Showing posts from June 21, 2009

(+B) Minimum Wages and the Garment Industry: Government Keeps Promise But Could Make New Powerful Enemies

UPDATE June 27, 2009.

Economist Dr Wadan Narsey says “there will be no doubt that small employers will feel the pinch of dishing out extra wages" and those who think they cannot cope can show their audited accounts to the Wages Council. However, "larger employers have been making big profits for too long without raising wages [and] can comply with the minimum wage rate." A 20 percent wage increment would mean a dent of thousands of dollars in their profit margins, but the average worker has been denied increments for more than ten years and has been living under the poverty line for a long time. “It will make a difference to people who earn $70 a week. What can one buy nowadays with that much money?” Based onFijiLive.

The news that the Government will go ahead with the minimum wage award, deferred from February,at employers' request, on July 1st has, understandably, received a mixed reception. Retail As…

(+) We Want One Nation, PM Tells Recruits

Click here for FijiLive report.

(o+) Think Pacific, not European

I am once again reminded about how little outsiders, and I am one of them, understand of Pacific Islanders. Pippa Brown's report on last night's public discussion in Auckland organized by the Pacific Media Centre on what it means to be a Tongan, led by the region's foremost activist on media freedom, 'Eakalafi (Kalafi) Moala is a case in point. Publisher, broadcaster, former pro-democracy MP, imprisoned, banned, multiple winner of the Media Freedom Award, author of In Search of the Friendly Islands (Pasifika Foundation), one might have thought he would have used the opportunity to denounce the Fiji regime and its curtailment of media freedom. That he chose not to do so does not mean he agrees with the regime. I think he saw no point in further denunciation. He sought a solution, a Pacific solution.

I quoted from Pippa's report:

Moala questions why the Pacific region is trying to solve the current Fiji political problem in an confrontational way.“Why not solve it in…

(-) FNPF and DPP Dismissals: What's Going On?

On June 11 PM Bainimarama congratulated the FNPF Board; on June 24, following a "review of the functions, objectives and board membership of various statutory organizations and other State-related entities" he thanked them again as he dismisses all but one of them. What's going on?

The Board, usually appointed by the PM in consultation with the Minister of Finance (Bainimarama holds both positions) consists of six members, two each nominated by employers, the trade unions represent employees, and two members represent government. With assets totalling over $3 billion and control over 8% of Fiji's wages and salaries (and another 8% from employers), more than government wisdom is needed to run the Board.

A business involving members' savings, retirement pensions, member house purchases and improvements, discretionary assistance with medical and educational expenses, and investments that include 100% ownership of the new Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa at …

(o-) Inclusive Dialogue Only Way Forward: Beddoes

In an phone interview with RNZI today, General Voters' UPP leader and former Leader of the Opposition Mike Beddoes (photo, centre) said the only way to resolve the political situation was the way we've always done it, by dialogue. He predicted Cde Bainimarama's "road map" will come to nothing unless the dialogue is inclusive, involving all parties. Without this, the changes sought by the Government will be reversed by the Government eventually elected. Speaking of PER, the Public Emergency Regulations, he said that it stifled pro-democracy voices and prevented moves towards dialogue. Even his comments on this interview put him at risk. "All it takes is one individual to [mis] interpret what I'm saying, and I'll end up in jail."

(+) Race Used to Divide the Nation

There is no room for racial discrimination is this government, says interim PM Cde Voreqe Bainimarama. Speaking at Dawasamu, Tailevu yesterday Cdre Bainimarama said the interim government was committed to eradicating discrimination at all levels. "I will not tolerate racial discrimination as a way of dividing people of this nation."

This may mean having to write a new constitution "so that racial discrimination, a tool previously used by many politicians to win votes, is eradicated."

Cdre Bainimarama said Government did not want a repetition of the 2000 [Speight coup] event where little trust was shared by Fijians and other races and drove many people to parliament to support rebel leader George Speight for no reason. FijiSun.

(+) 2006 Coup Different from 1987 and 2000 Coups

Prime Minister and Army Commander Cde Frank Bainimarama said the 2006 military takeover led by him was different from the 1987 military coups and George Speight's civilian coup in May 2000.

Speaking to 400 soldiers on Infantry Day at QEB this morning, Commodore Bainimarama reiterated that the 2006 takeover is to wipe out corrupt politicians and eradicate racial politics in Fiji.

He said some politicians and chiefs thought that they would benefit from the 2006 takeover as they did in 1987 and 2000 but he said they failed.Bainimarama also called on the soldiers not to forget the events of 2000 when soldiers lost their lives during the mutiny.
FijiVillage. June 23 2009

(+) Snippets: Irregular if not Corrupt: Shady Deals by "NZ Businessman" Ballu Khan and Provincial Chiefs; PER Extended; New Constitution; Police Crusade

One of the reasons given for the 2006 Coup was the need to mount a "clean up" campaign to control corruption. To date no major incidence of corruption has been proved in the Courts, although several cases are pending.

Now FijiVillage reportson two new cases, the first involving "New Zealand Businessman" Ballu Khan; the other involving four provincial chiefs.

The Fiji Development Bank has demanded the Native Land Trust Board repay $3 million to the FDB that was loaned by businessman Ballu Khan and the company Vanua Development Corporation.

PM Frank Bainimarama (photo, in collar and tie!) wants to know how the NLTB, that is supposed to be the trustee of native land, could act as guarantor for a loan to only one individual who does not even own any native land. The current NLTB administration has declined to repay the loan saying they were not the ones who guaranteed the loan in the first place.

Bainimarama has also revealed that a known provincial council bui…

(+) Former NZ PM Mike Moore Labels Aust. NZ "Tarzan Act" Policies "Failure"

Former NZ PM and former WTO Secretary-General Mike Moore (photo) has criticized Australia's and NZ's policies towards Fiji, calling them a failure. He says a "game changer" is needed to break the present impasse. Click here for a short Fiji Times Report, and here for the full interview of Mike Moore and former ACT MP Ron Mark by TV interviewer Paul Holmes.


Mark. I think New Zealand and Australia quite clearly recognize that the last thing they want to be doing is severely impacting upon the ordinary people of Fiji and it's a very difficult line to be walking when you're trying to get the regime to accept change and to adjust, but at the same time not wishing to severely harm the livelihoods of the ordinary Fijians.
Holmes. Yeah, but at the same time when you bring economic pressure, try and bring economic pressure to bring a regime to its senses, you are in fact trying to put economic pressure on the ordinary people aren't you so they bring th…

(o) Media Free-run: Typical TVNZ News Coverage of Fiji

NZTV1 News has just finished. It included a two minute feature on Fiji with Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith predicting the imminent collapse of the Fiji economy, due to the world crisis and mismanagement, with a fleeting camera shot of you-know-who still in military uniform, the odd soldier or two, and a series of shots of a squatter settlement, replete with raggedly dressed children and a "grocery" store containing one lonely tin of food, included, presumably, as visual proof of Fiji's economic collapse. Tomorrow I expect my neighbour -- who watches TV to keep up with the news -- to tell me that's what happens in dictatorships, all that poverty and tin shacks. I'm tempted to reply, "You can always have proper gander if you've got the proper geese!" but I won't. He's a typical well meaning Kiwi bloke.

Obituary. Ron Crocombe MA (Victoria), PhD (ANU), Professor Emeritus (USP), Pacific Scholar

Copies of emails received, the obituary by USP Vice-Chancellor Rajesh Chandra, a general report and her account of the Auckland church service, at which sons Tata and Kevin spoke, by AUT journalist Pippa Brown, have been stored on the web by MediaFire. Click here to download.For further links, see below.See also PacificMediaWatch blog
NEW. And Pacific Media Centre blog.

For over 50 years Ron's name has been known and respected throughout the Pacific Islands. He first influenced me when, as a masterate student in 1960, I read his critique of NZ policies in the Cook Islands, where he had been a district officer. This writing and his book on land use in Rarotonga, that unravelled traditional and colonial influences, were ground-breaking for their time. We had not long started to question the munificence of colonial rule.

From the Cooks Ron went to PNG where he was director of the New Guinea Research Unit (1962-69) and then to the University of the South Pacific. There he founded th…