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.

: "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.


valid yes but fair no said…
I am not questioning the Poll. The results seem reasonable. The problem is how the results are now being bragged about by government.

Sharon boasts that Frnak is more popular than Gillard. Well guess what so was Qarase and he had to be removed by guns right ?

Popularity does not make a government good. Control of media and total control of who is silenced in the commuity (PER) will certainly help any government get a better 'popularity' rating. If media where able to talk about Franks cedibility issues (eg multiple broken promises) how would this effect his popularity ? If media where able to report on his excessive salary and nepotism in special treatment for Francis Kean and jobs for family memebers would that not effect his popularity ? What about it political opponents where able to talk about a alternate Fiji where the military played a very different role ?

No reason to dismiss poll: Lowy Institute
October 07, 2011 01:35:43 PMA+ A- | | | As the debate over a survey conducted in Fiji on the government continues, a representative of the Australian Lowy Institute says some people still find it hard to grasp why 66 per cent of the population approved and supported the work done by Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama’s government.

Jenny Hayward-Jones from the institute told Radio Australia the Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Richard Marles was upset with the survey, but Hayward-Jone says that's no reason to dismiss the poll.

The survey conducted on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu found 53 per cent of people want the military to have a permanent role in politics in Fiji and 61 percent believe Commodore Bainimarama is listening to his people.

Out of the 1032 people surveyed 63 per cent either strongly disagreed or partly disagreed with the international approach taken towards Fiji in response to the coup.

Meanwhile Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Information Sharon Smith-Johns earlier said Commodore Bainimarama is more popular than the Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard.

Smith-Johns said the poll shows the difference in the leadership quality between Commodore Bainimarama and Gillard.

“With a 66 per cent approval rating Commodore Bainimarama is almost three times more popular with the people of Fiji than Gillard is with the people of Australia,” she said.

Smith-Johns said the poll has proven that the Fijian government is committed to the policies of good governance and has courage to do what is right for the people.
Anonymous said…
Good Governce - two simple words the PM and AG seem unable to understand. What are the checks and balances in approving decrees, appointing board members or paying the PMs salary ?
Anonymous said…
Judge a Govt by results - being elected by ballot doesn't mean that you get a licence to depart from basic democratic principles. Racial discrimination, corruption, nepotism and protecting a coterie of people, including chiefs and strong core of elites were rampant in the Qarase Government. Through its sectarian approach they divided the nation and worked not for the good of the country but to promote the nationalist agenda with chiefs as the cheerleaders.Now they cannot dip into the landowners rental income! For too long the ordinary landowners were being robbed. Could Qarase Govt take such decisive action? No. The Ratu Mara Govt couldn't do it because, as a chief, he protected interests of the chiefs at the expense of ordinary landowners. Qarase Govt built a $40 million meeting house for the chiefs to congregate, drink kava and conspire against those whom they disliked. It was not really a house of chiefs but a House of Conspirators!
Lowy Poll has delivered its results. It is irrefutable and truly revealed the views of the people of Fiji. It wasn't meant to please people and in fact it had hoped to support Australian Govt stand against Fiji but it was contrary to its expectations. It is hurting the new converts to democracy and they deserve to bear the pain, for a change, as they were behind the previous coups and claimed that it was a foreign flower and now they want to embrace it!
sara'ssista said…
Given the arbitrary and petulant nature of the application of both the media decree and PER, I don't think PINA are at all confused. They had all better behave themselves because we know what happens when you speak out of turn in fiji....
Jump through hoops! said…
@ sara'ssista

Well, PINA are either interested in presenting in Fiji and listening to what we the citizens have to say - or they are not? If they wish to assist in nation-building and very necessary reforms, then they will jump through hoops. Are they?
sara'ssista said…
Jump through hoops? Necessary to whom? Why would foreign media be interested in 'fiji nation building' as you so cryptically put it. Oh dear. What citizens will be invited to speak freely. Just remember who will be present and watching.

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