#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Yet another attempt by Lowy Institute to justify its poll

Friday, November 11, 2011

Yet another attempt by Lowy Institute to justify its poll

The Lowy Institute has roped in another opinion to support its recent poll that claims wide support for coup leader and self-appointed prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, printing today the following story by Iris Wielders, who it describes as a freelance conflict prevention and peace building specialist. She lived in Fiji in 2007 and 2008. 
The article is called Fiji: Engagement is the only way

The Lowy Institute's work on Fiji has sparked some interesting debates in recent times.

Reactions to the policy brief by Jenny Hayward-Jones have been polarised. The results of Lowy's poll also confounded. Many dismissed its results, arguing that a poll held in a country where there is this much repression could not possibly yield a 66% approval rating for Bainimarama. 

Perhaps even more confusing, the poll also showed high support for some of the basic tenets of democracy. How can people support Bainimarama whilst simultaneously supporting democracy?

The polarised view, and the for/against dichotomy it sets up, obscures the complexity of the situation for many Fijians. A more nuanced view can both help explain the poll results, and point to a way forward in engagement with Fiji.

The December 2006 coup presented a complex picture for many Fijians across the different ethnic groups. There was support for the ultimate outcome held out by Bainimarama — introducing the type of changes in Fijian society that many agree are necessary. On the other hand, many rejected the process through which Bainimarama has been trying to bring about these changes — a coup followed by a military regime. 

Depending on the weight accorded to either outcome or process, some people support and others reject the regime. 

But there are many that find themselves somewhere in the middle. Many people have been willing to temporarily accept a military government because they feel this is the only way real change will take place in Fiji. Of course, to what extent and how long people feel this way can change over time, and will depend on personal circumstances. Viewed in this way, it is perhaps more understandable that people in Fiji can be in support of Bainimarama's performance and at the same time support democracy.

This middle ground can also point to a way forward in engagement with the Fiji regime. Starting from the end goal, there could be some level of agreement on the kinds of changes people in Fiji would like to see for their country. A constructive dialogue process would start by exploring such commonalities to build rapport and some measure of trust, after which the process by which such changes are to be brought about could be discussed.

To be absolutely clear, arguments for re-engagement do not equal agreement with a military dictatorship. But what is more important: holding on to a moral stance which has had no effect, or finding ways to assist the people of Fiji in finding a non-violent way out of this situation? With repression increasing and the economy deteriorating, the stresses can only continue to build. Some measure of dialogue and re-engagement is the only way forward that can be of potential assistance.

31 comments:

  1. This question of re-engagement (which I assume refers to that with our traditional partners - Australia, NZ, Pacific Forum, the Commonwealth, EU etc...) I would say is somewhat meaningless so long as the regime refuses to re-engage first and foremost with people at home.

    A very serious issue at the moment is the lack of trust through which the regime is currently perceived by our tradtional partners. Simply put, they just dont TRUST the regime and in particular the volatile regime leader and his inability to honour his words! And, for so long now, we have been expecting our traditional partners to come to the table but their reluctance and suspicions is well understandable.

    So, we've got to ask ourselves, what have we done to convince them that we are genuine and serious about re-engagement. What can we do to assure them that we hear them, we understand and we are willing to come to the table, we are willing to compromise.

    I believe that this is our biggest problem at the moment. While we expect our traditional partners to compromise to meet our wishes, our demands, we on the other hand obstinately refuse point blank to budge an inch! While we fully expect to be part of and be received with open arms by the international community (in particular our traditional partners), we at the same time thump our noses at the rules and conventions of the international community.

    The point is, we expect of them and demand of them yet are unwilling to do the same of their expectations and demands. WE ARE JUST INSANELY REFUSING TO COMPROMISE to see where they are coming from.

    Co-existing in our global village requires some measures of give and take. They give we take, we give they take...that is how respect and trust is built for harmonious co-existence. Unhappily, we have demanded but are unwilling to give...

    What can we do? Do we need to do this/these? Is it imperative that we do so?

    I would like to be able to say, BUGGER THEM, WE DONT NEED THEM! But that would be the height of irresponsibility because like it or not, WE NEED THEM MORE THAN THEY NEED US! OUR CHILDREN, AND THEIR CHILDREN'S CHILDREN NEED THEM MORE THAN THEIRS NEED OURS!

    SO, what can we do, what should we do to turn the situation around? How can we get ourselves back in the fold, as accepted members of the international community of nations (of which our traditional partners are also members)rightfully expecting and deserving thereof of all the benefits that accrue from such memebership? What to do first?

    Like they say, 'start from Jerusalem' which for us means:

    1. Re-engaging with our people first through

    a. meaningful dialogue with all our national partners - religious bodies and leaders, traditional bodies and leaders, professional bodies and leaders, community groups and leaders (John Sami's national dialogue is not a bad idea after all but it should be inclusive, open and free to be meaningful and useful!)

    b. coming together in meaningful and workable compromises (talk, listen, respect each other's views,discuss,listen, talk with each other and lay a workable way forward for everyone)

    c. honouring any agreements made to build and nurture an environment of trust and goodwill that will slowly but surely bring everyone in.

    2. Paving the way for re-engagement with both our national
    and international partners (both traditional and new) by removing road humps such as the

    a. Emergency decree
    b. Media decree
    c. Essential industries decree

    that only serve to antagonize and drive our partners against us rather than drawing them to us for fresh and mutually beneficial re-engagement.

    Both (us and them) can take moral positions and practical stances workable for both but only through meaningful re-enagement and compromise. IT'S A GIVE AND TAKE WORLD WE LIVE IN afterall. Worth a shot...

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  2. Any engagement with this regime without an endemnity clause as sought by the perpetrators is impossible - and to do this is an endoresment of torture - murder & treason. The only way change will occur is via RFMF - eventually this will come but until it does Viti must show patience & courage...

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  3. How can we dialogue with them when they have so many barriers!!

    Its like walking in a maze....

    With never-ending lies....and they use their corrupt legal system to back them up!!

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  4. I don't get why Jenny is supporting these reports.
    I emailed her some time ago and she very kindly, promptly responded, but her views just don't seem to be in touch with the realities on the ground.
    Perhaps some Fijians might like to enlighten her as to the realities and hards ships etc.
    jhayward-jones@lowyinstitute.org
    Please be polite and precise !

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  5. To be polite and precise . . . .
    I agree with the first comment, above - @ 4.53pm

    -Sydney Tourist

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  6. Hello Iris
    Is Mark Johnson paying you as well?
    So Iris, do you think the murdered CRW soldiers kicked their own heads in and cut their own nuts off? Perhaps if they were still alive they could teach you a little about 'peace and conflict'???

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  7. This report is typical of Foreigners who come and live in the country for 12 months and think they are an expert on all things Fijian and write a book on it.
    What a load of bullshit!
    Jenny and Iris obviously don't do a lot of research.
    If they did some research they would have found out that a whole lot of people tried a peaceful way to resolve all these and indeed tried DIALOGUE.
    1) Both the governments of Australia and NZ tried to mediate Dialogue in the beginning.
    This is a well known fact that these 2 ignorant ladies did not research.
    2) PM Qarase tried to do Dialogue both before and after the coup
    3) Some of the Chiefs in Fiji tried to do Dialogue with Bainimarama, and if I remember correctly the Tui Cakau tried to bring about this mediation.
    4)Other Pacific Island Leaders either through the Forum or individually tried to broker dialogue with Bainimarama.
    and yet time and time again Bai comes up with some excuse.

    I think its time for people to wake up and smell the coffee.
    Stop fooling yourselves,. Bainimarama is not interested in DIALOGUE.

    Bainimarama is a violent person.
    You Foreigners don't seem to get it. Even Roko Lui said that he would laugh behind the back of these foreigners and say that these white peole are so gullible. ( for believing that he was going to call a 2009 election etc)

    And guess what? The same liar is now talking about 2014 election. He is laughing at you all.
    THe same liar is talking about Racial Equality and yet after 6years he hasn't even done that with the army he is in control of.

    And yet these two white girls, Iris and Jenny are singing his praises and obviously intoxicated by their own stupid delusions.

    Violent people only understand violence.
    I can tell you when Bai will be ready for Dialogue. That is after you drop 2 bombs. One bomb in Delainabua and 1 bomb on his house in Muanikau. I think a few Daisy Cutters will do the trick.
    You do this and he will immediately do dialogue.

    -Valataka na Dina.

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  8. Mark, she's supporting them because they are a fact, however hard it is for you to accept. All this opposition to the Lowy poll is ridiculous. It was carried out to internationally accepted standards of selection, methodology and process. If you don't accept the findings, then you can't, by definition, accept any other opinion poll on anything, anywhere. The Lowy Institute is the most reputable think tank in the region. Anyone who thinks it is pushing an agenda doesn't understand how the organisation works. As someone who consistently criticised the regime, Jenny Hayward Jones didn't like the findings either. But if you believe in evidence-based research on anything, you have no choice but to accept the poll. To publish her email address like this is way out of line. You say she was polite when you contacted her. But she's not likely to be impressed by this latest stunt of yours. It's making people like yourself look like zealots who won't accept the facts. And that is doing the pro-democracy cause no good at all.

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  9. M&M.

    Surprised JHJ still has a job?
    She's typical publicly funded south seas chardonnay
    socialist who doesn't even know the diference between Fiji & Viti &
    this incompetence is not soley confined to matters Viti - Fiji -
    publishing a widely distibuted article giving tacit support to a murderous & repressive regime under the banner of a Holocaust survivor? That says it all.
    Why Frank The Bank hasn't moved on her & her superiors remains a source of continuing mystery & embarrassment.

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  10. I have to defend Jenny because she is just a messenger and I nave to say that sending hate mails to her only shows the shallowness of the prodemocracy movement and it's dumb supporters. FB will write a constitution that will ensure that the military remains in control in perpetuity and those who want to use ethnicity to get into power are permanently disbarred from political participation. The new Fiji will be an interesting place.

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  11. I am a stern supporter of engaging the regime! NATO has just successfully concluded an engagement with a dictator in Libya.

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  12. Anon.11:12 AM. True. Why can’t some people just wake up from drooling in denial?? Fiji’s dictator Rear Admiral Bainimarama will be in Government for a long time. Probably after his first term after elections 2014!

    Of course, many dread that reality, but what can we do?? Again, we say to those on the sideline to form an alternative Government so the populace could make an informed choice in 2014.

    All Fiji is saturated with now are Mr. Bainimarama’s good Samaritan work around the villages, squatters, Housing Estates etc. NO OTHER alternative!!...oh the prodemocracies in the wilderness or in exile…well…who are they and what do they stand for AND WHO is their leader??

    Still, I‘ll contest against one of Mr |Bainimarama’s running mate..he know who he is!!

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  13. @ Anon 11:12.

    No trouble with messengers except when they 'knowingly'continue delivering the wrong message.
    My opinion is JHJ & her superiors deserve everything coming to them -their collective performance in this particular case borders on deplorable. Why these people who for reasons known only too themselves continue to defend & give comfort to a regime that has a well documented history of torturing & killing those they are
    supposed to protect - ie: its own citizens is indefensible - and the fact they do it under the banner of someone like Frank Lowy also qualifies it as despicable.
    People such as those curently at Lowy are blinded by numbers & locations - 5 or 5000?
    Its still genocide.

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  14. Clearly, it is in Fiji’s best interests of its populace, that imposter PM Baineee and his cronies be extricated to some island detention center, for each person to be assessed by a supreme court judge, as to their individual role in the illegal and wreckless actions against the Fijian nation. Then each should be sentenced. In addition, all lawyers that served the coupists to be banned from practice.

    To rehabilitate Fiji, full freedoms need to be restored. PER and all other oppressive decrees to be abolished. Media freedoms to be returned. Elections held as soon as possible. But perhaps this time Fiji should follow New Zealand’s model and have a unicameral parliamentary system. That is, no Senate only a House of Representatives. Also, the Council of Chiefs institution is a colonial relic that need not be resuscitated. These adjustments will increase efficiencies.

    Parliament should be re-convened with all its conventions including the ceremonies of the Cakobau Mace as of our tradition. The green light should be signalled for the formations of political parties, but parties based on ethnicities and religion should be banned. Most importantly, an independant judiciary must be reconstructed. And the Police Force to once again be staffed by professionally trained law enforcement officers, who will fearlessly implement the law.

    Importantly, the rebuilding up of Fiji’s democratic institutions must take care to ensure the concept of “separation of powers” is incorporated to guard against corruption and abuse of office.Here also, a free press serves as a vital watch dog to maintain order and prevent abberant behaviour.


    On the matter of race, laws should be created so that this area becomes neutral ground and in fact an Anti-Racist Commissioner ought to be instituted by government to maintain scrutiny of this terrain. Furthemore, all references to race in the constitution should be removed.


    Finally, a National Security Committee to be established to which the Prime Minister together with a few other important government ministries (e.g. Attorney General) the Police Commissioner, the Army Commander should meet regularly to discuss ongoing matters that will promote peace, order and trust in the nation.

    In solving the problem, I repeat an old worn cliché with much wisdom, yes, justice must not only be done, but this time be seen to be done. Fiji deserves better than the limbo it is in now.Bainimara has been a curse to the Fijian nation. The sooner he is removed the better for us all. Sa dri yani.

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  15. @ anon 1016 a.m.
    Many email addresses are published, I don't recall being told it wasn't for public consumption, so assume that it was. The Democracy Movement and its cause is doing fine.
    On the findings of this survey, one should question the results, who responded to it and whether or not those involved were pressured to convey a particular view, favourable to the Regime.
    Given Fiji's Media Censorship and all the lies being told by Frank and Aiyaz, it's all but impossible to get an accurate and honest outcome, from any survey.
    and
    @ anon 1112 a.m.
    No one has advocated sending anything to Jenny other than there opinions as to what is really happening in Fiji.
    There's is no call to send hate mail etc. where did you get that from ?


    NEXT !

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  16. Hate mail was the beginning, there have been abusive phone calls as well. It seems that we are back to 1987 when the Taukei Movement refused to engage in any constructive debate and some started kicking chairs at a forum at USP and threatened the moderators. Welcome to the nationalist mindset- like a song when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.

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  17. People, the plan has already been drawned on the sand! Current Pres-Nailatikau is expected to kil over,
    hopefully-in 2013 or early 2014.If
    he's refused to kil-over, a milary hired foreign doctor from Syrilanka has been prepared to declares the old man feeble minded and unfit for the Presidential office. In which case this will give good reason for Mr.Bainimarama to move to the Presidential position; and Ketepoka Teleni, will than assumed the PM position, just before the election is called!Hey
    don't worry guys, we've got it all
    covered!
    I don't think Mr PM can be ousted,so might as well live with it!

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  18. Mark Manning, the arrogance you are displaying here is part of the reason the "pro-democracy" cause you speak of is in trouble. Poll or no poll, it's obvious to anyone in Fiji that not enough people oppose the regime for it to be threatened. You can argue as much as you like about whether most people think the Baini is doing a good job. But he seems to be doing a good enough job to keep most people from actively opposing him. And that will be the case all the way to 2014, when we'll have his brand of democracy and elections for candidates who meet his test of not standing for any one race. So when you say that the pro-democracy cause is going just fine, yes it is. But it's the regime's brand of democracy, not yours. By any rational measure, you've lost and he's won. I think the "pro-democracy" forces should turn their attention now to making sure he keeps his promises re 2014. The SDL is dead and buried, Qarase is irrelevant and people like Kenneth Zinck beat their pots and pans in exile. Sad, maybe, but true and the sooner people realise it the better. The people of Fiji have voted alright - voted to stay at home and do nothing.

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  19. Baineee's dream about having elections without a racial factor is doomed. And he knows it. The Fijian is the indigenous race of Fiji. If you can't figure that one out you got rocks in your head.

    To remove the communal seats is to merely aggravate matters and bring politics down ever more sharply to a Fijian versus indian contest - now, there is trouble.

    The idea of the communal seats was to diffuse the tensions. The allocation of eight seats to the minority GEA's in the 1970 constitution was Christian tradition of giving more voice to the minorities quite apart from spreading the interface. In hindsight that was not such a bad thing. Under Bainee's proposed ethnicless electrol system the GEA's will not be seen and not be heard, totally obliterated.

    it was very learned people who deliberated over the 1970 constitution and who understood Fiji's societal needs better.

    Bainee's so called version panders basically to indian sentiments at the expense of the Fijian and also minority general electors. It is a model that is doomed and Bainee knows it. He has got his head in a noose and it is just a matter of time before the rope will tighten and strangle him.

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  20. @ anon 827 a.m.
    Well your certainly entitled to your view, but I respectfully disagree.

    If the people of Fiji are supporting the Regime, why the Media Censorship, why the illegal detentions and tortures of Fijian Citizens, why the P.E.R. since April the 10th. 2009 and why have more than 4 or 5 Fijian citizens been murdered by Fiji police and RFMF Soldiers since December the 5th. 2006 ?

    I'm certain that once Fijians opposition meets critical mass, that Frank and co. will be arrested and treated in the same manner in which they are currently treating their citizens.

    Let's keep on keeping records of names and addresses and of the illegal acts perpetrated by Frank and his thugs, and after Democracy is restored and Justice served, will will see just how many support Frank Bainimarama and Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum and their tin-pot Soldiers.

    By the way, why aren't you using your real identity if things are so rosy in Fiji ?

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  21. @ Anon 8:27.

    So what your saying is that its alright for Baini & his henchmen to
    torture & kill his own people?

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  22. @ Anon 8:27

    When the PER is lifted it will be Frank Bhaini who will be " dead and buried ". Certainly not SDL.

    As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow SDL will form the next Government in Fiji.

    Long live SDL !!!

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  23. Mark Manning, sad that someone who puts so much effort into campaigning against the regime should be so deluded and unable to grasp the facts. The anti regime forces need to regroup and come up with a better alternative to the "tick, tock, tick tock, the PM and AG's days are numbered" routine. Apart from it not working, it's becoming very boring. How about going away for a while, Mark, and coming up with a new act? The most important thing now isn't to sit on the sidelines and wish the regime was dead but actively work to make it accountable and deliver on its promises. The alternative is one, long, slow march to irrelevance. This idea of yours that "Frank and co will be arrested" is a pathetic fantasy. Take my advice and drop it.

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  24. When Fiji returns to true democracy it will be sunset for Fiji Sun and sunrise for Fiji Times. Wait and see.

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  25. @ anon 530 am
    Your up early !
    Those in the Regime, will be called to account, when the time is right.
    To assist the Regime in achieving its unstated goals, is tantamount to Treason and an acknowledgment of the Regime's Legitimacy, and that is something I don't support or accept.
    You are dead right about the rhetoric being boring, but other than the use of violence, what more can we do to help bring about an end to this oppression, torture and poverty in Fiji ?
    Oh yes, sanctions etc.

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  26. Personally, I don't think Iris Wielders is too far off the mark.

    What both she and the Lowey Institute fail to acknowledge, HOWEVER, is the fact that several attempts at re-engagement HAVE BEEN MADE by Australia and New Zealand, using the Pacific Forum as the conduit (so that Australia and New Zealand are not seen as going back on their stated foreign policy towards the Bainimarama regime).

    These repeated attempts at dialogue have been REJECTED OUTRIGHT (Repeatedly) by Bainimarama (probably on advice from Sayed Khaiyum.)

    Wielders (I don't know who she is) however, does hit a sore but REAL point of contention - those of us who tread the middle ground. In political jargon it's the same as "sitting on the fence". We agree with the majority feeling that democracy should always prevail and that any attack on it is TREASONOUS. But the "fence" has become so comfortable that we've turned it into a permanent cement wall without giving much thought to the fact that while it gives legitimacy to the anti-Bainimarama divide, it also gives credibility to interpretations (misguided or otherwise) that there is "overwhelming" support for Frank and his accompanying illegal activities.

    Aren't those of us in that so-called "middle ground" through our inaction from our "comfort zone", just as guilty of Treason?

    Anon5:22 may not agree with me but I agree whol;eheartedly with his/her "start from Jerusalem" suggestion. We need to begin the dialogue first and foremost, here at home. And what Jenny Heyward-Jones and Iris Wielders (and Graham Davis) need to do is push first and foremost for the lifting of the PER to enable genuine dialogue (and engagement) to begin at home.

    PS: I condemn Davis for the bias and the "personal agenda" he brings to his reports. However, I have to say I can't detect the same degree of bias in Wielder's report.

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  27. @ Anon 8:03.

    Lot depends on who's allocating money via gov advertising?
    Print media is under pressure everywhere & 2 big competing revenue driven papers won't fit into a small local market such as Viti.

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  28. The Oracle, you say Jenny Hayward Jones, Iris Weilder and Graham Davis should be calling for the lifting of the PER to ensure dialogue and engagement in Fiji. I don't know about the other two but I was there when Graham Davis called for the lifting of censorship at the Fiji Literary Festival in Nadi last month to enable precisely what you have called for. He did it in the presence of Sharon Smith Johns, who immediately told us in the audience that she would pass on the request to the Baini. However, she said afterwards that lifting censorship wasn't possible until the Fiji Times started behaving responsibly. So no deal but you can't say Davis didn't try.

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  29. Many, many attempts at dialogue have been made. The discussion so far has touched on only a few. Each has failed for one simple reason: because Bainimarama and Aiyaz do not want genuine dialogue.

    Remember, for example, the political dialogue process mandated by Pres. Iloilo? Following Aiyaz's advice, Bainimarama scuttled the Leaders of Political Parties process that was supposed to set the rules of engagement for that dialogue, effectively spurning Iloilo's mandate. Ironic, since the next day he claimed to be following another Iloilo mandate by abrogating the constitution.

    The regime keeps claiming that Fiji's traditional friends are refusing to engage with Fiji. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The real problem is that the regime itself is refusing to engage with Fiji. It needs to stop cowardly hiding behind the PER and engage in genuine dialogue with the people of Fiji.

    s/ Dakuwaqa

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  30. Anon@2.15pm oilei this sounds like Mr Davis himself if not his crusty companion Croz Walshe. Cant think of anyone else who'd bother trying to salvage the lost muxky repuation of Davis.

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