message to fiji - grow up

COMMENT It is very rarely that a newspaper feels confident enough to tell anyone to "put up or shut up" as one did yesterday in a slap-down challenge to the Fiji military government. In fact, with all respect to the Fiji Times, that is the last thing Fiji's "interim" Attorney General should do. There are genuine causes for concern about levels of professionalism, accuracy and performance among journalists in Fiji, as there are across our island region. Oh, alright, the world. Let's start in Suva. By attempting to mislead with its fabricated Fiji Times document, the interim administration has ripped down whatever shreds of credibility it had left as a commentator on media justice under its administration. Far from shutting up, Fiji's attorney general owes a full explanation, and apology, not just to a newspaper but to citizens his interim administration purports to represent. Until that happens, the already gaping chasm between the media and the civic sector on one side, and a wide range of vested interests on the other, have no common ground to gain a foothold on. This can only worsen, not ameliorate or improve, chronic instability in Fiji. For this is not just about Fiji. As the undoubted regional centre of the region, self obsessed Fiji elites - including the media - have grown fat, complacent and childishly spoilt on a huge inflow of aid flows, supposedly on behalf of us all. Doubt about this contention is now shoved from serious concern to beyond crisis point by the absurd actions of Mr. Sayed-Khaiyum. This is not to suggest the IAG acts alone. Highly intemperate language in the recent media review takes nothing away from claims that the report is just another lame apology for what is not really any administration, interim or otherwise, but a military dictatorship of thugs. A pity, because laying buried beneath the hyperbole and frothy spittle are serious issues needing industry debate. We are a long way from that happening, now or for the forseeable future. What can be done? Not much in Fiji, itself, perhaps. Time for the region to apply more pressure, not by taking sides, but putting the heat on all sides of what is fast staging from a tragedy to a farce. It is time, in other words, that the interim attorney general, his overly combative interim administration, and, sorry, a small-minded media take several careful steps back to reassess the big picture, instead of ridiculous schoolyard-style scraps Fiji seems addicted to subjecting the rest of us to. Not time for Fiji to put up, or shut up, then, but to grow up. Yes, grow up.