Sunday, December 19, 2010

[pima.nius] FIJI: Commentator Walsh criticises RNZI for 'biased reporting'

10:28 AM |

Title – 7181 FIJI: Commentator Walsh criticises RNZI for 'biased reporting'
Date – 19 December 2010
Byline – Crosbie Walsh
Origin – Pacific Media Watch
Source – Croz Walsh's Blog, 18/12/10
Copyright – CWB
Status – Unabridged
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By Crosbie Walsh

(Croz Walsh's Blog/Pacific Media Watch): OPINION: Once upon a time Radio NZ International made some attempt to report news of Fiji objectively but for some time now it has only been publishing negative news, or news that can be construed negatively.  If you don't believe me, check out their website [and compare] their reports on Fiji with those on other Pacific Island countries.  

Their latest is a report from the Asia Development Bank that the economy "is trapped on a low growth path despite an overall economic benefit to the Pacific region from a gradual global recovery and firm finances in Australia"

Highlighted are low private investment caused by government actions (localisation of the news media, price controls and the Fiji Water saga — all of which were reported on negatively by the overseas media and so were at least partly caused by them) and the fact that Fiji is spending more than it earns. So is New Zealand. To reinforce the negatives, they cite an ADB officer in Suva, Emma Veve, who says the bank is not approving grants or loans for new activities to Fiji for the time being. My understanding is that government has not asked for any — for the time being.

Veve also referred to the need for structural reform, issues in the sugar industry, the need to right size government, civil service issues, and state-owned enterprise reform.

What she did not say — and what RNZI obviously did not enquire further about — is that all of these issues, raised months and years back by the ADB and the IMF,  are currently being addressed by the government. RNZI journalists only need to read this blog to learn about progress on most of them.

Radio NZI could have reported this ...

NEW MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR TOURIST DEVELOPMENT:  New Zealand-based Shah Group opened phase one of its Fun World Hotel last week in the West. The four star hotel will house 200 ulta-modern units consisting of eight VIP pool front units, a 860 sq.m swimming pool, a pool side bar and state of the art dining facilities.  

Construction has started on phase two, a multi-million dollar first ever water theme park and a mega mall. The 60-acre development will consist of a 10-acre theme water park featuring wave pool, a variety of water slides and chutes and a lazy river, a 200 plus store mega shopping mall consisting of its own cinema complex, medical centre and shopping/warehouse outlets, and. a 200-unit four-star hotel complex. It is hoped all three phases of the development will be completed next year. -- Based on 2010, No:2173.

... or this:

FIJI BOLLYWOOD: Several Indian film companies are scouting for locations in Fiji, where significant tax breaks are on offer. They say the incentives and government invitations have been a major drawcard for film producers and directors.Making films in the country will create jobs and have a positive impact on the economy.

... or this:
WINNING THE FIGHT V. CORRUPTION: A Transparency International Fiji survey conducted by Tebbutt Research shows that 53 percent of citizens surveyed think corruption has decreased — and 36 percent think it has increased. Most people interviewed believed in and supported the government's efforts in the fight against corruption.  

The question in this year's Global Corruption Barometer asked how you would assess your current government's actions in the fight against corruption? Interestingly 3 percent were undecided, 9 percent said it was ineffective and "a surprisingly 88 percent said it was very effective. That is the Fiji ratings that have come in this report." The 2010 Barometer probes the frequency of bribery, reasons for paying a bribe, and attitudes towards reporting incidents of corruption.

Instead ...

>>> "Fiji's interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has hinted at a delay in drafting a new constitution. Last year, the interim regime abolished the 1997 constitution and said work on a new one would begin in 2012  and be finished in 2013. According to the Fiji Times, Commodore Bainimarama now says it should be in place come 2013 or 2014, when the interim regime has promised it will relinquish power to an elected government. He says developments are also focused on sectors such as health, education and water supply. He says those, and the People's Charter, are what the government wants implemented by 2013 or 2014."

The item blurs the distinction between when dialogue will start (2012) and when Constitutional (and Electoral) reforms will be complete. The institutional and infrastructural reforms that Bainimarama says he wants "implemented by 2013 or 2014" have started already, they are ongoing, and they are independent of the constitutional and electoral reforms.

The firm date for the Electoral reforms has always been at least 12 months before the elections in September 2014. It is expected both sets of reforms will take place in tandem but the priority is the Electoral reforms so that new political parties have time to form and organize in preparation for elections with new rules and electorates.

The suggestion that Bainimarama was hinting at delays (and the inference that he should not be believed, and that even the elections may be delayed) is pretty typical of the standard of their reporting.

I would welcome a counter-claim, backed by evidence, from Radio NZI.  
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