News and Comments Monday 4 February 2013
|"A rose by any other name..."?|
CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY. With Government's release of its changes to the Ghai draft constitution already late, people are asking whether invitations to participate in the Assembly will also be late, and, more importantly, whether the deadline for the acceptance of the constitution will provide sufficient time for full and proper discussion.
The draft is reported to be in its final stages and is expected to be presented the Constituent Assembly when it meets. The PM told the Fiji Sun, “The Constituent Assembly is to have its first sitting in February 2013. We expect, as announced last year, that a new Constitution should be in place by March of this year.” But when in February, the 14th as earlier stated, and when in March? And who will be invited to be members of the Assembly?
WORLD INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN 2014 ELECTIONS. Government has invited the global community to participate in preparations for the 2014 general election. A letter has been sent to the heads of all diplomatic missions in Fiji by the Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, laying out a timetable for election preparations and inviting them to take part. The letter has also been sent to a range of multilateral agencies such as the United Nations Development Program, the Asian Development Bank, the International Labour Organisation and the Pacific Forum.
Government has allocated $11.4 million dollars in the 2013 Budget for election preparations, including voter registration within Fiji and abroad, the recruitment of key personnel and the purchase of election materials such as ballot boxes.
Areas in which the global community can immediately participate include: planning the administration and logistics for the election, assessing the technical requirements of holding the poll and funding such things as the printing of ballot papers and voter lists. In the second quarter (April-June) Fiji invites participation to draft the rules and regulations for the election and also begin a programme of civil education and awareness to educate Fijians on the new electoral system. In the third quarter (July-September) the supply of election materials will commence. Expressions of Interest have been advertised for qualified companies to supply a range of items and advertisements are also being commissioned by Fiji’s diplomatic missions abroad.
Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said, "These preparations are for the first parliamentary elections ever conducted on the basis of one person, one vote, one value. We have a lot of ground to cover and we need the best possible preparations now to ensure a transparent process and state of preparedness. We need proper systems to guard against fraud and protect the integrity of the new parliament.”
EU WEIGHING OPTIONS. While France has supported Fiji's dialogue process, a Cook Island opposition MP says sanctions should be increased, and Charge d'affaires for the EU delegation in the Pacific, Johnny Engell-Hansen, has told Radio Australia the EU is weighing its options regarding financial support to Fiji for election-related purposes.
"I'm not sure that I'd say we've lost faith, but we are a little bit confused by what's actually going on right now," he said. "We see various developments and we hear various statements, and what we would really like to be reassured of is that the process is on track, and that there is an irreversible process that will lead to those free and fair elections by 2014."
Fr BARR: THE PM RECONSIDERS. "Following representations made to me, I have reviewed and reversed the decision made by the Minister of Immigration to cancel the work permit for Kevin Barr. Father Barr is free to remain in the country until his work permit has expired which at that time will still be subject to assessment for renewal following the necessary protocols." -- JV Bainimarama, Prime Minister.
MICHAEL FIELD GETS IT WRONG AGAIN. Does he do this on purpose or is he just a sloppy journalist? He reported that Fr Barr sought refuge in the Australian High Commission and, that when he rung him, Fr Barr said he could not talk just now, inferring some sort of duress.
Fr Barr, however, has informed me that he had merely gone to the HighCom to inform them about what was happening, and he "could not talk" just then because he had just got home and Field had caught him unprepared.
HUMAN TRAFFICKERS JAILED. High Court judge Justice Paul Madigan. sentenced four foreigners to between five and ten years imprisonment for human trafficking. The four facilitated the travel of three Thai women into Fiji in early September last year on the pretext that they were to work as masseurs but after arrival they were forced into prostitution.
Justice Madigan said: “If a robust prison sentence is needed in order to send a clear warning message to would be offenders then so be it.” He said invading an overseas country with drugs and criminal activity was a breach of international protocol and relationships.
Meanwhile, the Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde said that the sentence given sent a strong message to would-be offenders.“This is Fiji’s second successful prosecution of a human trafficking ring since the Fijian Government brought in the Crimes Decree in 2009 which created specific offences of human trafficking,” he said. “The sentence handed down today sends a very strong message to people who would engage in this type of offending.”
ALLEN LOCKINGTON WRITES. Latin and French were two languages taught in schools back in the old days. I don’t know how it benefited those who studied it, but just imagine if Hindi and the iTaukei languages had been taught back then. I’m pretty sure we would have benefited so much culturally and we would have better understanding of each others ways of life.