Friday, July 28, 2006

Running Free-Catch me if you can.
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Modus Operandi-Running Free

The attempt by Fiji P.M to refloat the controversial and reworded Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity (R.T.U)Bill is another reminder that the ghosts of 2000 have yet to be laid to rest.
Insert-Minister of Vice- Naiqama Lalabalavu(M.P Cakaudrove) and Sam Tikonaisau (M.P Tailevu and brother of George Speight-2000 coup leader) both of whom been involved with the 2000 post-coup events.

It is apparent the S.D.L party, provides political buoyancy to the R.T.U Bill which is bound to create another wedge in Fiji society. S.D.L has some support from some circles of the Fiji media like the political editor of Fiji Sun, Messr Maika Bolatiki.

This is an excerpt of his article.

Push for new-look RTU Bill

By Maika Bolatiki
Political Editor

The Multi-Party Government will table a new look Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill in the near future. The President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo in his address at the opening of parliament said: "The Promotion of Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill, introduced last year, will be brought back to Parliament with a largely revised framework for further consideration. It will take full account of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Sector Committee which held wide consultations with the people." The Prime Minister, Mr Laisenia Qarase has confirmed that a new Bill will be submitted to parliament with changes including significant amendments to the Amnesty provisions.

A new round of public hearings is likely, he said at the Joint Session of National Advisory Council for Indian and Minority Communities at the Tradewinds Convention Center last month. This follows the negative comments directed at the Amnesty clause of the proposed Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill. "We repeatedly emphasized that there would be no general amnesty and that other parts of the Bill were of equal or even greater importance.

These provisions were virtually ignored by the critics." Prime minister Qarase said. The Prime Minister made it clear that they had an open mind about the public debate and attached great importance to the view of the people with changes, improvement and clarification to be made, as necessary. He reiterated that one of the Bill's vital section concerns the appointment of a permanent Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Council, with its own legislation.

"It will replace the existing Council for National Reconciliation and Unity, which does not have any special legal foundation or power," he said "The new Council will play an important part in our National effort to bridge divisions between our communities." The Council will adopt a National policy for National Reconciliation and have the authority to take specific initiates for achieving greater multi-cultural understanding The Prime Minister is optimistic that the granting of amnesty to those who were involved would enable them to tell the whole truth about what had transpired.

It is a fact that the nation is still haunted by the ghost of the May 2000 political upheaval. Both the Fiji Labour Party and the National Federation Party are totally against the Bill, but had strongly backed the call by Commissioner of Police Andrew Hughes for a Commission of Inquiry In a statement by FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry, he said the government should institute a public inquiry to establish the truth of what happened in 2000 and key players behind the terrorist activities.

"The unlawful takeover of parliament, the 56-day hostage crisis and the months of violence and mayhem that followed, wrecked the economy brought untold suffering to thousands of innocent people and led to loss of lives," Mr Chaudhry said."Although some people have been persecuted and convicted for their part of the coup, a lot still needs to be revealed We still don't know who the real instigators were, nor have we tracked down the financiers of the coup."

The same call had also been echoed by Josefa Nata, one of the key players in the political upheaval of May 2000. He is now serving a life sentence at Nukulau. The FLP leader said that the party knew that former coup-convict Maciu Navakasuasua is also prepared to testify before an inquiry. According to Mr Chaudhry the people of Fiji want an inquiry. Government he says must take heed of this. It should stop wasting time and money on the controversial RTU Bill, stop releasing people convicted of coup-related crimes and set up a national inquiry, headed by an eminent jurist, into the events of 2000.

Let us take a look at how amnesty will be granted under this Bill and I'm looking at the Bill that was tabled in parliament last year. First of all I will clarify why amnesty was granted to those involved in the 1987 coup and not to those involved in the 2000 coup. 1987 coup leader and former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka said the only difference between the two coups was that the 1987 coup leader managed to exercise control of the country and actually ran an effective "government' albeit "defacto". He managed to run the government with the army and police and the Courts, which were sworn- in. As a result, the position of the Queen in Fiji became "untenable" and Her Majesty's representative here, acknowledging that, resigned, effectively heralding in the new system of a republican government headed by a Military - appointed and supported administration which enabled the transition from the "defacto" state to a "dejure" state, allowing the Military to appoint a President of the Republic.

The 2000 attempt failed to take control of anything and could not exercise any authority to eclipse the legitimate authority of the land.
2000 coup leader George Speight and his supporters according to Mr Rabuka took on something they knew nothing about. The military intervened but the alternative was for them to have disregarded the request of the former President not to be asked to return to the Presidency, and for the Army to restore law and order, return Ratu Sir Kamisese to the Presidency and allow him then to negotiate with Mr. Chaudhry on the way forward.

There was no police investigation against Mr Rabuka and the military about the 1987 coup because they became the law. They were granted amnesty and this was included in the 1990 Constitution and also in the 1997 Constitution. However, there is a great difference in the amnesty section of the Unity Bill. In the current legislation, prisoners could be freed under compulsory supervision order (CSO). This is under the discretion of the Commissioner of Prisons, under the Prerogative of Mercy and under the directive of the Minister for Home Affairs.

Let us have a look at why the granting of amnesty in the new Bill is totally different from the amnesty granted to Mr Rabuka and his colleagues. When they were granted amnesty, they did not make any revelation to the public or a committee as to why they carried out the coup. For amnesty to be granted to someone imprisoned for his involvement in the 2000 coup he will have to make an application to the Commission. Upon receiving an application for amnesty, the Commission may - * reject the application if it is trivial, frivolous or vexatious or that it relates to an act which is not connected with a political objective or on the ground that it is an act committed outside the designated period; or * refer the application to the Amnesty Committee to hear the application. For the applicant, he must successfully argue that an act was associated with a political objective and was not purely criminal. If the argument is not accepted, there will be no amnesty. There has to be a full and truthful disclosure under oath of all the relevant facts. If a lie is told, perjury is committed.

Without this full disclosure, there is no amnesty. The country needs to know the truth about the events of 2000. This is government's last bid for reconciliation and unity. Mr Chaudhry is also party to the political upheaval after he had ignored the advice by the police of a possible coup and that no permit for marches should be granted.

The granting of amnesty will persuade the people involved in the coup to come forward and relate the whole truth of what had happened. Mr Chaudhry in supporting the Commission of Inquiry supports the revelation of the whole truth about the May 2000 upheaval. This is what will also be achieved in the RTU Bill when it is enacted. It is a fact that the FLP leader supports the RTU Bill through a Commission of Inquiry. We should be happy that the Prime Minister has confirmed the amnesty section will be amended.

Point of correction, F.L.P leader has never supported the R.T.U Bill. Messr Chaudary has indicated his support for the commission of inquiry. To report that the F.L.P leader is supportive of the R.T.U Bill without stating when or where this comment was made; underlines the obtuse reporting by Fiji Sun's political editor. There is a demarcating line between the two issues. It is disconcerting to see these lines intentionally blurred by the Fiji media, acting on a hidden agenda that is far divorced from the intentions of the people of Fiji.

The article writer contradicts himself- by initially stating that the new R.T.U Bill has withdrawn amnesty provisions. Yet in the last paragraph, "Without this full disclosure, there is no amnesty".
By the writer's own words, the Amnesty provision still exists. Although, there are some conditions like providing truth disclosure of the events they participated in, to a relatively unknown committee.

As far as S.i.F.M is concerned, this watered-down bill is still unacceptable and makes a mockery of the rule of law.

R.T.U Bill's intentions are noble to a select few, yet appears grossly malicious in nature to the silent majority.
What if the R.T.U sub-committee are also the same members of parliament, who have been investigated for their participation in the post coup events? Keeping in mind that the trial for the 2000 coup planners and executioners, is yet to be undertaken. It would be a great injustice, a slap in the face of the law abiding, honest and hard working people of Fiji to have this R.T.U Bill supersede existing jurisprudence.

Home Affairs C.E.O, Lesi Korovalavala has taken upon himself to spearpoint any media criticisms of this Bill, by conveniently labeling it as sensationalism.

Judging from the C.E.O's narrow definition, he would even label the vitriolic attack of the visiting Princess Anne as sensationalism. As well as the Fiji's national netball team's win over South Africa recently.

The words of the Korovalavala is also an indication that the gaunlet has been dropped against detractors. S.i.F.M is always delighted to pick it up, on behalf of the silent majority, the common people of Fiji.

Here is the reworded inscription of the statue of liberty, that sums up S.i.F.M's general philosophy.

"Give me [the issues of] your tired, your poor,
Your [concerns of intolerance, for the]huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The [tears of injustice from the]wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these [reports of abuse and degradation], the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp[of knowledge] beside the golden door [of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness]."

Click here for live cam of the Statue of Liberty.

Club Em Designs

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Tribes Wanted-Dead or Alive.

Monasavu landowners after winning their Supreme Court case against Fiji Electriity Authority for the use of their ancestral lands.

The much touted TRIBES WANTED project has embarked on a media blitz to fluff up their mediocre business model. This was a much needed reaction(on their part) to repair their fragile profile, after being analysed negatively on the blogosphere.
Although the Jem report mentioned that the Tribes Wanted project is a LLC(Limited Liability Company)which technically isolates the owners from financial loses. It may be arguable that any legal tort filed for environment degradation or civil liability still has weight.
For an example if, someone is hurt during their stay and eventually dies; who should be taken to task. Is it the Vorovoro island chief or the Tribes Wanted project organizers?

Club Em Designs

Island Style-Footwear security.

My brother in law who resides in Sydney, Australia sent me this picture.

TRi-CIRCLE brand, a Chinese made padlock. For more security, "LOCKWOOD" brand (which is made in Australia) padlock is recommended.

Judging from the wear on those flip-flops and the heel impressions, this pair has definately been around the block. Could it be a lucky pair of flipflops?

As supply and demand equation goes, if that flip-flop was the last one on the planet-the price of this cost-effective footwear, astronomically increases.

Club Em Designs

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Conflict of Interest

Clash of ideals- doctored image of the 2000 Fiji-post coup violence.

The root cause of the coup is land and the abuse of landowners. That issue was hijacked by provocateurs(using the agendas of the influential who had something to lose)the same circle who intended to take advantage of the situation using controlled chaos. This is when Liberty dies!

After numerous postings on S.i.F.M on the stained track record of dubious business practices by the trust administrator of native lands in Fiji. It appears that landowners are raising their level of vigilance with the Native Lands Trust Board (N.L.T.B). The same organization that has been breaching the cardinal rules of management ethical standards-conflict of interests.

Copy of the Fiji Times article on the issue.

Landowners query board loyalty
Monday, July 24, 2006

THE Native Lands Trust Board was last week required to provide landowners of one of the country's largest tourism developments the reassurance that they are committed to protecting landowners' interests.

NLTB's Deputy General Manager Operations, Semi Tabakanalagi was swamped with concerns regarding the loyalty of the board during a meeting with landowners from Sanasana Village in Sigatoka.

Seven landowning units from the village own the land on which the Natadola Marine Resort project is currently being developed. A delegation led by Mr Tabakanalagi traveled to the village on Thursday to address grievances raised by landowners.

However, during the meeting Mr Tabakanalagi and his team were bombarded with claims that the board was working more with the project developers and either ignoring or sacrificing landowners' interests.

Landowners' spokesman, former cabinet minister and senator, Apisai Tora said the four units he was representing were concerned about their rights and interests being sacrificed to ensure the project continued.

Mr Tora said a major concern of landowners was Keni Dakuidreketi's position with NLTB while being the main developer for the project.

"This is a clear case of conflict of interest and this has raised a lot of eyebrows within the landowning units of Sanasana."

"Since Mr Dakuidreketi is the main developer, we are concerned that all decisions made by the board would be made to see that the project went ahead regardless of whether our rights were sacrificed," he said.

"Even though NLTB is our trustee, it seems that it is pushing the company's interests," said Mr Tora.

"We have some grievances with several works that the developers are carrying out so how do you expect us to trust that the board will address our concerns when the developer is sitting on the board," Mr Tora asked.

Attempts to contact Mr Dakuidreketi yesterday were unsuccessful.

But Mr Tabakanalagi said there was nothing to worry about because the board always fought for the rights and interests of landowners. He promised that no decision would be made in favor of the developers because Mr Dakuidreketi was a member of the board.

"You do not have to worry about Mr Dakuidreketi because that is our job to see that he carries out his duties properly. NLTB is always for the landowners and your rights and interests are always our priority," Mr Tabakanalagi said.

The incumbent concerned involves Messr Keni Dakuidreketi, a trained realtor with a business inclination, his latest dealings exposes his tenuous position.
Dakuidreketi founded Fiji's office of Axiom-Rolle-a New Zealand real estate icon eyeing the pristine land in Fiji, in order to further increase their take. Undoubtedly, a universal measure of greed.
Dakudreketi a frequent proxy used by Native Lands Trust Board usually to reinforce their shaky legal position. As well as providing a vehicle to transport the scape goats of shifty land deals.

Vanua Development Corporation Limited - The Board approved the establishment of this investment Company with immediate effect. The Board also approved the appointment of the Directors for the Board:

1. Mr Keni Dakuidreketi, NLTB Board - Chairman
2. Mr Nalin Patel, G Lal & Co - Director
3. Mr Daniel Whippy, Carpenters Fiji Ltd - Director
4. Mr Isoa Kaloumaira, Fijian Trust Fund - Director
5. Mr Kalivati Bakani, NLTB GM - Director

The Company is expected to commence operations from early 2004, following Government's approval of an interest-free loan of $1m to finance the Company. Other current investments of NLTB will be transferred to the Company. Initially the NLTB will be the sole shareholder. It is envisaged that this will be opened up to landowners in future. The primary objective of the Company is to invest in viable, profitable ventures, generating additional revenue for the Board. Over time this may lead to a reduction in poundage increasing distributable funds to landowners.

It is rather disconcerting to find out that professionals in the system abusing their priviledges. It is a matter worth noting that, none of the board of director of this Vanua Corporation are actually native landowners. They are representatives of the investors who have bought off the corrupt executives of N.L.T.B, at the expense of the lowest common denominator in the complex land equation.
The new marina development unfolding at Denarau.

Another development entity that Dakuidreketi has his paws already is the Natadola tourism project. Dakuidreketi is deeply involved with APRIL Development exploits in Fiji. Here is an excerpt of their project description, sourced from Time Share Beat.

FIJI: April Development, a subsidiary of Euro Asia Management Group, is looking to develop a world class integrated resort of over 327 hectares (808 acres) with a variety of recreational and resort options at their Natadola Marine Resort site, a stunning natural bay with white sand beaches on the Coral Coast on the main island of Viti Levu. The resort will include:
Hotels of different class and concept (all ocean front)
18-hole Golf Course
Vacation Ownership Resorts
Second-Home Developments
Multi use Resort Communities
The site is located on the South West Coast of Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji, about 50 km to Nadi International Airport (45 minutes). It's one of those places that when you look at picture of it you just want to be there...

Hiking trails on the Nakauvadra range, Ra.

Although, the issue of creating a minimum wage level in Fiji is a welcomed initiative, it must be understood that without enforcement provisions; this law will be self-defeating. On the other hand, the author of the report has raised a caveat that this new wage level should not be forced upon employers. Narsey further adds that if the employer decides not to implement minimum wage then, it must provide proof and be open for their accounts for auditing.

Two main points of contention by S.i.F.M is that:
1.) What measures are in place to ascertain that employers do not have two or three sets of books?
2.)What is the purpose of a national minimum wage when there are loop holes of enforcement and administration?

Club Em Designs

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Tunnel Vision of Pacific Trade.

Foreign Affairs Minister: Kaliopate Tavola.

Ambassador to the U.S has some novel ideas up his sleeve to widen Fiji's profile in Washington. Ideas aside, the real substance which turn heads are exceptionally great products. Be it Water, Furniture or Movies that is the basic degree of excellence that exporters must be continually aware of. No amount of marketing can ever attract or retain a loyal customer base.

Fiji's SPARTECA agreement with Australia needs a closer inspection, after the matter was covered in the Fiji news recently. The Fiji Garment industry are adamant that that the clause of local content attached to many of Australia's trade deals, unfairly burdens them by the high costs of many Australian textiles.

An example of this demand is: Australia wants all business suits to contain 50% Australian made textiles like wool or cotton. A cheap way of contracting residual revenue and protecting the domestic market from foreign competition.
Despite the Australian Government's job of disguising these trade barriers under some gray legal justifications, these trade barriers are the hindrance to the development of Pacific economies.
Report on Australian Security in 21st Century South Pacific.

Australia has many complaints made against their unethical trade policies. World Trade organization website outlines these, many of which are still pending.
What is surprising that some of these cases involve the U.S Government who recently cemented a free trade agreement with the Australians, as a present for their involvement in the Iraq war.

Fiji business tycoon- Hari Punja.

Noting from the other disputes before the World Trade Organization, it only further highlights Fiji's infancy in global trade. Moreover, with the declining exports such as Sugar and the change of traditional revenue streams like tourism being surpassed by the influx of foreign remittances by Fiji nationals; hopefully the economy will be further diversified by enterprising locals using this influx of cash in stagnant economy.

Another growing industry-Sports has been conveniently under developed in Fiji by the Pacific neighbors. Australia's routine abuse of smaller Pacific islands by dumping their products and also demanding a litany other additionals, when asked to open up their own domestic markets for island exports.

Rugby is also an industry that mirrors the plight of other island exports. It is also one product that pacific big brothers (Aust. and N.Z) have little capacity of their own to create gifted players. Although, these nations do own the competitions which these island ruggers owe their living to. It would be an expression of good faith to remove the controversial nation eligibility clauses; as a criteria for the Super 14 Rugby inter club league. An industry that is seldom scrutinized with the same international standards demanded by other ventures like mining or oil exploration. It is no wonder that player poaching by these larger nations in Rugby, is another extension of this arrogance of disposable and cheap morals.

This is an excerpt from the Pacific Plan (PDF format)-the Australia funded policy initiative that is supposed to solve Pacific island problems. The same problems like the over-zealous trade barriers imposed by these Colonial cut-outs.

Club theory and some principles successful regionalism

When assessing Pacific regionalism, the economic theory of clubs contains important lessons. Club theory has been applied to a wide range of contexts, including military alliances, international organizations, and cross-border infrastructure and services. Club groupings of agents, firms, or countries— have different characteristics that make them amenable to different groupings. Yet any collective endeavor or club must satisfy two basic conditions.
1. A club must be self-sustaining.
2. A club must provide a large enough pool of net benefits for each of its members.

The success or failure of a club depends on its benefits exceeding its costs. Economies of scale. The reduction in unit cost resulting from pooling productive capacities are offset by the costs of collective action.
These costs effectively limit the size and scope of a club. In the Pacific, adding more remote countries entails higher diseconomies of isolation the high cost of shipping goods, services, information, and people to increasingly remote countries across the region.

From this tension between scale benefits and distance costs of collective action, the "optimal club" (in this case, a group of countries), can be derived. The composition of the "optimal club" may vary significantly according to the issue or service under consideration.

Fiji P.M in Parliament.

Club Em Designs

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Bottom Line.

It appears that more detractors of the flawed Affirmative Action program are slowly coming forward. After the smoke clears from the F.L.P's internal conflict, the same issues still waiting to be solved in Fiji.

These matters are all derived from the basic decline in services like water, electricity, as well as the volatile land issue.

Fiji Times Letters to the Editor.

Arrogant PM

IT was sad to hear the Prime Minister's blunt refusal to accept the Fiji Human Right's report on the Government's Affirmative Action policies.

His unfortunate response showed great arrogance and stubbornness and a refusal to listen. This is also evident in the PM's determination to reintroduce the Reconciliation Bill despite a caution to him by the Vice President that he should not go down this road.

People always accuse FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry of arrogance and stubbornness but it seems that the PM wins the prize hands down.

Not all Fijians support the affirmative action policies of government.

Many think that these policies do not address the cultural causes which are at the root of Fijians' failure to do well in education and in economic ventures. Moreover, it seems that those Fijians who have been helped by these policies are mostly in rural areas and have the right political connections.

We know deserving Fijians in urban areas who have applied for help but have never received it. And most of all we think that any form of affirmative action should benefit all who are in need not just Fijians.

The PM does not like to be called a racist yet he claims to see racist motivation at work with the Human Rights Commission.

He may be well intentioned in wanting to see Fijians advance economically but he is Prime Minister of the whole country, not just of the Fijian people and all who are disadvantaged need affirmative action, Indo- Fijians, Kai Solomoni and others.

In defending the affirmative action policies, the PM stated that "virtual exclusion of Fijians from major sectors of the economy was big factor in what occurred in 1987 and 2000" and consequently "at the root of our past instability".

Yet many of those who have written on the two coups have refuted the claim that "indigenous Fijian rights" and the "indigenous cause" were the real reason behind the coups.

No doubt about misinformation and exaggeration about the economic disadvantages of the Fijians vis a vis the Indo-Fijian populations was used by the instigators of the coup to stir up racial animosity and gain support for Fijian nationalism.

But the real causes of the coup must be sought elsewhere. One writer speaks of Fijians nationalism as being the "Trojan horse" which acted as a cover up for "a complex coalescence of greed and competing interests". The preservation of vested business interests was certainly involved. Moreover some politicians who had lost their political power wanted to regain it and there was definite power struggles also within Fijian society. "Fijian nationalism" was a good scapegoat.

Certainly many Fijians are poorer than they should be and the root causes behind the Fijian economic disadvantage must definitely be sought.

However, some of us think that these root causes are not being addressed by the present form of affirmative action policies.

Semiti Qalowasa

Human Rights

WHO does the Fiji Human Rights Commission represent? Aisake Delai wants to know (FT 7/7/06). I wish to let him know that the FHRC represents me, my wife, my mother and my two children. We are all citizens of the country.

There might be other families who feel the FHRC represents them as well. Aisake Delai might not know it but the FHRC also represents him as well because he belongs to the same species, humans who live in this part of the planet earth.

Rajend Naidu

Club Em Designs

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Force Majure.

Fijian Holdings Building, Suva.

This building owned by Fijian Holdings, remind the average Sitiveni and Salas' of the cognitive dissonance in native affairs. Case in point, the number of Fijian drop outs in schools.

Did Fijian Holdings and investment arm of the 14 provinces, offer to partially fund education?

Clearly there is a track record of nepotism in the commercial operations of this company, that uses and abuses the plight of the Fijian race; for their own agenda. This is the apex of the flawed Affirmative Action(A.A) program that was deemed unconstitutional by Human Rights group in Fiji.

In a wicked twist fit for a Hollywood thriller, Fijian Holdings was the same company whose board room was used for the planning of the 2000 coup. One is led to wonder what other resources of Fijian Holdings was used. A company which is finanicially successful enough to provide funding. Along with being a major player in tourism developments (among others) in Fiji, that could have been affected by an incoming Government.

Here is another Fiji Sun article quoting the formerly convicted(for the events of post-coup 2000) Minister and chief Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, on the A.A program.

Affirmative action for all, chief pledges

Affirmative action is not confined to one racial group, the Minister for Fijian Affairs, Lands and Provincial Development, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, pledged yesterday. He was on a visit to government projects in Ba aimed at assisting the disadvantaged. Ratu Naiqama said the government team was able to mingle with a lot of people benefiting from these projects.
These included the rural housing scheme and other infrastructure developments in villages throughout the Western Division. Accompanied by the Minister of State for Provincial Development, Ted Young, and Minster of State for Fijian Affairs, Ratu Suliano Matanitobua, Ratu Naiqama said the visit was to follow up on developments in the Western Division.

"We have completed visits to parts of Nadi, Lautoka and Ba where a number of government-funded projects have been staged to help a lot of those people who are faced with difficulties in trying to make ends meet," he said. "We're looking at depressed areas also and we met a number of cases that involved a family whose house burnt down three years ago but have managed to rebuild their lives."
The projects are part of the Affirmative Action Programme to help the disadvantaged. Ratu Naiqama said one thing the ministry would like to highlight was the need for everyone to work together in making the projects work for all. "This programme is not just to help one particular race as claimed by people who are saying it is biased," he said.

The reoccuring protests by frustrated landowners in Fiji, undermines the integrity of Native Land Trust Board. Land is a volatile issue in Fiji and for the last forty plus years under the administration of this proxy entity, nothing prospective and progressive has ever materialized. Simply because the very landowners have been connivingly sidelined from the negotiating table.

The matter of centralized decision making in Fiji has been ingrained from the colonial experience under the British. This method of governance in Fiji is well past any viable shelf life. Furthermore, it is apparent that some circles in Fiji Public Service believe that there are no alternatives. Realistically, these relics of public administration fear change more than anything else. Chaining the entire nation to their historical vices, that are absent of innovative virtues.

A variation of this centralized decision making, is demonstrated by the new task force to evaluate the future of Fiji's public water supply. Most of the appointees are a motley crew, equi-sourced from Government and private sectors. Native landowners, Consumer watch dogs, Non-Governmental Organization and Human Rights Groups need not apply.

FijiSun Editorial-Thursday 13th July, 2006

No water sell-off

Water is not a luxury. It is a necessity for human survival and has been quite rightly described as a basic human right. Access to clean, plentiful and potable water should be the right of every man, woman and child in these islands. Unfortunately, however, water has become a political liability for the present and previous governments. This is because they have been unable to deliver an acceptable service due to the lack of vision of their predecessors who failed utterly to invest in the future. As a result Fiji is stuck with ageing infrastructure and equipment that frequently fails with the resultant wait for the water truck that has become so familiar to so many of Fiji's citizens. Little wonder, then, that the Government is keen to pass the problem to the private sector.

But great care will need to be taken and, it must be said, the early indicators are not encouraging. The absence of any form of consumer representation in the study group examining the possibility of privatisation is of particular concern.
The businessmen and government officers examining this concept are eminent people - but business people are perceived rightly or wrongly as representing business interests. In a debate on such a vital service they will not been seen as consumer advocates. Indeed, the Government would do well to balance their input with advice and experience from consumer groups and relevant non-government organisations.

The fear, of course, is that privatisation (which is by no means inevitable) will result in a plentiful supply of good clean water for those who can afford it and a second rate service for those who cannot. The Government has already pledged its solemn word that this will not be permitted to happen - but once the supply of water is out of its hands it will become ever more difficult for it to keep that promise. In fact privatised water has the potential to become even more of a political headache than the present service, however poor that may be. On the other hand consumers need to accept that if they want a reliable service they will have to fund it.

On balance, then, water like education and health is a vital service that should continue to be controlled and delivered by the state. In that way donor - and private sector - assistance may well be available and should be welcomed. For there is no doubt whatsoever that only a major overhaul requiring equally major investment is the only means of providing the people of Fiji with the service they have a right to expect. But water must remain a public service.

View of the corner: Dennison Road(diagonal) and Pender Street, Domain, Suva.
Club Em Designs

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Political Jockeying.

A period of cataclysm in Fiji.

The much reported chasm in Fiji Labour Party is nothing more than tussle for the leadership reins by some M.Ps with lofty ambitions. Although, it is an internal matter, it could escalate to the detriment of the multi-party coalition, if not managed correctly.

On the matter of Fiji's international trade agreements which could affect the local enterprises involved in the garment industry. More transparency, dialogue and coordination is required from all line ministries. Since the matter of exports involves several ministerial stockholders, a separate entity may have to act as project manager.

The important question of the future of Fiji's traditional societies is finally being addressed in academic circles. Vakavuku conference hosted at University of the South Pacific(U.S.P) is a milestone in intellectual perspectives. U.S.P's Ms. Avelina Rokoduru poses the $64,000 question.

Traditional societies face great change

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Traditional structures in the Fijian social system are undergoing massive changes and the indigenous society must decide whether it wants change. The question was posed by University of the South Pacific academic, Avelina Rokoduru at the Vakavuku conference on Tuesday at USP.

"Can we do without a traditional system?" Ms Rokoduru asked. "If so, what system replaces that traditional social system?"

Speaking on the topic of "Religious convictions and traditional eclipses in Fiji" she said the survival and perpetuation of that system was entirely dependent on oral traditions, selective memories and only recent archival records.

She said the quick changes experienced within the system were brought about by the social agents of education, employment, media, migration, individual accumulation of material wealth and, especially, the advent of computers and information technology.

"What types of changes do we envisage? Can we control those changes? And yet again, what of the future of the Fijian traditional social structure?" she posed.

It is prudent that members of the Great Council of Chiefs attend this conference, to gain much needed insight of the changes in the fabric of Fiji's society. To understand that their traditional status is waning and they must diversify their abilities. To continue to seek entitlements, handouts and free lunches is not the qualities of leadership which Fiji as a nation needs.

The numerous use of consultants in Fiji is an indication of the lack of technical ability within the Public Service Commission and Fiji Government. The present incumbents of top positions are basically clueless in undertaking reforms on a division level. Let alone create a ten year strategic plan that solves issues like water shortage, efficiency and customer service at all levels of Government.

The Public Service Policy for Fiji Television is a welcome effort. S.i.F.M would like to see a comprehensive policy that fair and balanced in the following areas.

1.) Fair coverage of all individual villages/towns. For example; If a program is about Macuata, all villages/ towns should be visited. Same for all provinces.

2.)Advertising in Fiji should also fall under a similar public service policy. Having all advertising companies fund the system.

3.) Local Content means Local Content. Production and creative core must be a local resident of Fiji, with family ties to the community.

Fiji Human Rights Commission chairman finally summons up the courage to defend their report publication. This follows the comments of Fiji P.M and other Senators who obiviously are blindly echoing the same flawed sentiments.

International Economist in Fiji.

Club Em Designs

Monday, July 03, 2006

Shattered Hopes.

Victim of robbery Kundan Singh & Sons, Tamavua.

Fiji Prime Minister is reacting from the weight of the Fiji Human Rights Commission's report on the flawed Affirmative Action programs using the public purse. Qarase and company have grudgingly accepted the premise to ammend the prgrams.

This follows his harrangue on the matter, equivocally stating that. "As long as he remains the Prime Minister of Fiji, the Blue Print programs will remain. Another measure of cooperation that the present P.M of Fiji has fallen short of.

Fiji Prime Minister touring one of Fiji Sugar Corporation's mills recently.

Critics of the program question the timing of the release of the F.H.R.C report.

S.i.F.m ponders whether the timing has anything to do with the contents of the report. Regardless when the report was conceived, if it does not measure up to the precepts of the 1997 constitution; then something is amiss in Government machinery.

Letter to Fiji Times Editor.

Affirmative action

THE finding of discrimination in the affirmative action program compels our commentary.

The timing of its release could not have come at a worse time, when the people of Fiji have democratically demanded a unified approach to moving the country forward.

With all the media attention surrounding the report, it is unfortunate that it racially polarises yet again stirrings of "us" and "them" — a challenge that most of the newly elected leaders have strongly and vocally committed themselves to eradicating.

However, while there may be some semblance of truth to the findings, the report lacks tangible solutions which the Govern-ment can take onboard to progress or amend the program.

The first recommendation proposing discussions with the Government about the inconsistency would have been more efficient and cost-effective if it was done first without the effort associated with generating the report.

Also disappointing is that the report recommends the threat of court action as a "stick", whereas one would have expected an "olive branch" — non-adversarial and concilia-tory approach. The question of timing is again queried.

The motion was taken up when the blueprint was in its fourth year of implementation and taxpayers' money was used for various phases of the program.

Perhaps the country needs to pause and take stock of the international conventions and treaties it has an obligation to.

Perhaps we need to ask ourselves whether our sovereignty is being put at risk for the mirage of the carrot of recognition as a global player?

Perhaps the recognition of indigenous rights needs attention on the international arena and Pacific Island leaders would do well to collectively push it through come October.

The success of the Pacific Plan hinges on this core recognition. The Government and the Fiji Human Rights Commission should get their act together and let common sense prevail.

Be reminded also that all cost for court action and the rulings will be borne by us and if the whole country knew what constituted human rights violation, court action can be reduced or better still, avoided. Prevention is better than cure.

Last but not least, show us the results very quickly because laws can be changed and we have the right to demand it.

Ulamila Wragg
Cook Islands
Silivia Lewaravu
Vasiti Ritova
Nnew Zealand
Vani Twigg
Ianna lomaloma
Papua New Guinea
Maryann Tagi

Tago Fine'aloto
Mereoni Bola
United States

According to the the Fiji P.M, the Affirmative Action program closes the gap between the commericial progress of one race over another, using those controversial racial criterias. Where the rubber meets the road, the criteria used by P.M's office, impinges on the supreme law of the land: Fiji's 1997 constitution. The same document that some nationalists want to amend, using outdated justitifications that does not benefit the nation of Fiji as a whole.

The progress report for the A.A program 2002-2003.

Critics raising the question of timing have not even justified how timing is relevant to the whole debate.

Immaturely, these defenders of all things evil will even label a loaf of bread as a radical enemy of the state and a political element attempting to destabilize the Multi-party coalition in Fiji, to deflect the irony of Laisenia Qarase's flawed logic. Engineered by the chief manipulator of Fiij laws, the teflon coated and present Attorney General, Qoroniasi Bale.

Club Em Designs