New Zealand to "manage" the area for the West. Ms. Cleo Paskal discusses how and why this happened and what are the options for the West in this new battle for the Pacific.

Ms. Cleo Paskal is an Associate Fellow in the Energy, Environment and Resources department at Chatham House, London, and Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Geopolitics, Manipal University, India. 

Recorded at the East-West Center office in Washington, D.C., October 3, 2013

Friday, January 11, 2013

You Can't Please Everyone- Fiji's Draft Constitution

Jenny Hayward Jones latest post on The Interpreter on Fiji's draft constitution has some valid points, buttressed by conjecture:
This announcement was the culmination of a campaign from the Fiji regime to distance itself from the Commission it had itself established, which begs the question of why the regime bothered with the expense and effort of engaging international expertise, attracting support from donors and seeking the views of the people[...] It is difficult now to see how the Constituent Assembly, even if it has a fair representation, will have a reasonable opportunity to provide independent advice on the new constitution. It seems likely it will be hounded into rubber stamping the regime's new draft, with only a month promised for consideration.
Grubsheet post addressed some of the reservations Jones had penned:
Some, of course, will accuse the Government of disregarding the advice of the constitutional referee it appointed because what he came up with didn’t suit its purposes. Others who appeared before the Commission or lodged submissions will be aggrieved that the views they expressed are being ignored. Yet as the Bainimarama Government sees it, there are sound reasons for it to take the course it has and also to be aggrieved about many of the provisions of the document bequeathed to the nation by Professor Ghai and his fellow Commissioners.

Croz Walsh latest post, further provides salient points and reminds the astute political observer of the ineffable setbacks on Fiji's path:
The road from December 2006 to the promised elections in 2014 was never going to be an easy one. The potholes and patch-overs have proved to be far worse than those on Fiji roads.  And, as with the roads where cyclones, floods and poor workmanship, have often undone the good work, so also in the political scene.  Promising steps forward have too often been followed by too many steps back.
Jones while seemingly concerned about the democracy in Fiji, however- Jones' florid sentiments on Fiji's future democracy are incredibly disingenuous and misleading:
Fiji may end up with a flawed democracy but it wouldn't be the first flawed democracy to participate in international forums and enjoy stable diplomatic relations with the world's powers. Many flawed democracies have improved over time and even though Fiji has a way to go, there has at least been a public discussion about the future, which cannot be undone.
Croz outlined the benevolent policies :
There is far more to the credit of a government that launched the People's Charter that won the support of two-thirds of the adult population, despite opposition from these self-same critics and others in the old political establishment.  I cannot believe that a government that has placed so much emphasis on racial equality, a shared Fijian identity, national unity, and has done so much towards improving the country's physical and institutional infrastructure, not to mention its efforts to assist rural communities and the poor, is merely in power for self-serving purposes.
It is rather reprehensible of Jones, to gloss over the exceedingly greater flaws of preceding democracies in Fiji, in comparison to the existing path mapped out by the current Fiji Government.

Unfortunately, Jones has some disconcerting history of blatantly flippant analysis on Fiji's domestic politics, as highlighted by a 2009 SiFM post:
Interpreter's Melanesia specialist Jenny-Hayward Jones has got it wrong yet again, along with the biased media reports from ABC. Jones' latest posting, unashamedly uses the talking points of the SDL segment, highlighting the 2 pillars of society, warning of imminent danger to the general public if their dual-pronged influence is permanently removed from the landscape of Fiji politics.
Ironically both pillars were also intimately involved with Fiji's 1987 and 2000 coups and it is rather myopic and repulsively selective for Jones to obfuscate that well documented fact.
Radio Australia host Bruce Hill interviews Brij Lal, the academic from Australia National University on retainer, who cynically (as usual) opines on the draft constitution . Unsurprisingly, Bruce Hill's maker's mark of yellow journalism was underscored in the interview, by the routine absence of alternative perspectives in providing balance. Furthermore, Croz Walsh had highlighted in a blog post, the journalistic bias in Bruce Hill. Croz also posted the defense by Radio Australia of Bruce Hill.

 (Interview of Brij Lal /Bruce Hill posted below)

Brij Lal appears to echo his default reaction to any changes to the 1997 constitution, as addressed in a 2009 SiFM post:
Dr. Lal, later questioned the issue about the consultation phase, regarding this new Fiji Constitution. However the ABC host did not bother to challenge Lal's remarks or even bother to compare the present and continuing consultations, to the diluted 1997 version. Neither did ABC offer any other opposing views, apart from their favorite talking heads, in their so called forum.

A surreptitious version of due diligence; that was formed during Lal's celebrated and at times, over-glorified tenure as 'architect' of the 1997 Fiji Constitution. Irregardless of the glaring failures of the 1997 legal document; in the context of racial equality- a crucial issue which Brij Lal has vacillated on repeated occasions.

Video of Fiji President and Prime Minister's joint address on the draft constitution (posted below).

Club Em Designs

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

X-Post: Whale Oil- Whale in Fiji: Pio Tikoduadua

by Whaleoil on September 5, 2012 

While in Fiji I was fortunate to meet Pio Tikoduadua, Permanent Secretary – Office of the Prime Minister. Again access was easy to obtain and certainly without the high levels of security that New Zealand politicians have around them. For a country that supposedly is under military control I certainly was left wondering just where are all the troops that need to go back to the barracks.

We discussed the “smart sanctions” and the impact on Fiji. Contrary to the intention of the “smart sanctions” in forcing Fiji to return to the democracy that we want for them, they have in fact helped Fiji to find their won way forward. Trade and Tourism has in fact grown despite the sanctions. The sanctions though have caused a deep resentment of the New Zealand and Australian governments. Mainly because the effects have been at a deeply personal level and have affected the health of people. They believe that the sanctions have failed the foreign policy goals of New Zealand and in fact have strengthened Fiji internationally and economically.

Here is a short summary [video posted below] of the pertinent points:

Pio Tikoduadua was openly dismissive of Phil Goff and his comments about Fiji prior to the South Pacific Forum. New Zealand’s neo-colonial attitude is not appreciated and the Fijian people and government find it insulting and condescending. The discussion around the independence of the judiciary and the effect of the sanctions on recruiting judges and officials. Tikoduadua believes that New Zealand’s and Australia’s belief that their judges and lawyers are the only ones that somehow qualified to work in Fiji is quaint and condescending and without merit.

The discussion over the Constitutional Reform process in Fiji was refreshing and one that perhaps New Zealand can learn from. There are no limits to the constitutional discussion and as I drove around Fiji there were constant advertisements encouraging people to participate and have their say about the Constitutional framework. Which then led into a discussion about the three constitutions that Fiji has suffered under, all that were “cooked up” by politicians and the processes ignored the people of Fiji.

The collusion of politicians and the Great Council of Chiefs to produce a constitution that created racial separatism that could only have caused problems. For these reasons they believe that Fiji needs to create its own Constitution.

The full audio [posted below]of the interview is below:

Monday, January 09, 2012

The End Crowns The Work.

owy's Institute blog "The Interpreter" featured a post titled"Fiji: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back", authored by Jenny Hayward Jones, who remarked about the
amendment (PDF) to the Public Order Act of 1969:

It is too early to know the impact of this new decree or indeed the real impact of the Media Industry Development Decree, both of which appear to be aimed at enshrining in law most of the temporary powers available to the Fiji Government under the Public Emergency Regulations.
Jones continued later in the same post, arguing that the new found accolades for the recent removal of the Public Emergency Regulations (PER) in Fiji, were incompatible with the new amendments to the Public Order Act:
However, the fact that [Bainimarama] felt he could shun the plaudits he won from lifting the Public Emergency Regulations through(sic) the new restrictions on freedoms promised by the Public Order Decree suggests he continues to have little regard for the opinion of the international community.
While, it has been widely accepted that Fiji is still trudging in its own pace, on the road towards democracy; it would be rather naive at best for observers to assume that Fiji had arrived in its moment in the sun and claimed the status as described in former US President Reagan's historic speech of "city on a hill".


"On one hand, Fiji is not a democracy; yet the shortfalls in media freedom is to be expected. On the other hand; the United States has been fully fledged member of the democracy club; yet the lack of media coverage of such mega erosion of civil liberties; does point to some degree of censorship in their newsrooms.

Is it the same international community that welcomed Fiji's removal of PER; have hypocritically acquiesced to the erosion of civil liberties in America?"
Comparatively, when considering the fore-mentioned amendment to the Public Order Act in Fiji (an infant in terms of democracy) and contrast that with America (hundreds years of being a democratic republic); the news of  the recent passage of the NDAA bill, now signed into law by US President Obama only highlights such a dichotomy in democratic ideals and those who profess them incessantly.

The Guardian newspaper article underscores such hypocrisy:
President Barack Obama rang in the New Year by signing the NDAA law with its provision allowing him to indefinitely detain citizens. It was a symbolic moment, to say the least. With Americans distracted with drinking and celebrating, Obama signed one of the greatest rollbacks of civil liberties in the history of our country … and citizens partied in unwitting bliss into the New Year.
In the same "City on a hill" speech in 1974, Ronald Reagan highlighted the uniqueness of the US Constitution:
The culmination of men's dreams for 6,000 years were formalized with the Constitution, probably the most unique document ever drawn in the long history of man's relation to man. I know there have been other constitutions, new ones are being drawn today by newly emerging nations. Most of them, even the one of the Soviet Union, contain many of the same guarantees as our own Constitution, and still there is a difference. The difference is so subtle that we often overlook it, but it is so great that it tells the whole story. Those other constitutions say, "Government grants you these rights," and ours says, "You are born with these rights, they are yours by the grace of God, and no government on earth can take them from you."
The world certainly knows fully well now, how things have changed in America.
The Guardian article further illustrates the scale and magnitude of how such civil liberties have been eroded and also points fingers at the mainstream media for not highlighting such major assaults on the U.S Constitution:
The almost complete failure of the mainstream media to cover this issue is shocking. Many reporters have bought into the spin of the Obama administration as they did the spin over torture by the Bush administration. Even today, reporters refuse to call waterboarding torture despite the long line of cases and experts defining waterboarding as torture for decades.
On the NDAA, reporters continue to mouth the claim that this law only codifies what is already the law. That is not true. The administration has fought any challenges to indefinite detention to prevent a true court review. Moreover, most experts agree that such indefinite detention of citizens violates the constitution.
It was even suggested in Jones' latest blog post in "The Interpreter", which ironically has the image of Ronald Reagan on its website, that the International Community were willing to look past the sins of Fiji:
Nevertheless, there are still opportunities for the international community to look past the sins of Fiji's Prime Minister and help the people of Fiji achieve their aspirations for democracy.
Regardless of Jones' authority to speak on behalf of the International Community,  it is highly questionable if the same international community Jones speaks of, routinely outlined the important role of the media in society and welcomed the PER removal in Fiji.

Jones also did point out the fact in a previous post that, during Fiji's PER had censors in the newsrooms:
Although Government censors may no longer patrol news rooms in Fiji after next week, it would be a brave editor who published overt criticism of the Government, given the strict punishments outlined in the Media Decree. Importantly, the Fiji Government now feels secure enough to commence discussions on a new constitution.
Unfortunately, the dichotomy which was highlighted earlier, does seem to widen and become much more embarrassingly apparent, in the context of Fiji and the U.S.

On one hand, Fiji is not a democracy; yet the shortfalls in media freedom is to be expected. On the other hand; the United States has been fully fledged member of the democracy club; yet the lack of media coverage of such mega erosion of civil liberties; does point to some degree of censorship in their newsrooms.

Is it the same international community that welcomed Fiji's removal of PER; have hypocritically acquiesced to the erosion of civil liberties in America?

In fact, other commentators have pointed other misuses of the fourth estate in the U.S.

Posted below is a video of such manipulations in the media, that the ubiquitous international community, mainstream media outlets and think tanks like Lowy Institute have silently tolerated. While Fiji is understandably moving one step forward and two steps back, as pointed out by Jones; it is not moving in circles and preaching that democracy is the be all and end all to everything.

Club Em Designs

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Misery Loves Company- The Trans-Tasman Hegemony Against Fiji.

In the weeks since Fiji officially joined the international bloc of nations called Non-Aligned-Movement, the under currents of destructive destabilizing maneuvers materialized, in the form of the fugitive ex-officio from Fiji.
Tevita Mara puppeteered by the Trans-Tasman cousins and acquiesced by their loyal client states of Tonga and Samoa respectively. Such realpolitik of under handedness in the region, have substantially increased in tempo and was foreshadowed in a previous SiFM post titled: "Islanders With A Dragon Tattoo-China's Rising Influence in The South Pacific".
In the particular light of the Trans-Tasman strategic policy of neo-colonialism, the undermining of Fiji is  increasingly demonstrated with the skewed bias of the mainstream media of Australia, New Zealand that work hand in glove with certain blogs. A subtle choice of neo-colonial exploitation demonstrated in Libya and cogently pointed out in F.William Engdahl's opinion piece:
In mass media framing is a very well-researched subject. The technique refers to a technique of manipulating an individual's emotional reaction or more accurately, his or her perception of meanings of words or phrases[...] Gareth Evans' Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, in addition to being active in North Africa and the Middle East, is also directly active in Asia from their center in Australia. In short they are making major efforts to propandagize the notion of responsibility to protect under the guize of protecting various populations from what they define as "genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity...". The world community is being subtly brainwashed to accept the radical new proposition with nary a peep of serious opposition.
In fact, Gareth Evans was a former Australian Foreign Affairs Minister and during his time of office (1988-1996), the East-Timor violence occurred and legendary journalist John Pilger documented Evan's role. In addition, East Timor and Indonesia Action group (ITAN) website states:
Gareth Evans was the Australian Foreign Minister and tried to convince the international community that the Santa Cruz Massacre was a special occurrence and not a political decision taken by the Indonesian State. That is to say that Gareth Evans helped to maintain silence about the violence that was happening in Timor-Leste.
It is certainly no accident that Australia's current Foreign Affairs Minister, Kevin Rudd embarked on the faulty premise of (R2P) or 'Responsibility To Protect' in Libya and categorically was one of the first politicians to broker the idea of foreign intervention according to Graham Davis' Grubsheet posting, using a neatly packaged ready-to-go, yet flawed policy designed by his predecessor, Gareth Evans.

Undeniably, with volumes of reported deaths of citizens and  NATO airstrike mistakes, have ironically penciled Rudd's Libya brokered policy as damaged goods with an expired shelf life with such an extent, that the South African President recently lashed out on the failing NATO policy and the US President is about to duke it out with the congress regarding the legality of the mission coupled with the funding aspect, buttressed by a lawsuit and a languishing economy.

In a karmic sense, the East-Timorese have learnt a great deal from the inter-actions with the Australians and in a blowback situation of sorts, have received China with wide open arms, according to a Journeyman documentary showing the East-Timorese and their China funded projects, including newly purchased Shanghai class patrol boats.

Rudd's subsequent stance on Fiji have been ridiculed by the Fiji Club of New Zealand. Also, Australia's hegemonic and duplicitous role in the South Pacific was highlighted in a recent posting by Black and Blak:

What Australia is doing in the Pacific mirrors the process of colonization and Aboriginal dispossession that has taken place on the Australian mainland and Tasmania since that process began in the late Eighteenth Century [...]

As in all exploitive processors, the original and rightful owners of a resource are forcibly separated from their property through a combination of brute force, subtle manipulation and the imposition of foreign laws that are applied favourably to the aggressors and harshly to the indigenous victims.
What the Australian government has demonstrated in the Johnson, Moti and Grant cases is a total disregard for the ‘rule of law’ and a neo-colonial indifference to the sovereignty of ‘lesser’ states which are the pretentious hallmark of an aggressive and presumptuous third rate, would be, colonial power. 
Unless the peoples of the Pacific stand up with one voice and tell Australia that its racism and selfish commercial exploitation of the region’s resources are unacceptable, the Pacific can look forward to a future of dispossession and poverty, similar to that currently being enjoyed by Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

With an incongruous display of yellow journalism, the Trans-Tasman media covered the Fiji/Tonga tensions   as  reported in a Radio Australia article  and interviewed Samoa's P.M and the interviewer almost stoking him for a sound bite that would disparage Fiji (MP3 posted below).

In an almost hyped exclamation that was exuded by the likes of Michael Field, eerily similar to the 19th century American media calls of Remember the Maine and accordingly it was Field who even published a 'tale of the tape' comparison of forces  and ushered in the accompanied media frenzy, as addressed in a Cafe Pacific blog posting.

WNYC's program's "On The Media" explains the origins of the phrase "yellow journalism". (MP3 posted below)

Samoa's P.M remarks on Fiji:

"...the parochial actions and words by Malielegaoi was glorified by the jaundiced perspective of Samoa Observer editorial, the obstinate narrative can be summed up in a 'coming of age' moment"
Evidence of yellow journalism is underscored on Croz Walsh's blog posting that berates the ex-journalist, Graeme Dobell, whose error laden posts on Fiji are published on Lowy Interpreter. Croz writes:
Dobell’s overt advocacy gets in the way of a professional approach to facts in dispute.  Dobell accepts as facts Roko Ului’s claims without recognising that these have been disputed and, in some cases, apparently refuted.  One cannot help but wonder where Dobell left his journalistic training in critical analysis. 
Fiji Times article quoted from  Fiji's Attorney General, who outlined the lack of reciprocity by Tonga, Australia and New Zealand regarding the intent of extradition by Fiji.

The excerpt of Fiji Times article:

We will not stoop to their level, says AG

Samantha Rina
Sunday, June 19, 2011
TONGA, Australia and New Zealand authorities have yet to acknowledge Fiji's extradition requests for Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara, says Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
He said the least that authorities of each country could do was acknowledge receipt of the extradition orders sought by Fiji.
"They could at least acknowledge receipt of the documents we sent and say 'we are looking into it or processing it'. But there has been no acknowledgement from Tonga, Australia and New Zealand to which we recently filed extradition papers," he said.
He said extradition papers were sent to the Prime Minister's office, Attorney General's office and the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Tonga, Australia and New Zealand respectively.
"We have been facilitating a number of extradition requests from Australia and recently did so under the Hague Convention where a parent wanted their child returned.
We also facilitated another extradition request involving an American who was wanted in the United States for a crime he committed there," he said.
The AG said the Government had always and would continue to honour bilateral and international obligations regardless of the foreign policies Australia and New Zealand imposed against Fiji.
"This shows the (Australia and New Zealand) bonafide or willingness to adhere to international bilateral obligations. They're always picking and choosing their rules but don't apply the same rules when the situation is reversed," he said.
The AG said Fiji would not stoop to their level and would consider extradition cases based on merit.
Samoa's Prime Minster, Tuilaepa Malielegaoi has repeatedly and dogmatically commented (ABC interview) on Fiji' situation and inserted himself in the saga of Mara and according to a  Radio Australia article, met with him over the weekend as well as extending an invitation to visit Samoa.

Dev Nadkarni on N.Z policy:

"The action smacks of desperation at the failure of this isolationist strategy. New Zealand's reasoning for handing the man a visa despite knowing his racist past and that he was involved in beatings during the early days of the regime are as vacuous as its reasons for looking the other way in the face of its big red friend's human rights abuses."
Although, the parochial actions and words by Malielegaoi was glorified by the jaundiced perspective of Samoa Observer editorial, the obstinate narrative can be summed up in a 'coming of age' moment; a characteristic that is closely mirrored in Samoa's obtuse decision to change lanes, jump through the time-continuum and the frivolous appeal to a BSA decision to a TV investigative story.

Dev Nadkarni's opinion piece that was published in the Fiji Sun, illustrates the said game plan and the gutter level of foreign policy analysis exercised by both Wellington and Canberra.

The excerpt of Dev Nadkarni's opinion article:

The New Zealand government's handling of the Fiji situation has shown an appalling lack of imagination and exposed the brazen double standards it applies in its international relations.
It sheepishly kowtows to China's every whim, even inventing childishly naïve reasons for not meeting with the likes of the Dalai Lama when he is a visitor to this country known far and wide for its warm and friendly peace loving people. 
It has officially hosted dictators like former Pakistan strongman Pervez Musharraf with absolutely no qualms whatsoever and has refrained from making official statements on other "undemocratic" events even in the Pacific Rim, such as the Thailand coup.
Yet it has been stubborn in its unwillingness to look at the dynamics of what led to the Fiji situation despite being in a position to know better because of its long and deep involvement in the Pacific Islands region. 
All along in the years since December 2006, it has failed to accept that the single pronged "restore democracy now or else" strategy was never going to work.
It refuses to accept that its ill-advised persistence in following that tack of feverishly campaigning to isolate Fiji was always doomed to fail and has long come unstuck.
This has forced the Fijian administration led by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to seek and cement friendships from the likes of China, Indonesia and other Asian powers that have been only too willing to oblige because of Fiji's strategic location in the South Pacific. 
Thanks to their expanding exclusive economic zones because of changes wrought by the redrawing of their continental shelf boundaries under the provisions of the United Nations Law of the Sea, the islands are hot property for resource hungry nations. Several island nations, along with Fiji, have opened their territories - both on land and the seabed - to prospecting firms from distant nations. 
By sticking to its unrealistic, single demand of "restoring democracy" in Fiji, without the changes that are needed to turn its polity into one based on true democratic principles, New Zealand has missed the South Pacific boat, now helmed by the likes of China. Enough has been written about how brazenly corrupt, blatantly racist and undemocratic the deposed Fijian government was. 
Its former members and supporters, now living overseas are demanding a return to that kind of administration.The Australian and New Zealand governments have played into their hands by handing out the visa to turncoat military man Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara. The action smacks of desperation at the failure of this isolationist strategy. New Zealand's reasoning for handing the man a visa despite knowing his racist past and that he was involved in beatings during the early days of the regime are as vacuous as its reasons for looking the other way in the face of its big red friend's human rights abuses. 
It has displayed appalling casuistry by bending every rule that it has put in place as regards travel to New Zealand for Fijian nationals associated with the administration - whether they are sportspeople or simply passengers wishing to transit through, though Murray McCully has said his ministry has been making exceptions regularly on a case-by-case basis. 
A big opportunity looms in the form of the Rugby World Cup (RWC) for New Zealand to change tack and bring Fiji back on the democratic track. Both are rugby-mad nations and the sports arena could well be the setting of a new beginning.The governments of both countries could potentially earn enormous goodwill of the entire region.There is some hope this will happen. In the past few weeks, the Fijian administration has been at pains to put out news releases about holding elections in September 2014. 
On his part, Mr MuCully has offered New Zealand's assistance in redrawing electoral boundaries, compiling lists and helping with the election process.Making it possible for Fijian players and fans to visit New Zealand without restrictions during the world cup in exchange for working with Fiji and convince it to stick to its September 2014 promise by providing it with the wherewithal to achieve that goal would be a win-win for all. 
*The author is editor-in-chief of the Indian Weekender newspaper in Auckland, New Zealand. He is originally from Mumbai, India, where he was a journalist and journalism academic before becoming head of the journalism programme at the University of the South Pacific in Suva.

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