Village "Floggings," Blog Vandals, IMF/ADB & the "Democracy" Lobby, Land Reform, Pubic Service Exhibition
Scroll down to see new Na Sala Cava questions. Which path forward for Fiji?
Click on "Comments" below to see what at least one person is prepared to do to disrupt dialogue between moderately-minded readers. See also below "Blog Vandals at Work Again."
VILLAGE FLOGGINGS? JUNGLE LAW? The Village By-Laws proposed by Government have produced much media misinformation.
Increased village lawlessness has prompted government to give village leaders and bose vakoro (village meetings) the power to punish villagers for less serious crimes. More serious offences will still be dealt with by the police. The proposed bylaws, based on those used in the colonial period, are being considered by provincial, tikina and village councils prior to their probable adoption on June 25th. They have provisions on dress codes, students being home by 6pm, making parents responsible for their studies between 7-8pm, building a house and maintaining a garden by men intending to marry, and showing respect for village elders. Photo: justpacific.com
The story was reasonably reported by the Fiji Times except for one important exception.It claimed that "villagers who break the law will be flogged in public under proposed village bylaws." This prompted the Indigenous Affairs Department to say the "colonial" flogging provision was not in the proposed by-law. "It never had flogging or public whipping of villagers as a form of punishment in the proposed village by-laws." The Department was also concerned that "one of the dailies" [The Fiji Times] had referred to "Jungle Laws" in its headline.
By then, of course, the cat was out of the bag and the damage already done. Among those expressing concern about the laws was Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre Coordinator, Shamima Ali, interviewed by RadioNZ International (Yes, it's them again) who decried the flogging, curfew and "restrictions on women's behaviour [that]... will make women and children more vulnerable." Shamima and RadioNZ should have checked the story before condemning by-law provisions that did not exist. As for the Fiji Times, the foreign media and anti-government blogs? They're lapping up the cat's milk.
ANNOUNCEMENT. NA SALA CAVA? All readers are urged to comment and read other people's comments on this new feature on ways to take Fiji forward. Questions #4 and #5, on a national pledge and representation of the smaller ethnic groups in a non-race based electoral system, are published below. Comments on topics #1-3 are now posted on the new Na Sala Cava, Which Path Forward for Fiji website. Access by clicking the directions logo in the left column or by clicking here.
BLOG VANDALS AT WORK AGAIN. This is one of the few Fiji political blogs that allows comments and the only one, I think, to allow readers to comment directly without the publisher first verifying the comment. All reasonably expressed comments are published, irrespective of their political standpoint. This is my interpretation of freedom of the press. See Comment Rules tag at the top of the page.
Now see the comments added to yesterday's posting that are clearly intended to sabotage serious comments by readers. When this happened some weeks ago, I thanked the anti-Government FijiToday editor Peter Firkin, that he said was also being sabotaged, for telling me the sabotage was carried out by a USP-based person paid by the military. Now I am less convinced. My gut-feeling is that the culprit (or culprits) are strongly opposed to the Fiji government, and intolerant towards any blog or blog comment that seeks a "way forward."
If the vandal attacks continue, I may need to stop "instant" commenting and verify all comments before publication. This will be a small inconvenience, but it should not deter readers with genuine comments. My comments always have a photo.
THE S0-CALLED FIJI DEMOCRACY LOBBY is urging the International Monetary Fund to reject Fiji's application for a $500 million loan. Once again we have RadioNZ International to thank for this information. The station seems to be well "plugged in" to the most extreme anti-government blogs, in this case Australian-based Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement blog run by Usaia Waqatairewa. Ignore Usaia's protestations about the difficulty of loan repayment. If he thought it would help the Fiji government in any way, he'd even oppose the cost of a bottle of Fiji Water.
THE ASIA DEVELOPMENT BANK will adopt a "wait and see" as Fiji consults the International Monetary Fund for a $1billion loan.
LAND REFORM TO BE FAST TRACKED. A report by the Land Reform Committee scheduled for September may now be released in June due to the insistence of the PM. Bainimarama says it is important to change the mindset of potential cane farmers, especially after the impact of the recent hurricane and floods. Fast tracking the land reform will encourage these potential farmers and give them confidence to go into cane farming to be able to fulfill the requirements of the revamped sugar mills." One concern of tenants has been the 30 year lease maximum. The PM is hoping landowners will approve some leases as long as 90 years which would encourage more to take up commercial farming and make it easier to obtain bank loans.
PUBLIC SERVICE EXHIBITION. Government is urging the public have been urged to make full use of the Public Service Exhibition Week to obtain information about services provided and also offer suggestions on how best the government can improve its service.