The pressure is on for Frank Bainimarama to lift the travel bans on citizens and New Zealand journalists who’ve been blacklisted for speaking out against the military regime.
It follows Bainimarama’s visit to Australia and New Zealand, where he announced that any journalist would be free to visit and report without restriction, once they’ve been accredited by the Department of Information.
|Field has a poke at Bainimarama and co.|
Bainimarama has also urged Fijians in Australia to take advantage of dual citizenship to return and ‘build a house or start a business’ and 'come and go as they please' as global travellers.
Reaction to Bainimarama’s ‘generous’ invitation have ranged from amusement to scorn.
Fairfax journalist Michael Field, who was banned years ago, is keeping mum but has today posted on his Facebook a piss take of Bainimarama’s fear of leaving Fiji in case of a revolt, except for when it comes to rugby.
The photo shows two of the coup leader's closest acolytes with the quip: "Frank’s at the rugby, time for another coup? I know how to do them.”
|Banned: Brij and Padma Lal|
Some Fiji folk have also called on TVNZ journalist Barbara Dreaver, to have a go at Bainimarama since he’s now on her turf. Dreaver was also banned some years ago.
The National Federation Party says the ban on citizens needs to be removed immediately, to allow Fiji citizens to return to the land of their birth, otherwise it’s just tokenism.
“The name of academics Professor Brij Lal and his wife, Dr Padma Lal, as well as other individuals who have been placed on this list for frivolous, undemocratic reasons, must be removed if the Prime Minister really wants to show the world Fiji is a robust democracy,” says leader Tupou Draunidalo.
Draunidalo has also questioned how much was spent on Bainimarama’s trip to Australia and New Zealand and those in the entourage.
|Draunidalo: asking questions|
She says the Commissioner of Police should be at home attending to the “spiraling crime cases, police brutality" instead of resorting to "the all too easy, draconian solution of arming the Police Force.”
Dradunidalo says an NFP Government will remove the blacklist and repeal the excessive powers given to the Immigration Minister, Prime Minister or any other minister, public official or organisation that is not fair or just.
The party says it will also reduce the allowances and emoluments of Ministers and Assistant Ministers.
Daily travel allowances for Parliamentarians got a massive 300 percent increase on the old rate originally decreed in October 2014.
Editor’s Note: In New Zealand, Bainimarama has
differences with Prime Minister John Key blaming media for ‘unrelentingly
negative and unbalanced reporting’, saying away from the media gaze the
atmosphere between them was ‘very cordial and we got on famously.’ In Australia
he made light of the fact the Malcolm Turnbull government did not have a senior minister meet
him, saying Turnbull and co was ‘having Parliament at the moment.’ Bainimarama's visit coincided with the Australian Rugby Union announcement that Fiji will join the National Rugby Championship next year.
|Bainimarama in Australia. pic Bob Barker News Corp Australia|