Monitoring Charter Progress, Racism and Coups, NZ Earthquake, MSG Trade and Police Meetings

N253. CHARTER ADVISORY COMMITTEE.  The 9th meeting of the National People’s Charter Advisory Council met on Wednesday to finalise its report on the implementation of the People’s Charter for Change, Peace and Progress that will be presented to the PM.

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.
Note: By putting Fiji in limbo in some areas of regional co-operation, Australia and NZ are leaving a big gap in many areas of regional security that could backfire on them. Fiji's geographic location and airline and marine hubs  make it an ideal transit point for the transnational crimes and sovereignty issues discussed by the MSG Commisssioners. 

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.


Ties that bind said…
Nice to see Philip Taula making a gracious speech of thanks at the cheque handover with Ratu Inoke. It's been a very torrid time between the two countries. This is a welcome sign that old friends might be estranged, but still have regard for each other. Vinaka.
Looking for the roadmap said…
They should be reporting to the People of Fiji not the PM - the PM should already know what is going on with progress, he should be driving it !
sara'ssista said…
No255 fiji's coup culture was created and executed by the military. The fact that future military 'leaders' will still see this as an option we will still see this as an issue. Race played no greater role than poverty, ignorance, corruption, cultural values etc.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Looking for the roadmap ... The job of the Advisory Committee and Strategic Framework for Change Committee is to vet the work of the ministries to ensure they are in line with Charter expectations. It is not usual for such committees in other countries to report directly to 'the people.' In Fiji Seruilagilagi has made regular reports through the media and Bainimarama is frequently talking about the public service, inviting people to contact him with their dissatisfactions. Several such reports, in fact, have been published on this blog. I suggest your batteries are overloaded with negatives.

@ Sara'ssista ... The military may have been the means by which the coups were executed but their causes are much deeper. 'Race' is a shorthand for cultural values, beliefs and institutions that would be better labelled 'ethnicity.'

As you know, sections of the itaukei elite, politicians and church leaders, who felt threatened by the Bavadra and Chaudhry governments (or who had lost — or thought they would lose — privileges under these governments) fed racist misinformation (The Indians want your land, Blood will be shed if you don't vote for us, etc.) to grassroots itaukei who were kept in ignorance about how they were being used. They were the pawns in a much more devious game. Qarase (CAMV/SDL) used the same tricks in the 2001 and 2006 elections, and his supporters are using them still.

If 'race' (and all it has meant) is removed from the political scene, there is hope that a further military coup will not occur. But if the causes remain (or are resurrected after 2014), you may be right. Meanwhile, Bainimarama is lancing the racist boils!
Cicero said…
@ Croz Walsh says:
"Lancing the racist boils....."?

Is lancing the boils sufficient? How can this work within a time frame of two and a half years? It is doubtful. After meeting with three survivors of the Gas Chambers at Auschwitz and Dachau (two of them married to each other - teenage survivors who escaped to Israel)the horror of racial supremacy and of its consequences are not readily assuaged. One of these survivors is a famous Californian Hungarian-born architect. Their personal witness will die with them. Or maybe not. Because people who have spoken with them will remember and give witness long after they are gone. Racists - all who espouse the national supremacy of one pure race - must bear accountability for the error of their 'thinking made manifest'. Merely pardoning them is quite insufficient. An example must be set for future generations. The Nuremburg Trials saw to this. The International Criminal Court at The Hague will see to the rest. There is no Statute of Limitations for Crimes Against Humanity. Those who have insisted upon the rights of one racial group to the exclusion of others but still require 'taxation without representation' will need to justify their ideological position in a higher court of public opinion. Seeking solace in the application of honorifics as 'National Treasures' is unlikely to suffice. It is akin to special pleading. A most deficient defence.
Islands in the Stream said…
@ Sara'ssista......"race played no greater role than 'poverty, ignorance, corruption, cultural values' .................

Come on, Sara'ssista, you delude yourself (and others)! That is a pretty considerable role but RACE played an even larger role. It was the "Main Chance" (to use a Las Vegas term). My, did they ever play it! The so-called National Treasures took it fully to heart and played it for all it was worth. Funded by taxpayers (from all ethnic groups 'and some' of course) these 'racist supremacist' wonders made hay with all the public money that fell into their grasping maw. Did they ever! 'The Main Chance made Manifest' Now they shall account for their "delusions de grandeur" funded by Fiji taxpayers. This philosophy of 'beggar thy neighbour' on the grounds that they are easy prey can never last. There will always be a consequence as Syria's Assad Family, Libya's Ghaddafi Family, Egypt's Murbarak Family are now fully aware. What a long time it took? Shame on us all that it took this long! We did deals with this covey of carrion for forty years or more. And Australia's PM we learn questions the rationale for a "No Fly Zone"? How will that look forty years on from now? Is Geoffrey Robertson QC advising Foreign Minister Rudd to think otherwise? Well, he knows our situation, so let him.

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