IDs, Asian Links, 'Doom and Gloom', Tourism, Domestic Violence, New FNU Campus


NATIONAL ID CARD PROPOSAL. The suggestion by Ministry of Defence and National Security Senior Official Joji Washington that Fiji should introduce an national ID card was always going to raise eyebrows. There's no question it would "strengthen the work of law enforcement, immigration, customs, bio-security, border police, AFL security, airline security, port security and outsourced security personnel." It may also prove to be efficient for the general public.

Singapore has had compulsory ID cards for many years and while they seem not to be been misused by the authorities, it could be that people have just got used to having them.  It's handy having only one number to remember for tax, pension, wages, driving, voting, travel and other arrangements. Similar suggestions have surfaced in New Zealand over the years but they have always been opposed by the civil liberties lobby who argued that liberty is more important than efficiency.

In Fiji we can expect similar arguments. Could this efficiency be misused by Fiji authorities? The answer is obviously yes. Few would quibble with a card that will help detection of illicit activities and assist in police investigations. The problem is with its possible use to monitor opponents of the government. But it's more complicated than that. Monitoring activities that could result in civil disorder, threats of violence, bomb scares and assassinations (and all of these have happened) would, I think, be accepted as legitimate uses, but monitoring what in other countries are seen as normal political activities most definitely would  not.

But how to draw the line? Joji Washington talks as if the card is more than a proposal, and I've little doubt his suggestion will appeal to government.  But if it does, mechanisms must be put in place to ensure proper use. There must be checks on who can access information on the cards, and for what purposes. Appeal to the courts must be assured in the event of misuse. My advice for what it's worth would be not to go ahead with the proposal.  Coming in the wake of the telephone and cellphone registrations and delays in lifting PER, it will send out the wrong vibes.  Its negative reception overseas is assured (Michael Field has already started the ball rolling)  but if I were in government,  I'd be more concerned about the sense of unease among Fiji law-abiding citizens. It is possibly, with further study,  a good idea for the future –  but for the present, I think it would produce more  loses than gains.

The cards will contain a micro-chip containing personal bio-data, picture, fingerprint, passport system, ID number, and barcodes for TIN and LTA watch list verification.   For Michael Field's abnormally "even-handed" account, click here. His pilot fish blogger associates will join him soon. And this is TVNZ's balanced coverage.


GOVERNMENT BEGINS NATIONAL ID CONSULTATION "The Ministry of Defence, National Security and Immigration has begun consultations on the proposed national identification  card. Senior government officials of various departments and ministries took part in a consultation this morning on the way forward. Permanent Secretary for Defence, National Security and Immigration, Mr Jale Fotofili says Government believes there is a need for a national ID card. “We made a presentation to Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama on the issue, he has accepted the idea despite other issues pertaining to its implementation,” Mr Fotofili said. “These ID cards, once in place, will expedite the elections within a day – and thus the reason to carry out the exercise.” he says.  He said that all ministries and departments must be consulted before the project was implemented. -- 2010 No: 1711/MOI. 
[Ed. note: Consultations are needed far beyond ministries and departments. What do the genral public think? And if election efficiency is the issue, there is no hurry.  It's far more important to publish the Roadmap. The  ID would only be issued to future voters and the information contained would be limited.]

PM SLATES NAYSAYERS. The PM  has berated "the same group of people who continue to criticize everything the government does." They say nothing positive, everything is doom and gloom.  They influence many people, including the overseas media. He wonders why the media listen to these "same old critics rather than making their own assessments on the situation on the ground in Fiji" and whether "they really know what has been happening to the economy over the years." Many things were not functioning and the country was going nowhere with the way things were done in the past. Roads were not being constructed, electricity was not being connected to rural areas, and not much development work was carried out in the past, but his government was now changing this.

The PM said the critics should know that he is not bothered by what they are saying because he is focused on implementing the social, political, electoral and economic reforms that will bring true democracy in Fiji before the next elections.

Speaking at the launch of a new electricity power service at Natoaika Village in rural Naitasiri,  he said people are being mislead into thinking "everything was okay in the past. He told the villagers that while his government is not an elected one, it is working  hard and has a definitive plan to hand over a better Fiji to a new government in 2014. He called on people not to be swayed by the lies that are spread through by those working to undermine his government.

'Pacific Plate' Moves North

Three short items that support Prof Herr's contention that Australian (and NZ) policies are not helping them to maintain their influence—and business— in the South Pacific.

PACIFIC BROTHERHOOD. Meeting with "interested investors" from China and Singapore this week, the PM urged them to consider opportunities in other South Pacific island countries. “When you invest in Fiji also look at opportunities in Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. We do not want to be just the leader but we want to move forward together with our Pacific neighbours.” -- Based on 2010 No:1670/MFA.

SINGAPORE TRADE OFFICE. Fifteen visiting Singapore business people have urged the PM
to open a trade office in Singapore. “We would love to have one trade office in Singapore because of our strategic location and it will help the Fiji Government in its look north policy,” said one of them.

CONFUCIUS, RENMINBI, WEAPONS, HIGH LEVEL CHINESE VISIT. The Chinese and Fiji foreign ministers meeting in Beijing this week discussed a wide range of bilateral exchanges, cooperation and other issues. China will be establishing a Confucius Institute in Fiji and will explore the notion also of establishing sister cities with some of China’s fast growing metropolitan cities. Ratu Inoke  acknowledged the Chinese authorities’ desire to extend assistance to improve public service excellence by offering places to the Fiji Public Service Commission for training opportunities of Fiji’s senior civil servants in the China Executive Leadership Academy in Shanghai.

The duo also discussed the possibility of including the Chinese fast growing currency; the (Renminbi) RMB, into the basket of Fiji’s trading currencies. “This initiative will assist tremendously in facilitating Fiji’s trade with China and is also part of Fiji’s Look North Policy,” Ratu Inoke said. Further, Fiji is now
seriously looking at the prospect of purchasing weapons from Chinese manufacturers to assist Fiji’s effort in participation in UN Peacekeeping and Peace building Missions. Foreign Minister Yang confirmed that he would like to formally visit Fiji in the near future and advised on the necessity of building strong political and bilateral relation founded on mutual respect and trust. -- Based on 2010

ALL IS NOT 'GLOOM AND DOOM'. Permanent Secretary for Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation Govind Sami said Prof Waden Narsey's 'gloom and doom’predictions told only part of the story. He said his Ministry continues to target rural areas that receive 70% of their poverty alleviation funding. To lay blame on the 2006 Coup and to ignore the negative impacts of Australian,New Zealand and the EU was "misplaced. “The sugar industry earnings were always likely to nosedive after the decision by EU to take away subsidies and the failure of the mill administration to moderise, improve rolling stock and rationalisation of operations were thwarted by politicians." -- Based on 2010 No:1667/MOI.

VISITOR ARRIVALS for May were up nearly 10,000 more compared with the same month last year. This represented an increase of 24.9% to 47,062 when compared to 37,666.  Most visitors were from Australia, about 22,941, a 48.7% increase,followed by New Zealand with 7,070,  an increase of 15%.  -- Based on 2010 No:1674/MOI.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Last month Shamima Ali of the the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre claimed people were unaware of Government's Domestic Violence Decree 2009. The Attorney General and Minister for Justice Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum denied this claim but in response has announced another workshop on the Decree's implementation. Other workshops have already been conducted for the police, prosecutors, NGO’s and the judiciary. The new workshop to be chaired by former High Court Judge Madam Nazhat Shameem  will be held at Suvavou House next Thursday 21st. An invitation has been extended to the Minister for Women and her Permanent Secretary, the Solicitor General, the DPP, the Chief Justice, the Chief Registrar, the Chief Magistrate, the Family Court Judge, the Commissioner of Police and representatives of all relevant non-government organisations for women.

FNU $40m NADI CAMPUS. The PM opened Fiji National University's new $40m Nadi campus last week, saying that the extension to the West makes tertiary and vocational education more accessible to all income groups. With its proximity to major tourism destinations and Nadi international airport it will offer specialized courses in hospitality and aviation. The PM hoped the hospitality training would provide the "opportunity for many of the hotel properties, who hitherto have not done so, to use Fijians in senior management positions." Other specialised courses planned include landscaping and horticulture, and centres are planned for Tavua, Rakiraki, Ba and Sigatoka. Some 5,000 students will be enrolled at the Nadi campus.


PM not worried my ass said…

The PM claims he is not worried about what people say.

I say clearly he is very worried and nothing anoys him more. That is why he mentions it in this speech, that is why he has media decree to control the media and why he still has the PER in place. All designed to silence as many as possible but unfortunately for him he can't silence people outside Fiji.
M.B.N said…
Perhaps the PM or one of his Permanent Secretaries like Govind Sami can explain what he means when he say AU and NZ are "responsible" for economic and poverty problems and not the 2006 Coup ?

On the positive I guess since a PS is now calling December 2006 a "coup" now i guess i can do without fear of a visit from the lads in green.
adoers said…
Yes Govind Sami - clearly the 10,000 extra Australians that came to Fiji last month are having a devastating impact on Fiji and everyone else in wrong in thinking the 2006 coup had any negative impact.
sugar said…
Not many suggestions yet on what the sugar industry could or should do.

Perhaps we could ask the sugar minister to lick of the conversation off with some of his ideas...????
2014 said…
It's good to see the PM talking about 2014 as if it is really going to happen again. I though Peter T's comments where also good.

What worries me if the PM is spending way to much time doing normal PM stuff (openings, visits, speeches). If he is only in it to deliver free and fair elections he should concentrate on that.
consultation said…
Is the ID card "consultation" a indication of the consultation we can expect on a new constitution ?

Eg a PS chat to a couple of government ministries,at the same time he presents to the PM who supports it ?

Maybe that is why there is no need to start any work until 2012.
grow up PM, please said…
It amazes me that the PM could make some very simple moves to help gain support and soften some of his critics (sorry PM you will never silence them so just get over it - the world is not the military).

He could publish his road to free and fair elections. He could lift his PER. He could stop persecuting his opponents.

Simple steps. Easy to take yet he continues to take a hard line approach. He wants the world to democractic world compromise on it's own principles and accept him as some sort of hero but is not prepared to compromise in anything.

If he where my own son I would sit him down and give a good old fashioned tongue lashing. The worlds "grow up" would feature strongly and a lot less polite words.

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