Monday, April 14, 2014

Fighting PNG corruption and social media gags with … outspoken blogs

Graphic: shutterstock.com
THE BLOGGING war is hotting up in Papua New Guinea – just when things are getting riskier with draconian proposals over cybercrime law on the horizon. The state target for Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s government appears to be social media. Trample on any possible dissent.

O’Neill is seen as a proxy for Canberra’s strategic interests in the region. As PNGexposed claimed in one posting, the Australian government “has already assumed the role of regional sheriff and wants to sit astride a region of compliant states and micro-states”.
“This means other countries markets and resources should be open to foreign capital without barriers such as the muscular protection of landowner rights, or strong environmental laws. Australia is targeting its aid spending to ensure Bougainville fits this model.

“Whatever the future for Bougainville, Australia wants to ensure the island is a subservient neighbor providing a supporting role to Australia’s own economic and political interests. Australia is therefore targeting its aid spending to ensure that outcome, placing consultants in key political and financial roles and neglecting health and other people-centered sectors.”
According to figures released by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (see table here) show that more than 90 percent of $2.9 million a year spent on the salaries or commissions of consultants working for Australia on Bougainville is directed at ensuring Australian political structures, policy priorities, economic models, and security interests dominate in the new Bougainville government and bureaucracy.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Border ‘butchers’, absentee poll reps and West Papua’s growing strife

A West Papuan in handcuffs at a recent “Free West Papuans” rally in Auckland. Photo: Del Abcede/PMC
THE INDONESIAN parliamentary elections this week were disappointing on a number of fronts, especially for presidential frontrunner Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. His Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) which gained just 19 percent of the vote, was far less than the expected 25 percent. But the presidential vote is not until July.

What about West Papua? What was the fate of representation for the two Melanesian provinces bordering Papua New Guinea this week? Who among the Jakarta hopefuls really have the future of the Papuan region at heart?

Bobby Anderson, one of the rare journalists filing from West Papua, wrote in New Mandala:
In Papua, where state sovereignty and legitimacy is deeply contested, representation matters. So in this national election, who purports to represent Papua?

Candidate residence is one way of sizing up the candidates and the results are telling. Sixty three out of 114 candidates running for the DPR (National House of Representatives) seats in Papua province live within the greater Jakarta area.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

MIDA’s chair finds Fiji TV guilty of ‘hate speech’ and blasts bloggers


Audio podcast of today's media conference with MIDA chairperson Ashwin Raj on YouTube from the Pacific Media Centre.

SO THERE we have it. Fiji’s Media Industry Development Authority chairperson Ashwin Raj is going to stamp out all hate and race speech in his country with the stroke of a decree-backed pen.

A momentous mind shift is going to happen just like that. The media “chilling” climate will ensure this unfolds. He thinks ...

Raj is “quite perturbed by the level of public discourse” in Fiji as the country moves toward the return-to-democracy general election on September 17.

“Masquerading itself as an exercise in freedom of expression, political discourse has, in fact, descended to unabashed racial vilification and in some instances its content is tantamount to injurious or hate speech,” he railed at a MIDA media conference in Suva today.

“What is even more disconcerting is the complicity of select Fijian journalists and media, either wittingly or those that remain oblivious to the laws of Fiji despite several awareness workshops on the Crimes Decree, the Media Industry Development Decree and the Constitution.”

Friday, March 28, 2014

Corruption, illegal tuna fisheries and a ‘lifestyle tsunami’ trouble Pacific business editors


Sean Dorney's presentation ABC report on illegal tuna fishing in the Pacific on 28 October 2013.

HOW IRONIC. For two days this week, veteran Pacific affairs correspondent Sean Dorney from Australia Network was contributing hugely to an inaugural regional business media summit organised by the Asian Development Bank.

His final contribution to the seminar was a rundown on “tunanomics” and how illegal fishing was, for him, the biggest economic story confronting the Pacific.

He punctuated this presentation with an ABC video report from last October which exposed how lack of cooperation by at least six Pacific countries was undermining the Forum Fisheries Agency’s surveillance efforts.
Anthony Bergin, the Deputy Director of the Australian Security Policy Institute, estimates that about US$1.7 billion is lost through illegal and unregulated fishing activity in the Pacific. He’s proposing that the Australian patrol boat programme should not only be a Defence Department commitment but that Australian aid should also contribute to the programme now being developed to replace those 22 patrol boats that Australia has donated to Pacific countries but which are coming to the end of their work life.
No sooner than his fine contribution and the ADB seminar was over, Dorney found himself in the gun again with Fiji media "control freaks" - Dorney's description - who seem determined to use the controversial 2010 Media Industry Development Decree to gag anything deemed to be “un-Fijian”.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Parliament soft-pedals over East Timor’s harsh draft media law

East Timorese media ... fears draft media law could lead to censorship.
Photo: Diariu Timor Pos
JOSÉ BELO, Timor-Leste’s celebrated champion of investigative journalism and advocate for a free media, recently vowed he was prepared to go to jail rather than allow his fledgling independent nation muzzle the press.

Belo, 42, publisher of the small yet probing Tempo Semanal online and print weekly, says he won’t give up in the current struggle over the fate of the media.

He has been campaigning against a draconian draft media law over the past few months.

“It’s about the future of our country,” he told Fairfax Media’s Lindsay Murdoch.

But the news about a draft law that is feared could lead to censorship is not getting any better. Since Café Pacific broke this story in early February, the Timorese non-government organisation La’o Hamutuk has been monitoring developments closely – and making quality submissions.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lies, media integrity and the new digital environment


Review by David Robie

Stop Press: The Last Days of Newspapers, by Rachel Buchanan (Melbourne: Scribe, 2013)
The New Front Page: New Media and The Rise of the Audience, by Tim Dunlop (Melbourne: Scribe, 2013)

WHEN Rachel Buchanan penned a commissioned article entitled “From the classroom to the scrap heap” for The Age last September, she railed against Australian journalism schools, in particular, over an alleged “lie” and “little integrity” of journalism education.

“Between 2002 and 2012, enrolments in journalism degrees almost doubled,” she noted about what was troubling her across the Tasman. “We now have the bizarre situation where there are more people studying journalism than there are working journalists.”

She concluded that journalism schools were creating false career hopes; Australia didn’t need any more journalists, but needed nurses and doctors, engineers and actuaries and so on.

“Poets, screenwriters, novelists, scribblers – we writers all need a day job now. You can’t eat integrity.”

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