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Showing posts from September 20, 2009

Snippets: Grassroots Democracy, GCC Complex Opening, Police for Sudan, Denarau

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Grassroots Democracy at Work:
NGO Bus Fare Petition has 20,000 Signatures

The non-government organization Ecumenical Center for Research, Education and Advocacy (ECREA) has gathered 20,000 signatures, mainly in the Lami, Suva, Nasinu, Nausori corridor, requesting Government to reverse its July decision to allow a 13 percent increase in bus fares. ECREA's Chantelle Khan (photo) said the NGO had also been invited to Naitasiri this weekend where people have started their own petition drive. And from Nadi women from community groups have emailed expressing their full support. It will be interesting to see how Government, that seeks to reduce poverty, will respond to this display of grassroots democracy at work. -- Based on FijiLive.

GCC Complex Opening: Unity and Some Conspicuous Absences

The Vale ni Bose Vakaturaga, the Great Council of Chief's complex at Navosa, Suva, was opened on Friday by former President the Turaga na Tui Vuda Ratu Josefa Iloilo. The opening came exactly 13…
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Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in www.connectme.com.fj/news/opinion. I thank Allen and Connect for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.

Living in Paradise

It’s so wonderful to walk along the seawall on Marine Drive in Lautoka and see the islands of the Yasawa Group in the distance. The Island of Vio just of Queens Wharf looks so beautiful on a sunny day that I only wish I could live on one of those islands.

If I could, I will buy me a boat and snorkeling gear. I will try and see if the yaqona plant will grow there. Have a desalination plant and a “fiber” (as it's called here) and a home that runs on solar energy. I will have a short wave radio, a satellite dish, a TV. I will take my gramophone and leave all my phones behind. I will tune to overseas radio stations so I don’t have to hea…

(o) EU Extends Sanctions Until March

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The European Union has extended its trade and aid sanctions against Fiji until the end of March 2010 at a meeting in Brussels yesterday. The decision means that about $85 million in development aid will remain frozen as well as $300 million commitment of EU funds to restructure Fiji's sugar industry. An EU statement said that the EU has decided to extend existing appropriate measures for Fiji in order to create a window of opportunity for new consultations. Click here for full story.

(B) Fiji Chiefs' Meeting House to Open, and the Future of the GCC

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The multi-million dollar meeting house of Fiji’s Great Council of Chiefs is to be opened tomorrow, four years after construction began. PM and Minister for Indigenous Affairs Bainimarama has yet to confirm when the GCC, suspended in early 2007, will be reconvened. Following its dissolution, the interim Government approved new membership criteria limited to only those who have been traditionally installed, are not involved in politics, and do not have a criminal record.

The new-look GCC, with a total of 52 members, 10 less than the previous GCC, is to be chaired by the Indigenous Affairs Minister.This includes three representatives each from the 14 Fijian provinces and Rotuma, while the Minister will appoint six co-opt members who are chiefs who have been traditional installed and recorded as such in the register of Native Landowners administered by the Native Lands Commission.
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Each member will take an oath of allegiance before the President and can seek re-appointment at t…

(o) Perhaps PNG's Independent Media Standards Committee Offers Some Pointers for Fiji

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Remember earlier in the year when the media left readers with no alternative but to conclude the military and government were responsible for the fire bomb attacks on the homes of The Fiji Times editor and a security recruitment agent? That was when Fiji Media Council chairperson Daryl Tarte had this to say:

“The media in Fiji, just as in Australia, is entitled to be be partisan if they want to be. It’s probably more dangerous to be partisan in Fiji than it is in Australia but the fact is that I think most media in Fiji are trying to report as objectively and in a balanced way as they can. It is very dangerous for them not to do so. And the examples of the recent attacks on the editor of The Fiji Times is evidence of this.”

Government accused the media of bias, which it denied. But the only "evidence" about who conducted these crimes was that some men were seen running in the general direction of the military barracks (from Namadi Heights to Nabua), and in another attack, …

New Independent Legal Services Commission

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Former High Court Judge, John Connors is the new Independent Legal Services Commissioner whilst former Secretary to the Fiji Law Society, Afrana Nisha, has been appointed Secretary to the Independent Legal Services Commission.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says “the appointment of a Commissioner to the Independent Legal Services Commission (‘the Commission’) marks a watershed in the legal history of Fiji. Lawyers will now like in Australia be subject to scrutiny by an independent body. Commissioner Connors said, "I think having an Independent Legal Services Commission in Fiji is needed. It will bring Fiji in line with conditions of jurisdictions like New South Wales and Victoria in Australia. Hopefully it will bring a transparent process that makes both the complainants and lawyers feel comfortable,” he said.

Under the Legal Practitioners Decree the Commissioner shall conduct a hearing into the complaints referred to it. The proceedings are open …

Snippets: Yabaki on Dialogue; PM to UN Assembly; PM on Power; Eid; Punja Bio-diesel on Lau

Yabaki Urges Dialogue As The Way Ahead

Citizens' Constitutional Forum leader, Rev.Akuila Yabaki, says the way forward in yet another Fiji crisis is through dialogue. The CCF is still coming to terms with the abrogation of the 1997 Constitution in April, Yabaki said, but continues with its community education program which it started years ago on the themes of human rights, multiculturalism and good governance.

This is being done “even now under the Public Emergency Regulations. The purpose is to create greater public understanding and awareness on democracy, human rights, citizenship and good governance; and encourage greater and constructive participation and contribution of citizens to their own governance and development”. He said as part of this work, the CCF had taken on board the aims of the government’s People’s Charter for Building a Better Fiji, including the sections encouraging dialogue. These include developing a common national identity; building social cohesion throu…

(o+) Bainimarama Seems Disenchanted But to Succeed Dialogue Must Resume: My Opinion

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I have the feeling, having listened to Bainimarama on Maori TV and from several of his recent remarks, that he is now profoundly distrustful of the media and has a very jaundiced view of the whole democratic process. Almost in the same breath when he talks of the need for reforms and unity, he also talks of the need for authoritarian power to effect change. "People," he says, "should follow or get out." And, having said the media is free, he goes on to say free "when they say the right things and do not print rubbish."

I'm in sympathy with his frustration. Almost everything he wants for Fiji has been doubted, ridiculed and opposed by detractors at home and overseas.

He knows no government elected under the old political system would ever have effected the wide reforms he seeks. He knows that many of those opposing him in Fiji have their own personal agendas that have nothing to do with a "return to democracy." He knows that many old politician…

Announcement: New Polls Questions on Companion Blog

Our companion blog, Public Polls on the Fiji Political Situation, posted new poll questions today. Your vote and comments on the presidency, senate, the Great Council of Chiefs and a new Constitution are invited. The results of the earlier two sets of polls may be seen in Blog Archives. Click onHERE in the lefthand column to access the blog.

Dear Mr Qarase

I have never spoken to you although I voted for your candidate in the 2001 elections. I believed then that you were the key to stability and respectability. I was wrong. First you ....
Click here to read the whole letter.

Announcement: Instant Comments

A reader writes: "One of the reasons there may not be the level of comments on this site is because the comments are not published immediately. May I suggest you follow Real Fiji and allow comments to be posted immediately and delete the ones that are vulgar or inappropriate." Many thanks to the reader. I've changed the procedure. You may now make instant comments.

(+) Dissection of the Wilcox Pamatatau NZ TV7 Interview

Browning of white media helps explain Fiji situation – thanks to Julian Wilcox and Richard Pamatatau
Thakur Ranjit Singh* History has shown that countries with a cosmopolitan population but with a dominating mainstream white media tend to create stereotypes that show ethnic minorities or non-whites in negative shadows. That is, until ethnic journalists come in to fill the vacuum and portray a more balanced picture.That in a nutshell depicts coverage, or rather lack of coverage of Fiji by the mainstream New Zealand media.

I must commend Richard Pamatatau for venturing into the lion’s den and getting the first hand information and news on Fiji that the mainstream media in New Zealand has failed to do. David Robie's Cafe Pacific and Media 7 have done their share, among others, in bringing these reports to general public.The reports of Wilcox and Pamatatau have removed the myth that Fiji is a militariased zone with soldiers lurking around every corner. They have seen no evidence or fee…

(+) Minister McCully Claims Travel Ban Effective (sic!)

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NZ Foreign Minister Murray McCully told the NZ Fiji Business Council on Friday that the travel ban on Fiji government and military personnel and their families (but not trade or economic sanctions) is needed, and is clearly effective as seen in "the level of vitriol he has heard expressed against those sanctions.'

Surely, effectiveness would be better measured by a more conciliatory attitude from the Fiji government, by the lifting of the emergency regulations, and more urgent steps taken towards elections. But none of these indicators of effectiveness has occurred. National's rigid ideological stance, inherited paradoxically from its Labour predecessor, has been demonstratively ineffective. And many respected voices have said so, over and over again. The only tangible outcome has been counter-productive: Fiji has been deprived of the skills, experience and advice of people who may otherwise have been senior civil servants.
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The Minister said he is periodically…

Correction: Polls Close Noon Tuesday, Not Monday

The four poll questions on the political situation in Fiji will close soon. Very few people have taken the opportunity to vote and comment on these important issues. Please vote now by clicking on HERE in the Public Polls link to the left. Four new poll questions will be posted tomorrow.

(o) Thoughtful Article on the Record and Role of Fiji's Media

Caught in the Crossfire: Fiji Media and the Coups. This is a balanced and thoughtful short article on the record and role of Fiji's media in the post-Coup situation. The paper is written by two student journalists at USP, and comes highly recommended by this blogger.

(o-) Teleni Has Gone Too Far and Should Be Stopped

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Police Commissioner Esala Teleni (photo) admits the police force is split over measures he has imposed on the force, with next to no consultation, but he has made no move to heal the split. I really can't make any sense of this. Click here for what he has to say.

Why does he think the police force will be improved if it adopts military-style discipline? The two have different roles and different roles require different disciplines.

Why has he banned yaqona (kava) in police residential premises? How off-duty officers spend their leisure should be none of his concern unless they are breaking the law, which they are not. Yaqona is part of the Fijian (and Fiji) way of life. Its occasional abuse should not result in a wholesale ban.

Why has he imposed his evangelising Christian beliefs on Christians of other persuasions, and non Christians? His claim that his Jesus Crusades lower crime rates is an insufficient reason to force Muslim, Hindu and non-New Methodist Christian officers to …