Dec 10, 2014

After the Last coup


Aunty Tala : "Internashnl Operada ? Eah -  pliss can I haff da internashnl numpa for Itchi pliss? Thank yooooo."

Operator : " I'm sorry there is no listing. Is the spelling correct ?"

Aunty Tala : "Eah . It use to be call Fitchi but the F fell off after the last coop" Heee heee heee. Eah.




Oct 5, 2014

The Ethics of Dishonesty in Fiji


A permanent solution to the coup culture in Fiji ?

Published : Saturday, September 27, 2014

The election result was something of a foregone conclusion given the degree of control exercised by the erstwhile dictatorship over all aspects of political life.

Draconian decrees restricting fundamental human rights such as freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press meant that opposition voices would have trouble being heard.

Control over the news media was especially important for Frank Bainimarama to gain legitimacy as elected prime minister, and it was assured by intimidation of both Fiji TV and the Fiji Times under the Media Decree. The Fiji Sun and FBC, meanwhile, could be counted on for shameless cheerleading on behalf of the regime.

Scottish writer Andrew Fletcher (1655-1716) observed that “if a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation.” That was back when ballads were the main means of spreading the news, which even 400 years ago was well understood as the key to forming public opinion.

Now imagine if a politician could both control the news AND make all the laws of a nation. How would you like his chances at the polls?

That was the situation in Fiji for almost eight years subsequent to Bainimarama’s 2006 coup. The only real surprise is that he didn’t take all 50 seats, as he boasted he would. That Sodelpa managed as many seats as it did speaks to the depth of indigenous outrage that will not be going away anytime soon.
The real question is whether Fiji could handle a genuine democracy with a free press, or if the country needs an ├╝ber-authoritarian strongman like Bainimarama to keep control.

Those who claim the latter is true point to the country’s history of coups dating back to 1987. Some blame the press for fomenting the 2000 coup, which on my reading of the record seems specious, at best.

But the fact remains that Fiji’s two solitudes have shown they simply cannot play nicely enough together for a real democracy. Calls for an end to the “coup culture” that has bedeviled the country have perhaps been answered with a militarisation which has seen an elected government laced with army officers.

Combined with restrictive decrees which amount to almost as much government control as during martial law, the result is perhaps a permanent state of coup which will indeed preclude future coups.

Sep 17, 2014

Watchdog hits out at Fiji media ban

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/pacific/254831/watchdog-hits-out-at-fiji-media-ban

Fiji opposition groups say intimidation, lack of coverage means September polls won't be free and fair

Updated

Opposition parties in Fiji say intimidation and a lack of media coverage mean the coming elections will not be free and fair.

The September poll will be the country's first since the 2006 military coup in which Frank Bainimarama seized power.

Rear-Admiral Bainimarama has been on been on the hustings promoting his new party, but opposition groups say the political playing field is far from even.



Ro Teimumu Kepa from the opposition Social Democratic Liberal Party of Fiji (SODELPA) says their own election campaign has been troubled.

"Up to this moment in time there are some things that are happening which does not augur well for the free and fair that we are hoping for," he said.
When the party has campaigned in some communities, Ro Teimumu says police have turned up afterwards to question people about what was said.
"When a stranger arrives at a village, you know right away that person does not belong to that village," she said.
"If they come from the police or the military then they believe it's some form of intimidation."

Around the world media coverage is part of any election campaign, but SODELPA says it can't get its message out.
"We normally have coverage towards the back of the paper - after Bainimarama's photo and whatever he has to say on the front page, and then after all the supermarket ads and the sports and film and television ads.
Ro Teimumu Kepa, Social Democratic Liberal Party of Fiji
Ro Teimumu says media censorship after the coup means many outlets won't run comments or stories critical of the government.

"We normally have coverage towards the back of the paper," she said.

"[It comes] after Bainimarama's photo and whatever he has to say on the front page, and then after all the supermarket ads and the sports and film and television ads."

There's also concern that Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is also the elections minister, which SODELPA says is a conflict of interest.

Their concerns are echoed by the National Federation Party's leader, Dr Biman Prasad

"We're telling the whole world we're holding an election - yet the world must also see there are all these restrictions that are in place which do not allow political parties to engage freely," he said.

Dr Prasad says laws governing the elections, political parties and the media all favour the government.
"People who are opinion makers, academics, NGOs, trade union officials - they've all been barred from taking part in political activities and actually talking about issues," he said.

 

Independent candidate

If opposition parties are finding it difficult, independent candidates are doing it even tougher.
Roshika Deo and the supporters of her 'Be The Change' campaign lack the funds to buy TV and newspaper ads, and have been forced to turn to social media

"We've been in a military dictatorship and we still remain in a military dictatorship and as a result it makes it hard," she said.

Ms Deo is running as an independent candidate after gaining prominence raising the issue of violence against women and children.
We've had the misogynist attacks, the rape threats...the threats of violence on social media.
Roshika Deo, Independent candidate

The subject matter, her young age and gender have prompted an angry backlash from some communities.

"There has been certain older, seasoned people that have not been very supportive," she said.
"They have been created additional barriers for us, have been using a lot of sexist, ageist language.
"We've had the misogynist attacks, the rape threats, you know the threats of violence on social media."

While opposition parties and independents battle to be heard, Frank Bainimarama has no such worries, with every move of his Fiji First Party relayed by the media

Despite facing what appear to be very long odds, opposition figures like Ro Teimumu Kepa say they won't stop campaigning.

"We can just live in hope," she said.