Showing posts from August 1, 2010

Weekend Reading

Click here or Scroll Down Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On -- Allen Lockington  Click here.Impressions on Returning Home -- Sudarsan Kant  Click here.Fiji And its 'Dictator': Another View -- Christopher Griffin* Click here.Michael Field’s Swimming with Sharks --  Thakur Ranjit Singh Click here.Scurrilous Misreporting by Anti-Government Blog -- Crosbie Walsh Click here.

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On


Impressions on Returning Home -- Sudarsan Kant

Fiji And its 'Dictator': Another View -- Christopher Griffin*

Michael Field’s “Swimming with Sharks” -- Thakur Ranjit Singh


Scurrilous* Misreporting by Anti-Government Blog -- Crosbie Walsh

Forum Out, EU Questions its Relevance; ACP Out: Who Did It? Thinking ... Not Sleeping: From Total Silence to Mature Debate?

WEEKEND READING.  Allen Lockington's column; an Indo-Fijian's impressions on his home visit; Book Review. Michael Field's Swimming with Sharks, and in "Fiji and its Dictator" Chris Griffin, an Australian social anthropologist now living in Fiji, challenges ABC Rowan Callick's views published in last week's Weekend Australian. A veritable feast of comment and observation. Enjoy.
. The announcement causes no surprise and no further comment is necessary. Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn. -- George Bernard Shaw.

FORUM: EU SAYS FIJI MISSED. Fiji's absence from the Forum has prompted questions about its relevance and ability to help lift Pacific islanders out of poverty. The latest question comes from Christian Leffler, head of the EU Forum delegation.

"When Fiji is not participating fully in regional cooperation," he said, "as witnessed by their absence from this Pacific Islands Forum meeting, that also w…

Three Messages from Port Vila, and McCully Blames Media

KEY MOUTH AND NO EARS.    As the saying goes, "God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we may listen twice as much as we speak." Heedless of this heavenly advice, what does our PM say in response to comment that Australians and New Zealanders are  not  Pacific Islanders?

TVNZ reported that he 'blasted as a "ridiculous assertion" comments by Fiji's Commodore Frank Bainimarama that Australia and  New Zealand should not be in the Pacific Islands Forum because they were "not Pacific Islanders".' And then, with a touch of immodesty that would not have been missed by Pacific leaders, he went on to say: "We've always played a leadership (sic!) role in the Pacific, we're going to continue to do that."

A little later, Kiribati President Anote Tong, who seemed to be agreeing with Bainimarama, said: "There's a feeling there should be more Pacific in the Pacific," adding that he is not alone in thinking more progress will…

Thinking … Not Sleeping: Critical but Helpful Ideas on How to Take Fiji Forward

15. What should Australia/New Zealand do?
Continued from yesterday
A compromise on travel bans, maybe. Ask Fiji to provide a list of say 50 names in order of priority it wants removed from the travel bans. One by one Australia/NZ could address these quickly. Fiji should be realistic though, e.g. , the names should be people like Pramesh Chand , the Permanent Secretary of the PSC, and people who want to help government, not military personnel.

Admit it is too late and impractical for Mahendra Chaundhry or Laisenia Qarese to return to power. Agree on a few points with the Military, e.g., the economy was already struggling before 2006. Australia and New Zealand do not have to endorse or accept coups (nor should any of us) but they could acknowledge it has happened and say they will work with the current power for the purpose of returning democracy. Perhaps some sort of engagement agreement ?

One final comment - wouldn't it be great if I could put my name to this without fear of perse…

Forum Chair Natapei's Inaugural Address

3 -6 AUGUST 2010 PRESS RELEASE (69/10) 3rd August 2010

The Chair of the 41st Pacific Islands Forum and Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu, Hon. Edward Natapei, MP, has called for the removal of barriers and elements in the region that deny democracy and good governance.

Progress behind the Scenes, Commonwealth, Solomons, Chinese, Dairy Brucellosis

BALANCED ABC VIDEO ON BAINIMARAMA . Click here. And another link in case the first one does not work.

KIWIS OUTDO AUSSIES. This from teletext last night: "Prime Minister John Key is due to arrive Vanuatu to help sort out issues in the Pacific." And I accused the Downer's Aussies of arrogance!

QU0TE FOR THE WEEK. The Alan Judd quote (yes, he is a real author) has drawn comment from several readers.  I thought it apt because several people have urged Government to give more urgency to the dialogue process, and because there are inherent dangers when leadership is restricted to so few in number.

PROGRESS BEHIND THE SCENES. Several readers have said the Government is not making fast enough progress in its constitutional and electoral reforms. More dialogue, monitoring and consultations are going on than is realized, and many activities, though mundane, are essential if the Roadmap is to be achieved. And without the Roadmap, constitutional and electoral reforms will not be sust…

Thinking … Not Sleeping: Critical but Helpful Ideas on How to Take Fiji Forward

14. What Can Fiji Do? Continued from yesterday
It will be impossible for a 100% military run government to hand over to a civilian run government. It would be impossible today and it will be impossible in 2014. Assuming government is genuine about 2014 and democracy, etc., it has to start changing how government is run now. I’m no politician but here are a few thoughts:

a) Make a deliberate and purposeful shift to something similar to a civilian government. Hire more people like Peter (Thomson) and Sharon (Smith-Johns). How about appointing a deputy PM who is a civilian with no military background? Ask the good performers amongst the military in government positions to resign from the military. Ultimately I would like to see Frank resign his post from the military as well. This might be a catalyst for a real change in international support. How about a more transparent cabinet where we can see the decisions being made and the arguments? Maybe invite international observes to observe cab…

Funny Forum, Overseas Oversee Fiji, Government's Quick Response, Education Plans

IT'S GOING TO BE A FUNNY FORUM that starts today in Vila. Sir Michael Somare, who positioned himself as a key player in negotiating with Fiji, has withdrawn at the last minute because he needs to be in PNG. He is replaced by Planning Minister Paul Tiensten. Solomon Islands PM Derek Sikua and Australian PM Julia Gillard are also unable to attend due to their respective election campaigns.Tuvualu's Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia  will also not be there.  Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and NZ PM John Key have missed the Tuesday session but arrive tonight. And according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Pacific's biggest issue, Fiji and its ongoing exclusion from the Forum, is apparently not on the agenda. Based on SMH.

Radio NZ International's Johnny Blades, however,  reports that Fiji is a priority issue. “Priority issues include trade negotiations, updates from the Ministerial action Group on Fiji, and cessation of a regional assistance package for Nauru. The …

Engaging with Fiji by Thakur Ranjit Singh

A history in making that can no longer be ignored
History is a testimony to the fact that most big things today had a humble, in fact, some, very insignificant beginnings. Whether it be the genesis of Colonel’s Sander’s KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), the Mc Donald’s, the World Disney, Chaudhry’s Fiji Labour Party and Qarase’s SDL which respectively once ruled Fiji, the formation of United Nations which replaced the League of Nations and so on.

Perhaps the coming generation may view the Natadola Fiji Engaging meeting that had a humble and ironically somewhat accidental beginning, in a similar manner.

Fiji’s ‘painful process’ could lead to better democracy

PANEL DISCUSSES FIJI. The link to last night's Radio NZ discussion involving Nik Naidu, Richard Pamatatau, Peni Moore and myself.

For the Pacific Media Watch account of last night's RadioNZ panel discussion,  Click here.

This is the first time in several months contrary views have been on the NZ media. It will be interesting to see whether the radio item or its coverage by  Pacific Media Watch are used by the mainstream media. NZ continues to complain about media restrictions in Fiji, but our media is hardly giving informed, balanced coverage itself.

Thinking … Not Sleeping: Critical but Helpful Ideas on How to Take Fiji Forward

11-13. The Good and Bad News on Business
Continued from yesterday ( Croz,  responding to some of your questions)
11The good news on business

Tourism is generally a good news story for Fiji. There are some good operators in Fiji and large chains are backed by branding and networks that feed their chains. Government can’t really claim the success as it is the industry that has adapted to the challenges of operating in Fiji. The best thing government has done is stop attacking tourism (although the Reserve Bank (RBF) government still lashes out now and then). They will continue to grow their businesses. Sadly they all now have a ‘coup plan’ just in case. It’s not just big brand names and chains – look at Rosie’s who own LikuLiku for an example of home grown success and a well run operation.

The likes of Hari Punja and his chips and biscuits are also success stories. Everyone loves to have a go at these local tycoons but they are exporting to Australia and New Zealand. Look at the other Pu…

Tonga Talks Sense, Downer Talks. Bainimarama on Forum; Rarawai Mill


VOICE OF REASON: TONGA WANTS DIALOGUE. In an interview with ABC's Bruce Hill acting as devil's advocate, Tongan PM Dr Feleti Sevele made these important comments:

Engaging in dialogue was the best way of genuine progress to democracy in Fiji; The Forum wants dialogue; Dialogue does not legitimise the Fiji regime; " The future of Fiji in terms of its government, in terms of its development, of its democracy, is something for the people of Fiji to resolve, not for us from outside of Fiji to determine how we would assist; We would certainly like Fiji to come back and be part of the international community or the Forum according to the governor's rules and policies of the forum."The forum wants to keep the lines of dialogue open and this is also said by Australia and New Zealand. We all believe that. If they need assistance, we should be willing to consider that. The altern…

Thinking … Not Sleeping: Critical but Helpful Ideas on How to Take Fiji Forward

9-10. Travel Bans and Elections
Continued from yesterday

9. What about travel bans ?
I can only speak for myself and close friends on this one. I have used this excuse to not accept formal government positions. Frankly its easier than saying no. It deflects the anger to Australia and away from me. I’ve learnt not to make Frank angry. I don’t want to become a target. My friends except one feel the same way.

The travel bans have not been successful in changing their minds on anything. But they certainly have really annoyed those in power. Travel has long been considered a ‘perk’ of government and senior positions. The military wanted these perks – call it low level corruption if you like but they where wanting nothing more than others had got before. This hit Frank and his key people on a personal level.

What now 3.5 years later ?

I don’t see much changing over the next 2-3 years. The economy will struggle but not collapse, business will continue. I can’t see any progress on sugar and its…

Police Thought to Have Acted Wrongly; MIDA Appointments; PM Warns Military, Sanctions

If you can, tune in to Radio NZ National tonight (Monday) from about 7:30-7:55  to listen to a panel discussion on Fiji.  Panelists are Nik Naidu, Richard Pamatatau, Peni Moore and myself.  You may ber able to listen to it on
See also the new Quote for the Week in the right side bar.

POLICE ACTION ON FIJI LIVE CONFUSING. As reported on Saturday, Online FijiLive publisher Richard Naidu was taken in for questioning by the police  on Thursday and released the next day for an article that erroneously claimed Police Commissioner Commodore Esala Teleni had been suspended. I think the action taken was excessive, and I am further disturbed by the following statement:
"Police spokesperson  Ema Dimila, in a Radio Five item titled 'Fiji Police Warm Media Outlets,' is reported to have said the police will not hesitate to take action against those that don’t abide by the Media Decree. She said:
“It is a Decree to safeguard everybody – the media and other parti…

Nights with Bryan Crump Radio NZ National

If you can, tune in tomorrow night (Monday) from about 7:30-7:55  to listen to a panel discussion on Fiji.  Panelists are Nik Naidu, Richard Pamatatau, Peni Moore and myself.

Thinking … Not Sleeping: Critical but Helpful Ideas on How to Take Fiji Forward

7- 8. Double Standards Continued from yesterday

7. Mighty words, minor action and double standards

When you hear the PM talk about getting rid of corruption the words are mighty. No one can disagree with what he says and there are many minor cases of this government taking action. In particular against public servants – well done. They are all minor cases, though. Where is the massive corruption the former prime minister was involved in?

They have also left themselves open to perceived or real double standards. There are too many to mention (think Francis Kean, the AG’s brother, Mahen and tax). I felt the big turning point was when the PM paid himself back pay. The numbers did not stack up and no one believed it. He was either negligible in his duties and should have resigned for never having taken leave or he was simply lining his pockets. Double standards. A true leader would not have done it. It is still not too late to reverse these decisions.

8. Clever by half

The charter process st…