News and Editor's Comments Tuesday 9.8.11

Tuesday 9.8.11

FRAENKEL AND DAVIS. More from  Graham Davis's Grubsheet.
ESSENTIAL INDUSTRIES YES; ESSENTIAL DECREE NO. "The Decree which affects the unions (essential industries 035) is extremely serious and undermines the Employment Relations Bill, the Employment Relations Advisor Board (as well as its legal subcommittee work on some changes to the ERP) and the Wages Councils.  I was told by a lawyer that it also violates a number of ILO conventions Fiji has signed on to.  It is definitely anti-union but pro-business, pro-investor, pro-rich.  I understand that some of the AG's advisors have been the usual suspects who form the business lobby who fought against wages etc. The AG has gone far too far. He is very adept in glossing over the nasty parts of the decree to make it sound feasible and to the benefit of Fiji."
A LITTLE STORY. Just Imagine. When you need your home and children protected against thieves, robbers and intruders you normally get a good strong dog to roam freely around your compound and bark loudly to alert you of approaching danger.Imagine if a new decree came into effect which protected your right to have a dog but stipulated that (a) it must be a small dog  no more than ten inches high; (b) it must not be allowed to bark loudly; (c) it must be chained up all day and all night and not be allowed to roam your compound.Just imagine the consequences for yourself, your home and your children. [And while on this particular decree, I'm told some parts contravene ILO and I have to wonder what those who supported the Bainimarama government because they were less concerned about the 'law' than 'social justice must now be thinking.]
THE BIGGEST RURAL ELECTRIFICATION PROJECT.The PM had opened the biggest rural electrification project ever-undertaken in Fiji.The Waidina district rural electrification project, started in 2007, cost $1.8million, and will benefit 14 villages, seven schools and small surrounding settlements,and allows various micro enterprises and rural businesses to expand their businesses. It should also help boost the district’s vast dalo and banana plantation businesses. The project is in line with government’s plan for economic development in intensifying farm commercialisation, identifying industry priorities based on demand assessments and strengthening agro-business, broadly outlined in Pillar 7 of the Charter, establishing an integrated development structure at provincial level.  -- Based on No.1578/MOI.
PAFCO NOW CLOSED. Production at PAFCO fishery factory at Levuka  is now at a complete stand-still according to Union officials,and the company has remained tight-lipped on the issue. The factory is closed to upgrade to US standards.
A NEW GRAND PACIFIC.  The once world-renowned Grand Pacific Hotel that used to cater for visitors when most travelled by sea and a few by flying boat has been derelict for years.  It is soon to see a new lease of life thanks to investment money from the Papua New Guinea’s National Superannuation Fund and the Fiji National Provident Fund.


Nive said…
A Little Story - When I was in Fiji last, I never had a good night's sleep the whole time, because dogs were barking all night every night. The idea that every dog should be its owner's responsibility would be great. Dogs should be kept inside all night. That way they will still guard the house, but the owner will make sure it does not bark all night. And all stray dogs can be culled. This is how it's done in Australia.
It seems it's too easy to say whatever the Bainimarama govt comes up with has to be evil.
i-Taukei military said…
Perhaps you and Mr Davis are forgetting what a military regime is? The i-Taukei military run the nation and have done so for 5 years. They are not answerable to the people and their mandate is clear and obvious to all. It is the mandate of the power of the gun? As regime supporters one would think you were both clear on this?
The workers, like everybody else, will do as they are told. As you have said many times, the military reginme approach is working well and best for Fiji - don't soften up now that we have full control?
Dove said…
Lets be careful Croz as well as giving credit where credit is due. Electricity projects are great. Well done government.

Great also to see the old hotel is going to get a new lease of life but let us also remember plans have been drawn up and announced before. The main reason the last plans fell over was the 2006 Military coup. So this project could be seen as 4.5 years delayed due to coup...getting back on track. Also the time to celebrate real estate projects in when the tenants start moving in not the anouncement.
piano said…

You seem very worried about this new decree which puzzles me. Government/Military has always had the power to do prettu much as they like since the coup and the only difference now is this formalises it in regards to unions. No one else is aloud to speak against government so why should unions be able to ?
psoitive said…
Croz, You throw your full support behind the military in taking over government so you really do need to accept thay it is their right now to do what ever they like. Are you still confident of free and fair elections in 2014 and dialogue (open, inclusive) happening in 2012) ?
Sitting on the fence said…
Thank you for your update. Mr Fraenkal's stance seems clear and consistent. He is against the coup and he is against the military regime and its actions.
Mr Davis' stance on the other hand is less clear. He is against the coup (I think) but he is not against the actions taken by the coup regime? He appears to be sitting on the fence and I'm not sure what it is exactly he stands for? Could he clarify his confusion?
another dog said…
Imagine you lived in a country where the only one who is allowed to bark full stop is the military and it's appointed government.

Oh...and a few stray dogs.

Now you starting to understand Fiji Croz ?
Yea yea said…
Quite why anybody especially you Croz (as a Fiji expert) thinks unions should have a some special rights and voice in Fiji when no one else does is beyond me. The PM, AG and military run the show. You can join them and shower them with praise (thing many businesses) or they will come down hard on you !
He said, She said…
This new decree is good for workers cause the AG says so and the president has announced new bargining units.
Graham Davis said…
"Sitting on the fence", I don't think there's any doubt where I stand but in the interests of clarity, let me make myself perfectly clear.

I believe every coup in Fiji has been an unmitigated disaster in dividing the country, damaging the economy and robbing Fiji of its potential to be a beacon for other Pacific nations.

But the 2006 coup was very different from the previous three. It wasn't to support the notion of indigenous paramountcy. It was to support the notion of a multiracial Fiji - the only way, in my opinion, that the country has any viable future at all.

Whatever people like Jon Fraenkel say, the Qarase government had embarked on a legislative program to provide indigenous Fijians with important additional advantages over other races in Fiji.

The fact that this program hadn't been implemented before Bainimarama struck - as Dr Fraenkel keeps arguing - is neither here nor there. Does anybody seriously believe that the SDL wasn't planning to implement the Qoliqoli Bill, free the 2000 conspirators and try to extend native title over land? The argument is nonsense.

Enter Bainimarama. Now, I don't like what he did, which was to plunge Fiji into yet another crisis. I also don't like the PER, the muzzling of the media or the apparent attempt to destroy the trade unions. I also think the government could be doing a lot better in several other areas, such as being more transparent about some of its decisions.

But one thing is certain. I detested the SDL's program even more. It was a racist government that was intent on governing for one race and, in the process, disadvantaging every other citizen. It had - at its core - indigenous supremacists who'd been at the heart of the George Speight conspiracy of 2000, notably Konisi Yabaki, Savenaca Draunidalo and Simione Kaitani.

So I accept the primary reason Frank Bainimarama has always put forward for mounting his coup, which is the preservation of the multiracial ideal in Fiji and the introduction of a level playing field for all citizens.

That doesn't make me a supporter of the man or all aspects of his program. It makes me a supporter of the core principle on which he took a stand. In my own mind, the distinction is quite clear, even if it isn't to the likes of Jon Fraenkel. I am not a "Bainimarama supporter" or a "coup supporter" but a supporter of a multiracial Fiji.

It is Dr Fraenkel - I would argue - who hasn't made clear what he stands for beyond being opposed to the Bainimarama regime and opposing any notion of Australian and New Zealand engagement with Fiji.

Does he support the SDL? Well, he supports its right to contest the next election in Fiji, despite its belief in indigenous paramountcy. And he has allowed himself to be photographed with Simione Kaitani -one of the principal coup makers of 2000.

Dr Fraenkel still hasn't given us an account of this extraordinary event. So I would argue that it's him, not me, who has the explaining to do.
Great job here. I really enjoyed what you had to say. Keep going because you definitely bring a new voice to this subject. Not many people would say what you have said and still make it interesting. Well, at least I am interested. Cant wait to see more of this from you.
sitting on the fence said…
@ Graham Davis
Graham, thank you for your response. You seem even more confused than I had at first thought? Please let me try and understand it. You are not a supporter of the coup (or indeed any coup) or a supporter of the man behind it? But you are a supporter of what he and his military junta is doing? Although in some regards you are not a supporter of what the junta is doing? One would hope you are not a supporter for example of the intimidation, human rights abuses and bashing of defenceless persons? So which parts of the military junta that you don't support do you actually support? Sorry Graham, you have lost me.
I think you and other junta supporters might find that history will yet again inform us that democractic processes (as slow as they might appear at times to be) are much more preferable than power crazy thugs with guns?
Miaw said…
Kudos to Graham Davis for his views.

Obviously a man who loves his neighbour as himself.
Going Beserk about Gloss said…
@ Croz and 'Glossing Over'.....

Since when has 'glossing over' anything been an honest endeavour in the interest of or to the benefit of anyone? It is a politician's sleight of hand and should be seen as such.

However, 'going beserk' as the ILO officials are described as doing is a crass thing to do and if they did this, then they are equally 'out of order'.

Fiji has had enough of people going beserk for one or another spurious, ideological reason. It defies common sense and adds no benefit nor value whatsoever.
Beacon said…
The new Grand Pacific Hotel - our beacon of HOPE !
yes but said…
First hurdle - will the ILO team be allowed to enter the country ?

Second hurdle - will union leaders be able to get permits to meet with the ILO team ?

Third hurdle - no decree is contestable. The military appointed team of PM/AG?/President can make or change any law, any day and anyhow they like. What can the ILO team actually do ?
Walker Texas Ranger said…
@ Sitting on the Fence?

Who sits on the fence in the face of Serious Organised Crime? Who sits on the fence in the face of corruption which stems from the laundered proceeds of drug peddling: marijuana and hard drugs?

Who sits on the fence when people are threatened repeatedly and occasionally murdered by organised criminal thugs?

Please tell us! It is all so much plainer than you appear to suggest. Systemic and systematic corruption stems from SOC (Serious Organised Crime) and it has done....for years!

Have a good look at the latest hotel owner on the block. Have a long, hard look!
bushmoko said…
Bushmoko observes:

supposed experts like Frankel would have you believe that cloaked in any mantle of democracy, that suddenly Fiji becomes some paradise.

The fact remains that the 1970, 1988 and 1997 constitutions imparted frameworks that were essentially racist and allowed the ethonationalists to prey on i taukei fears to the detriment to most aspects and the basic fabric fiji society. The intention and comfortable perception might have been that at least the 1997 constitution restored some semblance of normality but I would disagree. Whatever the noble intention of the 1997 constitution might have been, Qarase simply ignored the requirement for opposition members to sit in cabinet and that only emboldened the ethonationalists to continue to pursue their agenda. Frankel conveniently forgets that George Speight was a child of the 1997 constitution.

The system was broke and the patches didnt work. Thats the simple fact. Going back to that system is to revisit the past. It wont work plain and simple.

There is no other solution than in so far as possible to try and remove the racial element in the voting system. That doesnt mean that there needs to be a diminution of the rights of the i taukei, but it would mean that any ethnonationalist inclined to pursue his personal agenda (power and influence) can only do so by political compromise with politicians of another colour,class or creed and therefore be subject to greater transparency. One of the primary problems with the Qarase regime was that the coterie in cabinet were unanswerable for their actions becuase nobody knew what they were up to.(especially how they were getting their cash)
By removing the racial element you remove the ability of the ethnonationalists to undermine the system for their own venal agendas and the fact is, it is this group that have caused most of the problems in fiji in the last 30 years. I hope that one day we can look at a group of politicians who are acting in an inappropriate manner and both observe that they consist of all racial groups and also be able to say what do you expect of them, they're politicans ! then at least we will have made a start.
Anonymous said…
Davis explanation of his position is refreshing and enlightening .
makes a lot of sense.. am sure a lot of readers may agree with his views..
lolomas Fiji
Foul is not Fair said…
@ Graham Davis

" Whatever the noble intention of the 1997 constitution might have been, Qarase simply ignored the requirement for opposition members to sit in cabinet and that only emboldened the ethonationalists to continue to pursue their agenda."

In other words, Qarase decided to be unconstitutional. So who should have cried foul immediately ? The Opposition, the Judiciary, the Fiji Law Society, the NGOs, pressure groups from among citizens ? the Media ? There wasn't enough noise made by the right people at the right time - that's a major weakness in Fiji that should be addressed. Any suggestions ?
Charles Singh said…
Fraenkel is a Qarase supporter, and getting him back to power is his personal crusade. Fraenke did not launch such a spirited campaign against George Speight, or the 2000 coup. This so-called ‘neutral’ academic is showing his true colours.

Graham Davis makes a lot of sense. Fiji did not want, or need, a coup. But it happened, thanks partly to Qarase and his racist SDL, whose other proposed legislations included dual citizenship, and free form seven education, exclusively for indigenous Fijians.

Yes, Bainimarama’s coup has been a disaster. And so was Qarase’s SDL, for that matter.

The sensible thing is to get over the coup and move forward in the least chaotic and damaging manner. If this means engaging with Bainimarama, so be it. Fraenkel is in disagreement because his agenda is to get Qarase back in power (he never launched a campaign on Mahen Chaudhy’s behalf when he was kicked out by Speight). For Fraenkel, the return of SDL overrides everything else.

Fraenkel insists Australia and NZ should isolate Fiji. But this policy has failed. What should Aust-NZ do next? If not engage with Fiji, than launch a military assault? That’s about the only option left.

After all, Fraenkel’s buddies, Kaitani and Baleidrokadroka, have called for a revolution. As usual, the call is made from the safety of their overseas sanctuary. They give no thought to the safety and welfare of ordinary Fijians. Their overriding concern is revenge against Bainimarama, and his removal; by force if necessary. This will serve their narrow political interests, not the broader interest of Fiji, or its people.

Baleidrokadroka and Kaitani have rejected suggestions to come to Fiji and lead the uprising. They expect others to do their dirty deeds. They will just swoop in and claim the rewards, as was the case with Kaitani in the 2000 coup (how did coup conspirator Kaitani get Australian residency? Shouldn’t there be an investigation? Someone alert the Australian media!).

Does ‘Fiji expert’ Fraenkel understand the consequences of an uprising? Perhaps his head is too far up the clouds, and he needs to come down from his ivory tower.

But I am more inclined to think that an academic of his background understands perfectly well the potentially bloody consequences of an uprising or military intervention. But for Fraenkel and his cohorts, the most important objective is the return of the SDL to power, by hook or crook. So what if some blood is split (it won’t be theirs). So what if the economy is destroyed, and race relations damaged even further, perhaps beyond repair, for generations to come?

Academics like Fraenkel are playing a dangerous, high stakes game in trying to manipulate and use Australia and NZ to carry out their political agenda. The presence of Kaitani (and others like him) in the Fraenkel camp, should set alarm bells ringing.

Aust-NZ governments should be wary of advice from ‘neutral academic experts’ driven by vindictiveness and revenge (what on earth is Brij Lal doing with this mob? Shame on him. He seems out-of-touch and politically na├»ve about Fiji- the effect of living in Canberra for too long).

Australia and NZ should seek a cross-section of views. Davis is very knowledgeable about the ground situation in Fiji. His views are rational and make a lot of sense. He has the country and its people at heart.

Fiji’s people owe him a debt for providing a more balanced picture of the situation in the country.

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