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Fiji drifting away from civilisation, journalist

Fiji drifting away from civilisation, says journalist

Thu, 22 Feb 2001 09:24:31 +1200

Issue No: 504 22 February 2001

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Fiji drifting away from civilisation

Fiji is daily drifting further and further away from being the civil society it could have become had it not been for deep-dyed racism within the indigenous Fijian tribal establishment, writes veteran journalist Gordon McLauchlan.

In an article published on 17 February in the NZ Herald, McLauchlan writes: "[W]hat a shame the indigenous Fijians did not have the stature and generosity to overcome this adversity and rescue their country once they had control of it. The task now seems far beyond them and the danger to New Zealand is we could have a Sri Lanka-style country as a near neighbour."

"So now we have an interim administration in Fiji that may have ousted that ridiculous, strutting little peacock, George Speight, but which reveals almost daily its inability to understand how a free, democratic society works and which shows a callous disregard for the fate of Indo-Fijians."

"And, excepting some brave and competent journalists, the local media are often an impediment to the march to Fiji enlightenment."

"At the end of last week a transcription of an Australian documentary on the plight of Indo-Fijian cane growers was widely published on Pacific websites, including in Fiji. (It would not, of course, be shown on Fijian television.)"

"The Interim Minister for Information and Communications, Ratu Inoke Kubualoa, retorted: "The truth of the matter is that it is the landowners who are the real victims of exploitation. They are the truly poor of the sugar industry. The farmers have been the winners." Nothing to support that extraordinary remark."

"But then he went after the messengers. Australian documentary journalist Mark Davis and New Zealand South Pacific specialist Michael Field were attacked by Kubualoa and Prime Minister's Office Permanent Secretary Jioji Kotobavalu, with the help of the Times and the Daily Post, which ran stories uncluttered by other points of view."

"Last December, New Zealand-born journalist and author David Robie presented a paper to a journalism education conference in Australia, criticising coverage by some sectors of Fiji's media of George Speight's coup and the events preceding and succeeding it. Fiji Times editorial staff tried to have him sacked as the journalism programme coordinator at the University of the South Pacific but, courageously, the university upheld academic freedom and firmly opposed this deplorable attempt at censorship by journalists."

"The current Fijian Government declared itself intellectually and spiritually bankrupt when spokesman Kotobavalu said of Field that as "a palagi" (outsider) he had "no understanding and appreciation of Fijian and Pacific Island culture." Virtue, you see, belongs only to the racially and culturally pure."

"Perhaps the Fijian leadership should travel to Sheffield, England, for the next election there. It is about to become the largest British city with a majority of citizens of Asian origin."

"Kotobavalu could watch these Asians casting their votes and reflect that most of them have been in Britain less time than the Indo-Fijians have been in their native country."

"Now, let's remind Phil Goff of his brave words at the time of the coup in Fiji and treat him with the contempt he will deserve if he again allows any individual or group of people representing Fiji into this country, even if it is costly and inconvenient to us. I thought we'd sorted all that out when apartheid was still around. "

"Racism is a plague that infected the 20th century and caused devastating injustice and even genocide. I won't go near Fiji again until the indigenous establishment there demonstrates a refusal to make racism official policy; and neither should any other Kiwi with a social conscience."


© Scoop Media

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