Graham Davis: A COP26 slap in the face for Fiji’s ‘oceans champion’

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Antigua and Barbuda on oceans
Antigua and Barbuda pulls out of the Fiji proposal on oceans at COP26 during the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) coordination meeting. Image: FBC/Twitter

COMMENTARY: By Graham Davis

What do you do when the other small island nations don’t recognise your brilliance and won’t go along with your suggestions?

Well, when you are Fiji Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, you call up your brother, Riyaz’s, broadcasting network (their FBC, not yours), and instruct it to express your displeasure.

FBC News reports that the Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, Antigua and Barbuda, rejected a proposal on oceans put forward by Fiji at COP26 and “this has not gone down well with Fiji, which says it does not believe this position is in the long-standing collaborative interest of AOSIS”.

COP26 GLASGOW 2021

Which actually means the big slap in the face has not gone down well with Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, an oceans champion at COP.

The FBC News story doesn’t carry the name of the author of the story, which is a requirement for every story under the AG’s media laws. But those rules don’t apply either when the AG orders a version of a story to go to air to try to counter a humiliating setback.

Grubsheet Feejee understands that with the Chair of AOSIS “shunning Fiji’s presentation” – which is how even FBC News put it – other island nations have taken Antigua and Barbuda’s lead.

Indeed, there are reports that not a single other AOSIS member has sided with the AG, which just compounds his humiliation.

It wasn’t meant to be this way. COP26 was meant to showcase Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s brilliant negotiating skills by putting oceans at the centre of the climate agenda.

But Glasgow is not Suva. And the AG is finding out the hard way that just because he wants something doesn’t mean that he will get it.

Maybe he can use his celebrated skills of persuasion to turns things around before it all ends in failure.

But let’s hope Captain Mendacious has learned a valuable lesson in one of his first forays onto the global stage. That the leaders of other nations don’t necessarily share his high opinion of himself.

Australian-Fijian journalist Graham Davis publishes the blog Grubsheet Feejee on Fiji affairs. He was a member of the Fiji government’s climate delegation at COP23.

AOSIS Chair shuns Fiji’s presentation

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