Monitoring Charter Progress, Racism and Coups, NZ Earthquake, MSG Trade and Police Meetings
Council chairman Josefa Serulagilagi said the meeting was a time for council members to relook at the work and critical areas of concern for the eleven pillars of the charter.
“We have been going through the progress that has come through on the eleven pillars of the charter, how they have been implemented by government ministries and statutory organisations,” he said. “As far as we are concerned I think things are going well in terms of the various ministries’ roles.
“Some areas we are looking at [are the] constitution and electoral reforms among other issues ... that must be carried out within a time frame and so that everything is in place [for elections in] 2014.”
The committee has 15 members who were appointed by the President in 2010. Most are either former members of the National Committee for Building a Better Fiji (NCBBF) or have been involved in the work on the Charter. Government Ministries are required to regularly report to the Committee on the steps they have taken to apply Charter provisions as they apply to their work. The Committee then reports to the PM.
N254. CHRISTCHURCH EARTHQUAKE. Minister for Foreign Affairs Ratu Inoke Kubuabola presented a cheque for $36,000 to assist Christchurch Earthquake relief to NZ High Commission's Phillip Taula at the Foreign Affairs office on Wednesday. Ratu Inoke said the cheque was a token of solidarity of the Government and people of Fiji with the government and people of New Zealand.
In accepting the cheque, Phillip Taula thanked the Fijian Government for their timely donation saying that it is a sign of true Pacific brotherhood.“We are very thankful to the Fijian Government and this is a sign of our already strong ties with Fiji,” he said. Fiji had earlier sent its condolences and offer of help to Japan following its disastrous earthquake.
N255. THE CHARTER, RACISM AND COUPS. Speaking to Tailevu villagers on Monday the PM repeated the message he has been taking to other villages over the past few months. The People's Charter spells out the direction of consitutional and electoral reforms, and will "strongly facilitate the removal of racism" that the military will not allow to return because it creates the instability that has led to Fiji's "coup culture." Race has been used by some "church leaders and chiefs involved in dirty politics." He also assured the villagers that the Charter and the constitution will ensure that no one can take away the i-taukei land and fishing grounds.
N256. MELANESIAN SPEARHEAD GROUP. Meetings on regional trade and police cooperation took place this week and other meetings of senior official will be held prior to the Foreign Minister's meeting next Tuesday, bilateral meetings next Wednesday and the 18th Leaders' Summit meeting next Thursday that will be chaired by the Fiji PM.
The trade meeting focused on ways to improve trade both internally and externally. The MSG Trade Agreement was signed in 1993 with a few products and was extended in 1998 before a major review of the agreement was initiated in 2005, necessitated by the emergence of other trade agreements. Fiji said it welcomed the revised agreement but required more detailed analysis of trade possibilities. It was, however, ready to implement zero tariffs and quarantine requirements. Solomon Islands confirmed that they begun with processes to implement the agreement.
The meeting of Police Commissioners and senior officers discussed a wide range of issues and ways the MSG countries could work together to improve regional and national security through bilateral and multilateral agreements.
Security issues of most concern were:
- Natural Disasters - Cyclones, volcanic eruptions, floods, landslides, rising sea levels, tsunami, famines etc.
- Law and Order – Civil unrest, general lawlessness, ethnic tensions, land disputes etc.
- Transnational Crimes – drug trafficking, guns or small arms smuggling, crimes perpetrated by third country nationals, and illegal immigration issues.
- Sovereignty – border incursions, illegal and unreported fishing and poaching, terrorism, nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and passage of radioactive substances through our waters, all of which pose significant threats to our island countries. Sources: Fiji Times and No:0700/MOI.
However, cooperation between Australian Federal Police and Customs and Fiji Police resulted in the arrest of cocaine smugglers this week.
N257. FIJI CAN PROVIDE POLICE DOG TRAINING. Fiji's Commissioner of Police, BrigGeneral Iowane Naivalurua, told his MSG counterparts that Fiji is now ready to provide police dog training for its regional neighbours.
Fiji has had a dog unit since 1961 but until 2006 dog handlers went to the US, Australia and NZ for specialist training. Since 2006 they have been providing their own training and each Division now has its own unit that specializes in bomb, drug and narcotic detection and search and rescue operations.
The Police Commissioners visited Suva's dog unit and Police community centres in the Central Division.