Vou dance groups' principal dancer has been refused a entry permit to perform in Auckland Pacific Festival. This is an international festival organized by our Pacific Islands community and should be exempt from the bans.
Photo: Fiji Times.
NZ readers are urged to write, email and otherwise contact their MPs and any others, including the festival organizers, who may help to reverse this appalling decision, and if this is too late, to record their protest. We note that often-quoted Nik Naidu of the Auckland-based Coalition for Democracy is reported by RadioNZ to have said the decision is "fair." Does anyone know how many members Nik's group has, and how representative it is of the Auckland Fiji community? I continue to press for more flexibility in the bans, which most informed observers now agree have been ineffective and counter-productive. The festival starts tomorrow March 6.
No vote, we're playing Australian Rules. Jenny Hayward-Jones seems to think Australian aid gives it a claim to lead Pacific nations. "This is the only region," she says, "that Australia - which is giving more than $1 billion of development assistance this year - can reasonably claim to lead." Well, I never!
The Fiji Times reported "a charged silence followed by outpourings of disbelief" when the assessors' verdicts were read in the High Court on Wednesday, while "Ratu Inoke was a picture of stoic acceptance and so were the other accused, politely nodding while dealing with apologetic handshakes and embraces."
The Times, that has until now been rather sparse with its court coverage, did, however, have the good grace to note that the jam-packed courtroom included family members of the accused, a following from the legal fraternity, and members of SDL party. But I wonder: if censors were responsible for its earlier lack of coverage, why did they allow this?
One anti-government blog chose to report what Ballu Khan had to say (but not Judge Madigan) while another called it a kangaroo court, despite the fact that the decision of all five Assessors was unamimous, and all five had been accepted by both prosecution and defence lawyers. I fear that dialogue with such bloggers, and the people they speak for, is pointless. Their minds are set in concrete. Perhaps more generally this is what Bainimarama has already decided. There' s little point asking a concrete or brick wall for an opinion.
Tourism. There were Some 45,362 visitor arrival in January, an increase of 38% on January last year, despite negative publicity in the main source countries. Australia still topped the list (up 65%) ; New Zealand was up 50%, UK/Europe up 22%, USA up 4%, Taiwan up 219% percent from a small base, and several other Asian countries showed increases. Visitors from Japan, Canada and the Pacific Island countries declined 13%. The figures indicate a welcome return to normal after 2009, that had the "worst figures in recent years." Jetstar will soon join other airlines (Air Pacific, Air NZ, Qantas, V Australia and Pacific Blue) flying into Nadi.
Modest economic recovery. Fiji’s economy is expected to make a modest 1.9 percent recovery in 2010. The positive outlook fis supported by economic recovery in selected trading partner countries, with an expected pick up in export demand and higher visitor arrivals.
The Ministry of Provincial Development is seeking to complete major projects -- better roads, water, electricity supply and farming assistance -- some of which were promised by previous governments. This is part of the Roadmap.
Free advertising? Many blogs, including some anti-government blogs, include advertising for which blog their publishers are paid. I am considering including non-obtrusive free advertising for companies that help the Fiji economy. What do readers think?