Public Emergency Regulations, Poverty, Race & the Charter, NZ Policies, Sugar Costing
PER, A BROKEN PROMISE, Speaking to the UN Human Rights Council in June, Ambassador Peceli Vocea said:
"The calls for the lifting of the Public Emergency Regulations are contained in Recommendations 27 to 35. I am pleased to convey that Fiji generally accepts the content and intent of each of these recommendations. The Government of Fiji in February this year has pronounced that it will lift the Public Emergency Regulation as soon as the Fiji Media Decree is promulgated." And again."The Government of Fiji has pronounced that it will lift the Public Emergency Regulation as soon as the Fiji Media Decree is promulgated." But then it didn't. Why did it change its mind? Was it a wise decision?
I put these questions to the Sharon Smith John, the PS for Information:
Q. Why was it not lifted when the the Media Decree took effect, as previously promised?
A.It was decided to let the media work with the media decree before lifting the PER.
Q. Why is it now being extended on a month to month basis? Why not fix a date 6, 12 or even 18 months in the future?
A.There are several sections in the PER. It is feasible that section 16 (which relates to the media) will be lifted in the near future. However, other parts will continue.
Q. I know it is easier to administer the country with PER in place and am aware of Bainimarama's cautions about the influence of chiefs and clergy, but, with the Media Decree in place, government should be able to refute false rumours and claims.
A. As for monitoring the media, there is very little of that happening. I have said this publicly, in fact so little in fact the media are relatively free to write what they want.
Q. Most importantly, how can any sort of dialogue take place with PER in place?
A. The PER does not stop dialogue. In fact in the past few weeks, we have seen a lot of dialogue taking place not just within government, but outside.
Maybe, but I am not convinced. Some dialogue, inside government and out, is not enough. Much more dialogue is needed on a large raft of issues between government and the "outside" and the outcome of the dialogue needs to be made public.
There are valid security reasons for maintaining PER and valid dialogue and confidence reasons for lifting them.
Lifting PER soon would give Government an enormous boost in the eyes of all moderate Fiji citizens and be taken as evidence of its sincerity by the international community. Given the odds, a gambling man would opt for lifting them. The longer the delay in lifting PER, the faster the loss in confidence. People will ask what further promises will be be broken or delayed.
POVERTY, RACE AND THE PEOPLE'S CHARTER. The Poverty Eradication Unit from the PM’s office is adamant they will be able to fulfill the millennium development goal of reducing poverty. Unit Officer John Sowani says affirmative action in 2000 by the Qarase government had been racially-based. Sowani says their focus now is on disabled people and the vulnerable group of women and children.
"Our role is to coordinate and monitor the implementation on the framework and to conduct impact assessment that is the crunch of our work. Of all pro-poor programmes that have been done with all the stakeholders including government, non-governmental organisations and the private sector, and to identify remedial strategies to provide equal opportunities. To review, evaluate and formulate poverty reduction policies. We work under pillar eight of the people’s charter to reduce poverty to a negligible level by 2015."
[Great. But the Unit would be mistaken if it thinks poverty is confined to the disabled, women and children. And, with the poor -- the primary stakeholders-- not included in its consultations, it can hardly claim to have worked with "all the stakeholders." A major fault of well meaning, top-down, pro-poor policies over the years is that they have been framed by people with no specialist academic training or experiential knowledge of the ramifications of poverty.]
THE NZ LISTENER has had two not well informed editorials on Fiji over the last couple of years but no substantive or informed article. My earlier effort to interest them waned when one of their editors left. But there has been the occasional letter, including this one in the current issue: Anyone with a faint idea of what's going on in Fiji must despair at the Government's foreign affairs policy. NZ just snubbed Fiji;s invitation to attend an 'Engaging Fiji' meeting in Nadi. This could have been a good opportunity to hear from the house's mouth what the military government plans in terms of introducing democracy and fair elections. Instead, we hang onto our black-and- white view that a military government must be evil per se. Why, then are they kowtowing to the dictators of China?....." The letter was signed by Ulli Weissbach, North Shore.
INEFFICIENT MILLS COST FARMERS MONEY. Sugar cane farmers say that inefficient crushing mills are costing them money. National Farmers Union president Surendra Lal Sugar cane farmers in Fiji are worried that inefficient crushing mills are costing them money. National Farmers Union president Surendra Lal says the amount of can harvested this year is well down on last year. He says constant breakdowns and delays at the crushing mills means a lot of the harvested cane is lying in the fields losing its sugar content. Mr Lal says the farmers are doing their best to produce good quality cane, but the Fiji Sugar Corporation needs to upgrade its equipment or see the harvest increasingly go to waste. says the amount of cane harvested this year is well down on last year. He says constant breakdowns and delays at the crushing mills means a lot of the harvested cane is lying in the fields losing its sugar content. Mr Lal says the farmers are doing their best to produce good quality cane, but the Fiji Sugar Corporation needs to upgrade its equipment or see the harvest increasingly go to waste.
ANTICIPATING A SINISTER EXPLANATION of why a replacement is being sought for Col. George Langman as deputy head of FICAC (the corruption commission), the actual reason is that, as military's most senior qualified engineer, he's needed back in the RFMF to head the engineering corp. The Chinese government is giving the RFMF $5m worth of machinery to carry out rural development in line with government’s policy.