Unchanged Utter Rudd-ish, Free Buses, Subsides for Disabled and Elderly, The EU, Increase Sugar Tonnage Price, USP's Token Disaster Assistance

N0268. RUDD: NO CHANGE IN POSITION OR APPROACHES.  Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, cited by the Otago Daily Times, said trans-Tasman  diplomacy calling for democracy in Fiji will continue to be vigorous, and that was often a tendency to focus on what  Australian and New Zealand diplomacy should be doing, rather than putting the onus on Commodore Frank Bainimarama's  military regime. Rudd then went on to talk about Bainimarama sacking its entire judiciary, closing down the media, and not holding elections.

"Bainimarama is the one who must change here ... if he is to  adhere to the standards and the norms of the Pacific Islands Forum, the Commonwealth of Nations, [and] the United Nations." He said Australia and New Zealand were "doing a lot" in pushing for freedom of expression in Fiji, and diplomacy would continue to be active. "It will continue to be vigorous in engaging the Fijian regime. We're not in the business of legitimising what has  been a very ugly military coup ... Bainimarama must change, " he said.

 The article went on to report NZ Foreign Minister Mr McCully's comment last month that there had been little progress toward the resumption of democracy in Fiji, and Amnesty International NZ's allegations of "arbitrarily arresting political opponents, and [subjecting] at least 10 people ...to torture and beatings."

[No comment on Rudd's assessment of the situation other than that it has not changed ... and is not working, whatever the rights or wrongs of the situation in Fiji. Skilled diplomats do not repeatedly beat their heads against a brick wall.  They reassess the situation, and try another approach.]  
Cartoon: Shutterstock.
N0269. UP THE CREEK WITHOUT A PADDLE RUDD(ER). Excuse the pun.  To watch the video of yesterday's TVNZ interview with Dr  Rudd, click here, or read the transcript.  The interview starts with the interviewer twice checking Dr Rudd for not answering his question. 
GUYON. I didn't ask you that.
RUDD.  That [the Bainimarama Government] is unacceptable.
GUYON. I didn't ask you that. I asked you whether you had cause to believe that there was a need to change strategy at all.
RUDD. .... We're doing a lot in holding the line ... . will continue to be vigorous in engaging the Fijian regime. We're not in the business of legitimising what has been a very ugly military coup.
 He still hadn't answered the question but the inference is clear: no need for change. Alton Shameem JP, chairman of the Fiji Club of NZ, also had some words to say on Dr Rudd's interview.

  Meanwhile, in Fiji, Government continues with its reforms. Some 3,000 ID cards are being distributed to people over 60, who will get a 50% discount on bus fares, and people with disabilities who will have free fares. Forty year-old Pranay Chand, a frequent traveller, was one of them. “I have been disabled since birth," he said,  "and I feel that government really care about the disabled. At the moment I am  staying in Wainibuku. From there to Suva is $1.60 per trip. Then I pay $2 from Samabula to Saint Giles Hospital for taxis every day. So that is quite a lot."

  My posting N0258 in which I said Australian and NZ had influenced others, including the European Union, to put sanctions on Fiji, drew these comments: "Get real Professor! The Europeans can think for themselves."

To which  another reader replied: "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 trampling 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?"

N0272. INCREASE THE SUGAR TONNAGE PRICE. National Farmers Union national president Surendra Lal said expiring land leases and continuous mill breakdowns have hurt many farmers this year but an increase tonnage price  could "see the ailing sugar industry at least in the Northern Division bounce back to its heydays." Rising costs have also hurt farmers.Blended fertilisers that used to cost  $19.50 have cost close to $40 since 2009. Bearing these and other costs in mind, payments of $80 per tonne of cane meant a loss of $30-$40 per tonne. Lal said farmers wanted to see they got a bigger piece of the pie and that had not been happening. "Farmers are losing confidence in this industry [but] if the pricing can be improved, this industry will bounce back," he said.

  Following a candlelight memorial service to remember the victims of the recent disasters in Australia, New Zealand and Japan at USP's Laucala campus in Suva last night, the university announced it will waive 2011 fees and offer scholarships for ten students from these countries who "have lost everything." The service marked the beginning of USP’s campaign, entitled USPHope, to raise funds for the scholarships. Over many years USP, the Pacific's regional university, has received considerable financial assistance from all three countries. The scholarships are tokens of thanks, sympathy and reciprocity.


Cut to the chase said…
Perhaps you need to cut to the chase and forget the rhetoric? Regardless of the views of you, Shameem and other coup supporters and collaborators, the free world will not be legitimising Bainimarama's coup or regime. So best move on. The dictator knows what he has to do - and the window of opportunity for him to do the right thing is closing rapidly. Denial and heads in the sand will not help the struggling sugar farmers and others in poverty as the economy slides downwards?

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