Journalism at USP: A thirty-year journey

Heading on the book chapter on University of the South Pacific’s 50-year history.

Shailendra Singh

Friday, February 22, 2019


The Univerasity of the South Pacific’s 50th anniversary marks 30 years of existence for its regional journalism programme. In an eventful journey, the programme weathered military coups, overcame financial hardships and shrugged off academic snobbery to get this far. The programme started in Suva in 1988, with Com- monwealth funding, and a handful of students to its name. It has produced over 200 graduates serving the Pacific and beyond in various media and communication roles. USP journalism graduates have produced award-winning journalism, started their own media companies and localised various positions at regional organisations once reserved for expatriates.

See also Robie, D. (2004). Mekim Nius: South Pacific media, politics and education. Suva: University of the South Pacific Book Centre.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

World must take moral climate stand for humanity, warns Pacific expert

Authors of the current IPCC reporting cycle in Fiji – Dr Helene Jacot Des Combe (from left), Dr Morgan Wairiu, Professor Elisabeth Holland and Diana Salili. Image: USP/Wansolwara

By Jope Tarai in Suva

The threat of rising global temperatures on Pacific ecosystems is not only a scientific analysis but a reality for many people in the region, with a Pacific climate change expert warning that the current aggregate emissions reductions by countries are inadequate.

Dr Morgan Wairiu, deputy director at USP’s Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development, said the Pacific would effectively lose its ecosystems and resources at current emission levels, which indicate the possibility of the global temperature rising beyond 1.5C to 3.7C.

“The world needs to take a moral stand, this is a humanity issue, more than science, the economy or anything else,” he said, highlighting the need for greater action and urgency on climate change.

READ MORE: Strongest climate solutions ‘developed together’

“The Pacific’s natural and human systems would face greater devastation if the global average temperature rises above 1.5C.”

He warned the Pacific that the parties in the Conference of Parties (COP) were not on track to keep global average temperatures below 1.5C


The Fiji-based Dr Wairiu knows all too well the dangers of climate change, spending more than 25 years championing change and assisting countries in keeping the global average temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

This possibility cuts at the heart of Dr Wairui’s early formative years, growing up in his village and his boarding school supported by the lush and rich vegetation in Guadalcanal.

Pacific survival
“These ecosystems, which support the survival of Pacific people, are under threat. I remember spending long hours outdoors exploring and enjoying the village surrounding,” he said.

“In boarding school, we learnt resilience and self-sufficiency by tending to food gardens and fishing for seafood.”

Dr Wairiu, who hails from Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, was recently one of the lead authors in the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5C special report, which assessed what had been done so far and the feasibility of keeping the global average temperature below 1.5C.

This year he has been selected as the co-ordinating lead author for the “Small Islands” chapter in the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (IPCC AR6). The IPCC releases the assessment reports every five years, with the most recent one (IPCC AR5) released in 2014.

Dr Wairiu will be co-ordinating and guiding a number of authors within the “Small Islands” chapter of the sixth assessment report.

Dr Wairiu graduated from the University of Papua New Guinea in agriculture and returned to the Solomon Islands to serve his people in the research division at the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.

His work focused on soil and plant growth. This proved crucial for Dr Wairiu because of the Solomon Islands’ logging industry, which coincided with his cultivated plant growth work.

Completed studies
Later, he secured a scholarship to complete his postgraduate studies at the University of London in the UK. He also completed a Masters degree at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland before returning to his home country.

Dr Wairiu then moved to Ohio State University in the US to pursue his PhD and at that stage he was examining soil carbon dynamics. Completing his PhD, he returned to his village during the tensions of the early 2000s.

Shortly afterwards, he was called by the Solomon Islands government to take up the role of permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.

Dr Wairiu joined the Waikato University as a visiting research fellow before moving to the University of The South Pacific. His progression and years of experience has culminated in his current work on climate change.

Jope Tarai is an emerging indigenous Fijian scholar, based at the School of Government, Development and International Affairs, University of the South Pacific. His research interests include, Pacific regionalism, Pacific politics and digital ethnography. This article was first published by Wansolwara.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Hard-hitting documentary explores Tongan ‘deportee dumping’ lives

In Gangsters in Paradise – Deportees of Tonga, Vice embeds with four Tongan nationals who have been sent back to where they were born after serving prison time in New Zealand and the United States. Video: Vice Zealandia

By Philip Cass

“It’s like crabs being stuck in a bucket scratching each other to get out.”

“It’s like rubbish dumping.”

Those are two views about the crisis facing Tonga as countries like the United States, Australia and New Zealand deport criminals to the kingdom.

The first comes from a deportee who talks about how it feels being sent back to struggle for a living in a country with which he and other former prisoners are often barely familiar.

The other is from Tonga’s former Commissioner of Prisons, who wants Western countries to take more responsibility for the people they deport and stop treating Tonga – along with Samoa and Fiji – as dumping grounds for people they regard as “rubbish”.


READ MORE: Responses to Gangsters in Paradise

They are, he reminds us, human beings.

The two views come from a hard-hitting documentary, Gangsters in Paradise – The Deportees of Tonga. A regular contributor to Kaniva Tonga news, photographer Todd Henry, acted as associate producer for the Vice Zealandia documentary.

Talia’uli Prescott … permanently banned from NZ – “I loved being a bad guy, but now I want to be a good guy,” Image: Vice/Kaniva News

Statistics show that the United States deported 700 criminals to Tonga between 1992 and January 2016, an average of 29 criminals a year. However, police figures show that up to 40 percent of the criminals deported to Tonga have come from New Zealand.

Most of the deportees are men between 25-35 years and have usually done time for assault, robbery, burglary, theft and drug offences.

20 years absences
Most have lived outside Tonga for 20 years.

Last year former Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni said about 400 Tongans had been deported from the US, Australia and New Zealand since 2012.

More than half had partners or children living overseas.

Gangsters in Paradise is not comfortable viewing. It begins with an interview with a deportee who admits to having been jailed when he was barely out of childhood for shooting another boy four times in the stomach.

Violence played a big part in his upbringing, as it did in the lives of other deportees. For others, migration and re-migration provided a disturbed and unstable childhood.

Talia’uli Prescott talks about joining the King Cobras in New Zealand. They were aiga he tells the camera, explaining that it is a Samoan word for family.

“When you don’t have a family, they give you one,” he explains.

Permanently banned
He is permanently banned from New Zealand.

“That’s the only world I know,” he says.

“It’s very sad.”

By good fortune he has a job at Queen Salote wharf and says that he doesn’t want his legacy to be as somebody who was deported to Tonga.

“I loved being a bad guy, but now I want to be a good guy,” he says.

Other deportees have had a harder time fitting in.

As American deportee Sione Ngaue says: “We’re judged before they even get to know us. We have a red ‘X’ against us.”

Family land
Some deportees, like Ngaue, have staked a claim to family land. He works 6 hectares after a dispute with his uncles.

While some of the interviewees regard their time in prison as a chance to rethink their lives and gain a different perspective, others have brought nothing but trouble to Tonga.

Tonga is in the midst of a methamphetamine crisis and some deportees have gone back into the drugs trade.

One scene in the film shows a dealer preparing methamphetamine for sale, boasting that he can make TP$5000 (NZ$3200) from his Sunday night trading.

And sympathetic as he might be to their plight, Prisons Commissioner Sione Falemanu says deportees have brought more crime to the kingdom and sparked a wave of robberies.

With the Tongan diaspora spread between Sydney and Salt Lake City, this issue is clearly not going to go away. After a public screening of the documentary in Auckland last week, members of the audience who spoke during a talanoa, were sympathetic, but others warned that the deporting countries would also have to take note of what was happening.

“In all honesty, this is an ongoing issue, and believe it or not, it won’t be resolved in the near future. We’re going to have a lot of deportees. And to be honest, we need to start removing the [negative] perception around deportees,” one audience member said.

However, another warned: “If New Zealand does not actually pay attention to what we are seeing, it’s going to backfire on New Zealand. We’re already seeing it.”

Dr Philip Cass is an editorial adviser for Kaniva Tonga.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

USP journalism team drops in on creative industries at AUT

Two University of the South Pacific journalism academics today met with creative industries staff at Auckland University of Technology to discuss plans to bolster collaboration and looked in on AUT’s impressive media facilities.

USP’s journalism coordinator Dr Shailendra Singh and colleague Eliki Drugunavelu are on an Asia-Pacific research trip to Auckland.

They met with AUT’s Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies dean Professor Guy Littlefair; School of Communication Studies acting head Dr Frances Nelson; associate dean postgraduate Dr Rosser Johnson; and Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie.

They discussed proposals for expanding the long-standing journalism collaboration between the two universities to enable more student and staff exchanges, joint research and the ongoing cooperation with the research journal Pacific Journalism Review.

The two programmes have collaborated for more than a decade and currently run joint international journalism assignments, which have included covering two Fiji general elections, and the current Bearing Witness climate change mission in partnership with the Te Ara Motuhenga documentary collective. 

They also share publication of student assignments and staff contributions on the Wansolwara News (USP) and Asia Pacific Report (AUT Pacific Media Centre) portals.

After the meeting, communication studies senior technician Scott Creighton hosted Drugunavelu and Dr Singh on a visit to the school’s three television studios and the Media Centre editing suites.

Wansolwara News
Bearing Witness documentary trailer

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Critics see Fiji’s Online Safety Act as ‘Trojan horse’ for online censors

Fiji’s new online safety law … deemed by the government as necessary to make the internet a safe space for women and children. Image: S&S

By Mong Palatino of Global Voices

Fiji’s Online Safety Act took effect this month amid concerns that it will be used to censor the internet.

The law was passed in May 2018 two months after the Attorney-General’s office submitted it for Parliament deliberation. The government deemed it necessary to make the internet a safe space for women and children:

The Fijian Government in its commitment to ensure access to connectivity for all Fijians, has embarked on promoting a safe online culture and environment in hindsight of the recent increase of reports on harmful online behaviour such as cyberbullying, cyber stalking, Internet trolling and exposure to offensive or harmful content, particularly in respect of children.

Fiji has an estimated 500,000 active online users.

The Fiji media was placed under state control after the military staged a coup in 2006. In 2010, the Media Industry Development Decree was passed which noted press freedom but fears of state reprisal led to self-censorship in the media sector.

Meanwhile, the growing use of social media in recent years has allowed citizens to use this platform to share their views, report alternative news, and engage public officials.


Some reports mention that if the Media Industry Development Decree dealt with mainstream press, the Online Safety Act is designed to regulate social media.

Fourteen members of the opposition voted against the Online Safety Bill which they claimed would undermine democracy.

But some supporters of the law disputed this:

Fiji Sun Online, a major news portal, published an editorial endorsing the measure:

The Online Safety Bill if passed will protect Fijians from being victimised on social media as is rampant today. It will make online users think twice before they post things online.

Critics cited part four of the law as problematic since it could be arbitrarily used to intimidate internet users. This particular provision considers “the posting of an electronic communication with the intention to cause harm to an individual” as an offence and is punishable by five to seven years in prison.

Aside from the prison sentence, those found guilty of violating the law will be fined up to F$20,000 (US$9,440) for individual offenders.

Opponents of the law warned that “causing harm” as an offence was too broad so that any dissenting opinion could be interpreted as illegal content.

Jope Tarai from the University of the South Pacific noted in Pacific Journalism Review that the proposed Online Safety Commission as stipulated under section six of the law appears to mimic and repeat the functions of the police-based Cyber Crime Unit. Aside from creating a new agency that will police internet content, the law gives broad powers to the Online Safety Commission which “has raised concerns on its possible threat to free speech.”

The PJR scholar also warned that despite the avowed intent to promote safety, the law could lead to the censorship of free speech:

The Act on the surface professes online ‘Safety’, while its vagueness on responsible free speech leaves the act open to being a Trojan horse for online ‘Regulation’ and censorship of dissenting voices.

The claimed intent behind the Online Safety Act is certainly a noble one and long overdue in so far as protecting women, children and victims of irresponsible online behavior is concerned. However, the ‘danger’ narrative creatively cultivated by Fijian state officials ignored the strengths of social media.

During the Parliament deliberations, a group of young people enumerated their concerns about the proposed legislation:

We are a group of individual youth concerned about the effect of this Bill on free speech in Fiji. While we appreciate the need to protect children and men and women against revenge porn or unauthoriSed sharing of their intimate images or videos, we are concerned that this Bill is too widely drafted, that it can be misused by those in authority to punish and prosecute those who share their views, who do not share the same political views i.e. it can be misused to prosecute political opponents, rather than serve its purpose to protect children against cyberbullying or other online abuse.

Finally, Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF), a media network, warned that the new online safety law will “muzzle” rather than protect Fiji’s citizens. PFF Polynesia co-Chair Monica Miller said:

More than half a million citizens are now affected by this law and they need to be reassured that their rights to share ideas and information won’t be compromised even furTHER.

Mong Palatino is regional editor for Southeast Asia of Global Voices. He is an activist and two-term member of the Philippine House of Representatives, and has been blogging since 2004 at mongster’s nest. This article is republished with permission.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Fiji warns ‘selfish’ countries amid Paris Agreement climate rulebook deadlock

Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama … urging world leaders to summon the courage and political will to make the switch from dirty to clean energy. Image: Fiji Times

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Talks to draft the Paris Agreement rulebook remained deadlocked today on traditionally tough issues.

Emerging economies – China, India, Brazil and South Africa – stood their ground on financial aid and the division of rich and poor countries.

Others vented their frustration. The UN chief flew back to Poland with a message that failure would be “immoral” and “suicidal”, Fiji’s prime minister said it would be “craven, irresponsible and selfish”, and a coalition of countries born in the Paris talks in 2015 was resurrected, with a call to arms.

READ MORE: Make the ‘clean energy’ switch, urges Fiji’s Bainimarama

Businesses are outpacing national governments in rolling out zero emission vehicles across Europe, North America and New Zealand, says The Climate Group as another five leading companies have joined its corporate leadership initiative EV100 and pledged to electrify their fleets by 2030.

A push has emerged in Poland for countries to step up their climate pledges and Megan Darby of Climate Home News interviews one of the scientists whose work made the world realise it is on the brink.


With new draft rules written by the Polish Cop24 presidency in hand by yesterday afternoon, and many issues still to be resolved, countries and groups came out swinging for their demands.

For the four Basic emerging economies – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – it’s all about differentiating their responsibilities from those of rich countries, and firming up the latter’s commitments to provide financial aid.

Commitments not fully met
“There’s a bit of concern that financial commitments, as agreed to in Paris, have not yet fully been met,” said South African tourism minister Tokozile Xasa.

“It’s quite clear, the evidence shows, that not only do we need reliability in the available finance to support of the initiatives, but that the amount allocated is hopelessly inadequate.”

On the question of how the rulebook applies to countries, the group stressed that the Paris Agreement gives developing countries more leniency as they build up abilities to, for instance, track and report emissions.

“There has to be some degree of flexible reassertion of the differentiated approach … and the allowance made for developing countries,” Xasa said.

Is also another man’s Paris Agreement. The Basic group argued that inserting “equal treatment” of developed and developing countries into the rulebook would amount to a “backslide” on the accord.

EU Climate Action Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete countered that the Paris Agreement called for a more flexible differentiation than the developed/developing line of the 1990s.

“We fully respect what we agreed in Paris, but Paris also points out … that we have to have an enhanced transparency system with built-in flexibilities,” he said.

Countries that need flexibility should get it, while their capabilities are built up, he added.

The Green Climate Fund has extended its search for a new executive director to 3 January. Climate Home News understands big hitters like Nigerian former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and UN desertification chief Monique Barbut have been encouraged to apply, but many potential candidates are deterred by the Songdo location.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pacific ‘smart’ thinking grows creative tension between policy and research

ANALYSIS: By Professor Derrick Armstrong

A traditional view of the tension between research and policy suggests that researchers are poor at communicating their research findings to policy-makers in clear and unambiguous ways.

I am arguing that this is an outdated view of the relationship between research and policy. Science, including social science, and policy come together in many interesting and creative ways.

This does not mean that tensions between the two are dissolved but the conversation between research and policy centre as much on ideological and pragmatic issues as it does upon the strength of the scientific evidence itself.

READ MORE: The DevNet 2018 conference

Researchers are increasingly “smart” in the ways that they seek to influence public debate while policy-makers genuinely value the insights that research can provide in supporting political and policy agendas that goes beyond simply legitimating pre-existing policy choices.

For example, in climate change debates science cannot be seen simply as an arbiter of “truth” that informs policy and political decision-making. Science also plays an advocacy role in alliance with some social interests against others.


Likewise, policy can draw on science but it can also reject the evidence of science where scientific evidence is weighed against the interests of other powerful voices in the policy-process.

Oceans research and policy provides a good example of this more sophisticated relationship between science and policy and suggests some of the significant disconnects and tensions that challenge the relationship as well as how creative tensions between the two operate in practice. Three areas of disconnect can be identified.

Practical disconnection
The first of these is practical disconnection of regulation with regard to the Oceans. An integrated legal framework for the ocean might be considered critical for progress towards meeting the objectives of SDG 14 (Life under the Sea) but complexity and fragmentation present many challenges which are both sectorial and geographical.

National laws lack coordination across different ocean-related productive sectors, conservation, and areas of human wellbeing. In addition, these laws are disconnected from the regulation of land-based activities that negatively impact upon the ocean – agriculture, industrial production and waste management (including ocean plastic).

“These disconnections are compounded by limited understanding of the role of international human rights and economic law, as well as the norms of indigenous peoples, development partners and private companies.” Image: David Robie/PMC

These disconnections are compounded by limited understanding of the role of international human rights and economic law, as well as the norms of indigenous peoples, development partners and private companies.

Disconnected science is itself a problem in this area. Ocean science is still weak in most countries due to limited holistic approaches for understanding cumulative impacts of various threats to ocean health such as climate change, pollution, coastal erosion and overfishing.

Equally, scientific understanding of the effectiveness of conservation and management responses is poor, so that the productivity limits and recovery time of ecosystems cannot be easily predicted.

Even when science is making progress, effective science-policy interfaces are often poorly articulated at all levels. As a result, there are significant barriers to effectively measuring progress in reaching SDG14.

Oceans research policies rare
National oceans research policies to support sustainable development are rare. This is compounded by limited understanding of the role of different knowledge systems, notably the traditional knowledge of indigenous people.

Third, there is a disconnected dialogue. Key stakeholders, most notably the communities most dependent on ocean health, are not sufficiently involved in developing and implementing ocean management; yet, they are most disproportionately affected by their negative consequences.

More positively, there are some good examples of effective science-policy diplomacy collaborations and networks. For example, in the Pacific my own university (University of the South Pacific) has worked very effectively to support Pacific island countries, especially Fiji, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, to successfully lead arguments at the International Maritime Organisation for international commitments to reduced carbon emission targets for shipping.

Technical, scientific support has been critical to support the advocacy of Pacific leaders and their ability to mobilise wider political support.

Building the capacity to achieve such outcomes within the regions of the world that confront these problems most sharply is a significant challenge. Aid policy can play an Important role in this respect – for example, by supporting capacity building through investment in local institutions such as universities rather than funnelling aid money back into donor countries through consultancies.

The scientific dominance of the global north is every bit as disempowering and threatening as post-colonial political domination.

For countries in the developing world, capacity building in research is critical to supporting their own countries. Another good example of this is found in the High Ambition Pacific coalition led by the Marshall Islands which secured significant support from European countries and elsewhere, in their campaign for a 1.5 degrees emissions target at the COP21 meeting in Paris in 2015.

Science-policy-advocacy alliance
This coalition was a good example of a science-policy-advocacy alliance which did not come from the global north.

Scientific as well as policy collaborations between the global south and the global north are certainly possible but it also the case that scientific research and intervention in the countries of the south from the outside can very easily reinforce the political domination that politicians and policy-makers from the south so often experience in international forums and through the aid policies bestowed upon them from outside.

The aggressive assertion of the privileges of Western science to do research in developing countries at the expense of building local capacity demonstrates another side of this post-colonial experience. It is impossible to credibly talk of “giving voice to the ‘disadvantaged’ and ‘vulnerable’” where the research practices of outside researchers and their institutions cripple the ability of local researchers to speak.

Yet, researchers in the Pacific are more effectively operating at the cutting-edge of the science-policy interface than many outside the region may understand or recognise.

In our own case at USP, genuine collaboration across the boundaries of south and north have been possible but just as our leaders and our communities have had to fight against patronising notions of “vulnerability” our scientific need is to build our own capacity to effectively engage with the priorities of our own region and its people. We aim to build a scientific and research capacity that is neither dominated by or exploited from outside.

So, in summary, the tensions that have traditionally been used to characterise the science-policy interface greatly oversimplify the reality. They oversimplify it at an abstract level by whether by characterising science as disinterested or by characterising the aim of policy-makers to rational and evidence-based.

They also oversimplify the relationships within and between scientific communities, ignoring the social interests and power structures that serve the continuation, whether intentionally or not, of post-colonial domination, restricting opportunities to build scientific capacity which enables the achievement of locally determined priorities.

Professor Derrick Armstrong is deputy vice-chancellor (research, innovation and international) at the Suva-based University of the South Pacific. This was a presentation made at the concluding “creative tension” panel at the DevNet 2018 “Disruption and Renewal” conference in Christchurch, New Zealand, last week.

Professor Derrick Armstrong speaking with other members of the final “creative tension” panel at the DevNet 2018 development studies conference. Image: David Robie/PMC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Labour rally in Jakarta, Fiji march highlight global human rights issues

How UN agencies strive to put human rights at the centre of their work. Video: UN

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Hundreds of workers from the Confederation of United Indonesian Workers (KPBI) held a protest march at the weekend in the capital of Jakarta and Fiji’s Coalition on Human Rights staged a march today to commemorate World Human Rights Day.

In Jakarta, the Indonesian workers marched from the Farmers Monument in Central Jakarta to the nearby State Palace on Saturday, reports CNN Indonesia.

During the action, the workers highlighted the problems of corruption and the failure to resolve human rights violations.

READ MORE: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70

“This action is a reflection of the regime that is in power, Jokowi [President Joko Widodo] has failed, particularly in cases of corruption and human rights violations in Indonesia”, said KPBI secretary-general Damar Panca.

The Jakarta rally for human rights at the weekend. Image: Rayhand Purnama Karim/CNNI


Panca said that during Widodo’s administration corruption had become more widespread as had human rights violations. Trade unions had also suffered human rights violations when holding protests.

Panca said that not long ago during a peaceful demonstration, workers were assaulted and had tear gas fired at them by security forces.

“Not just that, 26 labour activists have been indicted. So we are articulating this now because it is the right moment – namely in the lead up to Anti-Corruption Day (December 9) and Human Rights Day (December 10),” he said.

Social welfare demands
In addition to highlighting human rights violations, they also demanded that the government take responsibility for providing social welfare for all Indonesians and rejected low wages, particularly in labour intensive industries, low rural incomes and contract labour and outsourcing.

Panca said that Saturday’s action was also articulating several other problems such as inequality in employment, the criminalisation of activists and the need for free education.

The KPBI is an alliance of cross-sector labour federations. Saturday’s action was joined by the Indonesian Pulp and Paper Trade Union Federation (FSP2KI), the Cross-Factory Labour Federation (FBLP), the Populist Trade Union Federation (SERBUK), the Indonesian Harbour Transportation Labour Federation (FBTPI), the Indonesian Workers Federation of Struggle (FPBI), the Industrial Employees Trade Union Federation (FSPI), the Solidarity Alliance for Labour Struggle (GSPB) and the Greater Jakarta Railway Workers Trade Union (SPKAJ)

“This action is not just in Jakarta, similar actions with the same demands are also being organised by KBPI members in North Sumatra. In Jakarta they have come from across Jabodetabek [Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi, Greater Jakarta],” he said.

According to CNN Indonesia’s observations, the hundreds of workers wearing red and carrying protest gear continued to articulate their demands from two command vehicles near the State Palace, directly in front of the West Monas intersection.

They also sang songs of struggle and followed the directions of speakers shouting labour demands. The protest was closely watched over by scores of police officers.

Fiji rally for rights
In Suva, Fiji, the NGO Coalition on Human Rights organised a march for today to commemorate World Human Rights Day.

The march will begin at 10am from the Flea Market ending in a rally at Sukuna Park and is the culmination of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence from November 25 to December 10.

World Human Rights Day is celebrated annually on December 10 to mark the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

This year is a significant milestone for the UDHR as it marks its 70th Anniversary.

Human Rights Day is a day to celebrate and advocate for the protection of Human Rights globally. Since its launch in 1997, the NGOCHR now includes members such as the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, Citizen’s Constitutional Forum, FemLINK Pacific, Ecumenical Centre for Research and Advocacy, Drodrolagi Movement, Social Empowerment and Education Program and observers, Pacific Network on Globalisation, Haus of Khameleon and Diverse Voices and Action for Equality.

The Indonesian report was translated by James Balowski of Indoleft News. The original title of the article was “Ratusan Buruh Berunjuk Rasa di Istana, Soroti Pelanggaran HAM”.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Fiji women have confidence that their gender in politics will hear their voices

SODELPA’s Lynda Tabuya … “breath of fresh air” in Fiji politics. Image: Wikimedia Commons

By Koroi Tadulala in Suva

The role of women in every segment of society is vital and this is slowly been reflected through more women contesting political spaces in Fiji.

This year recorded the highest number of women contesting the country’s general election compared to previous elections – and also the highest number elected.

The new 51-seat Parliament includes 10 women, five in government and five in the opposition.

READ MORE: 2018 Fiji elections – the ‘fake news’ catchphrase of this ballot but beware

The highest polling woman, SODELPA’s Lynda Tabuya – a talented lawyer and former beauty queen described by media as a “breath of fresh air”, being the fifth highest of the successful MPs.

Speaker of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni says this the success of women is “wonderful news” and she is expected to continue as Speaker.


A total of 56 women from all 6 political parties contested this year hoping to represent women and their issues in political debate.

Amelia Qalituraga, 40, of Banaras Lautoka, is delighted that more women stood for election despite politics being a male-dominated field in this country.

Grassroots support
While casting her vote last Wednesday, she expressed hope that women in Parliament would be able to help out women at grassroots level, especially over the minimum wage rate.

“Working as a cleaner at the rate of $2.70 an hour hasn’t been any easy for me and my family,” she says.

“Na veika ga keimami kerea jiko vei ira na marama era na curu I Palimedi me ra rogoci keimami kei na neimami gagadre,” she added. (The only thing we want from women representatives is to listen to our needs and voices.)

With the rise in sexual assault and rape cases victimising women, Qalituraga hopes that women in Parliament will be able to make a change.

“Na levu ni sexual assault kei na rape sa yaco tu ni kua, au sa vavinavinaka saraga ni na rawa ni rogoci na neimami gagadre.” (With the rise in sexual assault and rape cases against women, I believe that women in political spaces will be able to listen to our concerns now).

Krishneel Vikash Chand, a 21-year-old student at the University of Fiji, says “only a woman will be able to understand the needs of other women and their issues”.

“I think it’s good to have more women in politics because it gives women more empowerment,” he adds.

Better represented
Chand says the idea of women being part of the decision making process would allow women to be better represented and ensure their voices are heard.

Despite the positive response from most people about women competing in political spaces,  some prefer men to address their issues rather than women.

Madhuri Nair … supports idea of empowerment for women but prefers men to address women’s issues. Image: Wansolwara

Madhuri Nair, of Field 40, Lautoka, likes the idea of women empowerment but prefers men to address women’s issues.

“I think it’s good that more women are participating in political spaces, however, I want men to solve women’s issues because sometimes women don’t think nicely.”

Despite the mixed responses from people around Lautoka, it is clear women at the grassroots level want their voices heard and issues to be addressed.

  • Premila Kumar, Selai Adimaitoga, Veena Bhatnagar, Mereseini Vuniwaqa and Rosy Akbar are included in the 27-member FijiFirst-led government while Social Democratic Liberal Party members Lynda Tabuya, Ro Teimumu Kepa, Salote Radrodro, Adi Litia Qionibaravi and National Federation Party member Lenora Qereqeretabua are included in the 24-member opposition.

Koroi Tadulala is a final-year student journalist at the University of the South Pacific. This article is republished under the content sharing arrangement between USP’s Wansolwara student journalism newspaper and AUT’s Pacific Media Centre.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

2018 Fiji elections – the ‘fake news’ catchphrase of this poll but beware

By Sri Krishnamurthi

“Fake News” was the catch phrase of the 2018 Fiji Elections – the second democratic elections since Commodore, now Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, carried out Fiji’s fourth coup in 2006.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama … reelected with easily the strongest personal vote in the Fiji general election but his FijiFirst party has lost ground since 2014. Image: SK/PMC

That FijiFirst with 227,241 (50.02 percent) votes won the elections with just over half of 458,532 votes cast, giving it 27 seats, is testimony to how nervous it was going into the elections.

The Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) won 181,072 votes (39.85%), close to 40 percent of the vote and gets 21 seats in parliament, doing better than it did in 2014, while the National Federation Party completes the makeup with 33,515 votes (7.38 percent) and three seats in the 51-seat Parliament.

“SODELPA – It’s strong indigenous propaganda supported by some deliberate misinformation contributed to a much improved performance, compared with 2014,” said the pro-government newspaper Fiji Sun today in its analysis of the elections.

This was a quaint way of accusing SODELPA of indulging in fake news by the government’s self-confessed propaganda organ.

FijiFirst … triumphs again in a general election, but only just. Image: SK/PMC

In his statement on winning the elections yesterday, published in the Fiji Sun, Bainimarama took the unusual step of accusing the other national daily newspaper, The Fiji Times, of colluding with the opposition in a thinly veiled attack on SODELPA.


“These same disruptive politicians of old, aided and abetted by The Fiji Times did not care to tell you the truth – the truth that iTaukei (Native) land is not only safe like never before under our Constitution but as total land holding has grown under FijiFirst,” he said in a statement.

‘Dishonest politicians’
“In fact it was only under the leadership of these same dishonest politicians that iTaukei land was actually and permanently alienated.

“Their lies and deception knew no boundaries, as individuals, whole communities and religious sentiments were slandered and belittled in an atmosphere of political deceit. They were willing to create economic chaos and undermine our economic future in their greed to win government,” Bainimarama said in his statement from New Zealand, where he was attending his brother Sevenaia’s funeral.

The 48-hour media blackout period – extended until Saturday, November 17, to allow for 22 polling venues to be opened for 7,458 people who were affected by floods – made it easy for social media trolls to make mischief.

At a press conference during the election, Ashwin Raj, the CEO of the Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA), admitted to being caught out by the ferocity of fake news and the social media.

In an interview with ABC’s Pacific Beat programme. Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) co-chair Bernadette Carreon put her finger on the problem.

She said the vacuum left by the media blackout had led to fake news and misinformation being shared.

“The media is not allowed to publish any information regarding the election and so there have been reports of some fake websites coming up during the blackout and we call it fake news because it could potentially influence the voting,” she said.

Fact checking
“Media or the readers cannot fact check because the media is not allowed to air any news or information about the election process.”

That fake news dominated the media at the Fiji Elections Office (FEO) for more than two days was hardly surprising – as nothing could be reported on the campaign or the candidates.

FijiFirst’s financial statement for the nine months until 30 September 2018. Image: SK/Twitter

It has been reported on Twitter that FijiFirst, from the financial declarations last month, spent $1.9 million on advertising and $80,000 on social media as of 30 September 2018. (See image)

However, the media blackout and fake news did not have any influence on the Monday before the elections when SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka faced the High Court for the appeal by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) against charges of corruption which were initially dismissed.

The appeal was subsequently dismissed as well to loud cheers from his supporters.
The media scrum was a sight to behold as Rabuka emerged from courtroom victorious accompanied by his protégé Lynda Tabuya.

With more than 2000 people singing Fijian songs in harmony he was escorted down the steps of Parliament which backs onto the court house.

It appeared to be in defiance of the government which have for so long subdued the Fijian people and their natural exuberance.

Sigh of relief
It clearly signalled the portent of what was to come two days later in the elections, and one shudders to think of what could have happened that day had he lost the court case.

But, for now a collective sigh of relief in Fiji, relief that stability continues with murmurings of corruption, relief that a strong opposition is in place, and 10 women have made to Parliament making up 20 percent of the seats, but it bodes for uncertainty in the 2022 elections.

As Professor Jon Fraenkel from Victoria University of Wellington, a visitor and speaker at the University of the South Pacific, told the Australian Associated Press (AAP) on November 14.

“Many indigenous voters are wary of the endless polarisation and mind games of FijiFirst, and there is also considerable anti-Muslim sentiment targeted at the Attorney-General and his many appointees.”

A third term in government is difficult for any party and the warnings are already been written on the wall for FijiFirst – the people have spoken and will again.

Sri Krishnamurthi is a journalist and Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies student at Auckland University of Technology. He was attached to the University of the South Pacific’s Journalism Programme, filing for USP’s Wansolwara News and the AUT Pacific Media Centre’s Asia Pacific Report.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media