Short Briefs: Methodists, School Names, Fiji Times, Tuilaepa, Fairer Lease Payments, Sugar
(o) Methodist Leaders Defied PM: Which Way Will the Dice Fall? Seven of the 27 churchmen charged with breaking the Public Emergency Regulations face an additional charge of disobeying a directive given during a meeting with the Prime Minister, when he ordered them not to hold the Church conference in 2009. Following the meeting, the Church leaders, who included President Reverend Ame Tugaue and General Secretary Tuikilakila Waqairatu (Photo: Fiji Live), met with the Marama Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa in Lomanikoro, Rewa, the hostess and site of the intended Conference, to discuss the Commander’s decision. Prosecutors claim this was a futher breach of the PERs.The Defence lawyer said they needed more time to respond to the additional charge.
Opinion. It would seem Government intends to maintain pressure on the Church in the hope that the top leaders (who oppose the People's Charter and the Government Roadmap) will resign (which they have refused to do) or be replaced (which can only be done at an Annual Conference.) Meanwhile, the ongoing publicity given to the Church leaders is just as likely to win them fresh support as to result in their dismissal, one way or another. Many people know the Church has been heavily political for many years, but there's no way of knowing which way this particular dice will fall. One wonders whether the "additional charge" was really necessary.
(+) School Names that Denote Racial Affiliations, but not schools named after prominent people, are to go. Education Minister Filipe Bole said the move was part of Government's plan to “develop a common national identity and build social cohesion” in line with Pillar 2 of the People's Charter. The Minister noted the media is already referring to Fiji citizen as Fijians, irrespective of their ethnicity.
(-) The Attorney General is Dreaming! The A-G says Government assumes The Fiji Times is "happy" with the proposed Media Decree change that limits foreign ownership to ten percent which would leave the Times having to find new owners or close down. This blog accepts the need to limit foreign ownership but it urges Government to increase the foreign stake to 30-40 percent.
Samoa’s PM Tuilaepa now says Bainimarama has no say or business with either the Forum or its secretariat. He should leave Forum issues to the bonafide elected leaders as small-time unelected thugs are not welcome. He said calling the Commodore a Prime Minister is like calling a scrawny chicken a soaring eagle. [These thoughtful words come to you via RadioNZ International, ever ready to report consequential news on the Pacific. Older NZ readers will remember the days when a leading 6 o'clock news item might be that Prince Charles had a cold!]
(+) Backdated Compensation. An estimated 1,200 public servants injured during working hours will be paid all outstanding claims backdated to 2001. That's right, 2001! Following a February directive by PM Bainimarama to clear the backlog, some 823 of 2,201 cases were settled within five weeks. The remaining cases should be settled by the end of May. Institutional reform and an improved public service are part of Government's Roadmap.
(+) Fairer Lease Payouts. The Land Reforms Committee is looking at ways to ensure fairer payouts to members of landowning units, many of whom have complained their clan heads get the bulk of the lease money. The rest of them have to equally share what is left.
Large-Scale Sugarcane Farms? FSC CEO Deo Saran says `the farmers must become more commercial and profitable to meet modern day demands. Restoring confidence in the industry and inspiring young people to get into cane farming is the way forward for the industry. He announced the FSC is also looking to develop large scale commercial cane farms that will better handle future challenges. Saran welcomed the Fiji National University initiative to offer a a course in Sugar Productionfor comprising 1 year of theory and 2 years of practical training.
Psychotherapist Selina Kuruleca said there was evidence that young people are influenced by the lyrics of songs and violence in movies. She said the entertainment media has the potential to influence negative and positive behaviours, but values taught from a young age would help young people choose between the right and wrong. The particular relevance here is that many of the "values" that have divided Fiji are also taught from a young age.