Monday, February 27, 2006

Back in Black.


Fiji Army Commander ratchets up the passive resistance to the current Fiji Government. It is clear that the S.D.L party will even resort to money traps to attract voters. Some political commentators have equated Fiji's situation with Zimababwe's.
Economist unravels the decline in infrastructure in Fiji and highlights the lack of planning and funding that, in-directly wards off potential investors.

Here's an interesting Letter to the Fiji Times Editor.

Fijian unity

WE have heard calls for Fijian political parties to unite.

The SDL and CAMV have united and a grand coalition of Fijian parties has been formed.

There was criticism that calls for Fijian unity are encouraging and promoting political division.

It was refreshing to hear Maika Tabukovu (FT 24/2) say that "Fijians do not need unity and that we have been fooled for too long by people calling for unity".

To think that Fijians need to unite on the basis of ethnicity is shortsighted. Fijian unity presumes that Fijians have a common cause to fight for against others but what is it?

Do Fijians have to fight for anything they do not already have under the Constitution?

There are many other bases on which Fijians can unite apart from race.

One of them is class.

Fijian workers can unite with other workers to fight for their rights, better wages and conditions and a better distribution of the national wealth.

The struggle will be against the elite and business interests which are not listening to the needs of ordinary people.

But many among the elite and businesses are Fijians.

So it will be a matter of Fijians and other workers struggling against the elite and wealthy many of whom are Fijians.

In 1986, the late Simione Durutalo, predicted that the 1987 coup would happen and Fijians would be called into ethnic solidarity.

He noted that the slogan "the cause of indigenous Fijian rights'' was a carefully and deliberately calculated strategy to call Fijians away from growing class consciousness and solidarity (represented by the rapid growth of the Labour Party at that time) and back into ethnic consciousness and ethnic solidarity (or narrow Fijian nationalism).

He noted that by the 1980s, people had started to see their problems in class terms rather than ethnic terms.

They were struggling, poor and getting low wages, not because they were Fijians, but because they belonged to the working class.

The strategy of calling Fijians into ethnic unity meant frustrating the growing class consciousness and, through misinformation and misinterpretation of fact, blame Indians for the problems facing Fijians.

Yet, many of the problems were caused by Fijian political and traditional elite, not Indians.

The elite realised that if ordinary people became united on a class basis which cut across ethnic boundaries, their wealth and privilege would be seriously called into question.

By calling for Fijian unity, they wanted an ethnic consciousness to replace a dangerous growing class consciousness.

It was they who stood to benefit from Fijian unity.

Is Durutalo's thesis still true today?

Are ordinary Fijians being fooled by calls for unity?

After all, Fijians have been in control in government for most of the years since Independence yet, what have they achieved?

The growing wealth and influence of a few privileged Fijian is in stark contrast with the deteriorating quality of life for many.

By and large, the so-called affirmative action plans do not benefit ordinary Fijians but increases inequality.

We do not need Fijian unity but Fijian parties which will fight for a better distribution of wealth and a better quality of life for all people of Fiji Fijians, Indians and Melanesians.

The collusion between some Fijian political parties and church groups to foster Fijian unity is highly suspect.

Christianity should not be used to support racial politics and narrow nationalist interests.

Semiti Qalowasa
Suva

Club Em Designs

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Narrow Margins.



Qarase faces competition for his provincial seat that, he intends to contest.
It is predictable belligerence of the Prime Minister of Fiji to deflect mistakes in the Mahogany industry which occurred on his watch.
Although there are rumors of an early elections, the discrepancies in voter registrations will cast a dark cloud over the entire process.
Fiji Inland Revenue still in logger-heads with the Auditor General's office.
Outstanding award for former Fiji resident in Australia who only widens the horizons for students by motivation.

Club Em Designs

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Jumping to Conclusions.



The issue of disappearing babies has a litany of similar cases that only further embarrasses the medical industry in Fiji. Political parties finalize their voting strategies prior to the elections.
Hopefully Fiji voters can really use the power of the ballot box to force change at all levels of Governance and Public Service which is de-teroriating due to under funding. Maybe a ratio should be legislated for minimum allowable limits. No Government can reduce spending to social services below this limit; expressed as a percentage of public expenditure.



Club Em Designs

Friday, February 24, 2006

Looming Disaster.

Fiji Army spokesman unleashes a frontal assault on the idea to have individuals involved in the 2000 coup, who have been short-listed by the G.C.C; to become President. Australian Foreign Minister continues to comment using the moral highground without considering the details in-situ. It seems that Australia is pushing itself as the Pacific's big brother. Yet acts as a stranger during trade negotiations or work visa programs.

The issue of electoral boundaries is another example of skewed democracy. This boundary commission should be taken to task for negligence.

Viti Landowners and Resources owners have unveiled a new strategy that dwarfs any proposal(if any) from the Great Council of Chiefs. It also exposes the area of wealth building that no Fijian cultural institution has ever addressed.

This quote from Pacific Islands news article on the issue of Great Council of Chiefs in Fiji.

Working on the "Power 10" raised a different set of issues. No traditional chiefs (working outside the political system) or religious leaders feature on the list. Despite leaders from these areas looming large as figures of influence in the daily lives of most Pacific Islanders, it was difficult to find any whose influence is felt on a regional basis. And we made a particular effort to look for regional leaders in these two critical areas.

As we worked on this issue, an Australian academic, Dr. Robert Norton, was quoted in regional media as saying "most members of Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs lack the academic qualifications and capacity to fulfill their role in modern-day Fiji.

"While some (chiefs) have progressive views on the sharing of power and resources, the majority have highly ethnocentric outlooks and this has enhanced the image of the council as a college of backward-looking hereditary elites."

While the question of ethnicity raised here is a challenge particular to Fiji, Norton's broader comments on the role of chiefs in a parliamentary democracy, created as you would expect, debate even beyond Fiji's borders. It's one we are destined to have for some time yet.



Club Em Designs

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Outstanding Issues in Fiji.



Fiji New Alliance party chairman is steadfast in his decision not to join the grand Fijian coalition. Disgruntled members of the C.A.M.V party, are considering legal action for the decision to merge with S.D.L party. Another thorn in Qarase's pre-election plans.

The upcoming meeting of Fiji's sub-chiefs is another indication of the changing fabric in Fiji society.
The land tenure system is now getting more attention that it deserves exposing the sad dichotomy.

Tribes seek to retain resource rights
Fiji Live: Thursday February 23, 2006



Fiji's tribal leaders have been called to an important meeting next week in a bid to win back rights over their resources.

Viti Landowners and Resource Owners Association (VLRA) Acting President Ratu Osea Gavidi says the meeting on February 28 will hear the grievances of more than 200 "turaga ni vanua" (tribal leaders).

The three-day gathering in Suva comes just before the general elections, likely to occur in April-May. Opposition to pro-indigenous Bills pertaining to fishing rights and land, obstacles to indigenous Fijian involvement in resources-based business despite their total ownership, to name a few, has prompted the call for a meeting of sub-chiefs.

"What we are trying to do is not to allow changes we are seeking to go to Parliament," said Ratu Osea.

"Because the Constitution requires that two-thirds of Parliament approve any such changes, which would be difficult to get.

"We should not allow Parliament to decide on our land, forests, fisheries and so on. The authority or say on these resources should be returned to the rightful owners."

Eighty four per cent of land in Fiji, comprising 1,487,581 million hectares, is reserved for indigenous Fijians whose global population currently stands at 400,000.

The Native land Trust Board was established in 1940 primarily to administer these native lands for the benefit of the indigenous landowner.

Ratu Osea argues that NLTB is only the trustee while the real owners are the 'turaga ni vanua'. He says the NLTB is hampered from making any changes sought by these resource owners because of the debilitating Native Land Act.

Debate over changes to land laws affecting the whole country has been an ongoing political football with no sight of an immediate solution or compromise.

The landowners now want that authority taken back from NLTB so they can make the changes themselves.

"We will decide if the NLTA or ALTA land legislations should be adopted, we will also decide if we should lease our land or use it for ourselves," Ratu Osea said.

"If outsiders come and ask we will give it to them in the true Fijian spirit if we believe he or she is the right one and will bring benefit to us."

Ratu Osea adds that resource owners have been sidelined from starting businesses although foreigners have been able to secure bank loans at the Fiji Development Bank from leases on their land.

The association is also seeking rights to native land, fishing grounds, forestry, oil, seabed and other resources that could in turn be used as collateral.

"The foreigners are coming here and doing just that," said Ratu Osea.

"The turaga ni vanua can do the same with the right advice from our educated Fijians in their specialist fields."

"We have three trillion dollars worth of resources. We just need the turaga ni vanua, the real resource owners, to unite and agree to the grand plan."


Even the Chairperson of the Great Council of Chiefs is feeling the heat of insecurity. It is time that these chiefs wake up to the fact
that their time for ruling is over. It is a fact that this G.C.C is not addressing the issues which concern the grass roots community.
Meanwhile another draconian Fiji institution (N.L.T.B) are increasing their fees, again. These are the very concerns that Fiji Resources Owner's Association Chairman Osea Gavidi had been highlighting.

The plans to spend F$16 million for a tracking program is ridiculous. These civil servants will try and buy the Nausori bridge if they had their way. Without Freedom of Information Laws and Whistle Blower statutes, these efforts are purely cosmetic.


Club Em Designs

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Accident Waiting to Happen.


The nomination of a chief involved in the 2000 Coup underlines the pathetic situation involving the Great Council of Chiefs.

Obviously the Fiji Sun Political Editor has different ideas. His reference to the G.C.C being an electoral college is slight misleading.

Fiji Military clarifies it's position on S.D.L's recent merger and proclaiming it as, ethno-nationalism at it's worst. S.I.F.M could not agree more.



Club Em Designs

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Best Defense.


Great Council of Chiefs Chairman's response to the Bose ni Turaga is the usual belligerence from people insulated from reality. The role to determine who becomes President could be tainted with internal bias by members who have been tried and sentenced for their involvement in the 2000 coup.

Appointments GCC's prerogative: CEO
Tuesday February 21, 2006


Chief Executive in the Prime Minister's Office Joji Kotobalavu
The appointments of President and Vice President are the prerogative of the Great Council of Chiefs and no one else.

The comment was made by the chief executive in the Prime Minister's Office Joji Kotobalavu.

He was reacting to reports that some interest groups in Tailevu want the GCC to allow Ratu Jope Seniloli to complete his term as Vice President.

Ratu Jope resigned as VP after he was sentenced in 2004 for taking an illegal oath in coup leader George Speight's government and illegally swearing in cabinet ministers.

He was released on Compulsory Supervision Order approved by the Attorney General. Kotobalavu said the appointments lie solely with the Great Council of Chiefs.

"We still do not know that both incumbent President and Vice President are not willing to continue in their respective office, if they want to extend their term in office, the GCC has the power to do so.

"So how can it be considered until the GCC considers an extension or a new appointment of the President and the Vice President," he said.

Kotobalavu said people aorganizationsons should be patient and wait for the GCC's decision.

The army said it would be hard for them to accept a former convict as President and Commander in Chief of the Fiji Military Force.

Army spokesman Lt Col Orisi Rabukawaqa said a prerequisite in the Constitution for the President's office was a person of integrity and they cannot afford to have someone with a record in the highest office in the land.


S.I.F.M is raising the alternatives to the process of choosing the President.

Great Council of Chief is not a democratic institution. Fiji is democratically mature enough to implement the true application of governance via elected offices. Having an un-elected Council select the highest office in Fiji Government is a mechanism that requires urgent review.

It is amusing to hear these same officials clinging to a clause in Fiji's 1997 constitution, stating G.C.C's role in the selection process.

However, this is the same document that S.D.L party et al, has failed to uphold and tried to amend.


Fiji Elections office rush to illuminate the green light on the 2006 elections should be scrutinized the old fashioned way.

Fiji P.M is already feeling the heat of dissatisfied voters and is firing back counter-claims. Probably taking up the slack from his C.E.O Kotobalavu who seems to be more concerned with his marriage disruption. It only further captures the character of the man who publicizes details of his private affairs that ridicules the other party. It is more likely that the C.E.O was the rejected candidate trying to save face. This particular C.E.O's age and public demeanor speaks volumes.

Kotobalavu calls off wedding
Tuesday February 21, 2006



The chief executive in the Prime Minister's Office, Joji Kotobalavu, has called off his plans to marry sweetheart Miriama Vereivalu.

Kotobalavu and Vereivalu's courtship and intention to marry sparked much media publicity late last year.

This morning Kotobalavu told Fijilive his engagement to Vereivalu was a beneficial testing period for both of them.

"Regrettably, she has fallen short of the standard I had expected of her and I have therefore withdrawn from any further personal relationship with her.

"However, I do ask that we respect Miriama's choice of how she wants to live her life. She is a single and free person. Her life is her sole prerogative, and it is nobody else's business."

Kotobalavu described Vereivalu as a lovely person.

"In a very strange and special kind of way, I have gained so much from her in my own spiritual development. For that I will always be grateful to her," he said.

However, Kotobalavu maintained that the professional relationship at work between the two will continue to be on the basis of mutual acknowledgement and respect.

Vereivalu is also employed in the PM's Office.
Fijilive


Papua New Guinea's veiled threat to take the Fiji Government to the World Trade Organization for free trade violations has not been fully understood by the veteran Foreign Affairs Minister of Fiji. With all due respect to Messr Tavola, the final decision on P.N.G's evidence rests with the W.T.O and was presumptous for Messr Tavola to even comment on the matter.

The old trade barrier model seems to have ingrained with Fiji's Foreign Trade experts; whose knowledge is rooted in post cold-war international trade.
Divorced from the negative trade imbalance statistics which he is in-directly responsible for. Reserve Bank's habit of pinning the Fiji dollar to a basket of international currencies is facing academic critics.

Finally it has been reported that from Lautoka Hospital of the disaperance of another baby from the city morgue.

S.I.F.M insinuates that reply of hospital official, of blaming the stork.

Club Em Designs

Monday, February 20, 2006

Political Pinata



The issue of appropriate drinking age has entered the public discourse in Fiji. A unique milestone in itself, signaling that, the nation of Fiji is weaning itself from racial wedge issues.

Fiji Electricity Authority is putting the cart before the horse, in their renewable energy phasing-in plans. There are more
cheaper alternatives like solar power which should be legislated into the building code. All commercial sized buildings must be able to sustain itself with solar cells, built into the architectural plans.
The problem in Fiji, is that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing; especially so in the context of F.T.I.B who
seem to be doing their own negotiations by luring manufacturers to Fiji; without considering the power generation equation in Fiji.
Everything in commerce depends on a reliable and cheap power supply that is not totally dependent on fossil fuels.


Fiji Resource Owners Association are throwing the hammer down in their upcoming convention titled "Bose ni Turaga".
Their agenda is to re-visit the entire financial package of incentives for Native owned resources; and places the Great Council of Chiefs in the hot seat for being silent on these indigenous concerns.
S.I.F.M is adamant that the concept of 'Turaganism' is basically an insult to the intelligence of common people of Fiji who have grown weary of these unproductive Fijian aristocrats. These Nobles without shame, continue to bleed the Fiji national treasury dry and replace the contents with empty promises.



Club Em Designs

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Predictable Lip-Service.



There is a stark tendency for Civil Servant C.E.O's to be overly secretive in their operations. Case in point the Fiji Inland Revenue Authority which
has blocked the access to documents pertaining to the Auditor General Office, which is their primary function.

The abuse of state funds is rampant among Minister seeking re-election.

Club Em Designs

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Flash in the pan.


Fiji Army spokesman announces their concerns on the flawed process leading up to the General Elections.
The Electoral Commission chairman is obviously downplaying these issues with the usual rhetoric. It must be pointed out that, his capacity as Election scrutineer; also singles him out as the prime receiver for legal action based on negligence.

United People Party chairman denounces the motives of S.D.L merger with C.A.M.V, raising the polarization effect to the community. Unfortunately the leader of 1987 Fiji coup is attempting to force his flawed opinions onto the Fiji public; like he's the only expert on democracy.
The office of Fiji President has been subjected to internal politics, within the archaic Great Council of Chiefs claims Fiji Labour Party.



Club Em Designs

Friday, February 17, 2006


Fiji Kids need Books.
Posted by Picasa

Qarase in the spotlight.
Posted by Picasa

Leaps and Bounds

S.D.L and C.A.M.V merger only provides a bigger target for disgruntled voters who are increasingly getting shortchanged.

Fiji Labour Party and National Alliance Party have a marriage of their own to celebrate.

Meanwhile Fiji's trade imbalance is soaring astronomically yet no political parties had raised the issue in national discourse.

Officials in Fiji Public Service unfortunately have trumpeted hollow progress like the creation of a Weights and Measure website. Yet Fiji does not have a stand alone, Standards Agency to maintain consistent adherence to System International group of units.

Fiji Time Editorial ridicules the proposed grand Fijian coalition.

Bunch of hypocrites
Saturday, February 18, 2006


The haste in which the two Fijian-dominated political parties merged raises many eyebrows.

Too sudden and totally unexpected. This rush into such a major political exercise has caught by surprise even some of the loyal followers of the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Party and its coalition partner the Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua Party.

They are as confused as everyone else as to the rationale behind the move. It would have been wiser, and they expect this much, that a major consultation process be undertaken by the parties' leaders to seek their views and if necessary take a vote on it.

During traditional ceremonies organized by the parties' leaders to mark the merger, the shocked party faithful were still scratching their heads. Only time will tell how it will affect their loyalty and confidence in their leaders.

And it will be interesting how the merger translates on the ballot paper.

On a more serious yet sad note, the merger indicates yet again how nationalism is alive and well in the Fijian community and is going to have a big influence in the build-up to and during the general elections.

The sensible and responsible citizens who have been praying to see an end to the polarisation of Fijians and Indians during general elections and major political crisis are obviously disappointed.

They see the Fijians starting to band together. The Indians may not be too far behind with the National Federation Party and Fiji Labour Party planning "unity" talks.

After all the colorful talk of moving forward as one people, promoting to the world the concepts of multi-racialism and peaceful co-existence, we see this sorry political development which is against the spirit of the Constitution we accept as our supreme law.

All the public displays of sincerity, goodwill, love-thy-neighbor-as-thyself and togetherness look like coming to naught yet again. We remain a divided and, sad to say, sick society.

The late Pope John Paul II during his one visit was full of praise of this land and its people saying it was "the way the world should be". The words of the famous religious leader rings clearly in our ears today but does not mean much.

It does not help us at all when we have leaders who lack the courage, vision and will to work together themselves and then unite the people in our collective quest for progress, prosperity and peace. We see these leaders pulling apart instead of together because they have their own selfish agendas to think about. They pull the hoods over people's eyes so that they won't see the truth.

A bunch of hypocrites.

Club Em Designs

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Futile Existence.


The merger between S.D.L and C.A.M.V is a marriage of convenience deeply rooted in Fiji's calamities post 2000 Coup. It is clear that these elements of danger in Fiji; are jockeying for position, prior to the elections in 2006.

Even the post of President is in contention, by convicted Coup mobster, Messr Jope Seniloli. These Fijian political lobbyist of ill-repute, are willing to sideline the current Vice-President Joni Madraiwiwi, for an individual intoxicated with nationalism. Albeit, perilous to the social fabric of Fiji.

On cue, Fiji Army Spokesperson dispatches Commander Bainimarama's intentions of permanently shelving the controversial R.T.U Bill.

Monasavu Landowners are still awaiting their pound of flesh. Yet the abusive N.L.T.B ponder their issue as well. As if, they're entitled to the Court pay-out. $52 Million is alot of money for Fiji standards. It can be argured that N.L.T.B did spend a great deal of time; contemplating how to access those funds using their Native Lands Act.
NLTB to discuss $52m payout

The Native Land Trust Board will meet next week to discuss the $52m payout to Monasavu landowners. Executive officer Nimilote Naivalumaira confirmed this yesterday. “The issue will be discussed again at our next board meeting scheduled for next week after which we will be able to issue a full statement on the matter,” he said. The Monasavu landowners have yet to receive their $52million compensation payout from the Fiji Electricity Authority.
The Supreme Court ruled that the FEA was to direct the money to the court which would then be directed to the landowners’ lawyer, Tevita Fa. Mr Fa would then distribute the money to the landowners. However, the NLTB raised concern over the procedure in which the money would be distributed. The ruling, it said, was in breach of the Native Land Trust Act which stated that the compensation should be directed to the Native Land Trust Board who would then distribute it to the landowners.


Fiji Sun's Editorial on Friday identifies the single biggest reason for broken laws in Fiji.

It is rather pathetic to keep churning out Laws particularly when there is no Law enforcement agency; other than the over-extended and under-funded Fiji Police Force.

Forcing an age-limit for Alcohol in Fiji although, it is socially attractive, the exercise itself will be totally confusing and cumbersome without national identification cards.

Fiji Times Editorial Fri Feb 17th 2006 addresses the issue.

The legal age
Friday, February 17, 2006


"The legal age that a person can be considered an adult has been the source of constant battles between parents and children over the ages.

In the recent past, many girls were married at 16. These same women are today grandparents of teenagers who face increasingly paternalistic attitudes from the Government.

It's ironic that as we progress into the 21st century, the State's treatment of teenagers has become more and more patronising.

This week the Government will push through the House of Representatives a piece of legislation that has taken years in the making. This law will make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drink in a bar or buy alcohol.

It will allow for the prosecution of bar owners who supply or provide alcohol to anyone under 21 in a bar. The onus will be on the bar owner or his staff to ask anyone who looks close to 21 for identification.

These changes will come through amendments to a Bill to repeal the Liquor Act (Cap.192) and the Liquor Act 2005.

When enacted, the Bill will repeal and replace the existing Liquor Act, which currently allows for those 18 or over to drink alcohol in a bar.

The fine for bar owners who let someone under 21 years of age drink alcohol in their premises will be up to $2000.

In coming to a decision on what limit to put on the minimum legal drinking age, the Government had input from many quarters including a committee that explored all the options.

It was this committee that suggested that a section of the Juvenile Act, which made it illegal to sell alcohol to those 18 or under, be moved into the Liquor Act. Attorney General Qoriniasi Bale admits that the Government took this a step further and decided to not just place it in the Act but also raise the age to 21.

Mr Bale is not worried about having support for limiting the legal drinking age to 21 years or over.

In fact, many churches would support such an initiative, especially given pregnancy rates and other issues said to be offshoots of teenage drinking.

But what the Government is ultimately doing is placing limits on when a person can be considered an adult in this country.

It already denies people over 18 but under 21 the right to vote. Now it denies them the right to drink.

If the Government is so concerned about alcoholism in Fiji, perhaps its resources would be better spent legislating a bit of responsibility among older drinkers, regulating alcohol marketing and enforcing drink driving laws."




Club Em Designs

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

High Fidelity.


Fijian Coalition headed by political has-been Messr Tomasi Vakatora who must also face the acid test of historic reality. There is no guarantee that this coalition can reverse the poverty induced nation that has been dis-enfranchised by racial based programs. It is abundantly clear that this same coalition is based on nationalistic motives which has failed the Fijian landowners, miserably.
The same old political clowns in Fiji, begin their dance of oral persuasion; choreographed to the traditional beat of racial stereotyping and xenophobia.




New Bill empowering Fiji Auditor General's office is a well timed move, prior to elections.

Fiji Times editorial raise concerns about Fiji's obsolete electoral boundaries.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

There is no doubt that 2006 is an election year. But there are serious concerns that this country is not ready for the next elections.

Leaving aside the politics going on between parties, or politicking, the State machinery is simply not ready to take on such a mammoth task.

Under the Constitution, there are two bodies that influence the way elections are conducted here.

One is the Electoral Commission chaired by Fiji Law Society president Graham Leung, which controls the Office of the Supervisor of Elections and ensures that it is operating along set procedures and guidelines.

The other is the Constituency Boundaries Commission, chaired by Barrie Sweetman.

While much has been said about the Electoral Commission over the past few months, there is not much emphasis being put on the work of the Constituency Boundaries Commission.

According to the Constitution, 71 members are elected to the House of Representatives 46 of which is to be through ethnic rolls and 25 through universal suffrage.

The problem for the Constitutional Boundaries Commission is that the Constitution rules that equal population size is not an issue in only 17 seats which follow provincial boundaries.

For all other seats, however, the commission must ensure that population size is substantially equal in number.

The Elections Office has been proud to state for the previous elections in 2001 that seats were drawn up to have roughly the same number of votes, depending on the category involved.

But with massive rural-urban drift as a result of expiring land leases, ethnic tension, and job search, there is no doubt that population numbers in many areas have changed substantially.

One great example is the Suva-Nausori corridor where a major influx of settlers from around Fiji has boosted squatter numbers to record levels.

A major chunk of the country's population resides in that corridor alone. Yet no effort seems to have been made to check whether there is a need to increase the number of seats in that area or tighten up the boundaries a bit.

The Constituency Boundaries Commission cannot possibly tell all those residents that nothing has changed since 2001. In November last year, the commission first let out that the task of reviewing the boundaries might be an impossible one.

It seems that this basic constitutional guideline cannot be guaranteed. The State must act on this now to ensure that this Election fulfills all the criteria that the Constitution says it should.



Club Em Designs

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Usual Suspects.


Mud has started flying from the Prime Minister of Fiji. It's anyones guess if Fiji Labour Party leader will file another lawsuit after being labelled a terrorist.
It is official, the campaigning for Fiji elections 2006 is now gaining speed.The Grand Fijian coalition is now looking outside their
race as a means to gain support.

Army Commander Frank Bainimarama pictured with New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Club Em Designs

Monday, February 13, 2006

Towing the Line of Abuse.



Issuing of Fiji Government contracts has long been suspected of abuse by the very individuals suppose to be the guardians of resources. Yet Qarase and company have no idea of the waste in the Public Service and their own track record of un-constitutional behavior designed by the architect of legal wrangling:

Fiji's Attorney General; (pictured leading the S.D.L politicians in Fiji Parliament).


Fiji's history
S.I.F.M echoes the sentiments of Fiji Vice-President on the need to change the electoral system from a racial based one to a plural system.
However to soley rely on retirees to educate rural voters is a eyebrow raiser due to voter mis-information.
This type of mentoring should be explored sincerely by Fiji Government, as a permanent establishment for rural adult education. For an example, this enterprising Fijian from New Zealand is an outstanding individual should be a source of inspiration to all Fijians.

It also exposes the fact that more Fijians are putting less emphasis on archaic institutions and seizing their own destiny.


Club Em Designs

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics in Fiji.


90% of Fijians in rural areas live under the poverty line if the reasoning of finance is applied to their case.
S.I.F.M believes that, the visit by current Ministers of cabinet to Fijian villages is no more than a Public Relations exercise to further their influence in the elections. However, the sad situation of lack of development, poverty will be the fundamental area of concern for rural voters.

In the exact words of Fiji Minister for Women and Social welfare in the "breakdown in Fijian culture" while the Great council of Chiefs and Fijian Affairs Board seem to be out of touch with the statistics and data pointing to that disintergration of culture, which is a reflection of in-competance.



Club Em Designs

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Moving Violations in Fiji.



Fiji's political landscape is changing from ethnic confrontations to a cohesive discussion on the nation's progress.

S.D.L party's coalition with C.A.M.V, a predominately nationalist party with incidiary individuals on their ticket. Many of whom, are un-tested in any leadership capacity, in addition to being un-educated and un-reliable. It is this layer of Politicians, who stir up the volatile emotions in Fiji without substantiating their concerns.
The Nationalists claim they represent the rural Fijian dwellers, yet they have nothing to show for themselves. These unsavory characters gloss over the archaic land institution in Fiji called Native Lands Trust Board and their dubious track record.
It is apparent the N.L.T.B's shortcomings is the root cause for landowner's dis-enfranchisment.

Former Fiji soldiers looking for work in high danger areas of the world is the end result of the absence of state compassion and strategic planning.
Similarly in Fiji Hardwood Corporation, a financial vehicle to maximize the depletion of Fiji's plantations at the expense of social mobility and sustainable development.

Here's a copy of Fiji Sun article that announces Fiji Police Commissioner's flawed decision.

Hughes apologizes to CEO for charge

By Charlotte Peters

Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes has publicly apologized to a government chief executive officer for what he said was a mistake. He made the apology in the case of the CEO who was bailed and sent home after being tested positive on Dec 30 last year.

Earlier Mr Hughes stated that the officer who ordered the release of the woman had been questioned on his part in the matter and this had brought a new twist to the investigation.

Yesterday, Mr Hughes clarified the matter after seeking legal advice. He said the person was stopped at a checkpoint on the night in question and taken to the Central Police Station where a breath sample was taken.

The outcome of the breath test was 36 micrograms, said Mr Hughes.Under the LTA Act those in excess of 80 milligrams per 100mililitres can be charged.

To come up with the figure in milligrams, we took the 36 micrograms and multiplied it by 2.2 and came up with 79.2 which was below the prescribed concentration of alcohol.

Knowing this Mr Hughes said the officer ordered the release of the woman. He admitted that two others had been charged with the same offence and the police were doing everything within their power to rectify the matter.

Another scathing letter to Fiji Times Editor on the Double Standards applied by Fiji Police Force. S.I.F.M is not the only entity complaining about Fiji Police Force's inability to do their job, in an unbiased manner.


Double standard

I REFER to the letter by Tevita Bevu (FT 8/2) and would like to support his call for the Police Commissioner to come clean on double standards in relation to the release of a government chief executive. The commissioner should stop hoodwinking ordinary citizens and reveal the truth that there are two sets of laws in Fiji and that he applied the rule for the rich and untouchables in this case.

Stop making petty excuses and degrading the competence level of your staff, commissioner.

The excuse that officers made a conversion error reflects that you have incompetent officers in the force. I wonder how many citizens were charged by the incompetent officers and made to suffer for a crime they did not commit.

I would like to know why taxpayers of Fiji are made to pay for incompetent civil servants? Or was it the case of a junior biting the bullet to save a senior officer?

So much for the commissioner's assurance of "one law for all''. Or has he decided to follow the golden rule of "when in Rome do as the Romans do?''

Rakesh Chandra
Nasinu
Club Em Designs

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Merging Concerns.




Minster of Communcations visit to Fiji's rural areas is a concern to
Fiji Labour Party because it mirrors the actions of 2001 involving voting irregularities.



The ripples of discomfort created by the trade agreement between China and Australia should be a wake up call to all those involved in export industry. Resting on the laurels of past opportunities is an indication of the absence of contingency plans in Fiji.



Club Em Designs

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Sliding Scale of Law in Fiji.



Alcohol test

WHEN Adi Litia Qionibaravi was tested on the night she was stopped by the police, the testing device recorded an alcohol level of 35 micrograms.

During the alcohol test at the station where the reading was converted from micrograms to milligrams, it was found that the figure was two milligrams below the 80ml legal limit (FT 7/2).

I wonder if 35 micrograms is still equivalent to 0.035 milligrams. If it is, then the legal limit would be 2.035mg which is equivalent to 2035micrograms.

I am curious to know how this converted value was two milligrams below the legal limit of 80 ml when the amount of alcohol is in weight measurement while the limit is in volume measurement.

My point is that the formula the police used to justify their action to the case does not look right.

I urge Commissioner Hughes to come clean on this and tell the public the mathematical formula police used in withdrawing charges against prominent people.

Tevita Bevu
Suva

Apparently the reaction to the scathing article on the Driving Under Influence case of the C.E.O for Fijian Affairs Board is rattling the cages of Fiji Police P.R department. This is the usual dismissive attitude from official ranks that only makes a mockery of the intelligence of the greater public.
S.I.F.M recommends the instant dismissal of the incumbent and the institution for simply employing an individual with ill-repute.

Notwithstanding the Fijian Affairs Board's own shortcomings that has chained the Fijian race to an en-trenched feudal system which handicaps their progress in the modern global village.



[For further insight, refer to the Fiji Times Editorial, located at the end of today's posting.]



Fiji Post has been getting side-swiped with their decision to publish the controversial "Cartoon" that has been the cause of riots and embassy razing. S.I.F.M is confident that the same scenario wouldn't be visualized in Fiji.

The similarities of the Protest March cum riot cum Attack, in a Afghanistan N.A.T.O base as was witnessed in Downtown Suva, Fiji at the precise moment the May 2000 coup was being executed.

Fiji Sun contributor and human rights activist, Messr Thakur Ranjit Singh laments his anguish on the New Zealand "Parachute Journalists" who opinionate on the political issue of Fiji. Those who grand-stand as experts in the field, when they hardly understand the local situation.



Finally the Fiji Times Editorial decides to focus on Fiji's land issues. What the editorial fails to point out is that, the archaic Native Lands Trust Board is the root cause for this miserable stagnation of land and mind. Unfortunately the Editorial falls miserably short of real solutions. Typical print-media mentality that uses minimization pre-tense and does not rectify the problems in Fiji.

Land ownership
Wednesday, February 08, 2006

IT is a pity that some landowning units claim to be poor yet make no effort at all to utilize their land or allow portions of it to be leased.

It is sad to see so much land lying idle including that which had been previously leased but was taken back by clans after the expiry of leases.

This is evident in the cane belts in Vanua Levu and western Viti Levu and more recently in the dairy farm districts of Tailevu and Naitasiri.

The landowners are not willing to renew the agricultural leases arguing that their members need to utilize the land for commercial or subsistence farming. The excuse is that their numbers are growing and they need the land back.

While the land lies idle, no one, least of all the owners themselves, stand to benefit from it. They do not receive six-monthly rentals from the leases. There is no return because there is no investment. The Government has been too timid in promoting land use among the owners. It fails to convince some landowners of the immense wealth they are missing out on when the land is not utilized. Some of the landowners it has managed to convince eventually lose interest when the markets arranged by the Government for their farm produce fail to materialize.

We have yet to see a government effectively address the land use issue and raise its voice sufficiently to push landowners into getting the maximum returns from their land or making it available for development.

The Government's policy of handouts and special treatment for landowners has to stop. It is not the right way to help them "catch up" with others in lifting their standards of living.

A very few Fijians can honestly claim today that they do not own any tribal land. They have this vital resource which will generate so much for their families if it is utilized. Perhaps through the provincial and district councils they can be educated and counseled on how to benefit from this valuable resource at their disposal.

There used to be by-laws in the Fijian administration system requiring that each male in the village produce a certain quantity of farm produce a month. This was closely monitored and encouraged them to farm the land. Maybe a similar system should be introduced today.

Landowners have to get out of the thinking that they'll lose their precious "God-given" asset if it is leased out or once they use it for farming. They should realize that there are relevant laws in place which safeguard their ownership.

But they must use the land to help themselves, others and the country as a whole.

The wealth they look for is buried in the land. To realize it, the land has to be utilized.

End of story.
Club Em Designs

Monday, February 06, 2006

Muddying the Issue.


Respect for G.C.C is a two-way street. G.C.C has shown their allegiance to the divisive R.T.U Bill.
If the National Alliance Party Chairman wants to water down the rule of law, then his sentiments are flawed simply because of bias.

It is a well-known fact that he is also a chief and his support for G.C.C also infers support for the controversial R.T.U Bill. As a potential statesman he must learn to draw the line between institutions and the Fiji constitution.

The vocal excuse by Fiji Police Commissioner on the Zero-tolerance and No-Drop policy for Driving Under the Influence was just a Marketing hype. This case is an example of dual standards applied to the influential members of Fiji's society.
S.I.F.M believes this is a farce and exclaims that the Fiji Police are still being on pressured by people in higher places at the expense of the unbiased rule of law.



Club Em Designs

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Counting on Heaven.



S.D.L Government to implement the R.T.U Bill is being opposed by more international organizations and
only drives the point home to Fiji Prime Minister. It seems he is out of touch as usual, seeking religous support with Methodist Church of Fiji.


Stuck in Fiji echoes the calls to establish a permanent Elections Office in Fiji. It is now clear that these civil servants who take up positions during elections should be scrutinized to prevent interference.

It no longer surprise for the people of Fiji on the vast amount of lip-service dished out by civil servants, by covering up their incompetance.

Club Em Designs

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Final Destination.


Landowners of Fiji have been perpetually dis-enfranchised by organizational in-efficiencies.
Stuck in Fiji Mud believes this trend will not change anytime soon, due to the lack of implementation within Fiji Government agencies.

The rumors of Fiji President retiring has now been compromised by the un-elected members of the Great Council of Chiefs.
It is yet another miserable example of an anachronism, attempting to justify their incompetence.
Here's letter to Fiji Times Editor that encapsulates the double- standards applied to indigenous issues, by the same Fiji Government that routinely reminds the world of it's hollow accomplishments.

Next leader

A MOTIVATOR, a man or woman of principle and convictions. One who sets goals and leads from the front to achieve them is a man or woman of vision.

Fiji right now is at the crossroads to make this choice. We have to choose one who will unite us all for the betterment of Fiji, someone who is identified with everybody.

Fiji needs one who can bring the best out of everyone. One who creates an environment where people excel in what they do.

Enough of a leader who relies on others to make decisions for him or her.

Enough of one who is just a spectator.

Enough of one who goes with the flow.

Enough of one who goes around trying to please everyone. Fiji needs a leader whose life and actions permeates different races, religion and culture to bring out the good in people.

One that all of Fiji, with its different ethnicity, will stand up and ask "what can I do for Fiji?" rather than "what can Fiji do for me?"

Choose well Fiji.

Save Tabualevu
Rakiraki

Foreshore development

I noted in the dailies last week an application for foreshore development in Volivoli, Ra. I quote "to complete and regularise the partly completed Marina and Channel in front of the applicant's property".

As this has been a frequent practice, I am just wondering if the State Act (Cap 132) Section 21 (2) allows for such "reclaim foreshore first and regularise later" practices.

To make it worse, these public notices in the dailies usually have very small letters that require a magnifying glass to read.

Has the Tui Navitilevu been consulted or is he expected to read the public notice in the dailies and to come running to the Director of Lands? Protocol wise, this is far out and insulting.

Furthermore Qoliqoli owners at the village level hardly read such public notices in the dailies let alone understand the legal write-ups.

With livelihood opportunity foregone from the reclamation of the qoliqoli, what financial equity status will the qoliqoli owners in Volivoli, Ra have from the Marina?

Even the Tui Suva is living in a squatter settlement near my Vatuwaqa home. Yet the reclamation of the Vatuwaqa industrial subdivision and the Rokobili container terminal is reaping profits for the developers while the poor qoliqoli owners are just living in shacks from these unfair system, not to mention the rubbish and the contamination of their qoliqoli.

The extent of the implementation of Queen Victoria's letter in 1881 to Governor DesVoux is yet to be experienced but as for now, there is continuous abuse of Qoliqoli owners' human rights.

We are owners by name only but in fact we have been ripped off. Frustration is really an understatement of our burning feelings at the moment.

I am wondering if Qoriniasi Bale's legal firm representation of developers and resorts is having a conflict of interest with his role as a A-G to legislate the Queens wish in her 1881 letter through the Qoliqoli Bill.

Jone Mavia
Suva.

Club Em Designs

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Tragedy of the Commons.


Fiji easily writes off taxes from a Government agency yet it pulls out all stops in other tax payers. Exemplifying parallels to "The Tragedy of the Commons".

Fuel Quality is the reason is why the Big 3 of oil have managed to earn profits on the backs of pollution to Pacific islands.
It is concerning issue for S.I.F.M, that there is no official agency in Fiji Government to scruntinize Fuel Quality and establish legislation on existing Environmental Laws in Fiji.

Unfortunately there are no brilliant minds in Fiji Government to create more tax concessions for importers of plumbing fixtures that uses a conservative water-flow rate. It is the un-obstructive waste of water in Fiji that has created this demand.
So it would be prudent to penalize the cronic water wasters and establishing a reward-induced conservation programs for water and energy.



This is a provocative piece by Rotten State on the issue of Great Council of Chief's new building. Welcome back Rotten State!




Fiji Times Voice of the People.
Polluted harbor

Your article on the polluted harbor (FT 1/2) is very concerning. If research showed that it was polluted in 2000/ 2001 then what is the condition of it now?

The Lami dump as claimed which contributed to its situation only ceased to operate last year but still exists. Therefore one would presume it is still contributing to the pollution.

Even more concerning is that seafood from the harbor has been consumed by so many since then. I am sure others like me would like to know where this research was until now and who is responsible for telling the citizens.

God bless Fiji.

Gyanendra Lachmaiya
Suva

Polluted sea

With the high level and rate of pollution in the Suva harbor, one wonders how much longer can we guarantee our safety by consuming seafoods from other safety zones.

The seas and oceans have now become dumping grounds for all toxic substances posing greater risks on living organisms but more so on humans who depend on seafoods.

We love the fish and other living organisms used for food which daily feed on these waste and toxic material. How can we be assured that these seafoods are clean when their natural surrounding is filthy?

Fish and other seafoods are delicacies but which now should be ignored. No one will die from a lack of fish or seafood.

Sicknesses can be caused by poor diet and dietary habits.

Sanaila Ravia
Nadawa


Stupid advice

Once I was told by the an officer at a police station that any person who does not hold a Fiji passport or holds a PR of any other country and living there can neither enter nor discuss politics in Fiji.

It is an offence and they could be charged. I wonder if people staying abroad and using this column to air their opinions should be charged under any law.

I reiterate that we do not need their stupid advice because they have left this beautiful Fiji. They should leave us alone. Your correspondent from Sacramento (FT 31/1) should know that Iraq needs him more than us in Fiji.

Surendra Kumar
Nadi

SKY Plus

Fiji Television Group CEO Mesake Nawari in a public notice attempts to pacify the ever increasing number of disgruntled Sky Plus subscribers by reassuring them that for 2006 they will receive no less for their subscription than what they received in previous years (FT 31/1).

Does this also mean the same number of repeat programs especially on the National Geographic and Hindi channels?

And can Mr Nawari confirm that major sporting events will continue to be aired live and not relegated to delayed broadcasting? I'm sure his response will influence the decision of many subscribers whether to continue paying $40 per month in 2006 for this service.

S. Singh
Lautoka

Television license

I reply to Eddie Chan's letter (FT 1/2) re TV2 Fiji.

Other than through his letters to this column no one at TV2 has heard of Eddie Chan but we sincerely thank him for his support over the years.

As he quite rightly points out, "pay" TV is the domain of the wealthy elite. To quote the late Dr Ahmed Ali, Minister for Communications (from Hansard) "Television viewing opportunities should be available not just to a wealthy elite but to the ordinary person. We cannot make television viewing exclusive.

I have said previously that monopoly is keeping our children in the dark ages. If television goes down the same insensitive path, we will revert to glacial times, in the context of knowledge dissemination as readily available with the rest of the world. Today, the availability of access to this knowledge through television is a human right, as many would correctly say, and indeed, a fundamental right, intended for all human beings, not just the wealthy and the privileged few".

TV2 has written seven letters to the current Minister for Communications Mrs (Marieta) Rigamoto since last August inquiring about the status of our application.

She had advised at that time that it would require "a few more weeks" deliberation before the Cabinet sub-committee passed it to Cabinet.

Six months on we are still waiting for a response from the minister. TV2 is ready to bring a new world of "free" television to Fiji and our Pacific affiliates - programs on healthy living, cooking and lifestyles, children's educational programs, current mini series, movies and series, primetime documentaries and specials (that are currently only available on "pay" channels), and much more. As shown by Fiji TV's massive tax-free profits, constantly increasing share value and returns to shareholders, the marketplace will be more than able to support a second commercial operator.

To believe that TV2 will take half of Fiji One's advertisers is ridiculous.

TV2 will generate new advertisers who, no doubt, will also wish to advertise on Fiji One. TV2 may take half of the advertising pie, but that pie will be made much much larger by TV2's sales team.

Minister Rigamoto has stated "we are determined to open up the TV market", but at the same time "we have to think of Fiji TV first".

Why? Why not think of the people of Fiji first rather than "Fiji TV" or more accurately, its rich influential shareholders?

Who, exactly, is delaying TV2's licence submission and why?

Ken Stratton
TV2 Fiji




Club Em Designs

Monday, January 30, 2006

Power of One.


Interesting Letter to Fiji Times Editor.

Power of landowners

WE see much written in the press about the power of the landowner when they block development or take extreme action.

I have first-hand experience in my family about how powerless landowners are unless they are prepared to take direct action.

A couple have moved on to a piece of reserve land where my family have lived and farmed for 50 years. They are Fijian but from another province. They have no right to live on our reserve. They claim to have a lease but according to the NLTB it is not the case.

They have cleared the land and are planting. They have polluted the water in which my family use to drink and bath. They have threatened women members of my family.

The police have been called but merely told us to keep the peace. I am told that the court has no jurisdiction here. The NLTB said it is reserved land and no lease has been issued but does nothing to enforce it.

What recourse has my family in this situation? We have no wish to resort to direct action but who else will enforce the law?

What recourse have we against these trespassers who steal our land and foul our water?

Doctor FS Dewa
Suva

Club Em Designs

Stuck in Fiji Mud would like to share excerpts of a new book, from a former Legal officer for the Fiji Government.


SPEAKING OUT

Excerpts:

“While those who lusted for undeserved power, and their many misguided followers, were embarked upon a malignant enterprise against their homeland and its leaders, most successors to ancient warriors and the ethically naked but finely attired retailers of divine wisdom sank deeper into the ashes of their own vice”

“…the merchants of malice continue to ply their wicked trade at every opportunity by maligning a whole race that is innocent of any wrongdoing against Fijian custom, tradition or their land”

“Instead of celebrating the richness of our diverse cultures, our distinguishing features became cruel dividing walls to keep us apart in ministering to the affairs of our common home.”

“The marchers claimed to express their extreme disapproval that the Prime Minister is an Indo-Fijian … one may well ask how they reconcile their repugnant racist sentiment on the weekday with their purported devotion to the Biblical precept of the brotherhood of Man on Sunday.”

“The forebears of the Punjas, Motibhais, Vinod Patels and other large businesses took several generations to reach their present elevated state and a great deal of self-denial and self-exploitation was involved along the way. There is no short cut to success_ -for Fijians and others alike.”

“A soufflĂ© doesn’t rise twice; neither will the National Bank.”

“Why are Indo-Fijians supposed to be good at managing businesses but are not to be allowed to manage the biggest business of all; the government of the country? Why? Oh why?”

“Might we not lose more judges who find the CJ's modus operandi unacceptable, as shown up in Judge Anthony Gates's ruling last week in a matter when Sir Timoci tried to have a case in which he is a defendant assigned to a judge of his selection?”

“And lastly, if, after a day of rest, one should feel energised for recreation of an amorous kind, he or she must heed the cautionary chorus: ‘Never on a Sunday’.”




SPEAKING OUT

Sir Vijay R Singh


“I would rather die for speaking out than to live and be silent.”
Fan Zhongyan 988-1052

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

In this anthology of articles that he wrote for various publications during the decade of 1995 – 2005, Sir Vijay R Singh demonstrates a rare ability to say boldly and eloquently what was happening behind the scenes, below the surface, and beyond the obvious.

Born into a poor sugarcane farming family in Ba, he has maintained a life-long empathy for farmers and workers, regardless of the many successes he was to later achieve. That explains his presidency of the Fiji Kisan Sangh for two decades and his appointment as the first Chief Executive of the newly established Sugar Cane Growers Council in 1985.

Sir Vijay read law in London and entered private practice in Fiji in 1954.

He was elected to the Legislative Council in 1959 on personal merits (no party politics then), and, six years later, teamed Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara to form The Alliance – a political party whose fundamental ideology was to bridge the racial divide working together for the common good of all. He was president of the Indian Alliance from its founding in 1969 until he became the Speaker of the House in 1975.

Sir Vijay was one of the brightest stars in Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara’s Cabinet, and during an illustrious career in public life he chalked up a formidable array of achievements in politics, law and community service.

Parliament lost one of its most effective and eloquent parliamentary performers when, in the mid-1970s, Sir Vijay was elected Speaker, a post that was excellent preparation for the presidency of the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in New York, to which he was elected in 1979.

Sir Vijay was knighted in 1976, the first Indo-Fijian so honoured.

In this compendium of critical essays, he focuses on events and issues that have had a momentous impact on life in Fiji over the past two decades. As one who has been at the centre of power, he brings rare insight into the functioning of government apparatus. His style is lucid and elegant, incisive and intellectually stimulating.

Much of what he said years ago is as relevant today as it was then. For everyone interested in Fiji, this is a ‘must read’ book.





ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The idea of this book developed as a substitute – at least for the time being - for the memoirs that some friends and well-wishers had urged me to write, particularly Dr Satendra Nandan, Vijendra Kumar, Dr. Brij Lal and my wife.

For the moment, an autobiography seems like too hard an undertaking but I hope that this book will give a glimpse, incomplete and hazy though it might be, of my life and times.

I am grateful to Dionisia Tabureci of Island Business, Suva, for her efforts in retrieving the essays published in that magazine in 1996 from its archives.

I am particularly appreciative of the invaluable assistance of Vijendra Kumar, former editor of the Fiji Times and now resident of Brisbane, Australia, in editing the essays, and his advice and assistance in other ways. I also thank Praveen Chandra of Brisbane for his technical expertise in making the manuscript ready for the printers.

I acknowledge my debt to my parents and to my uncle Hari Shankar who together laid the foundations for the person I became; and to the many political colleagues and personal friends -- many of whom have long since departed – for helping to mould my role and influence in public affairs.

I wish to thank those who responded to my articles at the time of their publication; I have quoted some of them as footnotes to the relevant article.

And lastly, an acknowledgement of another kind. I had long admired the Chief Justice Sir Timoci Tuivaga for his many fine personal qualities and his courageous commitment to principles after the 1987 coups. To write adversely of his conduct after the events of May 19, 2000 was a painful experience, but a task I felt I could not evade.

Vijay R Singh
Brisbane, Australia
E-mail address:sirvijay@bigpond.net.au

THE SKYLARK WILL SING

AS I PONDER every week on what next to write about the condition of Fiji and future prospects of its more vulnerable sections, particularly of the Fiji-Indians, I am driven to the realisation that much that is relevant to my efforts has been said before. In an address to Alliance members and ministers as we approached independence in 1970, I had quoted from Nobel Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore’s poem Gitanjali to express my vision of the future:

"Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high, Where knowledge is free,

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments

By narrow domestic wall,

Where words come out from the dept of truth,

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection,

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way

Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit,

Where the mind is led forward by Thee

Into ever widening thought and action

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake."

And some years later His Holiness Pope John visited us and declared, "Fiji: The Way the World Should Be."

We seemed to be getting there, for sure.

But in 1987, and more grievously in May 2000, the prejudice against Indo-Fijians combined with passion for power on the part of some moved them to commit treason and to hold prisoner not only their Government but their humanity, reason and religion, as well.

On each occasion, most customary and chosen leaders purported to have been unaware of their people's aspirations and disposition until the coup makers told them so; whereupon they readily agreed to the “cause” and gave earnest encouragement to evil deeds.

But in so doing, they ignored the wise counsel of Khalil Gibran:

"Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.

If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift,

Or else be held at standstill in mid seas.

For reason, ruling alone is a force confining.

And passion, unattended, is a flame that burns its own destruction.

Therefore, let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion,

That it may sing:

And let it direct your passion with reason

That your passion may live through its own daily resurrection

And, like the phoenix, rise above its own ashes."

While those who lusted for undeserved power -and their many misguided masters and followers --were embarked upon a malignant enterprise against their homeland and its chosen leaders by holding government parliamentarians hostage, most successors to ancient warrior-chiefs and the ethically naked but finely attired retailers of divine wisdom, sank deeper into the swamp of their own vices.

These men of the cloth sought reflected glory in glorifying the inhumanity of their sinful flock of hostage takers; but in their uncompassionate hearts, could not find the will to spare a moment to cast a comforting glance at the hapless and innocent hostages who languished but a few yards away in the parliamentary complex.

They joined together to desecrate the national motto: Fear God and Honour the Chief; they violated the solemn promise. And their political outriders, far and wide, high and low, military and civilian, hastened to proclaim their support for the newly invented “cause” as defined by army officer Sitiveni Rabuka (1987) and failed businessman George Speight (2000), while occasionally proclaiming not to support the means, but had not the courage to condemn and resist their evil enterprise.

Some enacted the charade of seeking forgiveness of their victims, claiming that this was their custom and tradition, but without showing a semblance of remorse for their wicked ways.

Such pretence of piety will not heal the trauma of the hostages and their loved ones for their 56-day stopover into hell. Or wash away the tears of Filipo Seavula's young wife, suddenly made widow in a violent act of treason, or her young orphaned son, or diminish the daily agony of parents, suddenly made jobless, as they strive to feed their hungry children.

Some of the victims may, in a show of simulated or genuine generosity of spirit, feign forgiveness.

As for me,

"I am no Homer's Hero, you all know,

I profess not Generosity to a Foe.

My Generosity is to my Friends,

That for their Friendship I may make amends.

The Generous to Enemies promotes their ends,

And becomes the Enemy, and Betrayer of his Friends."

Because, as Martin Luther King Jr said:

"I am coming to feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than the people of goodwill".

Undeserved forgiveness is unforgivable encouragement of evil.

But all who gloat at the triumph of lawlessness and its perceived prizes might do well to heed Bob Dylan's 1963 lyrics in his Song for the Rocks in the Stream:

"The line it is drawn; the curse it is cast

The slow one now will later be fast

As the present now will later be past

The old order is rapidly fading

And the first one now will later be last

For the times, they are a-changing."


The already sidelined and discriminated and soon to be displaced Indo-Fijians now know that their ethnic Fijian friends and neighbours, "they are a-changing, and the line is drawn and the curse is cast."

But however distressed and disillusioned, the Indians will behave as they always have -- with the same patience, fortitude and indomitable spirit that their forefathers showed in the long night of the Girmit' -- "With a mind without fear and head held high."

Dr. Subramaniam rightly said: "You may make us second class citizens but you cannot make us second class people." Or, as Khalil Gibran had said with touching eloquence:

"You can muffle the drum, You can loosen the strings of the lyre,
But who shall command the skylark Not to sing."
And so, I must, like the skylark, continue to sing, and serve by Speaking Out.


THE MICKEY ROONEY SYNDROME

April 1999.

WE LIVE IN extraordinarily interesting times. History and reputations are being made, revised and unmade.

Labour/FA/Panu, after adopting a common manifesto, have fielded seemingly competing candidates. Mahendra Chaudhry, the skilful tactician, hasn't explained whether this signifies disagreement or manipulation of the preferential voting system to keep hoped for victory within the family.

More intriguing is SVT/NFP/GUP coalition. It is firmly united in its determination to win, and little else. A manifesto should have glued them together but they couldn't agree on one. As it is, Rabuka, Reddy and Pickering have separate route maps to the Promised Land. Their kinship, is therefore, based not on common outlook but on common adversaries.

Aided by international experts at thought manipulation, NFP denigrates its former friend turned nemesis Mahendra Chaudhry for giving Labour's spare preferences to VLV, the dreaded Christians. They might ban golf, gardening and much else on Sundays.

NFP politely overlooks that its ally SVT has given its preferences to Butadroka's party, the one that wants Indo-Fijians deported, and, for good measure, to VLV, as well. (Fiji Times 30/4/99 pp 7/13).

Rather than giving security of tenure to NLTB tenants, Rabuka has already moved a Bill in parliament to give to NLTB several hundred thousand acres of publicly owned (Crown) land settled by several thousand tenants, mostly Indo-Fijians. And crown land tenants had thought they had absolute security of tenure.

Also very odd is the fact that, after allocating open seats among themselves, the SVT/NFP/GUP are running separate candidates, just like the Peoples Coalition. But oddities of manipulation have descended to the bizarre. SVT has urged voters to vote below the line and prefer its candidate Sovea Tabua to NFP’s James Raman. SVT's formal preference for Raman is thereby cancelled. (see ad. DP 1/5/99 p11)

Some folks can't leave a good thing alone. Neophyte politician Dr Wadan Narsey dusted up NFPs ancient logic that only an exclusively racial electorate could elect its representative, notwithstanding the conflict between this contrived criterion and its advocacy of common roll.

More extraordinary was Jai Ram Reddy's endorsement of Dr. Narsey and his cruel dismissal of NFP's many former friends as “token” representatives of their communities: Ratu Julian Toganivalu, Apisai Tora, Ratu Mosese Tuisawau, Rev Peter Davis, Joeli Kalou, Ratu S Katonivere, Arthur Jennings, Koresi Matatolu, Ratu Osea Gavidi, Edmund March, Ratu Napolioni Dawai, Dr Timoci Bavadra, Dr Tupeni Baba, Jo Nacola and others.

Reddy says they were all fakes; brass; not the genuine 24-carat gold that Rabuka and Pickering are. In so doing, Reddy validated Rabuka's excuse for the coup on the ground that Bavadra's NFP/Labour coalition government was Indian-dominated. An argument that Reddy had consistently refuted for 10 years by pointing out that Bavadra's cabinet had equal numbers of Indians and Fijians and a general elector, too. Reddy's dismissal of his former leader and colleagues as merely “token” representatives of their people belatedly confirms his new leader's old excuse.

But Rabuka was also was revising history. No sooner had Reddy endorsed his old reason for the coup, Rabuka had come up with a new one -- that he had been “used” and “manipulated” by others to do their bidding, that the old excuse wasn't valid any more.

According to NFP's ancient and recently reconfirmed doctrine that only a communal electorate is capable of selecting its genuine representatives, both Reddy and Rabuka will now be “token” representatives, not the authentic stuff they were, as they are candidates for multiracial, and not communal, constituencies.

While Dr Narsey was needlessly belittling “ghost” and “token” leaders of another era, his present leader had such a “ghost”, “token” and “honoured” leader arrive from Australia (former Indian Alliance MP Kishore Govind OBE) to lend NFP a helping hand in Ba, the “ghost's” former stronghold.

Weird also is the unique spectacle of the certified coup leader urging people to vote freely, while his former victim reminds them of the coup, strife in Bosnia, Kosovo and Northern Ireland, thus intending to induce electors against voting freely and fearlessly.

A most disturbing aspect of democracy in practice, all this.

NFP says that its 30-year old policy of confrontational politics was wrong. Wrong too, it says, was its befriending of “token” Fijian and General voter representatives, the likes of those mentioned above.

That it should have been, by its own admission, wrong for so long about so many things and so many people gives the public little comfort that NFP is right this time in its judgments about its latest friends, Rabuka and Pickering.

NFP's claim that Rabuka and Pickering lead “mainstream” parties is certainly of uncertain force. Even the dim-eyed can see that battalions of Fijian chiefs and commoners alike are opposed to Rabuka's SVT. Indeed, never in history has a mainstream Fijian party enjoyed such diversely talented and extensively organised opposition.

As for Pickering's United General Party, even the blind can see that it is anything but united. Indeed, the Generals have more dissident groups than they have seats, which is a record of some kind.

Film actor Mickey Rooney -- like the NFP -- had always declared his love of the moment to be the answer for his everlasting bliss. Sadly, his repeated misjudgments led to 11 divorces, handily outstripping the much married and divorced Elizabeth Taylor's record.

Obvious truths and history give rise to a compelling thought -- might not the error-prone NFP be wrong again in its present passion for Rabuka and Pickering and aversion to Mahendra Chaudhry and others?

Might it be that NFP suffers from the Mickey Rooney syndrome?

---------------------------

Dr Wadan Narsey responded to the above article in Fiji Times’ open column.

Benefits of Coalition

[...Your columnist Sir Vijay Singh interprets the words “token Fijian leaders” as an insulting reference to leaders who were Fijians. That was not the intention in my original advertisement, in my use of the word “token”.

I am fully aware and acknowledge the enormous contributions made by indigenous Fijians such as Ratu Julian Toganivalu, Dr Bavadra and many other Fijian leaders, who had the courage to work with the Indian community.

But Sir Vijay knows (even if he ignores) that I was merely pointing out that the indigenous Fijian community did not see them as “Fijian leaders”. They were seen as Fijians who were sympathetic to Indians, and voted in on the basis of Indian votes, but without widespread Fijian support.]

Sir Vijay would seem to argue that just because some Fijians are elected “democratically” they should be treated as “Fijian leaders.” Unfortunately, in the real world, Fijians and their real leaders in 1987 did not think so, whatever may have been the commitment of the Bavadra government to Fijians.

It is puzzling that Sir Vijay still refuses to acknowledge the strengths and benefits of the SVT/NFP co-operation and coalition. Sir Vijay chooses to ignore the historical fact that whatever may have been the faults of the SVT government and their [sic] leader, they have revised the constitution to make it fair and genuinely democratic.

Not only that, but the new constitution also gives guarantees of fair representation of both Indian and Fijian political representatives in cabinet. It is disappointing that Sir Vijay refuses to acknowledge that Mr Jai Ram Reddy and the NFP are in coalition with Mr Rebuke and the SVT because they want to work together with the largest Fijian party and its leader. Does it matter how long it took to realize this lesson?

It is more disappointing given that Sir Vijay himself for more than 30 years , chose to work closely with Ratu Mara \, the Alliance party and the Fijian community, and is surely well aware of he benefits of such co-operation.

My reference to “political ghosts” was not meant to belittle Sir Vijay, but merely to point out a connection the politics of the past era.

Many people are wondering whether his acid attacks on NFP (Reddy) and SVT (Rabuka) are fair and balanced comments. Or is Sir Vijay providing assistance to some current opponents of NFP and SVT who just happen (coincidence?) to be relatives of old Alliance friends of Sir Vijay?

As an economist, who is continuously berated by his colleagues for not being a politician, I take it as a compliment to be called a “neophyte optician” by Sir Vijay Singh

Dr Wadan Narsey.” ...]

I replied as follows:

“I am glad to accept Dr Wadan Narsey’s explanation that he didn’t intend to insult anyone when he referred to “token” leaders not elected exclusively by voters of their own race.

But then how do I interpret Dr Narsey’s innuendo that my observations are not objective but are “assistance to some current opponents of NFP and SVT who just happen (coincidence?) to be relatives of the old Alliance friends of Sir Vijay”?

It just so happens that most of friends of the Alliance days are supporters of the NFP. Mr Y P Reddy, a valued ally of those days, is indeed the chairman of the NFP selection committee. Dijendra Singh of Ba, ally, friend and a relation is campaigning for the NFP, including Mr Reddy in Nadi. Diwan Shankar, my first cousin, is the NFP candidate against Mahendra Chaudhry. Old Alliance friends like Maan Singh and Azam Khalil are also NFP candidates, as is Dhirendra Kumar of Ra whose father was my ardent political supporter.

I respect their right to follow their judgment and have not sought to influence any one of them to change their affiliation.

It is unbecoming of Dr Narsey to suggest that my views are tailored to suit some unknown relatives of some unnamed old friend of whose identity I have not the slightest idea.

His accusation of bias has less substance than soup made out of the shadow of a chicken that died of starvation.

Sir Vijay R. Singh”


A DIMINISHED JUDICIARY

17 October 2000

DESPITE THE CHIEF JUSTICE Sir Timoci Tuivaga's explanations, judges, lawyers and lay persons at home and abroad remain profoundly perturbed at his enthusiastic engagement in politically charged extra-judicial business.

Judicial independence is far too important a public interest issue not to be publicly discussed when the occasion demands, lest silence induced by tact or timidity be misconstrued as acceptance of the unacceptable. A judge who strays beyond his judicial functions cannot escape public scrutiny and criticisms of his extra-judicial activities.

In 1987, all superior court judges had courageously demonstrated their commitment to uphold the constitution and the rule of law and endured harassment of all kinds. Judge Kishore Govind was imprisoned at Naboro and Judge Rooney held under house arrest for days. All eventually resigned rather than serve under a military regime. Sir Timoci Tuivaga CJ was one such judge but although he was later recalled to the bench, we lost most of the others for good. They deservedly stood high in universal pubic esteem.

But sadly, the CJ's recent conduct has caused much dismay. Sir Timoci advised the President on the Constitution's provisions that he could invoke to dismiss the Coalition government. The President acted accordingly.

At issue is not the correctness of the advice -- although that, too, is highly questionable -- but the propriety of judges acting at all as the President's legal counsel. The entirety of the legal profession in the public and private sector, and talent abroad, was available to the President.

The severely denounced decision of Australian Chief Justice Garfield Barwick to advise Governor General John Kerr how to dismiss Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975 should have been a salutary signal to any judge not to follow a disreputable precedent. But the Chief Justice did just that, and he cannot evade the consequential commotion.

An even graver grievance concerns the CJ's drafting of a decree for the military to promulgate that purported to re-establish the judiciary, and in the process, also to abolish the Supreme Court. This was far from being a benevolent involvement, as Sir Timoci would like us to believe, because implicit in his drafting of the decree were hazardous assumptions of great constitutional and political significance.

Firstly, that the military had at that point in time acquired the authority in law to rule by decree, and secondly and accordingly, the judiciary and the constitution from which it drew its authority, went out the window together when the military claimed to have 'wholly removed' the constitution.

Also, for about a hundred years the Privy Council in London had been our final court of appeal and, after the establishment of the Fiji Court of Appeal, the highest of our three superior courts structure. Until, of course, a lieutenant colonel deposed the Queen in 1987 and thereby severed our access to Her Majesty's Privy Council.

To fill the void, the Supreme Court of Fiji was created but the decree Sir Timoci helpfully draft abolished the that Court. Neither the military nor the CJ has claimed paternity of this eccentricity -- that amputation of the highest of our courts was essential surgery to successfully address our afflictions, the foremost of which then were the safe release of the hostages and the restoration of law and order.

The military, for its part, sought to distance itself from this most peculiar prescription for the treatment of our ills. It published a statement two days after the decree, assuring all that "the judiciary has not been tampered with" (Sunday Times 11 June p.25).

Weighty questions inevitably arise. Did the military make the incorrect statement because it did not know that the CJ drafted decree had in fact abolished the Supreme Court? And that thereupon Lord Cooke, Sir Gerard Brennan, Sir Moti Tikaram, Sir Keith (correction Anthony) Mason and Mr Justice Toohey had been summarily dismissed? Also, that the CJ had installed himself as a judge of the Court of Appeal?

The military's unawareness of these and other aspects of the decree may explain its incorrect statement, but that excuse will inevitably transport the CJ to even a lower and more perilous perch. Was he less than frank with Commodore Frank Bainimarama and kept him in the dark of the decree's important provisions?

Whose agenda required the Supreme Court's abolition -- the military's or Sir Timoci's opposition to the Court, and why? If the military's, why did the CJ not seek the Law Society's support to preserve the long established judicial system, instead of completely ignoring the legal profession while he collaborated with the military?

Did Sir Timoci's adventures cause or contribute to the resignations of Justices Jai Ram Reddy as President of the Court of Appeal and Ratu Jone Madraiwiwi as a High Court judge? And might we not lose more judges who find the CJ's modus operandi unacceptable, as shown up in Judge Anthony Gates's ruling last week in a matter when Sir Timoci tried to have a case in which he is a defendant assigned to a judge of his selection?

And crucially, what, in Sir Timoci's view, is the source of his present claim to be the Chief Justice? Is it the Constitution that he was sworn to uphold, or the military decree that he obligingly drafted to restore his and other judicial offices? The two propositions are mutually exclusive; they cannot reside under the same roof at the same time. Sir Timoci cannot escape these and other disquieting questions -- all products of his questionable conduct in office.

In his typically understated fashion, Peter Knight, then Law Society President, had observed: "The Chief Justice had other options open to him." Expediency, arbitrary decision-making, acting as the executive's legal counsel and the military's legal draftsman were not in Mr Knight's contemplation.

The Judiciary stands much diminished; thanks to the Chief Justice and some of his colleagues.