Showing posts from January 24, 2010

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in Connect.  I thank Allen and Connect 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.
Laidback Lifestyle

A friend of mine spent some time recently in the Lau group and was amused by the fact that women were always busy preparing meals, cleaning clothes, etc while men were enjoying a much more relaxed lifestyle which doesn’t need to be described. A group of young lasses not even 10 years old sent to the bushes by their parents to collect coconuts told him that “men have lazy bones” which apparently suggest that even the young ones understand very quickly the rules of life.
In a recent article (Fiji Times 20 January) about the rocket stove, we read things “Women can easily do whatever other household chores they may have and men are now assisting the women wi…

(o+) Appeal to My Cousins Across the Ditch

The Australian government seemsto have taken no notice of Prof. Herr's report, repeating the old line: no relaxation of sanctions until there's signs of progress towards a "return to democracy and the rule of law."  But there are many things happening to improve governance long-term, and the lot of the ordinary Fijian short and long-term.

My Appeal to Australia (and NZ)

Leaving aside the "return to" (How could you  possibly believe the Qarase government was democratically elected or acted in ways that democratically-elected governments should, and usually do), there are "signs of progress": witness the Citizens' Assembly in Suva yesterday and the one in the West next month. Dialogue is going on.  Not as much as you may wish, but dialogue nonetheless.

You could argue that the old parliamentary parties should be included in the dialogue.  This seems reasonable until examined more closely. Qarase's SDL (and its links with the Speight Coup per…

Pacific unity threatened by impasse over Fiji | The Australian

Pacific unity threatened by impasse over Fiji | The Australian

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(o) Special Report by Australian Richard Herr

Time for a fresh approach Australia and Fiji relations post-abrogation
by Richard Herr
This is a link to the full report.

The abrogation of Fiji’s 1997 Constitution on Good Friday 2009 has profoundly altered the views of most observers on the restoration of parliamentary democracy in Fiji. The government of Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has publicly charted a new course involving constitutional change and no elections before 2014. As much as critics may doubt that the new roadmap announced by Bainimarama in July 2009 will be followed, the government insists its timetable is non-negotiable.

Brigadier Driti, New Zealand and Other Stories

(-)Testing, Testing, Testing ...I doubt Brig. Pita Driti is the Fiji Government but if his latest repeat of earlier comments are any indication,  it appears he does not want New Zealand to accept the nomination of LtCol Neumi Leweni as Fiji's counsellor in Wellington.

His "The Fiji government is testing the NZ government on whether it is genuine in having dialogue and assisting Fiji" can only be seen in Wellington as brinksmanship.

Prime Mininster Bainimarama: Government needs to speak with one voice. Too much is at stake! We already have enough people in NZ working against Leweni's appointment. They don't need Driti's support.

(+) School Leaders Must Perform.The Education Ministry will replace head teachers and heads of departments whose schools have consistently underperformed over the last three years. Education Minister Filipe Bole School says he will be personally lead a team of officials to visit these underperforming schools, saying many school heads have…

Snippets: Customs, Land, Lawyer, Judiciary, Rabuka, Kadavu, Media and Crime Decrees, Commonwealth Games, Rugby Coach, Blood

 (+) Customs Co-operation. One area where Australia and New Zealand should co-operate with Fiji is with customs control. But Fiji's Acting Revenue and Customs Board Chairman  LtCol Pio Tikoduadua  says this is not the case.
     Tikoduadua said the Oceania Customs Organization has 23 members and as part of this Organisation, Australia and New Zealand should be more open as Fiji's stringent border control measures will also be beneficial to them.

(o) Idle Land. The Native Land Trust Board has revealed that over 3,000 land leases, given to grow sugar are now lying idle. According to the blog FijiTodaythis represents about 180,000 hectares.

NLTB General Manager the Alipate Qetaki says the sugar industry's failure to obtain the 4 million tons of cane required by the sugar mills is not due to lack of acess to land. Many leasees are old people unable to look after the land which now serves as their residence only. Qetaki says that to resolve the problem, all stakeholders such as…

The Link to Croz's Radio Interview
 It was a bit rushed and I missed out on completing my last point but, thanks to Bryan Crump, the interviewer, we covered a lot of ground.

There are two errors.  I should have said Parmesh  Chand, not Paresh Singh. And Bryan spoke of the appointment of High Commissioners. The posts are for Counsellors (a much lower position), and later, hopefully, Deputy Heads of Mission, then Heads.

(-+)The Leweni Nomination, Fiji after 2014, and Fiji's Poor PR.

Having spend 20 minutes on RadioNZ last night arguing a case that the Leweni (Photo FBC) nomination is not provocative, I read that Brig.Gen.Pita Driti says Fiji is "testing" New Zealand's sincerity. This is provocative. If NZ also decides to "test" Fiji's sincerity, the good work of the countries' Foreign Ministers will have come to nothing.

Meanwhile, PM Bainimarama has again said the proposed regional trade agreement PACER Plus, advocated by Australia and New Zealand, will not benefit Fiji. He may be right but this is not the time to say it.

His speech in Kadavu (see previous post) was also not helpful, leaving the impression of the military leaning on any future government not toeing the line. He presumably meant if it departed from the principles of the People's Charter (that few can disagree with, and which will will provide the framework for the new Constitution) but this was not made clear.

Diplomacy is about building bridges, not threatenin…

(G) A new Fiji in 2014: Bainimarama

In his clearest statement so far, PM Bainimarama has spelt out what he intends for Fiji's future: Elections will be held in 2014; the country will be run by Government (and not the Great Council of Chiefs or the Methodist Church) and "the Military will always be there to see the path taken by the new government is on the same track."  Sinister as this may seem to some, it is similar to other former colonial countries, such as Indonesia, Philippines and even Singapore, where the path to democracy followed a different route from Western democracies.  Radio Fiji reports:

Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has told civil servants on the island of Kadavu that only government and no other institution will run the country.

Bainimarama says the Fiji military that took over the country in 2006, was different from the military that took over in 1987 and 2000.

He added that there would be no delay to elections being held in 2014, but the military would ensure the n…