Dominion Post - 01 December 2010
by HANK SCHOUTEN
BILLIONAIRE shipping magnate and philanthropist Owen Glenn has called on Prime Minister John Key to find a neutral United Nations official to work with Fiji’s military leader Voreqe Bainimarama.
The call came when Mr Glenn, who owns a villa and resort in Fiji, met Mr Key in Wellington yesterday, urging him to take a different approach to Fiji, which he feared was coming under increasing Chinese influence.
“I said to the prime minister that the headmaster approach isn’t working and the Chinese influence is growing. There are more and more Chinese engineers, road builders and whatever arriving in Fiji.
“My personal prediction . . . I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an agreement between China and Fiji to use Fijian ports for fuelling and resupplying their ships.
“Initially there’s nothing wrong with that, but will that be their platform to extend their fishing into the economic zone? Again there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s a sphere of influence thing.
“Do we want all the Pacific islands to have foreign powers dominate them, or does Australia and New Zealand want to be their big brothers?”
He said a UN appointee – not an Australian, New Zealander or American – should be sought to go to Fiji and develop a blueprint for it with Colonel Bainimarama’s blessing.
“He needs to save face and if he wants to change Fiji – as he says [he does] to battle the corruption and provide a better life – even he has to admit he’s not achieving that in the current scenario,” Mr Glenn said.
Fiji was a volatile place with a population subjugated to the military. The final answer for Fiji was for it to return to free elections and a proper constitution, he said.
Mr Glenn, whose company is a big supplier of freight services to Fiji, said the Fiji Development Bank had offered to sell him government businesses at a discount but he was not interested in expanding his interest in a country that did not have a stable government.
Speaking to The Dominion Post after his meeting with Mr Key yesterday, Mr Glenn said he was not planning to contribute to any New Zealand political parties in the lead-up to next year’s election.
“I’ve learnt my lesson,” he joked, referring to the embarrassment over previous donations – $500,000 to Labour in 2005 and a subsequent $100,000 to NZ First.
“I did it [contributed to the Labour campaign] because I thought Helen was doing a good job, and next thing, wow.”