The bellowing Canadian Moose, Dr Marc Edge, has spluttered back into life after a period of self-imposed hibernation with yet another of his perennial attacks on Grubsheet and our fellow blogger, Professor Crosbie Walsh. The former Head of Journalism at USP – who was sacked for misconduct – claims that Croz and I have gone quiet because we have “outlived our usefulness to the regime”. No, Marc, in my own case, I’ve gone quiet primarily because my work is done.
Everything that I set out to achieve when I started Grubsheet at the beginning of 2011 and began highlighting the Bainimarama revolution’s achievements has been accomplished. Fiji has a new Constitution that declares everyone equal and everyone a Fijian, is on course to become a genuine democracy next year, gains ever more international support, is enjoying a period of solid economic growth and has resumed its regional leadership. That was and remains my agenda. I’ve also had the immense satisfaction in these columns of having shone a light on your own disgraceful behaviour at USP, a campaign on behalf of your student victims and against your constant manipulation of the truth that eventually saw you banished from the University for good. Deprived of your work permit, you were also obliged to leave Fiji, your reputation in tatters and in the dead of night.
What a pathetic and deluded figure you present in exile at 23,000 Dyke Road. You continue to perpetuate the lie on the closed Facebook forum, Friends of Fiji Media, that you were not sacked from USP without ever providing an alternative explanation. This lie has been accompanied by repeated threats to sue both Grubsheet and the Fiji Sun without any writ ever being issued. Well, Buddy Boy, the game is up. Because your successor at USP, Dr Ian Weber, has now confirmed to prominent members of the Fijian media what the whole of USP has known all along. That you were sacked. Yes, dismissed, removed, dumped. So can we finally put an end to this bizarre pretence of yours and move on? You are not the principled crusader for media freedom that you cast yourself to be. You are a proven liar, dubbed as such by Professor David Robie, the man you described yourself as the most respected media academic in the South Pacific.
Even your professed campaign for the freedom of the Fijian media is a sham. The Fijian media is officially free. That freedom has been guaranteed by the 2013 Constitution since it was promulgated on September the 6th. A free media, along with freedom of speech, expression and assembly. If certain members of the Fijian media still feel constrained, let them come out and say so. But certainly both the Editor of the Fiji Times, Fred Wesley, and the doyen of radio journalists, Vijay Narayan, both said publicly on a recent Close-Up program on Fiji TV that any previous restrictions have been lifted and neither feel constrained in any way. Who are we to believe? You or them? The exiled, bellowing moose or two of the most respected names in Fijian journalism?
This is not to say that some elements in the Fijian media may be self censoring. But that is for them to explain – to tell the Fijian public why, even with a Constitutional guarantee, they baulk at telling the complete story. Frankly, it’s high time for these journalists to step boldly up to the crease and hit a few runs rather than complain in whispered asides that the game is rigged. It’s time for them to test their Constitutional right.
As things stand, the 961 “Friends of Fiji Media” hide behind a closed Facebook Forum. It is the antithesis of freedom of expression yet it is totally self imposed. They have not been forced behind a firewall by any act of Government oppression. They choose to deliberate in private because they apparently like it that way, seemingly bereft of the courage of their convictions to engage in open debate. This is Marc Edge’s natural habitat and where he is most comfortable. Not a genuine crusader for media freedom but someone waging a personal vendetta – a poisoned little man with a gargantuan ego who victimised some of his students, waged war on a clutch of highly respected academics, was the subject of several internal inquires at USP and was then removed. He can sit in his personal Canadian wasteland bellowing all he likes but that is the simple, unvarnished truth.