New Zealand, Fiji and the Pacific Islands : issues of political and social concern .
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The Rise and Fall of Political Parties
By Mahsood Shah
Fijian-born Mahsood Shah, originally from Bua, is Principal Adviser Academic Strategy, Planning and Quality at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. Shah is also an adjunct with the Faculty of Education at the University of Canberra, Australia. The views in this article are his own and not the views of the University. Email: email@example.com
The year 2014 will determine the future of Fiji’s political landscape. It will be a critical year in the history of Fiji with future developments yet to be seen. The current government although unelected has made significant progress with limited financial aid from neighbouring countries.
The policies introduced by the current government have had a big impact on people of all socio-economic classes.
The impact ranges from education, social welfare, tourism, investments, infrastructure development, agriculture, and new diplomatic relations. Government policies have also been felt by many because of a lack of democracy and freedom, the rise in the cost of grocery with inflation rate at 5.5 per cent in 2010 compared to 3.7 per cent in 2009, the increased divide between the rich and the poor, and limited innovative developments in key areas of public service such as health.
The Government has most recently outlined the rules of engagement surrounding the formation of political parties.
It is clear that some dominant parties who have traditionally represented the voice of many poor and middle class people may demise.
The demise is because of a number of factors including leadership of the party and the trust from the general public.
The 2014 election will witness the emergence of few new political parties whose members were part of the dominant party; however individual differences and self-interest has resulted in members forming or joining new parties.
While politicians move around and form or join a new party, it is clear that the product is the same with a different sales pitch.
None of the existing or new parties have outlined their key policies which may attract voters. This is because of the fact that the current government has not encouraged political campaigns leading towards the 2014 election.
At the same time, many, including the young generation aged between 15-39 who represent almost 50 per cent of the population, are not interested in politics. However they are interested to find out if policies and principles of the party address issues facing our country including:
Increased use of drugs and alcohol in our society and its implications;
Creation of jobs and employee mobility;
The role of trade unions to fight employee rights;
Agricultural developments in remote regions and outer islands;
Access to national broadband and other technological developments;
Modernising public health and other essential services such as transport;
Access to education and scholarship in a wide range of disciplinary areas;
Renewal of our relationship within the Asia Pacific region, and
Issues around climate change and environmental sustainability.
Another important area none of the political parties have focused on in the past is research on contemporary issues facing Pacific Island countries to position Fiji as a leader within the Pacific in research and innovation in tourism, agriculture, mineral resources, marine science, public health, and climate change.
The current and new political parties will be dominant with former members of Parliament who had the opportunity in the past to influence national policies. However, history suggests that most have focussed on self-interest rather than the needs of the broader society.
The focus of politicians has shifted from patriotism to egotism. As the people of Fiji wait for policy announcement and membership composition of the parties it would be interesting to see if new or existing parties provide opportunities for underrepresented groups such as women and young people to participate in politics. The 2014 election is very important for the young generation who represent almost 50 per cent of the population and their choice of the party is critical on issues that matters to the young generation.
Maybe it is time for the old horses to rest and give opportunities for interested young people to enter into politics.
It may seem far away and not all that relevant to Fiji, but in this TED talk former Finance Minister of Nigeria Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala spells out the six things that Africa's doing right, the eight things it's doing wrong (because in the West's perception, most things in Africa are wrong), and what needs to be done about them. Many rights and wrongs are very relevant to Fiji -- and for the West for that matter. Click, or copy and paste, on the link and listen to this courageous, inspiring woman.
Fijian Holdings Scandal: Betrayal by their trusted sonsFijian Holdings Ltd Scandal:How Fijian Provinces were betrayed and looted by their trusted sons Thakur Ranjit Singh,(Initially published August, 2007) FIJIANS BETRAYED BY THEIR TRUSTED SONS People of Fiji had been told of corruption and questionable dealings by those who were considered the marshals, saviours and guardians of Fijian race. When Frank Bainimarama sacked Qarase regime and took charge, his reasoning, among others, was to save the I-Taukei (Fijian) race from unscrupulous and wanting leadership within I-Taukei community. My purpose here is to substantiate this through reporting on Senate proceedings of some two decades ago. When Adi Quini Bavadra was alive she tried her best to reveal the dealings inFijian Holdings Limited (FHL)but people with power and influence won and this matter never saw the light of day. My lament had been that while Fiji has an abundance of copy journalists and copy feature writers; there is dearth …
A bizarre rerun of the political intrigues of the 19th century South Seas aristocracy is being played out at a stately royal residence on the waterfront of the sleepy Tongan capital, Nuku’alofa. Consular House was once the home of the British High Commissioner to Tonga and the lion and the unicorn still gaze majestically down from the wall in the foyer. But now the timber tropical pile with its push out shutters houses the region’s latest and most celebrated political refugee – a Fijian chief who’s sought sanctuary with his distant kinsmen, the monocle-wearing King George Tupou V.