News and Comments Friday 28 September 2012

WEEKEND READINGS • Allen Lockington Column • Fr David Arms on the Open List System  
Mother and child
• Changes in Constitution-Making in Fiji Part V – Lead-up to 1987 by Subhash Appana

Concern is mounting in Australia about the increased influence of China in Fiji as China strengthens support for the island nation's military government. John Garnaut, writing in The Age, says Australia  has urged China to work constructively with Fiji's neighbours following an unprecedented four-day visit by China's second-ranked leader, in which he pointedly defended the military government of Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

The leader, Wu Bangguo, denounced what he called the bullying of strong countries over small or weak ones, in what Radio NZI said was a clear swipe at  Australia and New Zealand. A spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs reinforced the comment by saying, "Every country, no matter whether large or small, rich or poor, is an equal member of the international community."

Anne-Marie Brady, a specialist on China in the South Pacific at the University of Canterbury, said China was now actively undermining efforts by Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific nations to pressure Fiji to democratise. She said Fiji has caught up in a rapidly accelerating tussle for global influence between China and the US. "It means Fiji is the political football in the geo-political contest between China and the US. It is very much like the cold war. It's an insult to Australia and New Zealand and it's also an insult to the Pacific Islands."

During his visit, Mr Wu handed over a $200 million concessional loan for road construction, announced 30 new scholarships for Fijian students and highlighted a 34% jump in bilateral trade last year. A Fiji spokesman said, "China, unlike Australia and New Zealand, hasn't isolated us nor has it tried to intervene in political issues."

GHAI COMMENTS ON TYPES OF SUBMISSIONS. Constitution Commission Prof Yash Ghai  said they had heard many narratives of people's lives and livelihood issues but what they had not received were the broad framework within which State and society should operate, the relationship between society and State and organised groups within society. "What are things that are appropriately dealt with within society, within families and what are the appropriate issues or mandate for the State?" he asked.

A major issue facing the Constitution Commissioners will be what to recommend about future changes to the Constitution. A reader provided this suggestion:
Germany’s constitution is unusual in that it contains what lawyers have dubbed an “eternity clause”. This was written in remembrance of the Weimar Republic, which died because its parliament in effect voted itself out of existence under Hitler’s bullying. Article 79 of the 1949 constitution thus says that certain changes, including anything that detracts from human dignity or democracy, are “inadmissible,” even if willed by parliament.Today’s constitution makes allowances for its own replacement, but only after a national plebiscite.

Police have confirmed there will be an investigation into whether officers arresting the prison escapees used only 'reasonable force.' A  police spokesman noted that the escapees were armed with cane knives, crowbars and bottles, had resisted arrest, and that police officers were also injured.   MOI permanent secretary Sharon Smith-Johns commented, There has been a lot of speculation ... We need to investigate the circumstances whether excessive or reasonable force was used."

Amid those speculations was a posting on Facebook by lawyer Rajendra Chaudhry: "A friend just called to tell me that the fifth escapee, Isoa Waqa, was brought to Colonial War Memorial Hospital wrapped in a tarpaulin and with blood dripping from the tarpaulin". Which proved to be quite untrue. A parallel investigation is being held into the escape from Naboro prison.

E-TICKETING. It is hoped the completion of e-ticketing for bus travel by April next year will eliminate cheating and benefit government and bus operators. Government has budgeted $12m for fare tickets to cater for 100,000 students nationwide.

A new organization has been formed  that aims to bring all journalists and those working in the media together as one and have their voices heard. The Fiji Media Workers Association's  officers include president Indra Singh,vice president Elenoa Baselala and secretary Stanley Simpson.


Desmond said…
A little hard to be an 'equal member of the international community' when you struggle to govern yourself and constantly have a hand outstretched expecting everyone else to pay....? Perhaps we should all take a lecture from the Chinese on how to govern a people...China needs to accept we do business, they are not seen anywhere by any civilised nation as an ally or friendly nation. Lets remember they appear always on the wrong side of history defending the most disgusting regimes the world has known.
Anonymous said…
Yes surprising how China has little to say on Luxembourg, or Costa Rica, the small nations that are not up to being exploited and hoodwinked by a fairweather friend who is always there to prop up a military regime.Perhaps lets take a look at what China does when it gets it hooks in...Zimbabwe ...lots and lots of loans...why not donations??? perhaps that is where Aus and Nz go wrong, we should have repayable loans rather than donations. I would be all for getting my tax dollars back form the pacific rather than just giving it away and listening to them moans about it never being enough. China has no soul, is corrupt to the eyeballs, is repressive, paranoid and fears their own people. What a model.
Anonymous said…
Ian Simpson.

@ 4.09

If australia and the pacific island nations are so concerned with democracy, why did they not implement the bikitawa protocol and sanction fiji.

a blockade of fiji would settled the issue post haste and our neighbours would not now be sufferying these most shamefull unsults from china.

Oh poo! How dare, businesses would loose money and ozzis and kiwis would losse jobs.
a government might fall.

the national politics of australia turns on the arrival of 150 boat people, why wouldnt the chinese have contempt for them.

China has no soul? is corrupt? is repressive? paranoid? and fears their own people?

Are you all of 15 years old?
Mark said…
Yes the difference is we live democracy, and the national politics in australia does turn on boatpeople, as we don't always feel inclined to import the worlds unwanted, apparently fleeing 'Indonesia and malaysia' and absorb their issuses at our cost. These people have as much legitimacy in our eyes as those who 'flee' to europe then wander their way to the UK bypassing every other country. This is picking and chosing and shopping around for a 'light touch', like a buffet. Australians have an overewhelming contempt for this, evident in the popularity of the policies. I am all for the fiji blockade and was calling for it the first week of the coup. Aust does have sanctions on fiji.

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