It’s taken five days for the main anti-regime news website, Coup Four and a Half, to report that the SDL – the party of the deposed government of Laisenia Qarase – is advocating that Fiji become a Christian state. News that a delegation led by the SDL president, Solomoni Naivalu, had made a submission to this effect to the Constitutional Commission broke last Monday. But while Coup 4.5 has been quick to post other items – including an Amnesty International report critical of Fiji – it greeted the disclosure of the SDL submission with total silence. Finally on Saturday morning, it posted this brief item:
SDL to front regarding the Naivalu submission.
Nothing like the whiff of racism and homophobia to get people stirring the pot again but given Fiji’s complicated history, it is not surprising.
A submission was made to the Constitution Commission this week on behalf of the SDL Party, by Solomon Naivalu and others.
That submission calls for:
1) Fiji to be declared a Christian state
2) Fiji be the official language of the country
3) i-taukei to be known only as Fijian
4) References to sexual orientation removed from human rights laws.
Coupfourpointfive understands despite this presentation to the Yash Ghai team, the SDL Party has not yet made an official submission.
Apart from the extraordinary first sentence that tries to spin the story back on its critics, the anonymous so-called journalists behind Coup 4.5 also aren’t telling the full story. They know – because Naivalu has confirmed it – that this submission and others like it are being presented by SDL constituency committees as a prelude to the main SDL submission due next month. Naivalu has described it as a summary of the main submission. In other words, all these provisions will be included in a more detailed document. But you won’t be reading this on Coup 4.5, a website with only a passing acquaintance with the truth if that truth doesn’t suit its own agenda.
It’s definitely a case of selective reporting. Which proves that the so called “pro-democracy”, anti-regime elements of the international diaspora are having huge trouble coming to terms with the revelation. It’s clearly such a major embarrassment – a sudden woopsy of elephantine proportions – that they’re just hoping it will go away. Coup 4.5 is clearly struggling with what to say to its multiracial audience, which is routinely treated to contributions from Indo-Fijian anti-regime agitators like Wadan Narsey and Victor Lal. After all, the party it supports wants to make Hindus and Muslims in Fiji bow to an exclusively Christian form of government. Presumably a Methodist theocracy – given the grassroots membership of the SDL – and the equivalent of an Islamic state elsewhere.
From where Grubsheet sits at week’s end, even some of the SDL’s strongest supporters seem to be dying of shame. They’re being asked to support not only a Christian state, but Fijian as the official language, an end to dual citizenship, only the i’Taukei to be identified as Fijians and an end to the constitutional protection of the gay and lesbian community. No wonder they want to pass by pretending that the stinking parcel of ordure that the SDL has suddenly dumped on the pavement has nothing to do with them. But they can’t ignore it for much longer. Next month, Coup 4.5 will have to report the main SDL submission whether it likes it or not or lose what remaining credibility it has. Which isn’t much.
Strange too, that having run two separate reports that there was “confusion” over whether the SDL had made a submission calling for a Christian state, that Radio Australia has chosen not to report Naivalu’s confirmation. Another case of selective reporting from the Australian public broadcaster? Bruce Hill, Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat reporter, is said to be livid that he was “lied to” by an SDL official when he sought confirmation of the original Fiji Village report. His anger is understandable. But doesn’t he owe it to Pacific Beat’s audience to now explain the full story? Radio Australia listeners are being left “confused” when the truth is there is no confusion at all. Maybe Hill has decided to wait for the final SDL submission before entering the minefield again. But is that in the best interests of Radio Australia’s audience, especially now that it is broadcasting on domestic frequencies in Fiji again?