News and Comments Monday 3 December 2012

Art by Takashi Murakami
WHAT IS A CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY? MEETING ON WEDNESDAY. Educating the public on different aspects of the democratic process is vital. The freedom to vote in an election is not enough if people do not know what they are voting for. Similarly, a new constitution should help Fiji to become a more robust democracy but only if people understand what a democratic constitution should look like.
  This will be the job of the Constituent Assembly as it considers the draft constitution recommended to it by the Constitution Commission. Wednesday's public meeting in Suva, announced below, is part of the educational process.

"As we eagerly await the appointment of Fiji’s first Constituent Assembly in January 2013, the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum, in partnership with the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement and USP’s School of Government, Development and International Affairs will be hosting a public lecture on December 5th, 2012 on the theme “The Nature of a Constituent Assembly”.

"Renowned constitutional expert Professor Cheryl Saunders has been invited to deliver the lecture based on her expertise in the field of constitution making. Professor Saunders, who is a Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne and the founding director of its Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies, will give an overview of the nature of such an institution, the various mechanisms in place and the universal guiding principles which determine the composition and conduct of a Constituent Assembly.

"CCF CEO Reverend Akuila Yabaki says the Constituent Assembly will be tasked to deliberate on the draft Constitution, formulated by the Constitution Commission following the nationwide consultations and there is a need to encourage discussion and raise awareness on the importance of and the roles and functions of a Constituent Assembly."

WHY RE-PUBLISH A "STUPID" ARTICLE FijiToday heads a posting "Long Live King Frank" and then says it doesn't think "even Frank is this stupid." Why then republish the stupid article by Jonathan Pearlman of the Sydney Telegraph that states in its heading, "Fiji to replace Queen on currency with military dictator." There was absolutely nothing in the Reserve Bank release on the new coinage to justify this assertion. It is simply a deliberately misleading lie.  [For the record, Fiji must be the only Commonwealth country to profile the Queen on its currency 25 years after it became a republic. Fiji became a republic in 1987.]

The anti-government blog Fiji Democracy Now claims landowner discontent over inadequate compensation for the construction of the Monasavu Dam and the Wailoa Pumping station was a major cause of the Speight Coup. I doubt it.  But government is now investigating the landowners' claim. Fiji Broadcasting News first brought the issue to light and after months of following it, the PM's Permanent Secretary Col. Pio Tikoduadua has  met with representatives from the seven yavusa (clans) involved to listen to their complaints that have not been listened to since the dam and pumping station were commissioned over 20 years ago.  For a different approach, read here
on how landowners were consulted on the construction of the Nadarivatu dam which was commissioned earlier this year.

VAT REFUNDS TO HOME OWNERS.The Value Added Tax refund signalled in the 2013 Budget will benefit thousands of people and create employment. People who own land and build a new house valued at under $120,000 in the new year will be refunded up to $120,000.  The refund can be used to reduce their mortgage, help pay for their children’s education or put it into a savings account.The VAT refund is timely as the lots at Tacirua East Stage 2, Wainibuku and Waila city are scheduled for sale in 2013.

BUDGET TAX INCENTIVES ATTRACT BUSINESS.A major financial institution has plans to move its regional head office to Fiji soon as a result of the 17% corporate tax cap announced in the 2013 Budget. The Attorney-General said the philosophy behind this incentive is to encourage private sector growth and development by withdrawing Government from areas where the private sector can do a lot better. At the same time Government is focusing its efforts on areas that needs it whether it be welfare, infrastructure development or providing a facilitating environment. For more details on the A-G's address click here. 

FIJI CHAIR SUGAR ORGANIZATION. PM Bainimarama  was unanimously elected the Chairman of the International Sugar Organization at the organization's 21st seminar in London last week.  Fiji will host the ISO's 22nd seminar next year.

HIV/AIDS: "WE KNOW WHAT WORKS..." The President and HIV & AIDS Ambassador Ratu Epeli Nailatikau led a World Aids Day march in Suva on Saturday that included over 20 organisations including Youth Network, Key Affected Population Network, and the Persons Living with HIV network. Speaking after the march, the President said, “We still need to upscale what we see is working and bring in new innovative ideas that we know can work. The thing about HIV advocacy is that we already know what works and what does not work. The statistics reveal that we in Fiji must strengthen our campaign towards zero new HIV infections, a challenging goal that demands smart thinking, strategic planning including the up-scaling of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) services and preventative measures, and most definitely an increase in funding, among others.”

Despite the increasing cases, results show that more people are more open towards HIV/AIDS testing which demonstrates the positive outcomes of campaigns and awareness programmes. His Excellency called on all Fijians to be more responsive towards HIV/AIDS. The four priority areas on HIV/AIDS in the National Strategic Plan include are: the prevention of HIV and STI transmission, continuation of care, governance and co-ordination and monitoring, evaluation and research.

NZ LIFTS "SMART" SANCTION. The sanctions against members of the Fiji regime were temporarily lifted last week to allow the Education Minister Filipe Bole (76) into the country after he suffered a severe heart attack. The sanctions ban people associated with the regime and their families from entering New Zealand and Australia.


Cin Cin said…

Agree the reporting is rather dubious but quite funny. After all, wasn't a phone poll manipulated a few years ago?
Anonymous said…
Stupid article maybe but lets not forget the PM did award himself a few medals not so long ago. And his photo sits alongside the Queens in government offices.

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