News and Comments Monday 2 April 2012


THE FLOODS RAISE ISSUES. Three major floods within almost as many months requires a rethink of Fiji's emergency preparedness.  El Nina will come again and global warming will not go away. The short and longer term costs to the economy and, of course, to people's livelihoods, defy description.  In the short term, Fiji's idyllic tourist image will suffer  as Australian and NZ television show returning tourists pleased to have
A bucket, a grog bowl, a smile even in the floods
escaped alive. The sugar industry has again been badly hit and major roads, some recently completed with loan money,  could be severely damaged.

Questions that come to mind involve basic infrastructure, a high priority on Government's Roadmap: Is it sufficient to dredge river beds or are levees also needed? Do some villages need relocation? Should more houses be built on raised foundations? Are road building materials and methods  suitable for the wet tropics? Can emergency services be better coordinated? Why was there such a delay in conveying meteorological warnings? Should all school leavers know the basics of first aid and emergency drills? What should be the role of volunteerism? Should many more army and naval personnel have been involved? Should handling emergencies be the RFMF's main local role?

An emergency like this gives DISMAC and  the military goverment an opportunity to show their talents. How did they measure up?

McCULLY SOUNDS MORE HOPEFUL.From FijiToday and "The Nation". Vinaka, FijiToday but please provide hyperlinks. "New Zealand May Relax Some Sanctions On Fiji. Foreign Minister Murray McCully has set out new terms under which New Zealand might relax some of its sanctions on the Fiji military Government led by Commodore Frank Bainimarama. He said if the Fijians were to request that we should exempt new civilian appointees to the cabinet or to permanent secretary’s roles coming in to replace military people currently occupying those roles,” then we’d certainly consider lifting the sanctions as far as those individuals were concerned.”

Asked what New Zealand’s response would be to Fiji if Commodore Bainimarama restricted politicians like former Prime Minister and indigenous Fijian leader, Laisenia Qarase from standing for election Mr McCully said New Zealand’s repose would be made in collaboration with Australia and other Pacific countries.

“But we certainly would be focused on whether elections are free and fair, can anyone be a candidate?” he said.“Are people going to be able to have freedom of assembly? Is he media going to be free to report what’s going on? All of those factors will determine how we behave and again New Zealand’s tried to be quite constructive and open minded about this. To the extent that positive changes are occurring, we want to encourage them. We want to be part of that process.”

McCully said New Zealand would suspend its judgement on the consultative dialogue taking place within Fiji over the new constitution.“We should be open minded about the possibility that it might be inclusive and that’ll be a good sign.”

. TheCitizens' Constitutional Forum has urged the government to make racial discrimination, and vilification on the grounds of religion, a crime. The CCF is also urging government to remove by-laws and institutions which apply to specific sections of the community by ethnicity. It said discriminatory decrees should be substituted with non-discriminatory laws to prevent racial discrimination which is the main cause of political instability in the country. It is also for the removal of race-based voting which criminalises discrimination by ethnicity.

The CCF also urged the government to enshrine a Bill of Rights in the Constitution after consultation with the communities. Yabaki said the engagement with civil society to formulate a plan for community education on the constitution in all ethnic communities is vital. He again urged the government to withdraw the Public Order (Amendment) Decree 2012 and the Media Industry (Development) Decree 2010 to allow for true participation and dialogue during the constitutional review process. -- By Ropate Valemei.

Fiji Live poll to 31.3.12

FIJI REJECTS VOTER REGISTRATION OFFER. The A-G requested aid from Australia and NZ for voter registration.   ANZ said yes and offered $1.8million and now, apparently, the A-G has said "No thanks". This story by ABC was not reported in the Fiji media. Nothing sinister about that  but one would have thought it of interest.  It's not ever day Fiji declines $1.87 million.

. This site is of interest.

WADAN'S LASTEST. "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." 

LAND FOR MSG CHANCERIES. Leases for Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and PNG  chanceries were handed over by the PM on Friday. Land has also been allocated to the Frontier de Liberation Nationale Kanaket Socialite of New Caledonia.

OVERSEAS UNIONISTS NEED TO BE BETTER INFORMED. "Global union the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) president Paddy Crumlin has condemned the Fijian military government’s cynical pretence that its seizure of full ownership of the island’s Air Pacific airline is in the national interest." He also expressed concern for the travelling public: "The Bainimarama regime is now waging war on aviation standards. This latest action should be a real concern for the travelling public, ITF aviation workers in the region and airlines generally. The region is now on red alert."

He continued: “The workers of Air Pacific deserve better than to be treated as pawns in Bainimarama’s dangerous games. Neither they nor the wider aviation world are being given any idea of how this will affect either them or the airline itself.”

I don't know who is supplying Mr Crumlin with this information but, for the record, the Government has not seized full ownership (it still owns only 51% of Air Pacific) nor is there any reason to assume the move to reduce Qantas seats on the Air Pacific Board will have any impact on the airline's safety or the workers engaged in the industry.




Insider said…
Voter Registration

I see both the Aus and NZ acting high comms regularly in Suva. I did not know about the rejection but I do know about the countries’ sole condition for giving the money.

The money was to be given directly to the Canadian company and they should get reports directly from the company about how that money was spent. That was the only condition and is very normal in terms of giving Aid funds.

They were not to have any say in how registration was done or even oversee its progress. They just needed to see how their money was spent.

I will be interested to see on how the new Minister of Elections announcing Fiji’s rejection of this offer.
Anonymous said…
The military regime has had more than five years to address flooding issues, which i would have thought, as they hold absolute authority and have no problem asking anyone for money/loans, should be well on the way to being addressed? Any civilian government would be soundly condemned for their ill-preparedness, but it looks like Qarase will get the blame for this too i imagine.Another suggestion was made on another blog that the regime will bring in a decree banning flooding... and have a peoples convention not to talk about it at all...
flyhalf said…
The issue of the ANZ aid was discussed in the Press conference for Const. Consultations Part 1 (21.40min).

One condition for the ANZ Aid (according to the video) was that the joint AUS/NZ wanted to have direct talks with the Canadian manufacturer of the voter registration equipment.

AG raised a red flag, on the issue of 3rd party involved with election process of an independent and sovereign nation.

Video in English

Part 1

Part 2
Who dares wins on Air Pacific Endurance Test said…
It is perfectly understandable that those who work in Air Pacific do not wish to be treated 'as mere pawns' in anyone's purported game.

This is never salutary for safety. It has occurred to us more than occasionally that we would not now by choice take to the skies on Air Pacific given a choice. Even were we to be flying FOC at the Fiji taxpayers' expense and our reasons for enlarging our carbon footprint were not morally reprehensible. We would also not choose to fly without a meal on a ten hour plus journey. As announced today for some unfortunate pax to or from LAX. This type of promotion really must end. Is it a new addition to the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme? Endurance Flight on Fiji-based Air Pacific - Who dares Wins?
Red Lights said…
Raising a Red Flag? Now we have Nadi declared a Red Zone? Red equals 'soviet' /Red China - what else? Not a Pink Zone you will notice? And it has formerly been a Red Light District though camaflouged. Now the reason for he red lights has been flushed 'out of town'. Surely, this is Divine Providence for those who believe in such things? But at what terrible cost. The jobs and future employment of hundreds.

It was advised that Father Barr was going too far. That jobs once lost would never return. That is even more correct now than it was last May 2011. Jobs are vital; jobs are costly to create and to maintain. They will not suffer the onslaught of decreed regulation. There must be a market to determine their worth and once that market is destroyed and confidence has eroded they will not come back.

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