Political Round Up and Comments 6 June

I published substantial news and comments articles on Monday and Wednesday. These are the items I thought worth mentioning that have occurred or been brought to my attention  since Wednesday.-- Croz Walsh.

Dr Vakaoti (L), Rev. Yabaki (R)

CCF REPORT ON "YOUNG PEOPLE AND DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION."  Click here for the full report. This survey report conducted for the CCF by Dr Patrick Vakaoti of Otago University  records and discusses  the responses of young people (aged between 17 and 35) to  a sizable number of political, youth  and  community-related questions. With the voting age now reduced to 18,  the survey provides a fascinating and instructive insight into how 40% of eligible voters may vote in the forthcoming elections.

My only criticisms — and this is more a criticism of Government  whose own statistical records now exclude or hardly mention ethnicity — are that all those conducting the survey were Taukei and, more importantly,  there is no breakdown of how Taukei, Indo-Fijians and Others responded. I hardly think there would be no differences on such sensitive issues as land and who and what influences their opinions.

However, of the 197 people surveyed in Labasa, Levuka, Nadi and Suva, the sexes, and I assume, ethnicities,  were equally represented. The median age was about 22.

Here's a sample of some of the findings.  I urge you to download the full 80-page report for more.
  • Interested or quite interested in the election process and 2013 Constitution: 64%
  • Read (19%) or partly read (27%) the 2013 Constitution.
  • Registered to vote (the survey was conducted some months ago): 51%
  • Understand the voting system, Yes or mostly: 49%
  • Will vote in September: Yes 61%, Probably 10%, Refused to answer 23% (I wonder why. Refused to answer was very low on almost all other questions)
  • Issues affecting your vote: Unemployment 43%, Education 37%, Transport 11%, Health 10%.
  • Politics corrupt (52%)
  • Major issues: Land 44%, Ethnicity 42%, Religion, 38%, Freedom 33%
  • Who influence your voting: Family 39%, Friends 18%, Political parties 18%, Election Office 13%, Politicians 9%, Media 8%.
          People in Government...
  •    ...  Can be trusted to do their best for Fiji: Agree 51%, Neutral 23%. 
  •    ...  Are doing  their best for Fiji: Agree 52%, Neutral 31%; 
  •    ...  Are honest with Fiji: Agree 27%, Neutral 32%; 
  •    ...  Don't care about Fijian citizens: Agree 20%, Neutral 29%.
  • Sources of information on political and constitutional process: Radio 80%, TV 76%, Websites 46%, Family 28%, Friends 17%, Politicians 8%, Church 8%.
  • Blog sites offer credible news on development in Fiji. Agree 39%, Neutral 34%.

COMMONWEALTH TO MONITOR ELECTIONS. The Commonwealth Secretariat will assist the Australia-led elections monitoring body and also assist after the elections to help Government put in place the appropriate parliamentary systems and services. This was conveyed to Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola in a meeting with the Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma in London on Thursday.

. Former  Fiji Human Rights Commission operations manager and Greenpeace Australia Pacific worker. 42 year-old Seini Leba Nabou  put her name forward as a NFP candidate.

She says,“I have always been impressed with the NFP and their incredible legacy in Fiji and only recently have i become appreciative of some of the principle stands they have taken for e.g; on the 1997 constitution. Also I know that this party is not a new one and it stands on the shoulder of some of the giants of this country.”

Nabou who has extensive experience in training, communications and journalism holds social justice, organizational change and environmental protection close to her heart.

. Fiji Airways brand new ATR 72-600 aircraft for Pacific Sun (Fiji Link) will be given a traditional welcoming ceremony when it arrives a Nausori airport tomorrow morning. This will be followed by the launch of Fiji Link at the Grand Pacific in the evening.

RURAL BIO-FUEL FAILURE. Efforts by Government to help outer islands development may not turn out as well as expected if bio-fuel projects are are typical of other initiatives.  Commissioner Eastern Lt-Col.Netani Rika  says it is due to three factors: the lack of feasibility studies; the islanders' preference to  engage in Virgin Coconut Oi (VCO) projects, and  the "handout mentality and dependency syndrome and work towards achieving the true purpose of the project." . He made these comments after FijiLive raised queries on the bio-fuel plant that still lies idle in Mavana village in Vanua Balavu since it was commissioned last year.

LAND LYING IDLE. Speaking at the Macuata Provincial Council meeting yesterday,  FSC representative Navitalai Masivuya  said they expected to crush about 620,000 to 650,000 tonnes of cane this crushing season, 70,000 tonnes of sugar from the Labasa  mill. But to achieve this result support was needed from grassroots people and the Council. Many cane farms had been left idle in the North as a result of people moving out and taking up other income-generating sources. [The exodus started in earnest after the 2000 coup with the non-renewal of leases to mainly Indo-Fijian tenants.]

THE MISSING LINK?  In the two items above, I have pointed to the likely absence of positive leadership by local Taukei chiefs and turaga-ni-koro, and in earlier postings I've reported that a large number of these positions have been left unfilled.  When the political parties talk about the allegedly poor state of the economy and insufficient rural development, as they do doubt will, I would like to hear specific mention of the role of chiefs at all levels and  HOW they may be encouraged to help stimulate the rural economy.

WADAN NOT QUITE RIGHT ON POLLS. He's always a good read and he always makes some good points but he's clearly not impressed with published poll results, especially the Fiji Sun-Razor polls because of its "relationships" that could bias results in Bainimarama's favour,  but mainly because "the internal Razor Research processes are not available to public scrutiny."  I concede the outside possibility of the former and am in complete agreement with him over the later. Tebbutt has kindly provided me with detailed information on its methodology and I am impressed. Effort to obtain similar information from Razor have so far not been successful.

Wadan's main comment on the polls is that all of them are samples that probably don't accurately reflect the opinions of all voters (Razor is at bus stops, Tebbutt in urban and per-urban areas), and that sample size (Razor 600, Tebbutt 1032) is too small.  He says, "The possibility of sampling error becomes larger, as the sample size becomes smaller."  This is true but only up to a point.

Probability samples  such at Razor and Tebbutt make no claims to represent any more than the total "population" of people who use the bus stops and live in the selected urban areas. These statistical "populations" comprise all the voting age people at the selected bus stops and the selected urban areas.  Neither poll makes any claim to be representative of all Fiji voters.  

The pollsters know, or can find out, the total populations, and from this they can calculate the likely margins of error (the extent to which they could be wrong at 95% of the time).  Generally, as Wadan says, the margin of error decreases with increased sample size but the decrease is not constant. A margin of error for a poll of 600 people, for example, could produce a margin of error of 4%, a poll of 1000 3%, and one of 2000 2%.  Sample size is all about how much the pollsters are prepared to be wrong. 

Thus, if we use these figures for this Saturday's Razor poll that shows Fiji First as the preferred political party for 74% of voters, the "true" figure (95% of the time)  could be as low as 70% or as high as  79%.  The next highest polling party is NFP on 8%, way outside the margin of error. Weekly Razor polls for the past three months have shown similar results.

So, on the preferred political party result, we have two choices: the results are rigged, as Bainimarama's opponents claim, or they are accurate, at least at this point in time. 
The latter conclusion is supported by the definitely independent and probably more accurate Tebbutt which, although sampling a different "population", arrives as slightly lower results. 

FOOTNOTE. Wadan says systematic errors and biases depend on  five factors.  My responses are in bold. (1) Who owns and/or controls the opinion poll? Could it lead to bias? Yes. It's a possibility, but unlikely to have influenced results so far. (2) How are the questions asked and responses recorded? We don't yet know for Razor but Tebbutt looks fine.  (3) How randomly are the respondents selected? Tebbutt totally random. All eligible voters, if they are at home,  have an equal change of selection.  Razor. My guess is something close to systematic or cluster sampling. As many as the pollsters can handle at one time.  (4) How many respondents are selected relative to the population of voters (which will be around 550,000)? This factor is largely irrelevant once you have a sufficient number to  produce results at the accepted margin of error. (5) How close might be the true party support results in the September election, for both large parties and small? We will only know in September.

1 comment:

Filipo Tarakinikini involvement in 2000 coup said...

Insider's view of Fiji coup2000-12-29 15:49Auckland - A top political source outside Fiji told AFP they had a unique view into the set up of the 2000 coup plotters as well as the Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) and as a result, knew much more than even now has come out."If you could see what came across my desk you would have a different view of it all," the source, who did not want to be identified, said.But within an hour of the 2000 coup, one top New Zealand government official said off-the-record that the coup was actually led by Police Commissioner Isikia Savua.Vodaphone, Fiji's only mobile phone operator and which ended up providing all the players with cellphones, usually the ubiquitous bright orange pre-paid unit, has also played its part in providing a clearer picture of the coup.Legal sources say authorities now have the complete list of everybody the coup plotters called, and those who called them, before and after 19 May. Intelligence services outside Fiji also have the lists and despite digital encryption by Vodafone, they were listening, a diplomatic source said.This is illustrated in the case of Lieutenant Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini, an RFMF spokesperson.Last month, during a military mutiny, New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff said he believed Tarakinikini had in fact played a key role in the May 19 coup. Tarakinikini denied it and threatened to sue. Goff, while holding his ground, was unable to release any evidence to back up his statement.Sources say the "convincing" evidence could not be released as it came via the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB)...."