Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Yabaki, Citizenship, Police, Ethical Journalism, Call to Youths

Inspired from Above
GOD BLESS AKUILA YABAKI. "Akuila the Great" left this comment on the article From Paramountcy to Equality: Constitutionalism that we published in Weekend Reading.

"God Bless Akuila Yabaki. This guy is a national treasure. Reading all this reminds me that for all his opposition to aspects of the regime, he and Frank aren't too far apart on the big issues. Indeed, some of this looks like a government manifesto, or at least a manifesto the government could have produced were it as sensible as the good Reverend.

"It's immediately clear from Yabaki's comprehensive tour of the horizon that none of the national problems he identifies could have been resolved under an indigenous supremacist government like the SDL. Ergo, something had to break the cycle and that something is arguably Frank Bainimarama if our "democratic" institutions weren't capable of reform. So if you take that premise as a starting point, a lot of these ideas start to make sense, even if the devil is in the detail, as it always is. Why Yabaki and the CCF haven't been dragged into the heart of the reform process is beyond me. Frank ought to be embracing the CCF, not treating it with suspicion. If he and Yabaki could sit down with the likes of John Prasad and come up with something everyone could agree on, it would be no bad thing.

"Even if some compromises had to be reached, Fiji could then present the world with a blueprint that carries a legitimacy and credibility that the current "roadmap" sorely lacks. Yabaki's problem is that the regime sees him as the opposition, someone with the gall, the cojones or the courage ( depending on your point of view ) to speak out when no-one will, as in the recent ABC Australia piece on Fiji.

"But I'd ask the regime this: Is there anyone in Fiji more thoughtful, more sensible, more suitable or more able to command widespread community respect than Yabaki? For a start, the fact that the Methodist hierarchy hate him so much ought to automatically qualify the man for sainthood. This thoughtful treatise also shows that he has the intellectual capacity to grasp the essence of the nation's problems. A man of God unconstrained by religious dogma and prejudice. A fearless crusader for basic human rights, not the "human rights" masking an agenda of self interest pursued by others in Fiji. On the evidence of this piece alone, give that man a round of applause and a bigger job."

[Ed.Forgive me, Akuila, for touching up your photo with the light from Above.]

MORE FEEDBACK FROM WEEKEND READING included his comment: "Citizenship Studies for all pupils and students should be an essential  part of Education for Life. The sooner it is introduced in Primary Schools with an understanding of the Flag and the National Anthem, how they were designed and how they came about, who was responsible, the better it will be for us all. And the parents also should have Citizenship Studies leading to a Course in Civics. This might also be taught in  Schools. To establish a synergy and congruence between: School-teacher-parent-pupil."

LOCAL ISSUES, LOCAL SOLUTIONS. This was two-thirds of the theme of the annual meeting of
the 39th Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police (PICP)held in Brisbane last week. The remaining theme was regional cooperation. The conference reconsidered the suspension of Fiji Police from the PICP and  resolved that this should continue. The effect of the suspension has been that PICP continues to interact with Fiji Police on humanitarian and operational issues such as HIV/Aids and Human Rights as well as disaster response development. The PICP has not engaged with Fiji Police on any new projects or initiatives.

So much for two-thirds of the meeting's theme. Drug smuggling, Human trafficking, money laundering, terrorism and child pornographic were not specifically mentioned. Given Fiji's geographic location and well developed air and sea transport system, lots of regional cooperation are needed to plug the loopholes. The world's criminals must be delighted with the PICP decision which, of course, was not political.

CAUTIOUS ACCOLADE FROM UNEXPECTED SOURCE. “I believe if the Acting Commissioner [of Police] takes his responsibilities well, he will weed out all those people who were allegedly appointed only because they belonged to the new Methodist Church or came in because of provincialism and have no qualifications.”  Click on the link to see who said it. The new Acting Police Commissioner Joeli Baleilevuka has certainly got off to to a quick start: The "Jesus Crusades" have stopped; he's looking at questionable police appointment under his predecessor; he's promised more police on the streets, and more protection for tourists and increased work on a "Crime Free" Fiji. 

Fiji news organisations have to face reality and make ethical and professional decisions in the “dramatically changed” media landscape, a regional workshop in Tonga on building a vibrant Pacific media has been told. Stanley Simpson, news director of the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation  said that a major ethical question confronting journalists over the past year had been: “How do we report and practise the principles of journalism under a censored environment?” Read the full report.

 calling on youths to take up agricultural businesses. Permanent Secretary Colonel Mason Smith who launched this year’s Fiji Development Small Awards said they are encouraging youths who would like to enter the field to enquire with the ministry and micro finance banks.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Reserve Bank of Fiji Releases 2009 Annual Report

Monday 30th August 2010 No: 1350/RBF.

The Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama tabled the 2009 Annual Report of the Reserve Bank of Fiji in Cabinet on 16 August, 2010.

Nepotism, Racism, Sugar; McCully; PACER; Tailevu; Police; Rumours; Termites

See the new QUOTE OF THE WEEK at the top of the right side bar.  
Visit TAGS under the blog title and description.  Click on Aims-Principles, Editor-Publisher, Comment Rules, Blog Use, Help-Subscribe and Notices to learn more about this blog.  Comment Rules are especially important.

. Poor management and practices by the Fiji Sugar Corporation for the past 15 years and the deliberate non-renewal of leases to Indo-Fijian farmers are two reasons for the sorry state of the sugar industry today, according to Tavua cane farmer, businessman and former FSC director Dijednra Singh.

People were hired for personal reasons, not merit, he said, which forced many qualified technical engineers to emigrate. He said the non-renewal of leases was "a very aggressive policy" that resulted in Indo-Fijians leaving cane farming for work in peri-urban areas in Suva and the West.

McCULLY LISTENING. Reporting on his meeting with Fiji's Foreign Minister on Tuesday, the NZ FM  said the Fiji Government thought the international community hasn’t been listening to it enough. “They would argue that the international community hasn’t taken sufficient notice of their strategic framework for change process. I’ve tried to listen to that discussion and to make sure that the international community and particularly New Zealand’s concerns are understood.”

PACER STALLS WITHOUT FIJI.  The Pacific Islands Forum leaders want the Forum's Ministerial Action Group to work out a way to get Fiji involved in the talks over the proposed regional free trade and economic integration treaty, PACER Plus. The negotiations seem to have stalled and Fiji is part of the reason. It is the second largest of the island economies after Papua New Guinea. Some of the island governments which rely heavily on Fiji for a range of reasons do not seem to be very interested in PACER Plus if Suva is not included.

. A delegation from the Tailevu Provincial Council led by Ratu George Cakobau, Ratu Jope Seniloli, Ratu Mai Namalata  and Chairman Josefa Seruilagilagi thanked Government on Thursday for its development assistance to the province. The PM briefed the delegation on progress on the Roadmap to Parliamentary Democracy; stressed the importance of agriculture and education to rural areas; and said Government would not be bullied into holding early elections. Government, he said, remains open to engagement with those who choose to understand Fiji.-- Based on 2010 No: 1339/MOI.

ALL NEW POLICE JOBS WILL BE REVIEWED. All new posts within the Fiji Police Force that were created by the former Police Commissioner Commodore Esala Teleni will be reviewed.Acting Police Commissioner Joeli Baleilevuka told FBC News - he will be reviewing all the new posts that were created and implemented by his predecessor.
Ed. Note. Unlike the Military, the Fiji Police Force used to have a reasonable balance of all ethnic groups.  It is hoped the Acting Police Commissioner will restore its former ethnic balance.

THEY'RE AT IT AGAIN. So far the only resignation or dismissal the rumour-mongers have not informed us about is that of the PM, though they periodically whisper about rebellion and mutiny. Teleni has resigned (no thanks to the rumour-mongers for that prediction) but forget their latest about Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and  Christopher Pryde.

As PS for Information Sharon Smith Johns said: “The fact of the matter is that the Attorney General and the Solicitor General have been at the forefront of moving Government reforms and are performing well above expectations and have the utmost confidence of the Prime Minister and other cabinet members.” Her advice is "keep focused on moving the country forward,  enjoy the Hibiscus festivities, and ignore these malicious rumours.”

Many readers probably don't realize the extent of the termite infestation in the Lautoka area. Some 970 houses and 17 schools are invested, and  627 houses and ten schools have so far been treated with the Termidor Dust. Treatment and re-surveys will continue until the buildings are declared termite free. The Dust needs to be left in holes drilled by the Operation Kadivuka teams for up to four weeks before they can be checked, verified and declared termite free. -- Based on 2010 No: 1301/MPI.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

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.

Mother of all Festivals

In previous years young women become queens in the Hibiscus Festival, or like my bubu (granny) used to say Na Adi Senitoa, vying for the prestigious crown. Then power house Vodafone Fiji appeared on the scene became the major sponsors and with the fantastic minds doing the organising and preparations, they took it to another level and now it’s called the Mother of all Festivals. 

But they were all queens in my book, only one becomes Miss Hibiscus. Now we have Kings, teens and Ladies in the lineup also. No matter who wins the prized crown, all participants will take something away when they leave. In other words they will have learnt a lot. Making new friends, strengthening family ties, public speaking, how to conduct themselves in public, acting, singing, poetry, dignity, professionalism, learning about good customer services, are just a few of the many things they will enhance or learn during preparations and throughout the actual festival. But for me top of the range will be the confidence that they will gain. If you have confidence you can do almost anything.

For some they will be exposed to Fiji at large, their skills will be noticed. Job offers will be put on a platter and career paths will open up. Modeling is a glamorous career and if you gained confidence during the Vodafone Hibiscus festival had honed your modeling style, you will get job offers, and you will be free to do as you please.

Even competitors may benefit.

  It's the Weekend.  You have a little time. Why not use the opportunity to

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Scroll down to
WEEKEND READING. *Allen Lockington's column, *Timor Leste and China: Warning for Australia, *From Paramountcy to Equality: Yabaki, *Citizenship Education in (UK) Schools,  
*Prime Minister, Please Help Us Believe You.

Timor Leste's Growing Ties with China. Any Lessons for Australia re. Fiji?

“Alarm bells” ring for Australian government over deepening China-East Timor ties

From Paramountcy to Equality: Constitutionalism, Dialogue & Ethno-Political Conflict in Fiji

Rev. Akuila Yabaki.
CEO of Citizens’ Constitutional Forum

Fiji has had a turbulent political history with five coups in just over 20 years. Conflict between the two major ethnic groups (Indigenous Fijian and indo-Fijian) has often been blamed for this instability, but the reality of the situation is much more complex. Broader social problems, such as poverty, access to education, lack of good governance and a struggle for wealth, land resources and power, have contributed to the political instability.

Citizenship Education in Schools

My understanding is that the Fiji Ministry of Education is working on language and citizenship education curricula for all schools in the expectation that they will assist nation-building.  In this context, this brief article on the English experience could be of value. The article is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizenship_education.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Prime Minister, Please Help Us to Believe You

Steps to the 2014 Elections: Suggestions from a Reader
A reader,  Side Lines in Viti Levu, is worried about 2014  and thinks Government is not receiving sufficient feedback with the Public Emergency Regulations  in place. PER makes Government less aware of public concerns.  He is not anti-government, though he's unhappy about some things done and not done.  He's prepared to support Government if it is genuine about elections in 2014.   The PM says he's open to pro-Fiji suggestions. This overseas-based vulagi thinks balanced pro-Fiji comments like this need to be heard by the PM and those close to him:

The only thing we have that separates [PM Bainimarama] from other dictators is a promise he will have elections in 2014. I do hope he keeps that promise and that he holds everyone around him accountable to that goal. There are many things I don’t like about this military regime. They have made many mistakes and broken many promises but no progress is ever made without compromise. I can forget and even forgive the mistakes and sins of the last four years.

Now what about that promise of an election in 2014 ?

I personally need a lot more than that promise. I hope that the PM is genuine in this promise. If he is genuine I think it would be easy to demonstrate that to the many doubters like me. He also needs to convince the rest of the world. Here are some simple things he could do fairly quickly. (with my last posted ideas now in the dustbin I will keep it to only three this time).

1. This week - Publish a public confirmation that elections will be held in 2104.  A letter to the people of Fiji published in all the papers would be a great start. This letter should be signed by the PM, his government ministers and most importantly all of the Military council.

2. With in two months - Publish an actual Roadmap to democracy and then report quarterly on the progress made to that Roadmap. Have the road map progress audited by an external overseas agency. I don’t want to hear another speech. I want to see an actual plan on the steps, dates and times to take Fiji to free and fair elections. Sure, public service and government enterprise reform is important but I want to see the Roadmap that covers the detail on the move to democracy. At the moment people can see some economic and structural reform in Fiji but no evidence of any progress to democracy.

3. Before Christmas 2010 – Have the framework in place for a genuine political dialogue forum. This should include the appointment of a reputable chair and invite list with no pre-conditions on attendance. A key task might be agreeing on the new constitution.

At the same time as taking these steps I would like to see the PM being more involved in the running of his portfolio. I recently heard him speak in the north and it was very clear he was none the wiser on how the sugar industry worked than when he took power 4 years ago. Back then it was understandable (life spent as military man) but now as sugar minister he has to emerge himself into the detail and get on with the task of fixing it.

I also think the PM and his cabinet are getting too comfortable. The PER is creating a very sheltered world for government. They don’t need to work hard to have the answers. They don’t need to understand the detail so they can debate big issues. The PER makes them believe there own BS. They are becoming extremely sensitive to overseas critics simply because they now never hear any at home. The PER removes a critical ingredient in anyone’s success – FEEDBACK.

I worry that….
If this government can carry out structural and economic reforms and the economy turns around (this is a big if) then the PM will claim that his coup has been validated, his style of running Fiji works and that elections are not necessary. We should keep moving forward with him.
If the economy has not turned around and structural reform is not completed then the PM will defer the election under the claims Australia and New Zealand have stopped progress so he needs more time.

Prime Minister, Please help us believe you.

Editor's Note . The original comment is slightly abridged. For original, see comments to Forum Mistake post.  Sidelines is actually not asking for anything very different from what Government is doing or says it will be doing.  He asks for a unequivocal  public statement from all concerned that elections will be held in 2014, come hail, snow or tsunami.  It would be a positive move to repeat this assurance since some people, including investors and overseas governments,  are still doubtful.  
    And he asks for an overlap between the current physical and social infrastructure Roadmap and the intended dialogue on the later constitutional and electoral reforms. He asks that these processes be started, and that I think is a reasonable request. Government clearly has reservations about how inclusive the dialogue and the elections should be.  I think it would win support by declaring its reservations and the reasons for them.

WEEKEND READING. Allen Lockington's column, Timor Leste and China: Warning for Australia, From Paramountcy to Equality: Yabaki, Citizenship Education in (UK) Schools.

Forum Mistake, New Solomon Is. PM, Teleni's Resignation, No Place Like Fiji, Decentalising Developments

NEW SOLOMON PM:  FIJI's ISOLATION A MISTAKE.  The new Solomon Islands PM Hon. Danny Philip says the decision by the PI Forum to isolate Fiji was a big mistake.

He announced that Solomon Islands will engage in direct talks with Fiji. Noting how Fiji's history differed from other former Pacific colonies, he hoped to discuss with PM Bainimarama the areas of electoral reform now being embarked upon. He said "it is the genuine commitment that is important, not the exact number days, months or years it will take to hold democratic elections."

FIJI CONGRATULATES NEW SOLOMONS ISLANDS PM. PM Bainimarama has congratulated the new Solomon Islands PM , Hon.Danny Philip, saying that he looked forward to their meeting at the earliest opportunity to exchange views on matters of common interests.

“Fiji and Solomon Islands have enjoyed very close and cordial ties for many years.   Our strong relationship has proven to be one of the most significant and unwavering partnership that has continuously contributed to our mutual prosperity and well-being of our peoples. Under your able leadership, I believe that our Governments will continue to work closely to promote sustainable development and jointly address issues of common concerns.

“Moreover, I am confident that with your firm determination, the Solomon Islands will continue to play an essential role in strengthening the Melanesian Spearhead Group cooperation and community building in our region. I also trust that our long-standing cooperation in various regional and international fora will be further enhanced for our mutual benefit.
“On behalf of the Fiji Government and its people, I extend my hearty congratulations to Honorable Danny Philip,” Commodore Bainimarama said. -- 2010 No: 1337/MOI.
TELENI'S RESIGNATION. Cdr Esala Teleni resignation as Police Commissioner comes as no surprise and had been welcomed by some readers of this blog.  The Commissioner will perhaps be best remembered for his Christian Crusades and the compulsory attendance of police officers at parades when his brother's New Methodism was "forced" on officers of all religious persuasions. Government thanked Teleni for his services to the Fiji Police Force and to the nation. He is succeeded by Joeli Baleilevuka as Acting Police Commissioner, and will not return to the military.

" said outgoing Indian HighCom  Prof. Prabhakar  Jha.  He said he'd travelled all over the world, and visited  almost all villages on the  mainland. The love and understanding he has seen amongst the various races in Fiji is something that cannot be found elsewhere in the world and it needs to be preserved. Prof Jia took up office in September 2007. He has said time and time again, that only Fiji can solve its problems and no one else. The international community must allow Fiji to resolve its problems without outside interference.

. The latest development initiative to reduce population
pressure on Greater Suva and the West  and develop outlying economies is  Government's $20m funding of a  new Fiji National University campus  to be constructed in Labasa next year.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Reeves, McCully, Howard in Fiji, Link to Afghanistan, La Nina Drought

MORE ANONY-MOUSES. Thoughtful comments of all political persuasions are welcome on this blog unlike almost all the anti-government blogs that talk but do not practise free speech. However, despite constant reminders and appeals, some people still refuse to add their real or pseudo-name to comments. If you are one of these people and wonder why your comment has not been published, the reason is that from now on only "very good" interesting anonymous comments will be published. All other anonynous comments will be rejected. Just click the Name/URL button and write your "name."  It's as easy as that and totally confidential.

REEVES MEETS BAINIMARAMA. The Commonwealth's Special Envoy, Sir Paul Reeves, is currently in Fiji to have further meetings and met with the PM yesterday. No further information is presently available. Photo: Sir Paul (centre) at the PIPSA Conference in Auckland earlier this year. Sitiveni Ratuva, far left.

in Suva on Monday. The NZ Minister was on the way to attend the Pacific Forum Line Meeting in Nadi. Ratu Inoke said they re-visited some of the matters discussed earlier including the easing of travel sanctions, re-engagement with Fiji, and Fiji's determination to carry out the Roadmap reforms and hold elections in 2014.

. Former Australian PM John Howard was in Nadi on Tuesday as a guest speaker at a business conference for Australian and New Zealand small business operators.

WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS, OR CONSPIRACY THEORY? New Zealand is supporting the [Afghan] war to ensure US backing for its own commercial and strategic interests. Wellington wants to safeguard trade talks with the US and, along with Australia, needs Washington’s backing to maintain a dominant role among the small island states of the South West Pacific, in the face of growing Chinese influence in the region.

The death of [NZ soldier] Tim O’Donnell coincided with the annual Pacific Islands Forum in Vanuatu, where the US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Kurt Campbell, confirmed that tripartite free trade talks would be held between Australia, New Zealand and the US for the first time in decades. The talks were part of negotiations that began earlier this year, to extend an existing P4 trade agreement between New Zealand, Brunei, Chile and Singapore to include the US, Australia, Peru and Vietnam.

Campbell told reporters that the US would seek to “play a substantial role in the economic drama that is playing out in the Asia-Pacific region”. Referring to NZ and US soldiers “serving and dying together” in Afghanistan, Campbell said that there would be “a very deliberate effort on the part of the United States to work more closely with New Zealand as a recognition of the role that New Zealand is playing in global politics”.

It is precisely to retain this US backing that the entire political establishment in New Zealand is committed to keeping troops in Afghanistan, despite broad popular opposition** and the further casualties that will inevitably occur.

** A nationwide poll in May found that 77% of respondents wanting some form of withdrawal. Of these, 40% supported a complete pullout and another 37% favoured the withdrawal of SAS troops. Only 10% wanted all troops to remain and 13% were undecided. -- Based on Tom Peters in World Socialist Web Site.

DROUGHT caused by the onset of La Nina is likely to see the current dry weather pattern continue for the next few weeks. The areas most affected are the sugar cane and cattle farming areas in the North and West.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

OzNZ Hamper Progress, Oz Election, China Cement, Lau Targets, Mismanagement, Corruption, Levuka Bid, Sugar & Inflation Down,

CHIEF JUSTICE CRITICISES OZ, NZ.  Fiji has made some ground in restoring their sacked judiciary, but Australia and New Zealand have slowed the process down, Fiji's Chief Justice Anthony Gates says.

Gates said there had been "satisfactory restoration" in Fiji since self-appointed Prime Minster Commodore Frank Bainimarama sacked the judiciary in 2009, the FijiVillage website reported. "There are no magic wands available for this process however," Gates said in Suva on Monday."Australia and New Zealand have hampered our progress in restoring the judiciary at all levels.In the world, this assault on, and interference with, a neighbouring states judiciary is unprecedented." --Sydney Morning Herald/AAP/Pacific Media Watch.

I WOULDN'T PUT MY MONEY ON IT. Commenting on Australia's election outcome, the PS of Information Sharon Smith Johns said, “One clear signal that came out from the voters was that they were frustrated by the Labor Party’s policies and it is obvious that Labor will now have to change its stance on Fiji with regards to its foreign policy which has been a total failure. However, an Abbott-led Government shows promising signs of re-engaging in serious dialogue with Fiji. Fiji is hopeful of working with an Abbott led Government that understands the situation in Fiji." I wouldn't put my money on it.

TWO CEMENT FACTORIES, one in Labasa, the other in Suva, will be established next year when two Chinese cement companies to set up operations.

.Provincial Council Adminsitrator Meleki Bainimarama  said government is racing against time to achieve the Lau annual corporate plan target and reminded government officials to improve service delivery so that the target is achieved by 2012, as required in the Road Map. He called on the people of Lau to work with the government and try to achieve the target on economical development by 2012 before we focus on politics and election in 2014.

ANOTHER AUDIT SHOWS MISMANAGEMENT. Following complaints from pine landowners, an
independent audit on Fiji Pine Trust was called by Fiji Pine Ltd Chairman Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara.  The just released report reveals serious cases of misuse, unethical business practices and mismanagement of Trust funds and property by senior executives. The report has been forwarded to the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Fisheries and Forests and a decision on the management of the trust is expected lagter this week.

SUSPICIOUS BUSINESS DEALINGS.The Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit  recorded 750 suspicious transactions and reports in 2009. The FIU disseminated 190 intelligence reports to law enforcement agencies for further investigation of possible money laundering and other serious offences. Further cases have been reported since along with over 140 cases of possible tax evasion and tax fraud. FIU maintains over 500,000 financial transactions in its database.

LEVUKA BID. Levuka's bid to be classified as a World Heritage site is well covered in this  EastWestCenter report.

THE RESERVE BANK GOVERNOR  says sugar production will "decline significantly this year" due largely to very low rainfall and continuing mill problems, but better news shows that there's been a  "significant slowdown in inflation with the rate falling to 5.4% in July after peaking at 10.5% in April."

PLEASE USE & CONTRIBUTE, SUPPORT & SHARE. (1) USE by Commenting (below), and visiting Na Sala Cava (right side bar); (2) SUPPORT, anonymously or openly, with "Subscribe" or by joining  "Followers" (left side bar); and (3) SHARE this posting with others. Just hover your mouse on the share buttons, click Email, Blog this!, Twitter, Facebook or Google Buzz.  Vinaka. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Murdoch's News Ltd Wages Hostile War on Fiji

 Government Press Release 2010 No: 1304/MOI/

“News Limited, which owns the Fiji Times, continues to wage a hostile media campaign against Fiji, this time directly targeting the nation’s tourism industry and economy”.

This comment was made by the Permanent Secretary for Information, Ms Sharon Smith-Johns in response to articles on Fiji published recently in News Ltd owned newspapers.

“In recent weeks, News Ltd newspapers have published numerous articles on Fiji, all of which perpetrate negativity about Fiji.” 

Ms Smith-Johns said, “It begs the question that most in Fiji are asking. Is the Australian Government using News Limited as a tool to punish Fiji and cripple our economy? These stories are so unbalanced it boils down to nothing but propaganda”.  

“They have embarked on a campaign to manipulate the facts and news to hurt the people of Fiji but we are also taking action through the proper channels and using whatever means is at our disposal.”  

In response to these, the Ministry has written formal letters of complaint about these inaccurate reports, which have been copied to the relevant bodies for their necessary action.
In one article titled ‘Australian tourists turn a blind eye as Fiji’s best people are persecuted’, the Courier Mail which is a News Ltd paper reported “It should be a source of profound shame to our country that Australians are going on holidays to Fiji in record numbers”. The article was penned by Rory Gibson, a former editor-in-chief of the Fiji Times. 

In an article published in The Independent Newspaper titled ‘Pirate radio tries to beat repression in paradise’, the writer Roger Maynard reports “In recent years, faced with eviction from their Fijian-owned farms after their leases expired, thousands of Indians have sought refuge overseas while many of those unable to leave have ended up in squatter camps and that many thousands of Fijians are forced to live in the squatter camps around the capital, Suva.”

Says Ms Smith-Johns, “I have little doubt Roger Maynard has never been to Suva or Fiji as his perception of events is divorced from the realities on the ground.” 

“News Ltd is advising Australians not to come to Fiji. Well here is a message for Australians - don’t read News Ltd newspapers! I certainly wouldn’t want to subscribe to a paper that openly supports and encourages the practice of racial discrimination and one which is trying to cripple the people of Fiji financially”.  

Rory Gibson’s article goes on to say “It is appalling, that we are directing our dollars to the coffers of a nation that is run by a military dictatorship little better than any apartheid regime operating in South Africa’s dark ages.”

The Permanent Secretary for Information, who is an Australian, challenged the media company to provide evidence that what is currently happening in Fiji is comparable to “South Africa’s dark ages”.

More than 45,000 Australians visited Fiji in May alone and over the last 12 months an average 10,000 Australians have been visiting Fiji.

“In fact, visitor arrivals from throughout the world continue to increase and the Tourism Industry is expecting to hit 600,000 visitors by the end of the year – a figure which is set to rewrite the record books” Ms Smith-Johns said. 

“Fiji has also been ranked alongside Bali and Malaysia as among the most popular destinations for Australians looking to buy international properties as investments and vacation getaways,” she added.

“It’s a pity as many people in Australia depend on news media for a balanced view of what's going on. They certainly don’t get that from these inaccurate stories on Fiji published by News Ltd and others,” she said.
ANONY-MOUSES. A reader questions why I'm letting people comment anonymously when I said I wouldn't. Frankly, because I've given up.  I still want people to use pseudonyms. It's so simple. Just click the Name/URL button and write a "name" before posting your comment. It's absolutely confidential. There's no way anyone, including me, can know who you are and if people use and stick with a pseudonym, comments and discussion will be more useful. It's not easy conducting a conversation with a mouse.

Don't Give Me that Nonsense about the Media Freedom in the Mickey Mouse Press

Q. What does the Fiji Times, the Townsville Bulletin, the Australian and the Courier-Mail have in common?
A. They are all owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd and they've all employed Rory Gibson as editor, editor-in-chief,  chief sub-editor or senior journalist at some time or another.

Rory has the reputation of writing humourous articles. If you're a kookaburra,  you'll really laugh at his latest effort, " Australian tourists turn a blind eye as Fiji's best people persecuted"   in the Brisbane Courier-Mail.

He writes that "it should be a source of profound shame to our country that Australians are going on holidays to Fiji in record numbers."

Why? Because they are gifting "dollars to the coffers of a nation that is run by a military dictatorship little better than any apartheid regime operating in South Africa's dark ages."

Forget that most of the dollars stay in Oz and that thousands of ordinary Fijians live on what's left. Just think back to Soweto, S. Africa 1976.  Police open fire on 10,000 protesters.   Fiji today. No guns fired.   Apartheid South Africa, All ANC leaders, including Nelson Mandela imprisoned, many for life.  Fiji. Short-term arrests but no political prisoners; former Prime Ministers drinking coffee in Downtown Suva.]

And who is the cause of the shame in Fiji? "We can all laugh," he writes unblushingly,  "that our Melanesian neighbours are ruled by a bloke with a name that sounds like an '80s girl band, and assuage our consciences by believing Commodore Bainimarama's claptrap about restoring fairness to Fiji's racist electoral system." Girl band? Claptrap? Restoring?  It wasn't  a racist electoral system?

And what are the effects?
"This Pacific tragedy isn't about whether the Fiji Times is being edited under the baleful glare of one of Bainimarama's gun-toting thugs [Oh, No?], or that an expat gets his marching orders.[Definitely not!]  It's about people like Imrana Jalal and her husband Ratu Sakiusa Tuisolia."  And the rest of his long story is about these "best people" and a court case in which Imrana was sentenced to life imprisonment-- acquitted. 

His conclusion?  "Going on holiday there while this sort of abuse is happening would be like sitting in a cafe sipping a coffee while a mugger attacked a pregnant woman on the footpath next to you, and you ignored it."

So, that's all for the moment from Rory Gibson, former editor-in-chief of the Fiji Times, defender of media freedom. One wonders what his journalist colleagues think about this.

AND HERE'S ANOTHER EXAMPLE,   Did you know that last year "one Catholic district leader" stood firm with arrested Methodist leaders who were planning an annual meeting, and "bravely declined [a Government] deal in exchange for the charges being dropped."? Neither did I. But had the Fiji Times's first cousin, the Sydney Morning Herald, also owned by Murdoch's News Ltd,[my error. It's not.] identified  her as the Rewa High Chief, Ro Teimumu Kepa, we would have known.

Why did the SMH choose to ignore her well known title and call her "a Catholic district leader," which she is not? Catholics don't have district leaders. I can only guess that the story of religious persecution they were advancing looked better if a Catholic was added to the Methodists, who do have districts, whereas a high chief would be less appealing to gullible egalitarian Australian readers.

FIJI SPEARHEADS MOVE FOR MORE PACIFIC UN REPRESENTATION  spearheading a move within the United Nations to increase Pacific Islands representation within the UN system. Fiji's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Peter Thomson, has been appointed to chair a working group to  look at how Pacific countries can gain a fairer share of representation on the many councils, committees and organs of the United Nations. The eleven Pacific Island missions to the UN make up the group. They are the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Fiji-born Thomson's family connection to Fiji stretches back five generations. He left Fiji after his arrest during the 1987 coups, settling first in New Zealand and then Australia, before the Bainimarama government appointed him as its representation in New York. He holds dual citizenship.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bainimarama's Northern Tour, China Unsettles Oz, Aid, Tourism Dollar

BAINIMARAMA'S NORTHERN TOUR. It's interesting what the PM's provincial tours reveal other than necessary but huge rural infrastructure spending. For the North, this included roads, small loans access, phone coverage and bauxite mining in Bua as reported on Friday. And in Cakaudrove new and upgraded roads, rural electrification and upgraded Savusavu and Taveuni hospitals.

But from Macuata we also again learn of concerns about illegal logging that seems to be linked to bribes and corruption. Nothing seems to have been done to rout it out since the PM's last visit. And from Cakaudrove we learn about rumblings and animosity among the vanua, though what exactly the media did not report. Commissioner Northern LtCol Inia Seruiratu did, however, tell the people to sort out their own problems, saying that Government will only step in only when needed.

“Government respects chiefly decisions that holds the people together,” he said. Government interference could add to animosity. “We don’t want to spoil the relationship that exists between the people and their vanua. Development should bring about improved living standards and not animosity." So the Government is not against chiefs per se, afterall Bainimarama is also a chief, just chiefs who  abuse their people's trust.

CHINA TIES WILL UNSETTLE AUSTRALIA. ANU's Prof.John Warhurst says China's efforts to be more influential in the South Pacific will unsettle Australia.He says, "What has happened in Fiji over the last 10 or 15 years now with the number of coups probably leads Australian policy-makers and the general community to throw their hands up and say 'look, this is beyond our doing anything about it'. The question of a superpower like China injecting itself into the Pacific I think would have long-term worries for Australia," Warhurst said. He thinks China could undermine a region that is already destabilized, while a greater role for Beijing in the South Pacific might overshadow Australia's role as the biggest power in the neighborhood.

The remarks were made in light of Bainimarama's comment while visiting China last week that he is prepared to abandon his country's traditional political ties in the region in favor of China. He stressed, however, that Fiji will continue to trade with New Zealand and Australia.

Australia has donated a $40,000 fibreglass boat, the “Vuniwai ni Beqa,” and three vehicles to the Health Department. The boat will be used for medical purposes serving the islands of Beqa and Yanuca, of the Navua-Pacific Harbour coast, and the vehicles for use by the typhoid campaign in the Northern, Western and Eastern Divisions.  The handing over ceremony last week at the Health Headquarters included the donation of three vehicles to help in the Ministry of Health typhoid campaign.--  Based on 2010 No:1285/MOI.

ADB/GOVERNMENT HELP WATER AUTHORITY.The Fiji government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have assisted the Water Authority of Fiji with a $23 million loan to revamp the Waila water treatment plant.

HOTEL OCCUPANCY RATES have returned to the normal 60%, up from 40% over the past two years, and Reserve Bank Governor, Sada Reddy is calling on the hotel industry to invest now to ensure a good mix of rooms as tourism increases further over the next two to three years.

. Sada Reddy  also expressed dissatisfaction that Fiji retains only about 44 cents of tourism dollar compared with developing countries, 50-60 cents, and advanced countries, between 80-90 cents. Fiji's low rate is largely due to leakages through loss of VAT from packaged tours, borrowings from foreign banks and foreign ownership of the large hotels.

"Almost all service provided to packaged tours are of a domestic nature, excluding Air Pacific. Therefore VAT should be payable on all domestic services. Unfortunately, Fiji has been losing out on the VAT revenue for packaged tours. Government should study this issue and see how they can plug this leakage."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

WEEKEND READING. Scroll down for Allen Lockington's regular column, International Reports Not True: US Resident,  Fiji a Volatile Paradise, PACER Plus website links, Fiji, India and the World,  State Intervenes to Save Infant. And the late general posting on Friday.

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.

Trapping Dogs
I congratulate the Nasinu Town Council for its initiative in once again trapping stray dogs. But guess what? Many stray dogs are not really strays. They have homes. They should rightly be called street dogs and their owners called street dog owners. In Lautoka we have stopped trapping because we have run out of euthanasia medicine.

Well, looks like the medicine is back in stock and hopefully we may soon be trapping again. If not can the army lend us a hand or should that be a arm.

Ed. Note.  For readers unfamiliar with Fiji or other Third World countries, Allen's remedy may seem unfeeling but there are many "stray" dogs and most are diseased and undernourished.

International Reports Not True: US Resident

 A Report from Fiji
Jim Bandy: ALSO Island, Udu, Vanua Levu
 Commodore SSCA, Director ALSO Island Ltd.

My wife and I have been in Fiji since 2001.

We continue to hear via the international news things that we do NOT find true in reality. The current Government, we believe, is a making a serious attempt to clean up corruption and give all Fijian Citizens equal rights. These are monumental tasks as corruption ran very deep and previous governments have promoted limited rights for anyone other than Indigenous Fijians: Indo Fijian, European or Vulagi (anyone other than Fijian or Indo Fijian).

As Economy Falters, Fiji Becomes a Volatile Paradise

Wall Street journalist Neil Sands paints a gloomy picture of the Fiji economy to which a reader adds a comment calling for more transparency and more education so that ordinary people know what's going on, and why. The original article was published in the Wall Street Journal, part of the same Rupert Murdoch stable that owns the Fiji Times.

PM Tells Bua PC About Reforms

Reforms ushered through by the Government of the day will help the nation of Fiji achieve sustainable economic development in particular democracy with good and just governance says Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

Fiji, India and the World

Political Crisis in Fiji and India's Concerns
Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses

The tiny island nation of Fiji located in the South Pacific Ocean is back in the news again. Fiji, frequently referred to as a ‘land of coups’, is coming out of its international isolation thanks to the help it receives from China.

Fiji’s and China’s mutual attractions are understandable. Fiji was expelled from the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum for its failure to establish liberal democratic rule. Politically isolated in the international community both at the regional and multi-lateral levels, it has found an apt ally in China to ward off any further pressure including in the form of United Nations Security Council resolutions. As a permanent member of the UNSC, China can veto any resolution against Fiji brought by the United States and Great Britain.

PACER Plus Website Links FYI

State Intervenes to Save Infant

The Solicitor-General, Mr Christopher Pryde, made an urgent application late yesterday (18.8.10) in the High Court before Justice Wati in order to allow doctors at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital (“CWM”) to perform life saving surgery on a 6 month old infant. The infant who had developed an infection in its leg needed the urgent surgery to prevent the infection spreading. The parents had refused to consent to the procedure and the Medical Superintendent at the CWM contacted the Attorney-General’s Chambers for assistance.

Mr Pryde said “The court has an inherent jurisdiction in cases such as these to override the parent’s objections to allow doctors to perform necessary life saving medical treatment. The state made an urgent ex parte application to the High Court last night and was granted the necessary orders to allow the doctors to operate on the infant. Had the doctors not operated, the medical opinion was that the child would, in all likelihood, not have survived.”

Other orders granted by the court restrained the parents from interfering with any medical procedure, surgery or treatment which in the opinion of the medical staff at CWM was necessary for the infant. Fortunately, the reports we have received today from the hospital indicate the surgery was successful and the infant is now in a stable condition” he said. The matter was called again this morning (19.8.10) and the court has ordered that the matter be referred back to it for mention on 2 September 2010 to check on the progress of the infant.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bua Developments, Pacer Stalled, Bahrain, Crime Free, Tax Evasion, Mahogany Basics

WEEKEND READING. Allen Lockington's regular column,International Reports Not True: US Resident,  Fiji a Volatile Paradise, PACER Plus website links, Fiji, India and the World,  State Intervenes to Save Infant.

. Major infrastructure projects in the coming months will include upgrading of roads, water infrastructure and other facilities, and a new Fiji Development Bank at Nabouwalu to allow farmers access to small loans. Further, talks  are underway between the government and Vodafone Fiji for total mobile phone coverage in Bua; the Native land Trust Board has given the green light for bauxite mining that will commence by the end of this year; and an unspecified $12 million project is also expected to get underway soon.

These developments were announced by the PM and Commissioner Northern, Col.Inia Seruiratu, during their visit earlier in the week. They stressed that the people needed to play their part in the development of the provide and farmers had to use their land to plant dalo, yaqona and pine.  If they did this, government would provide the necessary assistance. See also Weekend Reading.  Fiji Live link  Radio Fiji link.

PACER STALLED. Concern that the free trade and economic integration treaty, PACER Plus negotiations seems to have stalled points to the exclusion of Fiji as a probable reason. Hear Australian, ni Vanuatu, Fijian and other views on  this Radio Australia link. See links to PACER-related material in Weekend Reading posted tomorrow. Vinaka, Charles

DIPLOMATS AGREED. Bahrain and Fiji will soon formalize diplomatic relations. This is the latest development initiated by Fiji Ambassador to the UN Peter Thomson which reflects a major shift in Fiji's foreign jolicy to join the Non- Align Movement. Foreign Minister Rt Inoke Kubuabola said the shift was in Fiji's long term interests due to changes and shifts in the balance of power from a bi-polar a multi polar world. "As a Small Island Developing States, Fiji needs to cultivate an atmosphere where we are trusted and respected not because of our size but by the firmness and decisiveness of our foreign policies”. Based on 2010 No:1268/MFA.

CRIME FREE. The goal is to make Fiji free of serious crime by 2012. The strategy is for police to work with communites towards crime-free communities, towns and cities.

This is what  Local Government, Urban Development and Housing Minister Col. Samuela Saumatua told the Crime Free Symposium at the Nasova Police Academy today. The Minister said the goal was "neither utopian not impossible" but all stakeholders would need pragmatic and pro-active to achieve the stable and peaceful Fiji envisaged in the People's Charter. The key was crime prevention.  "It is all very well to come up with strategies that look very impressive but it is the implementation or making it a reality is very important,” he said. -- Based on 2010 No:1263/ and 1264/MOI.

MASSIVE TAX EVASION. Revenue and Customs Authority chief executive Jitoko Tikolevu, confirmed that a recent survey of 3,159 households revealed that nearly one-third had undeclared undeclared income from rents, unregistered businesses, land sales and other tax breaches.FIRCA is calling on all landlords to voluntarily declare their rental income and be honest to avoid unnecessarily penalties. He did not know how much money was involved but the Authority is expecting to raise $1.5m from current assessments.

MAHOGANY LANDOWNERS have welcomed government’s decision to survey all land in the country.Nukurua Mahogany Landowners chairman Ratu Netava Tagi said they had raised their concern about unclear boundaries in the past but they were not heard. He said previous government had leased their land but it was never surveyed.

PLEASE USE and CONTRIBUTE, SUPPORT and SHARE. (1) USE by Commenting (below), and visiting Na Sala Cava (right side bar); (2) SUPPORT,  anonymously or openly, with"Subscribe" or by joining  "Followers" (left side bar); and (3) SHARE this posting with others. Just hover your mouse on share buttons, click Email, Blog this!, Twitter, Facebook or Google Buzz.  Vinaka. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Comment Quality, Dorsami Naidu, Rural Electrification, Poverty, Land Safe; Forget Elections

CRITICAL BUT HELPFUL. Thank goodness. The quality of comments to postings has improved  with critical but helpful and forward-looking comments once again outnumbering the  totally negative and unhelpful. Thinking... Not Sleeping again leads the pack with the observation that those commenting on "progress" or the lack of it are talking past each other because they are talking about different things. Top Five Top Spin Items also makes what I think is a valid criticism of Government, and comes up with what they could say.

Both these readers are, I think, basically supportive of what Government says it intends to do.  They are just not very impressed with some of the ways they're going about it. The saddest and most disturbing feature of the present political scene is that Government has given very little indication that it welcomes the opinions of people who, with only a little encouragement,  could be its friends.

DORSAMI IRONY. Fiji Law Society president, former MP and anti-government critic Dorsami Naidu  has been fined $1,500 and $1,428 costs by the country’s Independent Legal Services Commission for professional misconduct and unsatisfactory professional conduct. The irony is that he has also been ordered to undertake ten hours of study in conveyancing, real property and practice management with the syllabus to be approved by the Chief Registrar. This ruling was due his being found guilty of overcharging in billing an estate failing to inform a buyer that the land he was purchasing was co-owned. Justice Connors said Naidu’s conduct calls for a “small monetary penalty rather than a public reprimand in the light of the position he holds within the legal profession ...[his]  conduct is in many respects concerning and whilst it does not display dishonesty it shows a lack of appreciation of practice management principles and the obligations of legal practitioners under the Trust  Account requirements.There is also displayed a disturbing lack of understanding of conveyancing and real property principles."

VILLAGE ILLUMINATION. Two remote Naitasiri villages with 182 families  switched on their lights for the first time last night. Taking electricity to the villages cost $145,000 and is part of the Roadmap.

HEALTH RECOVERY. Some health charges will increase soon to help recover costs and improve health services. Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma said " We also need to upgrade, so all of these issues need to be factored in. The fact is that nothing comes free in this world. We have to be able to provide quality services at all costs.” Increases have been made to the Medical Certificate and Report fees, dental fees, X-Ray fees, and laboratory charges.

.The Poverty Alleviation Ministry is waiting for submissions from minority groups to finalise the definition of poverty in Fiji’s context. Poverty Eradication Unit head Tokasa Leweni says the minority groups were not well represented during the consultation in the central, west and the northern division.Leweni says they anticipate finalizing the paper for Cabinet approval next month.

LAND SAVED. Speaking to the Lau Provincial Council yesterday, the PM assured the i-Taukei community that no one is going to take their land away from them. The new Land Use Decree is intended to make more land available for productive and social purposes. Landowners will benefit as more land would be utilised. "Government is also mindful of improving its service to maritime islands," he added.

Earlier,  Commissioner Eastern, LtCol Ifereimi Vasu urged Lauans to help find answers to the ongoing out-migration that could see the islands' population decimated.He acknowledged that out-migration cannot be stopped but can be minimised, even though the driving force for the movement seems to be the quest for higher education. The challenge, he said, is to convince those in the villages to remain there and use the abundant natural resources to lift their standards of living. Funds allocated for development in Lau would depend entirely on population and demand.

Forget elections, Bainimarama told

http://www.radiofiji.com.fj/fullstory.php?id=30094 Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Taken from / By: FBC News
The people of Lau have told the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama to forget elections and concentrate more on development.

The province indicated their support to Bainimarama and urged him to continue developments for the country as they have witnessed the work and promises fulfilled by the Government for the people.

FBC News reporter Sekope Toduadua filed this report during the Provincial Council meeting which started yesterday.

"Lets forget about elections and lets focus on more and more development.

Those are the words of encouragement and support from the people of Lau province to Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama as he officially opened the two day Lau Provincial council meeting yesterday.

Speaking on behalf on the people of Lau, the Turaga Tui Ono Waisea Davuiqalita from Onoi-lau Island says they feel their cries have been heard.

He says the people of Lau are satisfied that Fiji is back on track and they have witnessed the development and what government is doing right now.

Davuiqalita says promises by government have been fulfilled and projects which were in the pipeline for 4 years have been completed.

He says now – the people of Lau look forward to and support government’s corporate plan to move the country forward to 2014 - according to the Strategic Framework for Change.”

The Lau Provincial Council meeting is being held at the Arts Village in Deuba and ends today.

Prime Minister,  You should immediately quash this report.  If you don't, it will be distorted  like the Lomaiviti comment.   You should use the opportunity to reaffirm your decision to hold elections no later than September 2014.

And News Reporter Sekope Toduadua, you should be more precise. Who exactly said "forget about elections"? One person, several, the people of Lau, or just those attending the Provincial Council meeting?  Or is this merely what you read into the Council's support for Government's development activities? Your report makes the Prime Minister a sitting target for the overseas media and those who say he does not want elections in 2014.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Travel Warning, Cakaudrove & the Charter, Signs of Progress, Rewa Dredging

TRAVEL ADVISORY. The Fiji Ministry of Foreign Affairs has warned people intending to travel to New Zealand to delay unnecessary travel because of an outbreak of swine flu and higher seasonal flu levels that have seen doctor's surgeries overflowing and have caused several deaths. Veteran Travel Consultant Mick O'Field of Pacific Parachute Tours Very Ltd has advised tourists to take out extra insurance policies because local hospitals are severely under-resourced and they may need to be repatriated to Fiji for treatment if they become seriously sick. He said his firm was offering discount insurance and parachute prices.

Meanwhile, Balaba Deliva on FijiOne said, "In a press conference fed via satellite from Wellington, W.H.O. Regional Co-Directors Dr Phil and Dr Oz both said the situation was serious, was serious. Dr Oz also thanked the Fiji Red Cross for its donation of flu vaccines."

Ms Deliva reported that pedestrians interviewed in Cumming Street said they were grateful for the Fiji Government's travel advisory. And when interviewed by the Alternative Government website Luvei Viti, Lami housewife Mary Samson said, "It's only right we should do unto them as they undid us earlier in the year with our cholera outbreak." At last all Fiji citizens are united.--Source:Tongue'nCheek.

QUO VADIS (WHERE GOES) CAKAUDROVE? The PM is expecting to meet the provincial councils of Bua, Cakaudrove and Macuata when he visits Vanua Levu later this week. Bainimarama will be officiating at the RFMF wives annual sports competition. While in Vanua Levu "I thought I’d take up the opportunity to visit the provincial councils," he said.

Of special interested will be the meeting with Cakaudrove which has still not endorsed the People's Charter. In the 2001 Election chiefly influence saw the extreme Fijian nationalist Matanitu Vanua (CAMV) party win three parliamentary seats. Prior to the 2006 Election the CAMV dissolved and its candidates stood on the Qarase SDL ticket.  Qarase's appointment of these Fijian extremists to Cabinet and his refusal to tackle those responsible for the Speight Coup and the mutiny in Vanua Levu, were major factors leading Bainimarama to remove his govenment from power. Cakaudrove comprises seven tikina (districts),  not all of which support the Bainimarama government.  We await Thursday to learn the outcome of the Council meeting. The other two provinces have endorsed the Charter.

. These comments (a little modified) from a reader in Suva: "I see some of your readers say there's no progress on the Roadmap. They can't be living in Fiji because every day we see evidence of progress, sometimes in big developments but more often in little things. In Suva new road works are underway, sidewalks are being upgraded, roads markings painted, the old Olympic pool has just reopened having been closed for years, and is preparing for the Hibiscus Festival.

"Outside Suva, after years of delay, the Rewa river is finally being dredged (Ed. See story below) and in Rakiraki which was recently declared a town, July was a month free of serious crime. Overall, crime dropped 50% compared with last July.

"Nationally, Cabinet has approved the development of a Decree to control the sale and supply of legal but dangerous substances, over shop counters. This decree in particular looks at illegal abuse of substances by school children. The lack of a law and concerns about the detrimental effects on the health of young people has been raised by school administrators, parents, the media, the members of the National Substance Abuse Advisory Council (NSAAC) Council, various stakeholders during consultation meetings and the general public in the past two years.

"And internationally, the Government has been in continuous dialogue with Tonga about our eastern boundary and negotiations will begin soon with Tuvalu and Vanuatu over our northern and western boundaries. It is in Fiji’s interest that all its maritime boundaries are determined and mutually agreed through dialogue and negotiations. This is also in line with one of the key pillars for rebuilding Fiji in this period of political transition, which is ‘Enhancing Global Integration and International Relations’.

"Not much, perhaps, but that's the news for one day.Your readers who say there's no progress don't know what they are talking about.  Even Rome wasn't built in a day."

Twelve kilometers of Fiji's longest rich, the Rewa, are being dredged by the China Railway First Group Company Ltd at an anticipated cost to Government of $8.9m. The work will reduce flooding and the 2.2m cubic metres of soil removed will add to the mere 20% of the province designated as dry land, making for better road access and more farmland.

The Roko Tui Rewa, Niko Nayacalevu, thanked Government for the project which "will be very beneficial to the people of the delta. This initiative will create more dry land for the people to farm and other economic activities which are being spearheaded by the current Government,” he said. The work should be completed by next year. -- Based on 2010 No:1244/MOI

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Double Dipping, You Just Can't Win, Qarase Court Update

DOUBLE DIPPING ACCUSATION. Some of the anti-government blogs are circulating the rumour started, I think,  by Pacific Journalist Michael Field on his blogsite that the PM and A-G are receiving exorbitant salaries. My guess is that Field has used simple arithmetic to add the salaries of several of their respective ministerial portfolios.

Thus, Cde Bainimarama is the Prime Minister, the Minister for Public Service, People's Charter for Change; Minister for Information and Archives, Minister for Finance and National Planning and Sugar, Minister for Provincial Development, Indigenous and Multi-Ethnic Affairs.

And Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is the Attorney-General, Minister for Justice, Electoral Reform, Public Enterprises and Anti-Corruption, Industry, Tourism, Trade and Communication.

The rumour is totally untrue. They receive salary for only their more substantive position.  Field and the rumour-mongers may, however, care to note that Cabinet now comprises 11 members compared with 36 in the Qarase Government. They do not ask or reveal what their combined salaries were.

YOU JUST CAN'T WIN. If you check out recent comments to postings, you'll see there's been a persistent demand to "see" the Roadmap and an equally persistent refusal to accept its existence despite all evidence to the contrary. Though where, other than from the Roadmap and the Charter, do these people think Government is planning its reforms on land, housing, health, roads and all its other projects?

My postings that attempted to explain the relationship between the People's Charter, the Roadmap, the Strategic Framework for Change had readers saying "Forget the Charter and the Roadmap. What we  want to see is action."

I suspect some such comments are merely anti-government protestations. The blog has been full of them lately. Whatever Government does or does not do, it will be wrong.  Invariably this line of questioning goes back to the redundant argument, "It's an illegal government that overthrew a democratically elected government at the point of the gun."  Their only way of going forward is to go backwards.

But many readers genuinely want to see these unpublished documents, and some of them still seem to think the Roadmap is only about the constitution and elections.

For those with open minds, the Roadmap is not simply about constitutional and electoral reform. These will come later, in 2012 and 2013 prior to the election in September 2014. For the moment Government's focus is on physical infrastructure and services and on institutional and governance reforms. The Public Service reforms are an example of the latter.

The triangle diagram in the previous post shows the route from Charter to actions and project implementation.

Using the diagram and the example of the new health centre in Bureta, Ovalau,  reported in the same posting, we can trace its origin from Charter Pillar 11 (improved health services for all) to the pinpointing of remote rural areas (Roadmap); to rural health clinics (Strategic Framework for Change and the Health Ministry Corporate Plan 2009-11); to the financing of the building, equipment and staffing of the Bureta clinic (Health Ministery Annual Corporate Plan). The Clinic is now open and its progress no longer needs monitoring by the Strategic Framework for Change Operating Committee.

The Clinic is a product of each of these planning stages that originated in Pillar 11 of the Charter. People in the seven villages serviced no longer need to travel half way round Ovalau for basic medical care or emergencies. They don't yet have a Constitution and there's no election for a while, but they do have a very tangible clinic. Other examples are occurring all around the country. Multiplied, they are bringing about significant change.

QARASE COURT CASE UPDATE. The Suva High Court is expected to deliver its ruling next month on an application to consolidate the cases of former PM Laisenia Qarase and Sitiveni Weleilakeba. The application was made by FICAC Prosecutor Madhawa Tennakoon yesterday morning on the grounds that the two cases are linked.

It is alleged that Qarase whilst being the Managing Director of the Fiji Development Bank in 1991 - 1992 and at the same time a board member of Fiji Holdings Ltd, advisor to the Fijian Affairs Board and advisor to the Great Council of Chiefs, abused his office by increasing the annual dividend on Class A shares (of which his family held a significant number) to 20% . Weleilakaba is alleged to have given false information to the Registrar of Companies causing the declaration of Fijian Holdings Limited as a Public Company.

The Charter, the Strategic Framework for Change, the Roadmap and Ministry Plans

This article, provided by the Fiji Ministry of Information, describes how the People's Charter is  being implemented via the Strategic Framework for Change, the Roadmap, and Ministry Corporate Plans. 

1. People's Charter for Change, Peace and Progress

In September 2007 the Interim Government launch a national initiative to ‘Build a Better Fiji for All’ through the People's charter for change, peace and progress”. The President officially launched the People's Charter initiative in October 2007 and took steps to establish a 45 member National Council for Building a Better Fiji (NCBBF).

The committee was board based with representatives and leaders of all major organizations (community, social, civic, religious, business, political). The work was to be independent of the Interim Government. One of the first steps was to prepare a comprehensive, facts-based, diagnostic, forward looking report named the State of the Nation and the Economy.

The report was to provide a list of recommendations for changes to our system of government, our constitution, laws, economic and resources development policies, leadership values, community relations, and institutional reform.

The overarching objective of the People's Charter is to rebuild Fiji into a non-racial, culturally vibrant and united, well governed, truly democratic nation: a nation that seeks progress and prosperity through merit-based equality of opportunity and peace.

The charter was widely circulated throughout Fiji just over 250,000 copies of the Charter were published in English and the vernacular, and disseminated as widely as possible across the country, approximately 65% of the population supported the People's Charter.

2. A Strategic Framework for Change

The People's Charter lays the long term foundation and the commitment of the People of Fiji for Change, Peace and Progress with the ultimate vision of building “A Better Fiji for All”.

Since the Charter is a living document and reflects long term aspirations of the People of Fiji, it is prudent that the Government puts in place a solid foundation and necessary framework for its implementation.

It is therefore necessary that there is a very clear statement of Government’s intentions, identifying key milestones to be achieved and ensuring continuity of our collective vision.

In line with the eleven pillars in the People's Charter, the Strategic Framework for Change outlines key milestones to be realized with specific timelines to be achieved leading up to the elections in 2014. The Strategic Framework for Change also outlines a number of measures including reforms that shall be implemented.

It reiterates the focus for the first three years to improve the socio-economic and infrastructure conditions. This period shall be followed by the formulation of a modern day constitution and then the holding of elections for parliamentary representation by September 2014.

3. Roadmap for Democracy & Sustainable Socio-economic Development 2009-2014

The Roadmap for Democracy and Sustainable Socio-Economic Development,  2009-2014 sets out a framework to achieve sustainable democracy, good and just governance, socio-economic development and national unity. The key foundation of the Roadmap is the People's Charter. The roadmap is also aligned to the mandate handed down by His Excellency, the President in 2007 as well as the Strategic framework for Changed announced in July 2009.

In order to ensure an inclusive approach, ownership and successful implementation, the Roadmap has been compiled in consultation with private sector, civil society and government to take on board the current political, social and economic situation, both on the international and domestic fronts.  
The objective of the Roadmap is to implement policies to achieve the vision of People's Charter which is a ‘Better Fiji for All’. Therefore the Roadmap is a detailed document that covers all areas of government and provides policy objectives, strategies and key performance indicators as well as time lines.  This in effect is the corporate plan of the government.

4. Ministry corporate plan 2009 – 2011

Each government ministry has a three year strategic plan that is tightly linked into the Roadmap. The Strategic plan is a high level guide from 2009 - 2011. This document supports the vision of the People's Charter, the Strategic Framework for Change and ultimately the Roadmap. The strategic plans set out strategies and objectives to be developed from 2009 – 2011.

5. Ministry Annual Corporate Plan

From the Strategic 3 year plan each Ministry has a yearly Corporate Plan; this document set the targets and strategies for the Ministry on a quarterly basis. All plans must be clearly articulated with timelines and accountabilities. It tightly aligns itself with the Roadmap.

Scroll down to earlier posts published late yesterday.