Fiji 'Playing Politics' at MSG? Pacific Islands Trade, Disabilities, Gays have Human Rights

WEEKEND READING ♦ Allen Lockington Column  ♦ People's Charter  Pillar 4 Public Service Efficiency: for Discussion   ♦ Father Arms Corrects Me on the Charter's Proposed Voting System   
♦ Kevin Rudd Takes His Eye off Pacific Islands

I had hoped to publish " Two Viewpoints on the Alleged Torture of Detainees"   but this will now be deferred for two weeks due to  the Amnesty International NZ CEO being temporarily unavailable. 

Photo: A comment on last year's Engaging the Pacific meeting that was held when the MSG meeting was cancelled by then Vanuatu PM Edward Natapei, some say due to Australian pressure.

N0258. SNIPING FROM THE SIDELINES. The  Melanesian Spearhead Group is meeting in Suva this week and next. Last year's meeting was abandoned because the then MSG chairman, Vanuatu PM Edward Natapei, refused to hand over his chairmanship to Fiji whose turn it was to host the meeting. Natapei denies he was influenced by Australia and NZ in his decision. This year, no longer chairman and no longer PM, he tells Radio NZ International that Vanuatu should reconsider its membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group because the MSG is now — and for one brief term only — "chaired by a non-democratically elected government.”

Thank you, RNZI, what would we do without you to keep us informed on what we should think about Fiji? Having obtained Natapei's statement RNZI journalists ferreted out another negative comment on the MSG meeting, this time from Auckland University's (and formerly USP's) Dr Steven Ratuva who is usually not known for negative comments.

Steve warns the MSG not to become "a tool of geopolitics."  He says (or is reported to have said) Fiji's chairmanship of the MSG meeting "consolidates Commodore Bainimarama’s power in his scrap with Australia and New Zealand, and he may feel he’s now the new regional leader to be reckoned with."

“Perhaps in the long run that kind of thinking may be counter productive to the MSG which really needs to be focused more on economics and trade rather than in terms of fighting the political battle. So if [Commodore] Bainimarama uses the MSG as a means by which it can leverage politically then it might not be in the future interests of the MSG.”

But, Steve,  since all politicians play politics (that's what they do), why can't Fiji join the game? Fiji did not kick itself out of the Pacific Islands Forum, or the PACER talks (it wanted to participate). Australia and NZ influenced the Pacific's Forum members to make that political decision. Fiji did not ask the Commonwealth to be excluded from the Delhi Games. Australia and NZ urged the Commonwealth to take that political decision. Fiji did not ask the EU to suspend aid to its sugar industry. Australia and NZ were at it again. And Fiji has not placed travel bans on Australian and NZ sportsmen and women. That's Australia and NZ again. So if Australia and NZ are playing politics, is this also not the "the future interests of the MSG — and the Forum? As the saying goes, "If it's good bad for the goose, it's good bad for the gander."

Perhaps we can now get some worthwhile coverage of the MSG meeting by Radio NZ International — or any other media news source for that matter.  It's not often we get so many Pacific leaders together.  They should merit some mention.

N0259. MSG TRADING PARTNERS. The Director of Trade and Investment at the MSG Secretariat, Mere Falemaka, has told MSG delegates that while there has been an increase in trading among the MSG countries, there's a long way to go before the trade potential is fully realized. She urged all MSG countries to explore areas outside their traditional trading boundaries.

Australia continues to be the Region's biggest trading partner in both imports and exports followed by Asian countries (China, Japan, Indonesia, Korea and others) with whom trade it rapidly increasing. New Zealand comes next.-- based on No:0722/MOI.

N0260. FIRST LADY LAUNCHES DISABILITIES WORKSHOP. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) two-day workshop on empowering the deaf was launched by the First Lady Adi Koila Nailatikau on Thursday. The workshop was by the Fiji Association of the Deaf. The association has received $38,000 funding from the European Union for a one year period. The workshop focused on issues relating to employment and health. -- Based on No:0717/MOI.

Fiji joined 84 other countries recently in released a joint statement at the UN Human Rights Council in  Geneva on "Ending Acts on Violence and Related Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender  Identity." Local NGO, Women's Action for Change director Peni Moore said her organisation was pleased with the action taken by the Government.

"For those of us who've been working in this area for a long time, it gave us great pride to see what the Government has done," said Mrs Moore. She said she was honoured to be a member of one of the first Pacific island countries that was a signatory to the statement.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said the event stressed a commitment by the US to human rights through dialogue, open discussion and frank conversation, according to a statement yesterday. "Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights," Mrs Clinton said.


Real human rights abuse said…
Is it still a crime to have gay sex? I remember a case not long ago when an Australian was sentenced to several months in prison for having gay sex. Signing this statement would surely mean this law would have to be removed if it has not been done already. It is a clear abuse of the human rights of gay people.
Anonymous said…
No.258 Get Real Prfoessor! The Europeans can think for themselves.
No thinking about thinking said…
On 'The Europeans can think for themselves..'

Oh yes? Not convincing, not at all. If they were thinking for themselves how is it that they have allowed such outrageous compromises in the entire field of women's rights to be permitted throughout the Pacific Region since the Women's Parliamentarians' Conference held in Nadi at the Fiji Mocambo Hotel in March 2000? Not a word was said about the almost immediate trampelling of women's human rights which took place on 19 May 2000? Women parliamentarians taken hostage and threatened with rape, physical and mental violence for 56 days? In lieu of taking stock, the EU apparently went along with Canberra and colluded in corrupted elections in September 2001. Despite our vocal opposition. These elections were subverted, bought by the Agriculture Scam and aided in this subversion by the wiles of Mere Samisoni and colleagues. These colleagues in subversion were remunerated by public money and had set an agenda of racism and plunder. And where was the European Union in all this? Hanging onto the coat-tails of Canberra: they knew best. Well, now we know that they plainly did not. There is much explaining yet to be done. We are still waiting for this. Sanctions are not an explanation. Sanctions represent further damage to the rights and just aspirations of the population. Impositions of this type are as vile and undermining as any of the ills they deemed to address. What measure of thought is invested here?
Ropate Leka said…
RNZI - what we should think about Fiji. So who is Crosbie Walsh to tell us we should have PER, do what Frank tells us, live under the gun and considers us a bunch of idiots who can't determine our own future. The sooner Walsh realizes that Frank is intellectualy challenged, has serious mental health issues and is leading us nowhere the sooner his site might become beneficial in bringing us out of the wilderness.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Ropate ... I'll let it go this time but such personal attacks on the PM (or anyone else for that matter) are not welcome on this blog. Try one of the anti-govt blogs. You'll be in better company. And if you read my blog carefully, you will see I have done none of the things you accuse me of.

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