Registrations, Aust-NZ-US-Fiji Relations, Elections and the Constitution, Youth and Grassroots Empowerment

Stray dog waiting registration


Government needs to spell out the positives and 
provide  assurances on the negatives. 

Fiji seems to be having a bout of registration mania with everything except stray dogs now requiring registration. The need to register higher education institutions is obvious. It is surprising it was not always a requirement and yet only nine of the nation's 75 institutions are so far registered.

The Telephone Service Decree also makes sense requiring telephone and mobile phone users to register, and for this the deadline runs out next Sunday. But the details required raises concern, and could easily be abused by the authorities. Those registering are required to provide their name,date of birth, permanent home address (or address in Fiji if visiting), photo identification and parent or guardian's signature if the customer is below 18 years of age.But now we hear that the government wants those with driver's licences and bank accounts for similar information and their Tax Identification Number. Again, this makes sense.

In New Zealand telecommunications companies, the Transport Authority and the individual banks collect these or similar details, as does the Department of Inland Revenue. The police, the secret service, the Courts, the IRD and many others may request specific information, and in some instances demand it.  What is of concern in Fiji is that this information may be combined into one large database to which Government may have unrestricted access. But even if, like New Zealand, the information must be requested and then only in relation to specific charges against identified individuals, such powers available to the Fiji Government is the present political situation must raise major questions and concerns. The obvious question is will they be used to target their opponents and even people who agree, but not totally, with what they are doing?

Registration, probably influenced by Singapore's one-ID number system, has many positives but the potential negatives are very worrying. Government needs to spell out the positives and provide  assurances on the negatives. And people need to dial the PM on 01 and write to the media until there are answers.

OLD AND NEW FRIENDS. Commenting on PM Bainimarama's hint that Fiji would turn its back on its old friends Australian and NZ and look increasingly to China for support, Auckland University political scientist AssocProf Stephen Hoadley thinks Bainimarama "misdirected." Fiji still needs AustNZ. He says humanitarian aid still comes from AustNZ, and cutting further links could result in Europe and the US following suit, which in turn could lead to a deterioration of infrastructure and --  a drop in tourism. [That's a long drop!]  As for China, it wants to keep Taiwan isolated and Fiji's vote in the UN General Assembly. Its support for Fiji is arbitrary and could be withdrawn if Fiji's political support is not forthcoming.

Comment.  Prof Hoadley is half right in one assertion: Fiji definitely needs AustNZ support -- but not at any price and it is not a one-way need: that's the other half.  These countries  have already done much to divide the Pacific Islands Nations and damage the Fiji economy  and they could still do much more -- for better or for worse.  But Fiji is not the aid-dependent portrayed in our media. Our  trade with and investment in Fiji is very profitable.  I'm also amused that Prof Hoadley doesn't see the irony in his comment that China's support is arbitrary and could be withdrawn unless Fiji does what it expects. Isn't this exactly what has already happened with AustNZ support?

. Eni Fa'aua'a Hunkin Faleomavaega, the non-voting Delegate to the United States House of Representatives.
"I've been very critical of New Zealand and Australia's approach to engaging Fiji," he says. "Of course we all don't agree with Fiji not having a democratic form of government but I also believe that we have to appreciate and understand the complexities facing Fiji. New Zealand and Australia's approach to punish Fiji has caused some 'bad developments.'

Fiji is not like other countries in the islands  because of its colonial past the multi-ethnic society. Faleomavaega says what's reported in the mainstream media is not necessarily what's happening in Fiji.  "One of the things that is really amazing is the way the media played Fiji being under a military administration. You'd think that there are barriers on the roads/streets with police, military army and soldiers all over the place. You don't see one, not in Nadi not in Suva. And here's the one thing that is really surprising, the tourism industry in Fiji is going by leaps and bounds."

"We [the USA] don't have a policy towards PI countries, our policy only includes Australia and New Zealand. And whatever New Zealand and Australia want done, we just simply follow it. I totally disagree with that." --Press release,Faleomavaega's office,12 August.

AN ELECTORAL SYSTEM OUTSIDE THE CONSTITUTION? The abrogated 1997 Constitution spelt out almost every detail of Fiji's electoral system, making changes impossible without the lengthy process of changing the Constitution. In the future this may be very different.

Strategic Framework for Change Coordinator Lote Raboila says  “The proposal is that the electoral system be removed from the Constitution and enacted as law so that it may be a separate law, and may be amended and reformed from time to time according to the will of the people. However the fundamental recommendation of non-ethnic voting, equal franchise and proportional representation be enshrined into the constitution. Therefore the electoral law itself be outside the constitution so that the government of the day may make amendments and reform according to the time to suit the condition with the regards to the will of the people.”

Youth and Grassroots Empowerment
Democracy without such initiatives is diminished.

YOUTH DIALOGUE. A one-day youth workshop organized by ECREA last week focused on dialogue in peace building, inner dialogue and self awareness, youth empowerment in nation building and an exhibition. Co-ordinator Waisale  Ramoce said the objective was to educate young people on the importance of dialogue as a tool that would create peaceful co-existence among different ethnic groups in Fiji. He said, "For a multicultural nation like Fiji, the appreciation of cultural and religious diversity is very much needed. To engage young people in appreciating differences through dialogue and mutual understanding will undoubtedly create the way forward to a peaceful and happy nation. It reinforces the need to have young people partake in decision-making on nation building."

So far this year the Fiji Council of Social Services Microfinance Unit has  conducted 15 financial literacy training workshops in 15 communities (5 villages in Namosi, 5 women’s groups, 3 youth groups and 2 Indo-Fijian communities) involving over 400 people. By year end they plan to conduct another 25. The workshops, aimed at rural and disadvantaged people, teach people how to manage their money and generate income. Each community had requested the training.

. A two-day workshop organized by the Department of Youth (a new Government initiative) saw 120 young people from nine Rewa tikina (districts) meet at Nakorovou in Dreketi on Thursday last week. They were taught on the twelve seeds of success, aimed at improving personal development of youths in areas of time management, self discipline and positive mental attitude. The workshop also aimed at reviving the Rewa Provincial Youth Council.A three-member medical team was also present conducting free medical checks.-- Based on 2010 No:1231/MOI.


Anonymous said…
The moaning foes on and on. Surely Australia and New Zealand should just truely dump Fiji. Clearly no efforts at any level are appreciated.
sara'ssista said…
@ your point is it is better to start a new reliant relationship with an unequal partner, exactly what, even in the short term will be gained of expecting it's allies to 'fall into line, and where is their humanitarian aid largesse?? This is not fiji finding it way or maturing , it would appear this regime is happy to moan about the hegemony of aus nz us and eu and then replace it with another more brutal communist dictatorship. best of Luck with that.

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