Letters to the Editor – Friday, March 31, 2023

Members of the Fiji mens sevens team. Picture: MARTIN SERAS LIMA/FILE

All for Fiji

It is an excellent opportunity to take this moment to extend our sincere good wishes and best of luck to all our rugby teams this weekend. Away in So Kon Po, Hong Kong, both our women’s and men’s sevens rugby teams will play their hearts out in the HSBC 7s tournament. A win in Hong Kong beats all others. This season, so far, our men are out for redemption. The talking is all done. Top shelf finish is yours for the taking. Show us! Our women will be out to prove their worth in Hong Kong. That famous “David and Goliath” biblical story needs to be repeated. That moment is yours. All Fijians, wherever they are, need to get all excited, united and proud to be a Fijian. At home, on the Laucala turf at HFC Bank Stadium, our Rooster Chicken Fijiana Drua and Swire Shipping Fijian Drua, take on both the Melbourne Rebels, women and men’s teams, respectively in the Super Rugby Pacific encounters. Toso Viti toso! Good luck. Play your hearts out. May you all find all the strength, courage, determination, explosive energies, discipline and endurance for the success you seek for Fiji, ever Fiji. RONNIE CHANG, Martintar, Nadi

Opposition leader

Congratulations to Inia Seruiratu, the former climate change champion, for being elected as the Opposition Leader. Well someone needs to desperately salvage the sinking FijiFirst canoe. Apart from keeping the Government in check, I hope he continues to effectively educate Fijians about the detrimental effects of climate change on our vulnerable environment and also encourage the citizens to ride bicycles to work, as the good Mr Seruiratu had stalwartly advocated at one of the COP meetings a few years ago (although I believe he himself has never ridden a bike to work during his tenure as minister in the good old FijiFirst days). Perhaps this time he could lead by example? I also urge the new Leader of the Opposition to dissuade the remainder of his FijiFirst flock who opt to resign and fight the Coalition Government from outside. Nishant Singh Lautoka

PAC chair

The issue raised by Opposition parliamentarian Semi Koroilavesau regarding the chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee needs to be considered holistically and in the greater context of adherence to the principles of good governance, transparency and accountability. Like it or not, but it cannot be denied that the appointment of Assistant Minister of Finance as PAC chair does give rise to the perception that it was a conflict of interest. I am sure there are other capable Government MPs who could have been considered for that position. I agree that the decision by the previous government to change the chairmanship of the PAC was not right and was done with ill intent. But that is not a good reason to make the same mistake again. Furthermore, if you do the same then what is the difference between them and you? Two wrongs don’t make a right. I believe that by having an Opposition member as the chair will add more credibility to the committee’s findings and recommendations to the Parliament. One must not forget that even the investors also place a lot of importance as to how the revenue from the taxes are managed and accounted for. Above all, the integrity of the role of PAC should be maintained. SELWA NANDAN Lautoka

Media Act

The Fiji Times editorial (FT 30/3) sums up the relief journalists feel over the announcement that the MIDA Act is to be repealed. The regressive media legislation indeed has “no place in a real democracy” as the editorial noted but it hung over the heads of journalists and media people like Damocles Sword for 12 long years. It’s good riddance to bad rubbish on the media front. Now the media in Fiji can once again enjoy media freedom the way it is meant to be in a genuine democracy, a key part of which is to hold power to account in the public interest and for the public good. Rajend Naidu Sydney, Australia

Repeal of MIDA

The announcement by PM Sitiveni Rabuka, that Cabinet approve a Bill to repeal the highly contentious legislation that has resulted in journalists being forced to work under suppression for 12 years, brought a lot of relief and joy in the media industry. Newsrooms across the country celebrated the news and they are now looking forward with anticipation to the controversial Act being repealed. Media and human rights activists had for long called for the removal of the harsh penalties and fines contained in the Act, but their calls and pleas fell on deaf ears. It’s a pity that the former A-G informed Fijians that consultations were held with the media industry when there was virtually none or very little consultation. The repeal will allow media organisations to operate to their full potential, and to be the voice of the voiceless, while keeping a tab on those in authority. Good news for our journalists as well! RAJNESH ISHWAR LINGAM Nadawa, Nasinu

Travel allowances

ACCORDING to a lead article in FT 28/03, the Government is now reviewing the travel allowances of MPs — inclusive of Cabinet Ministers and the Opposition members. This task in my opinion, is normally the prerogative of a parliamentary emoluments review committee or commission that is established accordingly. This is usually a body independent of Parliament and Government. The key word here is “independent”. Every Parliament in the past has had such a review body. It is of interest that members of Parliament comprised the membership of the last review body, but that’s another story! In any case, its function is to holistically review — from time to time — all (key word) the emoluments, allowances and benefits, that are applicable to the MPs, the Speaker, as well as to His Excellency the President, pursuant to Section 80 of the Constitution. Its review report, inclusive of a detailed schedule of allowances etc, is then tabled in Parliament for consideration. If approved, it comes into force on the appointed date and remains applicable until the next holistic review is undertaken. In my humble view, it would be more prudent, time-saving and costeffective, to holistically review all, rather than just one set of allowances (such as the MPs’ travel allowances). Moreover, the review should be undertaken by an independent review committee or commission, rather than by government. EDWARD BLAKELOCK PACIFIC HARBOUR

World full of ‘takers’

A number of former FijiFirst party ministers still think they are in the Government side of the house with their continuous high toned voices and table thumping to no effect now. Let me remind Jone Usamate that he can yell and bark till the cows come home, but you shall remain in Opposition with Mosese Bulitavu for the next four years and more. In contrast, FijiFirst MP, Alvick Maharaj is only good at reading written speeches. You are just a rubber stamp for FFP. The Media Industry Development Act 2010 was indeed aptly labelled a draconian Act. Yes, Indar Deo Bisun of Tamavua, it is time for the Opposition to move on. Definitely the Coalition Government and its Prime Minister are inclusive, consultative, and have humanitarian type leadership qualities. I had personally donated towards the former PM’s flood appeal as well as TC Cyclone Yasa. When I realised that the former FijiFirst government was feasting on high salaries and travelling allowances and using huge taxpayer dollars in the name of leaving no Fijians behind, the result is a massive debt. My saqamoli question is how much have those former ministers personally donated towards the less fortunate. Over the years, I am content to have supported WOWS Kids Fiji and many sporting organisations. I look forward to the Girmit Day public holiday to once again personally donate $7700 towards WOWS Kids Fiji and a family day for the patients’ families. Once again, glory be to God in this materialistic world full of takers and very few givers. Raymond Singh Golf Links, Lautoka

Road safety

With reference to the increasing road toll, your editorial (28/3) asks once again why all our talking and publicity about road safety has been ineffective. I believe at least part of the answer is that those in charge of publicity campaigns in Fiji all (with some partial exceptions) make the same basic mistake: they believe that whatever works ‘ovasis’ (Australia, New Zealand, et cetera) will also work in Fiji. They trot out the same slogans and the same copy, some of it irrelevant. Sometimes they organise a parade or festival, people enjoy the music and the dancing, and go home and continue to behave as before. They take out a supplement in a newspaper, and feel that their duties are thereby discharged. Sadly, though, no-one has ever attempted to determine whether these rituals have any perceptible effect on the behaviour of the Fijian public. Most important, they ignore a basic fact that distinguishes Fiji from its larger neighbours: the vast majority of the population have as their mother-tongue a language other than English. True, English is widely understood, to varying degrees, among certain groups, but they constitute a small percentage of the population, and even to most of them English is still a foreign language. If you want to penetrate the heart you have to speak the language of the heart. Nor is it sufficient to simply translate material that was designed for Australians or Britons — the people of Fiji are culturally and psychologically quite distinct. What needs to be determined is what exactly will cause the people of Fiji to change their views or habits in the desired way. Without such basic information, road safety and other campaigns will remain ineffective rituals and a waste of money, and the carnage will continue. Incidentally an earlier version of this letter was published in 1992 and another in 2016. Nothing has changed. Evidently finding out what really works is, well, too much like hard work. Paul Geraghty USP, Suva

News ban

Ronnie Chang (FT 30/3) may have answered his own question with regards to Sky TV broadcasting Fiji One or FBC news or any other Fijian content. “Legally not permitted” may be correct. The FijiFirst government in their wisdom may have enforced their Media Industry Development Decree (2010) to bar Sky TV from broadcasting any local content when Digicel took over the operation of Sky TV in 2016. “Big Brother” is still watching over us. Terry Hulme Russell St, Eastwood, NSW, Australia

Way forward

It’s the way forward to the best interest of Fiji and Fijians with the assurance from the new elected Leader of the Opposition Inia Seruiratu that they will work with the Government (FT 30/3).We all look forward to peaceful solutions to stay united in Fiji’s diverse society. God bless Fiji. Tahir Ali Hamilton, New Zealand

Hong Kong 7s

Bula Ben Gollings. Please don’t mess up with this tournament. I’ll probably reason with you, again, but not many here remember the forgiveness thing we are often taught. Some advice: just don’t coach the team on tactics. They have got it already, and the plan is, there’s no plan. You might ruin their ‘no plan’ plan. Good luck brother. I can’t get too angry with the British. I’ll tell you why, another day. Go boys. Donald Singh Suva

Political affairs

I believe those members of that party who have resigned from Parliament have created history in the affairs of Fiji’s political chronicle. It looks like those escapism politicians don’t have the motivation and guts to continue to serve their followers from the other side of the house. What a shame on Fiji’s political affairs and legacy of their party. So don’t cringe voters, as your votes are wasted on the politicians who were not dedicated to being genuinely your voice in Parliament. Nanise Soko Suva Point

Sigh of relief

Tamani big sigh of relief for so many journos and those in the media with the backflip. But can anyone quantify the damage done to so many people who remained steadfast in their businesses when their backs were against the wall — thanks to the previous administration’s imprudent media laws? And can they seek restitution for their losses — both emotional and financial? Colin Deoki Australia

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