Letters to the Editor – August 03, 2020

Fijians at New Delhi airport before boarding the Garuda Airlines flight. Picture: SUPPLIED

Repatriation flights and Blue Lane

I have gone on record more than once via the Times, praising the Government response, the health service, and other relevant agencies, in the containment of COVID-19 in Fiji. At the moment I see no reason to change this stance. However, I would not be alone in being concerned about repatriation flights and this Blue Lane initiative. Of course I am not against repatriation, but there is something lacking when a repatriation flight from India arrives in Fiji with 10 per cent of the passengers on board going on to develop full blown COVID-19. Many countries allowing repatriation flights require all passengers to present a properly validated COVID-19 certificate showing that three days before they can board the flight they are COVID-19 free. Was this practised on the flight in question? If not, it should be. Why was the flight operated by Garuda, an Indonesian airline, and allowed to stop three times before reaching Fiji? Were passengers from other countries on board? Indonesia is a hotbed for the virus. I know there are all sorts of regulations around about which airlines can fly where, but surely a case can be made for the use of Fiji Airways aircraft that can fly to and from India non-stop. In terms of India, the total recorded cases of COVID-19, as of today (yesterday) is 1.75 million, which, as things go, means the real number could be close to 3.5 million. It is clear that great care must be exercised in choosing those for repatriation. The same can be said now for repatriations from Australia, which while having an excellent record in the past, has lost the plot with rapidly rising infection rates. Some would accuse me of scaremongering, but does the “average” Fijian (as we are so insultingly referred to by a government minister) know that total cases of COVID-19 worldwide is 18 million, rising by 1 million every three to four days now. It is a pandemic totally out of control in most of the world, we cannot ever afford to let our guards down and let it get back here. Repatriations and this Blue Line initiative are the only ways it can. Government should inform the public weekly on the numbers of repatriations and Blue Lane arrivals, we deserve that. ALLAN LOOSLEY Tavua ‘

The first victim

THE first victim (may his soul rest in peace) laid to rest in Tavakubu Cemetery( FT: 2/08) has propelled me to ask the mystery about the alleged first COVID-19 patient who was a Fiji Airways employee. What precautionary measures had Fiji Airways taken before the incident? How and where did he catch the virus? What type of medication was he exposed to? I believe the people of Fiji need clarification from the medical authority . DAN URAI Lautoka

Sky high risks

ONE aspect of air travel which is a serious concern is the risk of contracting COVID-19 on the plane. The son of Fiji’s first death from the virus suspects his father contracted it on the plane (FT: 1/08). It wouldn’t surprise me at all after my experience returning to Fiji. Social distancing was not reflected at all in the seating arrangements. We could not select our own seats — we were told by the airline staff where we were to sit. I was surrounded by other passengers. It was the disembarking that was quite risky as everyone crammed into the aisle, as used to happen, and stood there like herded cattle for an endless time until we could all leave together. It seemed that while we were in the plane, there was no one ensuring the risk of contracting the virus was at its minimal. There were no specific passenger rules or guidelines. Only a few passengers wore masks, with some wearing them under their chins. If Fiji is to be part of any travel bubble then I would like to know that the Ministry of Health will  take the lead on protocols to observe while passengers are in the plane, perhaps even having a  COVID-19 flight marshal travelling on each flight to ensure that every possible safety measure is strictly followed with penalties if
such measures are not observed. JULIE SUTHERLAND Tamavua

Rehab program

FOR further rapist rehabilitation as a way forward, I would concur to the idea of involving our women rights organisations such as Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre and Fiji Women’s Rights Movement to be a part of the rehab process in view of good governance, fairness and transparency which can be termed as the “Perpetrators Program (2Ps)”. Playing 15s or 7s rugby is not a rehab process or linked to be a form of therapy to a perpetrator. Maybe a change in the Fiji Prison Act under its “rehabilitation process” would be a fine start. Don’t you think? JIOJI MASIVESI CAKACAKA Tadra-Votualevu, Nadi

Fiji to join Six Nations

AS an Irish citizen but resident of Fiji, I am very happy to have confirmed (FT editorial, 29/07) that Fiji will join an expanded Six Nations championship this northern autumn. Just one thing — can it also be confirmed that there will actually be flights from Fiji to Ireland before November? And if there are flights, is there not a massive risk of either another sudden lockdown in Europe (stranding Fijian players there) and/or the nightmare, but not unthinkable possibility, of Fijian players bringing back COVID to our shores? In other words, is the timing of all of this wise? It is probable that the Fiji team will be made up of Fijians already playing in Europe, which is good, but not quite the same as a team travelling from Fiji. REVEREND PAT COLGAN Christ the King Parish, Varoka, Ba

Namosi tames the Stallions

YESTERDAY’S front page read “Namosi tames the Stallions”. On Saturday at Lawaqa Park a fired-up Namosi outfit dethroned traditional giants and holders of the Farebrother Cup, Nadroga 15-8. The visitors did the basics right, controlled play, maintained their discipline and structure, and defended ferociously to deny Nadroga a victory in front of their passionate home fans and as Namosi fans invaded their heroes (after the grand victory) Nadro fans kept wondering what went wrong. Nadroga fielded a pretty experienced squad with the likes of Sauvoli, Navuma, Koroiduadua, Dawai, Nasiga, Navori, Radrodro, Gavidi, Nalaga, Nacebe and Lutumailagi and roped in 7s sensation Mocenacagi, but the Namosi brigade with the likes of Naqiri, Vuaviri, Nadruku, Matawalu, Habosi, Ratave and Raiyala stood their ground and did not give room to the Stallions to carry out the onslaught. Nadroga made numerous handling errors and failed to capitalise on the given opportunities as Namosi held on to their lead and wrested the Farebrother Cup away from the home of Fiji rugby. Congratulations to the Namosi warriors and better luck to the Stallions against Tailevu. Win or lose, Nadroga at heart! RAJNESH ISHWAR LINGAM Balgovind Rd, Nadawa, Nasinu

Healthy food, healthy results

THE story of how the women of Nabukadogo Village ventured into backyard gardening to provide healthy meals for their children paid dividends as they have seen an improvement in their children’s results. This story is a must read for parents whose children are attending school for we shape their future with the meals that we provide for them. The women of Nabukadogo started cooking more vegetables and feeding their children with fruits and fresh fish which has resulted in their children’s health improving. These women are providing the best, cheap and healthy food for their families. These women from Macuata and Jennifer Khan-Janif, who is a former Labasa resident and was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for her commitment, have done Macuata proud. RAJNESH ISHWAR LINGAM Balgovind Rd, Nadawa, Nasinu

Valuable contribution

BIG vinaka to Fred Wesley for acknowledging the valuable contribution that writers make in his editorial in yesterday’s The Sunday Times. It was reaffirming and encouraging. I also extend my appreciation to John Kamea for his meticulous deliberation. I’ve already stated in my earlier letters that a Fiji without The Fiji Times would be credulous. Ordinary people like me would have not been able to discern and read between the lines. But I’m glad that The Fiji Times stands against all that. It disseminates information fairly and balanced. It helps us look at issues holistically and allows us to make best-informed decisions daily. The Fiji Times is so integral and efficient in building our nation and its people. The Fiji Times shall live! ALIPATE TUBERI Suva

Child marriage in the Pacific

THIS is another topic we hardly discuss at our homes or any social or religious gatherings. According to our Fiji laws the definition of a child means anyone under the age of 18. They are considered a minor or a child. We have a case here in Fiji where girl student, who were impregnated by a teacher, was forced by her parents and members of that particular community for the male teacher to marry the girl, so everything would look more legal and acceptable to the eyes of the community. The girl is also forced into marriage so she can have a future. Little do we know that we are entertaining child marriage. If the girl has not reached the age of 18, she is considered a minor or child under our Fiji laws. The male teacher should have been charged with rape because he has broken the trust of a vulnerable student and taken advantage of his authority on his student and members of that particular community since teachers and other civil servants are always well respected especially in our remote and maritime island communities. Our Fiji laws also say if a child is below 18 years, for marriage, it needs the consent of both parents. These laws need to be amended because it basically condones and encourages child marriage which does not augur well with the UN Declaration on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which our Fiji Government ratified in 1993 . Thank you again The Fiji Times and UNFPA’s Dr Butler for highlighting this social issue. JIOJI MASIVESI CAKACAKA Tadra-Votualevu, Nadi

Role of data

I FULLY concur with the A-G on the issue of availability of real time data as highlighted by him in the (FT: 1/8 pg 26). These are problems that exist in developing countries and are impediments for policymakers. At times, even our donor partners also require up to date data so that they can provide the right kind of support and may question our agencies on data availability and credibility. The role data plays is absolutely critical. I deeply believe that it’s how these processes could be strengthened so that credible data is available and which helps in designing policies that are specifically targeted and the real beneficiaries are the people whom the policy is intended for. PRANIL RAM Votualevu, Nadi

Noted flaws

THE notion “no government is perfect and we will always notice its flaws which by pointing it out, we help to correct it” is pure nonsense. MOHAMMED IMRAZ JANIF Natabua, Lautoka

Invest in youth

BA’S resounding 3-1 win over a star-studded Suva team sent a simple message — invest in youth. Valuable lesson for districts who prefer to buy stars rather than invest in their district youth. RAJNESH ISHWAR LINGAM Balgovind Rd, Nadawa, Nasinu

Interest rates

OUR PM and A-G wants local businessmen to pave way forward and invest in order to get our ailing economy back on its feet. But how can we when our banks’ interest rates are so high. Sirs, can you two help talk to these financial lending institutions. We have talked and talked, no one is interested to listen to us. They say the economy is in bad state. Is it sirs? SHARIF SHAH Savusavu

Housing woes

WHAT’S stopping government from refurbishing, rebuilding and or repairing all government quarters around the country ? DAN URAI Lautoka

What’s relevant

MATHIEU K P (FT 2/8 ) is right in saying he does not care if the A-G dislikes his letter. Like and dislike is irrelevant. What is relevant is speaking truth to power. The Fiji Times, through its ethical standard of journalism, seeks to do that ( see The Fiji Times editorial “Your Views Matter” July 2 which spells out in very clear terms what The Fiji Times brand of journalism is about). Speaking truth to power can get you into what the American civil rights icon John Lewis called “good trouble”. We must not shy away from that, Lewis said. RAJEND NAIDU Sydney, Australia

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