Showing posts from July 26, 2009

(o) PACER Plus and Its Alternatives: Important Oxfam Report

Barrie Coates of NGO Oxfam NZ (photo) asks for your help on a report to be taken to the Forum meeting in Cairns. The NGO hopes the principles and new approaches outlined in the report will be accepted as a better way to protect Pacific Islands interests than conventional free trade approaches and practice.

Kia Ora colleagues,Please click here for Oxfam’s new report that outlines the alternative forms of economic cooperation agreement for the upcoming negotiations on the economic relations between New Zealand and Australia and the Pacific Islands. We have prepared it as an input to discussions at the forthcoming Pacific Islands Forum meeting. Any help you can provide to get it into the hands of Pacific Ministers and government officials would be very helpful.PACER Plus and its Alternatives: Which way for Trade and Development in the Pacific? outlines how trade with our Pacific neighbours is seriously imbalanced in favour of Australia and New Zealand. The report responds to the recommen…

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in I thank Allen and Connect for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.

Mango Season

It’s July 2009 and once again like every year the mango trees are starting to flower in Lautoka. By August and September we will be enriched with the aroma of ripening mango. Trees will be literally dripping with the fruit. Stalls along roadsides will be set up, people on their way to Suva will stop and buy them. School fees and other expenses will be paid. I will be sending cartons and bags of mangoes to relatives and friends in Suva, freight forward though.

This is the time many people in the West take the mango for granted. I will make mango juice, chutney will be made by my neighbor and we will exchange wares. Mango pickles will be plentifu…

Scoop: NZ bullying Over Pacific Free Trade Deal - Report

The General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches has released a report documenting the use of ‘power politics’ by the Australian and New Zealand governments to push Pacific island countries to launch free trade negotiations at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ meeting in Cairns next week. To read more, Click Scoop: NZ bullying Over Pacific Free Trade Deal - Report

Australia, New Zealand, Samoa Stand Accused ; Human Rights Group Thanks President

Australia, New Zealand, Samoa Accused of Dividing Regional Trade Bloc
Radio Australia reports that a leading Pacific NGO says Australia and New Zealand are continuing to use bullying tactics in trade negotiations, and accuses Samoa's Deputy Prime Minister, Misa Telefoni, of working with them to create a split among Pacific Island nations. The accusations are contained in the report 'Speaking Truth to Power', launched in Suva this morning by the Pacific Network on Globalisation.

The report comes as Pacific Island leaders prepare for their summit in Cairns where they are set to decide whether to go ahead with negotiations for the proposed PACER Plus trade agreement.

NZ Human Rights Group Thanks President
A Fiji Human Rights Group in New Zealand has written to the outgoing President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, thanking him for the service he has provided to Fiji and its people. Spokesperson Santa Maharaj said it is saddened to hear that he has taken his retirement so suddenly, howeve…

PINA to Stay in Fiji; Commonwealth Suspension Not Yet; President's Resignation

(o) Drama at Pacific Islands News Association Meeting

There was more than a little drama at this week's PINA annual meeting in Vanuatu. Fiji Times editor-in-chief Netani Rika spoke of media censorship in Fiji and then walked out in protest against being on the same panel as a Fiji Government censor. Later Rika was awarded the Pacific Islands News Association Freedom Award for "his professional and moral integrity and the courage he displayed in being prepared to stand up publicly on his principles, knowing that his words were placing him at risk" and the Association reiterated its "condemnation of the extreme situation of media censorship now prevailing in Fiji [and called] on the provisional military government to lift immediately the emergency regulations under which journalists are prevented from doing their job and the Fiji public is kept informed."

However, the PINA secretariat will remain in Fiji (moved Cook Islands; seconded PNG).This will disappoint anti-…

(o) Tuwere Asks Methodists to Back Off

Respected former President of the Methodist Church Rev. Ilaitia Tuwere has called on the church to cancel plans to hold the annual church conference this year in defiance of a government ban.

"Humbly, I will say the church should just move away from the conference this year… And allow common people to go on with their lives. I hope common sense will prevail here ... the church will not get more into provocative actions [and] there will be no confrontation."

Click here for full Fiji Live report. Photo: Fiji Live.

(+) Commonwealth "Dropped the Ball" on Fiji

Fiji Live reports that the Commonwealth may work behind the scenes to try to help Fiji restore democracy after going ahead with a possible suspension in September. This is the opinion of the Director of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, who also thought the 53-member body has "dropped the ball on Fiji". "The voices of the smaller island nations are drowned in the United Nations, and the Commonwealth becomes a perfect ground to be on par with nations like Australia and Britain where the smaller island nations can have their voices heard," he said.

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) decided in December 2008 to review its stand on Fiji in September 2009. If it is suspended, technical assistance will continue, but Fiji will be unable to attend any Commonwealth meeting.Sriskandarajah thought that whatever happened, dialogue needs to be maintained.

(o) "Lending Fiji a Hand"

Real Fiji News has a new posting (click here) that provides a useful overview of the forces and events that produced Fiji's present political situation. Even more useful are the writer's suggestions about what needs to be done from here on if a peaceful solution is to be found. Not everyone, of course, will agree with the writer's interpretation of events, or his suggestions on the way forward but -- in the spirit of dialogue -- that should make it an even more important read. Readers familiar with the negativism of the blindly anti-Government blogs will find the posts' positive approach refreshing. Comments may be written under the post, or under this post.

Snippets: President to Retire, Lau Provincial Meeting, Forum PACER, John Roughan

(G) President to Retire
PM Bainimarama has announced that President Ratu Josefa Iloilo (88, photo L) will retire on July 30, and the functions of his office will be carried out by recently-appointed Vice-President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau (photo R).

(o+) Mara Opens Lau Meeting in Suva
The people of Lau converged in Suva today (27 July) for the opening of their provincial council meeting and bazaar. Lau Provincial Council chairperson Lt-Colonel Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara. Ratu Tevita thanked his people for their contributions to the province’s development and outlined matters to be discussed by their district representatives. Ratu Tevita looked forward "the revitalization of the economic situation in the province” and the possible purchase of a ship to serve the islands. -- Based on Fiji Live. It is noted that mass non-political meetings are allowed under PERs.

The Lau group consists of about 60 small islands to the east and south of mainland Fiji. Once the domain of the powerful Tongan…

(o) Don’t Manipulate ‘Vanua’, Chief Tells Church

The vunivalu (war chief) of Fiji's Rewa Province, whose tradition role was as protector of the Roko Tui Dreketi, the position now held by Ro Teimumu Kepa, has told Methodist Church leaders not to manipulate his chief and people to advance their own agendas. Ro Epeli Mataitini said in a statement that for “far too long” the ‘vanua’ and its ideals have been used to either “excuse, mask or justify actions by the church and politicians that could be construed as political”. To read full report, click here.

(o+) A Verbatim Summary of the "Perfectly Frank" Interview

Frank (Voqere) Bainimarama's recent "Perfectly Frank" interview by Australia SBS video journalist Mark Davis has been widely circulated by those opposed to Bainimarama, probably because they think he came out of the interview rather poorly. I thought differently. True, his "style" is not the typically diplomatic and he has a "raw" way of saying things in English, but what he actually said confirms my impression: he's perfectly consistent in what he says he's trying to achieve, and he means what he says. Of how many diplomats or politicians can this be said?

Of the interview itself, the two men seemed to be talking past each other on different planes of non-comprehension. Davis couldn't understand where Bainimarama was coming from: "Surely this man cannot believe what he's saying!" while Bainimarama seemed to be thinking: "How many times are they going to ask these questions? Why don't they believe me?"

In this p…

(oB) Yabaki Shows Way Forward: Informed, Insightful, Balanced

A "Must" Read: Breaking the Cycle of Coups

The Rev.Akuila Yabaki is a well known Fiji civil rights activist, advocate for the poor of all races, and Chairperson of CCF (Citizens' Constitutional Forum). He is one of a very small number of people I would approach for an informed, insightful and balanced opinion on the Fiji situation, on how to break the present political impasse, and how to turn today's disappointments and forlorn hopes into realized promises and a far better future for the people of Fiji.

No one who has Fiji's well-being at heart can ignore this man. His lecture at the University of Queensland on 20th July is a "must" read. He attacks no one; sees the best in the proposals of the Bainimarama Government; identifies needed electoral and other reforms, and points to a "light at the end of the tunnel."

Breaking the Cycle of Coups Introduction

I am deeply honoured to be here first to speak and then to listen in an open dialogue with you …