News and Comments Monday 18 September 2010
will start to save some $42 million on fuel imports a year. The $200 million scheme was financed by increased tariffs and with loans from the China Development Bank, local borrowers, ANZ Bank and the Bank of South Pacific.
In opening the scheme, the PM said government is working towards catering for 90% of the country's energy requirements through renewable energy sources by 2015. “This will not only reduce the deficit in our balance of payments position but ensure that we protect our environment by reducing green house emissions and contribute to the global effort of mitigating risks of climate change and environmental degradation.”
LEAD KINDLY LIGHT. Last year, UN Women together with the Barefoot College of India in cooperation with the governments of Fiji, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Nauru, locally based Civil Society Organisations as well as the Government of India started a partnership on “Solar Grandmothers” to allow 29 women from the region to attend a six month training course on solar engineering at the Barefoot College in India. Ten of these women will soon be back in their villages and communities assembling solar energy systems. With the support of UN Women, Barefoot College will supply 376 household solar energy units and in addition, nine equipped workshops will be delivered and distributed to home communities of women trainees. The programme complements government’s poverty alleviation strategies to empower the disadvantaged and women to go to greater heights in being agents of change in their society.
METHODISTS: CHRISTIAN STATE, SUNDAY BAN. Earlier, the newly elected church president Rev. Tuikilakila Waqairatu said the church wanted Fiji to be declared a Christian state; now the newly-elected general secretary Rev.Tevita Nawadra says there should be at least a partial legal ban on Sunday shopping. These recommendations will be part of the the church's submission to the Constitution Commission on October 13.
And only a little while ago, commentators were hoping there would be more enlightened leadership!
They have no support from other Christian churches but presumably think that as the largest Christian church, they can speak for them all. In fact, Methodists —even assuming all Methodists agree with their new leaders— comprise barely one-third of the total population. Church leaders seem to have no idea what a democracy is about. Majorities must respect minorities and most people in Fiji will respect Christianity and the special status of Sundays, but minorities cannot impose their will on majorities. And Christianity is about free will, not force.
PM ASSURES CONSTITUTION ASSEMBLY WILL BE INCLUSIVE. The Fiji Labour Party's opposition to the present constitution dialogue process is partly based on its distrust of the Bainimarama government. They say the process is being driven by the government's agenda, and they have no faith the Constitution Assembly, that will define the new constitution, will be independent of government influence.
The PM, however, refutes the FLP claim and assures the nation that membership of the Constituent Assembly will be inclusive.He said Government would appoint the members of the Assembly and favouritism would not be part of the process.“Government is promoting credibility and transparency, something past governments had ignored.At no time will Government make its own appointment but the sad thing is that the FLP will view all appointments to favour government.”
EXPLAINING WHY. Commission chair, Professor Yash Ghai, said all submissions made would be properly looked into, and all recommendations made to the Constitution Assembly will by thoroughly explained through footnotes "that will explain in detail to the Assembly why we want it to be in the final draft.”
PUBLICATION OF ELECTOR LIST WILL CUT FRAUD. The Elections office has taken another step to ensure transparency within the Electronic Voter Registration process. Prior to the 2014 elections,names and details of all registered voters will be made available to the public to ensure no-one abuses the system, and should prove useful to campaigning political parties. Elections Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the list will be available when it has been verified by the Elections Office.
NEW PARTIES REGISTRATION LAWS.Sixteen political parties are already registered and more may be expected. Minister of Elections, Aiyaz Sayed-Kaiyum has signalled that all will need to comply with new registration laws that are likely require a nation-wide following and a code of conduct. "Existing registered political parties can continue as long as they can comply with the new registration rules”. he said.
RO TEIMUMU'S 'ENTRENCHED' POSITION. In her submission to the Constitution Commission, Rewa high chief Ro Teimumu Kepa, said Rewa wanted the 1997 Constitution reinstated because it "best protects the interests of the indigenous Fijians as well as protecting the rights of the races that have come to call Fiji home." Together with nine lesser Rewa chiefs she also wanted amnesty denied to the perpetrators of the 2006 coup as a deterrent to others. She informed the Commission that Fiji is a country firmly rooted in Christian beliefs, meaning that Fiji emulates and observes Christian teachings. She insisted that the entrenched legislations requiring the consent of the senate members nominated by the Great Council of Chiefs must be a requirement before any legislation is passed regarding any issues affecting the rights and resources of the indigenous Fijians. The chiefs also strongly advocate the protection of the indigenous ways of life including all of the previous laws and regulations relating to land rights, fisheries rights, culture, language and all the intellectual property rights the indigenous people of Fiji hold sacred. [Ed. Note: The "protection" elements in earlier constitutions were introduced when iTaukei were a minority population. They how comprise 57% of the population.]
Speaking on the type of government preferred, the chiefs wanted a House of Representatives and Senate with cabinet members drawn from parliamentary members.
IMMUNITY WILL NOT STOP COUPS. Responding to Ro Teimumu's comment, the PM
said immunity will not stop coups. “Anyone from the military can carry out another coup, abrogate the
constitution and start all over again.” The only way to stop coups was to have “an inclusive constitution, a document that really takes into consideration what the people need will stop the coup and that is what the Government is working on now.”
The PM said aspects of the Rewa submission indicated that the chiefs were very much aligned to the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL), of which Ro Teimumu was a prominent member.He reminded all that the 1997 constitution would not be reinstated because it was a discriminatory document and not good for Fiji.