Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Where were the Pacific activists and independent media at climate summit?

Papua New Guinea’s Northern Province Governor Gary Juffa …he asked what about the climate
change activists and West Papuan advocates? Where were they? Image: David Robie/PMC

By David Robie at Te Papa

A recent Andy Marlette cartoon published by the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon, depicted a bathtub-looking Noah’s Ark with a couple of stony-faced elephants on board with a sodden sign declaring “Climate change is a hoax”.

The other animals on board floating to safety were muttering among themselves: “The elephants won’t admit that these 100-year events are happening once a month …”

At the other end of the globe in Wellington this week for the second Pacific Ocean Climate Conference at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum, I encountered a fatalistic message from a Tongan taxi driver counting down the hours before the tail-end of Tropical Cyclone Gita struck the New Zealand capital after wreaking a trail of devastation in Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.

He had it all worked out: “We don’t need climate conferences,” he said. “Just trust in God and we’ll survive.”

However, a key takeaway message from the three-day conference was just how urgent action is needed by global policymakers, especially for the frontline states in the Pacific – Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, where none of the sprawling atolls that make up those countries are higher than 2m above sea level.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Coups, globalisation and tough questions for Fiji's future

The General's Goose - three decades of Fiji "coup culture". And what now with the second
post-coup election due this year?
REVIEW: By David Robie of Café Pacific
Historian Dr Robbie Robertson ... challenges "misconceptions"
about the Bainimarama government and previous coups, and asks
fundamental questions about Fiji's future.


When Commodore (now rear admiral retired and an elected prime minister) Voreqe Bainimarama staged Fiji’s fourth “coup to end all coups” on 5 December 2006, it was widely misunderstood, misinterpreted and misrepresented by a legion of politicians, foreign affairs officials, journalists and even some historians.

A chorus of voices continually argued for the restoration of “democracy” – not only the flawed version of democracy that had persisted in various forms since independence from colonial Britain in 1970, but specifically the arguably illegal and unconstitutional government of merchant banker Laisenia Qarase that had been installed on the coattails of the third (attempted) coup in 2000.

Yet in spite of superficial appearances, Bainimarama’s 2006 coup contrasted sharply with its predecessors.

Bainimarama attempted to dodge the mistakes made by Sitiveni Rabuka after he carried out both of Fiji’s first two coups in 1987 while retaining the structures of power.

Instead, notes New Zealand historian Robbie Robertson who lived in Fiji for many years, Bainimarama “began to transform elements of Fiji: Taukei deference to tradition, the provision of golden eggs to sustain the old [chiefly] elite, the power enjoyed by the media and judiciary, rural neglect and infrastructural inertia” (p. 314). But that wasn’t all.

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