Fiji

The social media election? Yeah, Nah

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Callum Valentine – Social Media “genius”

This election was billed as the social media election by  many pundits, and some political parties.

The Internet party in particular banked their success on social media.

Kim Dotcom and his little band of failures including Callum Valentine, a supposed social media genius, all told us that their much vaunted apps would secure them victory.

They also told us that their masses of Facebook likes and Twitter followers were going to get them over the line.

They were wrong.

Matthew Beveridge even had an entire blog devoted to analysing and writing about the social media election. He was wrong too.

Matthew has written a blog post about the effects of social media, where he finally cottons on to what I have been saying for a very long time.

I am a huge fan of social media. I love how it allows candidates, MPs and parties to talk directly to voters. I love how it allows people, who would never otherwise meet, to interact with each other and to learn from each other. But it has its limitations. It is very much a self selecting environment. It is incredibly easy to end up with a timeline that is nothing but an echo chamber.

For a number of people on the left, and even some parties on the left. I have a feel this is what has happened. They have seen all the talk about how it is time to change the government. About how the media is biased. How about dirty politics will resonate with the electorate. As well as about many other issues. But they forget that social media in general, and Twitter in particular, are not accurate representations of the rest of the electorate. I blogged earlier about how when dirty politics was being talked about on Twitter, it wasn’t really connecting with the electorate. The articles that were being read on TVNZ, Herald and Stuff were not the ones about dirty politics. They were about the every day things that mattered to, or interested, average voters.

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Fiji vs NZ – Media blackouts

While I was in Fiji the foreign media, including NZ media were complaining about “censorship of media by the regime”.

It was a constant low grade whine for 3 days….the duration of the media blackout on reporting the election.

The refrain back in NZ by idiots like David Farrar and Barry Soper was the same. “Media need to be free to report”, “this is an outrageous restriction on media freedoms.”..all calls made by various media, and commentators like the idiot from Amnesty International.

Of course they all forgot that we have a media blackout in New Zealand too, it is just that ours is only one day.

Under the Electoral Act, it is an offence to influence a voter in any way on polling day.

This covers who they should or shouldn’t vote for and statements which might influence a person to abstain from voting.

Political parties and the media are included in this, meaning news outlets must not run stories which are likely to influence voters.

Political coverage can start again when voting closes at 7pm.

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Proof the left wing don’t respect democracy

The left wing in New Zealand, ably assisted by a biased media have constantly harped on about Fiji holding elections, returning to democracy and doubting that Frank Bainimarama would even hold elections.

Well he has, they were free and fair and he won!

So what do they now say?

Malcolm Harbrow shows just exactly what the left wing actually thinks about democracy:

Fijians went to the polls yesterday in the first democratic elections in eight years. And with slightly more than half the ballots counted, it looks like they’ve given dictator Voreqe Bainimarama a clear majority. There’s been no allegations of fraud, so it looks like the result is the clear will of the Fijian people.

I’m appalled. I thought Fijians were better than that. Bainimarama seized power at gunpoint, silenced the media, and used intimidation, beatings and torture to retain power. And Fijians voted for him? I guess you get the government you deserve…

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Fiji Election: Clear win for Bainimarama

 Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

Fiji voted yesterday.

It was a clear and beautiful day. The streets were quiet except around the polling stations, where a positive buzz was felt as people voted.

There were concerns on Tuesday night about thuggery and intimidation but the Police were out in force, and the streets of Suva were very peaceful, even at 2:00am when I walked back to my hotel.

At that point last night Fiji First and Bainimarama were in front comfortably with more than 15% of the vote counted.

Overnight they have advanced their vote to over 60%.   Read more »

I tried, I really did, but couldn’t find a single road block, goon squad or government censor anywhere

The Grand Pacific Hotel, redeveloped and open for business

The Grand Pacific Hotel, redeveloped and open for business         Photo/ CamSlater, Whaleoil Media

I have spent three days in Fiji, a short trip transiting onto my next destination.

After my interview with Frank Bainimarama I received emails, threats, and comments that basically said that I didn’t know what I was talking about. That Suva wasn’t safe, that there were government goon squads roaming the city setting dogs onto people and breaking up groups of 5  or more, and that the media were muzzled by government censors, not to mention the road blocks and general intimidation and subjugation of the general population at the point of a gun. In fact I never saw a gun, at all, and trust me as someone who is interested in such things I was looking.

Well, I can tell you that despite asking and looking for all of these things that we have been told exists by the disaffected and the complicit media in New Zealand, I could find none of those things.

I went to several press conferences where media turned up, asked questions, received answers all without any Police or Army people present.   Read more »

Dodgy ratbag unionists same the world over, this time in Fiji

Felix Anthony, a trade union boss, who has troughed it up large at the expense of Fijian taxpayers has been busted.

Felix Anthony was paid more than $160,000 over three years as a board member of the Fiji National Provident Fund.

The amount also included the fees the then Fiji Trades Union Congress general secretary and now leader of the People’s Democratic Party received for sitting on the boards of FNPF’s subsidiary companies.

Mr Anthony was asked during FBC’s 4 The Record television programme on Sunday about the amount.

He replied: “I don’t recall the exact amount.”    Read more »

Barry Soper locked out from last nights debate, and not at all happy about it

Last night a WOBH camera operator was in attendance at the farce of a debate in Helensville electorate.

He was able to capture the displeasure exhibited by NewstalkZB journalist Barry Soper as he sought entry to the hall.

Note that Patrick Gower seemed able to saunter through the rather aggressive door security.

Soper was undeterred and unleashed that little Rottweiler that still lives inside himself.

Eventually the PM’s handlers arranged to assist him through the door.

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Will Fiji’s elections be free & fair?

Mohammed-Saneem

Supervisor of Elections at Fiji Elections Office, Mohammed Saneem Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

I am in Suva at the moment investigating Fiji’s path to democracy.

Today I visited the Fiji Elections Office, their Electoral Commission, and had an in-depth discussion with the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem.

My questions and discussion focused on whether or not Fiji would be having free and fair elections on September 17.

In past elections there have been several incidences of vote tampering, ballot box stacking and in one particular example more votes cast than registered electors in a constituency.

Despite international observers in the past declaring elections free and fair it is obvious to all that Fiji’s past elections have been far from that.

Independence of Fiji Elections Office

The Fiji Elections Office is independent, just like New Zealand’s Electoral Commission. They are charged with overseeing the election and electoral law, which at present is by decree, but it is the law nonetheless.

I spent quite a bit of time understanding their voting processes and there are some quite innovative techniques they are utilising to combat voter fraud and vote rigging.

Voter Registration

The first step has been a comprehensive voter education and registration process that has been running for two years. Registered voters have a voter id card, this is not at all like the Easy Vote card that is so easily rorted in NZ.  The Fijian voter registration card is a photo id, it also contains biometric data (fingerprints) which require a match of at least 8 points.

The Fijian registered voters carry these cards everywhere. When I asked my cab diver last night, when I arrived in Suva, if he was registered to vote, he reached into his pocket and flourished it with obvious pride. Everyone eligible and registered to vote has one of these and a random sample on the streets shows that everyone without fail carries it. What this means is that only registered voters will be able to vote, and they require the photo and biometric identification in order to vote. This is a significant advancement over our voter registration processes in NZ. I should know as I have just watched my 18 year old son register to vote in NZ and our processes are farcical to say the least compared to what Fiji has initiated.    Read more »

EXCLUSIVE: An interview with Frank Bainimarama

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Photo/ Whaleoil Media, Steve Cook

On Saturday morning I was invited to an interview with Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

Other NZ media other than Venkat Raman from Indian NewsLink were refused interviews.

I was free to ask anything and everything in a wide ranging interview. Some of the insights are very interesting. For reader who don’t know, I was born in Fiji, I am a Kaiviti.

My apologies in advance for the audio, I was using borrowed equipment and lacked a proper mic (which is now on my shopping list)

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1000 vs 20, so what does Michael Field focus on?

Yesterday over a thousand people turned out to hear what Frank Bainimarama had to say at a public meeting in South Auckland.

Michael Field, enraged by not being granted an interview has decided to focus, not on the large turnout of people who want to listen and learn, but rather on the pathetic group of around 20 disaffected loons that he gets most of his stories from.

Around a thousand people greeted Fiji’s military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama in Auckland today, but his rally was peppered with barracking and jeers at times.

Bainimarama, who overthrew a democratic government in 2006, is in New Zealand on a tourist visa to campaign ahead of elections on September 17.

Speaking to the predominantly Indo-Fijian audience, he stressed that under his military dictatorship he had instituted a rule that was not based on race.

Unlike previous elections, voters will not be categorised by race. Instead, everybody’s vote would be equal, he said.

Around 56 per cent of the 838,000 people of Fiji are indigenous and 37 per cent Indian, descendants of indentured labourers imported by the colonial British.

Around 20 protesters marched to the Manukau Event Centre and while security kept them out of the grounds, a number of loud critics called out abuse during the meeting.

“I have been told not to worry about the devils,” Bainimarama told the audience.    Read more »