[Originally published in the Vanuatu Daily Post’s Weekender Edition.]
With headlines like ‘Man Gets On Bus’, and ‘Breakfast As Usual’, Fiji’s beleaguered fourth estate is reporting all the news it feels is still fit – or safe – to print. Such stories are a reaction to Commodore Frank Bainimarama’s extensive power grab this week, which included the abrogation of the national Constitution, removal of judges and senior financial figures, expulsion of Australian and New Zealand-born journalists and censorship of domestic media.
One particularly riveting feature, titled ‘Paint Dry’, recounts the couch painting adventure of a man named Max. The paint, he recounts, “went on wet, but after four hours it started to dry…. That was when I realised, paint dries.”
I expect it ran with a four column headline.
In solidarity with my Fijian colleagues, I’ve decided to write about nothing as well. Happily, this is easily done. Even though Port Vila is home to the Melanesian Spearhead Group and PM Edward Nipake Natapei holds the chair this year, I am glad to say that I have nothing to report.
Despite being uniquely positioned to provide sober diplomatic counsel to the increasingly isolated Fijian dictator, despite what our PM describes as a fraternal relationship with one of our closest neighbours, one with whom we have a unique trading relationship, whose culture closely resembles our own, we and our Melanesian brethren have decided to do exactly nothing to prevent Fiji’s descent into constitutional, social and economic crisis.