Showing posts from August 16, 2009

(-+) Cairns of Worms*

Readers wishing to read the Cairns Forum communique may do so by clicking here. The meeting discussed many issues, including Fiji on which nothing new emerged. Of some interest though, are three paragraphs that clearly indicate where the "leaders" (sic!) were "coming from."

"Para. 45. ...They [the Leaders] took careful note of the grave concerns about the situation in Fiji, as expressed directly to Leaders from respected individuals and organisations in Fiji.

Para. 46. Leaders strongly condemned ... the ongoing erosion to the traditional pillars of Fijian civil society, including the churches and chiefs. They deplored the recent detentions of church Leaders by the regime.

Para. 49. Leaders expressed their deep concern for the people of Fiji in the face of Fiji’s deteriorating economy as a consequence of the military regime’s actions, including the undermining of the private sector and the negative effect on business confidence in the absence of the rule of law…

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.

School shock

A work mate went for his son’s parent’s day meeting and got a chance to look around the school. He asked his son to take him to his classroom and asked where he sat. When he saw the desk he asked the teacher why it was broken. The teacher said because the school couldn’t afford to repair them. And some children sat on the floor.

Being a carpenter he asked if he could repair his son’s desk. When he brought his tools and timber the teacher asked if he could repair the rest. He agreed but only if he was paid.

Then he asked what happens to building and other fees that parents struggle to pay. The teacher said it wasn’t enough even with the subsidy p…

PAC and Squatters Not On the Same Planet

The Public Accounts Committee, commenting on the increase of illegal squatting, "is of the view that there are existing State housing facilities that could be used by people living below the poverty line." Click here.

This is an old and very dangerous opinion. I first heard it in the early 1970s, and there were probably vocal "deniers" well before then, but its resurrection in 2009 displays even more ignorance now than it did then because much more information is now available on squatting. The PAC should familiarize themselves with some of it. They could start by reading a recent short article in the Fiji Times, and then put these four questions to those who know (the city councils, the relevant government departments, the Housing Authority, the Public Rental Board, relevant NGOs, including Rotahomes and ECREA, and the Bureau of Statistics): 1. How many households are presently housed in state housing facilities? 2. What is their estimate of the number of poor s…

(o+) Why So Many Military Appointments? Holding on to Power, or Little Choice?

Much has been made of the appointments of military people to senior government positions, normally the preserve of civil society. Few people will feel comfortable with such appointments but not all will agree with Coupfourpointfive that they are "a clear indication that the military-backed regime will hold on to power for as long as it likes and that the 2014 election timeline is a façade like Bainimarama’s previous commitments and promises."

There are, of course, other, less sinister, reasons for the (apparently numerous) military appointments. I list four, in no particular order of importance.

Leaders tend to appointment people they can trust. Most prime ministers appointment their own ministers. Many of Fiji's former senior civil servants appointed under the previous regime have been openly anti-Government.Military-led governments "naturally" appoint military people. They're part of an established team and appointees respond more readily to orders from th…


Quiz Conditions

1. There will be five quizes, and the score from the best four will count towards each person's final score.

2. If there is no clear winner, the winner will be drawn by lot from the highest scorers.

3. Entries must be received no later than the Sundays before answers are posted.

4. Entries can be sent either my email to me or if you prefer, by adding a "comment" to the quiz post.
(Since all comments come first to me for approval, I will record your score and name, and prevent it being added to the blog as a comment. In this way I protect your answers from others and your identity from me.)

5. Pseudonyms: Please choose one with six digits, consisting of 3 letters and 3 numbers. For example, wai369.

6. The pseudonym of the winner will be posted on Monday 21 September at 9:00am. At this stage, the winner will need to provide me with some identity in order to receive the prize.

I hope you enjoy the quiz.

(o-) Long and Well Respected NGO Asks Govt for "Leeway" for Methodist Church

This is where a wise government would heed wise counsel.Read it carefully.

Interim Government Must Provide Some Leeway to the Methodist Church

The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) calls on the Interim Government to provide some leeway to the Methodist Church of Fiji, in order for the organisation to effectively carry out its functions as a religious body.

“The crackdown on the Methodist Church by the Interim Government has been justified on the grounds of the support by senior Methodist Church ministers for ethno-nationalism and party-politics,” CCF Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rev Akuila Yabaki said.

“However, the Methodist Ministers suspected of breaching the peace have been charged and need to respond to these allegations in court,” Rev Yabaki said. “Any further excessive interference in the Church’s activities by the Interim Government would be against fundamental rights of Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion and Belief.”

“The Methodist Church has supported calls for dia…

(o) All May Not Be as We Stubbornly Think: a Personal Note Recommending Some Anti-Government Postings

This may sound condescending. It is not.

In most major confrontations, it's so easy for those on both sides to take even more extreme positions than they otherwise might. Veering towards the middle -- seeing the other person's point of view; accepting shortcomings on "our" side -- might be seen as weakness. It is much easier to see everything in sullied black (the other side) and pure white (our side). I confess this has been my position on most anti-government blogsites. Most are so one-eyed they would fall over even in broad daylight. But not all. And not all the time.

I recommend some recent postings on Raw Fiji News. All are anti-government, but writers like Kaviti1978, Isa Lei, Inx2009, Talei2 and Ichymite are also quite open on the shortcomings of previous "pro-Fijian" regimes that "opened the door" to the last coup and its aftermath. Read how Isa Lei expresses remorse for his support of the 1987 coup, and his criticism of former Chief Ju…

(G) New Unit to Oversee "Roadmap" to Elections

A new department will soon be set up at the Parliament complex to facilitate Government’s roadmap to the 2014 elections and framework for change. According to Public Service Commission chairman, Josefa Serulagilagi, the new department has been tasked to ensure a better and well-coordinated approach to the implementation of the Roadmap and Strategic Framework for Change. The department is also expected to facilitate consensus-building through nation-wide reconciliation and dialogue. Click here.

New Feature: High Noon QUIZ

Two weeks ago we launched Allen Lockington's Saturday feature Life Goes On to spread a smile or two between our otherwise sombre, and sometimes depressing, posts. Today Wednesday at 12:00 noon we launch another regular weekly feature, the "High Noon" quiz, that will always be published at noon on Wednesdays, with answers published Mondays at 9:00am.

Older readers will recognize the title as that of a famous 1950's Western film starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly in which Cooper, the small town US Marshall, faces a gang of killers. My choice of title does not cast Bainimarama, Qarase or anyone else in the role of marshal, but it does have a moral message. The forces for good in Fiji must ensure that its "high noon" will be resolved by words and not bullets.

The quiz consists of two groups of five questions. The first five can be answered from postings and other features in the blog, and are mainly intended to assist your quick searches. The second five com…

(o) Meaningless and Meaningful Opinion Polls

Polls need to be very carefully worded to have any value. A current NZ referendum on whether parents should legally be allowed to smack their children is so double-weighted it is unlikely to be heeded by Government, whatever its outcome.

A poll on the rabidly anti-government blogsite Intelligentsiya, answered by 140 of its readers, provides a further example of poor poll question wording. "Can we have a new government in power by 2010?" attracted a 62% "yes" and 37% "no" response. But what do these responses mean? Those saying "yes" probably indicated a wish with which many saying "no" might have agreed but they voted "no" because they thought it unlikely, and some of the "noes" may not want elections by 2010.

Taking the sentence apart, what does can mean? Technically possible? A realistic possibility? Or merely something we want or would like to see? What does new government mean? Only one --or any-- type of gove…

(o) Solevu On Again, Off Again

It's not at all clear who's playing who -- or exactly what is and what is not allowed, or why -- but Government has revoked the Methodist church permit to hold an open air solevu (fundraising) gathering in Suva this Saturday citing further information that matters other than those for which the permit had been granted, would be discussed at the gathering. [See also the very different reasons reported by the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, below]

The decision is a blow to church fundraising and will do nothing to enhance Government popularity among many Methodists, most of whom are ethnic Fijians. Many others will see the move as an infringement of religious freedom unless they agree with Government that elements within the church would use the gathering for destablizing political activity.

Earlier, Government had approved meetings of the Church Standing Committee on condition that they were attended only by ordained ministers. Ministers previously identified, and lay preachers…

(o+) Bloggers Make Bad Economic News Good Political News

Click "comments" at the end of this post to see what others think.

To read the anti-Government blogs you'd believe the Fiji economy is in a state of total collapse. Every economic setback in Fiji is applauded in Sydney and Auckland. This is a none-too-subtle way of turning economic news into political news, with Bainimarama "responsible" for the world recession, the decline in tourist numbers, years of neglect and machinery failures at the sugar mills, increased unemployment, rabid inflation, and increases in the cost of living and poverty.

There's no denying Fiji is struggling (what country is not?) or that overseas (and anti-government blogger) reactions to the "political situation" have made things worse, but ...

Come on, bloggers. Let's have some more balanced comments. It's your relatives and friends whose lives you play with, and your country whose future is at stake. Focus positively on the wrongs and shortcomings of the Bainimarama …

(o) Fiji and China

Fiji Sun reports that a powerful 25-member Chinese delegation met with Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama last Wednesday night at the Shangri-La Fijian Resort in Sigatoka. Australian and NZ investors, exporters, trade officials and experts, read on ...

Chinese Here to Invest: PM

Speaking to the FijiSun last night, Cmdr Bainimarama said he was confident that the country is going to form a long time partnership with China’s Sinohydro Corporation Limited. “They want to come and invest in Fiji,” Cmdr Bainimarama said. He said the meeting is to strengthen Fiji’s relations with China as Government continues to venture out as part of its ‘Look North’ policy.

Cmdr Bainimarama said such visit attracts the interest of the international community and highlights the huge potential and wide range of opportunities that Fiji has in terms of investment, trade and forging stronger bilateral relations with China. “As Government looks North for improved economic relations, I believe th…

(0) ANZ-US: Who's Kidding Whom?

See Comments on this post by clicking "comment" at the end.

Outgoing Acting US Ambassador to NZ Dr Dave Keegan was interviewed by NZTV1's Mark Sainsbury on Sunday. He had this to say about Australian, NZ, the US and the Fiji "situation."

Keegan: The role of the US in the Pacific I think is longstanding, you know out of Hawaii which is our Pacific state, out of American territories, Guam, American Samoa, and others, but we're also not going to step in and try to recreate the kind of expertise that Australia and New Zealand bring to the table. You have a degree of knowledge and a degree of understanding of how to make things work there that we want to take advantage of and be the beneficiary of, and figure out how we can add value.

Sainsbury: But the US congressman for American Samoa Faleomavaega, now he says that - he has criticized New Zealand and Australia's attitude to the Pacific, and said America should be looking at - in terms of Fiji - that we'…

(o+) Would the Real Mahendra Chaudhry Please Stand Up

It's difficult to gauge Mahendra Chaudhry.

Ousted Labour-led Government Prime Minister. Brave and defiant prisoner of the Speight coup.
Opponent then colleague in the Qarase's SDL-led government. Fierce advocate for cane farmers or obstructionist in the sugar industry. Banker for displaced Indo-Fijian refuges, or tax evader and shady banker for himself. Supporter of Bainimarama's People's Charter, briefly minister in the Bainimarama Government, and now -- apparently-- compatriot of Qarase (two people who once were barely civil to each other). Once denied entry to Australia and now mysteriously admitted, with no explanation.

Martyr and people's advocate? Self-serving and two-faced opportunist? Pragmatist, realist, survivor? Who knows? But there's no questioning he's an important wild card in Fiji's deck of cards.

With these thoughts in mind, I read the FLP website release, initiated no doubt by the great enigma himself. The proposals are sound, excep…

Australian Socialists Accuse Australia of "Tightening Grip" Over Pacific Islands and the Forum

"Last week’s Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) leaders’ summit, held in the northern Australian city of Cairns, saw the Labor government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd move to extend its control over the regional body. Despite earlier statements from a number of Pacific governments expressing disquiet over Canberra’s stance on issues including Fiji, climate change, and regional trade, every PIF member state toed the line and signed the final summit communiqué drafted by the Australian government." I have added subheadings to make for easier reading.

Commentary:Australian Government Tightens Grip over Pacific Islands Forum

By Frank Gaglioti

CAIRNS (WSWS/Pacific Media Watch): Last week’s Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) leaders’ summit, held in the northern Australian city of Cairns, saw the Labor government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd move to extend its control over the regional body. Despite earlier statements from a number of Pacific governments expressing disquiet over Canber…