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Showing posts from October 11, 2009

(+) Somare: He Says It, He Says it Not

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Following the meeting of Melanesian leaders in Fiji last week, veteran PNG prime minister Sir Michael Somare (photo) was reported to have said the Fiji economy was picking up, foreign reserves were up dramatically, and everything was slowly returning to normal. Fiji's "dictatorship" was different, he said, as he called on the Pacific Islands Forum countries, particularly Australia and New Zealand, to treat Fiji more leniently and accept Cde Bainimarama. Fiji needed "time to get out of its political mayhem."

RNZI reported Sir Michael as saying post-coup Fiji is like any democratic country ... and Australia and New Zealand should stop shunning Bainimarama.  Australia's Nine News had Somare saying "It will be difficult for them to change but with a lot of explanation and understanding, if Australia and New Zealand see what is happening in Fiji, there could be a change of mind and attitude." Nine News continued: Somare was upbeat on the situation in F…

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

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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.

Politricks I was watching a documentary about politics and was amused when it said that all societies are the same. From politics, to families, to communities, to education and even the church - money is the main driving force.

One example is tobacco. Smoking is bad for the health but we can’t shut the factory down because it generates a lot of excise tax for the government. We put aside health issues for the sake of money. Ironically we spend millions of dollars on people who have been affected by the ills of smoking.

I learnt that all societies are driven by powerful business people. They have the final say because they are the biggest contributors a gov…

"Not Going to Waste Time" Bainimarama

Fiji won't be "wasting time" seeking readmission to the Forum or Commonwealth, says PM, but he was sad Fiji athletes would miss out. Click FBCL - News here.

(+) Grassroots Democracy: Government and the Poor

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Set against the usual run of negative postings from anti-government bloggers and foreign media, it is a pleasure to report Government's positive response to a grassroots petition on school bus fares facilitated by ECREA.


This is the latest in a number of measures taken by Government to ease the lot of the poor.  Earlier measures included legislation on minimum wages (soon to be extended to poorly-paid media workers!),  assistance to urban squatters, rural road developments, islands shipping, Rotuman exports, and support for new rural crops. Government is also urging people to buy Fiji produce to reduce imports and increase local incomes.

For a press release on Government's decision, click here. A month ago Government approved bus fare increases. Click here to read what an anti-government blog had to say.  Read on to see how ECREA persuaded Government to make school bus fares free, at least until the end of the year, and what less prejudiced people had to say.

(+) RadioNZI , Rupert Murdoch, President Obama and The Fiji Times

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The Radio NZInternational heading reads "Fiji Interim Government Sacks its Reformer from Sugar Ministry" but then reports that Parmesh Chand had been relieved of his permanent secretary for the Sugar industry duties in order to concentrate on the reform of the public service.  How is this being sacked?

Half a world away media mogul Rupert Murdoch's Fox News has been banned from interviews at the White House because of persistent negative reporting. The TV channel's latest is that President Obama is a racist (!) and his acceptance of the Nobel Prize for Peace proof that he puts the globe before his country. 

And while you're recovering from that nonsense, ask which paper in Fiji is most hostile to the Interim Government, and before that most hostile to the  Labour Coalition Government deposed by the Speight Coup. Yes. The Fiji Times. And who owns the Times? News Ltd, a subsidiary of  News Corp.  And guess who owns* News Corp? Rupert Murdoch. 

PNG urges Australia, NZ to support Fiji

Snippets: PER, Pryde, Hindus, Rice, World Bank, NLTB, Tourism

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The Public Emergency Regulations have been extended for a further 30 days from 5 October.  No reason was given but it is generally known PER will continue to the end of the year.


Solicitor-General Christopher Pryde (photo, Fiji Village)  is now also the Permanent Secretary for Justice, Anti-Corruption and Electoral Reform, as Lt Col  Pio Tikoduadua becomes the new PS at the Prime Minister's Office.


The Diwalimessage to its 200,000 members from Shree Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha leader Pundit Dewan Maharaj was "work together and move the nation forward."

Flashback: The 2006 Coup and the "Impartiality" of the Media

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Initially, The Fiji Times had no doubt where it stood:
Outrageous and criminal ... We have witnessed how one moment of madness will set this country back by decades. This illegal takeover must end. The democratically elected People's Coalition has to be restored.
The Fiji Times never repeated that message and in fact later in the five weeks appeared to strongly sympathise with the rebels.

The newspapers quickly referred to "self-proclaimed head of state" George Speight when clearly there was only one legitimate President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. Likewise, Ratu Timoci Silatolu was being called "interim prime minister". Just because the elected government was being held hostage, it did not mean that it was no longer the legal government.

The Fiji Times published the only profile about Speight's pyramid sales and insurance career - written by a News Ltd journalist. (A Murdoch News Corporation subsidiary owns The Fiji Times.) (Fiji Times, 2000b) There was no in-d…

(o+) Commonwealth Games Federation Bans Fiji But ...

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The news that the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has banned Fiji from the 2010 Games in New Delhi shows there are always several ways to interpret news events.  Here are some:

Fiji is only the second country in the history of the Games to be banned. Nigeria was the first. Fiji's misdemeanors, therefore, must be judged worse than those of all 71 member countries and territories.  Or perhaps the Commonwealth is less concerned about countries that "legally" breach human rights so long as they hold elections however fake the results. Or perhaps it's just a question of size and influence in which Fiji has no chance against the advocacy of Australia and New Zealand. Or perhaps earlier actions -- by Australia, NZ, the Forum countries, PACER, the Commonwealth Heads of Government, the EU, aided by their respective media -- had done such a good hatchet job isolating Fiji that the CGF decision was a "given" even before it met. Who knows?


Twist in the Tale
But th…

Diwali: "Fiji the Way the World Should Be"

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Some 2,000 mainly Australian tourists arriving in Suva on the Sun Princess today were disappointed the shops were closed due to Fiji Day.  But they were also closed as Indian shopkeepers prepare their shops for the five-day Hindu celebration Diwali (Deepavali) that starts this week. This is the Festival of Lights that brings families together and -- on one of the days when Hindu (and Sikh) families invite their neighbours, friends and colleagues of all faiths to their homes to celebrate --  it also brings together many parts of the nation. 

Then, briefly, Fiji appears to be the "way the world should be" as you sit in the home of your Hindu host and hostess in the company of people of all beliefs. And then perhaps pass through a rural settlement or the peri-urban houses of the Hindu poor after sunset to see porchways and flower gardens lit with lines of diya (wicks in small clay pots filled with oil). Or drive around the wealthier suburbs in the larger towns to see the homes…

Snippets: Travel Ban, Police Christian Crusade, Supposed Bainimarama-Teleni Clash,Melanesian Spearhead Group, Scarr Book Launch on Ratu Mara

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(o) Reddy's Orbital Transit
Coupfourpointfive reports that according to its sources Reserve Bank Governor Sada Reddy, who had intended to transit through Auckland on his way to the IMF meeting in Instanbul, was denied access to NZ because his PR (permanent resident) status had been revoked.  I'd always thought a transit lounge had a different status than normal entries through immigration and customs.  No matter, Reddy got to Instanbul via South Korea. Photo: Reserve Bank building, Suva.


(+) Reddy's Economic Initiatives
NZ's Indian News Link reports on Sada Reddy's plans for the Fiji economy.

(-+)Teleni's Police Christian Crusade
RawFijiNewsclaims it had "been reliably informed that the reasons behind the 24 hr change by the Fiji Police Force to switch its proposed, planned and confirmed Police Crusade to a Police Roadshow was because Police Chief Teleni was ordered by Bainimarama to do so otherwise he has to find himself another job." The blog saw this a…

(G) Fiji Day 10.10.09

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Saturday was the 39th anniversary of Fiji Independence.  Celebations started on Friday and will continue to Monday which is a national holiday. The crux of PM Bainimarama's address to the nation was that all Fiji citizens need to work together in order for Fiji to move forward. “If we want to create a better country for ourselves," he said,  "we all need to work harder – and smart – think outside the box and make positive paradigm shift. We need to find suitable solutions together to our deep-rooted problems.

“The theme for our celebrations this year, of Educating Fiji Towards Change Peace and Progress , affords us all an opportunity to strive forward in purpose and confidence to move Fiji into a non-racial – culture vibrant – united – well governed and truly democratic nation – where the marginalized and disadvantaged in our society are uplifted and fully participate in a modern progressive society.” --  Fiji Broadcasting Corporation