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Fiji democracy, letters to the editor and battling censorship

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Professor Wadan Narsey … “bottom line is for ordinary people to raise their voices through media channels.” Image: NOF

Pacific Scoop:
Commentary – By Professor Wadan Narsey in Suva

Every military coup in Fiji has removed the Parliament through which people’s elected representatives could publicly raise legitimate concerns.

The worst period was the seven years between December 2006 and September 2014, when no Auditor-General reports were released to the public because they allegedly had to be “tabled in Parliament first”.

The situation was made worse by media censorship. Read more »

Bali Nine: Hypocrisy, politics and courts play out in Indonesian death row lottery

Death row inmates Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan find themselves at the centre of a series of complex Indonesian political controversies.

Australian death row inmates Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan find themselves at the centre of a series of complex Indonesian political controversies.  Image: Mick Tsikas/The Conversation/AAP

One of the strongest arguments against the death penalty is that its administration is fundamentally unfair, writes  Tim Lindsey.

Pacific Scoop:
Commentary – By Professor Tim Lindsey

One of the strongest arguments against the death penalty is that its administration is fundamentally unfair. Too often, the question of who receives a death sentence and whether and when it is actually carried out becomes more a matter of politics than of facts and law.

This is certainly the case for the two Australians, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, on death row in Indonesia. They find themselves at the centre of a series of complex political controversies, all of which could directly affect their chances of survival.

Sukumaran and Chan are the only members of the Bali Nine still sentenced to death for their role in attempting to smuggle 8.3 kilograms of heroin out of Bali to Australia in 2005. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has now rejected both Sukumaran’s and Chan’s pleas for clemency, leaving the pair facing execution by firing squad. Read more »

Triumph of living political martyr likely to ignite fresh Tongan reform hopes

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Brimming with confidence … new Tongan PM ‘Akilisi Pohiva offers new hope for changes. Image: Iliesa Tora/Tonga Daily News

The inherent Pacific diversity makes a mockery of the naive mainstream view that there are certain ideal types of “one size fits all” Western models of democracy which non-Western states must fit into, writes Professor Steven Ratuva.

Pacific Scoop:
Analysis – By Professor Steven Ratuva

As the first elected prime minister of the kingdom of Tonga, ‘Akilisi Pohiva, the long-time Tongan pro-democracy campaign leader, has redefined the meaning and form of Tongan democracy in a significant way.

It is a new phase in the challenging historical evolution of Tongan political rule since 1875 when the kingdom’s constitution was born. The riots and burning in the capital Nuku’alofa in 2006 brought to the fore the urgency for reform.

The election in Tonga was just one of the few in the Pacific in 2014 (New Caledonia on 11 May, Cook Islands on 9 July, Fiji on 17 September, Solomon Islands on 19 November and Tonga on 27 November). Read more »

In the Mideast, as in France, satire is a weapon against extremists

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Al-Masry Al-Youm’s young cartoonist Makhlouf of Egypt drew himself holding up a pencil in front of a masked gunman. It says “In support of Charlie Hebdo”. Image: Anonymous

The use of mockery and caricature as a way of mocking Islamic extremism is, in fact, in some ways far more pronounced in the Middle Eastern media than it is in Europe.

Pacific Scoop:
Commentary – By Nahrain Al-Mousawi

In the wake of the deadly attacks on the Paris satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, some are portraying the current showdown as one between Western free speech versus an angry and intolerant Islamic world. In fact, it is the Islamic countries of the Middle East that have led the way in attacking the extremists of groups such as Islamic State using the instruments of satire.

The use of mockery and caricature as a way of mocking Islamic extremism is, in fact, in some ways far more pronounced in the Middle Eastern media than it is in Europe.

Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL) has slaughtered hundreds of Iraqi civilians and soldiers, raped and enslaved hundreds of women, held public crucifixions and stonings in Syria, and staged the executions of US journalists and British aid workers. The group is revolting, abhorrent, and terrifying. Read more »

Tonga’s PM ‘Akilisi Pohiva – long, hazardous road from chief critic to power

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Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva … pledged to eliminate excessive government spending alleged to have been based on corrupt practices. Image: Global Panorama

Pacific Scoop:
Analysis – By Kalafi Moala in Nuku’alofa

After almost five weeks of political wrangling since the November 27 election, Tonga’s elected representatives finally chose a Prime Minister late last month. As expected, he is Tonga’s long time pro-democracy leader, ‘Akilisi Pohiva.

At 72, Pohiva is the oldest in Tonga’s Parliament, and is also the longest serving Member of Parliament.

By the time he finishes his current term in 2018, he would have been in Parliament continuously for 32 years. Read more »

A symbol of hope – reflections on the Fiji election

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Fiji’s new parliamentarians … a reassuring image in the re-established democracy. Image: Wansolwara

Pacific Scoop:
Analysis – By Dr Steven Ratuva

One of the most reassuring sights in recent years was the group photo of parliamentarians in front of Fiji’s new Parliament building, standing shoulder to shoulder, with smiles glittering in the dry Suva sun.

These were the successful ones, those whose parties collected more than 5 percent of the votes and who were allocated seats according to their respective intra-party rankings.

SODELPA fought a hard and enterprising battle but fell far short of victory. They were disadvantaged from the beginning by their ethno-nationalist ideological and political strategy aimed fundamentally at mobilising the Taukei who made up 297,818 (60 percent) of the total votes of 496,364. Read more »

Fiji elections: Another victory for treason, lies, money and the culture of silence

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Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama casting his vote … a massive personal vote but was the ballot really “free and fair”? Image: Mads Anneberg/PMC

Pacific Scoop:
Opinion – By Professor Wadan Narsey

There can be little doubt that Voreqe Bainimarama, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and a cabal of secret advisers on decrees, electoral systems, budgets, elections manifesto and spin doctors have waged a brilliant and highly successful campaign – for at least three years – prior to winning this 2014 General Election.

pacificfijielections logo 200wideThe chairman of the subservient Electoral Commission (Chen Bunn Young), as expected, pronounced the September 2014 Elections as “free and fair”.

But the knowledgeable Multinational Observer Group (MOG), in Fiji to largely observe the “casting and counting of votes”, stated only that the election results “broadly represented the will of the people” (barring any proof of substantial irregularities alleged by some political parties).

Read more »

From dictator to democrat – outcome is to the credit of Bainimarama


Pacific Scoop’s Alistar Kata reports on the MOG view of the Fiji election.

Pacific Scoop:
Commentary – Peter Reith, leader of the Multinational Observer Group

Incoming Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama put himself before the citizens of Fiji and gave them the opportunity to decide the future of Fiji.

It is decades since I was on a family holiday in Fiji but I can report it’s still a beautiful place and the people are still friendly. And now that Fiji has voted for democracy, the best Aussies can do for Fiji is to continue holidaying in even greater numbers.

Last Wednesday’s election and the transition from military government and return to democracy could not have gone much smoother. There are a lot of dictators around the world who will never give up power. Read more »

Democracy in Fiji a tender plant – now time to nourish it for the future

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Former Opposition Leader Mick Beddoes with “evidence” of election tampering … poor showing at the polls. Image: Republika

Pacific Scoop:
Commentary – By Dr Crosbie Walsh

Unfortunately, it had to happen but all is not lost.

pacificfijielections logo 200wideIt started with Fiji Labour Party leader and former Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry – deposed in the 2000 attempted coup – complaining about a minivan showing a Fiji First sticker during the blackout period and another alleged election breach when a disabled voter at St Joseph’s in Suva was assisted by an election officer with no witness present.

Then there were complaints that the counting had stopped when all that had stopped were the announcements, and Radio New Zealand International quoted an unnamed SODELPA official saying its agents had noted anomalies in the transmission and counting of votes, and Fiji Leaks claimed the Multinational Observer Group (MOG) were having “a good holiday in Fiji”.

And then someone calling himself Thakur Loha Singh on a blog said he’d heard of a polling station where the votes of relatives of a candidate mysteriously disappeared and the candidate ending up with a zero vote.” Read more »

‘A test of faith,’ says Fiji Times editorial on the UN peacekeepers


Pacific Scoop’s student journalist Alastar Kata on internship with Wansolwara reports on the release of the Fiji soldier hostages. PMC YouTube channel

Pacific Scoop:
Editorial – By Fred Wesley, editor-in-chief of The Fiji Times

As reports slowly come out about the interesting turn of events in the Golan Heights, we can, thankfully, now heave sighs of relief.

Yesterday the nation would have collectively united to welcome the release of our 45 soldiers by the al-Nusra Front.

For 14 days we had united in a show of patriotism and concern for our missing men. Read more »

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