Military Arrest Bottle Collectors, and Other Stories

Breaking News. Military Arrest Bottle Collectors.  Check out this breaking news.
Other news. "Kevin Rudd [is] to learn Fijian dialect after Mandarin. Aims to learn dialects of nations with strict media controls."
Still more. A new survey that shows a "list of positive contributions to this country by Fiji Times. Being used as lunch wrapper hits it at # 1."

At long last, a political satire to make us laugh. Namuamua is back. 
Check out the site. If it continues as good as this, we can expect to see  Dorsami Naidu and Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum laughing at the same article. And perhaps even Qarase and Bainimarama? No. That would be going too far.

(o) Old Hand Tells of Working for the Fiji Times. Not all as it may seem.

Check out Blog Comments. People should be careful about what they write about others on a blog.  They can be sued for defamation according to this article in the NZHerald which defined a defamatory statement as "one that tends to lower the person in the estimation of right-thinking members of society, or which tends to cause him or her to be shunned or avoided, or which tends to cause a person to be exposed to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or which is a false statement about a person to his or her discredit."

 (o) Blog on Blog. See what Whaleoil  said about Croz Walsh being "dumped" by RadioNZ, and NZ's hypocritical stance on Fiji.  The blog article finished with "If we want to see elections in 2014 then the best thing New Zealand can do is help the Com­modore not hinder him like we are doing at present."  

(+) Leases on Native Land. Two-thirds of the 6,406 cane farms where leases expired between 1997 and 2010 are back in use. Most leases have been renewed with existing tenants, others with new tenants, a few leases have been subdivided for subsistence and cane farming, 1,670 have reverted to the landowners, and 374 leases “were still in the process”. The loss of productive land land to industrial and residential use has been a major constraint lon the sugar industry. Other constraints include milling inefficiency, transportation, and skills and labour losses. The FijiLive article reports several proposals to increase sugar production.

(o) Pacific Conference of Churches calls for "just politics."

(+) Government will change the Native Land Trust Act or its regulations if the existing laws creates bottlenecks in Government’s efforts to utilize all available land for the economic benefit of landowners and the country. The Permanent Secretary to the Prime Ministers Office Col Pio Tikoduadua  said government is targeting all land lying vacant or idle, that can be put to economic use. To quicken the process government may work outside of the NLTB and negotiate directly with the landowners and investors.

If necessary government will change the law to allow landowners to reap the best possible benefit from the land that belongs to them. "That," said Tikoduadau, "is our intention".

(o) Conflict and Disputes hinder Mahogany and Timber Use.
A Fiji government paper on the forestry sector says conflicts within the industry have been a “huge stumbling block” for the development of the mahogany industry in particular.The paper said disputes over lease conditions, land ownership, stumpage/royalty charges by the Native Land Trust Board and allegations against operators “have been a persistent problem”. This had resulted in a new direction being set for the industry with Cabinet agreeing in June 2008 to transfer ownership of mahogany plantations to indigenous landowners through the Fiji Mahogany Trust and the Fiji Hardwood Corporation Ltd taking on the new role of forest manager.

(o) Most Villagers in Debt, No Idea of Loans.  A UNDP survey of 14 Naitasiri villages  revealed over 80% of households are in debt and "financial literacy is very low."

(-) Australia Comments on Fiji Tourism but this photo is definitely not Fiji.

(+) PM Tour of Lomaiviti
continues this week with visits to the island of Gau, Nairai, Batiki, Makogai and Moturiki. President  Ratu Epeli Nailatikau is expected to tour the Lau Group in the near future.

Comments

Jon said…
So – government is now going to change the existing land lease law to ensure the NLTB Act doesn’t apply if it is seen to be getting in the way.

There’s the usual justification for this selective abuse of process, ignoring a law which, despite some faults, has worked pretty well for the past 70 years and which has prevented the undoubted anarchy that would have prevailed if developers had been allowed to do their own negotiations with landowners in the past.

That justification is ‘Change the law to allow for the landowners to reap the best possible benefit from the land that belongs to them.’ This is laudable in principle but will, I’m sure, be shown to be derisible in practice since it potentially throws open the gate to anyone (or is it only government ones …?) to negotiate direct with landowners.

Land is the most emotive subject in Fiji and the obvious end result of selectively ignoring the law or re writing it to suit certain circumstances at certain times is going to be the anarchy that has been staved off by general regard for the sanctity of NLTB leases.

As an example, in the late 80’s the developers of Denarau Island (EIE and its contractors) tried to ignore the law and, in negotiating terms for land fill with very willing landowners, sidelined the NLTB. Several months later this was rectified but by then the landowners (who had pocketed some of the 25% administration fee that would otherwise have been paid to NLTB) found that they had lost huge amounts of topsoil since no EIA had been carried out. Short term gain for long term pain.

If the laws which were enacted to safeguard the landowners in the first place are now selectively ignored, landowners run the risk of being done down in future negotiations. Equally, the more militant landowner units, advised by bush lawyers will cause untold grief for developers, resort owners and private householders to the long term benefit of no one.

By all means streamline the NLTB, investigate and prosecute corrupt practices that its officers might have been guilty of, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

It’s all very well to try to set the stage for the FMF political party to successfully stand for election in 2014, but the misguided and ultimately ignorant comment about law change made by Tikoduadua is going to resonate far beyond an immediate populist appeal to landowners.

It could well put further doubt in the minds of potential investors of the security of leasehold land and that will kill any future gold egg-laying geese.
Proud fijian said…
I have been waiting for the bottle collectors after my weekend carousing.

No wonder they didn't turn up yesterday.
Croz Walsh said…
Jon,
Thanks for this thoughtful piece. I'm reprinting it Saturday pm because I think it deserves more prominence. Cheers, Croz
joe said…
It may be better for Kevin to learn about the realities on the ground in Fiji, than the dialects, at this point in time. However, learning words like 'madua', 'soro', 'veivosaki', 'veilomani', 'turaga kei na marama mai Viti', 'mata ni vanua', etc may be a good start.

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