Showing posts from February 14, 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.
Water Issues
It’s a pity that many people, after taking their grievances to the proper authority eventually go to the papers and tell the world that they got a bad deal at the water or electricity company. Many times we read about people who had a run in with an unhappy and overworked nurse or doctor who had been rude to them. The authorities never respond to deny or apologize. But it makes good reading. As for me I always think that the complainants are wrong because no authority ever goes back to the paper to apologise or sends the police to charge the complainant for false accusation.

Anyway one great problem that we are facing is water cuts. We have been told that we are expe…

(o) Sulu More Than an Item of Clothing

Sulu or No Sulu By Subhash Appana, whose "humourous" school memories tell us much of race relations in Fiji  Sulu Uproar
STOP PRESS. Education Minister Filipe Bole says students can wear shorts or sulu Link.

The raging Sulu v. No-Sulu debate in Fiji makes one wonder whether the country really wants to move with the times. But hang on; this was a limited case of just two schools in the North wasn’t it? Two Principals had suddenly been found to have been left in an evolutionary time rut somewhere along the line.
That’s how the thinking would go amongst those who oppose the stance taken by the two gentlemen – and there are many of these progressives. From experience I know that much more would’ve been involved to prod the schools to make a public stand and ba…

Short Briefs Fri 19.2.10

Please support my readership drive. See lefthand column.
McCully to meet Kubuabola this weekend.  Link.

Fiji schools will start an hour later from Monday because of daylight saving.  Link.

Four cruise ships will visit Suva over the next ten days,and special tourist police will be on call to see their passengers are fairly treated.  Link.

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts plans to build a resort at Natadola - as soon as the global economy improves. Link.

Alleged abuse of funds by FNPF staff.  Link.

Steps taken to down-size and improve efficiency in civil service. Link. PSC Permanent Secretary Parmesh Chand said plans to downsize the civil service were on track after government implemented a 10 percent staff cut in 2008 and compulsory retirement program last year. “As we go along, we’ll build on this to see which areas of government expenditure we’d like to contain, areas such as vehicle expenses, rental space of office accommodation, overtime for civ…

(o) Fiji "At Crossroads of Chaos and Prosperity"

Rajen Prasad's excellent article published a few days ago in Auckland- based IndianNewsLink.Link.

(o) Sugar: NFU Double Take or Censored Report?

In Wednesday's Short Briefs I provided a link to National Farmers Union president Sanjeet Maharaj saying the Union supported the goverment. "This," he said, "was probably the first time for a prime minister to have an open forum with the people of Rakiraki to freely discuss sugar industry issues." Maharaj said the NFU has been "supporting the government right from the first day [and] have confidence in the government to resolve the issue of land leases and other problems facing the sugar industry."

These opinions are apparently not shared by the NFU leaders, according to an unsigned or attributed NFU posting on the Fiji Labour Party's website. 

Whether this represents a divided leadership, pressure by the FLP (former PM Mahrendra Chaudhry's FLP is a major force within the Union, and a reason Bainimarama has given to "de-politicize" farmer representation. See below), or whether Maharaj chose his words carefully -- and the state cens…

(o) Assassination Plot Update 18.2.10

The Fiji on-line press is scarely reporting this trial. I wonder why? There's some mention in Fiji Village and FijiLive. The Fiji Sun and the Daily Post have poor on-line facilities. And there's been almost ziltch in the Fiji Times. Perhaps they are waiting for an acquittal. 
Hence, for the time being, I'm limiting my "coverage." The only print media source that is giving any sort of coverage is  RadioFiji.

Qualification: Commenting on this post, a reader says state censorship is the reason the trial has limited mention in the mainstream media.
Chief says he was planning his wife's birthday. Naitasiri high chief Ratu Inoke Takiveikata denied allegations that he and seven other men were plotting to assassinate, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, when he was arrested and charged in 2007, saying he was planning his wife's birthday party at the time of the alleged meetings. Ratu Inoke also told Police his relationship with businessman Ballu Khan was only professional…

(o) UN Human Rights Report by No Means All Critical

Comment and Analysis
I've just read, taken notes and quickly summarised the 20-page UN Human Rights report*, and its 103 recommendations that Fiji is asked to consider, and I must say I'm impressed. It is far more balanced than we were led to believe. The report is part of the UN's periodic review of human rights in its member countries.

My copy of the pdf document came from Mosmi Bhim of the Citizen's Constitutional Forum (CCF) with the note "that it appears that Fiji’s media are not being allowed to publish these recommendations as the recommendations are critical of the current regime in Fiji. There is no way of informing the ordinary citizens of Fiji, of what’s in the recommendations by the UN, due to the heavy media censorship."

If this is the case, it's a pity because the report contains far more than the already well publicised criticisms.

The report actually commends Fiji for its work in a number of human rights areas, including human trafficking, p…

Short Briefs Thu 18.2.10

Check out what this Australian journalist had to say about meeting Bainimarama. Link. There'll be bigger article, with more pictures, in the Observer on Saturday.
Is Australian "expert" ignorant, devious or what? Jenny Hayward-Jones, Director of the Lowy Institute's Myer Melanesia Program, is in the news again. Commenting on Australia's relaxation of sanctions on Burma, she asked why not Fiji. So far, so good.  But then she went on to say "the Methodist church senior hierarchy has been arrested" and "former public officials that criticise the government will be stripped of their pensions for years of public service." Neither statement is correct.
Some Methodist leaders were detained and then released for breaching the Emergency Regulations. None is pining away in prison, as her listeners might assume from this statement.  The pensions are non-contributory parliament pensions paid to politicians, not the much wider group of "former public o…

(o) Assassination Plot Update 17.2.10

Former Fiji elite troops  had guns: Witness Tues. 16.2.10 Former CRW soldiers told undercover intelligence officers that they had the guns to assassinate Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, a prosecution witness informed the Suva High Court today.Territorial Force soldier Luke Toa was giving evidence in the trial of eight men accused of trying to assassinate Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama. Toa told the court he heard one of the accused Barbados Mills tell military intelligence officer Peniasi Kuli that they had the guns. Toa asked Mills why he didn’t bring the guns with him so they could use it for their planned training exercise. He said Kuli then asked Mills if these were the guns from Vanua Levu but Mills said no. Defence lawyers questioned Toa why he didn’t follow up with Mills about the whereabouts of the guns.Toa says he couldn’t because the meeting lasted only ten minutes before they dispersed.Toa adds that he didn’t enquire any further about the guns because he was more pr…

(o) Cafe Pacific | Media freedom and transparency: Human rights or corruption? Trotting out the real Fiji issues

Read David Robie's blog Cafe Pacific for how some people saw the media coverage of  the recent UN Geneva Human Rights conference. Link. This is what I had to say:
The real Fiji issue here is not human rights (though some, affecting very few people, have been abused). The real issue is the abuse of " media rights"   that have been allowed, if not encouraged, to so distort the situation in Fiji, past and present. -- Photo AUT.

(o+) Short Briefs Tue 16.10.10

"Bainimarama" fined $48,000: Military's Court appeal denied. The Court of Appeal (Justices John Byrne and William Calanchini) upheld a court decision that ordered compensation cost of $45,000 against Fiji Military Forces Commander, Voreqe Bainimarama, for the the military's brutal beating of villager Navualaba following the Speight Coup in 2000, and awarded extra costs of $3000. Link. The only good to come from this case is that it belies the accusations that the judiciary are not independent.

Ethno-nationalism, corruption and greed. Ambassador to the EU, Peceli Vocea, said "Many  of Fiji's finest brains have left the country because they could see no future in a country governed by ethno-nationalism, corruption and greed."  Link.
I can't believe this! Methodists in the UK are being asked to abstain from food and to consider donating the money they would have spent on food to the World Mission Fund, which will be offering long term support to the Chur…

(o+) Please Prime Minister

Please Prime Minister! Another appeal for better government PR
Photo: Fiji Sun.  The PM visited Ra after Kadavu.
In Kadavu last week PM Bainimarama announced he would retire in 2014. Some media took this to mean he would retire to his dalo teitei. It was then announced he would retire as PM but not as head of the RFMF. 
My understanding always was that this is what he meant in the first place.  He had said as much on earlier occasions. But he did not say so on this occasion. And a carelessly expressed, translated  or poorly reported remark has once again been welcomed by his detractors.
Radio NZInternational was off the mark quickly to say you're retiring. It took just one phone call to Canberra  to ask Jonathon Fraenkel to make another of his expert "perhaps" statements. “Perhaps," he said,  "the different messages that we keep getting in these meetings Bainimarama organises around the country [he's actually touring the  provinces. The first PM to do so outsi…

Short Briefs 15.2.10

Vocea at the UN in Geneva Fiji's delegate to the UN Geneva Human Rights meeting, Peceli Vocea, has told delegates pressing for early elections is futile. First the Roadmap, then the elections. Radio Australia has the  best coverage of what he and others had to say. Link.Sydney Morning Herald Link.
The Australianlink.  US Mission statement  link.
Vocea welcomes UN workshop recommendations on human rights and says “Fiji will employ the outcome of this process as a benchmark for future human rights reporting and express the committment that in areas found wanting, it will be improved upon in future reviews.” The National Dialogue Forum and visits by UN representatives will improve the human rights situation in Fiji. Link. Fiji to assess UN's 116 recommendations. China, Russia, Mexico and the Philippines urges the international community to support the government’s roadmap to democracy. Link.
Fiji will help media. Vocea also said government would help the media "in everyway conc…

(+) Big Guns Fire Back

After all the  repetitive negative public publicity Fiji has been receiving lately, most particularly from uninformed Australian media sources, it gives me great pleasure to see two very influential "big guns" fire back.

Fiji is pulling itself up with its own bootstraps
Letter in The Australian Financial Review Friday 12 February 1010

In your editorial, "Fiji's Bosses understand big-stick diplomacy" (February 6-7), The Weekend Australian Financial Review called on Foreign Minister Stephen Smith to emulate Theodore Roosevelt and carry  a big stick when he's dealing with Fiji. The editorial says the Australian government should make it clear to Fiji "that Fiji needs Australia and New Zealand more than Australia and New Zealand need Fiji."
This is an unworthy response and is condescending to a smaller neighbour. It is also strategically unproductive.  The last few years have demonstrated that if you send a man to Fiji with a big stick, he will be met b…

Thee Sunday Features

There are three Sunday features this week. Scroll down to see:  Pat Craddock's (People's Charter) Diary Nesian's May 20 2000 Sudarsan Kant's Why We have Bad Leaders

(B) Sunday Feature: Fragments from a Fiji Coup Diary

 Fragments from a Fiji Coup Diary
by Pat Craddock*
This posting traces the National Council for Building a Better Fiji (NCBBF) and People's Charter process through summarised extracts from Pat's diary. Its importance lies in showing Government attempts to win wide public support, and the constant opposition of the Methodist Church, the SDL party, some chiefs and the printed media. Much of today's "stand off" can be attributed to these early events. Oct. 2007. President Iloilo announces NCBBF to develop a People's Charter.
Nov. Army announces NCBBF will include people from all walks of life, including political parties.
Jan. 2008. John Samy to head Secretariat. SDL party and Methodist Church refuse to take part. Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi declines co- chairmanship. Joni Dakuvula joins Secretariat.
July 7. I hear comments that the media are against the draft of the People's Charter and they publish negative information. Earlier, in Feb. and May,publishers,R…

Sunday Feature: An Insider's View from the Outside

Nesian is a pseudonym for a moderate, Fiji-born, part-Fijian,
Hindi-speaking, sky-blue passport-carrying, former Fiji-resident. AnInsider's View From the Outside is the result of years spent thinking about all that has happened since the 2000 coup.
Photo: Earth from space.
Trait Accompli, May 20 2000
The lovo crew was unusually silent on the morning of May 20, 2000. We were preparing a feast to farewell a friend who was going to England to join the British Army, but all ears were glued to the radio.
I forget which Fijian station we were listening to, Bula FM or Viti FM, but Simione Kaitani and Iliesa Duvuloco were saying: "Keimami sa tu vakarau na luvei Viti me keimami colata na itavi ni vanua"("We, the sons of Fiji, stand ready to carry out the duties of the vanua.")
Because I followed Fiji’s current affairs closely and knew of Duvuloco’s murky history as a businessman, I was sceptical. Kaitani was just another politician who had lost the previou…

Sunday Feature: Why We Have Bad Leaders

In our focus on individuals, we have neglected the role of institutions in shaping polity and the social order. I hope this short piece advances the debate as Fiji attempts to move forward.
Why Do We Have Bad Leaders? by Sudarsan Kant

 It is almost a truism among the commenteriat class to attribute the years of political hiccups in Fiji to bad leadership. Repeated often with varying degrees of gravitas and concern, “bad leadership” has basically taken a life of its own, denoting not only political and economic failure across the decades, but the ensuing deformation of some of our most cherished institutions. It often seems that only emerging democracies are afflicted with this peculiar “crisis of leadership” contagion, and thus the invasive scrutiny many of these leaders face from the advanced democracies. 
I must confess at this juncture that I too have been guilty of using “bad leadership” as a useful trope to explain the complex and often bewildering sets of events that hav…