Not only did he fly all the way to Suva to personally hand deliver other peoples money towards his boss's shady flood appeal, Thompson has now seen fit to do some PR to mitigate some home-truth's as recently splashed all over the New York Times.
Winston's lines really have to be seen to be appreciated.
For example on the issue of "freedom of the press" as expressed in an interview with Eddie Walsh:
“The clampdown on the media in Fiji was really a clampdown on the media becoming extreme in inciting instability and making outrageous statements. We have a comparatively unsophisticated media industry. Our people do not have the experience to be able to say things in a way that conveys what they want to say but keep the language within limits so that it does not incite people or cause people to do silly things.”On the issue of normalizing relations with Australia, the conversation went like this:
Eddie Walsh: - Assuming the elections happen and you live up to your commitments, do you see the relationship with Australia being easily normalized?
Ambassador Winston Thompson: - I would think so. Presumably, once we have elections and installed an elected government, then there would be a completely different situation from the point of view of what has been there previously. One would hope things would be totally normalized.
Eddie Walsh: - But do you see any major obstacles to normalizing relations? After the last couple of years, are you concerned at all about bias or pre-judgments on either end? Will history and the past be an obstacle?
Ambassador Winston Thompson: - No, I don’t think so. There have been good relations. We get something like 300,000 Australian visitors per year which is quite a big statement of what the average Australian feels. And, I think that is reflected generally in Australia.On external interventions, Thompson went on to say:
“If a country like ours goes through these sorts of situations but maintains peace and stability and good governance, that really then negates any need for anyone else to come along and do something. The conditions in Fiji did not warrant any outside intervention.”Even as Winston Thompson was foolishly mouthing off trying to project a perception that is not, a Western Diplomat had earlier shared with Walsh that in regards to Fiji's influence in the Pacific:
"Fiji’s influence in the region (and internationally) has undoubtedly been diminished by the past half decade of military rule. The balance of power in the region is moving, in general terms, from Polynesia to Melanesia - and Papua New Guinea has filled some of the vacuum left by Fiji’s absence in regional forums in the past several years. Despite Fijian attempts at a ‘divide and rule’ strategy within the region, Pacific Island countries have remained generally quite united behind the proposition that relations with Suva will only be fully normalized under conditions of a return to civilian rule. Whether this loss of Fijian influence will be reversed in coming years is hard to gauge (though Fiji’s role as a geographical and transport hub would argue for the positive on this).”The diplomat had also shared his/her views on diplomatic normalization on Fiji as follows:
"Given the importance to the region of democracy - including to other Pacific governments wary of the role of their militaries and other disciplined forces - this process of normalization can only be completed after elections of a reasonable standard have taken place."On the upcoming elections the diplomat expressed this view:
“It seems fairly clear now that there will be elections of some description in Fiji in 2014. The real question is the extent to which those elections meet minimal international standards for being free and fair. Crucial to answering that question is seeing whether everyone is allowed to compete, and the media and civil society are able to operate in a minimally unimpeded manner. “The diplomat also told Walsh that in relation to Fiji's counter-balancing act with China:
“Fiji has very publicly ‘looked north’ in the wake of its suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum. It has been quite upfront about its desire to supplement traditional relationships with Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific Island countries with enhanced relationships with non-traditional partners, including China. However, it remains clear that Fiji is very sensitive to its treatment at the hands of its Pacific neighbors (including Australia and New Zealand) and that it desires a return to a situation where those relations are ‘normalized.’ Fiji’s relations with its partners ‘in the region’ will always be more important - for historical, cultural and geopolitical reasons - than its relations with Beijing. Any hedging strategy attempted by Suva was always going to be constrained by this fact.”You can read more of Fiji Fairytales by Winston Thompson here.