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Showing posts from June 13, 2010
Weekend Reading -- Lessons from Thailand and Zimbabwe; Allen Lockington.

When All is Not Black and White: Lessons from Zimbabwe

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I was at Auckland airport, just having returned from Fiji last week (of that more later), when I picked up a discarded copy of The Dominion Post* opened at "Mugabe's Uneasy Ally Pleads for Kiwi Cricket Tour." Intrigued -- and thinking there could be a lesson here for New Zealand and Fiji -- I read on.   Photo: David Coltart and Permanent Secretary Stephen Mahere.

David Coltart is the only White member of Zimbabwe's Cabinet, a member of a breakaway faction of Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party that shares power in a shakily-brokered truce with Mugabe's Zanu PF party; and he is the country's leading human rights lawyer. He's been threatened with imprisonment, survived an assassination attempt, and a number of his supporters and clients have "disappeared."

How is it possible, I wondered, that this man is in a cabinet headed by one of the world's worst human rights abusers? A man responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands, who ruthlessly c…

City in Flames: Some Parallels with Fiji

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The extracts below come from a long, analytical article on the complex political situation in Thailand, a situation shaped by its rich history and economic success, its extremes of wealth and poverty, the tangled class intrigues and changing loyalties, vote-buying, corruption, the role of the military -- and how this incredible paradoxical complexity has been simplified and written up by the Western media.  Vinaka, Cornelius, for recognizing similarities with the Fiji political situation, and how it is reported by the Western media, and for sending me  this link to the full story.

Extract 1. "This is what the western press see as the source of the conflict that has torn the heart out of central Bangkok over the past few months. The consensus being that this is the rural poor trying to wrestle political control from the wealthy elite who will not give up their privileges easily.

"This is Fleet Street Foreign journalism 101 with the golden rule being that you had to separate t…

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.
Yasawa Boat Fares
There have been many queries from travellers to the Yasawa Group. We feel that there are some inconsistencies, and would really like the Consumer Council or whichever authority is tasked with the job,  to come in and just check the fare structure, and how freight on cargo is charged. Passengers baggage is usually opened to determine the freight charge and different people are charged different fares. This is rather unusual but the carriers may have an explanation. Travellers would like to know why this is done.
From the many queries I've heard about, I feel there is something unusual going on. There are a couple of service prov…

Radio New Zealand International Stands Accused

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On June 9th I published a response to an item in Coupfourpointfive, taken from the Fiji Labour Party website, in which the FLP held the Bainimarama Government responsible for Fiji's economic woes. In my response I agreed political uncertainty was a factor but pointed to other causes including the poor state of the economy prior to the 2006 Coup, the need to borrow to repair a long-neglected infrastructure, the global recession, the effect of sanctions and travel bans, and major floods and a hurricane. 

The FLP responded on the 17th by stating that the "root cause of our fast declining economy is the refusal of the regime to enter into inclusive political dialogue to chalk out an acceptable roadmap back to elections and constitutional rule within an agreed time frame - well before 2014 announced by Commodore Bainimarama."  I reported this response in full. See  "FLP Fiddles" below.

It is interesting to see what happened next because it provides a further insight…

Public Service Reforms, Monitoring Charter Progress, FLP Fiddles

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(G) MAJOR CHANGES TO PUBLIC SERVICE. The PM  admits government plans to progressively outsource many activities presently undertaken by the public sector could see job losses, but he hopes  that many workers made redundant will be absorbed by companies taking up government works.

An Outsourcing Policy is being developed for the whole of the civil service as part of Government's institutional reform agenda. This will help to reduce operating expenditure; make available more resources for essential capital expenditure, and encourage private investment for growth in jobs and income.

The PM  has asked the Public Service Commission to conduct wide ranging consultations across the civil service in the development of the Outsourcing Policy, and identify priority areas for outsourcing and implications on staffing. My understanding is that the Public Service Association is not being consulted about these changes; previous PSC efforts to engage the Association having failed.

(G) CHARTER IMP…

Announcement: You Must Use Your Real Name or a Pseudonym to Comment

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Using a pseudonym is absolutely confidential.  There is no way they can be traced. But they give each person commenting an identity to which to relate and respond. Discussion is difficult when more than one person uses Anonymous as their "name."  I've been a little lax lately in allowing anonymous comments because some were too good to delete,  but from now on I'll revert to blocking or deleting  comments without a real name or pseudonym.  Your opinions are important, so please do not use Anonymous.

Click on the Name/URL button and enter your pseudonym.   Thank you "Cornelius" for the  graphic. Do NOT click on Anonymous.

President Visits Lau, R C Manubhai Retaliates, New Company Decree, Two Economic Challenges, Budget Review, Typhoid Update, Fuel Prices Drop

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PRESIDENT VISITS LAU GROUP. Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, accompanied by the Commissioner Eastern, Colonel Ifereimi Vasu, and government officials, started the visit of Lau yesterday with a traditional welcoming ceremony at Vanuabalavu. He will visit Nayau and Lakeba today, Vanuavatu and Oneata on Thursday, Moce and Kabara on Friday, Fulaga and Vatoa on Saturday, Ono-i-Lau on Sunday and Matuku on Monday. It is his intention to visit all 14 provinces  and Rotuma over the next few months.

The next two items show Government is still pursuing the "clean up" campaign it announced prior to taking power in 2006. Widespread, endemic corruption  makes a poor bedmate for democracy.
HARDWARE SAGA. Recent news about the hardware industry should raise few eyebrows. One large company was implicated in the Agricultural Scam that had the ousted Qarase government buying agricultural equipment for village distribution in order to win votes. Two weeks back the Commerce Commission started enquiries in…

Reform void ‘aided institutional failure’

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There has been a shocking history of corporate and institutional failure in Fiji because there has not been any fundamental reform in the area of corruption law says former Fiji High Court judge Nazhat Shameem.

Addressing the Fiji Institute of Accountants Congress in Sigatoka this weekend, Shameem put across a strong case for the creation of the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) in 2007 and this year’s Crimes Decree as milestones in Fiji’s fight against corruption.

She noted that despite corporate and institutional failures such as the National Bank of Fiji collapse and the agriculture scam, there were no new laws enacted in the past 20 years, up to 2007, and no new institutions created either under the Companies Act or in relation to corporate bodies, to investigate corruption.

“So people stopped believing in the justice system as something that will deliver,” she said.

“And I’m not just talking about the changing of the laws. I’m talking about the changing of t…

Human Rights, Typhoid Update, Mining in Vanua Levu, Service Charter, Murdoch Press in Trouble, Bond Repayment, Tourism Up

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JUDICIARY AND HUMAN RIGHTS. Fiji has informed the UN Human Rights Council that its judiciary is independent from political interference and all citizens have the right to a fair trial. Fiji will not revoke the Human Rights Decree, as urged by the Council's review team (that was concerned about the Public Emergency Regulations, the Media Decree, the judiciary and the return to parliamentary rule) because "it is the only legislation in existence that ensures by law the continued existence of the Fiji Human Rights Commission. Government is committed to implement the Human Rights Decree and to fill vacancies that continue to exist mainly due to travel restrictions currently imposed by a few of Fiji’s neighbors." Fiji accepted 97 of the 103 recommendations set out by the HRC on Feb. 11. Permanent Representative to the European Union, Peceli Vocea has asked for understanding of Fiji’s situation at the 14th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.  Fiji has a 10-y…