Tag Archive | Media Freedom

Prior censorship and expulsion of foreign journalists deal “mortal blow” to press freedom

Reporters Without Borders appeals to President Ratu Josefa Iloilo and Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, the head of Fiji’s military government, to repeal measures taken on 10 April that institutionalise media censorship and violate Fiji’s international undertakings to respect the rule of law.

“The military government is heading dangerously towards a Burmese-style system in which the media are permanently subject to prior censorship and other forms of obstruction,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We appeal to the international community, especially the European Union and United Nations, to respond to this manifest desire to restrict the free flow of news and information by speaking out and firmly condemning media censorship.”

President Iloilo suspended the constitution on 10 April and announced a “new legal order”. The next day, he reappointed the head of the armed forces, Commodore Bainimarama, as prime minister, a position Bainimarama has held since a December 2006 military coup.

Since then, soldiers and information ministry personnel have taken up positions inside the print and broadcast media. Officials say their job to prevent the publication or broadcasting of reports that could cause “disorder”, “disaffection” or “public alarm” The media have been told they must “cooperate” and must not criticise the new regime or carry stories that could regarded as “incitement”.

According to the Public Emergency Regulations introduced under a 30-day state of emergency on 10 April, the permanent secretary for information now has complete control over what the news media report in Fiji, and officials have urged the media to report “positive” news. The measures have been widely condemned by regional press freedom groups such as the Pacific Media Centre, which has talked of an “Orwellian era of ruthless censorship and intimidation.”

The authorities have also targeted the international media in the capital, Suva. Reporter Sia Aston and cameraman Matt Smith of New Zealand’s TV3 and Australian Broadcasting Corporation reporter Sean Dorney were forced to leave Fiji today. While not formally arrested, they were given no choice and were escorted to the airport. The police confiscated the material that Aston had filmed on censorship. He said the Fijian media were under “very strong pressure” from the government.

Edwin Nand, a journalist with the Fijian TV station Fiji One, was detained at Suva police headquarters for interviewing an Australian journalist.

The media have responded with protests. The Sunday edition of the Fiji Times was published on 12 April with pages that were completely blank except for this note: “The stories on this page could not be published due to government restrictions.”

Greg Baxter, a spokesman for the company that owns the Fiji Times, News Ltd, said: “We are at this stage making the decision not to publish anything rather than publish something that has been censored.” The newspaper’s editor, Netani Rika, and its publisher were summoned by the information ministry on 12 April and reprimanded for being “uncooperative”. It stopped printing blank pages the next day but seemed to be boycotting all political news.

The staff of the national television station also protested about the censorship on 12 April, when Fijians saw the following message on an otherwise black screen: “Viewers please be advised that there will be no 6 p.m. news tonight.”

Two Fiji Sun editors were summoned for questioning yesterday for publishing a front-page article announcing that the daily newspaper would refuse to cover politics in protest against the censorship. An online chat forum, Sotiacentral.com, decided to close rather than let its members be censored.

Tuiloma Neroni Slade, the secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum, said: “The curtailment of media access and freedom of speech and the disregard for judicial independence are especially worrying.” Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Fiji had become a “military dictatorship.” New Zealand foreign minister Murray McCully said Fiji’s suspension from the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum was “inevitable”.


SIGNIS condemns Vore’s gagging our Media

Fijian Media Gagged

Brussels, April 21, 2009 (SIGNIS) – SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication expresses its profound concerns for the new laws in Fiji that prohibit local media to refrain from publishing stories that negatively depict the government led by the newly appointed Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

This new direction, issued last Saturday, April 11, 2009, has immediately resulted in the deletion of certain news stories from local media together with the expulsion of foreign journalists critical of the government’s annulment of the 1997 Constitution and the abrogation of the judiciary. 

SIGNIS endorses the principle that the freedom of the media to publish and broadcast is the freedom, and right, of people to be informed.

Since 1987 Fiji has had four coups and a bloody military mutiny.

Fijian media have been told to refrain from airing or publishing news stories, broadcasts or articles that may be inciting to law and order. Under a new promulgation, the Public Emergency Regulations 2009, Section 16 (1) of the regulation states that if the “Permanent Secretary for Information has reason to believe that any broadcast or publication may give rise to disorder and thereby cause undue demands to be made upon the police or the armed forces, or may result in a breach of peace, or promote disaffection or public alarm, or undermine the Government or State of Fiji, he or she may, by order, prohibit such broadcast or publication.”

In a letter to media in Fiji, the Information Secretary, Major Neumi Leweni, has requested all media to “immediately refrain from publishing and broadcasting any news item that is negative in nature, relating to the assumption of executive authority on 10th April 2009 by His Excellency the President.”

SIGNIS believes that journalistic freedom includes the right to publish and broadcast news and information, without fear or favor, and the right to comment fairly and dutifully upon it. SIGNIS stands by the principle that freedom of the media in Fiji and elsewhere is important even more because of the obligation it entails towards the citizens of that country than because of the rights it gives to the media.

God bless Fiji

News from Pacific Media Watch

Source: PMW.  With thanks to the girls. 


By correspondent Kerri Ritchie

(ABC Online/Pacific Media Watch): Fiji’s self-appointed leaders have told journalists in the country that they must “get on board” and adopt an edict the military regime is calling “the journalism of hope”.

Fiji’s interim Indigenous Affairs minister and former military forces commander, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, was today sworn in as Vice-President.

”Where there are disputes, reconciliation. Where there is error, truth. Where there is despair, hope,” he said.

The military regime has told Fiji-based journalists who do stories for foreign media outlets that they must “behave”.

It has asked reporters to adopt what it is calling “the journalism of hope”, which involves only doing positive stories.

Journalists were told if they did not cooperate, new regulations censoring the media may be extended.

Earlier this week, three foreign journalists, including veteran ABC reporter Sean Dorney, were expelled from the country.


AUCKLAND (ABC Online/Pacific Media Watch): LISA MILLAR: Fiji this evening remains under emergency rule and Frank Bainimarama, the man who made himself leader after a 2006 coup, is still very much calling the shots.

He’s not fazed by threats from Australia and New Zealand to have Fiji expelled from the Commonwealth.

And journalists and others critical of the regime continue to be hauled before police for questioning.

Radio broadcasts are still being blocked and every day Fijians are reading newspapers that have been censored by the military.

New Zealand correspondent Kerri Ritchie reports:

KERRI RITCHIE: Here in New Zealand, the Dominion Post newspaper is running an opinion piece about Fiji.

The author, Rosemary McLeod, writes.

(Excerpt from Dominion Post opinion piece)

ROSEMARY MCLEOD (voiceover): I do not care about Fiji. The country is a basket case with far too many military uniforms to go around.

(End of excerpt)

KERRI RITCHIE: She has a suggestion on how to deal with Fiji’s military leaders.

ROSEMARY MCLEOD (voiceover): I say ignore them. News coverage only goes to their heads and the world’s disapproval delights them.

KERRI RITCHIE: The writer is clearly trying to be controversial, and get a laugh or two. But if she worked in Fiji, she’d most likely be sitting in a police cell right now.

The interim government has brought in new rules, allowing it to censor local reporters and deport foreign media.

Information is still getting out, via blogs and text messages.

A Fijian man, who’s a blogger with the Intelligentsiya website, spoke to Radio New Zealand this morning on the condition that his voice would be distorted to protect his identity.

RADIO NEW ZEALAND REPORTER: What kind of pressures are you working under?

FIJIAN MAN: We’ve been working under immense pressure not only from the Ministry of Information but from the military. We understand the military have their IT department in full swing, trying to monitor us.

RADIO NEW ZEALAND REPORTER: Aren’t you and the other bloggers scared of being found out?

FIJIAN MAN: As human beings the thought has crossed our minds. We can’t say we are not fearful.

KERRI RITCHIE: Brij Lal is a Pacific specialist with the Australian National University.

BRIJ LAL: The intent of the interim administration is to keep its own people in the dark in Fiji.

Australia cannot really ignore the South Pacific region. It has strong trade links with Fiji. A lot of people from Fiji are living in Australia. So Australia has an obligation to be involved.

Sooner rather than later what is your backyard problem will become your frontyard problem.

KERRI RITCHIE: Sean Dorney is the ABC’s long-time Pacific correspondent.

He was kicked out of Fiji earlier this week. The interim government didn’t like his stories.

SEAN DORNEY: What the government is doing is letting everybody know they are not going to tolerate anything that might lead to any disturbance.

KERRI RITCHIE: Sean Dorney says the military regime called a meeting yesterday and outlined some strict rules for reporters who provide stories to media outlets outside Fiji.

SEAN DORNEY: They have to behave. If they didn’t behave the emergency might be extended. They were told to get on board and collaborate with the military administration and they were also told that they should adopt what is now being called apparently by this new administration – journalism that doesn’t criticise the government; it’s now in Fiji called “the journalism of hope”.

KERRI RITCHIE: Sean Dorney says the press release sent out by the interim government inviting foreign journalists to visit is a joke.

SEAN DORNEY: Laughter, I think, is my reaction to it. Journalists are going to be judged on what they’ve previously written about Fiji. So if you’ve written anything at all that isn’t totally in favour of Bainimarama’s continued rule, you won’t be allowed in.

So it’s probably open season in Fiji for travel writers but no-one else is going to get in.

KERRI RITCHIE: Sean Dorney says unless something big happens in Fiji, the political crisis won’t be front page news next week.

He hopes people don’t forget about the small group of Fijian journalists, many of them young, who are being threatened and intimidated on a daily basis, for just trying to do their job.

SEAN DORNEY: The dangers facing them if they continue to report to the world what is going on in Fiji in a totally unbiased and factual manner, the danger for them is very real.

LISA MILLAR: That’s the ABC’s Pacific correspondent, Sean Dorney ending the report from Kerri Ritchie.


WELLINGTON (RNZ Online/Pacific Media Watch): A senior Waikato University lecturer says the New Zealand government’s foreign policy towards Fiji may be undermining that country’s progress towards democracy.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully has described the situation in Fiji as unpredictable and volatile. Fiji’s president revoked the constitution and sacked the judiciary after the Court of Appeal ruled the regime in power since a military coup in 2006 was illegal.

However, David Neilson, a member of the Commission of Inquiry into Fiji’s 2006 election, says New Zealand could be doing more to create a robust electoral system for Fiji.

On the Sunday Group, Neilson said there were many technical issues to overcome in order for Fiji to remove “bias and corruption” in its electoral system.

He said New Zealand had a huge amount of expertise which could help Fiji create a robust electoral system.


SUVA (TA Online/Pacific Media Watch): Fiji’s Media Council has made formal submissions to the Prime Minister asking him to revoke the country’s censorship laws.

The country’s military ruler has suspended the constitution and imposed martial law and he is censoring the media for a month.

News outlets are not allowed to report anything critical of the government.

Media Council chair Daryl Tarte says they held a meeting this past week to discuss a response to the censorship and have made confidential submissions to Frank Bainimarama.

He says they have not been given an indication of when the Prime Minister will reply.

Tarte says in the meantime, mainstream media are continuing to abide by the censorship laws.


AUCKLAND (RNZ Online/Pacific Media Watch): The Fiji-New Zealand Business Council is urging foreign governments to be cautious about issuing trade sanctions and travel warnings.

Fjii is under emergency rule. Military leader Frank Bainimarama has tightened media censorship and refuses to hold elections before 2014.

Business council’s Mark Hirst, who is based in Suva, says he understands that other governments will target Fiji’s regime.

But he says they need to be careful that they don’t affect people who have nothing to do with the military.

New Zealand exports to Fiji are worth about $NZ360 million each year and Hirst says trade sanctions would have a big effect on the economy there.

However, Hirst says limited information is making it difficult to know how businesses are actually coping. He says finding out information is especially hard because New Zealand no longer has a high commissioner or trade commissioner in Fiji.

God bless Fiji

Fiji Regime Wants Spin, Not Journalism

Sunday, 19 April 2009, 12:52 pm, Press Release: Pacific Freedom Forum Fiji Regime Wants Spin, Not Journalism

For immediate release: The Pacific Freedom Forum condemns the continued harassment and detention of Fiji-based journalists, including those filing for or providing information to overseas news outlets.

Last night’s jail stop for Pacnews/AP journalist Pita Ligaiula will hopefully end today. Ligaiula was filing for Associated Press and based at the PacNews Secretariat in Suva, and his detention under the emergency decree regulations occurred alongside the reported harassment of other journalists filing for outlets including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Radio New Zealand.

Leading Fiji journalists have been ‘briefed’ by Ministry of Information officials to put a positive spin on their stories, or face the consequences.

“This bullying behaviour on the part of Fiji authorities will only serve to still further focus attention on that country’s situation, because the story will still, eventually be told,” Pacific Freedom Forum chair Susuve Laumaea says.

“The reported invitation to ‘approved’ journalists – whose prior reportage on Fiji will be vetted prior to issuing visas – to come and tell ‘positive’ stories is ridiculous,” he says.

“Local and overseas journalists were, like Pita Ligaiula, trying to provide balanced and accurate reports about Fiji, and all the current Fiji authorities can do is harass and attempt to silence them.”

“Locking up reporters such as Fiji TV’s Edwin Nand, whose interview with deported ABC reporter, Sean Dorney, was seen worldwide, and now AP’s Pita Ligaiula, who works from PacNews and whose reports were also published globally, only demonstrates that those responsible need help and training in what real journalism is all about,” says PFF co-chair Monica Miller.

“The increased pressure on our media colleagues in Fiji has only added to the credibility and respect they have earned from regional and international colleagues; and renewed solidarity amongst Pacific journalists,” she says.

“PacNews is produced by the Pacific Islands News Association, itself a long running regional media and journalism support and training organization, which owes no loyalty to anybody except to its members and affiliates, and to the principles of fair, accurate, and balanced journalism.”

“The continuing attacks on the Fiji media by the local authorities have been and continue to be condemned globally, and every instance of harassment and intimidation of journalists is being reported. PFF continues to encourage a return to due process by the current regime, by taking their issues through the complaints channels of the Fiji Media Council.”ENDS

God bless Fiji

Terror and threats as Fiji suffers under the hand of a tyrant

With thanks to Raw Fiji News for pointing out this article in The Times (the original one, based in London).  Under this illegitimate regime, Fiji makes the international headlines for all the wrong reasons.  

Liz Jamieson in Suva – The attacks began a couple of weeks ago. While families slept petrol bombs were thrown through their windows and cars were set on fire. This week an attempt was made to set the offices of a prominent trade unionist on fire while his employees worked inside.

The message was clear to the victims, who include a newspaper editor, a lawyer and a former army colonel: stop speaking out against the regime.

“We are afraid for our lives,” one of the victims, who would not be named, told The Times. ‘My wife and I don’t sleep at night, we are always wondering when the next bomb will come or when they will come for us with their guns. I have been imprisoned and beaten all over my body and face; they told me that the next time they come for me my wife can pick up my body from the morgue.”

This is not Zimbabwe or Burma. This is Fiji, the tourist jewel of the South Pacific and, until recently, the most sophisticated of the island nations in this region.

It is still one of the most popular tourist destinations for Australians, New Zealanders and Britons. Each day tourists are taken by shuttle bus from Nadi airport to their luxury resorts, where they snorkel, swim and play golf, sheltered behind the bougainvillea from the shadows that haunt the people.

Since 2006, when Fiji endured its fourth coup in 20 years, the country has been ruled by a military regime that has suppressed dissent through detention and torture while the coup leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has refused to hold elections.

A week ago the regime took a step towards total dictatorship. After a ruling by the Appeals Court on April 9 that Mr Bainimarama had been appointed Prime Minister illegally under the 1997 Constitution, the ailing 89-year-old President Ratu Josefa Iloilo, acting after consultation with Mr Bainimarama, revoked the Constitution, sacked the judiciary and reappointed Commodore Bainimarama as premier for a minimum term of five years.

A state of emergency was declared, police were placed in every newspaper and television newsroom to censor stories and a series of draconian decrees were published, including a ban on gatherings of more than three people.

All constitutional office holders, including the Supervisor of Elections, the Ombudsman, the Auditor-General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Commissioner of Police and the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji, were replaced by people of the regime’s choosing.

In the past week journalists have been jailed along with the President of the Law Society, who organised a protest outside the Supreme Court over the sacking of judges.

All foreign media was ejected and radio transmitters from Australia and New Zealand, which were the only link that Fiji had to news from the outside world, have been shut.

Fiji is isolated and its people are left unprotected and at the hands of its increasingly unpredictable dictator.

“Please don’t call him a dictator,” an adviser to Laisenia Qarase, the former Prime Minister, said. “This man is a terrorist. Everyone is scared; no one knows who will be the next to be taken away.”

Fiji presents an appearance of calm. The streets of the capital Suva are quiet, the people go about their daily lives as normal but there is an atmosphere of foreboding.

Speaking in a whisper behind a closed door while a soldier stalked through the offices of her organisation, a human rights worker said: “They are terrifying people into silence. We are getting stories from the countryside that they are going into the villages with guns and marching the youths away at gunpoint but no one can do anything.

“The ordinary people now have no recourse to justice. There are no courts, they have no voice. Everyone feels completely helpless.”

Asked if she was scared, she said: “Not for me. But I have got a phone call reminding me they know where my daughter goes to school.”

Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, the Vice-President for the Government of Mr Qarase, said: “Once the Prime Minister gets something into his mind, no amount of sane advice will move him. This regime has no integrity or good faith but they now have total power.”

When Mr Bainimarama came into power in 2006 he seemed to be a force for good but support for an uprising even among the educated elite is growing.

“No one knows what will happen next,” said Graham Leung, a former Law Society president. “Don’t assume that because the Fijians are quiet on the surface they are celebrating, because they are not.

“We are dealing with a situation that is dynamic and resistant and may evolve into something that is violent.”

He added: “We can’t expect outside help. Democracy will have to be fought for and won here.”

A source with close links to former senior officers, said: “Senior members of the military have made it clear that enough is enough. They think this time he’s gone too far.”

Related links : 

God bless Fiji

Ballu Bites Back

Please do yourself a favour and watch Ballu Khan’s interview where he speaks for the first time about what happened to him at Vore’s behest, and why Vore felt compelled to hold this coup.  

I always knew Andrew Hughes was the true hero in the piece.  I’d love to know what he was going to charge Vore with.  Whatever the original charges against Vore, they aren’t a scratch on the sh*t he’s dropped himself in now.  Go on, Vore, show everyone how ‘smart’ you are, and dig yourself in a little deeper!  

God bless Fiji

TVNZ : Bainidia Interview With Adrian Stevanon

Clear for all to see what a complete nutty fruitcake we’re dealing with here, and why the foundations of this illegal regime, built on sand, will inevitably fail.  No way could this guy have planned the coup on his own.  With thanks to TVNZ website and FemLink Pacifika. 

AUCKLAND (TVNZ Online/Pacific Media Watch): Fiji‘s military leader spoke to TVNZ’s ONE News on Wednesday about his regime’s crackdown in the Pacific nation.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama has imposed emergency regulations, including the muzzling of media 
 and in his latest move the Fiji dollar has been devalued in a bid to boost tourism.

Pacific reporter Adrian Stevanon spoke to Bainimarama:

*ADRIAN STEVANON*: Is this the Commodore?


*AS: It’s Adrian Stevanon here from ONE News. I was just wondering if I could ask you a few questions about what’s happening in Fiji.*

*FB*: What’s happening in Fiji?

*AS*: *Yes. I heard you on the radio this morning and I was just wondering if I could do my own interview with you.*

*FB*: Sure.

*AS*: *First of all, how long will this state of emergency be in Fiji?*

*FB*: Well, my understanding is that … the state of emergency has been put for a month.

*AS: Why will it be in for that long?*

*FB:* Why?

*AS: Yes.*

*FB:* Well, we’ve been given a fresh mandate by the president in moving Fiji forward and we want everyone to be together, so we don’t want anyone opposing the reforms that we need to come up with. And that is exactly why.

*AS: Isn’t opposition part of what a democratic society is all about?*

*FB*: It is the opposition that has led to the abrogation of the constitution in Fiji, so we want to do away with that kind of opposition. We want to look forward and come up with the reforms that we are going to make.

*AS: Why has the media been censored in Fiji?*

*FB:* Well, that is exactly why.. I thought I answered that question. We really don’t want any negativity around Fiji right now. We want to move forward, take away all the opposition to the reforms that we are going to make.

*AS: What do you think about some of the condemnation that has come internationally about what Fiji’s been doing at the moment or what your regime has done?*

*FB:* Well, I can understand the condemnation about … what’s your name again?

*AS: Adrian.*

*FB:* Adrian, this is to do with us. This is to do with Fiji and we are doing this for people in Fiji. We want to bring about changes and come up with the reforms that will bring about a better Fiji, so you can go ahead with your condemnation, but we need to do this for Fiji.

*AS: Ok, what is the message that you have for New Zealand and Australia?*

*FB:* Well, my message to the New Zealand and Australian people, Adrian, is there is nothing happening in Fiji that should not stop you as a tourist or a visitor to come and visit. Come and enjoy the facilities that we have and the hospitality that we have. There’s nothing to stop you doing that.

*AS: Do you think you have the support of your people?*

*FB*: I certainly have the support of the people, yes.

*AS: How do you know that?*

*FB:* Well, no one has come up and opposed it, Adrian.

*AS: But there have been people who have been speaking out in the media and they have ended up being locked up.*

*FB:* Adrian. The people who have been speaking out, I can count them on the fingers of one hand, I’m not saying there’s five of them, but there are few of them. But we have banded together on this campaign of change that we need to bring about to Fiji so that we can have a better Fiji.

*AS: What does a better Fiji look like?*

*FB:* Hopefully when we finish this exercise, we would have a Fiji without any racist policies, that’s one thing. The reforms that we are going to come up with, including electoral reform, it will be a non-communal base of voting… so we will get rid of the race issue. And we will try and get rid of the corruption issues that have been rife in Fiji.

*AS: Ok, Commodore, why couldn’t you accept the ruling from the Appeal Court that found your government illegal?*

*FB:* Well, the Excellency has made up his mind. He has abrogated the constitution because the ruling would have forced us to go to elections, elections in the old system, which we don’t like. We don’t want to go down that path again, we don’t want an election based on communal voting.

We don’t want an election based on race. We want to move away from that. I’m sure all the Kiwis wouldn’t want to go down that path too, so and we don’t want to go down that path. If we were to accept the decision, we would have gone down that path.

Adrian, you should do me a favour and find out from the three judges how is that they came up with a 52-page judgment in 24 hours? We thought it was going to take them three weeks to sit together and come up with this judgement. I think it’s quite clear this judgement was written long before they got here. They made up their minds before they got here.

*AS: How would you feel if some of your peacekeepers that are overseas are removed from their missions?*

*FB:* How would the NZ government feel if they were removed from their position?

*AS: Well, I can’t speak for them. But I’m asking you, what would your reaction be?*

*FB:* If the Kiwis were removed from UN peacekeeping, I’m sure the people of NZ would be very disappointed.

*AS: So your response, how would you react to that?*

*FB:* I would be very disappointed. But why would we be removed?

*AS: Are you worried about possibly being expelled from the Pacific Forum and the Commonwealth?*

*FB:* Going back to what you were talking about before, why would we be removed from peacekeeping? Is it because you’ve been told by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr McCully, that he is going to go on an agenda to have us removed?

*AS: Not at all. It was just a question.*

*FB:* Oh good.

*AS: How far away are we from seeing new judges in the judicial system in Fiji?*

*FB:* To tell you the truth, Adrian, maybe 24 hours. I really don’t know at this stage, but what is certain, is that the judges are going to be brought back.

*AS: You spoke this morning about a survey that was done. Can you explain how you know you have the support of the people?*

*FB:* We have the charter process. The charter process came up with a 64% majority for the changes we have put forward to them to endorse. So on that note, we know what they want.

*AS: I understand there is a split in your military camp. How are you dealing with that situation?*

*FB:* Well, we have a rugby match this afternoon, Adrian… if there is a split in the camp, we will find out today who is going to be the winner.

*AS: So a rugby game will heal the wounds of the split?*

*FB:* There is no split in the camp.

*AS: Is there anything else you would like to say to the people of NZ and Australia or Fijians living in NZ?*

*FB:* What I want to tell the people of NZ and Australia is don’t believe everything you hear, especially from people like your Foreign Affairs Minister, McCully.

*AS: Could I come and report there?*

*FB:* It depends what you are going to report on (laughs). I’d rather you just ask me questions from NZ and I’ll answer from here.

*AS: Is there any other reason why the foreign media has been kept out?*

*FB*: It’s exactly why there is emergency regulation on. We don’t want any opposition to the reforms we are bringing about, we don’t want any negativity, spreading any rumours or any lies about what we are doing in Fiji. Let me tell you that I and the military who started this campaign long before 2006 and the government and the people who have endorsed the way forward, have nothing but good for Fiji. All we want is to better Fiji.

*AS: I understand, also, that those who are in the public service who are over 55 without a contract, come April 30, may be out of a job. Is that true?*

*FB:* That is one of the changes we have brought about, yes.

*AS: Why is that?*

*FB:* Well, at 55, if you do not know, they collect their pension.. and they are ready to retire… At any rate, it would free up a lot of vacancies for our school leavers to come in and join.

*AS: Finally, why was the Reserve Bank governor sacked?*

*FB:* If you don’t know, when the constitution was taken out, it removed everyone that was appointed under the constitution, including the governor of the Reserve Bank. It was also an opportune time for us to look at the governor of the Reserve Bank and get a better person in and we did and Mr Reddy, who has been in the Reserve Bank for the last 34 years and was the deputy governor for the last 14 years, he has come in at an opportune time and is ready to salvage the economy…

*AS: What was wrong with the last governor’s process?*

*FB:* There was a lot of recommendations that have just appeared now that did not come before that and we’re taking advantage of Mr Reddy’s wise council.

*AS: Was he not doing his job properly?*

*FB:* I’m not saying that. Stop saying things like that…. You finished, Adrian?

*AS: Yes, I am.*

*FB*: Thank you very much

God bless Fiji