Showing posts from August 30, 2009

(-) Sukuna Park and Electricity Belong to Jesus. Huh?

We can confirm that the Suva City Council's department in charge of hiring out Sukuna Park cut off electricity in the middle of a sermon at the New Methodist Church Crusade last Friday because the preaching was loud and noisy. Coupfourpointfive has been told that Suva City Council staff refused to re-connect the power despite threats from the Church preachers.

Sources say the SCC officer in charge of administering parks and properties told a security officer to turn down the volume of the speakers used for preaching as he could hear the loud noise almost 100 metres away. This was done twice but the preachers increased the volume to intolerable levels on both occasions. The security officer was then told to disconnect the power supply. All the officer had to do was to pull off a fuse that is in-built into the permanent podium at the park.

Sources say five angry New Methodist Church preachers barged into the office of the properties officer demanding that the electricity supply be re…

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.
Inter-island travel
Someone wrote and asked if the Princess Ashika tragedy can happen in Fiji. The Ovalau was one. In previous years the inter-island vessel Kadavulevu sank. It can happen again if we are not careful with our interisland ferries. Many travelers will take their travel for granted.
I remember working in Levuka and acted as a Marine Checker. Many times I would advise small craft when they were overloaded and was politely told it was OK because they always travelled that way and nothing ever happened.
When boats drift because of engine trouble or bad weather and are overloaded, the authority is always taken to task.
But the Princess Ashika and O…

(o) Headline Links


Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption searched Inland Revenue and Customs Authority offices Click here.Tourism Fiji Chairman Patrick Wong said the Commonwealth suspension should not impact on tourism. Click here.Sir Paul Reeves hopes high to find roadmap to democracy. Click here.Navosa chiefs split on whether to separate from Nadroga. Click here.NZ travel banprevents Fiji Broadcasting Corporation chairman travel to sign a deal with a New Zealand company.Click here.Australia will help electoral process and development assistance programme will continue. Click here.NZ investors lose millions in Fiji resorts failed developments. Click here.Two NGOs FemLinkPacific Click here . FRIEND Click here.

(+) New Auckland Indian Weekly; its Editor's Visit to Fiji

Indian Newslink is an on-line fortnightly published in Auckland whose target readership is New Zealanders from the Sub-Continent, Fiji and other parts of the greater Indian diaspora. But everyone interested in Fiji will find much to "chew over" on their Fijilink tab. The September 1 issue has a special report on the editor's recent visit to Fiji. Here is an extract:

"The extensive tour of the country over a seven-day period accorded me an opportunity to observe the ground realities. Contrary to what has been portrayed in the global media, armed forces do not patrol the streets, there are no gun-wielding police officers and visitors to government offices are not frisked. In fact, people appeared to be more relaxed than ever before. Says a top retailer in Suva: “A major difference is that people employed in government offices have become prompt and efficient.”

Fijians in general see New Zealand as a ‘big brother in neighbourhood’ and would like its leadership and peop…

(G) Update: Fiji Values Commonwealth Ties

We had to rely on FijiLive and FijiVillage for this Government release. The same Fiji Times that almost joyously announced Fiji's suspension from the Commonwealth, and so values media freedom, has reverted to its earlier mode of not reporting any Government statement in protest against the Emergency Regulations that censor media releases.

Under the heading C'wealth Can Help Us Break Free FijiLive reports a government spokesman saying Government "believes the Commonwealth can partner with Fiji to resolve its long standing systemic and structural challenges [and help] correct longstanding injustices, inequalities and corruption.”

The spokesman said elections alone will not resolve these problems: democracy must be contextualised within Fijian experience and history. He said Government is looking forward to meeting the team led by Sir Paul Reeves, the special representative of Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma, who will be in Fiji next week.

(+) Fiji's Commonwealth Suspension (See Correction)

Unfortunate. Inevitable. Sad. Fiji is fully suspended from the Commonwealth.

This outcome was obvious months ago. Ever since the Commonwealth followed the Forum's lead on insisting on conditions that would not --and could not -- be met if Fiji were to carry out the reforms chartered by the Bainimarama government before elections were held.

One can, of course, see where the Forum and Commonwealth are coming from. They had to react to what they saw as an illegitimate regime imposed by the military. The pity is they could not also see that the regime that was deposed was far from democratic, even though it had the support of most ethnic Fijians. And that the only way to break the cycle of coups, and establish a just and more genuine democracy, was to remove race as the inflammatory accelerant from Fiji politics once and for all. The party leaders, Qarase and Chaudhry, the Commonwealth insist Bainimarama include in dialogue do not want this. Race-based parties and electorates guarante…

(-o) Seeing Signs

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity... - Luke 21:25-27.

Anti-Government blog Fiji Today drew my attention to a RNZI report stating that support for the Fiji Government is declining. Former USP academic and now at ANU, Dr Jonathan Fraenkel (photo) is reported to have said he "sees signsthat backing [for the] Fiji regime may be dissipating ...One of the things that’s quite noticeable is that you don’t have so many grand statements of support for the regime coming out, even from interim ministers ... Since the abrogation of the constitution in April, I think the whole show has come a little bit off the rails ... Even government ministers don’t seem to believe in the objectives of the 2006 coup anymore.”

Fraenkel built his reputation as an academic, not as a psychic, and as an academic he is ethically required to produce some evidence to support his public statements, or at least to mix comm…

High Noon QUIZ 3

[Please see the first quiz for more information.]

1. Name the two Methodist ministers Bainimarama called "political."
2. Name the Catholic Archbishop associated who co-chaired the People's Charter.
3. In what NZ county do I live?
4. What can the envelope icon at the end of each posting be used for?
5. What was Mr Hampton helping to organize?

This week's theme: History

6. In what years did the Deed of Cession and Independence occur?
7. Name the three matanitu (confederacies).
8. Whose portrait is this and who was his Tongan rival?
9. Name the English Governor who introduced the most administrative changes.
10. Name the ship on which the first Indian indentured labourers arrived in 1879.
Portrait: Wikipedia

Commonwealth and Fiji Talk Past Each Other, and Other Stories

The Fiji Times reports Fiji's suspension from the Commonwealth is "just hours away" but has not produced the result wanted: "reactivating the President's political dialogue forum in a manner which is independent, inclusive, time-bound and has no pre-determined outcome, and with a view to having national election by October 2010." Instead, "army commander* Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama"will proceed with Government's "Strategic Framework for Change - which places general elections in five years' time "before September 2014".

A Ministry of Information spokesman said former president Ratu Josefa Iloilo had mandated Bainimarama "to put in place various socio-economic, political and legal reforms before elections are held in September 2014" [and that this was] "the only path to ensuring sustainable and true democracy, the removal of communal representation and the implementation of equal suffrage based on common and …

(+) Bainimarama's "Achievements": Two Opinions

The Opinion of Former Fiji journalist Thakur Ranjit Singh (Auckland)

There are certain common threads and factors that link the coups of Rabuka and Speight and the unstable political climate. They are:
The Fijian Chiefs of Fiji, represented by Great Council of Chiefs,
The Methodist Church (1 & 2 supporting Fijian nationalism),The sugar industry organizations, in particular, the Sugar Cane Growers Council, controlled by the Fiji Labour Party arm, the National Farmers Union, that provided support for Indian nationalism.Collectively, these were the main groups that gave rise to the politics of race, a divisive political system and leadership, resulting in a divided people and a divided country, fractured and split on racial lines.

What Frank Bainimarama has done should have been done some four decades ago, in 1970 – the removal of institutions that divide people.Bainimarama has neutralised these three institutions.

Depoliticising of the Chiefly system, the Church and the sugar industry ar…

What's New? Imode and Pacific Scoop

Readers may be interested in two new on-line publications on the Pacific. Both have sections on Fiji.

Imode (Island Mode ) is an incredibly sophisticated "glossy" with a wide range of topics on the arts, culture, fashion, jewellery and modern lifestyles of Island people in Australia and the Islands written and edited by an Australian-based team including Fijians. It also has news and opinion sections. Its coverage of environmental decisions made at the Cairns Forum meeting is worth reading. Its Fiji political coverage less so -- the Sydney pro-democracy march, and Jone Baledrokadroka ... again! The Pacific needs a glossy to challenge Westerners' Island stereotypes, but if there's to be Fiji political coverage, it needs to do more than echo what can be read in the mainstream media. If it doesn't, it will merely be confirming another type of stereotype.

The other publication isPacific Scoop(AUT's Pacific Media Centre's page on the NZ independent on-line pap…

High Noon Quiz Answers 2

1. Elections; 2. Subscribe by Email; 3. Ana; 4.15 July 2007; 5. Mauritius.

6. Sugar milling; 7. Gold; 8. Hydro electric dam; 9. Fish cannery; 10. Tourism.

(B) "The Indians Want Your Land"

Just as parents in the West used to warn their children, "The bogeyman will get you" to enforce compliance, extreme ethnic Fijian nationalists use "The Indians will get your land" bogeyman to justify the 1987 and 2000 coups, condemn democracy as a "foreign flower," demand the President and Prime Minister must always be Fijians, and  oppose all of Bainimarama's intended reforms*. Their real purpose, of course, is not the protection of Fijian land and custom, but the protection of power and privilege for the sections of the Fijian elite of which they approve.

The fears, of course, are quite unfounded, as the nationalists know full well.  Eight Acts of Parliament protected Fijian, Rotuman and Banaban customary rights, and the 1997 Constitution ensured there was no way of amending these acts unless the overwhelming majority of Fijian leaders wanted change.

The Acts in question are the Fijian Affairs Act, Fijian Development Fund Act, Native Lands Act, N…