Showing posts from October 18, 2009

(o) New Zealand Celebrates Labour Day

Labour Day is celebrated all over the world, usually on May 1st. New Zealand's Labour Day is celebrated  in the third week of October.  This weekend is NZ's Labour Day weekend and Monday is a public holiday. It commemorates a day in 1840 when carpenter Samuel Parnell won a world-leading eight-hour day for workers in the Wellington settlement: “It must be on these terms or none at all!” he said.

To see videos on NZ's labour history -- and hundreds of videos on other topics -- visit  the free NZOnScreen website.  For a centre-left interpretation of events in NZ, visit Scoop.  It is sometimes refreshing to see the world differently than the usually right-wing media.  For a damning video on how TV1 and TV3 twist the news to improve their ratings, link to this Scoop story.   Not relevant to Fiji? Don't believe it. Everything is interconnected, some things more than others.

Bainimarama: The "I am a Nationalist" Debate

PM Bainimarama made yet another of his unclear, so-easily-misinterpreted statements last week. He said ""I am a nationalist, Fiji for the Fijians, for, even Indians" leaving us all wondering what on earth he meant. 

The term "nationalist" in Fiji usually means an extreme or ultra-nationalist who in putting ethnic Fijian rights first, makes all others second class citizens. The term "Fijian" usually means ethnic Fijian but the draft People's Charter recommends it as the name for all Fiji citizens.  And what on earth did he mean  by "even Indians?" I have no idea.

For a release on his statement, and very informative and interesting comments on the statement, click here for the Coupfourpointfive website.

My own views?  There's nothing sinister in the remark but he desperately needs a public relations officer.  The stakes are too high and the issues too important to allow them to be defined by ambiguous off-the-cuff remarks.

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.

Slashing Imports

The Reserve Bank of Fiji governor Mr. Sada Reddy wants imports to be slashed by 87 percent.  It’s not as easy as that. Rice, potato, lamb, beef, milk amongst other things are all imported. Local production in insufficient.Sheep projects have being an ongoing thing for almost fifty years. Copies of the Fiji Times dating back to the 60s tell you this. Nawaicoba Research Station is one of them.

May I ask if we will be doing research for the rest of our lives? Will we ever be able to say that research is over and farming can begin? Then we can say thank you to New Zealand and Australia for the support they gave us over the years, and they in t…

(o) New Zealand Acts Justly and Sensibly: Anjala Wati and Infant Son Granted Medical Visa

If only my country were more often as wise and compassionate.

Read all about it by clicking here.

(o+) Australia and New Zealand May Be Pushing Too Hard and Too Soon

UPDATE FROM FIJI. Click  here.

Australia and NZ continue to push for greater speed to establish a Pacific free trade agreement that will include all PI Forum countries. As more PACER Plus* talks get underway in Cairns today and tomorrow -- without Fiji -- Oxfam NZ executive director, Barry Coates (photo), warns that any rigid free trade deal would mean a loss of government jobs and revenue in the region and worsen poverty and health problems.

"What is needed," he said, " is an economic cooperation agreement, with the Pacific’s development at its core. The first step should be proper consultations with business and community groups within the island countries. A rush to start negotiations without this preparation could cause irreparable damage to the islands’ economies and their development prospects."

Fiji Foreign minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, echoes Oxfam's concern, and has called on Pacific island countries to exercise “the fullest extent of caution” in thei…

Snippets: Aussies Warm to Fiji, Economy Downs But Some Ups, Tourism, New NGO

(o) Aussies Feel Warm Towards Fiji
Australian Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Duncan Kerr, is pleased a recent Lowry Institute survey showed Australians still feel warmly towards Fiji. Kerr said this showed they were able to distinguish between Fiji's people and its military-based government. Possibly. But the poll asked nothing about causes, and Australians who approve what the Fiji Government is attempting to do would also presumably feel warmly towards Fiji. Warm cuddles usually have little to do with politics, of any persuasion.

(-) Economy in "Terrible State"
Former USP and ANU Professor Ron Duncan's  report to the Lowry Institute says the Fiji "economy is in a terrible state." Sugar, bottled water and garment industries are all doing poorly, tourism is still not raking in the desired results in terms of revenue and remittances are down as a result of the global financial crisis. He is not sure the earlier Fiji Reserve Bank decision …

(o+) Getting Personal: Anjala Wati and My Experiences of Some Immigration Officials

See Comments to "Snippets: NZ Immigration ..." (Click COMMENTS under the post)

One reader commenting on my post on Anjala Wati* said he/she would prefer to believe the NZ High Commission's side of the story rather than that of the Aiyaz Khaiyum, the Attorney General. I can understand this position. The reasonable assumption is that Immigration at a High Commission office makes just and sensible judgments.

My experience suggests this is not always the case. Give some minor officials a taste of power and they can behave in unbelievable ways.  I will give  three personal immigration examples.

(+) More on Ratu Naiqama: Chiefly and Clerical Abuse of Power

Letter from a Reader

Dear Croz,   Your recent report on Paramount chief Turaga Na Tui Cakau Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu was well-put. Even so, you missed a more recent episode in his chiefly career:

Towards the end of August last year (2008), the National Council for Building a Better Fiji (NCBBF) offered to explain the draft Peoples Charter to participants at the annual Methodist Church Conference; however the offer was rejected by the church’s ‘Think Tank’, shortly thereafter resulting in the church [read, ‘it’s leaders’] rejecting the draft Charter. Immediately following the rejection, the heads of all three confederacies (Ro Teimumu Kepa – Burebasaga; Ratu Naiqama – Tovata; Ratu Apenisa Cakobau – Kubuna) presented a tabua to the Methodist Church as a token of their support for the church’s stance on the Charter.

This act was perceived as the chiefs using the Methodist Church and their own symbolic status to promote the interests of the SDL (the three are open supporters) – and by ac…

Snippets: NZ Immigration; AusAid, Journalism & Democracy; Aussies Study Pacific

Compassion Please, New Zealand
Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum has accused NZ  of denying a medical entry visa for Hon. Anjala Wati (photo), a judge in the Family Court, who is seeking to bring her 20-month old child to New Zealand for an urgent eye operation to prevent the permanent loss of eyesight in one eye. Arrangements had already been made with Auckland's Starship Hospital for children.  Khaiyum said she was advised of this decision in an "undignified and disrespectful manner."

But a spokesperson for NZ Immigration said the visa was lodged late last week and a decision is yet to be made. My understating is that it normally takes at least 14 working days to issue visas, so Khaiyum could  be jumping the gun.  Let us hope  NZ will show good sense and compassion in this case.  Fiji needs a family court no less than a women's crisis centre (see story below). Even the Aussies could work that out.

It would be ironic indeed if NZ forestalled help for this child. N…

Snippets: Ratu Naiqama, Fiji Times, FNPF, Pacer Plus

Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu 
Cakaudrove paramount chief, the Tui Cakau Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu (photo) has said all money earned from the province's qoliqoli (traditional fishing grounds) will be used only for education.  It is pleasing to read about Ratu Naiqama talking on fishing, though I doubt he's consulted any of the numerous mataqali who "own" the qoliqoli.

Far better than his support for the army mutiny at Sukanaivalu Barracks in Labasa during the 2000 Speight Coup, or his parliamentary leadership role in 2001 as an ethnic extremist CAMV politican, and far, far better than 2003 when, unbelievably, he called for all political authority to be returned to Fijian chiefs -- like it was before 1874! -- starting with the Great Council of Chiefs replacing Senate.

A Political Item by The Fiji Times!
PM Bainimarama says Rugby Union acting chief executive Keni Dakuidreketi has to resign while he faces corruption charges. FRU chairman Bill Gavoka begs to differs. The Fiji T…

(o+) Mahendra Chaudhry's Diwali Message:

The Leopard Who  Only Appears to Change His Spots

The full text of the FLP leader's message may be read courtesy of RawFijiNews, the anti-Government blog that last year could think of nothing nice to say about him.  How things change, as Chaudhry himself acknowledges in his opening comment, first a biased media (when he was part of the Government), now a media-gagging government (when he is not):

"This year again, as last year, I have been unable to convey to you my message on the auspicious occasion of Deepavali through the media. But the reason for my inability to do so this year is different from that of last year. In 2008 it was because of a hostile and biased print media; this year it is because of the media gag put in place by the interim government on April 10 following the abrogation of the constitution and the imposition of Emergency Rule."
Mahendra Chaudhry is an accomplished politician who most times turns every event to his own advantage. The only time he got …