Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Polls Apart

Raw Fiji News - 14 September 2011


Caz Tebutt (middle) a two-faced Frank regime supporter

BY VICTOR LAL AND RUSSELL HUNTER
We’ll leave the methodology argument on the Lowy poll to Dr Wadan Narsey and others who are qualified to comment. But there’s another angle to this that has been overlooked. Consider this.
If in the unlikely event that Ms Jenny Hayward-Jones, Program Director of the Myer Foundation Melanesia Program at the Lowry Institute, got her  declared wish that the poll found the people of Fiji resolutely (or even slightly) opposed to the illegal regime, what then?
It would not have been published – anywhere. The military would have seen to that.
And Caz Tebbutt’s business would have been targeted. Her clients would have been “counselled”, her researchers pressured to reveal, wherever possible, the identities of those who spoke against the regime. These people would have been “counselled” also. And in Frank’sFijiwe all know what that would entail. But for Ms Hayward-Jones’s and the Lowy Institute’s information there would have been beatings at the very least.
There could have been but one outcome for this poll and that alone makes it unreliable.
But take into account the pervasive atmosphere of fear that exists inFijiand it becomes impossible to conduct a meaningful poll of opinion there. Indeed, as other commentators have suggested, it’s surprising that even a few people expressed dissent.
Caz has a business to run, people to employ. And perhaps for those reasons among others she has been a public supporter of the illegal dictatorship. She’s of course entitled to hold that opinion.
We do not suggest that this poll was rigged. There’s no evidence to support any such allegation and we do not believe that Caz would be party to such a device. But she didn’t have to be for the reason stated above.
When the Tebbutt-Times poll was still operating, Caz several times declined to conduct a poll on contentious issues, fearing that the powers that be would shoot the messenger. In hindsight she was probably right.
She would have done better to adopt the same approach with this one.
Disclosure: Russell Hunter was editor-in-chief of the Fiji Times from 1997 to 2003 and was intimately involved in the planning of the Tebbut-Times polls.


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