This in from a correspondent of ours:
Thought you might be interested in this, which I've sent to the PM, Winston, Mikky Cullen, Ron Mark, Leighton Smith, Rodney Hide Gerry Brownlee and Bill English
Methinks 'tis time for a modicum of good old-fashioned honesty, credibility, and integrity. This was sent to me by Thakur Ranjit Singh, a migrant from Fiji who is concerned about the way New Zealand is trying to undermine the progress of the return to a non corrupt government. It has been claimed that the "democratically elected government" was not above some dodgy dealings involving the Fiji Holdings Limited, no doubt more information will be forthcoming in due course. Jim Sowry, Warkworth
Michael Green and Field cannot blame others for their Fiji expulsion
Thakur Ranjit Singh, Auckland, New Zealand
If NZ Government claims that the expulsion of Michael Green came as a surprise then it is a white lie. This is because the NZ government was warned about Michael Green's behaviour some four months earlier by members of Fiji community in Auckland.
NZ Labour Party had been concerned with its falling ratings and intelligence that Fiji's migrant community had been unhappy with its uncompromising and insulting attitude towards Fiji. To gauge the feeling, it commissioned a meeting with Fiji's community leaders in Auckland at Ministry of Internal Affairs office where I was in attendance. The meeting was attended by a NZ Labour Party Minister, a listed Member of Parliament and leaders of Fiji community.
The meeting was told about Michael Green's behaviour towards the military regime as well as people of Fiji seeking services from NZ High Commission. It was reported that Michael Green was very close to Qarase regime and could not fathom the fact that he would no longer be in the cocktail circuit after Qarase's removal in December last year.
Subsequent to that it was recently revealed to me by an Auckland taxi driver where one of his Kiwi passengers reportedly told him that Michael Green was cross with the military because his brother had been involved in some investment in Fiji under SDL regime, and that was on hold at the moment. This I have not been able to confirm, and perhaps is a job involving some investigative journalism. Therefore it has yet to be revealed whether Green's wrath with the military was professional or personal.
We need to see how Fiji citizens got treated by Michael Green's regime at NZ High Commission in the Reserve Bank Building where the Commission is based. Before the coup, anybody seeking services could go up to their offices but after December, people were herded outside the building where you had to queue like herd of Kiwi sheep to seek services, in sun rain and storm. While Australian High Commission could issue visitors visa in just ten days, NZ High commission took at least 30 days. An aunt of mine who is mother of two leading journalists in Fiji has applied for her visa to visit Auckland so see her sick brother in early April, 2007 but has only got her visa in June, only when the sponsor from Auckland had to call NZ High Commission. New Zealand professes itself as a country leading in productivity, yet the time it takes them to process visas in Fiji after December shames them when compared to Australians or any other Embassy in the world. Perhaps it would be interesting to know how many unprocessed visa applications are held by NZ High Commission in Fiji today. It would run into thousands, and perhaps the reason why Air Pacific had to cut back on flights, as increasingly larger numbers of Fiji people are visiting New Zealand now.
Every man and his dog either applying for a NZ visa or already on NZ work permit were made to fill forms declaring that they were not related anyway to Frank Bainimarama. Under Michael Green's regime, you were your brother's keeper. Joe Rokocoko's fiancée, daughter of former military spokesperson had her work permit not renewed because she accidentally happened to be daughter of her father, while her cousin, bearing the same surname was denied a NZ scholarship because of accident of birth.
While Helen Clark and Winston Peters are political animals, Michael Green is not. He is supposed to be a respected career diplomat, but he revealed little evidence of this. Merely dancing to tunes of political leaders, who come and go, is not a very good habit for any astute civil servant. As the Commander recently said, we cannot argue about the legality of the events. We must be pragmatic and understand that Military was governing the country with the mandate of the President.
He failed to appreciate the reality of the situation and has now paid a heavy price for it.
The other Michael also came into prominence. The supposedly expert in Pacific affairs, Michael Field was detained at Nadi on the eve of marching orders to Michael Green and deported the following morning to New Zealand.
On 20th December, some two weeks after the removal of Qarase regime, Coalition for Democracy in Fiji held a panel discussion on Fiji affairs in Auckland. Apart from Suliana Siwatibau and N Z MP Keith Locke, I was also one of the speakers. Michael Field also attended this forum. In my presentation which was reported in Fiji as well as NZ papers, I revealed the ills of Qarase regime. The theme of my presentation was that: democracies that are devoid of or lacking in granting freedom, rights and equality to all its citizens and those without social justice are not worth defending. Qarase's regime that Bainimarama removed was an epitome of such a democracy. Michael Field did not report any part of my presentation. I am not cross that he did not report me but he displayed acute case of dereliction of media ethics in not telling Kiwis what they deserved to know.
Michael Field works for a very influential NZ mainstream media which shuns migrants as its journalists. When you look around at the paternalistic NZ mainstream media, they profess to be experts in Pacific affairs but hardly employ any sizable Fiji or Pacific journalists, as they rely on Kiwi parachute journalist to cover Pacific issues, and hence New Zealand's jaundiced views on Pacific. While Michael Field had a strategic position to inform ignorant Kiwis on the actual Fijian politics, he missed this opportunity and abused his position in joining the bandwagon in calling the military thugs from day one and failed to reveal the shortcomings of Qarase to NZ. It is surprising that I as a migrant to New Zealand was made to reveal the actual truth about atrocities under Qarase's regime. I have difficulty in getting articles to mainstream media in NZ because the perception here is that migrants cannot write.
If Michael Field was indeed the veteran journalist then he should not have abused his position and status in keeping Kiwis ignorant about what was really happening in Fiji. My experience shows that like NZ Labour Party, New Zealanders generally are still ignorant about Fiji and this had to do with a journalist like Michael Field who while occupying an influential position indulge in news selling reporting rather than informative reporting.
Therefore the two Kiwi Michaels, both Green and Field had it coming. It is not only Bainimarama who needs to learn the art of Diplomacy, but on his return to NZ, Green needs to attend a course on diplomacy himself. Michael Green needs to be pragmatic about the situation as the interim administration was governing the country and decides what it does. As a diplomat, he was not a politician and hence should have respected Fiji's sovereignty.
And it is so important for New Zealand mainstream media to have Pacific or Fijian journalists reporting on Fiji issues and informing the ignorant Kiwis on local politics, so that they get the correct picture.
But unfortunately, the mainstream media in New Zealand is in no hurry to use Fiji journalist who have migrated to New Zealand, and will depend on jaundiced views from parachute journalists from New Zealand. Unfortunately, such views appear to get copied as New Zealand's foreign policy in the Pacific.
(About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is Fiji migrant to NZ, commentator on Fiji issues and is human rights activist and advocate of good governance.)