Aussie exec now top censor for Fiji’s Bainimarama

 Michael McKenna From: The Australian July 01, 2010

A FORMER Fairfax newspaper executive is the chief censor for Fiji’s dictator and in charge of his latest crackdown on press freedom.
Australian mother-of-four Sharon Smith-Johns has also been serving as the international spokeswoman for the military regime, which seized power in 2006 and has since been accused of human rights abuses.

Ms Smith-Johns last night refused “to be drawn”on allegations about the beating and jailing of Commodore Bainimarama’s opponents, but conceded she was the country’s “chief censor” and oversaw the removal of any negative reporting about the regime.

After two months as acting secretary for Fiji’s Ministry of Information, Ms Smith-Johns said she had recently applied to be appointed permanently in the job because she believed in the military leader.

A 10-year Fairfax sales veteran, Ms Smith-Johns moved to the Pacific nation just over a decade ago and later became chief executive of Connect Fiji, one of the country’s internet service providers. “I am not doing it for money; I am doing it because I believe in this man,” she said.
“I follow this government and unless you live in this country you don’t understand.”

Ms Smith-Johns hit the international airwaves this week in defence of the new laws that threaten to jail journalists and editors whose work is deemed against the “public interest or order”.

The Media Industry Development Decree 2010 also orders that media outlets must be 90 per cent owned by Fijian citizens who live permanently in the island nation.

The Fiji Times — the oldest, (founded in 1869) and largest of the country’s newspapers and one of the oldest newspapers in the Asia-Pacific region — is wholly owned by News Limited, publisher of The Australian. It has three months to comply with the decree or be closed down.

In radio interviews, Ms Smith-Johns accused Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith and News Limited chairman and chief executive John Hartigan of “sensationalising” the effect of the new laws.

She confirmed that while she had been chief executive of Connect, Commodore Bainimarama had requested her company and other Fiji-based ISPs block pro-democracy blog sites.

Ms Smith-Johns said she was national sales manager for Fairfax Online until the late 1990s, and had been retail sales manager for The Sydney Morning Herald.



  1. rokobatidua Says:

    Wow, a top executive with Air Pacific has quit! He was only hired a year ago and he’s already had enough? The guy comes with an excellent Resume and suddenly he’s afraid about something? Is something wrong with the plane? Is it just a matter of time before the plane crashed?Come on Martin say something to the Fijian people?At least tell us it aint so? or it’ll happen when both Bai and Big Assie are on board?

  2. rokobatidua Says:

    Ms Smith-John like Fiji So call Chief Justice Gate, is also a member of the Australian Spy Agencies. She is a member of the ASIO-Australian Security Intelligence Organization.She belongs to the branch known as (BLU) Business Liaison Unit of the ASIO. While Gate is in total control of the country’s laws Ms Smith-John on the other hand is in control of the Information Technology (IT) of the country. Bai is like a puppet on a string and he doesn’t even know that he is being infliterated by these Australian Spy Agencies members.What an idiots!

  3. Annon. Says:

    Don’t know what your on rokobatidua? But get off it – your brains addled.
    ASIO is solely responsible for ‘internal’ AUS security. Suggest you get both your facts & agencies right?

  4. RFMF Messabout Says:

    Smith-John and Qiliho were caught having it on in the corner of the so-called Officer’s Mess recently……this has been going on for sometime. A fellow lowly lieutenant walked out, switched on the lights and lo-and-behold, Qiliho was grasping onto Smith-John’s nipple like a lamb latches to its mother! Its no wonder that she has the top-job……she is/was Annie Rodgers friend and they were frequent mess-goer’s, and thus the introduction started. They want to promote moral lives in the civil service, they should clean up their backyard, and get deliverance from the Top down!!!

  5. rokobatidua Says:

    Ann, I’m not the bad guy here…keep your fingers on the trigger and remember we’re on the same side?Spies Agencies throughout the planet do intermingled and intertwined-they exist for the purposes to inf literate and destroy the enemies.

  6. Annon. Says:

    @ rokobatidua.

    Tell you one thing – cancellation of MSG meeting is only the beginning of Frank’s troubles – bet he doesn’t reveal what really went down at Daejeon?

  7. rokobatidua Says:

    Well,yeah, Franks has becomes the pariah not only of the democratic world but also of the non alien nations and anyone smart enough to lead a nation. Lets get together and take this cicilevu out of circulation!

  8. Cassava Patch Doll Says:

    ha ha ha

    cicilevu dina, without the guns the treacherous ulukau would be scratching his sorry arse under a mango tree.

    malo rokobatidua a vakamacala mai.

  9. O's Says:

    @ RFMF Messabout…what you said is not the whole story. At the other corner of the so called officers’ mess was Barbra Malimali and a group of lowly lietenants sucking up to her huge tits. It was so big there were two lietenants to each tit.

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