Monday, November 30, 2009

Some Budget Details

FijiVillage.com - Fiji's home on the world wide web

Snippets: 2000 Coup, Commonwealth, Crimes Decree, SMH, Ringing Frank, FEA, Xmas Tree


Looking Back: Speight’s psychological warfare
"Every day, the rumours were deliberately planted by Speight’s psychological warfare machine, targeted at the military as well as civilians, as a means of inciting violence, psychological control and inducing submission. These were reinforced by Speight’s daily interviews, news of burning, violence and theft and reporting of happenings in Parliament where the hostages (members of the ruling party) were still being held. The Fijian radio stations repeatedly played nationalistic speeches by nationalist leaders and sermons by Methodist church leaders ...."
If you want to know more about the racism and shady characters behind the 2000 Speight coup read  Dr Steven Ratuva's review of State of Suffering: Political Violence and Community Survival in Fiji by Auckland University anthropologist Susanna Trnka. Better still, read the book.

What a funny Commonwealth we live in
Rwanda with no prior Commonwealth connections but 800,000 genocide deaths to account for and ongoing human rights abuses is admitted because it has "made progress", while Fiji with Commonwealth links forged in war remains suspended -- and denied entry to the Commonwealth Games. Its human rights record: four deaths attributed to the coup, some temporary dententions and restrictions on media freedom. The only new comment from Commonwealth leaders was that the situation had "deteriorated." At the level on which their attention is fixed ("ongoing restrictions on human rights including freedom of speech and assembly"), this is probably true. Sadly, some Commonwealth leaders fail to see that it has been their policies of exclusion that have helped to make things worse. The responsibility does not lie entirely with Fiji.  And Fiji cannot, even with the wildest stretches of imagination, be compared to Rwanda! Apparently, Malaysia lobbied for Fiji's inclusion in the Games.

The soon-to-be-announded sinister Crimes Decree

Victims of Internet crimes committed in Fiji now have access to legal resources with the institution of a new Decree introducing new charges. Full story.Ratu Epeli comments on its significance for human trafficking. There's no doubt this new decree will soon be labelled sinister.

The Sydney Morning Herald ...
has been giving Fiji some attention recently. Almost all comment is hostile and only as well informed as you may expect from visiting journalists but they're worth a quick look. One reader wrote: "Don’t those journalists understand that the reason why Fiji is like it is, is because of the poor governance of past governments for the past twenty years? Watch the video. Those squatter settlements did not spring up overnight – they have been there for decades."

"Fiji's Squatter Settlements" Kate Geraghty
"An unholy alliance of Church and State", Paul McGeough
"In Paradise Lost, where dissent fears to tread" Paul McGeough & Kate Geraghty

And for good measure, in Green Left, hear what Brij Lal has to say about the military being intent on holding on to power.

Why don't you give Frank a ring?

I wonder how many other Prime Ministers offer this service. Any complaints about the civil service, just text message Frank on your cellphone. The number's 01. One of two specially assigned officers will reply, and often Frank will attend to it himself. Come on Kevin and John, you're not going to let a dictator beat you at this. Full story.


FEA and Niranjan
I've heard someting about  $2 million the Fiji Electricity Authority had to pay Niranjans for four defunct HIAB Trucks. If true, is it corruption, incompetence, or what? And why has Government said nothing? 


Muslim lights Fiji’s biggest Christmas tree 
Imported by Digicel, taking three weeks to set up in Ratu Sukuna Park, Suva, and measuring over 12 metres, the giant Christmas tree was lit (turned on) by A-G Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. The Conservatorium of Music will be performing Christmas carols at the park every Thursday and Friday until the end of December.



2010 Budget. I will have something on the 2010 Budget later, when I get this Auckland PIPSA paper out of the way.




Fiji gov't focuses on need for electoral system_English_Xinhua

Fiji gov't focuses on need for electoral system_English_Xinhua: "Fiji Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said on Friday that the general election under a just and fair electoral system will be held by September 2014.

In delivering the 2010 Budget for Fiji, Bainimarama said the primary focus of his government shall be on the economy for the next three years.

He said he has commenced the process to hold a Dialogue Forum from February 2010 consisting of people who are positive, interested and forward looking in realizing the true potential of this Pacific island nation.

'The Dialogue process will not, however, deter the government's focus on the economy."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On



Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in www.connectme.com.fj/news/opinion. I thank Allen and Connect for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.

Meet the People

President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau will soon be touring the West. I'm sure the people of Lautoka will be thankful to actually meet him. We in Waiyavi would love to have a talanoa session with him. No politics just a simple good old talk about this and that. I know Ratu Epeli has a huge sense of humour, well, we have some jokes that will make him smile even laugh.  And some that will roll the eyes.

But can the entourage tour Lautoka - on foot. That is how you will get to meet the people, Sir. Please don't just meet the tree top people. We at the grass roots would love to meet you also.

Likewise all City Fathers around Fiji should take time out from their busy schedule and take long walks to meet the citizens.

They could make it a 30 minute work  like the AD on TV says, get fit and meet the people at the same time. Take different routes every so often and by the end of the year you will have met every almost everyone. 

P.S. Isa, our President did come to the West, but he only came as far as Nadi. well, we do hope you will come to Lautoka one day Sir.

Not to worry, we in Waiyavi still fancy a good old talanoa session with you. But if pressing issues cannot bring you to us just yet, then we will wait for as long as possible. In the mean time I will use that new grog cloth and buy a new one when do you come.
 

Friday, November 27, 2009

Full text of 2010 national budget address - Fiji Times Online

Full text of 2010 national budget address - Fiji Times Online

(o) Possible Explanation for Blog Blocks


It seems there are some very real concerns about national security  and, from the PM's comments in the Fiji Sun, blogs could be part of the issue. Two important events are taking place: the Attorney-General's two day meeting at the Warwick Hotel on Cybernet Crime, and the announcement of the Budget.  Both events will attract a lot of attention. Anti-Government activists  wishing, for example, to deter more tourists from visiting Fiji could well target one or both events.  I also understand that there are widespread rumours of a "political party" seeking to more actively destabilize Government.

If this information is accurate, I still think a better option for the PM is it make it public rather than blocking blogs and other means of communication. This leave people -- most importantly the Fiji public -- guessing about causes, and prevents those who support him from doing so  more publicly.  I understand that the blogs are now (Friday morning) unblocked!


I will not comment further until there's something more substantial to report.  But readers' ideas on the situation, and how Fiji readers may access at least this blogsite, would be much appreciated.  Please comment in "Comments" below, or email me.

STOPPRESS  One easy way to access a blog is just to go to http://unblockandsurf.com/ and type the web address (e.g., www.crosbiew blogspot.com) in the box provided. 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

(o-) Blocking Blogs Blocks Brains

Unless Government has evidence that blogs are actually formenting rebellion (and not just talking about it from time to time), the intermittent and indiscriminate blocking of all blogs, coming as it does on top of the National Spectrum Decree, detracts from the credibility of Government's Roadmap.  PERS should be progressively lifted (as urged many times in this blog) and not tightened with the blocking of blogs.  Prime Minister, don't do this. You are shooting yourself in the foot.

This letter from a Friend  

Dear Croz,

A previous attempt by the government to block websites foundered when it came to those users who have Connect as their ISP, since Connect seemingly refused to adhere to the government’s alleged instruction.  However over the past 2 – 3 days it’s possible that further pressure has been brought to bear since I’m now unable to view several websites without going through proxy servers.  Certain websites seem to have the technological nous to circumvent the ban of their own accord, since Raw Fiji News and Fiji Today don’t seem to be affected.

However it’s ironic that your website should be suffering the same fate as others, and your reference to Buddha’s phrase makes that irony all more pointed.

“...But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and abide by it.…”

In view of the fact that dissent has existed online for the past 3 years, and the military has unquestionably had access to the expertise to block websites since 2006, it appears that  government has now deliberately embarked on a path that is only likely to cause further rumour mongering and division in society.  As you’ve written several times, dialogue is the only way to stop this country becoming more polarised. 

This unmentioned (by government) escalation of the PER doesn’t bode well for the dissemination of the ideas and the goodwill that will be essential in the next few years if the aims of the ‘roadmap’ are to be achieved.

Moce, 

Jay





Election Office Starts 2014 Election Countdown

FijiSun Newspaper Daily E News

(o) IMF Prepared to Give Fiji a Loan

Fiji yet to ask IMF for a loan - Fiji Times Online

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

(o+) Nick Naidu and Simon Jackson on the Spectrum Saga



SEE 'SPECTRUM SAGA' BELOW FOR UPDATES SINCE MONDAY.


Radio Australia's Bruce Hill interviews Nick Naidu (NZ Coalition for Democracy in Fiji) and Simon Jackson (Head of Streamcom whose report led to the National Spectrum Decree.) Naidu says outsiders should do nothing to help the Fiji Government. Jackson thinks the Government is on the right track with the Decree. November 25th. 2:00 EST.  Full report

Some extracts below:

NAIDU: ... the timing [of the Spectrum Decree] is quite interesting, it's a time when shortly after  the media has been censored [actually it was in April] and it appears that the censorship hasn't worked as well as the regime most probably wanted it. So could this be a way to further control or muzzle those organisations or media outlets that were not playing ball with the regime.

It's very sad that while the people of Fiji the average person is suffering, and poverty is getting out of control, unemployment at its highest level, the economy is suffering. While all that is going on we have New Zealand and Australia as governments are standing up and imposing sanctions but at the same time a lot in the private and education sector, professional areas have decided to go and support this illegal regime with no concern ethically for what they're doing and the harm that they're doing to Fiji as a nation and its people by indirectly giving the regime a stamp of approval.

HILL: But Simon Jackson ... says such criticisms are wide of the mark. He says Fiji's interim government is simply trying to clean up the allocation of frequencies after years of neglect, and there were no political motivations involved.

JACKSON: I agree that there should be an ethical basis to the work you do for anyone  ...we would not have undertaken this work if we believed that there was any ill intent. In actual fact what we believe is happening is that the Fijian government currently is trying to address years of neglect and mismanagement and actually corruption, we've found evidence of that in the way that the radio spectrum has been managed in Fiji. So we tender to do some work to actually come up with a strategy for reorganising their broadcast band and I think you can see from the reaction of people like CSL, who have over 60 per cent of the market in Fiji radio, commercial radio, and people like My Television; these are the ones who if the government actually had some nefarious intent, these are the ones who would be concerned. And they're not saying that, what they're saying is look, this is good, there's been a problem here that needs to be sorted out. 


Also the fact that the Fijian government is involving the ITU, which is the International Telecommunications Union, they're actually an arm of the UN. So it's not like this is something where somebody has decided let's find a cunning way to take frequencies away from people, because to be honest if indeed they were acting as an evil dictatorship they could do that without having to go to this extreme couldn't they? They're doing a lot of work and doing it in the right way for somebody who's trying to do something underhand.

HILL: How did your company feel about doing business with the Fiji regime?


JACKSON: ... we did some research first, ... we took some time to talk to people in the Fijian community here in New Zealand, and look honestly it was very confusing. I found conversations that we were having with people on the street and people in New Zealand, like the first time that we approached somebody, we said oh look isn't it terrible what's going on in Fiji? And this guy who was an ethnic Fijian came and said no, it was great, and that kind of really confused us. But we have found more people supporting the changes if you like, plenty of people who may not support the regime, actually may not support the people doing the reforms, but it's really hard to find somebody who doesn't actually agree with the intent.

HILL: But Nick Naidu thinks there's a wider principle at stake.


NAIDU: ...professional organisations that these individuals or companies belong to should speak out. The governments concerned should support their sanctions by also making it clear to the private sector what their views are in terms of doing business as usual with Fiji ...  they should reprimand those members for taking part and propping up illegal regimes like in Fiji.

HILL: But that characterisation ... is disputed by Simon Jackson. He says corruption is no longer part of doing business in Fiji and that's a positive development.

JACKSON
: When we were doing this work we had people coming to us and saying what did it cost you? People who had been doing business in Fiji for a long time, and we were saying what do you mean? And they said well how much did you have to pay to get the contract? And it appears that the normal operating procedure in Fiji has been that if you pay good money for a contract it would be rude to expect you to actually do the work. So we think, we didn't really notice any of that at all, but people we talked to they were sort of disbelieving that that's actually the way that things are happening at the moment ...

We have in the course of doing this project spent some time on the ground. The stories about, we never saw a soldier, we never saw any evidence of the kind of behaviour which is described as being sort of everyday activity in Fiji. The one thing I came away from from actually meeting people in government there was that these people are not politicians, they make, they seem to have almost no media nous, they call a spade a spade. But what their intentions are seem to be really I guess noble.


(o+) Snippets: IMF, Land Reform, Labasa's New Health Unit, Violence against Women, Constitution Retentions, Corruption Suspicions

THE SPECTRUM SAGA IS UPDATED DAILY, 
WHEN SOMEONE SAYS SOMETHING NEW.
SEE UPDATES AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE.


AFTER TWO WEEK OF CONSULTATIONS IN FIJI,the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has advised Government that rushed civil service reforms could result in the loss of experienced manpower. The retirement age policy that  saw 2,044 civil servants go home earlier this year was part of the Civil Service Reform. The IMF also advised Government to stop borrowing, and reduce its reliance on the Fiji National Provident Fund as a source of finance. Full story.

WORK ON A LAND DATABANK has started at the Ministry of Lands and Minerals, working closely with the Native Land Trust Board. The work is part of the Ministry's 2010 - 2014 Strategic Planlaunched in Suva on Tuesday. Outcomes will assist land reform aimed at better land use and accessibility, needed to save the sugar industry and open more opportunities for tourism and agriculture. The reforms, part of the 2010-2014 Stategic Plan, will benefit landowners financially and not affect their ownership. The Plan was undertaken following community-wide consultations. Government says Fiji also needs the reforms so that State lands, minerals and groundwater resources are utilised and developed to provide better returns to the country's economy. Full story.

THE KOREAN-FUNDED ACCIDENT AND EMERGENCY UNIT IN LABASA, the main town in Fiji's second largest island, is the largest in the country. The Unit cost $2.5m. Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma  said the project was to ensure people in the North received the best health care."With the completion of these new units, we are determined to make quality health services more accessible to our people."  Full story.

FIJI'S WOMEN'S RIGHTS MOVEMENT is organizing 16 days of activism starting Wednesday. November 29th is International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, and December 1st World AIDS Day. Full story.

PARTS OF 1997 CONSTITUTION WILL BE RETAINED. Listen here to Radio Australia's interview with Attorney-GeneralAiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. PM Bainimarama had earlier informed visiting EU officials that clauses on the rule of law, the judiciary, human rights and democratic principles will be re-authorised by presidential decree. The main element to be changed is the race-based electoral system.There never was any intention of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater."

MIDDLE EAST RECRUITER QUESTIONED. Timoci Lolohea, head of the Meridian Services Company, has again been taken in for questioning by Police following fresh complaints that he has received money in exchange for promises of jobs in the Middle East. It is suspected he was at the centre of a scam where more than 20,000 people allegedly paid a total of more than $3 million after being promised jobs in Kuwait. Full story.

(+) Public Sector Corruption


Fiji was left out of Transparency International global survey on public sector corruption because there was not enough data.Its last ranking was at 55th place.

Dave Aidney, Chairman of Transparency International Fiji, said he is disappointed but Government is making progress. A major problem is finding good prosecution lawyers as some of those charged are hiring Queens Counsels and are being let off on technicalities. Fiji is also updating many of its integrated Acts in an effort to reduce corruption. Attorney General and Minister for Anti-Corruption Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum confirmed no approaches were made to his office by Transparency International when the annual survey of the 180 countries was conducted.  Full story.

Former Post Fiji Top Guns Go on Trial
Radio Fiji announces the trial on corruption charges of two former Post Fiji executives. Full story.

(+) "Sayed-Khaiyum and Tappoos Strike Deal": What Deal?

Forgive the grammar but it gets curiouser and curiouser this almost daily manufacturing of non-news bent on showing just how rotten the Fiji Goverment is. Now Coupfourpointfive reports what it calls a "clear case of conflict of interest."

Here's the  story. Attorney-General Sayed-Khaiyum's family investment company has sold a "personal property, including a large residential block of prime land in the heart of Suva city to business tycoon Tappoo Group of Companies...The price remains undisclosed [but] Coupfourpointfive has established that it was sold at an inflated price, in return for concessions and benefits from Sayed-Khaiyum who is also tourism minister."

Come on. Where's the "clear" conflict of interest? Why should the price be disclosed? How did your informant know an "undisclosed" price was "inflated"? Where was he sitting when he heard Khaiyum and Tappoo discuss "concessions and benefits"? You do nothing for your cause by publishing weak stories like this, based presumably on rumour, speculation and prior bias, and nothing for your blog's credibility.

Monday, November 23, 2009

(o+) The Spectrum Saga

UPDATED DAILY, WHEN SOMEONE SAYS SOMETHING NEW.
SEE UPDATES AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE.


An Only Too Typical Story of Collusion between Inside "Sources", Blogs, the Media and Politicians: Twelve Days in November


"There's no denying that if you think them bad, they are bad and nothing they say or do will convince you otherwise."- Anon.

It all started a month or so ago when Streamcom NZ was hired to review the use of Fiji's airwaves.

Government was concerned about airwave efficiency and suspected earlier underhand dealings in their allocation. They must also have been aware -- but not necessarily influenced by knowing -- that the Fiji Broadcasting Commission (FBCL)  wanted an entry to TV and that MaiFM, recently awarded the 2010 Soccer World Cup televion rights, could only reach some urban areas using UHF. They needed a VHF channel to cover Fiji. 

D-Day. Thursday 12 November.  The President signed the National Spectrum Decree (No.48 of 2009). Its purpose  (clause 6a) was the fair allocation of airwaves to ensure economic efficiency, competition, and the public and national interest.  Current licensees were to continue operating on existing frequencies until actual airwave use and needs was determined.

For the record, this was not the only Decree promulgated this month although readers might think so. The foreign media published nothing on the Liquor, Income Tax, Gambling, Fiji Trust Fund, Crimes (making male customers of prostitutes equally wrong) Decrees, or the announced Child Welfare Decree which were all the product of an "illegal" President and regime.

When the foreign media finally picked up the Spectrum story on Saturday 21st, following two Coupfourpointfive blog postings on Thursday 19 (see below), only the possibly negative clauses were mentioned (no compensation to licensees if channels were changed or cancelled; no right of court appeal [decrees are laws; laws can be repealed but not appealed in any counry]; a fine or prison for non-compliance; the increased power of Sayed-Khaiyum (who happens to be the Minister responsible);and the possibly anti-democratic use of disclosed frequency information).

Bearing in mind Winston Churchill's warning "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on," let us see what followed.

Saturday 14th. Radio Fiji reports on the Decree, with Khaiyum's explanations. Geographical Media publishes the Decree.

Sunday 15th. FijiLive refers indirecly to the Decree ("improvement of info-commercial infrastructure.")

Tuesday 17th. FijiTV reports the Decree on its 6pm news.  There's still no mention by anti-Government blogs or the foreign media.

Thursday 19th, 8:14pm. Auckland-based blog Coupfourpointfive publishes "Analsyis of National Spectrum Decree" based on what its [inside Fiji] "sources say." In addition to the negatives cited above and the assumed benefits to FBCL (whose chief executive is the younger brother of the Minister Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum), the blog says disclosure of airwave fequency details will allow Government to "eavesdrop" on all telecommunications.

Friday 20th, 8:42amCoupfourpointfive publishes "NZ Firm Carried Out Spectrum Study" stating that Streamcom has no expertise in this area. Wellington-based blog FijiCoup2006 publishes the Coupfourpointfive item at 1:32pm.

Saturday 21th (but Friday 20 USA time). Blog RawFijiNews writes of "the sudden and until now unreported promulgation" (sic!) and publishes the Coupfourpointfive post. Also in the USA, blog FijiNews.ning publishes the RawFijiNews item.

Saturday 21th (in Fiji, Australia and NZ).

Fiji Sun prints Khaiyum's "Get Your Facts Right" address to Australia and NZ leaders. (The on-line edition did not appear until Monday but the ANZ HighComs should have been able to contact Canberra and Wellington before this.)
At 2:20pm FijiLive publishes "State to Regulate Telecom Providers" that briefly mentions the Spectrum Decree's "rationalization."
At noon Australian EST The Rupert Murdoch-owned The Australian publishes Rowan Callick's "Fiji Strips Licences from Broadcasters." Callick repeats the negatives mentioned above, cites Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith repeating the same negatives: the Attorney-General's "absolute power" (Khaiyum is actually the Minister responsible); no appeal to courts; "effectively seizing" the licences; no compensation; five years jail; FBCL will gain at expense of FijiTV -- that is owned by Yasana Holdings that "represents the 14 ethnic Fijian provinces" (sic!)
At 3:45pm Melbourne's HeraldSun (another Murdock paper) reports Smith saying it's a "very bad sgn"; Khaiyum can strip broadcasters licences "at whim," and he'll raise the new Fiji situation at the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers' meeting in Trinidad on Tuesday.
At 7:38pm NZ's Pacific Scoop publishes The Australian story.
At 9:16pm RadioNZ does the same.

Sunday 22nd (but Saturday 21 in the USA). At 7:19am FijiToday publishes "Fiji Radio Spectrum Nationalized" and quotes from The Australian.


Sunday 22nd (in Fiji, Australia and NZ).
At 6:31am RadioNZ cites The Australian and Smith's remarks.
At 10:45am Fiji-based blog FijiToday  reports RadioNZ's "Clampdown" item.
At 12:48pm Coupfourpointfive copies and publishes Callick's The Australan article via AAP.
At 2:30pm RadioNZ reported "NZ 'Disturbed' at Reports of Fiji Media Clampdown". The item, circulated  by PacificMediaWatch, reported the NZ Government was "disappointed" with the "revocation" of broadcastng licences; quoted Smith's earlier remarks; said that Fiji media had to "justify" their airwave use; quoted Khaiyum ("It's to plan a future better use.."); cited Foreign Minister McCully spokesman ("it's determined to limit any public criticism"); said Media Freedom Committee spokesman Tim Pankhurst wanted more pressure on Fiji; to conclude with Australian media "Fiji's TV and radio broadcast this weekend on a temporary basis." [As if they were all to be put off air any minute.]
At 4:34pm NewsTalkZB reported McCully as disappointed and saying Khaiyum's explanation "doesn't wash."
PacificMediaWatch published Saturday's HeraldSun report.

Monday 23rd.
FijiSun on-line publishes Khaiyum's "Get Your Facts Right" item.
Khaiyum said ANZ were making "false allegations and misleding comments" and urged them to read the Decree. He said spectrum allocations will follow a tender process that will "complement Government's objective of transparency and accountability and minimize corruption."
RadioNZ at 6:59am  in "No Threat to Freedom of Expression in Fiji" reports Communications Fiji, that has 60 percent of the Fiji radio market, CEO William Parkinson as saying he "does not fear anything sinister. The haphazardly-managed airwaves are due for a shake-up." Canterbury Uni Jim Tully, however, said government control of ariwaves threatens freedom of speech, especially in remote [sic!] island nations such as Fiji which rely heavily on broadcast media."
At 10:08am EST an ABC interview with John Westland of Radio Australia "Interim Fiji Government Revokes Broadcasting Licences" had Westland talk of the "taking away of licences" and it having more to do with "who gets a licence," before he went on to say: "Frankly [with so little detail] we just don't know." Much of the interview is repeated on the Radio Australia News at 1pm EST.
At 12:20pm FijiCoup2006 publishes Khaiyum's FijiSun item.
At 7:11pm FijiLive does likewise. "denies muzzling media freedom.. [wants] an efficient system."
PacificMediaWatch reports that Fiji MaiTV welcomes the Decree. CEO Richard Broadbridge said they'd applied for a VHF licence nearly two years ago but had had to use UHF even though one broadcaster had more VHF channels than needed. He called the Decree "a step in the right direction to ensure all broadcasters are treated fairly, and that TV and radio stations are available to users easier and cheaper."
At 8pm FijiCoup2006 reprints the AAP on Smith saying the Decree was "a very bad signal".  and did not remove the error about the "14 ethnic Fijian provinces."

And since some will think me "bad" for publishing this, and "There's no denying that if you think them bad, they are bad and nothing they say or do will convince you otherwise," three more bad thoughts won't hurt: Who are Coupfourpointfive's inside sources? Are they journalists like themselves?  How is it that Rowan Callick and The Australian get so much inside information from Fiji?  Is it merely coincidental that The Fiji Times, The Australian and the HeraldSun are all owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, that also owns major papers in every Australian city, Wellington's DominionPost, and, incidentally, the Wall Street Journal and The Times?


And they talk of power, and control of the media!

UPDATES (ONLY WHEN SOMETHING NEW IS SAID)


Wednesday 25th.
Anti-Government blog FijiCoup2006 publishes FDN and RFN item.  Very strong anti-Sayed Khaiyum comments with racist undertones currently in the blogosphere.

Anti-Government blog FijiDemocracyNow publishes "NZ Streamcom admits it was used by Aiyaz Khaiyum to effect new broadcasting decree RFN" that is re-published by companion RawFijiNews. This is what they took from the Radio Australia Pacific Beat interview [See below and my new post 25th.]

PacificScoop publishes this blog's "Spectrum Saga". PacificMediaWatch printed it for circulation and, hey presto, its on Radio Australia.
Radio Australia (7pm, EST) summarises its Pacific Beat interview, citing NZ consultant company Streamcom head Simon Jackson as saying the Fiji Government had done the right thing."In fact, what we think is happening is that the Fijian government is currently trying to address years of neglect and mismanagement and actually corruption.And we found evidence of that and the way that radio spectrum had been managed."
Radio Australia Pacific Beat  interview of Nick Naidu (NZ Coalition for Democracy, against) and Simon Jackson (Streamcom, for the Decree)

Tuesday 24th.Citizens Constitutional Forum CEO Rev. Akuila Yabaki called on Government to use the Decree only to improve efficiency, saying existing licences should not be revoked, and broadcasters must not be pressured into accepting any deal that compromises their role in society. He thought an independent statutory body a more transparent and appropriate authority that the Minister of Information.

Anti-Government blog FijiDemocracyNow publishes "Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum corruption must be stopped" that is re-published by companion RawFijiNews. It lists of "Facts" includes the claim the Decree was kept secret for ten days. Actually, it was promulgatged on the 10th, reported by RadioFiji on the 12th, LiveFiji (in passing)  on the 15th, and FijiTV on the 17th.

Monday 23rd.At about 12:00pm (USA?) Solivakasamablog asks "Is there a Muslim conspiracy occurring in Fiji? (with the two Khaiyums, two Shameems and Aziz involved)....How can Indigenous Fijians sit and watch while these evil people tear their beloved Fiji apart?" and then reprints Saturday's HeraldSun story. A person commenting writes of Al Qaeda cells!

At about 9pm (USA?) Solivakasama reprints Saturday's The Australian article, and under a heading "All Talk No Action for Oinklets" says he "can't wait to see the boys from Delainabua [military barracks] sink their shiny boots into their [oinklets'] smugness."





CLARIFICATION. PacificMediaWatch is a neutral monitoring service that circulates original stories. It is not a news service. It did not "collude" with any of the events recorded.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Snippets: Name Changes, Crime, Bomb Threats, Child Welfare Decree, National Spectrum Decree


(+) SCHOOL NAMES THAT DENOTE RACIAL AFFILIATIONS (Fijian, Indian) are to be phased out, as recommended in the People's Charter.Head of the Strategic Framework for Change, Filimoni Kau (photo Fiji Village), said they had informed the Education Ministry of this directive and the onus was on the Ministry to inform all schools.

Work is also underway on the process of having a common name for all Fiji citizens(with indigenous Fijians to be called i-Taukei) and the abolition of race-based entry qualification for scholarships. Kau said common name consultations requires a lot of work. The outcome will be included in the new constitution.Full story.

(+) SUVA'S REPORTED CRIMES HAVE DROPPED to 1360 from 2285 at the same time last year, and work between Police,City Council and the public hopes to make the capital crime-free.  Initiatives include community involvement in four "crime watch" zones; crime prevention committees; and an aggressive approach towards addressing crime which included stop and search on suspects, apprehending warrantees, and frequent raids on drug dealers, bootleggers and pawn shops. Full story.

(o) WITH TWO BOMB THREATS (BUT NO BOMBS) THIS WEEK, Defence Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau thinks they are the work of pranksters but does not exclude political motivations. He said "there were some people who still did not agree with current leaders and they would always intervene with the stability of the Government ... bomb threats and death threats were not something new, because they had gone through a lot since the beginning of the year." The phone calls "targeted" the Suva Central hotel and TFL National Stadium. Full story.

(o) THE DRAFTING OF A CHILD WELFARE DECREE has been approved by Cabinet. The Decree results from an increase in child welfare litigation for physical and sexual abuse, neglect and deaths. Under present legislation medical professionals are not legally bound to report such cases. This results in under-reporting and the notion that the welfare of Fiji's children can never be adequately addressed due to paucity of reports and information.    Full story.

(-) POTENTIALLY SINISTER USES OF NATIONAL SPECTRUM DECREE  The Australian appears to have picked up a report from Coupfourpointfive about Government's new powers over radio frequencies. Full report.  

Coupfourpointfive provides a detailed analysis of the new decree's possible uses and abuses. I'll make up my mind on the decree when I have more information. But with three blog blockages in three weeks (and possible leaks in IP security) Government does seem to have stepped up its internet surveillence. Perhaps with good cause if the bomb threats reported above were politically motivated.  Full report.

(+) POSTSCRIPT. I will be commenting on the last item as soon as I've finished tracing the threads. Meanwhile, I'm not convinced with the spin from blogs and the overseas media. One correction: The Australian report appears to have preceeded Coupfourpointfive, though both could receive their information from the same (journalist?) sources within Fiji. And both put the worst possible interpretation on what may just be a move to rationalise radio and TV wavelengthsNeither commented on the Liquor, Income Tax, and Gambling Decrees also announced this month. Couldn't they find something wrong with them, too?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

(o) Iconic Kiwi Biscuit Made in Fiji; Negative Blog Report



STOP PRESS. Click here for the Fiji reaction.

  
Griffin, NZ-biscuit makers since 1864, is "outsourcing" some of its production to Fiji.   

The NZ reactions?
  • Manufacturer: "did not believe the political situation in Fiji would affect the company."
  • Union (looking after its members):"It's a surprise to me – I thought it was all made here."
  • Green Party  MP Keith Locke:  Griffins could be exploiting poor worker conditions in Fiji. "There is effectively a dictatorship in Fiji [which] has undermined the ability of unions to operate freely and to maintain or improve the conditions of the workers." 
The facts? 
  • The NZ Union was unable to prevent Griffin closed its Lower Hutt factory a year ago with a loss of 228 jobs.  The outsourcing is not directly related to the closure although both, of course, are to do with costs and profits. 
  • Wages are lower in Fiji (hence the move) but isn't providing on-going jobs, helping Fiji exports and restoring a little of the massive NZ-Fiji trade imbalance, less patronising than giving aid?  
  • The Fiji Government has introduced minimum wages in a raft of industries. This is something no previous government has done and something unions had little to nothing to do with.The initiative, Keith, came from the "dictatorship."
The DominionPost went to the trouble of interviewing the manufacturer, the union, an MP, and conducted a street survey comparing samples of NZ- and Fiji-made biscuits. One person preferred the Fiji biscuit, but wanted to buy Kiwi-made, and was quite dumbfounded to learn Fiji was producing the new biscuits. "Wasn't there a coup happening, and they're making biscuits there?" (She now knows two things about Fiji!)

The ultimate irony: Griffin is owned by Australian-based Pacific Equity Partners, and is no longer a Kiwi firm at all.  Pity the paper doesn't spend as much energy researching Fiji -- and educating the public that countries can have coups and still make biscuits! Full story.


What's in a Word? A Lot


Coupfourpointfive reports the Government-EU meeting under the banner "Regime Begs EU for Sugar Funding". Begs? Asks? Explains? The posting was otherwise informative but the heading led readers towards the interpretations intended: the loss of EU help due to the Coup, the "contradiction" between Kubuabola's "plea" and  Bainimarama's stance and "change of tune", and, of course, the downturn in sugar production caused by you-who-know. Journalists are, of course, entitled to their own opinions but opininons and polemics should not be presented as news. Things are bad. The sugar industry is in crisis, as it has been for several years. And the EU and Government, as reported earlier in this blog, "will now follow-up on the major outcomes of the discussion with the aim of ultimately resuming formal consultations."   

Oppose the Government by all means, Coupfourpointfive, but less negative reporting would not detract from your cause -- it may even help it.



Lockington’s Everyday Fiji .. Life Goes On

Allen crop 2009 July
 Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in www.connectme.com.fj/news/opinion. I thank Allen and Connect for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.

The Phoney War

Anyone remember in the late 80s when supermarkets in Suva had a price war. Woolworths, Burns Philips, J Santa Ram and R B Patel are some of the big names that come to mind. While they tried to outdo each other offering very low prices, the consumer benefited. It became ridiculous - the good kind of ridiculous.

Now we are experiencing another price war. Our telephone companies are trying to outdo each other. Digicel and Vodafone have always been seeing to be at each other’s “throat”, so to speak.

But we forget about Telecom Fiji. They said “Hey, yoo-hoo, hang on we are here to.” They dropped reconnection fees and offered double ups and other incentives. Life is good or what!

Digicel came up with a fantastic offer – “Top up and get $100 free talk time”. Vodafone, not to be out done went one step better and offered a quadruple up, amongst other things. TFL may do something – seeing they also have mobile phones.
They way the price way is going I wonder if one of them will offer free calls. Well just for few days would do us good.

But this is one fight I will encourage. And like we say in Waiyavi “Fire, maro.”

Friday, November 20, 2009

Daylight Saving This Weekend


 Government's reintroduction of daylight saving will see Fiji clocks  advanced one hour at 2am this coming Sunday morning, 29th November, and  put back one hour at 3am Sunday 25th April next year.



(G) Government Reports Back on EU Trip: Commitment to Reform


PM Bainimarama, reporting on his trip to the European Union in Brussels, said had he discussed changes that will be made to the 1997 Constitution that deal with the rule of law, the judiciary, human rights and democratic principles with the EC’s Director General for Development, Stefano Manservisi and his advisors.He  assured them of government’s commitment to upholding the rule of law, the strengthening of the judiciary, respect for human rights and respect for democratic principles.

He said this commitment was evident in the decreeing of recent new legislation “and the resurrection by decree of those essential elements of the abrogated constitution dealing with such matters”.

Bainimarama also briefed the EC officials on the programmes of institutional, judicial, constitutional and electoral reforms that are in place to begin in 2010 and in subsequent years and the reasons for these reforms, and issues pertaining to the Strategic Framework for Change, the National Dialogue Forum and the Public Emergency Regulation.

Senior EC and Fiji government officials will now follow-up on the major outcomes of the discussion with the aim of ultimately resuming formal consultations. Full story.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

(o+) President Aims to Unite Chiefs


The President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, intends to reconcile all chiefs within Fiji. He said it wasthe will of the people that all chiefs unite. Ratu Epeli is optimistic that despite the differences, dialogue could be maintained among the chiefly.

"Reconciling the chiefs is an ongoing process," he said."We have our differences. I have differences even with my close friends who happen to be chiefs but it is not the end of the world because there is always a way out of a sticky situation."

"As the representative of the people I have to be open, listen to people and hear what they have to say.We might have our differences but it doesn't stop me from trying to work things out."

To carry out the reconciliation process, Ratu Epeli said he would need to visit the 14 provinces in the country."It's a matter of making the arrangements and planning them." He made the comment during his tour of Macuata, the first province he visited after he became President.

Ratu Epeli is expected to visit the Western Division next week."I've been meeting the people and seen positive signs of what they want to achieve and the way the community has rallied behind their developments especially in schools."That is the basis of all this.
"If we can get it right at the beginning, it will augur well for the future."

-- Fiji Times, Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

(o+) Govt Insists on Development Money Accountability: Part of Roadmap



Hi Croz – did you see this story on North Projects Worry State in Tuesday's Fiji Sun? It is a very good example of why there has to be accountability at all levels and why there has to be change of attitude in Fiji in order to achieve accountability and transparency. Loloma, L.



The story (extracts below) concerned under-used goverment money and incomplete government-funded village projects included community halls, water sources, housing and toilets.

Strategic Framework for Change Northern Coordinator, Kisoko Cagituevei, said “If we cannot help ourselves then it would be impossible for others to help us. We are now preaching about changes Government is making on the need to monitor Government-funded development projects.”

He told chiefs and district representatives of Macuata in Vanua Levu that all Government ministries and agencies would be monitored and assessed on the implementation of all the objectives of the roadmap. “Development cannot take place, if we do not monitor operations. It is important that district meetings need to be frequently done where issues should be ironed out.We are here to make sure that Government funds are put to good use. We cannot continue to receive development materials from Government if we don't monitor projects and complete it accordingly."

The Public Service Commission has a new department which facilitates the implementation work for the Roadmap and the Strategic Framework for Change.  Full story.



Cibi Victim to Mistaken Religious Intolerance



Fiji's decision on religious grounds not to perform the cibi, or war chant, before Saturday's rugby test against Scotland in Edinburgh has polarized the deeply religious but rugby-mad nation. Full story.

(o) Snippets: Pensions, Debt, NLTB, Prices, Brij Lal, ECREA "Widespread Dialogue" , HIV/AIDS, PSYCHIATRIC CARE


A UNIVERSAL PENSION SCHEME for people who are not civil servants or member of the Fiji National Provident Fund is being called for by Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS) Director Hassan Khan (photo Fiji Village). Full story.

GOVERNMENT DEBT was $3.066bn or 51.3% of GDP at the end of June, compared with $2.769Bn and 47% of GDP at the same time last year. Cash flow data, however, showed a net surplus of $39.6m for the first five months of this year, and revenue collection increased 6.5%. Full story.

FORMER NATIVE LANDS AND TRUST BOARD General and Legal Managers have pleaded not guilty of conspiracy to defraud the Vanua Development Scheme, the business  arm of NLTB,of trust funds totalling $3.7m. Full story.

A PROPOSAL BY THE PRICES AND INCOMES BOARD to control prices of 24 items has been rejected by Government. The Board claimed widespread inconsistencies in retail prices for these items. Government said the move would have created distortions in the economy, is anti-business and is not an effective means to cushion those on low incomes from inflation.Business is reported to have breathed a sigh of relief. Full report.
 
BRIJ LAL says "academic duty and a sense of outrage" drove him to speak out against the expulsion of the Australian and NZ High Commissioners. Speaking of his part on work leading to the 1997 Constitution, he said the constitution "that resulted was not reframed exactly as he  and his colleagues recommended."  Full report.

ECREA's CHANTELLE KHAN is urging Government "to encourage widespread involvement in an upcoming forum on the nation's future." The National Dialogue for Fiji's Future will build on the issues raised by the People's Charter and will probably not include former political leaders. Khan says she understands it can be very difficult to make progress in discussions when sectors stick to their individual agendas, but ECREA experience has shown the importance of hearing diverse opinions. -- RNZI.

THE PRESIDENT SAYS HIV/AIDS is a "profound threat in Fiji and the region,"and has called for joint efforts to fight against the disease. Senior Medical Officer Dr Ilisipeci Vereti, also speakng on the proposed HIV Prevention Treatment Decree, said the CWM Hospital is urging expectant mothers to be tested for HIV. This follows the death of several babies. Full report.

ST GILES PSYCHIATRTIC HOSPITAL has won an award from the Asian Federation of  Psychiatric Association (AFPA) for its improved services.  Full report.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kua Hinga te Totara Nui



A NZ Ambassador Who Stood Taller 
than the Others: 
A Tribute to His Excellency Te Rongotoa (Tia) Barrett

Thakur Ranjit Singh

The passing away of a gentleman and a career diplomat Tia Barret came as a shock to those who knew him. As somebody who was fortunate to have met him in Fiji between 1998 and 2001 when he was heading our High Commission in Suva, I always had a desire to re-establish that contact here, but that dream will now remain unfulfilled by his sudden departure.

He was in Suva during very troubled times with two significant events. The first was the takeover of the Chaudhary government by George Speight in May, 2000 and the second one was the attempt on the life of Commodore Bainimarama by rebel soldiers on 2 November, 2000 through a mutiny.

During those troubled times, he was holding the fort at NZ High Commission and was an exemplary ambassador for Aotearoa, and added pride to this profession by standing stall and being different from other ambassadors by talking his mind without any fear of speaking the truth, even if it meant crossing the boundaries guarded by strict diplomatic protocols.

When the AUT’s Pacific Media Centre’s Dr. David Robie was heading the Journalism School at USP, in Suva, His Excellency Tia Barrett was the Chief Guest at the Journalism Awards almost nine years ago, on 24 November, 2000. The address he gave to the graduating students is still fresh in my mind and it had ruffled a few feathers in the then Interim Fiji regime, some of who still harboured ethno-nationalism and beat the indigenous drums.

While himself being indigenous person of Aotearoa, he was bold to have gone beyond the call of his duty to put the ethno-nationalists in their place.

What is difficult to accept in this dialogue on indigenous rights is the underlying assumption that those rights are pre-eminent over other more fundamental human rights. This just cannot be so, not in today's world. Where the confusion lies, in my view, is with the thought that indigenous people have a prior right over land and the sea and their resources and therefore by extension over the political, economic and social institutions of a country,” he had told the Fijian students.

He had reminded the journalism students that nowhere was it written in any holy scripture that because you were indigenous, you had first rights over others in their daily rights. He had maintained that one should be respected and highly regarded as an indigenous person, but respect was earned and not obtained on demand. He reminded that while the Compact of 1997 Constitution of Fiji accorded a special place for the indigenous Fijians in the polity of the nation, the respect there still needed to be earned.

His talk some nine years ago was so prophetic and would be well remembered by the elements in the Maori community in the recent controversy on the indigenous issue. What he had said in Suva in 2000 would have stood tall in that controversy:

“Being indigenous, in my view, demands high levels of achievement and competency in both our traditional cultural values and in the demands of today's globalised world. That is a tall order, and requires more of us indigenous peoples than of the non-indigenous. But in fact, I think the well-educated, well-rounded, successful indigenous person stands tall as an outstanding achiever. Unfortunately, there are so few although there are examples in both your and my history.”

Barrett had even ventured to lecture to the chiefs about their role and also the responsibilities of Churches, both of which were found to be wanting by the current Fiji regime. What people like Tia Barrett in diplomatic positions proved is that diversity in such positions enriched the profile of the country and if any lessons are to be learnt is that a diplomat like Tia Barrett in Fiji would have been well placed to bridge the huge chasm that currently exists between the two countries.

He had lectured the journalists on the concept of development journalism where the timely and accurate facts fulfilled the thirst for knowledge so that people could make the changes needed to improve their lives in this globalised world. Whether Fiji journalist heeded this call remains debatable, but what is certain is that modern –day ambassadors in troubled countries like Fiji have much to learn from His Excellency Tia Barrett. His departure leaves a huge vacuum in his line of thinking of the Pacific issues and we hope New Zealand continues to be blessed with proud sons like Tia Barrett.

On behalf of my former country-people from Fiji, I join in to extend our condolences to the Barrett family. May his soul rest in peace.

(Thakur Ranjit Singh is a postgraduate student in Communication studies at AUT, and had met Tia Barrett in Fiji whilst he was the Publisher of Fiji’s Daily Post)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

(o+) Oz NZ-Fiji Relations, Blog Blocks, Anti-Govt Blogs

What a weekend!

Fiji lost to Scotland, and I've spent too much of the weekend, with help from friends in Fiji, trying to find out why blog links to Fiji were down again.  More on this below.

One interesting development over the past few days had been the mounting calls for the NZ and Aust.Governments to take a re-look at relations with Fiji. Nik Naidu of the Auckland-based Coalition for Democracy in Fiji, for one thinks their attempts to "steer Fiji more quickly towards democracy isn’t working.” He says the Fiji Government is now even more entrenched, and he can't understand why ANZ won't engage directly with Bainimarama. They "must take an unusual approach to the situation with Fiji for the sake of its people," he said.

The Fiji New Zealand Business Council has taken a similar line.It says "there comes a point when countries need to be co-operating to boost trade and forestall the impacts of the global recession." The Council called on NZ to drop its travel ban on Fiji "as a demonstration of goodwill."

Dr Rod Alley of the NZ Centre for Strategic Studies, however, said "there's no point  [of dealing directly with Bainimarama]... the man’s conduct lately has been pretty obdurate and these options of somehow getting a line to Bainimarama are going to take patience and I’m afraid some time.” [I know Rod from way back. Much of what he writes on many topics makes sense, but I don't know how a political scientist can comment on a situation as complex as Fiji's with so little direct experience of the country. And I don't know why the NZ media keeps seeking comment from similar experts.]

To cap it off, tonight's TV1 Sunday programme Discussion with a Dictator (sic!) interviewed Bainimarama who, in explanation of the HighCom expulsions, said "We wanted to tell NZ we can't stand any more bullying." Before you listen to the full interview (see below), be warned you'll hear the same old questions, see the same old flashbacks, and once again hear of the plight of Barbara Dreaver (The interviewer said she can't visit her family in Fiji. Bainimarama replied that many of his people had similar difficulties visiting NZ!) and Netani Rika who has hidden "4,200 censored news items" for later use. The positives mentioned? Subsidized school lunches and free buses. But they never really got around to talking about Bainimarama's plans for the future -- which Bainimarama had been told the interview was supposed to be about.


Sunday: Discourse with a dictator - Part 1 (8:15)

Sunday: Discourse with a dictator - Part 2 (7:28)

Blocked Blogs
The recent event that most affected me was the (hopefully temporary) blocking by Fiji internet service providers (Fintel, Kidanet, et al.) of all blog sites with blogspot and wordpress addresses. I am informed Government instructed the blocking, but this is denied by some readers.

Earlier in the week I added links to anti-government blogs and then removed them. The first act was a flamboyant display of democracy intended to encourage a reciprocal display by these blogs, almost all of which only provide links to other anti-government blogs.  Then events brought me back to earth. The second act was because, after reading some of their recent postings and comments -- and having their advocacy of violence pointed out to me by a comment on the posting An Appeal for Your Help (S.O.S.) -- I considered it inappropriate to provide access to what could be their very dangerous advocacy. These people denounce Bainimarama's "overthrow of the rule of law" and then curiously advocate, bluntly and by interference, his murder?


I found readers' comments on the S.O.S. post (currently 22) on the blocking and blogsites most interesting and I think you will, too. And while you're looking, please help me by answering the four S.O.S. questions that were the purpose of this posting -- until it was so neatly hijacked for a higher cause.  You may do so either by adding a comment to the post or by emailing me croz.walsh@xtra.co.nz

The weekend was made worse by the continuing run of appalling weather. I’m not sure who we can blame.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

An Appeal for Your Help (S.O.S.)



In two weeks time I'm giving a paper in Auckland at the Pacific Islands Political Science Association conference. The paper is titled Political Blogs on Fiji:Cybernet Democracy or What?

There are three areas where I especially need your help, although your comments and ideas are welcome on anything relevant. They are:

1. Other blogs. Anything you can tell me on where they are located and the general identity (no names needed) of their publishers.

2. Among the people you know, who reads blogs? My impression (and I could be quite wrong) is that most readers are ethnic Fijians and Others (few Indo-Fijans answered my poll questions and there's no other way I can identify readers' ethnicity). Most people only read blogs that agree with the way they think?

3. Your opinions on the indirect and direct influences of blogs, particularly on the Fiji Government, anti-Government and the "middle ground" in Fiji, and on public opinion, the media and politicans overseaas, most especially in Australia and New Zealand.  Do you think blogs can influence and change people's opinions?

Unfortunately, there's no reward, but your help on all or any of these topics really will be appreciated. You don't need to write a lot. Anything, however brief, will be useful. Please reply by commenting on this post or by emailing me croz.walsh@xtra.co.nz 

If you intend to help, please do so now or ASAP. Time is running out.

Illustration,Morse code for SOS by Fondear

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On


 Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in www.connectme.com.fj/news/opinion. I thank Allen and Connect for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.

The Babies' Clinic in Lautoka


Once again I am gathering support for  the Babies Clinic In Lautoka. When I first wrote about it,  I had been reassured that the road was going to be upgraded so that buses would go up Old Hospital Road and down the other side. It is now some time since then and our mothers are still struggling.

Old Hospital Road is in the heart of Lautoka City. Surely all roads should be in good condition if they are in the City? The added need is our mothers’ plight; they carry with them our “future”. Though many of the mothers who trudge up that hill in the raging sun or rain may be poor, who knows which of those poor babies will grow up to be a statesman, professor, teacher, doctor, pilot, engineer, Prime Minister!

When the Babies Clinic was relocated to Vidilo House it was on the understanding that public transport would follow simultaneously. To date it has not happened. Have the poor been taken for granted?
Each day I go past, I see mothers with babies in arms and toddlers resting along Old Hospital Road in an attempt to regain strength to continue  their journey up or down.

Have a heart, someone, and  please do something. Do we have to wait until one of the babies  grows up to become an engineer and  repair the road? Under the present situation, it may never happen.