News and Comments for Thursday 2 October

Boundaries of responsibility 
SWAMPED BY READERS' COMMENTS. Readers are reminded that  much more attention will be given in this blog to readers' opinions and suggestions on how to take Fiji forward. The only restrictions are that readers must use their real name or a pseudonym and not engage in personal vendettas. This last week we have had comment on issues 1-5: how should the Government, SODELPA , NFP and the NGOs respond to the new political situation. I urge all readers to read them. Without wishing to single out one commentator, the opinions of "Taxi driver" take some beating.

My intention, starting tomorrow Friday or over the weekend, is to summarise the comments each week and bring them to the attention of the appropriate people.

UNCLEAR BOUNDARIES BETWEEN POLICE AND MILITARY RESPONSIBILITIES.. There have been conflicting reports on on the arrest of Bilitaki. This is my take on what happened. Josefa  Bilitaki (60) was arrested for an alleged offence of annoyance (presumably his text messages to the PM) by a "task team" of four soldiers (who had no authority to make an arrest) last Friday night and taken to the Totogo Police Station in Suva.  He was not beaten up, as the social media claims, and was released the next afternoon suffering from an unrelated health issue and taken to the CWM Hospital where he received treatment for high blood pressure.

Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald has visited Josefa in hospital and says he is in a satisfactory condition.  The PC berated people for jumping to conclusions about what they read in the social media (but the matter may not have come to his attention had they not spoken up). He is satisfied Josefa was not assaulted, and he is most concerned about the action of the military ("The interference of military personnel in policing issues is unacceptable and will be discussed with the relevant authority.") The "case is under investigation and will be submitted to the Office of the Director Public Prosecutions" when completed.

Meanwhile,  Amnesty International (assuming the social media complaint was valid, and ever quick to jump on any demeaning story from Fiji) is calling on the authorities to urgently investigate events leading up to Mr Bilitaki's hospitalisation  This is already taking place.  If, however, the PC's report is accurate, there was no assault and no reason for AA concern.

The real concern is that junior officers became involved (how did they know about the text messages to thje PM?) and then took it on themselves to act in what should have been solely a police matter.  A military spokesman, obviously referring to this case,  has urged people with complaints against the military to report to the police. He did not say whether any action was being taken against the officers involved in Josefa's arrest.

The  boundaries of responsibility between the police and the military need to be spelt out very clearly.  Based partly on the Fiji Times report.

WIDE 2015 BUDGET CONSULTATION. More than one hundred and twenty representatives from the business, government, opposition and other sectors have been invited to participate in a special budget forum this weekend to prepare the 2015 national budget. And this, surely, is a good thing.

Finance Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says participants will be able to move around and make contributions to the different groups after the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji makes a presentation. This obviously will have an impact on the budget input that we will have. Once they break out into the groups we will have about 2 and an half hours of that then we will come together as a group and take away some concrete suggestions that may be made and a coming together of minds on how we as a nation tackle the years to come in terms of positioning ourselves well. The Special Budget Forum will be held at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva on Saturday.

OPPOSITION SHOULD GET PRIORITIES RIGHT. Invited but they may not be there.  Ro Teimumu has not confirmed she will be present at the Budget consultation and Dr Biman  Prasad has a prior engagement in the West.  One might have thought, and hoped, their attendance would have been at the top of their priorities.

Biman, however, has issued a list of what he wants considered: VAT dropped to 10%,  reduction of import duty on a number of food items, an increase in the Social Pension Allowance, a means-tested scholarship scheme, changes to school grant allocations, and special budgetary package for crop rehabilitation in the drought stricken areas of the Western and Northern divisions and the maritime region, introduce a minimum guaranteed price of $85 per tonne of cane and to provide sugarcane farmers with a subsidy of up to 50% for inputs such as fertilizer and weedicides.

TRADE UNION AND MUNICIPALITY ELECTIONS. All trade union elections could be next on the list for the Fijian Elections Office.

Under the Electoral Decree, after the completion of the first general election, the Fijian Elections Office shall be responsible for the conduct of elections of all trade unions, municipalities and such other elections as determined by the Minister. Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem says his office is now waiting for the Attorney General to Gazette the trade union elections.

MEDIA MISUSES FREEDOM: Veteran Bougainville President John Momis could be speaking about some of the overseas media coverage on Fiji.

 "I think Jubilee Australia should really apologise for misleading the people of Australia and in so doing they are also undermining the authority of this fledgling government of Bougainville which is trying to create unity and rule of law and getting people to accept responsibility for their own decisions and not be misled by damaging statements which have no foundation in truth." 

He was speaking about a non-representative survey that conclude the people of Bougainville did not want the Paguna mine reopened,

Comments

Anonymous said…
Mosese Tikoitoga has 'no comment' to make with regard to the actions of the four-man military 'task group' who took in Bilitaki. I take this to mean that he does not deny that his men did so. If so, what are soldiers doing interfering in Police matters? How did they know that Bilitaki did inmdeed send a text message to the PM? No doubt the issue will be raised in Parliament and the relevant Minister (Natuva) will have some explaining to do. Bring on the parliamentary Question Time!

Bill Wadely
Crosbie Walsh said…
Bill ... Please look at :Reply as:",, click the down arrow and then "Name/URL". . Write your name, then click "Publish." No more Anonymous pl;ease , even with your name at the bottom. Others, who don't read carefully, will think I'm accepting some Anons and not others.
Bill (the Kid) Wadely said…
OK, will do. Profuse apologies for being technologcally challenged1
Taxi Driver said…
Croz,

Once again thanks for allowing us little people to contribute too in you honorable blog.

Please accept my humble apologies if my previous suggestions are of no value.

Thank you Sir.

Please tell me honestly if I can continue with more suggestions - as I don't know whether it's significant enough or I should try very very hard to raise my level of suggestions as issues I’m bringing up maybe small time issues. Your guidance will be much appreciated Sir.
Taxi Driver said…
Croz,

In case my suggestions are OK with you..............

Last night I picked a passenger and he said that he worked for a computer company. I asked him about his work and he explained the fascinating things he does as a computer programmer in the company he works for. (To be honest I didn’t know we have Fijians who are well qualified in this field working right here in Fiji). Anyway what he said triggered my thoughts and as I dropped him off; my mind started ‘drifting’ away. So here’s my suggestion for Govt.:

I would like to suggest that Govt.’s ‘Computer’ Dept. work with the ‘Lawyers’ Dept in drawing up a legal agreement so that they can engage and partner a computer company in Fiji.

Although I have very little knowledge on computers my suggestion is first for Govt. to partner a computer company and write up some computer programmes that can assist Govt in:

a) Setting up some small databases that can assist Ministries and in turn these Ministries inform the public about their statistics and performance and other important information so can help in decision making. E.g.:
- Information of the various types of State Land like how many residential, commercial and farm lands. Those earning income and those lying idle.
- Information on the Govt. quarters, income earned for the various quarters, maintenance costs for each quarters and time it was idle.
- Information on the various medical equipments like those in good condition and those needing urgent replacement and those not yet available or needing upgrading.
- Information on the number of Govt. vehicles and its usage, fuel consumption, repair costs and age. Some are very old and from my experience better to sell as maintenance cost in my view can be very high.
- Information on the number of court cases where people being fined are identified and those not paying fine.
- Etc. (But Govt. will need to ask all Ministries to identify so all can be known)

b) Setting up computer programmes that are ‘tailor’ made and can assist in small business management and accounting schemes Govt. is engaged in. E.g.:
- In Prisons the computer programme can help in assisting officers in properly recording and managing all their business dealings.
- In RFMF this computer programme can help the Section in charge of the business schemes and the Section in charge of the construction works.
- In Min. of Agriculture/Forestry/Fisheries it can help the Section selling any seedling plants, dalo tops, fertilizers, ice, etc.
- Etc. (But Govt. will need to ask all Ministries to identify so all can be known)

The benefits for Govt is that this computer programmes will assist with effectiveness and efficiency of the operation.

Second, Govt can ensure that the deal with this company is that all programmes written and used in all Ministries remain the co-property of Govt. and this particular Fiji Company. So if it’s used or copied anywhere some income can be received from it.

Imagine if Govt. and this company work together and sell computer programmes to other Govt. Ministries in all Pacific Island countries our revenue will surely increase. And if a good fee is charged for its use every year then Govt can earn ‘free’ money every year like that rich guy Bill Gates.

Well that is just a suggestion and hope is of some value.

Thank you Sir.
Taxi passenger said…
Driver - love your work.

Can I ask for a discount on the fare please. I only have enough for bus fare but I take taxi to listen to you.

Vinaka

Your #1 fan
Crosbie Walsh said…
@ Taxi driver... Your comments are more than welcome; they are invaluable. So much thought and originality. Keep them coming I will promote some to postings where more people can read them. I'd also like you to consider writing a regular piece on topics of your choice that I could publish weekly .as I do for Allen Lockington's short pieces. If you are interested, please contact me in confidence by email croz.walsh@xtra.co.nz .
Bill Wadely said…
@ Croz,

I see you have deleted a posting on a posting I made about the need for a Defence Review to address the blurring of Police roles vis a vis the Military. I am sorry of you found it unworthy to be put up on this sister, even though the suggestion is a good one that democratic countries use to define their defence capability. I guess you find the subject irrelevant and I respect your right not to print it.

I agree that Taxi Driver has some good ideas that deserve publication. But his grovelling tone has earned him prime position over others in this site. Quite frankly, his grovelling makes me want to throw up.

I think I may just butt out once and for all from this site.

All the best and thanks for the opportunity to comment, some of which do not meet your high standards.

Vinaka & Ni a moce
Bill Wadely said…
@ Ratu Naita. Ni bula vinaka na wekaqu. Me vaka era dau tukuna mai na koro ni ra sa sinai mai, "O au, sa'u qai". Dina ni so na vakasama vinaka e biuta mai na draiva ni 'Picardilly Taxi', ia sa laurai votu na tabetabe e tiko vua. Mani biu vakatikitiki na nodaru talanoa baleta ni nanuma beka na i'taukei ni sala ni veivosaki qoka ni tawakilikili.

Ni kalougata i'saka tiko na turaga na Maheki.

Over and Out
Crosbie Walsh said…
Bill, I'm sorry that I deleted your comments on the military review.It was not intentional. Please re-submit. Oh, and all comments in English please (or, at least with an English translation). BW, Croz
Taxi Driver said…
Thank you Croz for your comments.

It is really an honor Sir to hear your offer.

For now I hope it's OK if I please be allowed to write the way I've been.

I believe Allen is way above my level - very smart fellow that guy - and writes very interesting pieces.

Maybe one day I'll have the honour of meeting him and he can teach me a few things about writing short pieces. When he sees that I've passed then maybe I'll consider your 'once in a lifetime opportunity' offer. Hope that it is OK with you Sir.

Taxi Driver said…
Bill please accept my apologies if I have offended you Sir.

It wasn't my intention.

Anyway, I think a problem the RFMF may have is that they swear allegiance to the President.

Maybe they should change this and swear allegiance to protecting the Constitution.

Just a thought.
Taxi Driver said…
Croz,

With regards to the above suggestion of Govt. selling its computer programmes to Pacific Islands.

I suggest that after Govt. sells these computer programmes Govt. can also consider strengthening its relations with all Pacific countries. Govt. can form close relationships on a Ministry to Ministry level and work out ways of addressing common challenges from the statistics and database and financial information that is produced from these computer programmes. E.g.

- Prisons Dept. can form a working relationship with other Prisons Dept. in the Pacific and they may meet in a Conference every year and address common challenges and ways of improving their services so they can add more value to the services they are currently providing.

A passenger I took a few weeks ago said that these types of conferences for Pacific Island countries really do assist as all participants are encouraged to discuss common problems and identify ways of meeting/mitigating them.

These relationships and conferences between Pacific Island countries can also eventuate to Fiji sending our very own officers on work attachment in these countries and helping our Pacific Island neighbors out. This way, Fiji can really be seen as a leading nation that takes other island nations by the hand with a very caring attitude and leads them to 'greener pastures'.

Well that's just a thought I hope may be considered by Govt.

Thanks.
Taxi Driver said…
Croz,

May I please offer an alternative arrangement.

I would be very honored if Mr. Allen Lockington please use my ideas/suggestions and present it in his own original pieces as he a much better writer than I and I find his pieces very interesting to read.

Maybe Allen can figure out how this can work.

Looking forward to your assistance on this Mr. Lockington Sir.
Crosbie Walsh said…
I'll contact Allen with your suggestion. Bear in mind, though, that my offer still stands.

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