News and Comments Tuesday 15 July
|Ro Teimumu is flanked by Tuqiri and Korosau|
LARGE SODELPA RALLY IN LAUTOKA. Supporters dressed in party t-shirts came from as far away at Sigatoka and Ra, and even two from Australia, to march down Vitoga Parade in Lautoka on Saturday. The Fiji Australians were well-known rugby league players Lote Tuqiri and Apisai Koroisau.
As the Fiji Times commented, " It was a rare opportunity for many people in the Western Division to catch a glimpse of rugby league superstars and former Fiji Bati reps Lote Tuqiri and Apisai Koroisau." Party leader Ro Teimumu welcomed the players and claimed party support in the West was "overwhelming." She spoke of the party being a "stabilising force" against coups, and offered a "remade Fiji ... of freedom and prosperity."
SODELPA estimates it will need $750,000 for the election campaign of which they have raised about $350,000. The party is selling clothes items with party logos to help fund-raising. Tuqiri's sulu and t-shirt cost $60, or more, presumably, if autographed.
|The PM with Nuku schoolchildren|
FUEL PRICES DROP. The price of petrol dropped by 3 cents to F$2.53, kerosene by 5 cents to $1.82, and diesel 4 cents to $2.31 on Tuesday.
KINGS ROAD ELECTRIFICATION. A number of settlements from Tavua to Korovou will soon have electricity as a result of a $9.4 million FEA work.
PM VISITS MASI. WHERE? Even the journalists had to be given direction on how to get to Masi village in Nuku, Serua, which is a two-hour journey by road and later by boat up river from the Galoa junction on Queens Road.
It was the first visit ever to the area by a prime minister. He was there at the invitation by the Nuku people who wanted to thank him for the development his Government has brought to them, the most significant of which is the new Nuku Secondary School.
In the talanoa session, 67-year-old Kaliova Senikavika asked the PM about promises by some politicians and parties to change the Constitution when elected. The PM said the politicians and their parties were cowards because their message was based on distortion and lies. The Constitution, he said, was inclusive. He said it protected indigenous Fijian land, church and chiefs. Masi chief Ratu Manueli Roseru said they suported the PM and the Constitution.
FIJIFIRST MORE THAN A PARTY. "It is a political movement with a vision for the next 10 to 20 years", according to general secretary Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. This was his message on the weekend whirlwind tour of rural areas in the West. Speaking only briefly at each venue he left most time for questions. Among the issues raised were roads and water whose defects he put down to poor engineering decisions be previous governments. "The Fiji Roads Authority built cheap roads and bridges, but in six months time, it would be washed away. He said the Bainimarama-Government was after a more permanent and long term solution to issues such as water and roads."
DENARAU PEOPLE WANT THEIR LAND BACK. Villagers who once owned Denarau Island asked Sayed-Khaiyum if they could get back their land that had been turned into freehold title with no consultation with the owners in the 1980s under the Rabuka Government. The answer, unfortunately, was no, but the 2013 Constitution prevented this sort of thing from ever happening again.
LAND WAS ALSO AN ISSUE IN COLO-I-SUVA. Land use was again the topic of discussion at the Colo-i-Suva Village hall last night where the FijiFirst Party held its campaign meeting.
Party president Dr Jiko Luveni explained that iTaukei land would need 60 per cent approval by the mataqali in order to be released. She also emphasized that under the 2013 Constitution, it was illegal for Government to take back iTaukei land or have it sold or given as a gift to another party.
Dr Luveni was responding to concerns raised by Colo-i-Suva villager Sikeli Naitale who is also the chairman of the Lomanikoro Trust whose mataqali land had been leased by a tenant who then subleased it to another person five years before the land lease expired in 2002.The request by the mataqali for the return of the land was not supported by the then Native (now Tuakei) Land Trust Board, and it was not until last year that the tenant was evicted and four acres out of the five acres returned. The TLTB told him that the other acre near the road would be subdivided and sold.
THE PDP MANIFESTO, launched on Saturday, is committed to the protection of the rights and dignity of workers, including the right to decent work and gender equality, and the . This is part of the party’s manifesto launched last Saturday at Saraswati College, Nausori, where PDP promised to oppose any current and future laws that curtailed individual freedoms.
PDP AND EDUCATION. If elected, the People’s Democratic Party promises free meals for poor students on top of the free education and bus fare concessions provided by the current Government. PDP would also appoint an independent commission to examine and make recommendations on all aspects of the education system, including school curricula appropriate to students and work opportunities in Fiji.
CHAUDHRY NOT YET OUT. The Court of Appeal has dismissed his appeal for a stay of sentence but Justice William Calanchini has however granted an urgent hearing on the legal appeal of conviction which gives Chaudhry some hope to be nominated as a party candidate in the upcoming September election.
TAX OFFICER ABUSE OF OFFICE AND CHAUDHRY. Two former employees of the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority, Vimal Krishna and Agesh Prakash, have been charged with abuse of office by the Criminal Investigations Department in relation to a $31,600 allegedly illegal payout to Mahendra Pal Chaudhry in 2009. The two have been released on bail by the Suva Magistrates Court on strict bail conditions.
FOUR NGO's HELP VOTER EDUCATION. Four organisations have been given the go-ahead to carry out voter education related activities under Section 115 of the Electoral Decree. Approval has been given to the Fiji Women's Rights Movement (FWRM), femLINKpacific: Media Initiatives for Women, Pacific Dialogue and Citizens Constitutional Forum (CCF)
YASAWAS SAFE WATER. Villages in the tikina of Waya and Nacula in the Yasawa Group will soon access safe drinking water as works on a new water reticulation system, incuding a dam for catchmnent and 3,000 metres of piping to the villages, begin next week.
NEW CANDIDATES. FijiFirst’s first batch of candidates,and SODELPA's remaining six candidates, will be announced this week.