Unlocking the Fiji Situation
First up was Greens MP Keith Locke. Keith spoke of a deteriorating human rights situation; Bainimarama's "hot air" talk on elections; his support from the smaller Pacific countries (Marhall Islands, Palau, Nauru, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Niue, Cook Islands) because of their dependence on Fiji; the cost on maintaining buildings like stadiums and court houses built with Chinese money; the increase of corruption under Bainimarama; and the Pacific's appalling human development record. Oxfam had earlier spoken of a Pacific with under 40% of children at school and unsafe water supplies.
Just three factual corrections: the only smaller Pacific countries dependent on Fjii (for transport) are Kiribati and Tuvalu; most support for Fiji has come from the much larger Melanesian countries; and Pacific-wide statistics such as those cited by Oxfam are meaningless because of wide discrepancies between countries. But, for the record, in 1996, over half of Fiji homes (90% in urban areas) had piped water; most of its children children attended school (education is compulsory to Class 8) and nearly one-third of adults had at least Vth form education. To listen to Keith, click here.
I answered Jon's questions with my opinions on why the change of attitudes towards Fiji (I didn't think they had), why it's taking so long to produce a new constitution, China, the effect of sanctions, the trade union arrests, and human rights restrictions. To listen to what I had to say, click here.