This Letter was Not Published by the Fiji Times.

 Self-Censorship or Employer Self-Interest?

Dear Editor,
Congratulations to Ruby Taylor Newton for her Editorial in The Sunday Times (Jan 22nd).  She drew attention to the increase in the cost of living and the hardship faced by so many families - especially now when families are paying for the school fees of their children.
However, one of the things our media have not spoken about is why the cost of living has risen and why  so many people are facing severe hardship.
  • We need to talk about the negative effects of devaluation and the increase in VAT. 
  • We need to talk about the delays in wage increases.  
  • Also we need to diffuse the myth that the new tax reforms will put more money in everyone's pockets.  In fact they will have no effect on at least 70% of our working population.
  • We need to help people realise that poverty is not limited to the 3-4% of those who receive assistance from Social Welfare.  What of the other 32% who live below the poverty line?
We give lip service to the Millennium Development Goals and the People's Charter where we resolve to minimise poverty but, in fact poverty is increasing.
It seems we are willing to do more to satisfy overseas investors and tourists than we are for our own people.
In terms of education for our children I estimate that at least 40% of children would not be attending school if they were not being assisted through the generosity of individuals, businesses, NGOs and other organisations like Save the Children and FENC.  Of course the initiative of the Navakalolo Education Trust Fund is a good model for other mataqalis to follow.
Fr. Kevin J. Barr
Fr. Kevin J. Barr, Peoples Community Network Consultant, Lot 36, Koroi Pl. Samabula, Suva.
Ph: +679 3373223 Fx: +679 3373222 "A New World is Possible"


Branding is for Cattle! said…
Father Barr is correct in many of his observations but he is incorrect in the manner in which increasing poverty should be addressed. It should be addressed in a multiplicity of ways without destroying existing jobs and the potential for job creation. It should give due recognition to the fundamental obligation of any government, anywhere in the world, to provide for its people, their basic rights and their access to goods and services which will enhance human potential. Not hinder it.

Some businesses known to us have down-sized by two thirds in the past three years. Not a deliberate choice. They have done so as a matter of necessity. The Bottom Line will drive business survival. That or they shut up shop and go elsewhere. Leaving hundreds of people without work and without a daily economic 'raison d'etre'. Look at Eire and see where their economic policies have got them! Levelling down to the Lowest Common Denominator is not a way to create jobs and national wealth. It is destructive of it. Increasing the numbers of tourists to a country will not increase wealth as measured in GDP. Viz Spain - now facing 25% Youth Unemployment and growing. Life on the 'Costas' was often ugly, drug and alcoho-driven and most certainly not somewhere Fiji would ever want to go. Nadi in the 24-hr Open as You Please Zone has also been ugly to see. Not a pretty or edifying sight with mostly local people drunk on the street at 0700hrs (as children make their way to school). Now how attractive is that to Travellers? And yes Class Matters! Branding is for Cattle.
sara'ssista said…
I have also sent letter to Fijitimes and Fijilive asking where all the investigative reporting has gone, why they are refraining from reporting on stories they were not allowed to report under this regime and why stories about the PNG coup (for instance)are not even reported, rather ironic given the regime is quick to parade these leaders in front of reporters when it suits. The issue I have, is this is being heralded by pro-regime supporters as the ideal.
Anonymous said…
Come on Croz, thats a pretty risky letter for anyone to publish in Fiji. It would be particulary offensive to Government and the PM because it mentions the holier than holier charter, the devaluation and that their are initiatives are not what they seem (tax cuts).

Good on Father Barr for having a go but I wonder if he now regrets having so strongly supported the military and the coup ?
truth said…
If Fr. Barr added "the military coup" as one of the "why" reasons then we would have a very honest letter and it would certainly never be published in Fiji.
lessons learnt said…
Perhaps the Fijitimes have finally learned that any critisism of the military government will not be good for their health. Did the Fijisun run it...I doubt it vry much.
economics and confidence said…
This well to do Priest misses the point. With out overseas investment, industry and tourism there will be no economy and poverty will continue to flourish. Fiji needs investment and it has taken a nearly 5 years to recover from the devestating impacts of yet another military coup. Business confdence is still low and will probably remain low until we see elections and a clearer path to independant law making and checks and balances. Even then Fiji will be tarnished as uncertain for a long long time. Frank is as much to blame for that as Speight and Rabuka. Sadly he thinks he is different.
Roffe said…
Perhaps Fr Barr will have to admit not everything about the coup or the military is great.

When he thought they where bring socialism he was one of the thier biggest supporters. Now they have turned to a more Singapore model (AG influence) he does not seem so enthusiasic.

Anyway good questions but i doubt they would get any play anywhere in Fiji.
A thought on coups said…
We need to talk about the negative impacts of coups...all coups including the 2006 one. Perhaps we should also talk about consequences for those who act out coups...including for those in military uniform. So far as i can see the rules go like this.

1. Civilian coup = live in prision.
2. military coup = power, pardon from any future charges and wealth.

To stop all coups we must deal with all coup leaders - including the military.
Amp said…

Fijitimes have not published hundreds of letters. obviously they had censors for a long time and now need to be very carefule with self censorship.

Are you complaining because Fr barr has been a big coup and military supporter and therefore should get some airplay ?
Shutting Up Shop! said…
@ Roffe said....

Whatever made you believe that the "Singapore Model" would tolerate drunken people laying all over the street, prostitutes lying down in the middle of the road at 0700 hours? The Singapore that we know is quite a different place: with civic pride, discipline, social constraint but still fun and the Singapore Police Force trained to prevent any stepping outside the margin of what Singapore believes is to its own advantage.

Immoderate and anti-social behaviour, risky sexual mores, drunken brawling in public places is certainly NOT what is wanted in Fiji. We have photographed it and made it clear to the authorities that this is 'out of order' and tarnishes Fiji's reputation At Home and Abroad. If this continues, then local investors will put on the brakes also. We quite simply will not invest any further in Fiji. Father Barr and anyone else may say or do as they choose. Fiji's young people deserve better than this. There can be no "Costa Brava" in Fiji if we care to have a reputation of Good Repute. And what is more, Serious Organised Crime and the vermin associated with it, must leave and be thoroughly cleaned up. And that includes the local component and their many associates.
Socialist Democracy - Mao and Stalin said…
@ Socialism and the Fiji Model for Poverty control.......

Of course, we could go "The Whole Hog" and turn ourselves into a Socialist Democratic State along the lines of Cuba or Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia and then we would not need to think about 'Wage Increases': Why? Because there would never be any to concern ourselves with. Or try North Korea as the ultimate example. We would need to worry about Food Security though. This is an ever occurring nightmare in such places and they end up, covertly, having to accept Food Aid from the Western Democracies to avert mass starvation. Chairman Mao and Joseph Stalin together killed off as many of their own people as died in World War Two through the sheer folly of man-made famines for purely ideological reasons. Now how crazy is that? This is the end result of applied theoretical politics: human hunger resulting in death. Or maybe this was an intended means of Population Control and not so foolish after all?
get over it said…
Get over it. I'm mr average and i have had no say what so ever in Fiji for 5 years - not vote. Father Barr has had plenty of time to express his views to Government it's just that they stopped istening to him. A bit like the union leaders. It's all part of supporting a coup - get used to it, get over it.
The International Language of Business said…
@ Branding......

Correction: the level of youth unemployment in Spain is now at 45% (under 25 yr old and many with degrees). This was confirmed this morning on BBC World Service radio. Many young Spaniards are now planning to leave for Germany. The ones who are SMART enough to speak German. Germany now markets itself worldwide as "SMART". And employment in Germany is growing as it is, very slowly, in the United States. All the youth interviewed in Spain agreed that a degree of itself is 'insufficient' now to find work. Languages are very important and English (Good English) is the most important. It is the international language of business.
sara'ssista said…
Given the most recent articles on Coupfour about Goundars interesting interpretation of conflict of interest and of course the spirited defence of Goundar by Gates, as you would expect these days, we can now wait and see how Croz will now do his level best to claim this has been all unhelpful, impolite and negative even to discuss and won't want to discuss this...true to form despite the glaring issue of judical corruption in this 'so called' new corruption free regime. As we all know it is never corrupt when the regime appointees do it and are still in the fold. I can imgaine a thorough 5 minute investigation and as we can see, a strong defence by one of the regime supporters who has done rather well out of this regime. I am just waiting for them to claim that 'Guideline Principles for Judicial Officers in the Fiji Islands is a colonial western construct imposed on fiji that doens't take into consideration their unique issues'. Will it be more of the 'sanctions are to blame or will it be nobody understands us'?

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