There has been a great deal of angst over Commodore Bainimarama’s draft Media Industry Development Decree 2010 which features harsh penalties for journalists and news organisations which breach vaguely worded content regulations. Being a freedom of speech kind a guy, I can see too why this isn’t a good thing. However, Fiji isn’t New Zealand and each country has its own solutions to particular issues of the time.The other half of Whale Oil's column picks up on Café Pacific's recent posting about Radio NZ's Nights programme host Bryan Crump "dumping" one of the better informed Fiji analysts, Crosbie Walsh, formerly director of development studies at the University of the South Pacific. A case of silencing one of the dissenting voices that don't fit the politically correct view of Fiji?
It is extremely hypocritical of us to wave the finger at Fiji over press freedoms while at the same time having free trade agreements with other, far more authoritarian regimes. Currently we have:
New Zealand-Hong Kong, China Closer Economic Partnership (NZ-HK CEP was signed on 29 March 2010 but not yet entered into force)
New Zealand-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement (MNZFTA was signed on 26 October 2009 but not yet entered into force)
ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) – 2010 New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement (NZ-China FTA) – 2008 Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TransPac) – 2005
New Zealand-Thailand Closer Economic Partnership (NZTCEP) – 2005
New Zealand-Singapore Closer Economic Partnership (NZSCEP) – 2001
Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relationship (CER) – 1983
Of those, only Australia has true freedom of the press. The Asean Nations (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam) with the sole exception of the Philippines, and even that is marginal, re true democratic countries, the rest, including Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are authoritarian.
If you don’t think Thailand is, then try and write something in the press against the King of Thailand and see where that gets you. There are no freedoms that we take for granted in Hong Kong and China yet we have deemed it desirable to have a FTA and also to not comment on their internal politics.
So why is Fiji different. is it because government was formed at the point of a gun? Yes? Then what about China? Their government was formed at the point of a gun when the Communists overthrew the legitimate Kuomintang government in 1949.
At the moment we are also busily negotiating anti freedom treaties like the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a law and treaty at the behest of big business, but I don’t notice Keith Locke or Labour railing against that. We are also negotiating an FTA with countries from the Gulf States, (Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the sultanate of Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.). Autocracies the lot of them without exception.
And so I come to Fiji again. For some reason New Zealand has a fixation, mostly for the negative for Fiji. As I have demonstrated we want and have FTA’s with countries with far worse political situations, far worse human right records, and yet we impose sanctions upon Fiji and travel bans. The latest outcry has been over press freedoms yet in our own country of New Zealand we have government organisations curtailing freedoms with a self imposed censorship.
These are media organisations that continue to spread rumour, innuendo and straight out lies about the situation in Fiji and Radio New Zealand, in particular, has taken a line of shutting down any dissenting voice from the political group think about how “we” are supposed to think about Fiji.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Whale Oil highlights NZ hypocrisy over Fiji
WHILE the New Zealand Herald has published an editorial declaring the "emasculating" media and amnesty decrees in Fiji mean that NZ must "stand firm", Fiji-born blogger Whale Oil has reminded the country about government hypocrisy over press freedom and human rights. His blog points out while NZ "waves the finger" at the military-backed Fiji regime in the Pacific, it quite happily engages in treaties with other authoritarian countries and those that have a repressive track record in media freedoms and human rights. When New Zealand has much to gain from trade, it remains curiously silent and pragmatic. Whale Oil writes: