Political Round Up for the Third Week of April

Happy Easter
Holy Thursday brought the end of Lent with an invigorated Mike Beddoes emerging from the desert after spending 40 days wandering in the wilderness. First, he attacked McCully,  then Bainimarama and Ashwin Raj, and this was followed by a few digs at the Elections Commission and the Fiji Sun

Other news included the confirmation of two chiefly candidates by SODELPA, two policy statements by the FLP  which is awaiting the Court's verdict on leader Chaudhry before announcing candidates, divergent policies on rents by UFDF members, the NFP and FLP, a little more on Ratu Timoci's alleged "hate" speech, and further indication of the PM's support in a part of remote, rural Fiji.  Meanwhile, the anti-blogs have queried the absence of the latest Razor poll on preferred PM and party that is normally published by the Fiji Sun on Saturdays, and I'm also seeking an explanation. (P.S. Here's the link to this Saturday's poll article)

BEDDOES ATTACKS McCULLY. Referring to last week's Fiji visit by the NZ Foreign Minister. Mick Beddoes says it appears as though the international community just wants an election, even if it is flawed.

BEDDOES MAKES ANOTHER POLICE COMPLAINT. UFDF spokesman Mike Beddoes has again complained about "the regime leader's use of the Fiji coat of arms" as his Fiji First party emblem, that he say is against the law. He is also asking why there has been no investigation about the PM campaigning without having first registered his party. Auckland University's Steve Ratuva says the police need to make an early decision on the complaints because the outcome could affect the elections.

... AND ANOTHER. A UFDF spokesman, presumably MB, is accusing the PM of yet another breach, this time of the Political Parties Decree, for having declared himself as a candidate without first registering his party. Also, by telling the Fiji Sun that election offices will be set up in Savusavu and Taveuni (see next), he has exerted influence on the Election Office, which is supposed to be independent. He called on Media Industry Development Authority Chairman, Ashwin Raj, to take immediate steps to stamp out the Fiji Sun's ongoing daily breaches of the Media Industry Decree. All very petty, I would have thought, or perhaps payback for some of the A-G's pettiness on party registration.

LOW REGISTRATION IN THE NORTH. Incredible though it may seem, the only place one can register to vote in Fiji's second largest island is Labasa in Macuata province.  The PM found this out in Savusavu, Cakaudrove province, in his recent tour when he could not accept many signatures of support because people had not registered. It costs $100 to travel to Labasa. Registration centres will now be established in Savausavu and Taveuni.  (Some members of the "opposition" accused the P{M of politicking/campaigning by asking the Elections Office to set up these new registration centres!)

NATIONAL YOUTH PARTY. The proposed NYP will register on April 25. Interim leader, Nayagodamu Korovou said they’ve chosen April 25 because this is the time most youths will be in Suva for the Coke games. He said they have gathered well over 5,000 signatures from the different divisions. Note: The NYP party has been making policy statement on the internet for many weeks now and not one person has complained it has not registered.

SODELPA MULTIRACIAL BUT ... Ro Teimumu says although it will continue to focus on its "indigenous Fijian base for support, the party will also focus on other ethnicities, including Fijians of Indian descent... We have got a lot of good Indian applicants. If only we could have more of the other ethnicities as well." The party said it would name its first 30 candidates in early May. But this week it announced two chiefly candidates, the Tui Namosi Ratu Suliano Matanitobua  and the Tui Cakau Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu who holds the third highest chiefly title.   

MORE FLP POLICY. If elected, the FLP will address poverty and the provision of relief to the country's poor and the elderly. It will gradually increase the current FNPF contribution rate of 8% so that workers can "retire in dignity on a livable income, and consult the employers to  "lift wage rates to acceptable levels." Welfare payments will be increase and the retirement age raised from 55 to 60 years. FLP is delaying the announcement of its candidates until Chaudhry's sentence is known. If sentenced to prison, he will not be able to stand in the election. 

IN THE FIJI ECONOMIC FORUM BLOG, Mickey Tropp writes, "Media dont want to run anything by SODELPA because they really dont have a substantial manifesto. They dont want to run anything by Mick Beddoes because since day 1 of UDFF, he's just been complaining. They dont want to run anything by Roshika because she's offering to do what NGOs in Fiji are already doing. So in essence, only Frank's proposed party is offering REAL CHANGE which is what the Fiji media thinks is REAL NEWS"

UFDF PARTNERS DIFFER.The NFP wants no rent price controls, currently imposed by the Commerce Commission,  on residential properties, preferring direct negotiations between landlord and tenant.     The FLP website, however,  says they are opposed to lifting the controls.  So this is one issue on which the united front is not united.  A broadcast poll by FFCL in which close to 200 people have voted so far showed 75% wanting controls.

FIJI MEDIA WATCH has asked for more clarity about the role of the Media Industry Development Authority following last week's action on Ratu Timoci Vesikula's purportedly racist "hate speech". The Executive Director of Fiji Media Watch, Agatha Ferei, says the Authority needs to clarify who the members of the tribunal are and whether Mr Raj has overreached his authority. And also thje processes that they are taking or have taken to determine issues like hate speech. At the same time the chairperson may need to also exercise responsibility in understanding that his role is that of the authority, and that it should be treated differently from the role of the tribunal.

 YASAWA's WANT ACTIONS NOT WORDS. The Yasawa island group lies off the NW coast of Viti Levu, Fiji's main island. Yasawa district representative, Pita Tuiturua said, "We do not want politicians to come and make promises that they cannot honour when elected." For the September elections, they were not accepting any other political party except Fiji First to campaign in the Yasawas. 

“We’re fed up with the lies from politicians in past years and this has to stop." The Yasawas supported the PM because his government had delivered many things, not only to the people of Yasawa but to all Fijians.“This is the type of leadership that we want”, he said.

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