Media Talks, National Dialogue, EU Sanctions, Methodists, Corruption ....
Government has moderated its position on the Media Decree talks due to start on April 7th next week. Contrary to the earlier announcement that the Fiji Times and FijiTV would not be included, the consultation will be open to all mediastakeholders.
This is a significant move that will be welcomed by all who have urged government to be more flexible, more inclusive and more consulative on a number of issues. It is also good PR. Consultations on the Media Promulgation Decree will be held in Suva on Wednesday, Labasa on Thursday and Lautoka on Saturday. It is expected the the emergency regulations (PER) will be lifted once the Decree is in place.
Photo credit: www.nunodassilva.blogspot.com
National Dialogue Forum. Citizens Constitutional Forum CEO Rev.Akuila Yabaki is one of many people waiting for government to announce a new date for the convening of the National Dailogue Forum delayed from last month due to Hurricane Tomas. “We are unaware of the reasons for the delay but can only hope the process will start as soon as possible because I think many people in Fiji and across the world increasingly agree that this is the one way forward,” he said.
It is possible another cause of delay could be the search of an independent chairperson. The Forum has been described as a preparatory step towards a consultative constitutional forum in 2012, two years out from the elections.
EU extends sanctions. Citing the constitution, human rights and postponed elections, the 27-nation body announced a further six month extention of trade and aid sanctions against Fiji. This means withholding development aid worth about 30 million euros ($44 million) and subsidy payments to sugar farmers amounting to 115 million euros ($169).
Hurting thousands of ordinary Fijians. One can perhaps justify withholding aid money that goes directly to government, but withholding payments to farmers can only hurt them, and the thousands of people of all races employed or paid "downstream" from the sugar industry. Solivakasama, one of the more outrageous anti-government blogs, however, welcomed the decision and said "Fiji needs more sanctions to bring the IG to its grubby knees."
Media continue to lie by omission: Rinakama again. Radio NZI reports that Peceli Rinakama is to appear in court today (Wednesday) charged with breaking the PER emergency regulations. The report omitted two important pieces of information: as he was leaving the Court those charged with the Assassination Plot were found guilty, he shouted at soldiers saying the verdict was a sham, and was later arrested, in the company of several SDL figures, at the home of the convicted high chief. In other words, he had broken the regulations. Such one-eyed reporting further blemishes Radio NZI's already scarred reputation.
Church has failed the country. PM Bainimarama has told Methodist Church leaders that work of reconciliation, fighting poverty and removing racism from Fiji has been taken up by the government, as the church has failed in doing this work as iot concentrated more on politics. In urging the the church to "get back on track" he repeated that some within their ranks, together with a number of chiefs were acting as if they were God – expecting to be served by the people."
Nawadra asks for proof. Methodist Church Assistant General Secretary Reverend Tevita Nawadra has called on the government to provide proof of their current involvement in politics, saying government was talking about the past. " There are so many allegations," he said. "We have been asking them to show us the proof that we are involved in that. If they are bringing old issues from a few years ago, that has passed.” [If the "old issues" have past, one must ask why the Church has not publically renounced them, and why those who caused them remain church leaders?]
Permanent Secretary contracts have been renewed for varying times. In announcing the renewals PSC chairman Josefa Serulagilagi highlighted the importance of effective and visionary leadership.
Larceny 20 months jail. Former Revenue collector Inosi Tuberi has been sentenced to 20 months imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to a charge of larceny by servant. He altered the figures on a cheque and took over $1,200 for personal use.
Worms in the hardware. The Commerce Commission is investigating alleged unscrupulous practices by manufacturers, suppliers and retailers of the hardware sector'. Trade and Commerce Minister Sayed-Khaiyum said, “We have two or three major suppliers of hardware in Fiji and there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest there is anti-competitive behaviour."
Who's Who in Government? This link provides photo of Government ministers and their portfolio responsibilities. They number eleven compared with about 30 Qarase ministers.
Government will support PAFCO. Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayeed-Khaiyum says government will support the ailing PAFCO fishing processing industry based in Levuka on the island of Ovalau. PAFCO employs about 1,000 workers. Women outnumber men five to one; almost all workers are ethnic Fijians, and man commute from villages all round Ovalau and the neighbouring island of Moturiki.
Vulgar announcers. Education Minister Filipe Bole has denounced radio announcers who use colloquial, low-grade expressions and vulgar and offensive terms on air citing with concern the way these terms had been picked up by school children and used in writing and conversation at school. The Minister reminded announcers of the critical role they play in shaping attitudes and values and promised that action will be taken. "The whole nation cannot continue to stomach such filth from narrow-minded and egocentric individuals who would like to engage our children in nothing but absolute garbage."
Georgia and Fiji have signed a joint communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic and consular relations.
Partial privatisation. Cabinet has approved the partial privatisation of the Fiji Electricity Authority and the divestment of the Government Printer.
Hurricane damage costs are now estimated at $63 million, and are expected to rise further.