Political Round Up for the Week Ending Friday 21 May
|Previously, the Native Land Trust Board, and Ratu Sukuna|
You couldn't have any more exciting weekend reading!
BLESSINGS FOR RO TEIMUMU. The SODELPA leader has been visiting chiefly villages in the Western Division over the past few weeks to present her isevusevu, seeking the vanua's blessing through the traditional protocol before her campaign drive begins.
SURPRISE! SURPRISE! SODELPA has announced it will reinstate the Great Council of Chiefs if they bercome the next government. Ro Teimumu said the GCC was the pinnacle of Fiji Institutions and it had its special provisions in the 1997 constitution. “We recognise the importance of the GCC in the life of indigenous Fijians because it has Fijians traditional structure right down to urban or rural people.
Comment: Had the GCC kept to its “traditional” role of advising government on Taukei land and title issues, and avoided political involvment favouring only Taukei political parties, it could well have still been in business. The GCC was a body created and funded by government. After the elections would be a good time to reconsider the parameters under which it could be re-established to serve the best interests of all Fijians.
RENT FOR CHIEFS.“Navosavakadua” writing in the blog FijiToday wants to see the old system of rent distributions returned. He argues it wasn't Government's decision to make :even the colonial government consulted the GCC before making changes. And “all previous constitutions restricted the ability of elected governments to make such changes without broad-based support - a two thirds majority of an elected Parliament - and support from the Great Council of Chiefs.
He argued that many iTaukei support a share of land rents going to chiefs [who] can contribute to projects to help their village and their Vanua. If it goes only to individuals it is lost to the community.”
Comment: This is the way the system should have worked, but with the NLTB taking over one-quarter of the rents for administration, and a descending hierarchy of chiefs taking their share, little was left for the people who actually own the land. And many chiefs kept the money for themselves, and spent little on community and village development.
PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC PARTY leader Lynda Tabuya says if elected, her focus in parliament will be women’s health issues. She's considering an early childhood education programme in the communities, they can be run their church halls, and this can be done by young mothers. She says she will also work on improving maternal care. “Satellite towns which are no longer towns, but are really big enough to be cities, to de-centralize the maternity hospitals, so that there is better maternal health and better maternal services for women”.
She also acknowledged the PDP was facing problems in the selection of candidates. The party has done its second round of advertising but they have not received many applications. The problem is not a lack of possible candidates but some are “just a little wary moving forward to declare their interest. So we think that the best time to do this and an influx of candidates will really be more realistic closer to the elections.” Lynda said they were relying on membership dues and other donations to raise the $200-250,000 for a good campaign. .
ANTHONY ATTACKS MEDIA. PDP leader Felix Anthony has attacked two unnamed media outlets (but probably the Fiji Sun and the FBCL) who continue to harrass the party about its links with the trade union movement. They should instead ask government “why unions are being singled out and victimized., instead they act in concert in trying to bait FTUC into admitting political affiliation so that the officers can be prosecuted under the draconian decrees. That appears to be the primary goal of these media outlets.”
“The PDP was formed by FTUC in response to the denial of workers’ rights in Fiji and the denial of fundamental Human Rights by this Government. The PDP was formed to reclaim these rights.The Workers and people of Fiji have had enough of the dictatorial rule that we have experienced in the last seven years.”
THE ABC OF AUSSIE MEDIA IMPARTIALITY.The Australians have far more regular news on Fiji than our RNZI, and Fiji hardly exists on NZ mainstream TV and radio. The ABC news, however, is far from impartial. It does serve a useful purpose in providing a platform for dissident Fiji voices, but sadly rarely presents both sides of a story and usually provides too little information to permit listeners to form their own opinions.
On Thursday, ABC's Richard Ewart interviewed CCF head Akuila Yabaki on their ability to engage in voter education. The interview was prefaced with a comment on the restriction on NGOs that receive funding. No mention was made of the inaccuracies in the CCF booklet on the 2013 Constitution that was prepared by foreign consultants and contributed to CCF's exclusion.
Ewing then led Akuila through a number of questions aimed, presumably, in making the restriction look oppressive. Akuila said he was not happy about section 115 of the decree but did not think it was a problem so long as NGOs were politically neutral. "We'll just have to manoeuvre our way through that legislation and see that we do not obviously openly side with any political party, because they could be deemed as campaigning."
Ewart then latched on to the term campaigning: “So again just to clarify so as long as non-government organisation is deemed to be shall we say politically neutral and campaigning on issues rather than for a political party then this funding issue is not necessarily a problem?
YABAKI: I think yes, I think we need to take that fine line and we're doing that, we're not campaigning for a political party, we won't be doing that. Our task is educating the people on ongoing constitutional matters and we will be joining the voter education,campaign. Helping people to know the rules, we'll be offering ourselves and we will be sending out a list of criteria, of what rules you to adhere to if you wish to participate."
I wonder whether Ewing achieved his purpose in this interview and whether anyone listening would be any wiser.
PROJECT BULA VOU AND THE ECONOMY. . Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony for Paradise Beverage’s $44 million three-year plan to upgrade its brewing facilities at Walu Bay, the PM congratulated the company, and its majority shareholder Coca-Cola Amital Group on the initiative, before going on to cite improvements in the Fiji economy.
"As you know, we have been focused on fostering an environment that allows both existing companies and new entrepreneurs to benefit from the economic boom underway in Fiji across a whole range of sectors gratifying to see that our policies have started to receive endorsement from some of the biggest names in the financial world." These include: ANZ's growing optismist and its huge increase in lending; Moody's rating that record robust growth and growing business confidence and investment; Standard and Poor’s revisedoutlook from stable to positive; IMF's note of a pickup in economic growth through increased investment and business confidence, and more recently, the Reserve Bank's revised growth forecast for 2014 upwards to 3.8%.
NAZHAT SHAMEEM'S UN GENEVA POSTING. It's par for the course that almost any action taken by government will be criticised. They never get anything right, and if they do, we're told it's an illegal government that has no right to do anything. FLP's Kini Marawai criticised the appointment of Shameem as Fiji's permanent representative to UN in Geneva saying it was a waste of taxpayer's money (Fiji is already represented at the UN in New York) and the job had not been advertised.
Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola replied. On the first count, the Geneva mission will enable Fiji to work with the 32 international organisations and 250 non-governmental organisation based in Geneva, which includethe World Trade Organization, World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization.and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
On the second account, the post was advertised and from numerous applicants Government considered Nazhaat Shameem the best candidate. Her “wide experience in the civil service, her extensive legal background and expertise make her the most suitable candidate for the type of diplomacy work and advocacy required of Fiji's representative in Geneva," Ratu Inoke said.
BLESSINGS ON THE FLP. In our opening item SODELPA sought the blessings of the vanua. With only Taukeui benefiting from this courtesy, it seems proper to show how their old antagonist, the FLP, is seeking the blessings of its “vanua.” Rajendra Chaudhry, writing from Sydney, says, if elected, the FLP will give unemployed person $50 a week, and the money will come from $2 million donated by Australian supporters. He made no mention of his father contributing any of the undeclared $2 million that has led to his recent conviction. .