Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Fiji Links and Comments: the Archbishop and Rosy Akbar, the Code of Conduct Bill,No PM New Year Message in FijiTimes

It's good news that, as schools reopen, students will not be paying for textbooks and fees, and that 80,000 will not pay bus fares to school and back.  Vinaka, FijiFirst Government. 

Less welcome is the stand off between Education Minister Rosy Akbar and Catholic Archbishop Peter Loy Chong who wants see Catholics appointed as Principals in Catholic-administered schools (Muslim schools have no objection to non-Muslim Principals).

The Minister thinks merit and quality should come first but if the Church wants Catholics only, it should pay their salaries.  

Another spoke in the wheel is the claim by  Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Director Ashwin Raj  that the  Archbishop's statement is contrary to the principles of equality and non‑discrimination. http://fijivillage.com/news/Archbishop-Chongs-statement-is-contrary-to-the-principles-of-equality-and-nondiscrimination---Raj-9rsk52/

Methinks, FijiFirst should test the water before plunging in. Some accommodation must have been possible. Government cannot afford to unnecessarily alienate Catholics. And Ashwin should not equate sameness with equality.

Which brings us to complaints about the Code of Conduct Bill soon to be debated in Parliament. NFP's Pio Tikoduadua thinks it should be delayed and "deleted so that the Accountability and Transparency Commission has the power to investigate anonymous complaints if it wishes to do so."
and lawyer Richard Naidu thinks it should be scrapped. "“I can’t find any law like this, anywhere in the world, where a person risks going to jail for making a complaint”.

Perhaps Government needs to reconsider, and find some mutually acceptable way forward.

If The Fiji Times wishes to improve its relations with Government, it was unwise not to publish the PM's New Years message. 
Government says that Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama's New Year message was flatly ignored by the Fiji Times, giving their readership, including Naca Nabukavou, the false impression that the Prime Minister had not addressed the Fijian public since Christmas.

The Department of Information states that it's a serious lapse that a major national address from PM Bainimarama received no coverage in the Fiji Times, but adds that it was  not surprising, given what its rival and pro-Government the Fiji Sun said was "the long string of one‑sided and unfair reporting from the newspaper". 

True. But the Fiji Sun is also one-sided and not always fair in its reporting.


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