Random Play by Graham Reid

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Random Play: Fiji #2: The Times, they are a-changing

23 Responses

  • BenWilson,

    People in New Zealand seem about as concerned as most Fijians, I guess. Or as my wife suggested, it is school holidays so maybe all Public Address readers are in Fiji on holiday with the kids.

    Well I'm pretty surprised how relaxed Fijians I have spoken to have been about the coup. Their opinions have usually been that NZ overreacted big time and that the general feeling about the whole thing was a lot of bitterness directed outwards rather than inwards. A feeling that it's their own mess, and that being punished by the world for trying to sort it out their own way is very unfair. We're all high an mighty about the evils of dictatorship, and yet take no account of the corrupt and rotten system they had beforehand (their opinions, not mine - I don't really have one).

    I have not taken the opinion of any Fijian Indians on the matter, though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8500 posts Report Reply

  • name1,

    Hi Graham, My mother was brought up in fiji, came to nz for high school and uni then had a family here, she's now back in fiji living there for the past few years. We certainly hold different political views on NZ politics and enjoy debating with each other (she barely ever storms out of my house and drives away without saying 'bye' anymore.)
    So now that she's in fiji I'm more interested in the politics in the country and discuss the situation over there with her.
    I recently sent her a link to this blog post: http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2010/05/fiji-backwards-to-barbarism.html
    She emailed back saying it had been on the cover of the paper, she reckons it's not Bainimarama doing it, it's the local chiefs - and the flogging won't happen. She mentioned it could be that there is already a bit of violence over there anyway that that the threat of a flogging wasn't much of a threat at all!!
    She said the part about the women not wearing shorts will happen, it's actually always been an unwritten rule of respect - all tourist have to wear sulus when they visit the villages - no shorts allowed as a sign of respect. She made the comment that often kiwis comment on these sort of issues without knowing the culture there. Village life is very traiditional and young girls "going out of the village learning city habits and taking them back to the village is not a good thing." She seemed to think things were actually getting better there, that there were new womens rights and laws in effect already.
    I disagreed with many of her points but I believe strongly in democracy and human/womans/mens rights and am not that flexible in my opinion on these issues when people say "it's better than it was so it's ok to take these rights away from people"
    I'm also surprised by how unconcerned people seem to be by the situation in Fiji. But then again, I think about all of the family, friends, strangers I talk to about the political issues in New Zealand and I am also just as surprised by the reaction, people seem concerned, but uneducated on the political issues here too.
    I wish I knew how to change this...

    NZ • Since Jul 2010 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    The NZ Army had a small but useful presence during the recent Oamaru/Waitaki Village/Glenavy floods...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    No problems for Newsbear Rupert, as in the past he'll just renounce his citizenship (American at the moment I think) and move to Fiji, though I guess Wendy would object to him marrying a local... but I'm sure he'll be pushing his Chinese connections to pressure the Fiji powers-that-be who seem to be getting a lot of help from China lately...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4892 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    When the new Decree comes into effect (in fewer than three months) journalists must reveal to interviewees whether others will be interviewed in connection with the article. Those interviewed must know when the article will be printed or broadcast, whether it may be edited and whether only part or none of the interview will be used.

    This sounds like a political high up who has gotten pissed at the way his interview got put into an article in the paper, and decided to decree that it was never going to happen again.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6166 posts Report Reply

  • Alec Morgan,

    Will do the decent thing Graham and respond, I would not touch Fiji tickets with a 40 foot pole, going back to Rambuka days there have been iniatives to help Fiji back onto ‘the path’, none of which have been successful.

    Sometimes perhaps you gotta let people sort out their own debacle.
    It seems to me the old “they have not come for me yet” divide and rule tactic applies, not to mention almost daily decrees that give here and take there (free entry to surf beaches), have assisted some to conveniently ignore or not even comprehend the reality that they live in a dictatorship where violence is very near.

    I know a guy who has lived there for years running a small importing business and his ears must be very sore from having his fingers stuck in them for most of the day.
    There has been wholesale migration of Indian Fijians and the joint just seems a lost cause at this point.

    Most other dictatorships and places that have lost the plot I would avoid too without a pressing reason.

    Tokerau Beach • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    people seem concerned, but uneducated on the political issues here too

    Poll support for National party increases.

    I wish I knew how to change this...

    It's called an effective Opposition

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16627 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    My sister and her family spent several years there and her children went to school there and speak Fijian. She was heartbroken by the first coup and came back to NZ soon after, but still has connections there. Seems like times are tough for the locals, and difficult for anyone to speak out at all. Even if I could afford it, I wouldn't consider a holiday there now - although I would like to visit again some time when things are more politically stable, and safer.

    New Zealand could help by letting ordinary Fijians, with no connections to the military, come here to work, such as in the short staffed aged care sector. That would help us and help poor families back there.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2077 posts Report Reply

  • tim kong,

    but I'm sure he'll be pushing his Chinese connections to pressure the Fiji powers-that-be who seem to be getting a lot of help from China lately...

    That's a fair point - there's a lot of Chinese investment going into Fiji.

    At what point does Australia and NZ's political stance become irrelevant because actually Fiji can just rely on a far bigger player for support.

    Apart from Fiji being a play place for the average Australian/Kiwi - who seriously have very little concern for the plight of the locals - what is the connection?

    Physical proximity? Historical and economic largesse? Guilt-laden Protestant/Methodist heritage?

    We can stand over here - and say "Bad Frank!" - but seriously - what vested interest do we have there? That we need to protect/look after/support? Apart from theoretical and ideological suppositions about what makes a country right and proper and 'democratic'.

    And as our illustrious leader glad hands his way around the great and good of the Middle Kingdom - what odds that we're just to become a slightly bigger Fiji - on the economic front at any rate....

    Small island in south pacific, nice place to visit etc...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 146 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Apart from Fiji being a play place for the average Australian/Kiwi - who seriously have very little concern for the plight of the locals - what is the connection?

    About 10k Fijian New Zealanders at last Census

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16627 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    At what point does Australia and NZ's political stance become irrelevant because actually Fiji can just rely on a far bigger player for support.

    If the rest of the Pacific Forum ever agree with Fiji's position

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16627 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Traditional values and military dictatorships are such good bedfellows. Minister of Education dislikes Rihanna music video, Fiji TV obediently removes it.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16627 posts Report Reply

  • tim kong,

    About 10k Fijian New Zealanders at last Census

    Hmm... speaking as one of those 10K, and knowing a few of them - I don't think that connection is really relevant to the sanctions.

    The sanctions weren't imposed after discussions with the Fijian community were they? Or with the Fijian-Indian community either.

    They were imposed because successive NZ govts. have to be seen to be doing something. And it's in the name of "democracy" - so that's worth something.

    Ignoring the fact that the "democracy" as practised before Frank and Rabuku - was all underpinned by a rather traditional/patriarchal/dare I say it corrupt tribal system. And still is.

    The tribal councils aligned with the churches (as brought by the tasty missionaries) make for quite conservative bedfellows. And that is where much of the intangible power within Fijian society remains.

    I don't say this as an apologist for Banimarama - anything he might have aspired to in terms of bringing change to Fiji is worthless because of the manner in which he took and holds power. But like the situation in Bangkok a few months back - the on the ground situation is not as simple as it might appear on the outside.

    And the Rihanna video gets picked up by our media as a sign of all that's bad in Fiji? Please.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 146 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I thought you meant the connection between our nations in general, not specifically any logic around sanctions.

    Tensions between authoritarian and participatory styles of governance are alive across the Pacific. Even in the PEDA situation and the responses of some to Efeso Collins speaking out about it. Oh, he's fired now, btw.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16627 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16627 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    We need a united kingdom of the south pacific, we have to work with fiji, understand it, we can't starve if of money though, that's just inhumane.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    I'm sorry>?
    A ' united KINGdom of the South Pacific'?
    You have to be fucking kidding.
    There are so many ancient hates, and unfinished wars, and really alive unpleasantnesses-
    just forget about any kind of closure between Melanesia & Polynesia - aint gonna happen-

    and "king"doms- waua! Jeremy Eade - go read history!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    Well the scots, welsh and english did it and they fucking hated each other, but yes , quite rightly there doesn't have to be a king, more a figure of speech.

    A united pacific will have to happen in some sense in the future , history is a lesson not a barrier and I can't help noticing we all live in the same piece of water.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Jeremy Eade - it is possible that some kind of real *South* Pacific union will happen, but not in my lifetime.

    "we all live in the same piece of water" -

    Indeed - but we have quite different views on how we relate to that piece of water...

    "Well, the scots, welsh and english did it..."

    um, the Northern Irish were in the United Kingdom mix too, and their love for the English hasnt grown by the decade. There are relatively strong nationalist movements in both Scotland & Wales (and, to a lesser extent, Cornwall & the Isle of Man) - with impetus given by language recovery. I have a longstanding bet with a fine English writer that Endgland will retain its monarchy, but other countries will secede from the 'United Kingdom.'

    O, and I regret my intemperate language but I am strongly anti-monarchy - especially, where ANZ is concerned.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    Sure, i agree we don't need kings but King John Key wont last forever.

    My original statement was more a reflection on the need for a more considered approach to pacific regionalism from us. Can the economies work more efficiently together considering the obvious advantages of trade regionalism.

    In relevance to the original post, ""Are we going to achieve harmony in Fiji by starving a very fragile economy?" Is isolation going to achieve strong results for the region.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Lara,

    I would not go to Fiji, even if given the opportunity.

    I believe that PACER Plus is the regional trade agreement currently under negotiation, and I would agree with the concerns voiced by various NGOs about the likely consequences of that agreement.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2009 • 75 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Idiot/Savant has an update.

    Yesterday the Melanesian Spearhead Group, a regional trade and political forum parallel, cancelled its planned leadership summit in Fiji over concerns about Fiji's military regime.

    ...

    Today, Fiji responded by expelling the Australian ambassador. It's a classic example of the regime's paranoia. Everything bad that happens to Fiji is not the result of the regime's own incompetence, but of Australian and New Zealand plotting. And this extends to being snubbed by their neighbours, who could not possibly have any commitment to democracy of their own, but must have been put up to it by others.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16627 posts Report Reply

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