Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Raise several Fiji Bitters to Bruce Hill for his essay Why New Zealand Must Play rough With Fiji

Although written in April 2001, it remains good policy.
Because the truth is that if Fiji cannot bring itself to enter the modern globalised world, with standards of accountability, transparency, rule of law and personal freedom, it will slip behind and be forgotten.
Investors do not have to come to Fiji, and cannot be bullied into doing so.
If contracts cannot be enforced by a neutral court system, then the managers of global investment funds will simply keep their money in their pockets and move on to a more attractive country.
And Fiji will become a poor, unstable third-world hell-hole with beggars on the streets, and its children will grow up with little hope of having a better life.
And no one else in the world will care if that happens.
No one will ride to the rescue.
Fiji just isn’t that important in the global scheme of things.

And there's more, on Fiji and Tonga.

I like Hill's firm tone, that lays out the results of corruption and instability in clear, unambiguous words. The simple fact is, there are too many demands on the aid dollar from the West to keep throwing money into corrupt nations, when we know full well it will make little or no difference to the people on the ground, and will in all likelihood maintain the very structures that oppress the locals.

At the Jo-burg circle jerk, poor nations are protesting any linkage of aid to transparency, or reforms of any kind. But who is doing the protesting? We know full well it is not the populace of those poor nations. They don't get a say. They're too busy dying as their agricultural systems are destroyed yet again. As local despots and looney tune gurus lead them into genocidal wars again.

I wonder if the only hope is communications. Hill points out:
The Times of Tonga is published in Auckland in part because publisher Kalafi Moala can be reasonably assured he won’t have his door kicked off its hinges at 3am and be dragged off to prison on a trumped up charge.

As access to communications increases, the people in Country A will get the news that Countries B and C are doing very well, and the only difference is that their President for Life is, to quote that well-known defender of the poor, Robert Mugabe, making sure the rich nations "keep their pink noses out" of domestic affairs. The claims of Mugabe and Mbeki will start to look increasingly threadbare in the face of rising living standards across the border. Let's hope it doesn't take too long.

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