Showing posts from January 15, 2012

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in Fiji. I thank Allen for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.
Obscurity to Opportunity
Isimeli Taqea has been plucked from obscurity to opportunity. I’m sure if we had been having the provincial sevens tournaments we would have been able to spot more young men like him.

Sport is also an investment because not all of us will become teachers, doctors, nurses, lawyers and many more. We have lots of young people who are more proficient in sport and they can make a decent living if they had the opportunity.

Fiji is a name in world sports, even though our ranking has fallen somewhat, but we are still there and many of our young sportsmen and women live a comfortable life overseas. The benefit is also found in money sent home to relatives.

We have three universi…

Vital Issues on Constitution Reform: the President

The extent of the President's powers have been legally challenged twice  since 2006. The big question is should the President be the head of state with limited powers as under the 1997 Constitution; with powers a little broader than the 1997 Constitution, or should he or she be the head of government with real powers similar to President Obama?

The next question is should the President be appointed following discussions between the Prime Minister and Leader of Oppostion; or elected by all members of Parliament; or appointed by a small Council of respected citizens (appointed by the PM or some other means);  or should the President be elected by the people?

 Either way, should the President be the Commander-in-Chief of the RFMF?

How long should the President be appointed or elected for?

Women and Government

EXTRACT FROM TALKS AND RULES MATTER by Fay Volatabu, General Secretary for the National Council of Women Fiji (Email: or published in
 the Fiji Times.
Fiji is at the crossroads of our democracy and if there was such a time to voice women's issues this would be it. How could this be done more effectively?
Maybe there should be a gender perspective in all policies and programmes. Maybe the electoral reform should include the inclusion of women politicians by ensuring at least 30 percent of all parties to field women in popular seats.Maybe there should be more women ministers, more women permanent secretaries and more women diplomats (not as support staff but as ambassadors).Maybe there should be more funds allocated for women in all ministries or at least 30 percent of all positions in leadership in government reserved for women.

Cherish Our Elderly

By  Fay Volatabu,General Secretary for the National Council of Women Fiji. Email: or Fay reflects on the joys of the Fijian family, changes and challenges, and Government setting up the Old Peoples; Council.
The writer says Fiji does not need a policy to look after the elderly, but instead encourages young people to step up and be responsible for the older generation.

News and Opinions Friday 20 January 2012

20.1.12  WEEKEND READINGS.• Allen Lockington Column  • Vital Issues on Constitution Reform  •  Women and Government • Cherish Our Elderly

DAYLIGHT SAVING ENDS IN FIJI THIS SUNDAY JANUARY 22.  Put your clock back one hour before youe go to bed on Saturday.

GETTING OUR KNICKERS IN A TWIST. Talk about Nero fiddling while Rome burns! The kerfuffle over FijiTv's Premila v. Voqere popularity poll is in that league. No intelligent person should have been interested in who won. The nation is on the brink of the most important period is its recent history.  What happens over the next few months as we dialogue over constitutional — and later over electoral — reforms is likely to determine the sort of country Fiji will be for many years to come. It is vital we get it right. We do not have the luxury to be distracted by "beauty" contests.

In this Weekend Readings readers will find headings and a few brief notes on an issue central to reform such as the Role of the President, the exist…

A Bumpy Road

Anonymous left a comment on the post New Freedoms Awaken Old Protagonists that will reach more readers as a post. I have woven some of my own thoughts into his argument where I though his point wasnot quite clear. I hope he doesn't mind. --Croz

One needs to understand that at this point in time, the current move of the Bainimarama-led government to democracy will have to take on some bumpy roads. The Public Order (Amendment) Decree 2012 seeks to ensure public safety and and an environment for helpful public discussion. Without the Act, discussions on the Constitution and Electoral Reforms could easily deteriorate into racial and personal mudslinging, and the biased and misleadng media reporting, that previously marked "discussion."The Act is something that we need to understand in this light, rather than negatively critic, as per Peter Waqavonono and his comments.

His concern for human rights education, civic education, etc. is understandable, but not to support persona…

The YPCN: Democrats or 'Ultra Nationalists in Disguise'?

Two comments on the post New Freedoms Awaken Old Protagonists (which reported the views of Peter Waqanovanova of the Young Persons Concerned Network and Information Permanent Secretary Sharon Smith Johns' reply) seem worth wider attention and are published here. 

Readers will note that Fiji Fan thinks I am "once again ...trying to soften the words of this unelected government" when my main contribution to the article merely stated, "For media freedom to be maintained — and dialogue increased —  criticism and suggestions will need to be reasonable, helpful and devoid of self-interest, and government will need to listen to what is being said." The only comment I made on Sharon's reply agreed with  Fiji Today — quite the opposite to what Fiji Fan claimed!

Who are the YPCN?
Early last year, on April 18th (see Search facility in right sidebar) I said, "If readers have more information about the YPCN and the role they have played over the past few ye…

Environment and Compensation Concerns at Namost, Not Political

See also Namosi and Back published two days ago, and updated since.Also read comments.

Secretary of the newly formed Namosi Tikina Landowners Committee, Sipiriano Nariva, said they want to have discussions in relation to their concerns about loss of their waterways and forest. They say at least two clans who are members of the committee have also blocked Namosi Joint Venture workers from entering their land for exploration works. They say they want compensation claims to be sorted out first before works continue.
Public consultations continue Public consultations as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment for the proposed copper and gold mine in Namosi and Naitasiri provinces will continue at the end of this month.
The environmental assessment also includes a range of studies of flora and fauna, river systems and aquatic life, assessing potential noise and dust, traffic, social and cultural studies including current community health and cultural heritage.
The data collected will be as…

New Freedoms Awaken Old Protagonists

It's early days, but so far the restoration of media freedom has only produced comments from well known opponents of the Bainimarama government, and what they have had to say was altogether predictable. Yesterday it was Mike Beddoes; today it's Peter Waqavonovono of the Young Peoples Concerned Network. Peter's published comments prompted a reply from Permanent Secretary of Information Sharon Smith Johns, who in turn was attacked by the anti-Govermment blog Fiji Today which said her reply was “not a good start to open discussion. Sharon Smith Johns needs to start a dialogue not attack” what Peter said. They have a point but Peter's entirely negative comments did not exactly invite a friendly rejoinder and, surely, the important thing is that both comments were published.

Government Closed Down Military Schools

I must say I'm writing this post tongue in cheek but it does seem the anti-Government bloggers have missed a marvellous opportunity to exercise their ever fertile imaginations. A defenceless Education Department defied the might of the military late last year and ordering it to close its schools.  .
Why didn't we see headings like:                                     Military Forced to Back Down                                    Educatonalists Stand Up to Military Goons                                    Critics Defy Military Agenda                                   Media Dares to Publish on Military Rebuff                                   Dictator's Mob Surrenders                                   David Defeats Goliath
Unfortunately it's now too late. The military have applied to the Higher Education Commission to permit the reopening of their higher education institutions that were closed because  they did not conform to new standards set by the Commission. They will onl…

The Times They are A-Changing: Let's Keep it That Way

Fiji Times's publication of these comments by Mick Beddoes provides further evidence that the lifting of PER has resulted in the lifting of media censorship. But before we get too excited, we should acknowledge that the situation is delicate and can easily be reversed. For media freedom to be maintained —and dialogue increased—  criticism and suggestions will need to be reasonable, helpful and devoid of self-interest, and government will need to listen to what is being said. Considerable statesmanship will be required over the next few months as Fiji adjusts to the post-PER situation. Knee-jerk reactions must be avoided.   I am unsure whether Mick Beddoes' comments meet the needed criteria but if they do not, Government should shrug them off .

To Namosi and Back

 Like so many things in Fiji, and elsewhere, it is difficult to get to the bottom of many news stories. My thanks to Tevita Korodrau on Facebook's Fiji Economic Forum for these two stories on the Namosi mining saga. Unfortunately, he provided no links to the stories so I do not know if they were published, and I can provide no links.

The first story is by Noelene Nabulivou, who works for WAC, Women's Action for Change, a respected NGO dealing with a wide range of community issues.  The second is by Rachna Lal, a top ranking journalism student at USP, who now works for the Fiji Sun, that some  see as  a pro-government newspaper.  This post concludes with  a comment from Epeli Hau'ofa that traces the origins of this project back to Tui Namosi, and a note from Rishab Nair, also on Facebook's Fiji Economic Forum that looks at the price of copper and gold.

Censorship Gone or Easing

The following items have been reported in the Fiji media over the past few day. Check out the links to read the full stories. Most were unlikely to be reported under the Public Emergency Regulations.

QARASE SPEAKS UP. Fiji’s ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase welcomes any positive decision made by the Bainimarama government (to lift the emergency regulations) but says things are still restrictive. Speaking to FijiLive Qarase said everything is still restrictive even after the lifting of the Public Emergency Regulations (PER).

FIJI LIVE POLL. Do you think the Methodist Church should be given a permit to hold their annual conference? Yes 49%, No 51%.

has called for a review of the Public Order Act to encourage public participation without recrimination.

METHODISTS ON PERMIT REFUSAL. Fiji Life  reports: "For the first time in the history of the Methodist Church of Fiji a new president will be elected without the annual general meeting. This after th…