Political Round Up Friday 20 June

The most important event of the week, in my view, was the State Visit of the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his attendance at the second summit meeting of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF), and Indonesia's agreement to co-lead, with Australia,  the multinational group of observers for Fiji's September election.

His visit, the sharp increase of Fiji's diplomatic missions, and the  growing importance of the PIDF shows just how much Fiji's foreign policy has changed in recent years.

The implications of this geopolitical shift are yet to be seen but it is unlikely —unless the old political parties win the elections—that Australia and New Zealand will ever again resume their former patrons' prominence.  Fiji seems set to independently form its own foreign policies and Pacific Islands nations seem more likely to look to Fiji for a lead. 

This posting includes the usual round up of what the political parties have been doing during the week; comments by the PM on Fiji's economy, and has two economic updates,  on tourism and development in NE Viti Levu, and on the work of the controversial Land Bank.   I draw your attention in particularly to the Mahandra Chaudhry's interview with the Fiji Times in November 2007. -- Croz.

SODELPA: Two or one?
IS SODELPA BILINGUAL?  I'm hearing reports that SODELPA is saying one thing in English and a quite different thing in Taukei. In English they say they'll restore the Great Council of Chiefs; in Taukei they talk also of making Fiji a Christian state. Can anyone confirm or refute this rumour?  -- Croz

CHAUDHRY'S FLP HOLDS HANDS WITH SODELPA. This is the same man who now praises the 1997 Constitution and seeks a power-sharing arrangement in government,  a system he said did not work, with the same party he denounced in 2007. Read what he said in 2007 and then consider  what he is now saying about forming a government with SODELPA should they win the elections in September.

 What Chaudhry is Forgetting He Said about Pre-2006 Fiji

Chaudhry and Bainimarama 2007
In mid-November 2007, nearly one year after the 2006 Coup,  Mahendra Chaudhry said the 1997 Constitution was "seriously flawed from day one",  the Qarase government lacked "integrity and ethics", and under Qarase's  "rule, social conditions deteriorated markedly with poverty levels escalating to more than 50 per cent."

"Fiji," he said, "needs to move completely away from divisive and feudalistic hang-ups such as communal electoral systems, parochialism and provincialism, religious fundamentalism and such like, if we are to build a modern, progressive state.

"Such anachronisms tend to spawn corrupt politicians and elitism through the corridors of power while keeping the masses poor and subjugated.

"Such feudalistic notions cannot have a place in a reformed society."

These comments and others were published by the Fiji Times under the heading “Chaudhary picks out the flaws from a past regime”.   Click here.

Thank you, Raj, for the link.

"CUSP OF A NEW ERA":PM.  Extract from the PM's closing words in his address to the Second Summit Meeting of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) this week.  The Summit was attended by Pacific  and Asian government, business sector and civil society organizations.

"Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, you are all in Fiji at a very exciting time. There are now less than 90 days to our General Election, in which five registered political parties are vying for the votes of more than 550-thousand Fijians who have so far registered to vote.

"We are on the cusp of a new era – a genuine democracy which will herald a new era of stability and prosperity.

"Our economic growth forecast for 2014 is 3.8 per cent, greater than our larger neighbours.  So Fiji is on the move and the signs are all around us.

"We also intend to cement our position as the hub of the Pacific with major improvements to our infrastructure – our ports and airports – and the expansion of our national airline, Fiji Airways. And we also intend to work hand-in-hand with our neighbours on issues of mutual concern and making sure our collective voice is heard in the world."

NFP'S NEW CANDIDATES.  The party named  five new candidates today:  Sadasivan Naicker, Frederick Harol Work, Sant Kumar Murti, Jone Vakalalabure and Captain Rainjesh San. Party leader Professor Biman Prasad said, "I call it a milestone because these candidates reflect the NFP's commitment to offer to the people of Fiji a leadership team that is going to define the future of this country."

PDP ANNOUNCES NEW POLICIES. Party Leader Felix Anthony says they will remove any
decrees  that "limit any of rights for the people [including] the Essential Services Industries Decree which does not allow workers to have union representatives from outside their workplace" if it comes into power after the September 17th general elections.

The party will also bring the Great Council of Chiefs back to "look at what is best for the itaukei, and  review "the $2 national minimum wage rate, saying it is too low and they will have a higher rate."

Comment: Getting the chiefs to determine what is best for their people seems similar to getting employers determine what is best for their workers. The $2 minimum wage may be low but it's the first time Fiji has had a minimum wage which leaves me wondering why trade unions did nothing about it before. -- Croz

DEVELOPMENTS IN RAKIRAKI.  Three new hotels, one locally owned,  are in the final
planning stage on the Rakiraki coast. Construction costs total over $20 million, and when complete the hotels and other ventures on this under-developed area at the end of the upgraded Kings Road will create jobs for over a thousand people.

TOURISM UPDATE. With Fiji's annual tourist arrivals at 660,000 (up from under 400,000 in 2002) and growing at over 6% a year; service by eight airlines (compared with two in 2007), the multimillion dollar facelift of Nadi International Airport, and the country's improved infrastructure developed over last seven years, many parts of Fiji, including the Rakiraki coast, should see more jobs created and more money-earning opportunities in the next two to three years.

LAND BANK UPDATE. The utilisation of land deposited under the Land Bank Unit has so far attracted close to three quarter billion dollars’ worth of investment. Some 64 landowning groups have deposited their land leases with the unit which have been successfully rented out to investors who have brought in $730m worth of business to Fiji. To date, the land comprises 4388 hectares with 23 leases issued to 19 investors. Another 40 mataqali/tokatoka have shown interest in depositing 14,539 hectares. Payments to landowners to May this year totalled  $4,586,653 and Government has received a total of $1,364,211,” Mr Boseiwaqa said. The value of major projects using the land total $730 million.  Some local investors have also approached the Land Bank Unit  who are interested in commercial farming.

The PM has assured landowners wanting to utilize the services of the Land Use Unit to market their land that there will be no change in land ownership. “The land ownership system will remain as it is. In other words the ownership of all lands shall not change,” he said.


Underwear politician said...

Mahen Chaudhry is a political chameleon. He changes his stances as often as people change their underwear. His actions are guided by what will personally benefit him. After the tax evasion and the shameful pocketing of $2.5m donation scandals, people have come to recognise this man for what he is. A selfish self-serving opportunist looking after number one.

Anonymous said...

I wonder which chiefs Felix is referring to.
All the village chiefs or just the 3 Confederacy chiefs created in the colonial days.
It would have been better if the iTaukei Ministry to take lead role and all village chiefs involved in deliberations.
This Council's role should be redefined to take into consideration the current Constitution.

Uttam Saekar said...

Buy UPS online in Australia with Power Backup Solutions. Here you can purchase uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), power backup systems and more. ups system Australia

Anonymous said...

Good question. Are they wanting us to return to the three chiefly confederacies of Kubuna, Burebasaga and Tovata?

What about the western people of Fiji.

Will they be entitled to have their own confederacy?

Or will they be required to acquiesce to being subjugated once again by the parasitic chiefs of Kubuna & Burebasaga?