Letters to the Editor – Saturday, August 08, 2020

Nausori police officers chase youths consuming alcohol under the Rewa Bridge yesterday. Picture VILIAME ODRO

Stories from Nausori

It had to be The Fiji Times once again.

The stories that our brave newspaper published this week have kept everyone — from the police to the suspects, the businesses and the residents in Nausori on their toes.

The newspaper has exposed some interesting stories.

But the one that made yesterday’s front page was shocking.

The perpetrators do not spare even the resting place.

Good on you The Fiji Times for bringing such issues to the fore and for highlighting the obstacles faced by ordinary Fijians.

There you go, Dan — I can never imagine my beloved Fiji without our number one The Fiji Times!

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

My hometown

The news on Nausori really bothered me as it’s my hometown and the fact during my school days in Nausori it had the most billiard shops and nightclubs in Fiji.

And when this news came about, I was again surprised.

With the structure of Nausori Town today it seems a bit hard to manage as the bus terminal is way out and the town centre at another end which has also produced lots of walk through between buildings which seems to be the spot for pushers and peddlers.

I believe these are the areas in which people are harassed, punched and bullied.

This has painted a bad picture for the people of Tailevu.

And with the prime minister and the acting police commissioner from the area they should be getting to the bottom of this issue.

Hopefully, the township of Nausori will be drug and illegal activities-free as the relevant authority do what they are supposed to do.

Tomasi Boginiso, Liverpool, Australia

Town that never sleeps

Nausori has rightfully earned the title of “the town that never sleeps”.

Thus I’ve penned one stanza for it.

Drugs in the day

Drugs in the night

Sex during the day

Sex during the night

Smoke in the day

Smoke in the night

Steal during the day

Steal during the night

Sniff in the day Sniff in the night

Oh Suri town!

What can you not do?

Chiuu!

Alipate Tuberi, Suva

Savings on food

So this week I went around expecting some reduction in prices of food in restaurants.

I went to a popular food court around my workplace and to my dismay, found that prices had not changed at all.

So I asked one of the vendors why the prices do not reflect the changes as announced in the budget.

I got responses that “our rent has increased”, “the prices of chicken hasn’t gone down” etc.

I said, but taxes have gone down!

The vendor’s response: “I no pay taxes.”

Oilei!

I gave up!

Sandeep Prasad, Maqbool Rd, Nasinu

Handout model

The FNPF handout model needs to change.

Rather than handing out money to unemployed people, it would be better for the Government to reimburse companies for the cost of new employment.

This will at least add to the economy in some meaningful way and keep people busy with something productive.

Kiran Khatri, Samabula North, Suva

Fiji soccer

I refer to the letter by Mohammed Imraz Janif, (FT/4/8) regarding Fiji soccer and its future direction.

Interestingly, over the years with so much support from FIFA and OFC’s financial backing, nothing suggests that despite the first World Cup played 90 years ago, our national teams have shown any signs of being part of the World Cup before or anytime soon.

So many development programs have been launched, but the end results are mostly negative in terms of national success.

Now, the stage is all set to host the Punjas Battle of Giants.

Fiji FA chief executive officer, Mohammed Yusuf said: “Everything was ready and they had organised every aspect of the tournament in and off the field for players and spectators.”

Similar sentiments were echoed before the Vodafone Premier League football match between Lautoka and Ba at Churchill Park only for the game to be halted after half time to observe the social distancing protocol issued by the Ministry of Health.

Just a friendly reminder to Fiji FA, that the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum will open the tournament, so make sure all the Government and Ministry of Health directives regarding COVID-19 are fully adhered to.

On a positive note, hats off to FBC for showing a number of matches live on the FBC sports channel.

May I ask Fiji’s number one soccer commentator Raymond Stoddart — What benefits does the Fiji FACT, Battle of the Giants and IDC bring in terms of soccer development and whether any of the participating districts qualify for any OFC sanctioned events?

Personally, I have always stated that these events are just money-making for the coffers of Fiji FA.

By the way, has the ticket prices gone down for the diehard soccer-loving fans during this COVID-19 pandemic?

Anyway, I concur with Mr Janif that the BOG will definitely be a dago bhago soccer festival.

God bless our successful rugby union code, especially on the world stage in both 7s and fifteens.

Raymond Singh, Golf Links, Lautoka

Human empathy

In Harper Lee’s iconic book on human empathy, To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch tells his little daughter: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

I believe if the social welfare ministry officials had done that with regard to the social welfare recipients, a lot of hardship and heartache for the welfare poor (FT 7/8) could have been avoided.

Rajend Naidu, Sydney, Australia

In Parliament

Further to Dan’s comments, Fiji without The Fiji Times — healthy, sensible and decent debates in Fiji Parliament as politicians will have no one to attack too!

Bharat Morris, Gold Coast, Australia

Imagine things

Dan Urai (FT 7/8) says: “Imagine a Fiji without The Fiji Times”.

I can’t!

I can, however, imagine a Fiji without some politicians!

Rajend Naidu, Sydney, Australia

Welfare pay

For the past few days the director welfare took up a lot of TV time explaining the re-registration.

Why did he not take the same opportunity to tell the welfare recipients there may be delays in welfare payment.

Dan Urai, Lautoka

Tracking device

Isn’t there any cheaper tracking devices which the Government can give to people who don’t have smartphones?

Sukha Singh, Labasa

Morning Star

“After the night, there will be sunrise in the morning.

The people of West Papua hope that one day the Morning Star will rise up.” – Victor Yeimo, a West Papuan pro-independence activist.

Mohammed Imraz Janif, Natabua, Lautoka

Nuclear talk

What do we want?

Nuclear disarmament.

When do we want it?

Now!

Rod Matthews, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Long lines

So sad to see our elderly citizens standing in long lines outside banks.

Then I read (FT 7/8) that some had no money deposited for their welfare.

Allen Lockington, Kava Place, Lautoka

Failed state

The definition of a “Failed State” in Wikipedia, just rings familiar.

Nigel Fiu, Owls Perch, Lautoka

Canned food

I often wonder why the price of certain locally-produced food items such as canned mackerel and tuna are more expensive than the imported?

This is often followed by a sarcastic thought and smirk of seeing canned on the shelves.

Hahaha!

Wise Muavono, Balawa, Lautoka

Soccer time

I believe Fiji FA should bring back 60 minutes soccer only for tournaments.

The National League is all good at 90.

No one can play 90 minutes footy on consecutive days.

It will bring back carnival atmosphere.

It’s way too boring at the moment.

Sharif Shah, Savusavu

Sex talk

So it is true, there is life after death (FT 7/8 “Sex in the graveyard”).

Talk about “going out with a bang”.

Christopher Griffin, Perth, Australia

A nation talking to itself Arthur Miller, an American playwright said: “A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself”.

What this quote means is how a good newspaper allows for the nation to talk to itself by letting its readers share their views.

The Fiji Times fills this criterion well.

Fred Wesley has won numerous accolades for consistently maintaining the high journalistic ethics of The Fiji Times.

It is apparent that he cares deeply for what his readers think as evidenced by his fullpage write-up, “Your views matter” in FT 5/8).

He rightly wrote: “We may not be able to satisfy everyone but we will do our best to portray a balance in our coverage and uphold the values of good journalism.”

He abstains from being fixated on spending inordinate amounts of time and space in constantly denigrating political parties – thus keeping his personal and professional dignity.

There was an excellent letter on Thursday (FT 6/8) by Kiniviliame Keteca titled “Ideals of good Journalism” that Wesley has so meticulously nurtured.

In order for newspapers to get respect, the context of the articles must be intriguing, relevant, and easy for its readers to understand.

The journalists of articles in a good newspaper must be able to dig deep into the minds of their readers and create articles that will satisfy the thoughts of the readers.

A good newspaper cannot just simply state facts and statistics; it must provide claims, arguments, and opinions.

Readers want to comprehend and be able to formulate judgments.

The way to ensure a newspaper will offer this is by structuring the newspaper like a well-organised extended conversation.

The Fiji Times is the perfect example of this conversation type of organisation.

It has opinion articles by Dr Wadan Narsey which are thought-provoking analytical and brilliant.

This is extremely effective in getting the audience involved and aware.

One of the best, most effective sections of The Fiji Times is the Letters to the Editor section.

What better way to show real attitudes and thoughts of the people in the nation then by allowing its readers to write and share their own articles?

This interaction between the writer and the reader is what makes for a great newspaper.

It is indeed a nation talking to itself.

Arvind Mani, Nadi

Growing concern

Moral decay that envelops Nausori Town is a growing concern.

For more than 10 decades and counting, it’s been business as usual irrespective of what time of the day that may be.

Revelations that activities mostly took place right opposite the Nausori Police Station is appalling!

From drugs to sex conducted during broad daylight, it appears that perpetrators have complete disregard for the rule of law and morality!

I genuinely appreciate The Fiji Times for bringing the plight of the business community to light.

Nausori Town saga has been the central focus for the past two to three days in our dailies.

I’m pleased to note that thus, police presence in the streets and other mentioned notorious spots around town have improved overnight.

The positive sentiments from the director of police is reassuring.

Patrons can now breathe a sigh of relief. In a nutshell, the Nausori business community’s call for The Fiji Times to raise their plight speaks volumes yet again of the value and worth and trust that’s entrusted upon the newspaper.

As Dan Urai reiterated: Can you imagine a Fiji without The Fiji Times?

Alipate Tuberi, Suva

FNPF phase three

Whoever made the decision for phase three for only those who are on reduced hours or reduced rate has made an incompatible decision.

Those who are working are being paid, so why does FNPF want to process phase three for them?

I believe the decision by some people has destroyed our money in a brutal way.

What will poor people survive on?

Jaheed Buksh, Korolevu, Sigatoka

Hard drugs

While it is great news that players will be randomly tested for hard drugs during the first soccer tournament of 2020,

I hope we do not get to hear that some players broke camp and went on a drinking spree.

By the way, what are the odds that out of the blue testing of spectators for hard drugs reveal positive results?

Mohammed Imraz Janif, Natabua, Lautoka

COVID-19 issues

I recently watched human rights and COVID-19 vaccine safety issues discussed by lawyers on the esteemed entrepreneur channel on YouTube Valuetainment.

The rights question related to likely rolling out of a coronavirus vaccine.

Can anyone decline the vaccine on the basis of his human rights?

I was interested to know the answer from a long-time law professor at Harvard, Alan Dershowitz.

The professor gave a concise answer according to the US Supreme Court position.

He said: “If the vaccine is designed to prevent spread of disease only you will get; then you have the right to refuse it”.

However, he added that if the vaccine is for a contagious disease that masses have contracted then you have no right to refuse it.

The issue of safety and effectiveness of corona vaccine is still being established by scientists.

US where the highest number of virus cases has been reported until now, people remain sceptical about being vaccinated.

According to a May 14-18 survey in the US by the Center for Public Affairs Research 49 per cent are willing to be vaccinated while 51 per cent are either not sure or said “no” to the vaccine.

One reason for uncertainty, I think, is the diversity testing like one done on animals is being bypassed in a rush to procure the vaccine.

I hope to see more debate and discussions on the vaccine by the scientific community soon.

Sachida Nath, Nadi

Parliamentary debates

Do our parliamentary debates always seem to be like arguments between people having a washdown?

Allen Lockington, Kava Place, Lautoka

Ghost mode

Silence softly drifting in Serene quietness shattering the peace

It has been too quiet for too long

Unanswered calls keep on ringing

Thoughts unspoken

Feelings uncommunicated

Soundlessness deepening the dilemma

Wordlessness darkening the anticipation

Feelings of worry and anxiety settling in

This speechless freedom of yours

Causing chaotic confusion

With massive effects unfolding

The voices within your silence

Signifying multiple meanings

Time crawling ever so slowly

Waiting for your response

But still no response

All hopes fading, flickering away

Driving me insane

Now suffering in silence

That comes with your silence

But I am treated by your silence

Still trying to figure out

The meaning of your quietness

Are there things on your mind left unspoken and unexpressed?

Are there things on your mind left hidden?

Your silence has given me the answers I did not want

Transformed into ghost mode

Your silent performance has just begun

Silencing me forever

Bhagwanji Bhindi, Nasinu

Inner awakening

Transcend ego attachments

Let go of material bondage

That fascinates, maddens and intoxicates

Quieten the mind for the soul to speak

As solitude detoxifies the disturbed

Inner awakening transforms self

Providing deeper understanding and reasoning

Awakening consciousness of the realities

Symbolising new beginnings and opportunities

Awakening consciousness of liberation

Looking within is inner awakening

A soul-searching journey on a road to discovery

Incorporating mind matters and spirit matters

Guided by inner spirituality

Begin the journey of seeking the truth

The reason, purpose and inner peace of self

With inner awakening

Everything can be achieved

Awakening to untapped power and possibilities

Maharaj Kumari Bhindi, LBE, Nasinu

Pandemic outlook

I feel a deep sense of precariousness in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We should now realise how fragile and vulnerable we are to outbreaks of infectious diseases.

It is as if we are suddenly blindsided and brought to a standstill by the pestilence.

Unsure of what will happen next, people often take a deep breath to calm our racing pulses.

In Fiji, we often have a mix.

The prognosis is for more people to be affected by the affliction in the coming months.

The steep economic downturn and concomitant loss of jobs and incomes, economic distress and lowered quality of life because of the pandemic deepens the all-round gloom.

Whether COVID-19 poses an existential threat to the human race or not, it has certainly become a very serious global health crisis.

It is spreading rapidly, assuming alarming proportions and causing a lot of psychological anxiety.

A wide range of measures, from closure of borders, denial of visas, cancellation or postponement of sporting fixtures and cultural and religious events, suspension of tourism, ban on air travel, cancellation of hotel bookings, closure of schools and colleges, cinema halls, pubs, gymnasiums, museums, parks, resorts, beaches and places of worship and pilgrimage, construction of more isolation units and screening and quarantining and conversion of homes into workplaces are some measures being taken to cut the transmission chain and contain the pandemic.

The pandemic should promote global co-operation and collaboration, make us aware of the futility of fighting among ourselves and tame our aggressive instincts, result in reduction of manufacture of arms and ammunition and make us more scientific in our thinking and lifestyle.

Wise Muavono, Balawa, Lautoka

Congratulations in order I congratulate Mr (Conway) Beg on his recent appointment.

A tireless worker and a dedicated man.

What a choice FRU.

Congrats!

Sharif Shah, Savusavu

Stage set for soccer battles

The stage is set for the first major soccer tournament post COVID-19.

Eight giants will lock horns and there will be one winner when the dust settles at Churchill Park, Lautoka.

Defending champions Labasa are favourites to retain the cup they won last year but one cannot count out the young Ba side and the unpredictable Lautoka side.

Labasa has a host of big names including Akuila Mateisuva, Antonio Tuivuna, Taniela Waqa and Siotame Kubu while Ba will depend on Saula Waqa, Abu Zahid, Manasa Nawaikula, Darold Kakasi, Samuela Drudru, Ilimotama Jese, Malakai Tiwa and young Isikeli Sevanaia.

I’m predicting Labasa, Ba, Lautoka and Rewa to qualify for the semi-finals and newly promoted Navua to create some major upsets.

Also wishing all the best to the Namosi rugby team for the Farebrother Sullivan trophy / Skipper Cup double header against Naitasiri at Thomson Park, Navua.

To all the soccer and rugby fans planning to watch the games this weekend, please ensure to play your part in assisting the organisers by adhering to all the COVID-19 preventive measures.

Organisers have confirmed that only 6000 spectators will be allowed into Churchill Park while only 1500 will be allowed to watch the Namosi – Naitasiri double header at Thomson Park.

Also please download the contact tracing careFIJI app on your mobile phones and maintain social distance at all times as much as possible.

All the best to all the teams.

Shad Alfaz Ali, Navua

Supernatural element

This soccer week does not lack spicy discussions.

Apparently referees, linesmen, players, coaches or the spectators are not the only people who can influence the outcome of matches.

In some soccer circles, strong belief still exists that a learned ojha (witchdoctor) is quite reliable.

I learnt that for some unknown reasons, supernatural powers are confined to the domestic competition.

Missed opportunity, I guess.

On the same channel (it started to get hotter), some years ago, a makeshift exorcist was called upon for services.

He arrived well armed for supernatural war.

With just a plain whip.

He had one goal.

Either to successfully exorcise or get possessed himself.

The possessed asked to be hit on the back.

After two light doses, no progress was noticed so a third and final attempt was made with all might.

The possessed one became normal all of a sudden and turned to complain.

“Ka kare hamme etna jor se mara? Tum sochta hum chauwa?” (Why did you hit me so hard? Do you think I’m a cow?)

The makeshift exorcist left proudly with his new-found talent and the evil spirit never returned.

Mohammed Imraz Janif, Natabua, Lautoka

Terror, death, devastation

As I read Jone Vono Jr’s soccer story about loyalty (FT: 06/08), I was disturbed to see these words, ‘Terror, death, devastation’ written just above the masthead.

I saw the video of the massive explosion and I was saddened with the impact it had on Beirut, flattening the city’s port, damaging buildings across the capital and sending a giant mushroom cloud into the sky.

The explosion, sadly, killed more than 70 people and injured 3000, with bodies buried in the rubble.

Furthermore, the sudden devastation overwhelmed Lebanon which is already struggling with both the COVID-19 pandemic and a severe economic and financial crisis.

The situation in Lebanon is heartbreaking.

The videos that were posted on YouTube were also heartbreaking.

The country needs our prayers.

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Opposition budget

Jan Nissar (FT/5/8) said the Opposition helped Fijians see the budget in the real economic sense.

Time allocation does not give SODELPA sufficient time to present an alternative budget.

I believe their capacity to present a budget will come when they run government in the not too distant future.

Dan Urai, Lautoka

All lives matter

Drugs and prostitution are making the headlines and Fiji is not alone in grappling with these problems, which some say are indicators of societal ills: broken families, lack of employment, hunger, etc.

The reasons people get involved in these differ from one person to the next.

It is beyond the depth and work perimeter of the Fiji police to address them, they can only uphold the law and that’s about it.

But the Government is duty-bound to understand why these are happening, identify the underlying causes in order to address them.

The knowledge to articulate solutions is not with police officers, professionals or politicians.

It rests with the very people that are making these headlines (the drug-users, drug dealers and prostitutes) as they are the experts or ‘keepers of knowledge’ in this area.

How can we discuss them when we do not understand them or see the world from their standpoints?

I have no doubt that for some, getting involved with drugs and prostitution is about putting food on the table or a cry for help.

We will never know unless we ask them.

Now the media has done its part in highlighting these issues, the onus rests with Government to not ignore but find solutions.

And this is one area where Government cannot function without civil society organisations (CSOs) who have been engaging at the micro-level of Fiji’s society for decades.

It will pay for Government to eat humble pie and ask CSOs for help in this area because the country deserves evidential concrete long-term solutions.

Let’s find the ‘keepers of knowledge’ to these issues, let’s not discriminate against them, allow them space to talk and listen to them because the nation needs their help.

All lives matter!

Kurai Vakalalabure, Christchurch, NZ

Death trap

Monday’s front page title ‘Death trap’ sent shivers as students of Namosi Catholic Primary School crossed a damaged bridge on their way home at Narukunibua Village in Namosi.

The bridge was damaged during Cyclone Kina in 1993 and despite the completion of seven surveys, nothing had been done as the villagers continue to wait for restoration work to begin on the crossing which is accessed by students from the village who attend Namosi Secondary School and Namosi Catholic Primary School.

Former village headman Seru Leone stated that students were forced to swim across the flooded river during adverse weather to get to the main road.

I’m hopeful that some concrete work, rather than a survey, will be done to help our children.

Bravo The Fiji Times for the tremendous work!

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Traffic monitoring

I write this open letter to the authorities responsible for road traffic monitoring and attendance of accidents.

Be it noted that traffic accidents of all sorts, minor to major, occur on a daily basis.

The manner in which the police attend to these cases is very frustrating to all other commuters who are left sitting high and dry in the traffic until the roads are re-opened.

There is so much wastage of fuel, time and energy.

Commuters are delayed to work and have to face the wrath of their employers.

In this age of modern technology, do the police still have to block the roads and use tapes to measure accident sites?

I am of the opinion that the accident sites can be photographed and roads cleared quickly to allow for smooth flow of traffic.

We copy so many things from Australia and New Zealand.

I am wondering why we cannot copy their method of traffic accident management.

It is swift and a time saving device.

Some of our police officers can be sent there for short training.

I write this with the personal experience of being caught in traffic accidents and the ensuing frustration that builds up.

Dewan Chand, Donu Place, Namadi Heights, Suva

National budget subsides 

Interest in the national budget appears to have subsided as other stories appear to dominate the media headlines.

Well, whatever ones views on the new budget, let’s just hope individuals not forget to have love, compassion, kindness and care in their personal budgets.

Unfortunately, nowadays communities appear socially poor.

The basic society appears weakened.

Many families still spend much time on kava consumption, parties and things which bring less benefit but more headache.

In workplaces in Suva, the lasa i tuba or casual affairs still continue, and some workers look for any reason to consume kava on any day of the week.

All in all, let’s respect people’s privacy but not forget to have values included in our personal budgets.

Floyd Robinson, Toorak, Suva

Joy of volunteering

Most of us are social distancing, making us isolated and inevitably stressed.

Some groups have been hit particularly hard in the pandemic isolation, including the elderly, people who have lost their jobs and parents who are juggling work and child care.

Still there are people who are volunteering their time.

They are a generally good-hearted group that helps others, and getting a huge benefit that non-volunteers don’t.

Research suggests that volunteers aren’t just helping the communities they serve.

They actually experience a boost in their mental health — good news at a time when many Fijians are feeling symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Compared with people who didn’t volunteer, people who volunteer are more satisfied with their lives and rate their overall health as better.

Also people who volunteer more frequently experience greater benefits: Those who volunteered at least once a month reported better mental health than those who volunteered infrequently or not at all.

But does volunteering make people happy, or are happy people simply more likely to volunteer?

The researchers found the same results even when they accounted for participants’ initial levels of wellbeing before they started volunteering.

In other words, people who started to volunteer became happier over time.

While it’s true that happier people spend more time volunteering, studies suggest that you don’t need to already feel happy to benefit from it.

In fact, some research suggests that people who start out with lower levels of well-being may even get a bigger boost from volunteering.

Why does volunteering support mental health?

A combination of factors is likely at play.

Volunteering appears to be intrinsically rewarding — when we help others, we tend to experience a “warm glow.”

Volunteering is also likely to help boost a sense of social connection.

In particular, for older adults, volunteering can be a way to stay connected to others after retirement.

Finally, volunteering can be a way to build professional skills and try out leadership opportunities.

Stories abound in the US during COVID time of volunteers making food for others, as well as delivering medicine and other necessities.

Homeowners are opening their doors to give healthcare workers free places to stay while they isolate from their families.

People with sewing machines are making and sending masks across the country at no cost.

I volunteered at a premier high school in the SF Bay Area where my kids went to school.

I taught senior students how to speak better since good communication is so essential in every aspect of life.

Last year, I offered to do the same here since I am retired but my efforts were rejected by the Ministry of Education for some inexplicable reason.

I had guaranteed that at the end of the training the students could speak better than many MPs which would not have been difficult at all.

But I digress.

So if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed or out of sorts lately, volunteering can make you happy – a beneficial side effect of lending a hand to someone in need.

Arvind Mani, Nadi

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