Monday, December 9, 2013

Regime propagandists throw in the towel

The silence from Grubby has been deafening these past few months, and now Croz has announced that he’s decided to “put the blog on hold for a few months.” This can only mean that these two shameless propagandists have outlived their usefulness to the regime. Frank Bainimarama’s military junta has imposed its preferred constitution on the country, one which continues to limit human rights as if the nation was still under martial law. It has silenced dissenting voices inside the country with its intimidation tactics against the Fiji Times and Fiji TV. It has obviously given up on trying to convince the rest of the world of the rightness of its actions because it must know by now that there will be no putting lipstick on this pig. 

The Old Whore From Horowhenua
Just as they did with Time magazine in August, the junta leaders refused to speak with a visiting American reporter recently. “Bainimarama declined an interview with The Associated Press, as did his right-hand man, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum,” noted AP journalist Nick Perry in a feature article that went out to thousands of media outlets worldwide last week. “Qorvis, whose clients also include Sri Lanka and Equatorial Guinea, did not respond to interview requests.” The junta is obviously gun-shy after its Al Jazeera experience last April, in which correspondent Andrew Thomas scored a sit-down, on-camera interview with Bainimarama, only to hit him with this zinger: “Are you confident that you will win next year’s election and is that because you’ve essentially rigged the constitution to make sure you do get elected?” The dictator’s spluttering response was a classic, and worth watching over and over just for amusement. “You don’t rig constitution,” protested Bainimarama as the camera rolled. “The constitution is for the people of the Fiji. You think I did all this just to rig the constitution?” Um, yes?

Perry’s 1,200-word feature, which went out to the AP’s 1,700 member newspapers and more than 5,000 radio and TV stations in the U.S., plus thousands of other subscribers, included interviews that simply could not be published or broadcast in Fiji given the repressive media environment there currently. “He’s committed treason, and he must account for it,” said UFDF leader Mick Beddoes of Bainimarama. Perry even managed to get a few words from Yash Ghai, the former head of the Constitution Commission who has rarely been heard from since his ungraceful exit from the country almost a year ago. “They didn't particularly want an independent process,” Ghai said of the sham that ended with the ceremonial torching of his commission’s draft constitution, which proposed to restore human rights limited by the junta in innumerable decrees. “Having agreed to it, they changed their minds.”

Perry’s dissection of the junta’s malefactions, which a rudimentary Google search shows was published on more than 7,000 websites, including those of Business Week and Yahoo, left no doubt that the junta is steering a course closer to that of certain authoritarian regimes than to anything that might be described as democratic.
Bainimarama has since worked to improve ties with countries including Russia, North Korea, Turkey and, most importantly, China. Fiji announced this year that 300 senior government and agency officials would be trained in leadership skills in China.
Meanwhile, the regime continues what I call its “mushroom” strategy with Fijians – keep them in the dark and feed them B.S. A classic example of the latter which brought gales of laughter the other day was when Bainimarama told the A-G’s conference that his Media Decree allows for investigative reporting and “especially journalists holding public office holders more accountable.” Puh-lease! How stupid do they think Fijians are? Wait, don’t answer that.
“We look to our journalists to assist in the process of introducing a genuine democracy," he said. "The Media Authority doesn't exist to wield a big stick and inhibit public discourse. It exists to remind the media of its ultimate obligation to report with scrupulous fairness and balance in the interests of every Fijian."
So perhaps it’s no wonder that Grubby and Croz should bow out of this Bizarro World spectacle. Grubby has hardly been heard from since August, when he went after Bruce Hill of ABC so unfairly that I had to challenge him on Facebook. It was nothing short of Grubbygeddon. He has obviously found out the hard way that if he wants to be a self-respecting journalist in Australia, he can’t be a propagandist for a Third World dictatorship at the same time.

As for Croz, he is obviously tired of butting his head against the brick wall that is Bainimarama’s stupidity. The Old Whore From Horowhenua, as Fiji Democracy Now splendidly dubbed him, says he has “run out of new things to write about.” It’s more likely that he’s finally come to realize that nobody’s listening.
There was a time when I immodestly thought the blog  had a role to play in modifying opinions. Then, slowly, reality checked in. The New Zealand media and government are not interested in different perspectives. They have their minds made up. The opponents to the Bainimarama government likewise. And I doubt any senior member of the Fiji government even reads the blog.
It seems my work here is done. But don’t worry. If either of these creeps starts with the propaganda again, I’ll be right there to shine a light on it. Bula vinaka, Fiji!

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