News and Comments Tuesday November 1, 2011

It's now November!
1.11.11

Welcome to a new month.
Many thanks to my well wishers, and even to the one who, tongue in cheek, said don't worry, we get all the news we want from Sharon and the Fiji Sun, and the other one who said I'd be sorely missed because I was the only person who could make a brutal dictatorship look reasonable.

URAI ARRESTED
. There are unconfirmed reports that Daniel Urai has been arrested, rekindled fears of trade union repression.  Here is the ACTU comment. A reader comments: "Hi there Croz,It appears that the military backed regime is at it again –in fact my suspicion is that there has been an on-going undercurrent of threats and intimidation of dissenters together with the detention of those who courageously stand up to the bullying and intimidation.The arrest of the FTUC President is totally unacceptable in this day and age; and should be widely condemned." 

My opinion? Government should not have passed the Essential Industries Decree. It was quite unnecessary and has stirred up a hornet's nest. But Urai and other several other trade unionists took an anti-government stance from the start and have done nothing to improve their relations with Government (or Government, for that matter, with the unions.) The Public Emergency Regulations should be lifted, and perhaps they would have been but for the ongoing actions of people like Urai, but Urai's comments in Australia were clearly in breach of PER. But he has been muzzled in Fiji. What else could he do?  His arrest was an inevitable outcome of these events. And so the story continues with no end in sight unless both parties sit down and talk over their differences. But ...

POSTSCRIPT. Police have finally confirmed (No.MOI 1991) that Urai has been "taken in for questioning" as part of "ongoing criminal investigations" and charges will be laid soon. There will be no further announcements until the investigation is complete.

CONSULTATIONS WITH BUSINESS. Last week's consultation took place between the Commerce Commission and business people. They were held primarily to listen to the business sector on how the Commission could work with them to not only comply with the Commerce Commission Decree 2010, but also to ensure business activity was promoted for the broader good of the country.The forum discussed the apparently "major increase in cases of unfair trading practices" and the ultimate lifting of price controls.Further consultations will take place soon in the West and North. Great! The Commission is setting an example to other branches of government that should be holding more consultations, with the trade union movement and NGOs, for example.

UNIVERSAL PENSIONS NEEDED.
Senior citizens are calling for immediate introduction of Universal Social Pension Scheme.This was recommended during the talks on the Draft National Policy Framework on Ageing and Elderly at the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing discussions. FCOSS director Hasan Khan says a social pension scheme would be in line with the National Framework on Elderly and Ageing, and help elderly people who do not have FNPF or receive any other forms of assistance.

UN AMBASSADOR WINSTON THOMPSON
  discusses the opportunities and challenges facing the county. I will publish the interview in full in next Weekend Readings.

QANTAS PLANES GROUNDED. Air Pacific  has not been affected.
 
MASSIVE JOB LOSSES IF MECHANIZATION GOES AHEAD. The moderate anti-government blog  FijiToday says it "has been reliably informed that FSC has a plan in place for fully mechanised harvesting of sugar cane from next season. This will make redundant 80% of the present cane-cutting crews. A fleet of 4WD 30 tonne bin trucks will be purchased to transport the cane to the mills. This will replace the current truck and train system.

Fiji Sugar Marketing Company Limited (FSM), Sugar Cane Grower Council (SCGC) and the Fiji Sugar Commission (FSC) has been dissolved as part of the restructure."

They further speculate that "The sugar unions will be included under the essential industries decree immediately after the end of this sugar season and before these announcements are made."

Note: Cane-cutting crews are recruited over a large area, mainly from inland Fijian villages. The loss of these jobs will be a major blow to precarious inland economies where, contra wise, Government has been trying to improve basic infrastructure. The FSC plans, if true, should synchronize and not compete with Government initiatives.  But most of all, consultations are needed with those most affected.

A LAW SOCIETY CONVENTION planned for later this month has been forbidden under the PER regulations. Surely PER, if it really is needed, can be implemented less clumsily. Why not let the convention proceed, with whatever restrictions are deemed essential, and monitor its proceedings. In the first few years after the 2006 the Law Society, with a far from "clean" record itself,  was outspoken in its opposition to Government.  It's now time for both parties to move on.

TUVALU WATER. A Fiji ship, holding 450,000 litres of fresh water, has arrived in Funafuti. To date NZ desalination plants have built up a reserve of 1½ million litres of water stored in Tuvalu government and council water tanks on Funafuti and a Red Cross desalination units on Nukulaelae are producing just over 3,000 litres of water a day.

Comments

sara'ssista said…
'unionists took an anti-government stance', since when was being anti-regime a crime? You keep referring to PER as if it has any sort of legitimacy at all, it is a decree from a military regime.Would you stop blogging in NZ should a similar decree come into force? I doubt it. Presumably as you are not sufficiently enthusiastic about NZ policies toward fiji, you should be shut down, perhaps taken in for questioning and charged with sedition? It amzes me that this regime wants the same legitmacy and respect from other countries but doesn't feel it necessary to hold itself to the same basic standards...
Being realistic said…
Croz,

I am disappointed in you going on and on about the PER and essential services decree. For the great work of this government to continue it is very important that they win the election in 2014. To ensure that we must make sure union leaders and any other opposition are silenced. Surely you agree we can not risk having any previous player in fiji's politics be able to contest the election or have a voice that could influence others. Labour and SDL leaders will be charged and imprisioned before the election. We can't let rouge union leaders take their place. Imagine the impact if they formed a new party and the damage if they tried to reverse anything we have done.
Being realistic said…
Croz,

I am disappointed in you going on and on about the PER and essential services decree. For the great work of this government to continue it is very important that they win the election in 2014. To ensure that we must make sure union leaders and any other opposition are silenced. Surely you agree we can not risk having any previous player in fiji's politics be able to contest the election or have a voice that could influence others. Labour and SDL leaders will be charged and imprisioned before the election. We can't let rouge union leaders take their place. Imagine the impact if they formed a new party and the damage if they tried to reverse anything we have done.
State Pensions and Accident Compensation Scheme for Fiji said…
It is becoming increasingly obvious that Fiji requires an across the board state pension scheme which should benefit all persons aged 65 and above. Such a scheme should include health and accident insurance. In fact, the country now needs to consider an Accident Compensation Scheme similar to New Zealand's. The cost and toll of accidents of all kinds upon society as a whole is grossly injurious. No one may obtain insurance now onshore to cover their health or guard against risk of accident once aged 65. If the private insurance companies refuse such cover, then the State must step in. The cost will be substantial but the absence of cover is a greater cost to society. The New Zealand Accident Compensation Scheme is a no-blame process. It has been in existence for decades and considerable experience exists in its funding and operation.

Work should begin on this prior to 2014 elections. It should be in place by 2014 and its advent should be widely publicised as a stated promise of Good Faith towards all Fijians by the State.
Corruption Fighter said…
Croz you claim "Urai and other several other trade unionists took an anti-government stance from the start and have done nothing to
improve their relations with Government".

Your memory is failing you badly now. Urai was a fellow-traveller in 2007. That's why he and Felix Anthony were appointed to the FNPF Board. They were subsequently removed and no reasons were given for their removal.

There is a long list of former supporters who were used by the regime and then cast aside for failure to exhibit the full subservience demanded by Sayed-Khaiyum.

These include: Mahendra Chaudhry, Shaista Shameem, Akuila Yabaki, John Sami, Sada Reddy, Sereana Qoro, Aiyaz Musah, Annie Rogers, Isoa Kaloumaira, Manu Korovulavula, Poseci Bune etc etc.

Others, such as your good self and Fr Kevin Barr, are now ignored by the regime, having served a purpose. With the PER and totalitarian censorship regime, your services are no longer needed.
Anonymous said…
Some of these guys also used the regime, including Chaudhary, Urai, Felix until they were shown the door. Chaudhary said, "No Charter - No Elections!" But once on the road he asked for elections. Felix had great time with FNPF and he did not see anything wrong with the regime but only, like Tevita Mara, saw the light when the tables were turned. These hypocrites deserve no sympathy, as they are usurpers that promote their own interests before people or the nation. Their initial support only encouraged the regime to do what it did and if they have fallen off the crowded bus, let them pay for their indiscretions.
The Law Society is the society of the professional criminals who united to rob the clients and the nation. They could never discipline or disbar any of its members because it was a political and not a professional. It did not operate on ethics or principles and one of its former presidents is now hiding in NZ who is disbarred from practising law for 10 years. Justice Connor simply said that he was a disgrace to the law profession and yet Fiji Law Society never saw anything wrong with this guy. The Fiji Law Society should be allowed to meet only to disband the organization because it is beyond redemption.
FLS and Its Rotten Eggs said…
@ Anonymous on the Fiji Law Society

Beyond Redemption: of course it is! Surely no one of sense had any doubt about this? The Fiji Law Society has been a Gravy Train to serve the venal interests of its membership. Not a concern in the world about the interests of those who paid them: their clients. They have not cleaned up their house with a new broom. Others have had to do that for them. There are still rotten eggs in there. We know who some of these bad eggs are. How? Because people complain about them, elsewhere, with evidence which we believe is substantive. Have the complainants found justice? No, some have not and we are now five years on from the upheaval.

$1,000 demanded in cash, no receipt? No outcome? No explanation as to why no outcome? We are still watching this particular case and...waiting, waiting, waiting.

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