It was already Easter Sunday in Australia when I turned on my Grundig shortwave radio and tuned in to Radio Australia. I always find the news interesting from Australia because the regional news often talks about events in Southeast Asia– places like Vietnam, Thailand and little-talked about places in the media here like Fiji.
Well, the report that caught my attention that morning was about Fiji’s woes.
Fiji has had 4 coups in the last 20 years…and hopes of bringing democracy to the country are fading.
Fiji’s constitution has been scrapped and the screws are being put to the media. From Radio Australia:
Fiji has been plunged into political chaos after the country’s Court of Appeal ruled that the interim government of Commodore Frank Bainimarama was illegal.
Campbell Cooney and Sean Dorney
The scrapping of Fiji’s constitution also appears to mean the scrapping of any notion of a free and open media in Fiji.
“Emergency regulations are in force,” Commodore Bainimarama said on Saturday.
“However, these regulations are only an emergency measure. I am sure we will all, including the media, collaborate with the relevant agencies.”
But Fiji’s media hasn’t really been given a choice about co-operation.
On Friday officers from Ministry of Information and the Police Media Unit were placed in the country’s newspaper, radio and TV newsrooms.
In response, sections of Fiji’s media have launched a self-imposed news blackout in response to new censorship regulations.
Fijian media are boycotting political stories, with newspapers on Monday strikingly bland in their design and reports.
The Fiji Times on Sunday ran blank spaces where censored stories critical of Friday’s abolition of the constitution and the re-appointment of Commodore Frank Bainimarama’s government would have run.
For Monday, it ran no stories at all relating to the extraordinary events of the past four days.
The Fiji Sun says it will not print any political stories under the current censorship provisions, imposed on Friday.
The main television station in Fiji, Fiji One, refused to run a news bulletin on Sunday because the management objected to the censorship being imposed by the head of information, Major Neumi Leweni.
Major Leweni has been given exceptional powers as the chief censor – he can recommend the closure of any newspaper, television or radio station that does not obey his directions.
Now apart from the fact that here in the U.S. the media was bought and sold for Obama during the election season and is still pushing his charms at us constantly, we’ve also had rumblings about the government “helping” newspapers in trouble. We know from the banking debacle that banks who take money from the government are either in cahoots with the people responsible for this financial mess or, it they were outside the cabal and forced to take money, they’re having a hard time extricating themselves from the Obama Administration’s grip.
Right now our own Constitution is being disregarded when convenient. We have a compliant/complicit media along with a dying print media that may be willing to be “helped.”
So, while “officers from the Ministry of Information” aren’t quite in television studios or newsrooms here yet because so far very few feathers are being ruffled, don’t you wonder if things will change if and when some of the mass media that adore Obama and helped create him begin to get a bit uppity? Obama and his crowd are so very good at applying pressure and intimidation…
In Fiji, the press is fighting back as best they can by ignoring any political stories or running blank spaces.
Wouldn’t that be something? Dead air on all the talking heads’ TV shows? A refusal by newspapers and magazines to run Obama’s propaganda?
One can dream..
Oh, but now there’s a new development…The courts are being “recreated” and there’s much talk of reform.
In a wide-ranging interview with the ABC’s Michael Vincent, Mr Sayed Khaiyum [Fuji's Attorney General] also: defends the actions of the Fijian interim regime as part of a long-term vision; speaks about the need for fundamental reform in the nation; and says communications blackouts are not as serious as had been claimed.
The Attorney-General defended the actions of the interim regime. Asked about negative international reaction, he said: “With any changes, any reforms, people who are perhaps not in the country itself may take a different view.
“People need to look at our history, need to look at the objectives, the vision of the government including (that of) the President, and make their judgement calls then.”
He said the national vision had been outlined in recent speeches by the President and the Prime Minister.
“Fundamentally, we need a number of reforms in Fiji, in particular things like electoral reform, before we can have true democratic and parliamentary elections.”
Present features of the electoral system were that “a huge gerrymandering (electoral boundary changes) takes place within it; you don’t have equal value of votes; you don’t have equal suffrage, and plus it’s based on ethnicity . .
“You don’t have basic notions of citizenry.”
Well, that’s the way to get true “reform”–have a few coups. And the Police Media Unit and a military man running the “information office”–nice touches, yes? But not to worry about those “communications blackouts”–who knows whether Radio Australia shut down its transmitters in Fiji–the AG doesn’t have any “personal knowledge” about it. Anyway, it’s all OK because Commodore Bainimarama was once a U.N. Peacekeeper, doncha know.
We’re in the middle of our own stealth coup now and many of us saw it coming during the primaries as the Democratic Party acted anything but. And, the “ethnicity card”…well, we had/have that, too.
The BBC report on the problems in Fiji includes the following observation by Professor Helen Ware in Australia:
“The country’s about to fall off a cliff…”
And other observers see the promises being made as “vague and worryingly-open ended.”
Sounds so familiar over here in “Fiji on the Potomac”…
Filed under: Current Politics, World News | Tagged: Barack Obama, BBC, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, coups, democracy, Democratic Party, electoral reform, ethnicity card, Fiji, Fiji Attorney General Sayed Khaiyum, Fiji Ministry of Information, Fiji One, Fiji Police Media Unit, Grundig shortwave radio, mass media, media censorship, Obama Administration, propaganda, race card, Radio Australia, The Fiji Sun, The Fiji Times, U.S. Constitution | 7 Comments »