Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Does New Zealand support a "terrorist" country?

             Thakur Ranjit

People of NZ need to be aware that since 2013, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has partnered with the New Zealand Electoral Commission to provide support and capacity development to the Fiji Electoral Commission (FEC) and Fijian Elections Office (FEO). Very commendable and appreciated.

Reportedly New Zealand support included provision of $NZ950, 000 ($F1.4 million) to design and implement the Election Management System (EMS), including the purchase of associated hardware and other services. So far so good.

The problem is with the originating country to whom a supposedly transparent tendering process awarded the tender to – Pakistan.

Pakistan has never been a shining and glorifying example of fair elections or democracy. But even that is not the issue. The real issue is that NZ funded tender was given to Pakistan's National Database Registration Authority (NADRA), which appears to have questionable credentials, like the country it comes from. NADRA had come under fire from political parties in Fiji because of reports their officials allegedly accepted bribes in return for producing fake IDs, some of which were made for suspected terrorists.

According to Fiji Times of 24 June, 2017, the following response from an unnamed New Zealand High Commission spokesperson was provided:

"The ministry (MFAT) is aware of the claims relating to the company selected by Fijian Elections Office to supply the system. However, we are confident that the EMS (Election Management System) has been delivered in line with the contract process and that New Zealand funding has been used appropriately and for the intended purpose. 

Under the contract between MFAT and the Fiji Elections Office, the procurement of the system was undertaken by the Fiji Elections Office under Fiji Government procurement rules.
This included a requirement that the Fijian Elections Office undertake appropriate due diligence of the supplier and the system as part of its procurement process." (Good, Kiwis know how to cover their butts).

According to reports from Fiji’s Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem, NADRA beat five other companies for the tender, which was awarded based on the assessment by the tender board and an evaluation committee. Saneem assured that a terrorism financing search was also carried out and it was all clear. But he failed to say who the other five tenderers were, and who cleared the so-called terrorism financing search. Neither do we know which other countries the tender came from - NZ? Australia? Britain? India? Does Pakistan have a High Commission in Fiji?

It would appear New Zealand Government which financed this project gave approval, cleared and sanctioned, that all was clear. They owe a duty of care to people of Fiji that since the financing came from them, the selection followed the rules, transparency and accountability of a First World New Zealand rather than a Third World Fiji. 

On assurance of a Fiji Government audit, Fiji’s Labour Party Leader (FLP) Mahendra Chaudhry said a government audit would not address the issue and the NADRA contract should be terminated. He reportedly said the FLP was worried about fake IDs being used to vote in Fijian elections and of the possible manipulation of the system to rig the election.

The reason why I brought this subject in New Zealand is that our taxpayers funded this project and supposedly New Zealand Government sanctioned the selection and choice of this Pakistani company. And I, as a citizen of both Fiji and New Zealand, would hold NZ Government accountable, should the doubts hold true about this Pakistani choice.

This was my comment in Facebook discussion on this subject:

“What surprises me is that a country which is more of a military dictatorship and lesser of a successful democracy is the one where this election system was found and awarded. I wonder whether they have ever participated in any credible elections in our living memory. I wonder whether this system will be as defective as Pakistan's democracy. In Hindi, they say, bandar ka jaane adrak ke swaad, A near English translation is: “Casting pearls before swine.” Since when did Pakistanis become experts in free, clean elections and democracy? 

Before I am accused of any phobia, let me clarify two issues: 1) India has more Muslims than Pakistan and 2) When Indians were brought as Indentured labourers to Fiji between 1879 and 1916, Pakistan did not exist.”

This decision by Fiji and New Zealand would also confuse rational thinkers in light of what is taking place in Gulf in the Muslim world. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is in turmoil because some member states have accused Qatar of supporting terrorism. 

Despite intense American efforts in the Middle East, bin Laden was not found or captured until 2011, when American intelligence learned he was living in Abbottabad, Pakistan. On 2 May 2011 a team of Navy SEALS, acting on orders from President Barack Obama, attacked bin Laden’s compound and killed him. Osama bin Laden’s body was taken by the U.S. forces and buried at sea later that day. PAKISTAN HAD BEEN SHELTERING HIM.
Pakistan has also come under radar of international community of doing this. Does the master-mind of 9/11 terrorist attack, Osama bin Laden’s name ring a bell? Bin Laden was not found or captured until 2011, when American intelligence learned he was sheltered in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where USA directed a surgical attack to kill him on 2 May 2011. 

Narendra Modi, Indian PM has openly accused Pakistan of promoting and harbouring criminals, especially in relation to Taj Hotel terrorist attack and other acts of terrorism in India directly linked to Pakistan. Even USA is aware of this.

What surprises me is that despite all these, New Zealand and Fiji Governments are supporting and sanctioning a supposedly terrorist nation when Gulf Council Cooperation (GCC) is under threat of breaking because of opposition to countries supporting terrorism and terrorists. 

My duty was to inform New Zealand people of the dealings by MFAT in the Pacific, and should anything go wrong in Fiji, do not say you were not warned. It is upon Opposition parties in New Zealand to seek proper answers from MFAT and Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Gerry Brownlee and seek clarification, transparency and truth, unlike the Tape Gate 2 in Clutha!

[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a Kiwi-Fijian journalist who runs blog FIJI PUNDIT, and is based in Auckland.]

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Does John Key really deserve a Knighthood?

                                               Thakur Ranjit Singh

When I was an auditor with Coopers and Lybrand Accountants in Fiji in 1980s (as they were then known), an audit training session still rings fresh in mind after some four decades: THERE IS NOTHING LIKE A FREE LUNCH!.

We were warned never to take favours from clients we audit, as we get obligated and it clouds and bring into question our neutral and impartial judgement. Hence all those tasked with responsibility of exercising neutrality and impartiality need to maintain that arms-length dealings. In addition, they should not only be neutral and impartial, but also seen as such. 

Sir John Key: Yes, I got it, no, not the pony tail, but a Knighthood!

A living example comes to mind when this was NOT done. John Key, in his premature and surprise resignation, handed the leadership on a platter to his deputy, Bill English. This was despite Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman and Former lawyer Judith Collins, minister for corrections and police, who has long been touted for the top job, throwing in their hats for tussle of leadership in the National Party. Under the name of party unity, any opposition to Key’s choice was crushed, democracy was stifled and hence Bill English got the job - thanks to John Key.

Therefore, English was expected to reciprocate (return) the favour. And he did that so soon, that the ink on Key’s resignation letter had hardly dried, and than he got the Knighthood. The message here is that the Knighthood was the price Bill English had to pay for that lunch of National Leadership, which after all, was not free.

You will not read this anywhere in the mainstream or side stream media, because the publishers will sack the journalist who says what I have said, as media is to promote business and make money - to hell with bitter truth, as it will affect advertising dollars from rich people and rich businesses National Party represents. 

I am also slightly expedient, as I may annoy so many. Therefore, instead of saying anything more directly, I present to you views of normal everyday Kiwis as they have expressed in NZ Herald letters section, under their name. Here they are:

Arthur Moore from Pakuranga writes: “I see our ex-Prime Minister who spent millions of taxpayer dollars trying to erase our connection with Great Britain from our flag is happy to accept a knighthood from the Queen.”(NZH, 06.06.17)

Stan Jones of Hamilton writes:”….John Key gets a foreign title for eight years of an “aw, shucks”, do-nothing Government interested in making a buck. As a consequence, we still have to deal with homeless people in a housing crisis, waterways so polluted any contact risks infection and increasing inequality of wealth and opportunity in life…”(NZH 07.06.17)

Peter Jamieson of Titirangi writes:”….Being very well paid for doing just an average job, while running up a massive debt. Well done, Sir. I do not know who to cheer for the most, Sir John Key or Sir Russell Coutts?” (NZH 07.06.17)

And finally, David Little from Whangarei takes the cake with a well-summed up analysis:

“Arise “Sir “John. Our past PM is a charismatic man. He has been a good ambassador for New Zealand. I look back on his eight years in charge and ask what his achievements are? Yes, he has been a steady hand at the helm, mostly hands off. He has presided over an economy performed better than most, no thanks to him but more to inheriting a low-debt situation. The economy was also boosted by China buying up commodities on a massive scale, raising prices paid. Nature also played its hand through earthquake destruction resulting in re-insurers’ insurance money flowing in from offshore. His Government’s open immigration policy played its positive and negative part. Yes, the economy is booming, mostly fuelled by the construction industry. However, most of his achievements, as with most politicians, are self-serving. 1)His tax cut for the wealthy; 2) His reverting top honours to Sir, Dame; 3) His dropping of inheritance tax, allowing wealth to be passed on tax-free; 4) A failed attempt to change our flag. His real legacy is a deeply divided have/have not society with the main beneficiaries being the wealthy and home-owning baby boomer generation. For this he receives a knighthood?” (NZH 11.06.17)

I have a close friend, a die-hard National supporter, and we have had quite a few left and right political arguments over a grog (kava) basin. He would be annoyed with this article, as he believes National under Key provided us economic development. But development for whom? Rich became richer, house speculators had a field day and became millionaires overnight and the gap in haves and have-nots increased. On the other hand, poverty and homelessness escalated and we have acute crime, housing, health and social problems. The damning UNICEF report has been buried by the mainstream (read right wing) media.

Both of us are drivers and both of us have bought houses in West Auckland over a decade ago. Now this friend, the National supporter, can he ever imagine his son being able to buy a house on his own? His son was once a youth MP for now Deputy Prime Minister, Paula Bennett. Now, how many of these National youth MPs can afford to buy houses? Thanks to a National Government which has been propping up economy through unbridled migration, and under them, we have uncontrolled house-speculation, enriching the rich and denying poorer first-home buyers a house. Why should the son blindly support the same party his father supports - the party, which was sleeping on the job while a full generation have been displaced from opportunity to buy a house? And who bears the strain on housing and infrastructure from uncontrolled migration?

Robert Muldoon would be known as a PM who ‘stole’ the superannuation and denied the older generation the comforts of a healthy retirement. John Key will be known as a PM, who brought back honours system, and gained a Knighthood personally for his efforts.

That is the reason why the new generation need to go blindly in the next election and vote for a change. The slogan for the next election should be: THE DEVIL WE DO NOT KNOW (THE NEW GOVERNMENT) IS BETTER THAN THE DEVIL WE KNOW  (NATIONAL GOVERNMENT.)

All those stuck in traffic jams, all those robbed and affected by escalating crime because of gaping inequality, all the homeless because of government’s cut on social housing, the generation denied home ownership in their lifetime, all those hunting houses to rent because the speculators have them empty as “house-banks’, and a country with economic development benefitting the rich only, with little trickling-down effect – PLEASE STAND UP, AND GET ANGRY. IT IS YOUR TIME TO EMULATE WHAT THEY DID IN USA, (TRUMP ELECTION), THE BREXIT, THE FRENCH ELECTION AND A BRUISING ELECTION RESULT AGAINST TERESA MAY’S CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT IN UK.

Show your anger in New Zealand, AND VOTE FOR A CHANGE

[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a media commentator at his blog site FIJI PUNDIT. He is based in Auckland, New Zealand]

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Do you understand Hindi News: The Purpose of Language is communication

Thakur Ranjit Singh

In absence of any watchdog to put a scrutiny of those who are supposed to watch us, Indian Media Watch – New Zealand has been established and fulfilling that role, being watchdog on Indian media which hitherto assumed they were beyond reproach. They watch others but they are also being watched – we have already successfully taken one to Advertising Standard Authority (ASA), and would not hesitate to do that again where they are seen to breach any rules and regulations. But it is also to critically view their effectiveness of otherwise. This is one such action, which is being repeated, as I had previously pulled Radio Tarana for use of language that goes over our head. Here I go again.

I have much respect for Radio Tarana and its efforts in teaching us the knowledge of Hindi language and difficult vocabulary, but it appears to be ineffective and done improperly.

I also have much respect for Nitya Nand Sundar, its part-time newsreader, and I presume the one who translates Hindi news from English language. I also praise his efforts to make us aware of Tulsidas level of Hindi Language. However the purpose of any language is communication – ability to pass the message that is understood.

My issue as an average Radio Tarana listener is: How much of your 7pm news on Radio Tarana on Sunday 18 June, 2017 was understood by the normal common mortal listeners of the station?
As a test, I request the news item to be replayed to Robert Khan, Satend Sharma, Shalen Sharma, Shalend Shandil, Pawan Rekha, and other Indo-Fijians and also Indians at Radio Tarana, and ask them what they understood, translate it to English language and whether they understood all the words and Hindi vocabulary used in the Hindi news item.

Why I raise it now is that I had raised it previously, and had raised the same issues I am raising now- inability of Hindi listeners to understand their high level of Hindi. I had recommended that I have no issue with use on non-understandable difficult Hindi vocabs, as long as they also explain them in simple Hindi or give English equivalents, so we can understand what is spoken. And this becomes a good education process as well. Currently it goes to waste. “Samm Ling”- (as used in Hindi news) -what creature is that? I asked some Pundits, and they also could not tell, so how do you expect FIJI PUNDIT to understand it.

I hope this will be taken in the spirit it is given – to take it as a constructive criticism which is the objective on Indian Media Watch New Zealand. It is the duty of this site to help raise awareness on media-related issues with a view to bringing in improvements.

Some Hindi vocabulary, among others, used in Radio Tarana Hindi  news in the past, without any use of English equivalents are as follows: sthai sachiu (permanent secretary), prashasnic karyawahi (disciplinary action) sakratmak (optimism), vyahan chaalak (vehicle/car driver), loktantra (democracy), pramukhta (mainly), prathmikta (priority) and the master-piece earlier mentioned, samm ling (gay/lesbian). An average Indo-Fijian, and even many Kiwi Indians may find difficulty or inability to comprehend news items if such words are used.

Yes, teach us Hindi via Radio, but by telling English equivalent as well, please.

[About the author: Thakur Ranjit Singh runs blog site FIJI PUNDIT and also has Facebook site-Indian Media Watchdog-New Zealand (among others), which keeps scrutiny of media issues in Indian media in New Zealand. He is a post-graduate scholar in Communication (journalism) with honours from AUT, Auckland.]