Tuesday, January 23, 2007

NZ Ban for Illegal Regime

Military appointees will not be allowed to travel to NZ
www.fijivillage.com - Jan 23, 2007

It has now been revealed that all the people appointed by the military, including members of the public service, will not be allowed into New Zealand.

A spokesperson for NZ Foreign Affairs Minister, Winston Peters has revealed from Wellington that any member of the civil service appointed to positions by the interim government will be blacklisted.

When Village News questioned the reasons on why CEO, Parmesh Chand was barred from entering NZ last week, Peters spokesman said that Chand was recently appointed by Commodore Bainimarama to be the head at the PM's Office.

He said since Chand moved from Public Enterprises Ministry to assist Bainimarama at the PM's office, he is now actively assisting and supporting the military to run an illegal regime.

When questioned on whether Chand should be seen as a civil servant who had no choice but to continue providing the service to members of the public, the NZ spokesperson maintains that Chand's decision to take up the CEO's post at the PM's Office is a clear proof that he supports the coup.

However Winston Peters spokesperson said the NZ government recognises that Fiji's civil service needs to continue operating and it will decide on a case by case basis on who should be allowed to enter NZ. All the immediate families of those in the military and those in the interim administration are also blacklisted.

Clark’s stance can be viewed as double standard

Until now it was only the Prime Minister of New Zealand who was seen to be using double standards internationally in treating its neighbours in Fiji in a manner that would be classed as international hypocrisy. The irony is that this hypocrisy has spread to the supposedly non-political and impartial office of the New Zealand Governor General who is rooted in Fiji. Therefore when Anand Satya Nand hosts foreign dignitaries, diplomats and politicians to mark Waitangi Day this year in Wellington, a notable absence from the invitees would be Fiji’s High Commissioner, Bal Ram. He had not been invited because of events that took place in Fiji. However for New Zealand which has been voted as a very clean country and one with very transparent governance, the invitees to this Queen’s Waitangi Day cocktails will still be rubbing shoulders with Ambassadors of Thailand, Pakistan and China.

Thailand had a military coup just some months before Fiji’s where, the Military, in consent with the Monarchy, overthrew a supposedly corrupt regime. Yet, Kiwis seem to be having a memory lapse as far as rape of democracy in Thailand is concerned.

Pakistan’s democratically elected government was overtaken by a military dictator Musharraf some years ago, who still rules Pakistan with iron fist, and in a manner far from democracy. No problem for New Zealand. The same Government which cancelled a parade for Wellington’s sevens at the Parliament ground because Fiji was in the contingent does not hypocritically blink an eyelid in hosting the Pakistani President in the Beehive (Parliament Building) with red carpet treatment. China has some of the most atrocious records of human rights abuses; yet, hypocritically New Zealand is prepared to deal in free trade with a non democratic country which is far from free. How big an international hypocrite can New Zealand become?

Just because Fiji is a third world small insignificant country, perceived to much dependent on crumbs from NZ, it can afford to treat it with disgust and disrespect when larger countries with worse records than Fiji are friends to the Kiwis. Perhaps this is the height of hypocrisy and double standards that the world needs to see of this strong Pacific neighbour indulging in bullying techniques, selective sanctions and expedient behaviour. New Zealand was the loudest protester to Fiji hosting the World Netball Championship. Now it is the recipient of its loud shouts as it will now host this event. Fiji has been denied the hosting rights and the beneficiary is NZ. Talk of a big strong brother snatching from a weak small brother struggling for a democratic walk.

Look at Wellington Sevens. The NZ Government knew that without its biggest draw card, Fiji, the Wellington Sevens would have been a failure, or perhaps may have been scrapped. Hence they put a band-aid over their sanctions and allowed the Fiji team to come but denied a visa to numerous rugby fans even remotely associated with the Interim Government. The joke is that this small Pacific neighbour’s expedient participation in the games forced the New Zealand government to ban the planned parade from the front of Parliament building where it traditionally started. NZ Sports Minister Trevor Mallard declared Parliament a no go zone for the Pacific neighbours, and he would not attend any games involving Fiji. I pray that they will be honest enough not to view Fiji games on TV in their homes as well, and stop their children from doing so. The parliamentary reception was cancelled as they did not want Fiji there as it had a coup which was supposed to be akin to a military dictatorship. So are Pakistan and Thailand, on a bigger scale. Yet, because of the need to preserve its trading interests, NZ has a separate set of policies for the stronger military regimes.

Innocent people have paid for the high-handedness of New Zealand policies. It seeks to reap the best from the cream of Fiji’s rugby talent and yet return chaff in exchange. If All Blacks, Joe Rokocoko, a rugby import from Fiji, does not perform well in future, the blame for that should rest with New Zealand’s blinkered view of Fiji. Joe’s fiancé who now works as a bank officer at ASB Bank in Auckland has been advised by NZ Immigration that her work permit will not be renewed when it expires later this year. The reason? Just because by an accident of fate and God’s will, she happens to be daughter of a soldier from Fiji. What is her fault in this? Can she choose her parents? A pilot now cannot fly to New Zealand because her father accepted a position in the Interim Government in Fiji. Why is she punished for this and how will all this change the fate of Fiji? A New Zealand scholarship for a Fiji secondary school student is in jeopardy and under review because the child is related to a soldier and shares his surname.

One former Auckland resident and Fiji’s top career civil servant who had no choice and accepted the position offered by the Interim Government was barred from visiting New Zealand. As has been said in the recent past by intelligent writers, Fiji now needs an understanding and considerate neighbour. Nothing New Zealand does will change events in Fiji or turn back the clock. If anything, with its yo yo and inconsistent policies, it is fast becoming a laughing stock amongst its Pacific neighbours when the Pacific is pitching in to help Fiji. Therefore, it is prudent for NZ to give a helping hand and assist with the electoral process to ensure a strong and a truly vibrant democracy, and not a charade of it as practised by the Qarase regime. New Zealand will gain nothing but bad blood, hardened feelings and even scorn by punishing the innocent only when and where it suits its economic interests. Now it is time for the Pacific islanders to sneer at NZ and its flip-flop international policies.

This is because while Fiji’s High Commissioner will be missing from the Governor General’s Waitangi Day reception, ambassadors from the military dictatorships of Thailand and Pakistan will be sipping red wine, or green tea and rubbing shoulders with Helen Clark’s cabinet. Perhaps it is time to have a laugh at the New Zealand Labour Party’s questionable foreign policies and inconsistency in its definition of coups and military regimes, depending on the country’s economic importance to New Zealand. Or perhaps it is time to feel sorry for the inconsistent Kiwis. Indeed in the fashion of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, some coups are more coup coup than the others for the New Zealand Labour Party.

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