News and Comments Friday 4 July
ANYTHING FOR A STORY. Fairfax Media is up to it again, upholding its right to media freedom. This time it claims Bainimarama had told them a EU Commissioner had offered him 500 million Euros in aid if he held elections. Bainimarama is reported to have replied: “You think Fiji is like some African Country, and every time we have a coup, you just give us money? I nearly hit him over the head with a bottle of Fiji Water.”The EU Delegation in Fiji is unaware of the supposed offer.
STOP SPREADING FEAR ABOUT LAND TO WIN VOTES. The Citizens' Constitutional Forum is calling on all politicians to engage in dialogue to address the concerns of some Taukei that the 2013 Constitution and various decrees may have taken effective control of native land out of Taukei hands, a claim denied by the PM.
The CCF said that all discussion on land should be free of ethnic politics and that political parties should refrain from instilling fear into Taukei landowners and ensure that the protection of the legitimate interests of all communities will become part of the national ethic and practice.
The full media release, which said land politics has hindered Fiji since 1987 and the key players should be focusing on collaboration rather than politicizing the issue, may be read on the CCF website. CCF News also included an ad for a new CEO and a report on young people and democratic participation.
'BULLDOG' BEDDOES. The UFDF spokesman has again used Radio NZ International to accuse Government of "devious" behaviour. He says shutting down the Public Accounts Committee is "a clear attempt to further hide the salaries of senior government figures like Mr Sayed-Khaiyum and the Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama." The A-G says all the Auditor General's reports will be considered by a new Public Accounts Committee, once Parliament resumes. Meanwhile, the "accused" have just released details of their salaries. See separate article.
RO TEIMUMU AND BAINIMARA AGREE on one thing, They've both urged voters to differentiate between the truth and lies, with the PM adding —between promises and deeds. Ro Teimumu refute Bainimarama's allegation that her alliance with FLP is a "coalition of hypocrites."
RATU NAIQAMA Lalabalavu, one of Fiji's three paramount chiefs, says he wants to stand for parliament as a SODELPA candidate but women in the party had voted against his nomination for what he did in 1987.
PRAMOD RAE JOINS NFP LINEUP. The former GenSec of the Fiji Bank and Financial Sector Employees Union has confirmed he's put his name up for candidacy.
CHARAN JEATH-SINGH JOINS FFP.The prominent Labasa businessman seems to disagree with Ro Teimumu's claim that the Government Look North policy is "a farce and a failure." He wants to be a FFP candidate because “The Prime Minister Mr Bainimarama if you see all that he is doing now – the free education, bus-fares and also in the North – there are so many things that are being done that was not done previously. My idea is to support him so he can actually do what he is doing and complete that plan. It’s about time you get a leader who commands good respect and can run the country well.” Health Ministry Neil Sharma has also confirmed his availability.
A long time supporter of the NFP, Singh thought the NFP should support the FijiFirst party and work with them.
NGO'S APPLAUD INCREASES PENSION. Two Non-Government Organisations, FCOSS, the Fiji Council of Social Services, and the Chanel Home of Compassion have both applauded Cabinet's approval to increase Social Pension Scheme for the elderly from $30 to $50 early next year. The pension is currently paid to nearly 10,000 senior citizens over 70 who do not have any form of income or pension and have never been part of a superannuation scheme
FLOATING CLINIC TO SERVICE LAU GROUP. Fijians on remote islands of the Lau Group will now have access to free medical services through a partnership between the Health Ministry and the Sea Mercy Foundation.
Two catamarans will service Northern Lau and Southern Lau, and a new vessel, the MD Robyn, will service the Lomaloma medical subdivision in Lau.
Health Minister Neil Sharma says they plan to launch a third vessel to service the Yasawa Groups with all the facilities of the other 'floating clinics’, including specialist nurses, doctors, dentists and eye specialist. There will be lot more advocacy for health, there will be screening, treatment will be undertaken in timely manner so there will be fewer emergency referrals,” he said.
VODAFONE SELLOUT. Vodafone is to sell its remaining 49% in Vodafone Fiji to the FNPF for F$160 million. When the sale is completed, the FNPF will own about 79% of the local company, and be assured of a regular return on its money.
AND NOW FOR A JOKE. Tonga's Land Minister Lord Ma'afu, a descendant of the Ma'afu who once contested the Cakobau for control of Fiji, has proposed Tonga give up the contested Minerva Reef in exahange for Fiji giving up the Lau Group.