Aussie Modesty, Pacific Understanding, Ethnic Fijian Generosity, Public Service Outreach
PACIFIC AN AUSTRALIAN LAKE? At the height of the Cold War some American referred to the Pacific as an American lake. Now Australians seem to be doing the same.
In an otherwise informative background article on the Forum meeting to be held in Vila this week, a meeting at which both the Australian PM and Foreign Minister will be absent due to the forthcoming election, The Australian reveals as much or more about how Australia sees itself as it does about how Australia sees the Pacific. The image is certainly not suggestive of an equal relationship. Here are some examples:
Australia's bigger friends and allies, especially the US, take Canberra's lead to manage troublesome issues in the islands and to help guide them to prosperity. [Carving up the world may make for good geopolitics, but "management" and "guidance" is what parents provide to children. Powerful as Australia may be, they are dealing with sovereign nations, not children.]
Former foreign minister Alexander Downer stressed last week that it is our natural sphere of influence. Or it could be, if we paid it more attention. [The article urged greater involvement, and knowledge of the Pacific.]
...no other industrialised country has the Third World on its doorstep in the way the Pacific is on ours. Europe's former colonies are remote by comparison. [Actually, Paris to Algeria is only a little further than Darwin to Port Moresby and London to Lagos not much further than Sydney to Apia. And that's not to mention US proximity to Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America.]
For Australia's policy aims to prevail, it will now need to rely on leadership at the forum summit to come from leaders broadly aligned with Canberra's regional perspective, chiefly New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key and Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who is angling for forum institutions to be shifted to Samoa from suspended Fiji. [It is hoped they do not let big brother down.]
NATADOLA AGAIN. Fiji Live reports nothing new on what Pacific Island Leaders thought and said at last week's Natadola meeting but it provided a useful summary. They supported the Strategic Framework for Change and Roadmap to Democracy and elections in 2014. They were apparently impressed with progress on reforms and initiatives, especially on corruption, rural development, poverty alleviation, education and governance) and noted that nation-building is not a simple process but one that requires a concerted amount of commitment and will to obtain the desired changes that will benefit all communities. They also expressed support for continued engagement, noting that they share similar problems.
INCREDIBLE BUT TRUE. Adi Elisapeci Samununu Waqanivalu of the Wellington Council of Fiji Communities says Fiji's ethnic policy is robbing its indigenous people of their rights. She was not referring to being dispossessed of land, language, beliefs or cultural heritage but to having to share the name 'Fijian' with other citizens from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. The one-name-for-all is an attempt by Government to give all citizens a sense of belonging and equality before the law. Indigenous Fijians, usually, but not in this case, well known for their generosity of spirit, will henceforth be officially known as i-taukei, an indigenous name (which Fijian is not) they have often used for themselves.
The Council intends to canvas the views on ethnic identity of all Fiji people living in New Zealand before it takes a human rights action over the issue. “It’s almost like, I now live in New Zealand, can I call myself a Maori?" said Adi Elisapeci, "And see how much I can insult a Maori by doing that? You know all of a sudden we’ve been sort of shafted and say ’Move over, I’m also called this’, without consultation.”
The Council, formed in April this year, comprises ethnic Fijians, and is closely linked to two Wellington-based anti-government blogsites.
My guess is that Maori would be quite happy to give up or share their name for the bounties that ethnic Fijians in Fiji still possess. In fact, like Fijians, Maori had no common name before the advent of Europeans. The story goes that when asked who they were, they answered, "Maori," ordinary people, implying that it was the strangers who were not ordinary. Sharing a name is surely not too high a price to pay for removing the alienation felt by many Fiji citizens who are not ethnic Fijians.
MINISTRY OF ITAUKEI. The Ministry of Fijian Affairs is now officially known as the Ministry of Itaukei.The Ministry of Itaukei will continue to ensure that the Government will develop, maintain and promote policies that will provide for the continued good governance and welfare of the iTaukei now and into the future.
The legal framework within which the Ministry operates remains the same in terms of covering the Itaukei Affairs Act and Regulations, the Native Lands & Fisheries Commission Act, and the Native Lands Act. -- based on 2010 No:1137/MOI.
DOING THE ROUNDS.The routine monthly meetings of permanent secretaries are now being held at different "front line" venues to assist the public service "reach out and learn about work activities and issues of important State Institutions." PS of the PSA Parmesh Chand said “It helps us to understand individually and collectively what the issues are and how best we can work together to effectively address them as a Team.” The PS's heard presentations on Fiji’s Productivity Report and the Impact of the 2010 Revised Budget on operating expenditure of Government. The July meeting was held at St. Giles Mental Health Hospital and previous ones at the Prison and Correctional Facilities at Naboro and at a Ministry of Fisheries and Forests Tree Planting exercise. -- based on 2010 No:1139/PSC.