Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

 Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in Fiji. I thank Allen for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that. 

Please don't make things worse  
 
I hate to do this but I am fed up with what has been circulating on the internet. The warning about internet chat forums is spot on. Too many people in Fiji will read and may get hooked on the curious and end up believing rumours. But I wonder why people are doing what they are doing to spoil it for us who live here. It’s sad that I see our very own people writing and saying that the situation in Fiji is tragic, if I have to use a bad word.

Many Fiji citizens residing overseas are living in relative comfort. They live under conditions so good that the person who earns the lowest wage is king compared to the same people in Fiji. They should think about their families and friends who live here and depend on the tourist dollar and the image of Fiji to make a living. Life is not relatively paradise that’s for sure, but we are getting on with it. Many of us are barely making ends meet and we can’t afford another political problem caused by our very own people, who have chosen to go overseas to live.

I find it hard to believe that these people will stoop so low and tarnish Fiji’s image in the hope that it will bring instability, which will indirectly affect us. We will suffer, not you who live abroad. Have you ever thought about that? I have been told that the idea is to bring disrepute to the present administration in the hope that tourists will not want to come to Fiji and thus we will lose financially. They wish to bring down the present administration. Can you really do that? They will try and get foreign donors to stop sending aid. I find this is so unfair by the people who want to do this. And guess what? Many are our very own people. They are no different from the governments whom we call big brother, who deny visas to relatives of soldiers. They will probably be worse off than we are because we are bound by blood ties.

As I write I hear a mother tell her son to go to the shop and buy 50 cents worth of salad oil. Salad oil is around $3 per 750 ml bottle. For 50 cents they will not even get enough to fry three eggs. Many shopkeepers have been forced to sell otherwise sealed goods meant to be sold sealed because people can’t afford to buy the full bottle. Butter is bought in 50 cent pieces and mosquito coils 30 per coil. The poor are resorting to buying lamb curry pieces that’s covered in fat and are mostly bone. They’re buying chicken legs to make soup to add to whatever greens they can afford in the market. Kerosene is expensive yet it is a basic need in most homes, and this is slowly getting out of reach.
Every day I see smoke rising from homes from wood fires where our people are cooking and baking. School children are going to school with bare feet and fees have been left unpaid so that the family can buy food.

I beg you, our people overseas, don’t contribute to the situation. What you should be doing is to try to make it better.

Scroll down to other Weekend Readings: Resolving the Fiji Impasse by Gerald McGhie, Questions from a Student on the Fiji Times, Layers of Conmen by Crosbie Walsh,  Fiji Times - Newspaper or Activist? by Siobhan Keogh, and Friday's postings.

Comments

Wake-up call said…
Vinaka, Allen, this is a very powerful and moving piece and especially so coming from you. A guy who usually writes about the small things of day-to-day life in Fiji has given everyone a big wake-up call. And that is to think a lot more about the impact of what we do and say on the lives of the most vulnerable people in Fiji - the urban and rural poor. Isa, even I didn't know things were as bad as cooking oil having to be sold in the way you describe. In the old days, you'd see people buying a single cigarette and putting a second one behind their ear but this is something else. The whole country and Fiji people living overseas need to concentrate on the plight of these people first and foremost. And yes, that means not advocating policies that damage the Fiji economy and have flow on effects to the nation's poor. The so-called democracy lobby in Australia needs a big wake-up call to stop putting the narrow interests of the SDL before national development. To urge tourists not to visit Fiji and ask the Australian Government to ban Air Pacific is economic sabotage, plain and simple. Their families aren't affected because they're invariably indigenous landowners and also benefit from money sent from abroad. But for people who don't have land and a means to earn a living, life is plainly hell. The truth is the regime in Fiji is trying to help such people with its program of more low cost housing and such little things as free bus fares for kids, which for poor families means such a lot. Yes, of course, much more needs to be done. But all over the world, studies have shown that the only lasting way to alleviate poverty is education and jobs. In Fiji right now, the main priority has to be a stable, growing economy to provide employment and a social safety net. Anything that damages that is sabotage and a kick in the guts for ordinary people. As Allen says, we need to put them first.
Frayed & Fraught at Forty! said…
@ Allen Lockington tells us how it really is......

May God Bless Allen Lockington for his ability and his willingness to tell Fijians overseas and anybody else who cares to listen: yes, this is how too many must live today in Fiji. More jobs are threatened by a silly, arbitrary attempt to impose wage rises of 15% - not incrementally over two years or so (which might be accommodated depending upon all manner of economic influences) but...just like that! As though money can be created out of nothing or pulled out of a hat? The Pot is the same pot for all. There is no money outside of this Pot (except from the IMF/WB/ADB with many strings attached. Why is it only now that in Australia a Conference has been mounted to speak of FIJI AT FORTY? Not just because we have turned forty years as an independent, sovereign state? The problems and the stresses were there to be discussed all along...since 1987. Yet only now is it decided to seriously address them? There is something abominable about this - something peversely shocking. In the meantime, people go out for 50c of cooking oil. Will they afford even that next week?

Have we no common sense? Have we no sense of a common identity? We are all FIJIANS now. Who is to tell us we are not?
Things are bad said…
Alan
When you say you don't want things to ge worse? That sounds ominous? Are things as really as bad under this illegal regime as you seem to be hinting?
Allen said…
The Regime inherited the problems from previous administrations.
roll over said…
Allen,

Appreciate most in Fiji have to rollover and accept a military dictatorship and any decision they make. They have total control and any form of opposition is met with a very hard hand.

But do you really want everybody else including the international community to accept everything Frank and team does. If that happens the liklihood of ever seeing the military let go of power seems very unlikely.
Admitting defeat said…
alan
what a sad comment? It is all someone else's fault? You are sounding more and more like a broken man admitting defeat?

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