Showing posts from July 11, 2010
The meaning is clear but just about everything else is wrong about this cartoon posted on the ozfiji. com website.  The cap is not a RFMF one, the palms are not coconuts, hardly anyone lives in a bure any more (under 4% in 1996, or 4,800 Fijians and 465 Indo-Fijians!) and  not many bure have so many windows. Ling Ling should visit Fiji to see what things really look like.

As for the message, my understanding is that  ethnic Fijians have always been i-taukei and Fijian, and they always will be.  The only change is that now  all citizens  are legally Fijian.

Just as in New Zealand where there are Maori New Zealanders, Pakeha New Zealanders, Chinese and, yes, Fijian New Zealanders, Fiji will now have i-taukei Fijians, Rotuman Fijians, Solomoni Fijians, Kailoma Fijians, and so on.  In some situations Maori will say they are Maori; and in others New Zealanders. Ethnic Fijians will be i-taukei or Fijian as the situation demands.

The Decree is about promoting national identity and a sense of…

Where's the MSG Constitution?

I received this comment indirectly via an email and hope the author does not mind me using it.

Throughout this whole matter, with the wranglings of ANZ versus MSG and the normal protocol lines of foreign policy talk, including a short press statement by MSG Secretariat on the postponment matter, there has been one important matter missing. Either the media have missed out on it, or no-one is reading between the lines.

The MSG has a formal Constitution document, which drafted by Vanuatu lawyer Bill Bani. If there is a procedural question as to the holding of a meeting or the term of office of a chairmanship, is it not the 'normal thing' to check what the Constitution of MSG says in regards to such a matter. In listening to Radio Australia, Daily Post and other media outlets, I have not come across any comment or statement as to what the MSG Constitution states in these matters.

Fiji Sets Vision for a Modern State

Saturday, July 17, 2010
Legal equality, modernising laws and liberalising the economy are the key components of the Fiji's vision of a modern state, says Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the vision stemmed from the belief that there are some fundamental problems within Fiji’s governmental system.

Solomon Islands Government Glad to Assist Fiji

The Solomon Islands Government is happy to engage in any mission that will help Fiji out of its problems and pressures.

This is the reassurance from Solomon Island Prime Minister's Office responding to questions sent by Fijivillage stating that the Solomon Islands maintains an open door policy on Fiji's situation and is happy to engage in any mission that will help Fiji. Speaking to Fijivillage from Honiara this morning Secretary to the Prime Ministers Office Jeremiah Manele said the Solomon Islands stands ready to help Fiji.

A Response to Dr Michael O'Keefe

Dr Michael 0'Keefe of La Trobe University has come out of the woodwork rather too late for anything commendable to be said of him. Stating the obvious is not necessarily smart. He fails to gauge with accuracy the situation on the ground in Fiji. People have died in Fiji and out of Fiji due to Australia's misguided policy towards Fijians. No one who has a health condition in Fiji will thank Australia or New Zealand for their dilemma or their imposed choice. Instead, a number of people known personally to me have died for a lack of prompt assistance and no obvious alternative. Hot footing it to India is hardly a helpful choice if one is dying of Cancer of the Colon? The experience of the past ten years in Fiji under the tutelage (is that what it is???) of Australia's Foreign Policy is so revealing that we do not require Australian-based academics to add to our understanding of what has signally failed: Australian politicians and their Think Tanks of whatever political persua…

Switch off the Autopilot in the Pacific

Canberra's stance on the Fiji crisis requires an urgent rethink
Michael O'Keefe in the Sydney Morning Herald July 16, 2010
The easy option is to ramp up the rhetoric without much changing sanctions against the regime of Frank Bainimarama, the naval officer who seized power four years ago in a bloodless coup. This would be predictable and lazy. To escalate the sanctions is an option, but one that both John Howard and Kevin Rudd eschewed when faced by similar belligerent actions from Suva. The unstated option is to end or dramatically modify sanctions - and this should not be taken away from the table.

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in 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.

Fuel Price Yoyo
Fuel prices are going down again, hooray. However, sometimes I wonder if those who control world fuel prices are making a fool of us. Not long after it goes up someone decides to lower it again. Not long after that it goes up again. Don’t you feel like  a yoyo rushing to the petrol station  to fill up when you hear that it is gonna go up?

What is the world coming to. Can't people who control these things put a stabiliser on  prices. As a matter of fact, when fuel prices go up traders usually raise the price of certain goods to offset the fuel cost and pass it on to consumers via the cost of goods. However, these prices never come down a…

Letting PM Vent His Spleen, Another 'Hit Job' on Fiji Tourism, Regenvanu Doubts Natapei's MSG Story

ALLEN LOCKINGTON SAYS "I just want to say that while the Australian and New Zealand governments play hard ball with our government, most of our people and their people at ground level have gotten on with life.   We can’t do much, yet.To mope and carry long faces only gives us indigestion."

I have nothing more to add to yesterday's posting "Bainimarama Ambivalent, What's Needed ..." but I urge readers to record their opinions by clicking on "Comments" below the post. Here's an extract from one of them. 'Keeping the Faith' wrote:
"Anyone who knows the PM, knows he's speaking in anger and humiliation. So we need to allow him to vent his spleen and then remind him that his whole credibility depends on keeping his word. I don't care what he says to Australia and NZ to goad them. I do care what he says to the "Fijian" people ..."ANOTHER TVNZ 'HIT JOB' ON FIJI TOURISM. Will it …

Bainimarama Ambivalent, What's Needed, Sikua Coming, Bitten by Termites

BAINIMARAMA STILL AMBIVALENT. Just as I was about to publish today's postings, I read two comments by PM Bainimarama on the 2014 Election issue. In the first he said "he wants elections to be held in Fiji in 2014 but a lot of work needs to be done and it is only realistic that there will be delays if there is continued obstruction and interference by countries like Australia and NZ."

In the second, a response to the CCF statement that Fiji should not use the MSG to further its own agenda,  I agree with the PM. Fiji is a perfectly legitimate item on any MSG agenda. But I thought it an unkind, unnecessary and untrue swipe at the CCF to imply that because it was funded by overseas donors, it would do what the donors dictate. The accusation demeans you,  Prime Minister. Akuila Yabaki does not need to persuade anyone of this personal integrity. And you did not reply to the CCF's main point, the need for assurances about elections in 2014. 


Citizens’ Constitutional Forum: Election Promise Must Be Honoured

Fiji needs to keep its election promise and talk to Pacific neighbours
The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) calls on Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to honour the commitment he made to have democratic elections by 2014.
“Fiji cannot sit in isolation from the rest of the world. Bainimarama promised the people of Fiji and our regional and international stakeholders, that elections will be held at the latest by 2014. Bainimarama needs to honour that promise,” CCF Chief Executive Officer Reverend Akuila Yabaki said.
CCF also calls for renewed dialogue with its regional partners and neighbours.

Bainimarama Needs to Show World, Election Electronics, Field Fiction

Prime Minister Bainimarama has  invited leaders  of Pacific  Island  countries   to  participate in an “Engaging  Fiji" meeting  to be held at the Inter Continental Resort in Natadola  on July 22 – 23. More later

CONGRATULATIONS, SOLOMON TIMES, for publishing the only balanced foreign media account of Sarah Roberts's expulsion that I have seen. Click here.

CONGRATULATIONS ALSO to the people who have taken the time to write insightful comments on recent postings, though I do wish people would use pseudonyms. Readers' response to Na Sala Cavu, however, continues to disappoint. If you've not been there before, click on the orange forked road icon in the right sidebar. Read. Vote. Comment. Then scroll down to earlier questions on Fiji's future.

BAINIMARAMA NEEDS TO SHOW THE WORLD.  Hi there Croz, I agree with your analysis of Bainimarama’s ad lib reaction as well as Field having another field day! There is little doubt in my mind about Aussie interference with the MSG …

What Did Bainimarama Say? What Did He Mean?

Opinion. Crosbie Walsh (Photo: Bainimarama as he is usually portrayed on NZ TV.)

Prime Minister Bainimarama is sometimes his own worst enemy.  He should know by now never, absolutely never, to make unprepared statements to the media. If he does, they will savage him as they have done with his latest remarks which have raised doubts about an election being held in 2014. What he says should leave no doubt about what he means.

This is not the first time he, and they, have acted in this way.  On his return from his provincial tour of Lomaiviti just over a month ago he told a Fiji Sun reporter the people supported his reforms and asked him to stay in power after 2014.  His remark was in response to Australia's Smith and New Zealand's McCully's remarks,  made after the Auckland Forum dialogue with Fiji, that the situation in Fiji had deteriorated. Readers will remember Bainimarama withdrew his invitation to visit Fiji immediately afterwards.  Bainimarama had not for one moment s…

Public Sector Reforms: 6. Effects of the Travel Bans

Edited extracts from my Interview with Parmesh Chand, Permanent Secretary Public Service Commission. Vinaka, Tui, for this transcript.

Croz: How are travel bans affecting you? Parmesh Chand: All the Permanent Secretaries are on the travel ban. Any official who accepts a senior appointment in government which is a gazette appointment. They pick up the Gazette notice and put you on travel ban. 

I was a permanent secretary long before the coup. The permanent secretary in the Prime Minister’s office got pushed out so did a number of others. I was one of the two top performing permanent secretaries. The other lady who was my counterpart, she got appointed by the Ministry of Education and I got selected to go to PrimeMinister’s Office and then came the travel ban on me and my family.
I’m still on the travel ban and New Zealand and Australian Officials will not come to this
office to discuss anything. I think they should relax the travel ban on government officials at least. I mean the civil s…

Australia Admits Lobbying, Fiji Says Quiet Diplomacy Failed

In an earlier opinion piece posted today, this blog implicated Australia in a number of issues thought to be related to the sudden and unexpected cancellation of the MSG Plus meeting that was to be held in Fiji next week.  Now Australia admits lobbying ...

SMITH ADMITS LOBBYING MSG LEADERS; FIJI REPLIES; VANUATU SUSPECT. Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith said acting high commissioner Sarah Roberts would be declared persona non grata on Tuesday, after Australia lobbied for the postponement of a regional summit in protest at Fiji’s lack of democracy.

"Australia," he said,  "has been making representations that it was inappropriate for such a meeting to occur. Whether of course the Melanesian Spearhead Group meets or not is a matter for the Melanesian Spearhead Group."

Col.Pio Tikoduadua. PermSec PM's Office said, "Essentially it's not something that has just been born out of thin air. We can't take things lying down." He added tha…

MSG in Trouble, the Sarah Roberts Expulsion, and Diplomats' DOs and DON'Ts

THE END OF THE MSG? Fiji  has urged Vanuatu PM and MSG chairman Edward Natapei to urgently consider Prime Minister Bainimarama’s suggestion on 8 July to convene as early as next week a “Special Meeting of MSG Leaders” to resolve the Chairmanship issue. The government statement says this is an important issue for the MSG region and it is important that Natapei does not delay its discussion unnecessarily. Without this it seems highly unlike there will be a MSG meeting until 2014, and by then it may be redundant.

PM Bainimarama says without Fiji’s participation, the MSG will not be able to convene as a group. "Everyone should give Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natapei a pat in the back for destroying the MSG and bowing to Australia’s wishes. " He said Natapei’s decision to defer at the 11th hour was disappointing as preparations were at their advanced stage.Bainimarama says Fiji does not want to be part of a compromised MSG. There are, however, rumours that some sort of "M…

Why Did the MSG Leaders Change Their Minds?

Crosbie Walsh
13 July 2010
Exactly one year ago today the Melanesian Spearhead Group resolved to ask the Pacific Islands Forum to lift the ban on Fiji at the meeting in Cairns in August. The MSG believed they were legally bound to allow Fiji to take part in regional trade and economic agreements such as PACER Plus and PICTA.

Radio Australia's Sean Dorney saw their decision as "quite a victory for Commodore Bainimarama. "Some of us," he said,  "were expecting there to be some suggestion or some urging of him to go to elections earlier than his proclaimed time of September 2014. But when the leaders finally had their news conference on Friday night, it was pretty clear that they were just saying right Commodore, we think you're on the right track. You've convinced us that you've got the plans that are going to suit Fiji into the future and we'll go along with what you say."

Here's what the newly appointed MSG Chairman Va…

(G) Government Statement on Deferment of MSG Plus Meeting

The Government of Fiji is disappointed with the Chair of the MSG’s call to defer the Summit so late in our preparation and without exhausting all the political options and avenues available to him to resolve the so-called “impasse within the grouping over the Chairmanship of the MSG”.

To our knowledge only Vanuatu has an issue with Fiji hosting the MSG Summit with both the Prime Ministers of PNG and the Solomon Islands writing to the Chair last week seeking his understanding and support for Fiji to host and chair the MSG Summit.

And that understanding was based on the Melanesian custom of deferring to your host when entering his/her village or bure.

The Chair’s suggestion for him to chair the meeting hosted by Fiji sought to dispossess our Prime Minister of his role and responsibilities of hosting in his own country. It is therefore ironic that the Chair would quote Melanesian values and tradition…

MSG Plus & Underhand, Undiplomatic Aussie High Com Behaviour

Letter From Suva: Aussie Eyes on Natadola by Laisa Taga, Islands Business Editor-in-Chief (Link)
Concerted effort to undermine Fiji summit
The bureaucrats who advise Australia’s new prime minister Julia Gillard will be closely watching Natadola Bay in Fiji this month. They will be following what transpires at the Melanesian Spearhead Group summit as Ms Gillard prepares for the Pacific Islands Forum meeting next month. From what is being written about her Pacific Islands knowledge, she has a lot of catching up to do before she arrives in Port Vila. She and her Pacific advisers will be closely monitoring the discussions at the MSG meeting and its outcome to gauge the islands mood.

The MSG meeting is being hosted and chaired by Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama on July 22-23 at Natadola, Fiji, an hour’s drive from Nadi International Airport.
Apart from the normal MSG business, Fiji is expected to use this summit to explain its position to other Forum islands member countri…

Public Sector Reforms: 5. How the Decisions are Made

Edited extracts from my Interview with Parmesh Chand, Permanent Secretary Public Service Commission. Vinaka, Tui, for this transcript.

Croz: When these decisions are made, how are they made? Is it around the table? Well, we still do a proper process of horizontal coordination and consultation for decisions. There is a policy for a provision prepared. We will take that and a number of ministries are involved like for housing there is Lands Department, there is PSC, there is public works. So we consult and prepare a paper and present to Cabinet.
Croz: How are talks with the Unions? Parmesh Chand: We're not consulting them at the moment because the issue is that they are not coming in good faith. Everything they come in, they adopt an extreme position. We would rather consult the employees directly or be mindful of what the implications are for the employees, rather than engaging with the Unions who more times than not try to block everything we do.
Like the other day, we wanted to…

If PNG Needs Australia, Australia Also Needs PNG, Surfing Decree

PNG, AUSTRALIA, FIJI. It is disturbing to read about Fiji in the PNG-Australia joint communique released after the meeting of their foreign ministers Abal and Smith in Alotau, Milne Bay Province last week.

The two Fiji clauses could have been tagged on as a sort of necessary afterthought to discussion on the Australian $457.2 million 2010-11 Budget aid package, an increase in ODA, co-operation on the LNG (liquidised natural gas) project, minerals, Torres Strait, seasonal workers, and the nostalgic Kokoda Trail**

But I think PNG would be quite aware that this Australian "benevolence"  comes at a price.

Paras 48 and 49 read:
 Ministers reaffirmed the commitment of both countries to working together to help Fiji return to democracy and the rule of law.  Ministers expressed grave concern about the continuing deteriorating economic and political condition in Fiji. 
Ministers noted that the Fiji interim government had taken actions further to limit free speech, and deny Fiji's…