Bainimarama generally sees the media in this country the same way he sees the media in his own country - they're to be seen but not heard! Photo / Jason Oxenham
Bainimarama generally sees the media in this country the same way he sees the media in his own country – they’re to be seen but not heard! Photo / Jason Oxenham

If you got close enough to him you have seen the crocodile tears freely flowing, although if you are a member of the New Zealand media there was no fear of that.

Fiji’s former military dictator, and now elected Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama has left the country after a three day “official” visit which in reality was a well lubed trip here to watch the All Blacks thrash the Wallabies at Eden Park on Saturday night.

When we re-established links with Fiji at Prime Ministerial level last June, Bainimarama let rip saying there appeared to be a substantial body of opinion in New Zealand, led by our generally hostile media, that what was happening in Fiji somehow lacked legitimacy, that he lacked legitimacy and that his Government lacked legitimacy.

As the tears flowed, he continued, saying it wasn’t borne out by the facts. Fiji’s moved on, he declared, but it appears the New Zealand media has not.

It’s a great pity that the Fijian leader didn’t take the opportunity to better understand the media here. He had ample opportunities during his relatively light schedule which was distributed on the eve of his arrival. The itinerary’s most repeated phrase contained three words: No media opportunities.

His only standup in front of the media before heading off to lunch on Saturday and then on to the test was after his grip and greet with our Prime Minister. We were forewarned in the run sheet that he’d be making remarks to the media but there’d be “no opportunities for questions,” and then low and behold he broke his own rule when yours truly broke the ice.

Bainimarama generally sees the media in this country the same way he sees the media in his own country – they’re to be seen but not heard!

But it was nice to be allowed to ask him about the legitimacy of his Government and indeed the legitimacy of his leadership. Before becoming Prime Minister two years ago he changed the electoral laws there requiring political parties to have a membership of five thousand before they can register, which immediately wiped out most of the parties that could scramble together enough numbers to run against him.

And trade unionists were banned from political parties which wiped out the Labour Party that once ruled the country.

In this country, with a population almost six times that of Fiji, a political party needs just 500 members.

His answer to the question though hardly made it worth asking. He told me I knew little about the political situation in Fiji and advised me to go back and study a lot more.

There’s little wonder why his election was so decisive but was it legitimate? Clearly he thinks it was, but then he would, wouldn’t he?

Source – NZ Herald News; Posted by W. Varani for SWM