Forum MCG Meeting, Text 01, FNPF Loss, Typhoid, Charter, Church-State and Chiefs

FLOP OR NOT? The Auckland Forum meeting yesterday closed with little obvious change in the Forum's stance on Fiji, but channels are to be kept open and the Ministerial Contact Group will visit Fiji within the next five weeks to "see things on the ground." I shall have a substantial opinion piece on what messages can be taken from the meeting today or tomorrow.

(G) PM'S 01 TEXT SERVICE a HIT
.So far 237 queries have been received from the public on the Prime Minister's 01 text service. Most queries and complaints were about water supply, the time police took to process cases. and road conditions. Agencies are given 24 hours to responde or take action, and if they don't a message is sent to the respective permanent secretary.  Condensed from Ministry of Information release. photo:mediabistro.com

"It's the PM's eyes and ears on the ground,"says Personal Staff Officer PMO, Capt Rokoura, adding that the 01 unit "is essentially a command, monitoring, coordinating unit. We monitor, we coordinate, and we direct, that's why it's effective." The public can also email the PM at pmsoffice@rocketmail.com

WHY THE FNPF LOSS? The Fiji National Provident Fund has announced a net loss of $181.15 million for the 2009 financial year http://www.fijilive.com/news_new/index.php/news/show_news/26033 saying it would have recorded a net surplus of $146.49 million if it had not been for the fund’s recently announced $320 million write off.

TOURISM AND TYPHOID
. Tourism Fiji chairman Patrick Wong said there is "no cause for alarm [for tourists] at this stage as the typhoid outbreak is confined to Navosa only and the Ministry is closely monitoring the situation." No new cases have been reported in the area but there are previously unreported cases in Wainunu, Bua province, in Fiji's other "big" island, Vanua Levu.

EMPLOYERS SAY FNPF UNREASONABLE. The Fiji National Provident Fund is going too far in trying to recover $7.65million in contributions owed by employers says the Fiji Employers Federation.[I'd be interested to know if readers agree.]

OFF-SHORE DEBT THREAT TO ECONOMY.The IMF thinks the US$150m debt taken out by the Qarase government will be difficult to repay next year unless GDP and export growth improve, and this needs economic reforms that may not go down well with the public.

CAKAUDROVE, REWA AND THE CHARTER. Cakaudrove Provincial Council reports that it will decide soon on whether to support the People's Charter. Rewa has yet to decide whether to discuss the matter. Many provinces now support the Charter. Government says it respects their deicision but the PM previously warned those who do not support the work of government to step aside and not try to stand in its way.

STATE-CHURCH RELATIONS AND THE GREAT COUNCIL OF CHIEFS. Scroll down to new Na Sala Cava questions on these topics. For earlier topics, click on the link to our companion blog in the left column.

Comments

Phone a friend said…
Croz
What a great idea the dictator has giving out his cell phone number. Real nation building stuff. Croz can you pass the number on so Mr Key and Mr Smith can give him a quick sori sori call for rattling his cage? I also need to contact him re my blocked drain and ET needs to call home.
Flop or not? Definitely flop said…
So now Frank has said that the Aussie and Kiwi foreign ministers aren't welcome in Suva so that's the end of that. Why on earth Smith and McCully made the gratuitous statements they did is quite beyond me. You don't insult your prospective host and then expect a welcoming kiss on both cheeks, at least not in the Pacific. These guys have no idea. Frank is right. The only reason Australia and NZ want to "re-engage" is because they sense the game is getting away from them. Next month, a parade of the most important Pacific leaders will be enjoying Frank's hospitality in Suva. And McCully and Smith have had the door slammed in their faces. Idiots.
White Frangipani said…
I think it is "Phone a friend said's" cage who is rattled here!

The NZ and Oz government are being so unpredictably colonial in their attitude towards Fiji. How many more times do they have to be told that there will not be any election before 2014? I didn't see a worse situation in Fiji when I visited last month. In fact Fiji has never looked so good. Mind you we were out and about meeting all sorts of Fijian people and expats from all walks of life. The Fiji that the Oz Foreign Minister Stephen Smith described is not the Fiji we just visited 12 days ago. I reckon he should fire whoever is advising him because they are not doing their job properly. Sitting in front of the computer in an air conditioned office (and probably bugging phones) is not how you find out what is really going on.
Joe said…
How many times do people have to be told that the election is in 2014? IT IS TWO THOUSAND AND FOURTEEN. Get it?
Colonial? Gimme a break said…
White frangipani, I agree with everything you say except for your use of the word colonial. It's just not true to say that Australia and NZ object to what's happening in Fiji because they want to impose their sovereignty on the country. They want a stable, functioning democracy and an end to illegal rule. If the court of appeal hadn't declared Frank's coup illegal and upheld his right to govern, I'm sure none of this would be happening. Sure, they didn't like the overthrow of Qarase in 2006 but the law would have taken its course and they would have had to accept it. That doesn't mean they're right because they don't understand that there was no alternative to prevent the marginalisation of 40 per cent of the population by a racist government. But I get very irritated when people throw up the word colonial as some kind of pejorative term like all those misguided left-wing types from the 1960s. Colonial rule in Fiji was pretty enlightened, as a matter of fact, as anyone old enough to remember when Britain ran the joint knows only too well. Don't be sucked in by revisionist nonsense that says otherwise.
White Frangipani said…
I am sorry that "Colonial? Gimme a break" is feeling a bit irritated by the word Colonial. I was talking about attitude. NZ and Oz do want to impose their form of democracy on Fiji. Democracy here in NZ isn't that great in any case. MMP has been a "dog" with the "tail" (minority parties)wagging the "dog". Did the Colonials really do such a good job in Fiji?
Yes, the colonial era was pretty good said…
Yes, White Frangipani, by and large the "colonials" did do a good job in Fiji. First and foremost, they had the foresight to learn from their mistakes in Australia and NZ and protect indigenous Fijians from a rapacious attempted land grab by white settlers. The then governor, Sir Arthur Gordon, was under intense pressure to allow settlers vast swathes of the country but stood firm on the side of the Fijian people. The fact that more than a century on. they have inalienable right to more than 80 per cent of Fiji's land surface is a testament to the decency of the British. And remember, Britain didn't force itself on Fiji. Queen Victoria was personally invited to take possession of the country in an act of free choice by Seru Cakobau and the other chiefs who signed the Deed of Cession in 1874. Of course, not everything about colonial rule was good. The introduction of Indian indentured labourers to work in the Australian owned cane fields sowed the seeds of a problem that bedevils the country to this day. And many white people had an appalling sense of superiority towards other races right up until the 1960s. But all in all, the British had a huge amount of affection and an acute sense of responsibility for the welfare the Fijian people in particular. And they did everything they could to ensure that Indo Fijians also had a permanent stake in the country. Many Indo Fijians, even today, have a chip on their shoulders about the British, partly arising from the struggle for independence in India. But a lot of that resentment is also because the British wouldn't side with Indo Fijian politicians like AD Patel in insisting on one man one vote, something that would have made Fiji the "little India" some Indo Fijians dreamed of. Why do so many ordinary people in Fiji, even today, have such affection for the Queen and Peritania (Britain) generally? It's because they entrusted Queen Victoria and her successors to look after their interests and it was a promise kept. When Britain gave us independence in 1970, it had done everything possible to give us the best possible start. Anyone who lived through the immediate post independence years will remember what a fantastic country we were. Tragically, we messed it up and are still trying to get ourselves back on track. But we messed it up all by ourselves and anyone who points the finger at "colonialism" as the reason for Fiji's ills is in denial and a fool. As a nation, we have an unfortunate tendency to look for scapegoats when the real reason for our misfortune lies within.
sara'ssista said…
Am i hearing this correctly... it is as if these commentators have chosen 2014 themselves to be the date, as if they were consulted??? There opinion mattersa s much to the tin pot dictatioor as it does to others i would imagine. Oh and BTW Fiji needs others in the region with money..having nauru there and others who all get their money from the aus nz us and eu is hardly worth having unless they are prepared to bankroll this illegal self-appointed military regime.At some point this regime will have suck up to a power whether it be the tradtional bankers for the region or some other power like china. i say go for it. Yo reap what you sew, but be prepared to bend over coz it's gonna hurt.
Fiji - QE2's birthday present? said…
‘Yes, Colonial Era’ gives a well articulated commentary on the benefits and evils that came with British colonialism.

To back up that commentary with some financial figures, here (courtesy of the IMF) is a list of Fiji, Malaysia and South Korea’s GDP in US$ since 1980:

year Fiji Malaysia Korea
1980 $ 1,942 $ 1,812 $ 1,689
1985 $ 1,648 $ 2,026 $ 2,414
1990 $ 1,891 $ 2,432 $ 6,308
1995 $ 2,652 $ 4,358 $ 11,779
2000 $ 2,118 $ 4,030 $ 11,347
2005 $ 3,519 $ 5,319 $ 17,551
2006 $ 3,599 $ 5,951 $ 19,707
2007 $ 3,916 $ 6,942 $ 21,653
2008 $ 4,075 $ 8,118 $ 19,162
2009 $ 3,464 $ 6,897 $ 17,074

Perhaps those figures are unpalatable to some, but it would be a shame if, just to make ourselves feel better about our work and education ethic, a comparison had to be made between say Fiji, Burma and Zimbabwe

Since 1980, 10 years after independence, is the year the comparison was started we can safely say we stuffed up all by ourselves.
What a waste! said…
Wow, that's amazing that Fiji was effectively richer than South Korea and Malaysia in 1980. I hadn't realised that. What a shocking indictment of us all and the way we squandered the opportunities we had. And to think we had so much promise! Thanks very much for this. Very sad.
Short memories said…
I remember many people crying the moment they lowered the Union Jack for the last time in Fiji. So don't talk to me about the evils of colonialism. The British weren't perfect but everyone knew they'd done their best for Fiji and its people. And we were sad to see them go. You can't dictate this kind of affection, It came from the heart and continues to this day. Why does Frank have a picture of the Queen above his desk? And why do you find photos of her, Charles and even Diana in homes all over Fiji? Because we really respected them and the way Britain looked after us. I get really angry when people try to blame the white man for what's happened in Fiji. Yes, we trashed our own country and only have ourselves to blame.
Flash of nostalgia said…
It makes me sad to reflect on the relative nobility of the British civil servants who came to Fiji when we were a colony and the lack of nobility of our predominately white neighbours now in their attitude to our present woes. I remember that in the 1960s, most white people in Fiji were gripped with a sense of contributing to something very special - the imminent birth of a multiracial country that had everything going for it. Sure, there were the usual number of deadbeats and drunks and the usual temptations of young flesh that saw more than a few wives leave suddenly with the children. But all in all, it was a fantastic time - full of promise and hope. Most the the British were pretty high minded, even with their occasional pecadillos, and certainly weren't exploitative in the way of the kai valagi sharks of more modern times. As an end of empire kid myself, we respected the Fijian people and their chiefs and although we were racially segregated in our schools, were genuinely colour blind. Ask anyone who was here at independence in 1970 and they'll tell you the same thing. No country has ever been born with so much goodwill, both from the coloniser and the colonised and between ordinary people generally. It was a glorious time of idealism and promise and I just wish we could recapture that spirit now. Who knows? Maybe with a bit of work, we can.

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