Friday, June 10, 2022

Filipino migrants call on NZ to halt military aid to Philippines over Marcos election

Filipinos in the Wellington meeting make their pledge simultaneously with the
Auckland group for “history, truth and democracy” in the Philippines.
IMAGE: Del Abcede/APR



COMMENTARY: By DAVID ROBIE

MIGRANTS and overseas Filipinos in Aotearoa New Zealand have called on the governments of both Australia and New Zealand to halt all military and security aid to the Philippines in protest over last month’s “fraudulent” general election.

At simultaneous meetings in Auckland and Wellington, a new broad coalition of social justice and community campaigners endorsed a statement pledging: “Never forget, never again martial law!”

“Bongbong” Marcos Jr, the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr, was elected President in a landslide ballot on May 9 and will take office at the end of this month.

Philippine presidential election frontrunner Bongbong Marcos
Philippine President-elect Bongbong Marcos Jr wooing voters at a campaign rally in Borongan, Eastern Samar. Image: Rappler/Bongbong FB

His father ruled the Philippines with draconian leadership — including 14 years of martial law — between 1965 and 1986 until he was ousted by a People Power uprising.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Ramos-Horta challenges Pacific’s biggest threat to media freedom – China’s gatekeepers

Showing how it's done ... a "more open" media conference in Dili
with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi. IMAGE: TL Presidential Palace media
 

 By DAVID ROBIE

Timor-Leste, the youngest independent nation and the most fledgling press in the Asia-Pacific, has finally shown how it’s done — with a big lesson for Pacific island neighbours.

Tackle the Chinese media gatekeepers and creeping authoritarianism threatening journalism in the region at the top.

In Dili on the final day of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s grand Pacific tour to score more than 50 agreements and deals — although falling short of winning its Pacific region-wide security pact for the moment — newly elected (for the second time) President José Ramos-Horta won a major concession.

Enough of this paranoid secrecy and contemptuous attitude towards the local – and international – media in democratic nations of the region.

Under pressure from the democrat Ramos-Horta, a longstanding friend of a free media, Wang’s entourage caved in and allowed more questions like a real media conference.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Philippines forgets history and sells its soul for another Marcos

Students protest at the University of the Philippines Manila today over the alleged
election irregularities. IMAGE: APR

By DAVID ROBIE in Tāmaki Makaurau
 

Sadly, the Philippines has sold its soul. Thirty six years ago a People Power revolution ousted the dictator Ferdinand Marcos after two decades of harsh authoritarian rule.

Yesterday, in spite of a rousing and inspiring Pink Power would-be revolution, the dictator’s only son and namesake “Bongbong” Marcos Jr seems headed to be elected 17th president of the Philippines.

And protests have broken out after the provisional tallies that give Marcos a “lead of millions” with more than 97 percent of the vote counted. Official results could still take some days.

The Pink Power volunteers
The Pink Power volunteers would-be revolution … living
the spirit of democracy. IMAGE: BBC screenshot APR

Along with Bongbong, his running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, daughter of strongman Rodrigo Duterte, president for the past six years and who has been accused of human rights violations over the killings of thousands of alleged suspects in a so-called “war on drugs”, is decisively in the lead as vice-president.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Open letter to Minister Faafoi – an appeal to help 34 abandoned Papuan students

Papuan student advocate Laurens Ikinia ... “We are so grateful to all Kiwis across
the country for their generous support." IMAGE: Del Abcede/Asia Pacific Report

OPEN LETTER: By David Robie

Kia ora Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi

IT IS unconscionable. A bewildering and grossly unfair crisis for 34 young Papuan students – 25 male and 9 female – the hope for the future of the West Papua region, the Melanesian half of Papua New Guinea island ruled by Indonesia.

They were part of a cohort of 93 Papuan students studying in Aotearoa New Zealand on local provincial autonomy government scholarships, preparing for their careers, and learning or improving their English along the way. They were also making Pacific friendships and contacts.

They were fast becoming a “bridge” to New Zealand. Ambassadors for their people.

And then it all changed. Suddenly through no fault of their own, 41 of them were told out of the blue their scholarships were being cancelled and they had to return home.

Their funds were cut with no warning. Many of them had accommodation bills to pay, university fees to cover and other student survival debts.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Ukraine example cited in call to extend visas for abandoned Papuan students

Green Party MP Teanau Tuiono ... “As a Pacific nation we do have a responsibility to support West Papuans.” IMAGE: Tagata Pasifika screenshot APR

By MATTHEW SCOTT of Newsroom

Time is running out for a group of West Papuan students in New Zealand whose scholarships were cut — out of the blue — by the Indonesian government

The sudden removal of government funding for the Papuan students has left many of them in financial dire straits on visas that are running out.

Forty two students learned of the termination of their scholarships at the beginning of this year. With deadlines approaching they have appealed to both the Indonesian government and MPs in New Zealand to see if they can fix their dashed hopes of a completed education.

Green Party MPs Ricardo Menendez March, Golriz Ghahraman and Teanau Tuiono penned a letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta requesting government to support for the students before they are deported.

They are calling for a scholarship fund to support the impacted students, a residency pathway for West Papuan students whose welfare has been affected, and an assurance that the students will have access to safe housing in affordable accommodation.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

AJI slams hacking of group chief’s accounts as attack on press freedom

AJI general chairperson Sasmito Madrim speaking to journalists ... disinformation
hacking attack on Madrim's personal WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook accounts.
IMAGE: Populis
 

By Vitorio Mantalean in Jakarta

THE INDONESIAN Independent Journalist Alliance (AJI) has condemned the hacking and disinformation attacks against the group’s general chairperson Sasmito Madrim as a serious threat to media freedom.

In a written release, the AJI stated that the incident was a “serious threat to press freedom and the freedom of expression”.

“This practice is a form of attack against activists and the AJI as an organisation which has struggled for freedom of expression and press freedom,” the group stated.

“The hacking and disinformation attack against AJI chairperson Sasmito Madrim is an attempt to terrorise activists who struggle for freedom of expression and democracy”, the group said.

The AJI stated that the hacking attack began on February 23 and targeted Madrim’s personal WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook accounts as well as his personal mobile phone number.

Flashback: The future of the Pacific Media Centre - David Robie talks

Interview with Radio 531pi

RADIO 531pi's Ma'a Brian Sagala talks to the retired founding director of the Pacific Media Centre, Professor David Robie, and Tahitian researcher and advocate Ena Manuireva on the Pacific Days With Brian show about uncertainties over the centre's future a year ago. 

Since then the centre has remained in limbo -- if it even still exists after all the pledges by the AUT University administration to continue its pioneering cultural diversity media work into the future.  

And in spite of the talented staff who worked hard to keep the centre going in spite of management obstacles. 

PMC Online as it was in December 2020 - nothing has been changed or updated since.

This interview was broadcast on a Pacific Media Network (PMN) podcast, 26 March 2021. 

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