A Speech that Tells Us All

STOP PRESS. A SAD LOSS.The late Archbishop Emeritus Petero Mataca (81) passed away on Monday after a long illness. He will be remembered for his contribution to the development of the country and religion. 
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Ro Teimumu's address to SODELPA's AGM at the weekend should inform voters about the party's priorities and intentions. 

It was a long speech, some 3,800-odd words, of which most (nearly 70%) was about how the Bainimarama government was threatening to take away Taukei land.

Of the other topics, “the shocking spread of poverty and unemployment, the decline of government services and infrastructure and the crippling cost of living” far less was said. 

She had 28 words on unemployment, 83 on health (half of which was about the Navau woman who unfortunately lost her baby), 25 words on the economic damage caused by the Bainimarama government and wage stagnation, and three words about the spread of poverty. Government's Look North policy was “a farce and a failure” written off in 14 words, and 271 words were reserved for the rising cost of living, as illustrated in Mick Beddoes' survey of food prices — up 86% from 2006, not the previously stated figure of 60%.

On land she was quite specific on what SODELPA would do in government: the multiple constitutional and legislative protections on land, Senate and the Great Council of Chiefs would be restored, the NLTB would be given its old powers, and the direct payment of all lease money to the land-owning mataqali would be “reviewed”. The Bainimarama government's Land Use Decree and the Land Bank would be abolished.

She did not, however, address the really burning issue on land which is its use, not its ownership. A thriving Fiji economy needs much greater use of land by Taukei villagers, the restoration of non-renewed leases (that contributed to the massive exodus of dispossessed Indo-Fijians tenants, an increase in peri-urban shanty town dwellings and a drop in sugar and other agricultural production), and fair agricultural and non-agricultural leases for lessor and lessee.


On all the other issues Ro Teimumu only spoke in generalities, but promised specific policies once the party's manifesto is released. Meanwhile, she called on members to rally and unite for truth and justice, for work and food on the table, to choose democracy over dictatorship, before concluding, “Thank you for listening and may God bless us all.”


Three issues emerge: the economy and the cost of living; the present dictatorship, and Taukei land. I will write something on the economy and cost living shortly; the dictatorship issue will answering itself in under 80 days, and I will wait to see if others re-visit the question of Taukei land ownership.  -- Croz

Comments

Congratulations said…
An excellent speech from a proud and courageous Fijian patriot. Who never needed to commit treason, launder her assets, or be paid by a corrupt aunt.
Anonymous said…
This 'proud' and 'courageous' 'patriot' was in parliament first thing after the 2000 coup, cavorting with Speight in the hope of getting back into power through a treasonous act, even while the deposed government was being held hostage. This smacks of greed and hunger for power at any cost. Her speech reflects her shallowness.
Cin Cin said…
Croz,

I wonder if perhaps Ro Teimumu isn't just addressing her constituency when she devotes so much time in her speeches to the issue of Fijian land. And her constituency being those Fijians who voted in previous elections for the former SDL. Land security - and the perceived lack thereof under the regimes constitution - is an issue which resonates.

Ro Teimumu is campaigning to what she obviously sees as a strength. Makes perfect sense - SODELPA may or may not have great appeal to non-Fijian voters, so she needs to focus on where she sees the bulk of her support coming from. Mick Beddoes, the NFP and Labour, and every other man and his dog will no doubt to the same - focus on their identified constituencies.

Of course, there are many people who wonder aloud whether there is anything else Teimumu has to offer. I'm not convinced she has enough cross over appeal. But from her perspective, does it matter? The issue of land security is a constant in Fiji - she may as well milk it for all its worth.





Crosbie Walsh said…
@ Cin Cin, I agree. But this was not a speech to the masses; it was an address at the AGM of a supposedly multi-ethnic party.
Cin Cin said…
Is it not beyond the realms of possibility that other ethnicities are equally concerned about land security?
Anonymous said…
Fijians own the land. Full stop. Not one square centimetre of Fijian land will be alienated. The i -Taukei military will see to that. Just pay the rent - and on time.
Anonymous said…
And that is the key point that everyone misses...the i'taukei military is a constituency itself with more that 20 -30,000 ex military types out there in the cities, villages, squatter settlements...they represent a significant body of opinion ...the majority of which support the current PM.

OK, the 'So Help Me God Party' have put up a number of former ex-military types in their line-up...but these are no more than grumpy old men supported by some grumpy old chiefs led by a grumpy old woman promising us younger voters a return to a grumpy old past!

Do we need these grumpy old men and women in parliament making policy?






Cin Cin said…
On that rationale why hold an election at all? Grumpy old men and women vs smug opportunistic con artists - hmmm, I wonder how many people won't bother voting at all?
Anonymous said…
As someone pointed out before, many of these 'grumpy' old politicians of the 'So Help Me God' Party were in there cavorting with Speight in 2000. Their former leader was jailed for fraud (his family business owned more shares in Fijian Holdings than his province!). Two of his henchmen are currently being tried for fraud whilst they were in positions of authority on the NLTB Board. Naboro beckons. So who are the opportunistic con artists you refer to and where are they now?
Los Zetas said…
How many acres of land she owns anyway compared to a chief from the west.This is political grandstanding at its best. She should be more concerned about the cutting of mangroves.
Anonymous said…
There is not much choice on offer between Fiji First and SODELPA.
Bill wadely said…
Not much choice between FF1 & the SODELPA??? Where have you been all this time? For one; SODELPA has made it clear that they want to re-instate the GCC to its former glory, complete with parasitic chiefs from the eastern maritime provinces exacting tribute from their subjects in the West. As if the people of the West are not entitled to have a Confederacy of their own! Where is the justice and commitment to democracy here?
Hoodwinked said…
What I find funny is how she is trying to scare everyone that they will loose their land, but they plan to restore the majority of rent to the chiefs. What is the point of owning land when you get sweet f-all from it! The way I see it is the average native Fijian will loose far more if SODELPA get into power.
cin cin said…
@Anonymous 12.19.00
My apologies, what was I thinking, of course you are right - 2006 was ground zero, the mould was broken, the waters parted, the clouds opened, and a new breed of leader was revealed to the people of Fiji - transparency, integrity and accountability suddenly appeared in the body polity where it had not existed before.......yeah, right.
Taukei said…
The Land Decree is clear: The Prime Minister has the discretion to lease iTaukei land for up to 99 years at terms that he determines. His decision is final and cannot be taken to a court for arbitration. Why would such a provision exists? Yes, there is reason to be concerned as this is the legal framework of an oppressive dictatorship. No democratic country bans executive decisions from being challenged in court.
Crosbie Walsh said…
@Taukei...The PM has the discretion to accept or not accept a lease agreement. But the agreement, with its terms clearly stated, is proposed by the Land Use Unit and the mataqali concerned. And once agreed to and accepted by the PM (who may not be the PM after September) it is a contract that cannot be broken until its term (from 20 to 99 years) is complete.
Not one square metre said…
Bullshit. If scumbag treasonous thieves try and steal I-TAUKEI land - watch the real Fijians end that faster than Israel sorts out hamas.

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