News and Editor's Comments Friday 12.8.11

A-G.Welcome smile; unwelcome decree
Friday 12.8.11
Anti-Bainimarama government supporters constantly claim a lack of balance on this website. The accusation is not true. When the 'good' news from Fiji is not reported, I publish it. Credit is given when credit is due. When there's nothing but 'bad' news, it is reported also, as today's postings show. 
   My assessment of the current situation is that Government could be risking all that has been gained from nearly five years of lofty ideals, hard work and sacrifice. They are passing the ball to their opponents, many of whom have far less lofty ideals.  Government would quickly regain lost ground if it were to lift (or at least significantly modify) PER, re-think the Essential Industries Decree, and urge the FNPF to implement its reforms as gently as possible.

TRADE UNIONS NOT BANNED BUT ... The A-G is absolutely right in saying that trade unions are not banned by the new Essential National Industries Employment Decree which some have claimed is a violation of trade union rights. “Nowhere," he says, "does it say that trade unions in Fiji are banned. There is no law that actually sets that out."
   But he is absolutely wrong in implying that the new decree does not infringe on the previous rights of the unions affected. The decree (and subsequent government action)  make it difficult for a union to collect member subscriptions and for union leaders to enter their members' workplaces. You are free to join a weakened union with no teeth. It is disingenuous for the A-G to say otherwise. The new "bargaining units" are no substitute for a union.
   He is also correct in saying the two unionists who were recently arrested were not arrested because they were trade unionists, but because they had breached the Public Order Act that holds people responsible for actions likely to damage the state. Their appeal to overseas unionists to support their opposition the the Essential Industries decree certainly falls into this category.
   But, realistically, what else could they do? The A-G said, “We all need to think as loyal citizens and take the country forward.” He is right again but loyalty should be reciprocal and does not assume submission to an unfair decree.
   In all of this, the A-G is playing with words. The Decree is anti-union and the union leaders, unlistened to in Fiji, had little choice other than to act as they did. And this, irrespective of what we might think of them personally. It's the principle that's at stake. Here's another report on the issue from FijiVilllage.
The ILO team is now in Fiji. There are no restrictions on who they can meet.
PERMIT PERMITTING. Recently, commenting on the temporary detention of two trade unionists for breaching the Public Emergency Regulations, the Ministry of Information said all they had to do was apply for a permit. It sounded so easy you'd wonder why people would risk detention by not applying. 
   But it's not easy. Applications involve a far lengthier and more difficult process than the Ministry infers, making it no wonder people don't apply, especially for spur of the moment meetings.
Here's the process.
Step 1. Complete a form from the District Officer's office, write a covering letter, include a copy of your intended programme and proof of payment for the use of the venue. You may also be asked for a list of participants.
Step 2. The police will now investigate the application and maybe come back to you for more details before making their yes or no recommendation.  First time applications can take more than a month and subsequent applications at least two weeks.
Step 3. Wait at least two weeks and then contact the police. Sometimes the permit can sit on someone's desk at the police station for a few days, and no one will phone you to say when it's ready.
Step 4. Hopefully, collect the approved permit application.
You can see why PER is so unpopular!
ILTB TENANTS EVICTED. The i-Taukei Land Trust Board Northern Division branch has started  evicting tenants who failed to pay their land rental.


Proud fijian said…
It is all a negotiating process. You start from your highest possible position and slowly progress your way through negotiations until a middle ground is reached.

The unions would have complained anyway. The FSC and Air Pacific which i think are the main targets need to be salvaged.

So here we go the negotiation begins. At the outset - if Fiji sits discusses and negotiates - will come out looking good. Not a dictatorship as many would portray.
Making the case for Fiji's Dogs and Cats said…
On the matter of Permits. The Dogs and Cats of Fiji depend upon the auspices of the SPCA and all associated with this organisation. If a permit is not issued for the AGM, then it is unlikely that urgently needed canine and feline medicines will be again available in Fiji. Currently, they are not. People's pets mean much to them especially in a situation of PER which places stringent restrictions upon them.

Waiting a fortnight or ten days for a permit can place an unfortunate restriction upon the work of volunteers and generous donors in a place where the state provides nothing of value.
A Constitution of Liberty said…
Loyalty ...... now that is an interesting idea.

Back in 2005, it was made plain to former Police Commissioner Hughes that the concept of loyalty and its ranking in a list of values might be below that of

Good Judgement

There was no response. The former Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani rates loyalty very highly in his list of leadership qualities. He also rates good judgement.

What is the value of loyalty to an evil or impoverished ideal?

We need to think about this very carefully indeed. Are we loyal to rioters and terrorists who destroy society on a whim? Or even who will destroy for a political end? Which we might not happen to share for good reason?

Loyalty is a multi-faceted virtue which requires always that good judgement is applied first. It cannot be imposed and morality and ethics will answer why not.

Loyalty is a choice. And it requires freedom in which to make that choice.
Give us balance said…
You are absolutely correct in stating that the military regime appointed AG is 'playing with words'. So are those who speak about this military junta as a 'government'. It is not a 'government' by any stretch of the imagination. It is a military junta.
There is no such thing as 'anti Bainimarama government supporters' but there is a seething and increasing mass of people who are sick of dictatorial control by unelected thugs and in a balanced view would be classed as 'pro freedom and democracy' supporters.
it is this way said…

I don't understand why you are all hot under the collar on this issue. Unions are a product of democracy not dictatorships. This is a dictatorship and it is completely unreasonable to support the dictatorship then cry fowl than unions don't get fare run. No one does - this is a military controlled dictatorship. They do what they want.

Are you still confident this government is moving fiji forward to free and fare elections in 2014. I would argue that with every year that passes we seem further away from that goal. Every year people have less freedom. Every year government confuses their "control" with popularity and mandate.
Not listening said…

I agree your site is pretty balanced. The real sad thing is despite this the Military government would no sooner listen to you than those folk over at C4.5. They could do a lot to help themselves. Maybe it's because they have been burnt so many times by there own poor choices of people to work for them (FLP, Unionist, long lost indo-fijians residing overseas just to name a few groups) or maybe it is because at heart after 5 years they are still military, still only know chain of command. If your senion office tells you, you don't argue you do. Sadly they think that is how Fiji should be run (including the media). For free and fair elections to happen the military has to change it's mindset (funny really how they always say everyone else has to change their mindsets) or they have to step back from government. I find it hard to see either of those happening anytime soon.
non said…
A lot of good people where 'stomped on' by this government just because they where supporters or work with or for the previous government or because they spoke out. None of them had any legal options. The high performers shipped overseas.

So why worry now about a few union leaders being stomped on Croz. Its all part of a new Fiji and moving Fiji forward.
Anonymous said…

What's with all the warning from the Military to the Methodist church. It's also been reported the military are monitoring the meeting. Surely all the anouncements are a over-reaction and besides shouldn't it be the the Police who monitor and uphold the PER. When it comes to making sure no possible political opponents emerge from anywhere the job seems to stay with the Military.

I also keep laughing everytime I hear the good major talk about the role of the church being only spiritual. The irony seems lost on him that for more than three year the police under previous commisioner spent most of it's time on recruiting soles for a rival church. If the church must stay out of state issues then surely the state can not promote church ?
frank for PM said…
Quick question for Croz or readers.

Assuming there is a election in 2014 do you expect the current government to form a party and run ?

Peter Firkin has some intersting thoughts on his site. Might make good weekend reading topic.

Perhaps his tough stance now is deliberate so he has something to soften come lead up to elections. His chasing down all possible know opposition also makes sense if you beleive he plan to stay on beyond 2014. I imagine he feels confident with SDL & FLP excluded and union leaders charged/locked up or silenced he has a good shot. Especially as he has the money to hand out QARASE STYLE.
Thug politics said…
I think I'm starting to see where you and Graham Davis are coming from? Bainimarama and his military junta crush any opposition and free speech, call an 'election' which the junta party wins, and Fiji becomes 'democratic' with a one party state? The only part I'm strugglig with is how to convince myself that this is progress???

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