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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Suva junta media decree

This week, last week:
With the newsrooms having been under heavy censorship since the "new legal order" coup of April 2009 it is difficult to know what is being concealed in the headlines out of Fiji.

The latest grab for control from the Bainimarama/Sayed-Khaiyum regime has been conducted under the guise of nationalism - a decree to force the sale of overseas held media:

The Australian publisher of the Fiji Times will later this week visit News Ltd executives in Australia to decide on the course of action following the interim Fiji government’s decision to force the sale of the 140-year-old newspaper into local ownership.
The Fiji Times must sell at least 90 per cent of its shares to local investors within three months or face closure. Fiji media is already under heavy censorship following draconian decrees put in place by the military regime last year.

Two other newspapers, the Fiji Sun, and the Daily Post, are locally owned, with the Fiji government a majority owner of the latter.

Under the Media Industry Development Decree foreign investors can only own up to 10 per cent of any Fiji-based media organization. The decree introduces financial penalties against journalists and organizations deemed to have breached the legislation.

Meanwhile, the Public Emergency Regulation remains in force for another three months.
Attorney-General in Commodore Frank Bainimarama's regime Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the Fiji Times would face closure if it did not comply with the decree. "Fiji Times, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd, have been given three months to ensure they comply with the requirements of the media decree or cease operations altogether," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

New Zealand Media Freedom Committee secretary Tim Pankhurst told the NZPA the measures were part of a disturbing trend towards dictatorship, and another reason New Zealanders should boycott travelling to Fiji.
When the new measures were announced in April, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum described the newspaper as "the purveyor of negativity, at least for the past three years".

Other measures in the decree include establishing a tribunal to ensure nothing is printed or broadcast against the "national interest or public order", said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.

The decree is to stop the truth - "negativity" in the Attorney-General's terms - being reported to the public about the military dictatorship that Sayed-Khaiyum runs with the Commodore. In this respect the measure is mostly redundant because self-censorship pervades the media organisations anyway. Take the Fiji Times online edition - there is mundane news and nothing at all obviously anti-government:Some of the stories may be hidden away, or their significance disguised. It is hard to tell. Like here in the business section we find what appears to be the end to a form of ethnic favoritism - a $20m fund to help indigenous Fijians compete with their Indian domestic competitors. The politics and the players behind this money are unknown to me, but it is not up to an illegal regime to make these decisions, even if the fund was in some way connected with a coup. The importance may lie with the $20m figure itself - a whiff of desperation as the cabal try to balance the government's budget. They are trying to call in chips they don't have.

They have tried everything to stay in power: they tried to sack the judiciary, they tried devaluing the Fiji dollar, they tried sacking everyone in the public service who was older than the Commodore, they tried stacking the public service with military personnel, and now they are trying to maneuvre their mates into the media. None of it is supposed to make Fiji a better place, these things are done just to remain in charge - and that bag of tricks is near an end.

They cannot put an election off beyond 2014 - that would be worse than the Commodore breaking his word to the Commonwealth - it would be breaking it with the Fijian people and what improbably minute electability he has would be gone. It would be an admission he could never have won an openly contested election.
The Govt of Fiji website promotes the "People's Charter" - that's the logo on the left, the multi-fisted swastika - just above the Year Zero/apocalyptical looking "New Dawn" policy. The circus of planning for a democracy you never plan to restore is planned to drag on to 2014, or infinity, whichever is the longer. The regime gradually eliminates all avenues of political discussion as the questions get harder to answer.

The Coup conspirators/ list of banned persons is helpfully provided by the regime themselves. There's our boy, Christchurch lawyer, Christopher Pryde in the second rank of collaborators, but doing most of the legal dirty work for the A-G as Solicitor-General.

I must note here too that the Indian/Fijian ex-pat friction is still alive and well in NZ - esp. when they claim to be the same thing. A club's press release has stirred and divided the Fijian community. — and the first comment:



At 8/7/10 1:24 pm, Anonymous Ateca. V said...

Hey Tim - thanks for this - you have hit everything bang on the money. No amount of rose-tinting can fool us "native" Fijians about what this terrible regime is doing to the people of Fiji and its economy. Thanks for caring - we appreciate it.


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