News and Commments Thursday 2 February 2012

2.2.12 THE NEW RUSSIA-FIJI LINK. Australian government sources seem wary of Russia's intentions in the Pacific and have urged them to be open and transparent. But Australia has links with Russia.  NZ is also concerned but has recently welcomed the visit of the same Russian Foreign Affairs minister who visited Fiji and NZ seems close to signing a free trade agreement with the Russians. I find these poses hypercritical, patronising and self-serving. Fiji is an independent sovereign nation and the Pacific and the Pacific Islands do not belong to Australia or NZ.

Meanwhile, in Fiji, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his Fiji visit "afforded the Russian Federation the opportunity to strengthen ties with Fiji, as well as meet with numerous other foreign ministers from the Pacific Island Countries.

The meeting in Fiji, the first high-level visit from a Russian official to the country." Topics discussed included security ("The [wider] region is becoming the powerhouse of the world economy, and with economic influence comes political influence [and] some risks to security") and the economy ("the priority of the day are the programs and projects that will drive real growth and make the economies of the [Pacific] region even more independent.") The Russian Minister concluded by saying, "We seek to find partners in the region, and we would really like to cooperate in a mutually beneficial manner in order to promote our ties and improve visitation in the region. And let me say that we are not making friends against anybody."

Minister Kubuabola said: "By diversifying our relations with such countries as Russia, we are creating greater stability for ourselves. We hope to establish new lines of trade that help diversify the types of job opportunities there are for Fijians."

The meeting resulted in several outcomes: an outline of possible areas of economic cooperation, an accord to establish visa-free travel to promote tourism between the countries, and discussion on how Russia can support Fiji's peacekeeping missions.

The government  pledged to help the Fiji Sugar Corporation rebuild vital infrastructure damaged by flooding in the west.

Huge deposits of mud and debris have put the Rarawai mill in Ba, the worst hit by flooding, out of action for three to four weeks. Planned repairs and upgrades have been put off until they cleared all debris. It is hoped that work on the mills, rail bridges and access roads will be completed before the new crushing season commences in six months time.

THEFT OF COPYRIGHT HURTS OUR ARTISTS.  Over 40  officers from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Police force attended a one-day joint workshop on copyright prosecutions last Friday. Opening the workshop, Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Pryde said that “to date, there has not been a single successful copyright prosecution in Fiji despite a robust copyright act that was amended in 2009 to make prosecutions of copyright infringers easier. This year we intend to change that” by establishing a Fiji Intellectual Property Office and a Copyright Enforcement Unit in the fight against copyright piracy.

“The theft of copyright imposes a cost on Fiji by depriving artists such as local songwriters and musicians the chance to earn a legitimate living," he said.

SOMETIMES I DON'T PUBLISH REASONABLE COMMENT BECAUSE the same points have been made many times in the past, and most have already been published on this blog.  On Tuesday OUR PMs history left a comment saying:

"You love to look back in history when it comes to your opponents but what about those you support? Take our PM for example.This was followed his view of Bainimarama's record. He ignored democracy in 2000 by not letting the SDL party continue in power" (I think he means the FLP); he erred in putting Qarase into power. He made seditious comments leading up to the 2006 Coup (he was warning Qarase about the Qoliqoli and other Bills). He prevented audits of regiment funds. He took leave and did not record it. He gave himself a  big payout. He promised an election in 2009. He said no one in the military would benefit form the coup. He said he'd fix the sugar industry. And so on ...

All of these accusations have had a good hearing. I've posted his comment on the main page so that others, wishing to make the same comments, will know that repetitive lists of Bainimarama's alleged wrongs are unlikely to be published.  Original, considered and critically adverse comments of interest to readers are welcome, especially when they point to ways forward,  but this blog is not an advertising sheet for either pro or anti Bainimarama extremism.

CONSTITUTIONAL PROCESSES HANDBOOK. The text of the ILO handbook discussed at the recent CCF public meeting (see earlier post) is readily available on the ILO website.

NAMOSI MINING UPDATE.  Meetings and rubbished rumours.


ABV said…

I beleive there is a a danger in ingnoring topics or issues just because they are 'old news'. For example the questions on how much the PM pays himself and his team and why this is done by a third party are 'old news' and repeated in blogs. However they are unanswered questions that go to the itegrity of the PM and his original committments as Commodore when he placed Fiji under huge stress by taking over government in 2006.

I also see little evidence of the PM himself only looking forward and forgeting 'old news'. He and his team at FICAC have gone to extrordinary lengths to pin corrumption on his opponents - going back as far 20+ years in the case of former PM Qarase. Also it is rare for him to speak and not mention everything that was wrong about past governments. The "everything before me was bad, everything after me is good" wears thin.

Please let people raise even old issues. And please encourage government to answer some of the more serious 'old issues'(like salaries).

Hopefully you publish this one :)

Avid Blog Visitor (ABV)
so so said…
Frank did more than warn about Qoliqoli and other Bills. He made threats again and again that he would stop them and take over. I don't mind the Commodore of the military having a view and expressing it but he did much more than that. He dictated the actions government must take and ultimatly took over government (following through on those threats). His comments could only be seen as seditious. His actions where definitely treason. It's ironic he now seeks to have others charged for seditiona and treason. Perhaps he is worried there is another "him" out there somewhere. Someone equally strong, ambitious, hungry for power ready to do what ever it takes ?
Anonymous said…
@ sometimes I don't publish reasonable comment

Sometimes government is not reasonable ! I don't think it is reasonable for example to lecture everyone on the charter good governence and then make all it's decisions in secret. I don't think it is reasonable to lecture the country on the devestating impact of previous coups when they too came to power by way of a coup (which had serious effects). Old new yes, but until government is more reasonable we should raise them).
promises said…
Government promised to have the sugar industry fixed 4 years ago so i wouldn't read to much into their promises of assistance following the floods. To date they have blames everyone except themselves. 5 years on and this flood (while having a real effect) will be a welcome new excuse for the industry poor performance.
sara'ssista said…
What nerve, rather than apply pressure to the regime to explain and comply with the reasonable requests for information that is the publics right to know, you dismiss it as a repetitive list of alleged wrongdoings? You are clearly in the same camp with the gutless fiji media...'all talk and if they ignore me, i will just shut up'. This regime does't even go through the pretence of trying to justify. Most galling given their continual bleating about 'alleged abuses' by the previous government.
sara'ssista said…
BTW I don't think anyone would describe China and Russia as friendly nations. Even Aus, Nz, US who have significant links and trade would never consider the relationship close or friendly. For a tiny nation like fiji to even think they will some blosoming new relationship is rather naive. Russia and China know eactly what they want out of it and hsould be very clear in telling Fiji what their price is.
peacepipe said…
@Sarr'ssista You might be confused with the definition of the word "friendly".

It is rather convenient that you would obfuscate the fact that, the US, UK in collusion with Aust and NZ invades 2 or more countries among other blatant breaches of international law like extraordinary rendition and uses Torture in Gitmo, is in your flawed opinion, considered friendly?

Anyway, whoever Fiji chooses to be friends with, is their sovereign right.

It seems that Aust. NZ, and US are increasingly out in left field and whether you like it or not, the Pacific region has seen through their rhetoric of democracy, human rights etc, etc.
The Use of Public Money is a trust said…
It is surely relevant that the personal qualities of those who lead in whatever forum should come into focus and be closely scrutinised? Especially and most particularly if they are paid by public money?

We tend to make too great an emphasis on formal education and too little attention is paid to formation: the moral and ethical foundation of a person. Of what value is education without formation? What the French so precisely term "la formation du caractere". In Scotland a year of Moral Philosophy used to be compulsory at university. How greatly this might have influenced our appreciation and our judgement of those best 'formed' for leadership? If we suffer from impaired judgement in this matter, then the results are there and measurable for all to see. Public and its use is a supreme trust.
wonderful news said…
Signing up with Russia. This is wonderful breaking news, especially for the thousands of Fijians who want to flock there and now have a free visa. The weather at the moment is wonderful there. Will you let us know when the junta signs up with other progressive nations like Iran, North Korea and Syria? Tell Bainimarama to hurry up with Syria though - the dictator there has limited time before he runs up the drainpipe. Thanks Croz.
sara'ssista said…
@peacepipe ... so your argument is we are at a race to the bottom of whose firend are worse? I quite accept the regime is marginalised so they will just about accept any offers from anyone. mY point was they countries i mentioned are allies and freinds to us. What will china and Russia be to Fiji? Allies? Providing Human rights information sessions at QE Barracks? Perhaps Fiji needs to aspire to lift it's standards not scramble around looking for other countris to excuse the regime's appalling record for the past six years, just so they can have the illegally appointed President and Interim PM get their five minutes with someone who will have a photo.
peacepipe said…
My point was just to rebut your definition of friendship and the context that it was used in.

Fiji is not in race and that notion is a false analogy, that any reasonable person would never readily subscribe to.

It seems that you have already written off China and Russia, for whatever reason and talk up the benefits of siding with the so called allies and friends (I assume you referring to the other 5 eyes).

I agree with you that Fiji needs to lift its standards, but standards to what exactly- human rights and international law?

Are you suggesting that US/UK/Canada/ANZ (5 EYES) are the absolute standards of human rights and what ever civil liberty you would like to add?
I venture to point out that you are viewing matters (as above) through rose colored glasses.

Focusing on the regime's past 6 years and glossing over the greater sins over the last 60 years and more (committed by the 5 eyes) only underscores the hypocrisy and duplicity in such a view of the world.

Those who continue to recite and force others to regurgitate the same arcane and diabolical mantras are not only misleading but dumbing down people (by showing a sliver of the world's unvarnished and uncensored history) for their own purposes.

Sara'ssista I have reason to believe (from posts here and other blogs like C4.5)that you fit that description perfectly.

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