Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Background to Green's Fijian expulsion

Take it for what it's worth since it appeared on Ian Wishart's website [hat tip Whale Oil], but with all the mainstream media wringing their hands in unison on Michael Greens' expulsion from Fiji, this offers some of the background to the expulsion that the MSM's pathetic coverage has completely failed to provide: a letter from one Thakur Ranjit Singh, Fiji human rights campaigner, Fiji Sun columnist and a former general manager of Fiji's Daily Post.
If NZ Government claims that the expulsion of Michael Green came as a surprise then it is a white lie. This is because the NZ government was warned about Michael Green's behaviour some four months earlier by members of Fiji community in Auckland...

[A public] meeting was told about Michael Green's behaviour towards the military regime as well as people of Fiji seeking services from NZ High Commission. It was reported that Michael Green was very close to Qarase regime and could not fathom the fact that he would no longer be in the cocktail circuit after Qarase's removal in December last year...

He failed to appreciate the reality of the situation and has now paid a heavy price for it.

The other Michael also came into prominence. The supposedly expert in Pacific affairs, Michael Field was detained at Nadi on the eve of marching orders to Michael Green and deported the following morning to New Zealand.

On 20th December, some two weeks after the removal of Qarase regime, Coalition for Democracy in Fiji held a panel discussion on Fiji affairs in Auckland. Apart from Suliana Siwatibau and NZ MP Keith Locke, I was also one of the speakers. Michael Field also attended this forum. In my presentation which was reported in Fiji as well as NZ papers, I revealed the ills of Qarase regime. The theme of my presentation was that: democracies that are devoid of or lacking in granting freedom, rights and equality to all its citizens and those without social justice are not worth defending. Qarase's regime that Bainimarama removed was an epitome of such a democracy. Michael Field did not report any part of my presentation. I am not cross that he did not report me but he displayed acute case of dereliction of media ethics in not telling Kiwis what they deserved to know...

If Michael Field was indeed the veteran journalist then he should not have abused his position and status in keeping Kiwis ignorant about what was really happening in Fiji. My experience shows that like NZ Labour Party, New Zealanders generally are still ignorant about Fiji and this had to do with a journalist like Michael Field who while occupying an influential position indulge in news selling reporting rather than informative reporting...

And it is so important for New Zealand mainstream media to have Pacific or Fijian journalists reporting on Fiji issues and informing the ignorant Kiwis on local politics, so that they get the correct picture.

But unfortunately, the mainstream media in New Zealand is in no hurry to use Fiji journalist who have migrated to New Zealand, and will depend on jaundiced views from parachute journalists from New Zealand. Unfortunately, such views appear to get copied as New Zealand's foreign policy in the Pacific.

For the full letter, see Thakur Ranjit Singh: Fiji Problem.

Singh has been critical for some time of the performance of NZ media and their "parachute journalists" in covering events in Fiji (as have some bloggers, such as this one). Speaking in December, for example, Singh told a public forum
that "NZ media was ignorant about Fiji affairs and naive about the post-coup reality."
"They shoot their mouths off through parachute journalists who relish in rubbishing things happening in NZ's neighbours without first appreciating the fact that Fiji is not a model of democracy," he said.

Singh said military commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama had saved Fiji from becoming "another Zimbabwe" with serious abuses of human rights and social justice.

He said New Zealand's government and media had lost sight of the basic balance of "democracy and justice".
I think he's right. Not for the first time, the failures of the Fourth Estate assist and inform the failures of the First Three. What Helen Clark has seen in Bainimarama is simply another scapegoat to draw attention away from her Government's failures, one allowing her to strut imperiously on a world stage -- and the media's pathetic coverage has allowed her to get away with it.

UPDATE: Here's the sort of analysis I would have expected from local journalists, but which (if it has appeared) I haven't seen: Elizabeth Keenan writing in January's Time magazine:

When military commander Frank Bainimarama seized power in Suva on Dec. 5, he was instantly denounced by Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., the E.U., the U.N. and the Commonwealth. Exiled Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase continues to vent outrage by phone from his island village, but his countrymen don't seem to be rallying. Soldiers at checkpoints receive abuse, but also smiles, handshakes, food and flowers. Some staunch democrats who condemned George Speight's botched coup in 2000 find themselves endorsing the aims of this takeover, if not the assault rifles that made it possible. The Methodist Church and the Great Council of Chiefs, bastions of indigenous society, have urged Fijians—including Qarase—to support the multiracial interim government "for the betterment of the nation." Writing in the Fiji Times, Catholic Archbishop Peter Mataca called Australia and New Zealand's shunning of the Bainimarama administration "regrettable and shallow." Some Fijians, he wrote, believe democracy and the rule of law "were abused and circumvented long before the military ousted the Qarase government."

In Fiji, it seems, not all coups are equally offensive...

Qarase's elected government was seen as caring most about the happiness of indigenous Fijians. Bainimarama's force-backed government aims to make Fijians of all races happy. If—and it's a huge if—he can implement his idealistic program, he might just have pulled off the coup to end all Fiji coups.
And here's an article and and photo essay from March's Time magazine (both of which have been blogged here before) drawing attention to the tragic existence of Fiji's squatters -- mostly dispossessed Indo-Fijians who racist law has barred from owning land, and who previous governments have left at the mercy of shifting racial, economic and political tides.


  1. "Singh said military commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama had saved Fiji from becoming "another Zimbabwe" with serious abuses of human rights and social justice."

    Isn't that was Tim W said?

  2. Yep, that's what he said. What he's been missing is the evidence for what he said.

    But give him credit, he may yet be proved right.

  3. We all know that Fijian govenance need to be changed. This issue is whether force should be used to achieve that goal.

    They kick out critics from foreign countries, diplomats, journalists, lawyers. They intimidate, torture and murder internal critics. But who are we to

  4. P.C + Sus.
    I appreciate your coverage on this issue P.C and your running of my article in the FreeRad.
    For me it was as obvious as 1+1=2.
    I have been watching Fiji with interest for years because I knew that the evils of Waitangi Racism were twice as bad in Fiji! The Racists were pulling guns on the government!

    Bainimarama’s past record against Speight. The thrust of indigenous rights from the UN. The Absolutely 100% perfect statements made by Bainimarama. etc.
    My very first speech for the Libz Party was pointing out how Indigenous rights was a socialist evil and that Kiwi Racism was leading the way in the south Pacific(re Tama iti supporting Speight)
    I had enough ‘evidence’ to put my position in Libz party on the line for this and I still say it is a huge mistake, a giant lack of ethics, and a massive opportunity lost for the Libz Party to refuse to go into bat for Bainimarama.
    Even now should the Party jump in and start supporting him… massive gains could be made...What have you to loose? Even if it cost the party a few of it's few voters, at least history will record the arguments that Libertarianz offered against Indigenous rights and unlimited democracy. The chances of Bainimarama being a fraud are very slim and He needs Help!
    If he proved to be a dirty Liar then you could reposition yourselves accordingly.
    Yes violence is unfortunately a factor. But are Libertarianz pacifists?
    How many died halting Hitler’s anti Semitism?
    How many died securing American independence?
    How many died ending Slavery in the south?
    It is an ugly business fighting racism!
    Even families are torn apart when one member refuses to support his racist whanau!
    It is a most insidious evil of the first order.
    Look at the Maori Party! Look at Speight!
    I am doing everything I can to awaken Kiwis to the situation, and while I am not surprised the sheeple who endorse Waitangi Apartheid are outraged by Bainimarama, I am very disappointed that The Libertarian Party cannot see the wood for the trees!
    I am not angry…I am sad. It was the last disappointment for me so I left.
    Without Guidance and help, things could go very badly still but that will not prove withholding support was right.
    It will prove a Good man lost a good fight because there were none to help him.
    Those that know what evil he was up against yet did not rally for him!
    I say stop pussyfooting and start fighting for equality against the UN and the Socialists, and the Helen Clarks!


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