(o+) The Australian Criticizes Hard Stance on Fiji; New Promulation Protects Women, Road Map, Mindpearl

Before taking a breather from the tense and disputed happenings of the past few days, I invite readers to reflect on the insight of today's NZ Herald one-eyed editorial in which it claimed "With every such incident, the regime becomes more malodorous to the people of this country." I suggest the anonymous editor talk around a little and ponder why NZ tourist numbers are up.

 Across the "ditch" The Australia-Fiji Business Council has called on the Australian Government to soften its hard-line stance saying it's bad for business and hurting ordinary Fijians.

Greg Sheridan in The Australian takes the matter further by accusing his government of "a classic case of moral grandiloquence producing absolutely rotten outcomes."  "Now," he writes, "we don't have a high commissioner in Fiji and they don't have one here. Congratulations, Canberra, a brilliant result.We are in grave danger of making a very bad situation much worse. We can certainly isolate and punish Fiji with unique effectiveness, if we want to.God knows why anyone in Canberra thinks it's a good idea."

Meanwhile, in Fiji five new Sri Lankan judges have been sworn in, and the new Crimes Promulgation makes an assault on a woman no longer a reconcilable offence; a woman will be able to give evidence against her partner; the past sexual history of a rape or sexual assault victim will no longer be an admissable defence, and men hiring a prostitute will also have committed an offence. The promulgation is expected to come into effect in February 2010.  At least women's "human rights" are being protected.

The Government's Roadmap is also progressing, albeit slower than might be hoped. Priority is being given to physical infrastructure -- roads and electrification -- in rural areas and other needy communities. But work is also underway on the
National People's Charter Advisory Council. Members Dewan Chand Maharaj, Ratu Filimoni Ralogaivau and Peni Mua have been respectively appointed to deal with economic, social issues and governance issues.

Government will soon add another 24 items  food and essential items to price control.

It is far from a rosy picture in Fiji. Everyone know that. But some credit should be given to the Government when it gets things right. That way, it may be more willing to listen to outsiders' comments when they think it's got things wrong.

(o) Fiji Next Global Call Centre Hub?
Global customer care services Mindpearl opened its first call centre at Kalabu near Suva yesterday, and over the next three years is expected to create 2,000 jobs. "We're excited to be part of Fiji's commerce and industry development in what we believe is the next global contact centre hub,"said CEO William Pattison at the opening. The development is expected to relocate many jobs presently in Australia and New Zealand to Fiji.

Cartoon: cartoonstock.


joe said…
It is about time, oz & nz govts realise that the train is stopping for nobody. The intentions of this Fijian govt is crystal clear, and nothing will stop it from achieving what we all know, is good for all citizens of Fiji. Intelligence operations in oz, nz & america are so sophisticated that the mumbai massacre of 26/11/08 was accurately predicted, but for some reason, it does not register on their radars that the majority of Fijians support the current govt and its objectives.
Anonymous said…
The New Zealand Herald is an appalling rag judging from this editorial, which shows the bottomless depths of New Zealand idiocy.

Not content with urging a tourism boycott which would punish ordinary Fijians with no power to affect change, it goes on to blame those blighted individuals for their current state.

How extraordinary and how reprehensible for this flaccid organ to round on average wage and salary earners in this way!

The Herald editorial writer's oblique incitement to uprising in Fiji beggars belief. This is not pre-revolutionary France, you dickhead!

This used to be a decent paper peopled by decent writers. Now we have the journalistic equivalent of the Prime Minister of Niue urging Fijians to go to the barricades. Incredible.

Stay out of Pacific affairs, you miserable little nobodies, until you get a grip and can say something sensible.

I'm not sure if New Zealand is built on the same foundations as Nauru but it sure as hell seems like it these days.
Anonymous said…
Greg Sheridan is the doyen of Aussie commentators on matters foreign. So while it's pushing it to say that Canberra hangs on his every word, when he speaks, the government and bureaucracy listen.

What he's reflecting here is the big tussle now going on in DFAT, the PM's Department and other agencies about how to handle Fiji.

On the one hand, you have Prime Minister Rudd and his Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, sticking to the hard line served up to them by the likes of Richard Rowe, head of the Pacific Desk at DFAT.

On the other, government figures of the stature of outgoing parliamentary secretary for the Pacific Islands, Duncan Kerr, openly telling people the current policy isn't working and needs a revamp.

Sheridan's rapier-sharp piece brings these divisions into the open in a way that can only be good for those hoping for a more enlightened approach.

Kevin Rudd is only interested in spin and when the weather vane on Fiji changes, so will he.

This is why Sheridan's piece is so important and why any effort now to quietly bring the two sides together will eventually bear fruit.

If John Key in NZ has any smarts, he'll take the lead on this. Unlike Rudd, who's eyeballs are drowning like so many refugees on his watch, Key has the time to think up a workable strategy to bring Fiji back into the fold.
Anonymous said…
Sheridan's article in the Australian was memorable not just for its content and its intelligent conclusion but also for its tone. Directed at someone whom, we are told, refers to the PM of Fiji as "that guy", it made splendid even elegant reading. We are not in the place for "that guy" - when will 'these people' understand that? We have a new President of some experience and style who is versed and forged in the ways of the world: military and diplomacy. Frankly, he knocks spots off 'those people' down there! One sneekingly suspects they may begin to suspect that? And the recalled Fijian High Commissioner to Canberra showed grace and humility and 'savvy' in his quiet response to his recall. Yes, we are all in a learning curve, a steep curve - not least of all those who bash and abuse our women with impunity. Come February 1 2010, they had all better watch out. So had the noisy and repetitive NGOs endlessly singing the same tune to no effect. Recently, one was given a handout of AUS$5m over five years. To repeat the useless, received wisdom "that women do not deserve or merit this violence and that men are only to blame"? This ineffective approach has paid the same, "know all" people to no obvious beneficial outcome. Change the law and bring the domestic violence perpetrators in - no reconciliation and the Fiji Police had better take note.
Tropicat said…
Great news about Mindpearl.
Four years ago the congressman from Samoa was trying to borrow U.S.$20 million to extend the cable to Samoa in order to create 3,000 jobs in call centres. Guess where the cable was to come from. That's right, Fiji. And what were we doing with it? Nothing. Too busy getting stuck into the FNPF & building a nation of waiters & housemaids.
Anonymous said…
As someone who works in the ICT industry in Fiji, exciting times coming. Let these naysayers within Fiji and their foreign friends in New Zealand and Australia wail, the new Fiji is gathering pace. If things fall into place, the next 3 years will see unprecedented boom in most sectors of the economy in Fiji. When these takes of, Pacific island countries will follow Fiji's lead and the death of PACER Plus will be set in stone. Maybe the death of the Pacific Island Forum as well. Mark my word!!!!