News and Comments Tuesday 24 Janaury 2012

YEAR OF THE DRAGON. The Chinese New Year started yesterday with Community leader Dixon Seeto hoping for good developments in business and government, and "urging other races to appreciate their existence as they also have a strong culture and and want to be included in government developments."

ONCE BITTEN TWICE SHY. FijiTV has now apologized for the way it conducted the Personality of the Year poll and offered to refund text messengers. But FijiLive continues with its polls — generally a sports alternating with a political poll. Its current question is "Should Commodore Voqere Bainimarama contest in the 2014 election?" There is no easy way these polls can be conducted fairly or be taken as representative of public opinion. At best they are indicative; at worst they are rigged.  But the result so far is Yes 58%, No 42% favouring Bainimarama.  Premila was not a contestant!

TWO MINDS WITH BUT A SINGLE THOUGHT. And while still on polls, I see FijiToday is running a poll on what people want from the President. This came only a day after I'd introduced the same topic on one the vital questions needing answers in the new Constitution.  My plan had been to invite comments and then use the comments to construct the poll. What are your ideas on the President selection and powers in the new Constitution?  I urge you to comment on my Saturday postings (Saturday) and also to vote in the FT poll.

. Even Coupfourpointfive now has doubts. In a recent post, they asked:

1) What has Mara actually achieved? Nothing. There has been no concrete evidence from him on Bainimarama with him maintaining the same lines the blogs have been running for the last four and a half years. It is a clever cut and paste job.

2) Where is he now and does he plan to return to Fiji? His stay in Australia has turned into one of luxury. There is no sign of his 10 point plan. Mara is enjoying the contributions from democracy groups and forgotten his men in Fiji who are suffering because he just calls to get information and no action is forthcoming.

3) Lack of direction and focus. What was he doing in New Zealand in September watching the Rugby World Cup finals when he was supposed to be leading the fight against Bainimarama?
Thanks to Rishab Nair on Facebook's Fiji Economic Forum for bringing this to my attention.

Canada-based firm CODE Incorporated has been appointed to conduct electronic voter registration (EVR) in preparation for Fiji's upcoming Parliamentary elections. CODE was chosen based on its experience, accuracy and transparency in assisting developing nations with logistically challenging terrains. EVR "will ensure all segments of the Fijian population are properly registered to vote [and] for the first time in Fiji's history, the 2014 elections will feature true universal suffrage—one person, one vote, one value—and it is critical we get it right." (Attorney General.)

CODE, that has worked in 65 countries on EVR, was chosen following a three month selection process involving four Fiji and seven overseas companies, EVR will cost approximately FJ$4 million. Fiji's projected voter base is approximately 660,000 voters, aged 18 and up.

The Attorney-General says the lowering of the voting age will ensure the young adult population has a say in the upcoming Parliamentary elections. In choosing to use EVR, Fiji is following recommendations made by the European Union's report on Fiji's 2006 elections, which cited (IRREGULARITIES) with voter registration and voting practices, such as 101% voter turnout in one constituency, and the disenfranchisement of certain voter groups. Govt has sent out invitations to the international community to participate in the EVR process by way of financial assistance; however, so far no countries have opted to participate.
TWO CONSTITUTIONAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYERS, Professor Yash Ghai and his wife Jill Cottrell, will be giving a public lecture,'Constitutional Review: the Kenyan Experience' on Thursday 6pm at the FNU Campus, Carpenter Street,  Raiwai. The lecture will discuss how the development of a new constitution can help to solve persistent problems within a country.a topic of obvious local importance. They will speak on process and substance, setting out the various ways in which the Kenya constitution tried to solve persistent problems of the country: nation building, democratisation/participation by the State, integrity and competence in public life, and social justice.

A rare opportunity to listen to two widely experienced and committed commentators, hosted by the NGO Pacific Dialogue and the Fiji National University.


Anonymous said…
RUM (Ratu Ului Mara) has run out of steam and may now realize that the sharks are more forgiving when you are in distress in the waters but same is not the case when you swim with the known 'sharks' whose pursuit would not cease until you are silenced, eliminated or 6ft deep. How long these so-called democrats host him, knowing that he has, through his lack of actions, blunted the democratic thrust? I do not think he was genuine but an opportunist who tried to restore the shattered and shredded family empire. Wherever he went, he left his trails and he largely alluded to lies and distortions, ably aided by his colleagues who are the guest of the Kevin Rudd and Australian taxperers.Now RUM is not even fit for the army,has abandoned his family, weakened the Tongan treasury that had to send a navy boat to save the 'distressed' chief! He calls himself a chief and does not know the protocol. If all the chiefs in Fiji were required to go fishing in open waters individually, most would not have returned and Fiji would have had a robust democracy, a thriving nation and people would have been spared racism that his father helped root deep into the conscience of the nation. At least, he hoodwinked the people, as the people, gained international recognition as one of the greatest champions of racism in Fiji. He had the art and RUM you have nothing! Go back home, do a matanigasau and veisorosorovi and reconcile with the people of Fiji. Possibility is that you do not know much about these age-old ceremonies seeking forgiveness. If my assumption is correct, then no one can save you - may be your Tongan cousin will again give you a hand and then ask you to swim back to Fiji! It will be good to reunite with your family for whom you have made great sacrifices and you deserve to return home. By the way, take some of the others with - the 'sharky' ones who talk too loudly about democracy and democratic rights, e.g. Kaitani and get your auntie Kepa to prepare a big feast to welcome the poor boys!
Prime Emergency Response said…
The Year of the Dragon has arrived. The last year was 2000 - the Year of George Speight's ill-fated coup d'etat and chaos. A March of Folly from which Fiji has never repaired itself. Seeing Nadi Town, would anyone in their cotton-picking mind choose to pay a Business Licence Fee of $450? Up from $150. In Lautoka City at least they have busied themselves to clear their drains. This was evident this morning. In Nadi, no amount of dredging the Nadi River would alleviate the devastation of blocked drains and the morbid inattention to fundamental repairs & maintenance. No business sector will stand for that: a continuing Saga of Folly coupled with rank corruption which is evident at the very top of the tree.

Feeble assertions that 'We are working Smarter with Less' will not wash as homes go under and the poor struggle yet again to keep their heads above water. You are a singular disgrace - all of you and you are being increasingly 'found out': by the Almighty No Less!

Where are the squadrons of private boat owners that we saw in the Rewa River in 1972? Ably-organised by Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau and the Royal Suva Yacht Club (a civilian feat of Prime Emergency Response). A feat of leadership and commonsense. And.....led from the front very successfully in one of the largest and most robust 'cagi laba' that Fiji has known in living memory.
sara'ssista said…
'Govt has sent out invitations to the international community to participate in the EVR process by way of financial assistance; however, so far no countries have opted to participate'.
Where is all the money from their look north policy? presumably China, Azerbaijan and Benin will assist.
Compulsory Voting - a Big No No said…
@ sara'ssista

For once, it is enticing to agree with you. Fancing holding out the Begging Bowl for international assistance to pay for Voter Registration (electronic or otherwise). This was surely "factored in" from the start? And if not, why not?

This oh-so-easy falling into the Mendicant Mode is becoming nauseatingly habitual. We must have more pride and self esteem than this? It is a Parity of Esteem that we have been 'rooting for' since we gathered together in the presence of the blind-at-birth President of the South African Constitutional Court who visited us, just yesterday in 1996. If we cannot afford ourselves to register our people to vote, then why bother? Akin to the chimera-like, disappearing passports: Stay At Home in Fiji and drown! And save on self respect! Choose not to vote. A Constituion of Liberty will NEVER admit compulsory voting. That is one BIG NO NO.
Anonymous said…
It's not the source of the moeny that is important but the outcome will dictate if all this was worth the tabla! There is movement now, hope and have faith because,well, what can you do? Thank God not many lives were lost except a few limbs that got too tired in what the Military claims to be essential laps around the QEB to make some people think and be able to know between what is right or what is wrong for themselves. The typical non-productive 'kava' talk - when the mind does not know what the mouth is talking about??
It is time for the Fiji Times to reinvent itself, after saying sorry to the nation for its blatant excesses and actively meddling in the affairs of the nation, hiding behind the media rights that it abused shamelessly.
Croz Walsh said…
FYI. Fiji would not be an excpeption if it introduded compulsory voter registration and voting. Registration is compulory in Australia and NZ. Voting is compulsory in Australia but not in NZ. One or both are compulsory in many other democracies. I shall publish an article on this topic on Saturday in Weekend Reading.
sara'ssista said…
@ Anon but 'meddling in the affairs of the nation' has been a hobby of the military for twenty years... and they still intend to hover over any new government with threats..and guns...spare me the 'blame the fiji times' after years of censorship and a new owner handpicked by the regime... you still whine about their reporting and influence?
A divided house.....will fall! said…
President Saleh of Yemen has been obliged to apologise to "All the Yemeni people for the mistakes I may have made during thirty years of my rule".

Surely, a bare minimum to be expected prior to leaving via Oman for medical treatment only available in the USA?

"Mistakes I may have made"? With thousands, no, hundreds of thousands of your people protesting daily in the streets of the country, the mistakes are clearly on view. How foolish must we become before we realise that apologies are needed to heal nations and to coalesce the people to work as One? A good dose of humility and self-abasement is required. Mistakes have been made. They are Big Mistakes.

A house divided against itself will fall. The Bible tells us this in plain language in all tongues.

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