News and Comments Thursday 6 October 2011
Watch Fiji Day Celebrations Live on Fiji TV at 9.50am, 7th October, 2011
6.10.11 RUGBY WORLD CUP PUNCHES HOLES in the NZ readership. Whether it's the RWC or the near absence of almost any other news in the NZ media I do not know but NZ blog readers have dropped by half since the Cup competitions started. For the past two weeks Fiji readers have slightly exceeded Australian and US readers, with NZ readers less than half of any of the others.
NEW CONSTITUTION BEFORE ELECTIONS? The latest FijiLive poll asks: "Do you think there is a need to draft a new Fiji Constitution before the 2014 elections?" So far 77% have said Yes and 23% No. What the No vote represents is difficult to say: No, vote using the old race-based electorates. Or No, Government can pass a decree on this.
Whatever the reason for any of the votes, it is important that the Constitution is revised before the elections, and even more important that there are full participatory discussions on the changes needed.
Government FOR the people needs to be accompanied by government BY the people as Fiji proceeds with its plans for a sustainable democracy after 2014.
THE NAME FIJIAN AND GOOD GOVERNANCE CONTRARY TO CULTURE AND RELIGION. Government's proclamation that all Fiji citizens are Fijian was a healthy step towards creating a common national identity but a proclamation does create a new reality, and there is some resistance from ituakei citizens, especially among older people. This was the finding of a Citizen's Constitutional Forum-organised workshop on citizenship, good governance and human rights. CCF educator Sereima Lotubula said there was a need to change attitudes and CCF CEO Rev.Akuila Yabaki said this would take time.
"We started the advocacy programs after the 2000 coup and found that because of misinformation, there were wrong perceptions in all communities about government's intention and other ethnicities. The colonial structure of rule is probably the cause of the misinterpretation and of pre-conceived ideas," he said.
A baseline report by the CCF showed it was clear that the iTaukei views and misconceptions about exclusive rights to the term Fijian were entrenched, particularly among the older members of the population.The report said there were misconceptions about the Vola ni Kawa Bula issues and privileges of the iTaukei people.
On good governance, the report said there was a need for more education regarding what good governance is. The report said there is knowledge of principles of good governance but some iTaukei labour under the misconception that such principles contradict their religious beliefs or cultural values.
FIJI'S DESTITUTES, THE POOR AND THE WORLD BANK. A reader comments on the World Bank assessment that 28% of Fiji's welfare recipients should not be on welfare.
"The World Bank has not been known to alleviate poverty anywhere in the world. Indeed, it together with its sister or brother Bretton Woods institution, the IMF, has caused misery, hunger and deaths in numerous debtor nations of the global South in the 1980s through their conditionalities and structural adjustment programmes.
As you know, Fiji's family assistance allowance is rather paltry, amounting to monthly support ($60 to $120) to the poorest of the poor. As pointed by Fr Kevin Barr, the 24,000 who receive FAA constitute a fraction of Fiji’s poor who officially comprise 35% of Fiji’s people.
If some not so poor have slipped into the category of destitute currently receiving FAA, then this has to do with the lack of professionalism among the public servants who work for the department of social welfare. Many of these employees are under qualified and were especially politicized during the periods of governments led by Rabuka and Qarase.
It will be most revealing to see whether the Bainimarama government is transparent on the 28% who are deemed by the ‘Bank’ to be unworthy recipients of FAA. Let's see the criteria that is being used to remove them from the list of FAA recipients.
UPDATE FROM ANOTHER READER: "In fact the Dept of Social Welfare has reduced payments from the previous $60-$120 to $50-$100.Also once the $30 food stamps were introduced some people on $60 found their allowance reduced to $40. Protests were made to the Minister and I hope this has been rectified. Also, the idea of giving up to $5,000 for people on FAS to start a small business and then declaring them "out of poverty" is another crazy move."
NEXT PINA MEETING IN FIJI.The Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) feels its decision to hold its 2012 media summit in Fiji will assist local media to work together for the betterment of the country. PINA president, Moses Stevens said he was aware of the situation in Fiji but it wanted to engage with the local media to assist in a return to having normal media relations.
The breakaway Pacific Freedom Forum, however, raises an important point in the Solomon Times: "Under the media decree application process for a regional media meeting, every session of PINA 2012, every speaker presenting and the name of every delegate planning to attend has to be vetted by the regime, who can also be there 'monitoring' what is said." I think the PFF is confusing the Media Decree with PER. I can find no references to the alleged restrictions in the Media Decree.