Tea Party? Or Tea Party, Sarah Palin Style?
The police shutdown last week of their three-day meeting at the Pearl Resort at Pacific Harbour, an hour's drive west from Suva, may —or may not— have been a double misunderstanding that could have been avoided.
The FWRM story, published on Facebook, is that the meeting "was part of FWRM’s annual internal planning [for] which a permit was not required ... 25 representatives of the FWRM staff, management board and partners were spending three days reflecting on their achievements over 25 years." And so it might have been. But someone at the hotel complained, some unknown people were also at the meeting, and the hotel events manger was unable to tell the police whether they had a permit for the meeting.
The police request to see the agenda for the meeting —which would have settled the matter one way or another— was denied, and FWRM Executive Director, Virisila Buadromo, and lawyer Roshika Deo were taken to the local police station for further questioning. The FWRM statement said: "Whilst waiting at the station, a police officer told Deo “it’s because you are an activist that is why they have brought you in ... to check!” To check they were not in breach of the regulations.
Events like this do little for the reputations of either party, and always leave unanswered questions. There is no suggestion the police were rude or offensive.They were merely doing their job, but the FWRM had a perfect right to hold its meeting if it was not in breach of PER. It could have checked on this before leaving Suva, or it could have shown police the agenda.
The real "culprit", of course, is the PER regulations that seem to have passed their use-by date.They continue to provide anti-Government people like Virisila with opportunities to discredit the Government, and the international media love it.
There has been an increase of such activity in recent weeks — the Mara press releases, the FDFM meetings in Australia, the Felix Anthony allegations, the pronouncements of ousted MP Rajesh Singh. They are probably uncoordinated, but their organisers will see Virisilia's latest act as well worth the money spent at the Pearl Resort, especially if the $8,000 plus cost for 25 people was picked up by aid donors.