Showing posts from October 25, 2009

(+) Sayed-Khaiyum on Press Freedom and Journalists' Responsibilities

Those criticizing the Government for its restrictions on the media should at least consider the points raised by the Attorney-General and decide which, if any, they can fault.  Click here for the link to Pacific Scoop.

I'm informed a group of journalists have objected to Khaiyum being allowed to speak to journalism students at USP because of his "lies". A friend comments: "So we have the rather disturbing notion that journalists should fight censorship with their own censorship!! Whatever happened to the belief that journalists should 'get all sides of a story'? This surely begins at journalism schools where they have guest speakers from all sides of debate."

(G) Five Years Not Enough, Says Bainimarama

I had a touch of nerves when I read this FijiLive heading but was somewhat, though not entirely, reassured when I read on. Bainimarama said the military does not have enough time to achieve its plans and objectives before the 2014 elections but -- “The elections must and will be held in 2014 just as we have promised our people.” Addressing a parade at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks, he reminded the soldiers of their mission to bring about a united Fiji. "We don’t want to return Fiji in a very bad state where hatred still exists amongst the people, the different ethnicities, and religious groups. We do not want to be part of that!” he said, adding that critics were delaying the process. “I will be talking to you often about the challenges posed by people who want us to return to the ways of the past,” he told the soldiers.

Across town,   People's Charter Advisory Council chairman and PSC Chairman Josefa Serulagilagi was warning  permanent secretaries they would lose their jobs i…

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. Theyremind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.

Vanuatu kava is potent

The reason for the yaqona (kava) surplus in Fiji is because yaqona suppliers are importing the Vanuatu species of the yaqona plant. This species is mixed with the Fijian plant to give it potency. Having spoken to fellow grog drinkers, we are of the opinion that the Vanuatu species gives you a headache. While we are all different and yaqona affects us differently, it is no coincidence that many of us have headaches in the morning from consuming Fijian yaqona mixed with the Vanuatu species.

Because yaqona is classified as a food item, I plead with the Ministry of Health to investigate and do tests on the Vanuatu species. Or control its…

(o+-) An American Young Woman in Fiji

American postgraduate student Kelly Schumann spent six weeks in July-August in Fiji doing volunteer work and asking just about everybody she met what they thought of the political situation.

She lived much of her time with a family in Lautoka, had a week at Litivia village, rafted on the Upper Navua, mountain biked in the Nausori Highlands, and spent a short time in Suva where, quite by accident, she met Bainimarama. In all, she visited three islands, two rural villages, two cities and a number of small towns. Most of the people she spent time with were ethnic Fijians.

Her report  "Fiji in the Summer of 2009: Impressions of Society and the Post-Coup Regime" is an honest, in parts insightful, and in some ways a curious document. It is curious because it comprises two accounts that do not quite match. The first account is based on what she actually experienced and heard in Fiji, most of it positive; the second  is based on what she read and viewed after she left, all of it neg…

(G) Cabinet Actions on Just One Day; Public Service Reform Expectations

Yesterday's Cabinet meeting approved: the use of funds to rehabilitate ex-offenders; the Radiation Health and Medical Imaging Technologists Decrees; the development of St Giles Mental Hospital as a regional institution; strategies to revitalise Healthy Islands  programme for Fiji and the Pacific (endorsed in 1995), and the National University Decree. To get a better idea of what Government is doing, much of it not reported in the printed media, go to the Government website.

To read about Government plans and expectations from the public service, that include placing people at the centre of performance and how these plans derive from the People's Charter and the Roadmap for Democracy and Sustainable Socio-Economic Development (RDSSED) 2009-2014 click here. Government says the reforms are needed to "build a strong nation state and, by empowering all our citizens, by fixing up decades of neglected infrastructure, by putting in place sustainable institutions and laws that wi…

(-) Further Concerns About Power of Chief Registrar

The Citizens Constitutional Forum has issued a further news release on this topic.  See my earlier and now updated post "Concerns About Powers of Chief Registrar."

(o) Blog and US Got It a Little Wrong on Religious Freedom

The Coupfourpointfive blog heading reads "US Report Says No Religious Freedom in Fiji" but the US report (and indeed the blog text) pointed to a decline in religious freedom in Fiji, not its demise. The International Religious Freedom Report 2009 by the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor released on October 26 attributed the decline to the Police flirtation with the New Methodists and their Christian Crusades which, we earnestly hope, is now over. 

These matters need to be brought to our attention but the blog should not dramatize the situation with a misleading heading and it should not leave readers unaware the situation has recently improved.  The so-called Christian Crusades -- and, as far as I know, the inclusion of New Methodist  sermons at the compulsory weekly police parades -- have been abandoned.

It does, however, speak poorly of a regime that claims to seek a break from the bigotry of the past that they ever took place.

Snippets: Punja, Post Fiji, NFU, Air Pacific, Reserve Bank, Methodists, PACER

(o-) Hari Punja Blames Government's Vacillating Policies for Fiji Flour Mills Loss ...of$6.4m  on price control measures and what he says were arbitrary government decisions on duties and import policies.  Click here for full report. Photo: Radio Fiji.

(o+) Proposed Rationalisation of Transport 
Talks are under way on the proposed merger of Fiji’s road and motor vehicle regulator, the Land Transport Authority, and the country’s road safety agency, the National Road Safety Council.The merger of several educational institutions into the Fiji National University was reported earlier.

(o+) An Earlier Decision by Post Fiji to Cut Employee Wages...

by 10 percent for ten weeks to cut costs has been rescinded following discussion with the Ministry of Public Enterprises.

(-+) Farmers' Claims Against Military to be Investigated

The Fiji Labour Party reports that Defence Minister, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, has asked the military’s chief of staff to look into claims made by the National Farmers …

(-) Concern about Powers of Chief Registrar


I would welcome comment and advice from informed readers  on this disturbing press release by the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum. CCF is a highly respected NGO that "educates and advocates for the Constitution, democracy, human rights and multiculturalism in Fiji." Readers wishing to learn more about CCF may contact them by email or visit their website.

The danger is that in its haste to spell out its "new legitimacy"  following the Abrogation of the 1997 Consitution, especially with respect to the judiciary on account of the negative actions of the Fiji Law Society,  Government may - or may not - have foreseen how some of its decrees could be used to curtail the rights of those it claims to protect.   Either way, CCF has raised an issue that requires an answer.

Decree Gives Superior Powers to the Chief Registrar

The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) expresses concern that a Decree gazetted on 20 July 2009 ha…

(o) Fiji's Three Universities: Everything's Political in a Way

USP, the University of the South Pacific,  is the oldest (1968) and largest university in Fiji but it is not a Fiji university. It is owned by the governments of its 12 member countries: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Samoa. Australia, NZ and the UK have been major donors since inception and are represented on the University Council.  The main, Laucala, campus is in Suva, and there is a campus in all member countries. A look at a map of the Pacific Ocean gives some idea of the immense distances covered.

One recent development was that NZ apparently slapped a travel ban on Iqbal Khan, one of the Fiji government's nominated members on the University Council. If this is true, it is most strange. Only the Fiji Government, that puts substantial funds into the University, can nominate its own representatives.  There is at least one earlier instance of gross NZ interference in the proper management of  Uni…