News and Comments Friday 24 February 2012

Photo: Fiji Times
TWO NEW CABINET MINISTERS. Viliame Naupoto is now the Minister for Youth and Sports and Jone Usumate the Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment. Naupoto was previously Permanent Secretary of Fisheries and Forests and earlier the Director of the Immigration Department. Usamate is a former CEO for the Training and Productivity Authority of Fiji (TPAF) and . the Director for Technical and Vocational Education at the Fiji National University. --- FBC.

THE DEMOGRAPHICS OF TOP GOVERNMENT POSITIONS. The new Cabinet of ten includes 8 I'taukei, 2 Indo-Fijian; 4 men military or former military officers, and one woman.  The demographics of the 22 permanent secretaries are 14 I'taukei, 4 Indo-Fijians, 2 Part-Europeans and 2 Europeans; 6 military officers, and 5 women. And all four district commissioners are male, I'taukei and military. This is not an unreasonable representation at this time but there need to be more women, more Indo-Fijians and, over time, less military involvement at the top end of Government. 
'One Fiji, One People'

I am conscious that Government seeks to downplay the ethnicity of appointments in its plans for an "All One and Equal Fiji." But this should not mean hiding the rich diversity that is Fiji.

 Knowing the ethnicity, gender and career background of government appointees — and knowing the ethnicity-related variables in Bureau of Statistics census, tourism, and employment reports — is important because they also provide a means of monitoring progress towards Government's stated goal of a socially healthy, economically viable and united Fiji.    

FLOUR FROM BANANAS, CASSAVA AND BREADFRUIT. Cooperation between a Rotary Club in Melbourne, two Fiji Government ministries and Indonesia will soon see Fiji women making flour from  bananas, cassava and breadfruit. Minister of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation says the project will be piloted at the Raibevu Women’s Centre in Tacirua, Suva and the skills taught will be shared throughout  Fiji. 

The  project complements government’s Export Promotion and Import Substitution Programme, promotes food security at the subsistence level, and encourages female farmers to become creative in the use of local produce  to earn money.  To begin with, bread will be sold locally and later on, the ministry will be looking at expanding the market for these local producers, she said. 

Comment.  For a long time, as a geographer,  I've wondered how long it would be before the Pacific Islands adopted  some of the agricultural technologies of peninsular and  Island SE Asia.  Agricultural advisers from temperate Australia and NZ, with little to no tropical knowledge, declared land that would have been farmed in the Philippines unproductive in PNG and Fiji, and local crops (with processing potential)  and local animals (whose quality could have been improved) were largely ignored in favour of introduced crops and animals. In Niue  the annual report recorded an unchanged — and unproductive — sheep population for over a decade until they were eventually killed and eaten by  villagers and their dogs.  

The bread story above illustrates one benefit from the Fiji Government's Look North programme.  In the long term, current Australian and NZ embargoes may turn out to be a good thing for Fiji. I'm less sure whether they will be a good thing for them. 

 CHIEFS URGED TO USE RESOURCES. Commissioner Westsern Cdr Joeli Cawaki told a workshop attended by chiefs and turaga ni koro that "despite being rich in resources, I'taukei’s are still poor." He said people must move away from spending a lot of time in the village and spend more time using their land and sea resources. He added that leaders can only be respected by the people if they are seen to be using their time wisely and making good use of the available resources.

Comment.  The limited involvement by many rural I'taukei in "modern" entrepreneurial activities due, in large part, to their emphasis on communal — as distinct from individual — activities was a concern of later colonial administrators as seen in the Spate Report, anthropologist Rusiate Nayacakalou, and post-Independence governments.  The protectionism inherited from the Gordon administration seemed to have put I'taukei in a time-warp cocoon. How, modern leaders have asked, is it possible to synthesise the best in old traditions and new "Western" approaches to permit a full and equal engagement of I'taukei in the modern Fiji economy that will also, incidently, help destroy stereotypes of "lazy" I'Taukei and "stingy. grasping" Kaindia.

These "punches from the shoulder" by Government spokesmen to I'taukei, addressed primarily to chiefs and turaga ni koro, to help themselves and their people and rely less on Governnment is a welcome change to the demeaning patronage of some earlier administrations.

ACT ON COMPLAINTS: POLICE CHIEF.The Police Commissioner BrigGen Iowane Naivalurua   has issued a stern message to his senior police officers to deal with public complaints received by the Prime Minister's Office and Police in relation to the force.  Some 1,372 complaints were received by the  Office  and 1,290 by Police from all divisions. Figures for January: Complaints to the PM's Office 179; to the Police 164.

'PREPONDERANCE OF NEGATIVES.' The IMF  says Fiji faces a preponderance of negative risks "given political uncertainties, structural weaknesses, and the fragile global economy."   For the IMF's full report on Fiji,  click here,  and to hear Prof Wadan Narsey's comments from Townsville, Queensland, click here.

DISSECTING THE 2012 BUDGET. Eighteen speakers, including USP Economics Professor Biman Prasad, Commerce Commssion Chairman Dr Mahendra Reddy, and FSC Executive Chair Abdul Khan, will dissect the 2012 Budget at the Nadi Chamber of Commerce Industry and Trade annual meeting on Saturday. Secretary Shalendra Prasad said that whatever the outcome, the opinions of speakers and members will be forwarded to government for consideration.

MERE SAMISONI'S BAIL CONDITIONS have been only slightly modified. Less reporting to police but no overseas trips.

WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT? YouTube clip on Facebook. I'taukei in Australia?

 WEEKEND READING. • Allen Lockington's Column  • The Media: When Watchdogs Become Lapdogs


One Third Women - No Less! said…
Come on, Professor! "There need to be more women"? This is far too mild. Women represent half the population of Fiji. They pay taxes of every kind and they must be seen to be an equal part of any new Set Up. We must aim for a 33 per cent representation at every level of governance. If that is asking too much too soon ....then go for 30 per cent. One third at the very least!
Proud Fijian said…
Croz ignore the video.

Internal bickering in a Congregation (Auckland). The woman apparently challenging the Pastor on his holiness and the pastor asking the woman and their family to leave.
Yea yea said…

Lets look at those numbers again.
- 40% of "cabinet" are military men.
- 27% of permanent secretaries are military men.
- 100% of commissioners are military men.

Or in total 14 of 36 (40%) of top government positions are now all military men.

Have they resigned from their military posts ? No. Do we know how much are now being paid ? No. Have they benefited from the coup ? Absolutely. Have they been appointed on merit ? No. Are they there to ensure the military keeps a tight grip on power/government. Absolutely.

It gets worse when you look at the military men (yes its men) on boards and its no co-incidence that all the regional posts are military. Its about control. And how accountable are military men ? Not at all. How good are they at managing money and budgets - terrible. We are also told they are to teach leadership to police and civil service. Really ? Yes.

Sorry leadership is not 'control and command' and their presence in government only further highlights this is a military dictatorship.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for publishing the government make up numbers. I wonder where the real power sits in those numbers and what actually happens in cabinet. I was on a board when a certain military person was appointed chairman. the first thing he did was stop all discussion. What he said was law. Scary stuff and i was happy to get out. I suspect cabinet is the same.
Gutter Press said…

You’ve written that there ‘need to be more women, more Indo-Fijians … in government.’

I disagree for two reasons. The first is that the best person for the job should be selected and the second is that you and many others are, albeit in a well meaning way, perpetuating the racial classifications that exist in Fiji.

It’s all very well for the government to do away with racial classification on immigration forms but the demise of racism is not going to happen when comments such as yours concerning the need for ‘balance’ based on racial distinctions continually appear.

However whether they be iTaukei, Indo-Fijian, women or one legged lesbian whale lovers, I completely agree with you that we need less (read nil) military personnel in government.

I know of several decisions taken by military people in government and they have been found badly wanting - potentially costing this country millions of dollars. They simply do not have the expertise or training necessary to make contractual decisions, any more than I would have of calculating the best way to take over a military target. Such as a mid ocean atoll for instance.
Anonymous said…
It would also be interesting to know how many military men have had promotions for their loyal roles in executing a coup. We know Francis kean for example has benefitted greatly where any other person would have been terminated for killing a man in a brawl. Actually forget the killing - even if those sad events had not happened he should have been disciplined for brawling not promoted. And to think he is now lecturing on the need for "leadership" in the public service. What the ? Follow his example ?
ho hum said…
It's important to remember that the PM (despite all promises early) intends to stay in power. So he needs to reward key military people and that organisation looks nothing like 'balanced'. He also needs I'taukei support to win (and rural support) thus these roles and hand outs to rural Fiji.
Anonymous said…
'This is not an unreasonable representation at this time'... exactly the attitude we see form you Croz that we are critical of. Given the feigned plurality this regime claims to be championing it is no different to any other adminstration in this regard. They are top heavy with fijians in the military who have done pretty well out of this regime. No different to the military itself which still you don't bother even criticising for their unrepresentative makeup and appears that have no plans whatsover to address it either. You write as if 'it would be nice if', how about some actual benchmarking and fail or pass. Not this rubbish that clearly indicates , again, from the regime 'we do it our way and the rest of you who don't agree can shut up'.
Entrenched representation by gender in Libya said…
@ Come on Professor.....!

Today, it was revealed by a Senior female lecturer at the University of Tripoli in Libya (a Ms Alafoui) that the new Libyan constitution will have a provision for 20% entrenched female representation not only in their Parliament but also 'across the board': boards/institutions/any entity funded out of Public Money.

This came up on today's televised BBC Doha Debate from Qatar with the redoubtable Tim Sebastian i/c.

It was made clear that the benchmark is 30% but qualified women only may be nominated and thus eventually elected. Many educated Libyan women are still reluctant to come into public life, we were told: hardly surprising given their previous dire circumstances of 40 years. Nevertheless, there were increasing numbers now showing an interest.

The awareness-raising in Libya is vital. No doubt Libyan women have paid their share of taxes by one means or another despite being marginalised from the workforce. So what of the South Pacific where taxation has been drawn from women to permit their rights also to be infringed: domestic violence, inability to access Due Process,doubly disadvantage if disabled, no life or health insurance available for them once they turn 65.

Only women will ensure that these severe disadvantages shall be put right. Men have had forty-two years to do so. They have utterly failed.

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