May 22, 2007

The paradox is in the pudding (or Why Are Bloggers Such a Horror)

Have you noticed how, since the military-blogger shenanigans started in March, the mainstream media have demonstrated an aversion to blogs and bloggers?

They hardly knew what blogs were before Intelligentsiya went live in January. Even today, radio, TV and newspapers all think that the word blog is interchangeable with Blogspot and that “blogsites” is also a term to describe it. Could it be an aversion to technology the journalists barely knew existed before the December putsh?

The aversion could also stem from the fact that most of the media have just gotten their heads around the whole business of the World Wide Web. The grand old FijiVillage is still there – emphasis on the old. And FijiLive, whose design is definitely past its used-by date, is trying to hold on to its reputation of online breaking news reporting

Then there’s the site that’s desperate for a top ranking of country sites, FijiTimesOnline.

FijiDailyPost went online last year, with its self-proclaimed “independent” reporting. There’s also Fiji TV whose newly redesigned site has an irritating urge for users to log in before seeing content that is much touted on the evening news bulletins.

Don’t forget Fiji Sun’s online edition. The underdog of all the Fiji news sites which looks like staying like that for a while. The site’s usability became worse after some reconfiguration a while back. It’s never updated during the day, and navigation is a nightmare.

The point is, bloggers have been a threat to the online presence of the established media. We’re taking eyeballs away from their websites, to quote Patrick Craddock of the USP journalism school, and they don’t like it. Internationally it’s becoming acceptable for staff writers, reporters, announcers, photographers - most media people - to blog as part of their work. But I think there was some horror (expressed by a journalist being interviewed on TV) that blogs should be mentioned in the same word as journalism.

Hence, the underlying hostility when the media reports on bloggers.

However, the paradox it created for bloggers was that while the media attention was focused on what the military were threatening to do to us, free speech became a tangled metaphor and some of the real issues that needed to be raised were pushed off the news agenda.

We definitely appreciated the media attention because it contributed to the military seeming to back down from censorship of cyberspace. But even bloggers were caught up in the coverage of ourselves.

Propaganda, fuels counter-propaganda, fuels counter-counter propaganda… An endless cycle of talking heads and back-chat while the country goes to hell in a handbasket.

For a good rundown of how every junta leader and his dog jumped on the blogger bandwagon last week and what we should not lose sight of, read FijianBlack’s assessment here.


Anonymous said...

hey intelligentsia new webpage check it out.. Its all written in Fijian

Anonymous said...

Fiji Military admitted defeat in its war on bloggers

The Fiji military has dropped all investigations into blog sites,
saying it does not care any more about the criticism levelled against
it on some sites.


Anonymous said...

Is it true that civil servants almost did not get paid last week. at midday thursday the banks still had not received the cash from govt. finance official were busy at fnpf trying to get fnpf to give it some of our funds which it did. all is definely not well at paradise. is our fnpf fund safe?? that would explain the unusually lond que at ATM's on thursday afternoon last week!!!


Anonymous said...

Careful guys. Another military tactic they like to pride themselves with their bullshit military manuals. Dua la e sypchological warfaretaki kemudou na ulukau dou tiko mai cake qori. Ni da sa ulukau ga da kua ni via siova na veiliutaki baleta na i tutu oqori sa rauti ira ga na qavokaqavoka kaukauwa kei ira era yalo dodonu ka dei. Oilei da via ci saraga vei kemudou.

Anonymous said...

Fijian language blog-

Anonymous said...



In my view and I am duty bound to state that little consideration has been given to the
fundamental issue of ownership of land in our Country. There have been a lot of
assumptions and Practices which may not have been correct from the legal standpoint.
Accordingly it is very important for all of us to consider this fundamental issue to
appreciate the consequences of land holding in Fiji.
In this regard one has to consider the position from the relevant Provisions of the first
Constitutional Document, namely the Deed of Cession 1874.

1. It is very important to appreciate that under the Deed of Cession the Proprietorship of all
the lands in Fiji except some lands were transferred and vested in Queen Victoria and her
heirs and Successors EXCEPT the lands which had become the Property of the
Europeans and other foreigners AND the lands which were in the ACTUAL use or
occupation of SOME chief or tribe or not ACTUALLY required for the PROBABLE
(Not Possible) future support and maintenance of some chief or tribe.

Clause 4 of the Deed of Cession provided:-

4. “THAT the absolute proprietorship of all lands not shown to be
alienated so as to have become bona fide the property of
Europeans or other foreigners or not in the actual use or
occupation of some chief or tribe or not actually required for the
probable future support and maintenance of some chief or tribe
shall be and is hereby declared to be vested in Her Majesty her
heirs and successors”.

2 Accordingly it is very important to note that in this regard the following are relevant:
(i) The only land which was not vested in the Crown are:-
(a) Lands as at 10th October 1874 not alienated to the Europeans or other foreigners and
(b) Lands which were as at 10th October 1874 not in the ACTUAL USE or
Occupation of some Chief or tribe and
(c) Land ACTUALLY REQUIRED for the Probable future support and maintenance of some Chief or tribe.

(ii) As regards: (i) (b) It is important to note that lands which were in ACTUAL USE or
OCCUPATION OF SOME Chief or tribe is mentioned. Therefore
it does not refer to any Constructive use or occupation. This
obviously refers to lands that were close to the villages etc.
It cannot certainly refer to all the lands that were not in ACTUAL
use or occupation at that time. “ACTUAL” use or occupation
must mean those lands which were literally occupied or used such
as villages and house sites etc and the small farms or lands used
for taitai etc. This must have been so in order that the then users
and occupiers of land were not deprived of the same. For example
such lands included Nailaga Village or Votua Village in Ba. They
definitely could not have included lands in Maururu, Veisairu or
Koronubu which were many Kilometers away from the lands
which were actually then used or occupied by “Some Chief or

All the lands that were bare and vacant and unoccupied could not
have been included in the exemption provision referred above by
any interpretation.

(iii) As to (i) (c) again the exemption refers to those lands which were ACTUALLY
required for the “PROBABLE” (and not Possible), future support and
maintenance of “Some Chief or tribe”.

In this regard it is important to note that the lands referred to in (i) c above refers
to only some chief or tribe and not all the chiefs and tribes in the Country.
Even if it did the exemption refers to “PROBABLE’ future support and
maintenance and NOT POSSIBLE future support and maintenance.

Surely if the lands had been alienated or Crown grants made then they could not
by any interpretation could be said to be so required for “future support and

Consequently all freehold lands or Crown grants made or those lands which were
included as “Crown Lands” could not by any construction or interpretation be said
to have been included in any of the exemption referred to in Clause 4 of the Deed
of Cessions.

2. Accordingly it is of Paramount importance that it be determined which lands in Fiji came
within the exemptions referred to in Clause 4 of the Deed of Cession before one could
even think of determining who shall fall or qualify under for the ownership of lands in

3. What is stated in 2 above is of paramount importance as otherwise one can foreree very
many litigations ensuing to challenge the rights of persons or groups to come within the
above definitions.

I am certain that neither we as Lawyers and citizens of this Country nor the Lawmakers
want to pass any legislation that will create such huge problems and uncertainties.

Everyone in authority in the Country must address the above issues first before
embarking on any radical legislations such as is contained in the QoliQoli Bill.

Needless to say, we must remember that it is the statutory responsibility of the Fiji Law
Society as contained in Section 13 (c) of the Legal Practitioners Act “to assist the
Government and the Courts in all matters affecting legislations and Law reform”.

Accordingly, I felt it is of paramount importance that this matter under the present topic
be addressed very seriously.

4. It must not be lost sight of that if any person who is a citizen of another Country or a
foreign Company will be entitled to take any dispute affecting them through their
respective governments to international Forums such as the International Court of
Justice or the International Center for Settlement of Investments Disputes. I had the
privilege to serve in the latter body as representative or nominee of the Fiji Government
in the Ratu Mara Government.

Our Country must avoid any such matters arising out of any legislation such as the
Qoliqoli Bill to become an international matter. Let us nip it in the bud and take all
precautions now before the any such Bill is even debated in Parliament and emotions
overtake rationality.

5. In my Submissions it is very seriously questionable as to how as now claimed that some
85% to 90% of the lands in Fiji are Native Land. This certainly raises very important
legal and Constitutional issues that needs to be properly addressed by all concerned now.
Let us all avoid unnecessary future scrutiny of such matters by Courts and/or other

Under Clause 1 of the Deed of Cession the possession of all and full sovereignty and
dominion over the whole of Fiji together with all Waters including sea, harbours rivers, all reefs and foreshores were ceded to Queen Victoria. Clause 1 of the Deed to cession

1. “THAT the possession of and full sovereignty and dominion
over the whole of the group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean
known as the Fijis (and lying between the parallels of latitude of
fifteen degree South and twenty two degrees South of the
Equator and between the Meridians of longitude of one hundred
the seventy seven degrees West and one hundred and seventy five
degrees East of the Meridian of Greewich) and over the
inhabitants thereof, together with the possession of and
sovereignty over the waters adjacent thereof and of and over all
ports harbours havens roadsteads rivers estuaries and other
waters and all reefs and foreshores within or adjacent thereof, are
hereby ceded to and accepted on behalf of Her said Majesty the
Queen of Great Britain and Ireland Her heirs and successors, to
the intent that from this forth the said islands and thereto may be
annexed to and be a possession and dependency of the British

Accordingly, in a nutshell all these became the property of the Crown and now the State.
Therefore all the sea, rivers, reefs and foreshore belong to the State today. This is also
confirmed by the Rivers and Streams Act Cap 136 of the Laws of Fiji particularly Section
2 thereof and the Crown Lands Act Cap 132 of the Laws of Fiji particularly Sections 20
to 24 thereof.

This is very important to note and recognize because it has very strong bearing on
the constitutional issues that may arise under and proposed legislations affecting them as
was proposed under the Provisions of the Qoliqoli Bill.

I felt that the best to appreciate the difficulties as to the Constitutional Issues that may
arise is to take the concrete example of the recent Qoliqoli Bill.

1. Under the Qoliqoli Bill the State was divesting itself of a very substantial rights and
interests in what is called the “qoliqoli Area” under the Bill.

The Proprietary rights to and interest in the qoliqoli Areas are transferred to only the
indigenous Fijians and no one else.

Section 4(1) of the Bill states:-
“4.-(1) This section applies to all qoliqoli areas title to which was,
prior to the commencement of this Act, by operation of law, vested
in the State or other legal entity.”
Section 4(2) states:-

“4.-(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of the State Lands Act or
any other written law, upon the commencement of this Act, by
virtue of this section and without further assurance, all proprietary
rights to and interest in qoliqoli areas within Fiji’s fisheries waters
are transferred to and vest in the qoliqoli owners.”

Section 4(3) states:-
“4.-(3) All qoliqoli areas referred to in subsection (1) shall, unless
acquired by the State pursuant to the State Acquisition of Lands
Act, on the commencement of this Act and without further
assurance, vest in the Board which shall administer the qoliqoli
area on behalf and for the benefit of the qoliqoli owners.”

2. From the above and the definitions of “Proprietary rights and interests” “qoliqoli
owners” and “qoliqoli rights” and Section 4(1), 4(2) and 4(3) it is abundantly clear that
all such rights under Section 4 are transferred and vested in the indigenous Fijians to the
exclusion of all other races who comprise more than 50% of the population of Fiji.

3. Under Section 6 of the Constitution of Fiji 1998 it is clearly acknowledged that “The
Conduct of Government is based, amongst other things, on the following principles:-
(e) as citizens, the members of all communities enjoy equal rights.

(h) in that government’s conduct of the affairs of the nation through the promotion of
legislation of the implementation of administrative policies, full account is taken
or the interests of all communities;

(i) to the extent that the interests of different communities are seen to conflict, all
the interested parties negotiate in good faith in an endeavour to reach

4. It must be also noted that this Qoliqoli Bill cannot be classified as forming part of
Affirmative Action by the Government. As Section 6(k) makes it very clear as to what is
an affirmative Action.

It states:-
“6.(k) affirmative action and social justice programs to
secure effective equally of access to opportunities,
amenities or services for the Fijian and Rotuman people, as
well as for other communities, for women as well as men,
and for all disadvantaged citizens or groups, are based on
an allocation of resources broadly acceptable to all

Here the Qoliqoli rights and the transfer of titles to the sea, foreshore and reefs to the
indigenous Fijians alone cannot be said or accepted by any stretch of imagination that
such transfer of rights can be “based on an allocation of resources broadly acceptable to
all Communities”.

As it is there have been strong opposition already made through the media by other

Further under Sections the Crown Lands Act and the Rivers and Streams Act the public
have full rights of enjoyment of these areas.

With respect to whoever was responsible to have introduced this concept of the Qoliqoli
Bill could have never have imagined that all other non indigenous Fijian Communities
could reasonably be expected to accept and approve the concept of the Bill when they
will be put to such serious disadvantages under the Bill especially as regards the rights of
free access to these areas until now.

2. Just taking one example under Section 20(5) of the Bill. That Section states:-

“20 (5)Any lease granted in any native land including
rights and interest in any freehold land abutting any
qoliqoli area does not confer any right within the qoliqoli
area except by operation of this Act.”

Surely a freehold land owner who has free access to the foreshore at present can never be
expected to be divested of his rights by virtue of this Bill. Under the Bill all rights in the
qoliqoli Area hitherto enjoyed by the public will be curtailed except as will be as
provided under the Bill.

There are various Islands in Fiji which are freehold. Imagine their use of the foreshore
and the Sea will be subjected to the rights under the Qoliqoli Bill. This is unimaginable
to say the least.

3. Under the Fiji Constitution every person must be treated equally and must not be
discriminated against. In this regard the following are relevant:-

(i) Under Section 38(1) of the Constitution it is clearly provided:-
“38.-(1) Every person has the right to equality before the law.”

(ii) Under Section 38(2) it is clearly stated:-

“38.-(2) A person must not be unfairly discriminated against,
directly or indirectly, on the ground of his or her:
(a) actual or suppose 4 person characteristics or
circumstances, including race, ethnic origin,
economic status, or

(b) opinions or beliefs, except to the extent that those
opinions or beliefs involve harm to others or the
diminution of the rights or freedoms of others;
or on any other ground prohibited by this Constitution.”

Therefore from the above it follows clearly that if non Fijians cannot be registered
to take the benefits of the resources and rights in the so called Qoliqoli Areas as
defined in the Qoliqoli Bill, then they are clearly discriminated against.

This in my Submission is clearly in breach of Section 38(2) of the Constitution.

(iii) Section 38(3) clearly imposes prohibition for any Law to be passed that not
only directly but also indirectly has the effect of a discriminatory law. Section
38(3) states:-

“38.-(3) Accordingly, neither a law nor an administrative action
taken under a law may directly or indirectly impose a disability or
restriction on any person on a prohibited ground.”

(iv) Further Section 38(4) gives to every person the right of access without
discrimination to any public place. Section 38(4) states:-

Every person has the right to access, without
discrimination on a prohibited ground, to public places.”
As seen foreshore and rivers are public places and free access to them have been
enjoyed and must be given.

Likewise seas can be also classified as public place and therefore free access must
be given to every person without discrimination.

4. It is also noteworthy that in applying fundamental rights contained above the Constitution
clearly specifies and enshrines that in interpreting the Constitution the courts must
promote, amongst other matters, the issue of equality having regard to public
international law applicable. Section 43(2) of the Constitution clearly states:-

In interpreting the provisions of this Chapters, the
courts must promote the values that underlie a democratic society
based on freedom and equality and must, if relevant, have regard
to public international law applicable to the protection of the
rights set out in this Chapter.”

I strongly believe that we request the Government to set up a special COMMITTEE with at least 3 members of the Fiji Law Society on it to thoroughly examine all the legislations affecting lands in Fiji, including the Native Lands Act, the Native Land Trust Act, the Crown Lands Act, Rotuma Lands Act, Rivers and Streams Act, Mining Act, Quarries Act, Petroleum (Exploration and Exploitation) Act, and Continental Shelf Act.

Yours Sincerely

(Dr.) M. S. Sahu Khan

Anonymous said...

RFMF is right. Why should it pursue bloggers who are cowards? Bloggers such as this one is insignificant in what is going in Fiji. So why waste our time with the bloggers.

Anonymous said...

The CTM Resort group which represents several high profile Fijian hotels and resorts within Australia said its time the Australian government listens to what the travel industry and tourists have been saying that Fiji has always been completely safe for tourists.

Cutler's comments come as the Interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama announced last week that it will not extend the Public Emergency Regulation.