Monday, February 23, 2009

Media7 reruns feed the Fiji political divide

THE RECENT Media7 programme on Fiji has brought the local chooks out of the woodwork since it was rebroadcast on both ABC's On the Mat and Fiji TV's Close Up programmes. Sadly, a handful of the scribes have lined up on race and cultural affiliation grounds rather than reasoned arguments. A couple even made their snap judgments before watching (or hearing) the programme. Some have taken the cue from that fundamentalist politician of the right Mere Samisoni, who fired off a diatribe to Fiji Television:
So literally the power of the majority of the Fijian population who make up 57% of the general population, has been "stolen by gazetted legislation by this IR [illegal regime]" yet this principle was not even touched on by the [Media7] debate or your follow up comments for the illegally removed government and multi-party cabinet which offered legitimacy and hope to a multicultural society.

The debate legitimised the power of the gun and that might is right.
Excuse me? The programme did nothing of the sort. None of the panelists spoke in support of a military regime or against democracy. The case was actually made for more understanding of the Fiji plight, and in support of a more considered and compassionate response politically from New Zealand instead of knee-jerk actions. And also for less media bias. Having worked as a journalist and as a media educator in many countries globally and having also lived in Fiji at the time of the deposed Qarase government, I would have to describe that administration as the most fundamentally racist, corrupt and opportunist I have ever experienced. And yet this is the sort of "democracy" that some media people remain starry eyed over. Fortunately, there have been more comments from Fiji journalists favourable to the Media7 debate and who actually listened or watched.

One example:
I commend you on your unbiased views and opinion on the current situation in Fiji. It was replayed for Fiji viewers on Close Up at Fiji One. Good on you.
And another - at length:
The short-sightedness of the New Zealand/Australian governments will be detrimental for a solution in Fiji. It's been two years - and if confrontational diplomacy hasn't worked so far, it won't in future. It's time for the NZ/Australian media to realise this - and more importantly, make sure that their public do so too. The government will soon follow. And so will progress on getting Fiji back to democracy.

What the region needs right now is a Pacific statesman - Sir Michael Somare is doing his bit but the Samoan PM isn't doing anyone any favours with his outbursts. This is a time when thinking outside the proverbial box is so important.

Fiji is different and will always be different from other Pacific Islands nations. So a different approach and solution is required. If the regional leaders are going to place great hurdles along the way, Fiji will only stumble. Ease the sanctions, allow people with knowledge and experience to help move Fiji forward. I think if Fiji fails to move towards a sustainable democratic process in the next year or so, it will be as much a failure on the part of the Pacific Island leaders, as it will be that of [Voreqe] Bainimarama and his IG.

I was happy to see some of these themes emerge in the discussion from the panelists on the
Media7 programme. Hopefully it has woken up some more journalists and politicians.
Café Pacific wonders why the revealing segment shown at the start of the Media7 item was culled out of both the sanitised On the Mat and Close Up versions. In the case of Close Up, a comment by presenter Russell Brown about Fiji's leaders as sometimes being presented by media as "self-serving and thuggish" was thought too likely to spark off a new round of regime intimidation. So discretion won out.

Media7's Fiji on ABC's On the Mat
Media7's Fiji on Fiji TV's Close Up
Media7's Fiji - uncut!
Media7's blog on Fiji

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