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Showing posts from April 26, 2009

(o+) The 55+ Retirement Age, the Fiji National Provident Fund, and Pensions

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As with most Government announcements these days, the decree making 55 the compulsory retirement age (except in some circumstances) is seen by some as a diabolical act with horrendous consequences. This post seeks a more balanced account.

Government says the move is to save Government expenditure by reducing the size of an over-heavy civil service; create job opportunities for some of Fiji's 1,000 unemployed graduates and other young unemployed people, and encourage some of those retiring to start their own business or otherwise enter the private sector.A Fiji Times editorial on March 15 agreed with them.

Anti-Government Bloggers, however, say the money saved will be spent on the military, and the decree will be used as a way of getting rid of civil servants the Government does not like. NZ Public Service Association Nat.Sec.Richard Wagstaff, who lives in a country with longer life expectancies and far lower levels of unemployment, says its a "deplorable" move that disc…

(+o) Forum Deadline: For Whom The Bell Tolls; it Tolls for Thee ...

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No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee..."John Donne (1572-1631) Meditation 17, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions.

Fiji is downplaying (and Australia and New Zealand "up-playing") the effects of tonight's "automatic" suspension of Fiji from the Pacific Islands Forum. If the suspension goes ahead, both are likely to be proved wrong.

For Fiji, the suspension could well lead on to suspension from the Commonwealth, the termination of EU aid for its ailing sugar industry, and UN sanctions, including possibly the termination of existing Fiji soldiers' contacts as UN peacekeepers. It is, however, unlikely …

(+-) Lay Off Bainimarama

If anyone is used to criticism, it's Frank Bainimarama. So starts an article in today's Fiji Sun, "Lay Off Bainimarama, He's Doing it for Fiji." The article goes on to cite academics Hugh Laracy and Crosbie Walsh, and journalist Graham Davis, who support this view, and academic Stewart Firth, who does not. All, in different ways, are "experts" on Fiji. The road you follow depends on where you start from. Click here to read the article in full.

(+) Bainimarama Speaks on Eve of Forum Deadline

The original heading, "Dictator's Plea to Kevin Rudd: Let's Talk to Help Restore Fijian Democracy" by Graham Davis, does not accurately convey text content. I suspect it was selected by The Australian sub-editors. My thanks to Graham for allowing Bainimarama to speak, and to the Pacific Media Watch for this link.

Fiji’s military leader, Frank Bainimarama, has proposed a summit meeting with Australia and New Zealand to try to resolve the impasse over his refusal to hold elections for another five years.

With the expiration of the deadline today for Cdre Bainimarama to announce an election date this year or face suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum, the dictator has defiantly said his own agenda stands."It is not going to happen. There will be no elections until September 2014," he said. Commodore Bainimarama said an election this year would restore the "racist" government of former prime minister Laisenia Qarase, whom he deposed at gunpoint in …

(o-) Criticism from a Well-Wisher: Rod Ewins*

Dear Crosbie, I have watched your blog with great interest since its inception. I have also recommended it to various others. I have felt of late that perhaps there were far more + or 0 entries than - ones (none of those when I logged in today), and that is perhaps unfortunate in the interests of maintaining the neutral status that I am sure you value. I fully realise how difficult it is to find well-researched and -written material to include that is not tainted by the hysteria that so many engage in and devalue any useful points they make.

Do keep up the good work - and I do know what a lot of work it is! There are many Fiji blogs out there at the moment, most of them fitting the hysterical mould, and with no serious analysis, so yours is a breath of fresh air.
Kind regards, Rod Ewins

Rod, Yes, you are right and I was not unaware of the "shift" myself. My difficulty has been in reacting to others' reactions on the implementation of the Emergency Regulations. Most anti…

(o-) Important New Book on 2006 Coup

The 2006 Military Takeover in Fiji: a Coup to End all Coups, edited by Jon Fraenkel, Stewart Firth and Brij V. Lal, ANU E Press.

An invaluable, wide-ranging collection of papers, mainly by Coup opponents, but with no apologies for the policies of the deposed Qarase Government. Click here for the whole 472 pages. 1.5MB, but quick broadband download.

Brij Lal's comment quoted below points to one, as yet little considered, possible consequence of a failed coup. While race is not the only driver of politics in Fiji, it is an easy way for the unscrupulous to rally support.

"People in power in the FLP–RFMF* interim administration appear unconcerned about the incontrovertible fact that a large cross-section of the indigenous Fijian community feels deeply humiliated. They are the outright majority of the population, and in their view they are the underprivileged ones who needed special assistance, who as the taukei, the indigenous inhabitants, were ‘by right’ entitled to control the le…

(-) "The Horrifying Consequences of the Coup": Narsey

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In an April 15th memorial lecture for the late Rev. Paula Niukula (The Struggle for Just Wages in Fiji Lessons from the 2009 Wages Councils and the Continuing Coups), USP Economics Professor Wadan Narsey (photo, L, with Richard Naidu, R) discusses the "horrifying consequences of the 2006 military coup, including the utter collapse of the economy, greater unemployment and massive increase in poverty." He also gives his opinion on those supporting the abrogation of the 1997 Constitution, the Indo-Fijian community "intellectual gutted by emigration"; the "short-sighted" leadership of Chaudhry's Fiji Labour Party (FLP); the "steadfast ... support of constitutionality and law and order by the National Federation Party (NFP); and predicts that "in the not too distant future, for their own preservation, the Fijian Military hierarchy will rejoin and support the body politic of the indigenous Fijians". All of which gives room for serious thoug…

(+) NZ TV1 Gutter Journalism

New Zealanders may not be the best informed people in the world but they pride themselves on their sense of decency and fair play. Over the past week or so we've had several informed and balanced programmes on both radio and TV on Fiji. Our information was improving. Until tonight, when a TV1 News item reminded me of just how deeply biased and uninformed our media can be. And why New Zealanders are so ill-informed on Fiji. The item was so bad I found myself questioning media freedom and the role of NZ "parachute" journalists.

It started with the sensational News Headlines: "Talk of Uprising in Fiji"-- surely of extreme importance but unmentioned in the story! When the item started journalist Lisa Owen, freshly arrived from New Zealand, interviewed a Fijian female silhouette who spoke tearfully of the President's "treason", Fiji Law Society Dorsami Naidu who appealed to people within the government who "secretly doubted Bainimarama's mast…