Showing posts from March 11, 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.

                         Don't Get Sick

Overheard in the Lautoka market.

First man, “The Lautoka Hospital is always full on Mondays and Tuesday, and the doctors are so slow, we go in the morning and get seen in the afternoon.”

Second man, “Well, don’t get sick. Look after your health so you don’t have to go there.”

This is a common conversation that I hear in and around Lautoka. I also overheard similar remarks when I was in Suva CWMH on the weekend. People complain about how the hospital is always full and it takes a long time to be seen. They never look at the limited resources available or at their own life style that often caused them to get ill and needing medical attention. 

If people …

"The King is Dead! Long Live the King!"

As the processes for a return to democracy appear at long last to  perhaps actually be likely to happen, it may be worth noting this  basic principle of government:  "The King is dead!  Long live the

What this principle means is that a clear process for transitioning  rom one ruler to another is vital for a peaceful transition.  When  the succession is clouded, trauma can occur that disrupts life for large parts of society.

Examples include when there have been several Princely Contenders--or none--in centuries past; and more recently by Mr. Marcos not having a Vice President in the Philippines at the end of that nation's last experiment with Parliamentary government, 1978-86.  PNG offers an  interesting, but still occurring, variation on this problem.  This may be a more common problem in the Westminster format.

Fijians have often seen this basic rule.  Over the past 40 years, the post high …

Stifling Opposition:

An Analysis of the Approach of the Fiji Government after the 2006 Coup ANU Discussion paper by Mosmi Bhim, formerly of the CCF

Is the PM Pre-empting the Constitution Process?

WEEKEND READING      • Allen Lockington column  • Stifling Opposition by Mosmi Bhim (and others)   • "The King is Dead! Long Live the King!" 
                                   Opinion by Croz Walsh

I find three announcements made by the Prime Minister on Tuesday very disturbing.

With the Constitution Process about to proceed,  he has pre-empted discussion by announcing the abolition of the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC), the probable way of selecting future Presidents, and a change in provincial administration that will see the PM the chairman of all Provincial Councils whereas previously the chairpersons were elected by each of the 14 provincial councils. It is (or should be) the prerogative of the Constitution Assembly to decide on these matters, not the PM. 

At a time when Fijians (and the more observant in the international community) were beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel — but when there is still a long way to go —  nothing should be done to raise doubts…

Preparing for Democracy III

Preparing for Democracy III: Human Rights and Good Governance By Croz Walsh
Scratching the Surface: the Citizens' Constitutional Forum Survey November 2011. 
Human rights This term is very much to the fore in urban discussions about where Fiji is now and where it should be heading and I have no doubt some of this discussion will be known in rural village. But the term itself is an abstraction. Worthwhile discussion requires concrete issues such as freedom to work, worship, basic health care, education, shelter, and of course freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
I presume such issues were discussed in CCF workshops and with the control group but the report only records whether human rights come with responsibilities (Yes, said almost everyone); should apply equally to all (Yes, over 90%) or whether the rights of “some (e.g., men) needed more protection (Yes, 30-40%). It was a poor example. iTaukei rights would have been more pert…

Preparing for Democracy II

LINK TO Preparing for Democracy I.Click here.

Preparing for Democracy II: 
National Affairs and Citizenship By Croz Walsh
Scratching the Surface: the Citizens' Constitutional Forum Survey November 2011. CCF Website.

The Citizens' Constitutional Forum led by its CEO Rev Akuila Yabaki has been Fiji's most prominent civil rights NGO since Rabuka's 1987 Coup. More recently, they spoke out against some of the proposed legislation of the former Qarase Government (notably their intention to 'forgive' the Speight coup perpetrators, and pass racist legislation).  They have opposed all coups, including the Bainimarama coup of 2006. But they are also realists whose seek positive outcomes. This is seen in their often critical but always helpful comments about Government which, unfortunately and to its shame, Government rarely heeds. It is also seen in their work to increase grassroots understanding of national affairs, good governance, human rights, and their rights and obliga…

News and Comments Tuesday 13 February 2012

JENNIFER HAYWARD-JONES ON THE CONSTITUTION PROCESS.Stars align for Fiji policy shift  Unfortunately, it was a shooting star.

WOW! two stories on Fiji in the NZ Herald that are not nasty, in one night!
Nothing on NZOne News but 3News screened this report: -- Lesley Opie in Facebook's Fiji Economic Forum.

Constitution Plans. Thank you, RNZI.

. “We were instructed not to accept any reforms and the People’s Charter proposed by the Bainimarama government. It was not the people’s choice that led them to ignore the changes that had taken place, because they were only following the chiefs’ decisions.”

 These were the words of Mokani village chief Jona Mualevu in offering a traditional apology to the PM from Mokani, Bau, Tailevu villagers last …

Correcting the Negatives that Some See in Every Situation

A reader writes: "Where is the long promised CCF Report 'Scratching the Surface'? Your readers will be interested in its findings concerning: i) Current Fijian attitudes to the VKB  ii)General perceptions of Justice under the illegal regime and iii)Disinclinations to report witnessed crimes under the present administration.

My Response This is a typical anti-government comment. It accuses me of hiding something, and then misreads what the media reported on the CCF media release.There's none so blind! I reported the media release, spent three days studying the full survey report, published Part I  of Preparing for Democracy last Friday but held back  Parts II and III to give prominence to responses to the Constitution Process announcement.

To answer his questions:
i)  The survey asked one question on the Vola ni Bola and 80% of  iTaukei responded that "only the indigenous people could be Fijian.” I argue in my article that this response could have conf…

From Around the World: Reactions to Constitution Processes Announcement

Fiji's plan for new constitution raising hopes
San Jose Mercury News
15, 2006 file photo, casually dressed Frank Bainimarama leaves after a press conference at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in the capital Suva, Fiji. On Friday, March. 9, 2012, Fiji leader Commodore Bainimarama announced a yearlong process for Fijians to ...
See all stories on this topic »Fiji's plan for a new constitution is raising hopes among those wanting ...
Washington Post
On Friday, Fiji leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama announced a yearlong process for Fijians to discuss, debate and approve a new constitution. Fiji has enlisted Yash Ghai, a Kenyan-born expert on constitutional law, to chair a commission overseeing the ...
See all stories on this topic »Bainimarama announces Constitutional Consultations Process
The Jet Newspaper
Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama announced Fiji's plan to formulate a new constitution, laying out the basic principles and timetable for the Constitutio…

Who's Breaking Their Word Now?

Opinion by Crosbie Walsh
NZ and Australia used to say they would not ease up on Fiji until there were tangible signs of progress towards a "return to democracy." They spoke of sticks and carrots. But every small step forward from Fiji was met by "that's not enough" and "why should we believe Bainimarama when he broke his word before?"

For some week now writers had been  speculating that our relations with Fiji were about to change, and some wrote of a "gap" between the Australian and NZ positions. In Australia the parliamentary Opposition was supporting new discussions with Fiji. There were rumours of behind the scenes moves  from NZ, and both countries said they would help finance the electronic registration of Fiji voters. It was expected the demise of hardline former Australia Foreign Minister Rudd would  see a change in Australia's position and a new joint approach by both countries.

Last week, on Friday, Fiji announced —as promise…

Breaking Away from Petty Politics: All Will Have Their Say

Some politicians are looking backward, caught in a time warp where nepotism, elitism and racism were the norm. Even to this day, there are voices that echo from that past, and those who seek to regain power and take Fiji back to the dark ages.
The Bainimarama government breaks away from the petty politics of the past in which personalities took precedence over building a modern and inclusive Fiji.
The Bainimarama government is looking to the future of Fiji and all Fijians.
During the process of formulating a genuine Fijian constitution, every Fijian will have the right to put their ideas before the constitutional commission and have the draft constitution debated and discussed by the Constituent Assembly.
The new constitution will be created for all Fijians. No politician or interest group will be either be shut out or given any special say.
We are all Fijians, and we are all equal.
The first …