Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Fijian girl in Melbourne

from w
Elisapeci Vakaloloma's family live near Melbourne and are part of our Fijian community church at Altona Meadows/Laverton. Here are some pictures of her, with a Little Athletics trophy and one of Elisapeci reading the Bible at church. The family are preparing to go to Fiji for her Auntie Lutu's wedding in Suva so it is a busy time.

Friday, November 28, 2008

New migrants in Geelong

from Peceli
On Thursday night we attended the Annual Meeting of Diversitat, the Geelong Migrant Resource Centre organisation that grew from a concern for new migrants to the region. The early migrants sixty years ago were mainly from Italy and Greece. The most recent migrant communities have come from either Sudan or Burma such as from the Karen tribes. We were delighted to have a Karen group sing to us at the meeting and I was surprised to notice that the songs were Christian, though in their language. The Sudanese and the Karen families who have come to Geelong as refugees are often busy with intensive English language classes or one to one conversation. There are over forty different ethnic communities represented on the Diversitat Council. It was an Awards Night also and I was honoured with a certificate as a representative from the Pacific and thirteen years on the committee.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wadan takes a deep breath and then says it

from w
This is one of the strongest articles that criticize the recent Interim Government Budget. Hmmm. It's a feature article in today's Fiji Times. and also in the Fiji Sun. It's a strong article. Rather than copy it here, you can look it up on the Fiji Times or the Fiji Sun site.
Legacy of evil and deceit
By Professor Wadan Narsey
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Who's got $20,000 play money?

from w
This new 'Second home visa' is only meant for rich people. Not everyone has $30,000 or $20,000 play money to put into a bank deposit in Fiji, so it is a selective visa. It's not for an ordinary bubu to go back to the village in retirement (if he's taken out another citizenship!) A second gripe is that the exit tax on visitors to Fiji has been upped to about $70 which is too much. Hey, if you want to attract tourists and visitors to Fiji, that's not the way to go, nor is the hefty price of Air Pacific tickets - e.g. Melbourne to Nadi return in the Christmas season is over $1500! You can just about get to Paris for that!
from Fiji TV news:
Attracting foreign currency funds through new immigration policy
23 Nov 2008 02:38:41

Non-Fiji residents who intend to settle in the country will have all legal rights, except for voting. The 'Fiji My Second Home' Program is part of Budget 2009 - which allows non-citizens to reside in Fiji on a multiple entry social visit pass. The Department of Immigration says, the goal is to attract foreign currency funds into the country.

The new 'Fiji My Second Home Programme' announced in the 2009 national budget is one of the many schemes by the interim government to attract investment, that will eventually grow the economy. The programme will allow non citizens to reside in Fiji on a multiple entry social visit an effort to attract foreign currency funds into the country including expenditure locally for retirement and here living by non-citizens. The programme has some requirements though those who use this facility, will need to satisfy certain critieria including a fixed deposit placement of $200,000 for those aged 50 and above and $300,000 for those aged below 50. Interest earned from deposits will be exempted from tax. Those who fall under this category will have all the validity rights in the country except for voting.

The program comes into effect on January 1st, 2009.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

So why don't they get fined $1 million dollars?

from w
Today's Fiji Times - the FSC last..... they they caused the river pollution. It's been going on for decades I expect, so why weren't they fined? Thank you to the students of All Saints Secondary School for persisting in analysing the water quality of the Qawa River and alerting the adults that this is a problem that is not going away.

FSC takes blame for polluted river
By Theresa Ralogaivau
Monday, November 24, 2008

THE Fiji Sugar Corporation has accepted blame for pollution in the Qawa River after test results showed it dumped an excessive amount of untreated waste and toxic substance into it, killing marine life.

Test results presented to the Labasa mill management showed there was a heavy sugar discharge into the river.

Tests showed it was at an appaling 470,000 mg/litre when the normal standard was nil sugar presence.

Hot water poured into the Qawa River after being used for cooling purposes in the mill raised the river temperature, killing river plants and vapourising useful gases.

The bio chemical oxygen demand of a river, which is a gauge of the effectiveness of an industry's waste water treatment, showed 18,480 mg/litre when the accepted standard was 40mg/litre.

Macuata Rural Local Authority board secretary Rakesh Kumar said the river was in a bad state because of the high level of pollutant being dumped into it by FSC.

"Mostly in pristine rivers the BOD is 1mg/litre, in moderately polluted rivers, it has a BOD range of two 8mg/litre yet the amount in the river is beyond comparison even with the 600 mg/litre for untreated sewerage," Mr Kumar said.

There was also an unacceptable high level of nitrogen and ethanol discharge along with calcium, which is found in lime, used in the mill's production process.

The results explained that the stench emitted from the river, and which permeated the atmosphere for miles around, had a distinct rotten-egg smell which is a relevant feature of hydrogen sulphide.

Test samples were taken in two stages from eight spots along the river. The first stage was before the mill resumed crushing and after crush started. "Prior to the mill opening for crushing the BOD was low, however, there was a drastic increase to 18,480 after the mill started," Mr Kumar said.

Tests were carried out after All Saints Secondary School students and hundreds of residents along the river complained of headache.

"What we need to remember is that this management alone cannot be blamed for the problem because it has been there for decades,' Mr Kumar said.

Mill manager Uday Nand said the FSC was going to put in place changes to save the Qawa River.

"We will work together to get the things improved," he said.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Is a variation of the tagimoucia flower?

from w
Maybe it is the same species but there are often variations of plants so the one found in Bua could be the same or a little different. I had heard before that the tagimoucia did grow high up in the mountains of Vanua Levu. I read this on the Fiji radio site.
Fiji’s unique flower Tagimoucia discovered in Bua
Thursday, November 20, 2008

Revelations are that the unique flower Tagimoucia which is found only in Taveuni has been discovered in the highlands of Bua in Vanua Levu. In the interior of the district of Dama, stands the Na Votuvotu peak – the highest peak in Bua. It is said from the peak one can see the whole of Vanua Levu and its is from this mountain top the Tagimoucia which is known to the people of Bua as Tekiteki Vunimoceyawa has been discovered.

The difference between the Tagimoucia in Taveuni and that which has just been discovered, is that the Bua species has a mixture of red, purple and white colors in the inside of its petals.

Legend has it that it is the Na Vutovuto peak where Naulumatua planted the first Bua plant and named the province after the flower. However he did not want to reside there because he could still see his native Verata village in Tailevu where he was initially chased from. This prompted the young chief to move back down to Seatura and settled.

The Tagimoucia was discovered by the people of Bua and confirmation was done by USP researchers.

Packing a container for Fiji

from Peceli
The container is full and now locked, ready to send to Fiji. Here are some photos taken at the Geelong depot of Donation in Kind on Tuesday morning. One is of Wendy, Errol and Joy packing books donated by a local school. Most volunteers are retired people with connections with Rotary, or just friends who want something useful to do.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thank you Obama

from w
Does Obama drink Fiji water? Now that could be capitalised upon surely!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thank you Kris

from w.
St Mary's Primary School right on the main street in Labasa town, has been there such a long time and is still going. The St Mary's hostel not far away is on land given by Peceli's Dad way back in the 40s. Anyway they are fund-raising at present and here's a story about a lad who is doing his bit for the school.
from Fiji Sun:
Charity begins at home
A 13-year-old boy has set an example that charity begins at home after he volunteered to raise $1, 000 for his former school. Kris Dayal, a former St Mary’s Primary School student in Labasa was part of the school’s fundraising drive as it desperately needs money to pay its debts.

Noticing his parents’ busy schedule at their newly opened hotel, Kris took a bold step of setting up a snow kone and pizza stall at the school ground where he was helped by the hotel staff.

The stall had a poster which reads “Every dollar you spend at this stall will be a direct contribution to the school”

“As a former student, it is time to do something as a token of saying thank you to the school for what it has done to my development as a person,” Kris said. His parents Vinesh and Rachel Dayal said they were proud of their son’s initiative to help the school.

“I am a proud father that my son is part of this effort,” said Mr Dayal

“This should encourage former students to come out and be involved. “Parents can only give as much time they have. Listening to your child can also make a big difference.”

There were lots of activities at the school ground where parents and children were busy selling soft drinks and sweets.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Remembering Amelia

from w
An interesting article appeared in a Fiji paper this week - especially relating to the women of Fiji and a reference to a great heroine, Amelia Rokotuivuna. What a courageous woman she was!
The ACS gang and my gang: a need for PNGPs

Dr Wadan Narsey was invited by the Adi Cakobau School Old Girls on the topic "Empowerment of women: dismantling boxes". Below is what he said:
For a number of reasons, I was reluctant to speak at your forum. But I thought a bit more about the request from Dr Sereana Kubuabola where she stated (and I quote)
“The last 18 months period has been a very challenging time for our members some of whom have been directly impacted through loss of employment, loss of family incomes, and a sense of being lost in Fiji.”
The “sense of being lost in Fiji”, struck a chord, interestingly, as it could also be used to describe the state of mind of many Indo-Fijians who have opposed the 2006 coup.
Sereana went on to say that while the ACSOG would like to become involved in the development of the nation, their good intentions had been overtaken, and I quote again, “by the lack of self confidence and proficiency”. That I quite disagree with.
No one really knowing the persons and professional lives of Amelia Rokotuivuna, Suliana Siwatibau, Taufa Vakatale, Susanna Tuisawau, Dr Esther Williams, Dr Eci Kikau or Markareta Waqavonovono would ever conclude that ACS Old Girls lacked confidence or proficiency.
Indeed, looking around, I am asking myself, is USP being controlled by ACS Old Girls mafia (except for a few blokes here and there)?
But, given the huge depth of talent they clearly have, why on earth should ACS Old Girls feel discouraged from “becoming involved” in national decision-making?
Why on earth should they have any sense of being “lost in Fiji”?
Your theme “Empowerment of women: dismantling boxes” is appropriate. But what we do need to question is that very ambivalent concept of “silence” - supposedly an intrinsic part of Fijian “culture”, and further, its gender dimension.
We could also usefully examine the interesting phenomenon of “male gangs” which never feel lost and which very overtly have always seemed to empower Fiji’s men-folk.
I will begin my personal and somewhat bitter-sweet experience of “gangs” I have known over the last three decades, and how differently affected they were by the coups of 1987 and 2006.
---The 70s Radical Gang
My first real gang developed in 1973 when I got involved in a project organised by the USP Student Christian Movement, to document the dominant control of Fiji by foreign mainly Australian capital.
We produced a booklet called Fiji a Developing Australian Colony and spoke on it throughout Australia and in Fiji with unions and other NGOs.
That gang was seen by Ratu Mara and his ministerial colleagues as dangerous and possibly communist. Who else was in that intrepid gang?
A leading light was your great ACS alumni, the late Amelia Rokotuivuna, then the director of the YWCA. While others in that gang have dropped out of sight, some are very visible today: Rev Akuila Yabaki, Jone Dakuvula, and John Samy.
Three decades later, these three are in a totally different gang from me. You can guess which gang Amelia would have been in, had she been alive today.
But one lesson I have certainly learnt, if you stick to your principles, your gangs will have a habit of changing - you are an “insider” today, Albert Camus’ “outsider” tomorrow.
One effect of the 1987 coup was that it pretty well broke up that gang.
A QVSOB coup in 1987?
Soon after the 1987 coups, I was joking with a very prominent QVSOB civil servant (married to a sadly now-deceased ACS Old Girl): “You QVS Old Boys are behind all these coups”.
I was only half-joking. Because there were QVS Old Boys springing into high places all over the place, even civil servants suddenly appearing in uniforms.
But my friend growled back: “What about your Marist gang that has controlled Fiji for the last 20 years with the help of Ratu Mara?”
Well, I had never thought about that. Was there really a Marist gang in the 70s?
A Marist gang?
In hind-sight, I could see that in the 70s there were an unusually high number of Marist Old Boys in high places - in Government, statutory organisations and semi-private sector companies like Air Pacific.
No doubt partly because the first Prime Minister of Fiji, Ratu Mara, was a Marist Old Boy and a Catholic.
No doubt also, in those years there would have been many capable Old Boys and Old Girls from QVS, RKS, Natabua, Xavier, Labasa College, MGM who were turned away from jobs they deserved, because some Marist Old Boys were favoured.
But I also know that many Marist Old Boys coming from poor, uneducated, unimportant non-Catholic families received no advantage as “Marist Old Boys”.
For me, the myth of a “Marist Old Boy solidarity” was sadly exposed after the 1987 coup. Those who opposed the 1987 coup were seen as enemies by those in power, then including not just Rabuka and the army, but also Ratu Mara and his ministers, some also Marist Old Boys.
I also felt a great sense of alienation then, when many Marist Old Boy friends (through cricket, soccer, or squash, or even teaching colleagues) would cross the street, rather than be seen talking to me.
A few part-Fijian Marist Old Boys changed their ethnic identification, as it became useful to be a Fijian, and not a kailoma or a part-Chinese.
Many ensured that their part-Fijian children were registered in the VKB, while a certain Savenaca Siwatibau, the great Fijian icon (and a QVS Old Boy), was facing expulsion from the VKB, on suspicion that he had Indian or kailoma blood.
For me, the supposedly multi-racial glue of Marist Old Boys disappeared into thin air, when challenged by the racism and politics of the 1987 coups and its aftermath.
And a Marist Catholic coup in 2006?
In 1987 and 2000, the Methodist Church faced a lot of public criticisms - no doubt because of the very visible involvement of the Methodist Church hierarchy.
But in the last two years, the blog-sites have been alleging that the 2006 coup is a Catholic “Marist Old Boys” coup. Perhaps because the Commodore, some Interim Ministers, and new board appointees are Catholics. Perhaps more so because the Head of the Catholic Church and some of his priests have taken a very prominent role in publicly justifying the NCBBF, the Charter, and the alleged need for electoral reform- all of which are coup-related initiatives.
But while easy, it would be factually quite wrong to conclude that the 2006 coup is a Catholic Marist coup, or that the 2000 and 1987 coups were Methodist or QVSOB coups.
While it is very human to label any group doing something together, as a “gang”, gangs are often not what they appear to be.
The truth is that all the coups have been supported by mixtures of all kinds of people drawn from different religions or Old Boys networks.
The 1987 coup may not have succeeded if Ratu Mara and other Ministers of his (some Catholic) had not supported it.
The 2006 coup would not have survived to this day without the support also of the Fiji Labour Party and the Hindu organisations such as the Arya Samaj.
Equally, we can also say that coups have also been opposed by people drawn from different religions and Old Boy or Old Girl networks.
And whenever individuals oppose a coup that their normal “gang” supports, there naturally arises the feeling of “alienation”.
Why alienation?
When Amelia publicly opposed the 1987 coup, she also went against her chiefs, the hierarchy in her religion, her community, numerous of her friends, and even many members of her family. She was physically traumatised. In 1987, your famous ACS alumni may also have felt a sense of being “lost in Fiji”.
But the hall-mark of a great individual is the strength of moral conviction to say “let us stay on this track, let us not give in to political expediency”, when everybody else is saying “let us go off the track”.
After this 2006 coup, there are many Indo-Fijians also feeling “lost in Fiji”. They face a cold shoulder from the majority of Indo-Fijians and their leaders, and indeed other former friends of all races, who actively support the 2006 coup.
But today, I take comfort that I do have an invisible college which opposes the 2006 coup. You can call it an “intellectual gang”, because it hardly ever gets together socially.
And this “intellectual gang” is drawn from all religions, ethnic groups, professions, and rankings in life. It contains Old Boys and Old Girls from Labasa College, St Josephs, QVS, RKS, Ratu Sukuna, ACS, Grammar, and yes, still the odd one from Marist.
I do not “feel lost in Fiji”.
So why would some ACS Old Girls feel “lost in Fiji”?
Culture of Silence or Cunning?
I suspect that there are two inter-related reasons - one because the ACS Old Girls are largely indigenous Fijian, and second, that they are females.
I am sure that there is no consensus among ACS Old Girls on the 2006 coup. Nor should there be one.
But what should be of concern to the ACSOG Association is that while the majority of the Fijian community oppose the 2006 coup (for whatever reason), there are so few ACS Old Girls who publicly stand up for the principles of constitutional law and order.
It was so much harder for Amelia when she opposed all the powerful people in her community, including her friends.
This “silence” from your Fijian elite is often defended by anthropologists, often with implicit sympathy, as an element of Fijian “culture”.
But there are critical sociologists and observers, who point to other very Machiavellian reasons for this “culture of silence”: prominent would be elements of convenience, cunning (euphemistically called “strategizing”) , and perhaps even cowardice.
Do the Fijian rank and file remain confused and “feel lost in Fiji” because the Fijian elite are strategically staying silent , not taking a public position on a controversial issue in case they are punished, just waiting to see which side wins, perhaps before joining the band-wagon?
Historically, such cunning behaviour was associated with male Fijian leaders. Read Derrick’s history of pre-Cession Fiji- it also explains a lot about today’s Fijian politics.
At the QVS Old Boys Forum last year, in the aftermath of the suspension of the GCC by the Commodore, I listed ten criteria by which the chiefly system could be judged.
No Fijian leader publicly responded. Ironically, the only response was from the Commodore’s Task Force who asked me to help in their Review of the GCC.
A good question for ACS Old Girls to ask: are the Commodore and his military personnel so dominant today in public life, only because of the huge leadership vacuum left by those who should be Fijian leaders and are not?
Today, we also have to ask these questions of female Fijian leaders, including the elite from ACS Old Girls, who no doubt suffer from an additional burden.
The gender burden
While QVS Old Boys or the Marist Old Boys have been readily accused of coups, why has the ACS Old Girls not shared in this dubious honour?
Well, firstly, ACS Old Girls have had to marry Old Boys of other schools- in the early years mostly the dominant men from QVS, RKS, Ratu Sukuna, and Lelean. Within their households, their husbands’ views, and the “male gang” views, would usually prevail. The ACS Old Girls are merely “servers of other agenda”.
Secondly, ACS Old Girls within the Fijian community, regardless of their education or professional seniority are simply not allowed equality in decision-making alongside males. It does not matter whether they are Education Ministers or USP Vice Chancellors.
Not surprisingly, ACS Old Girls have probably never explored their potential to be a “political gang” having an impact on national politics or development debates, or doing coups.
But, surely that is a good thing.
The challenge today
As in 1987 and 2000, today there are ACS Old Girls who actively support the 2006 coup. Just as there are those who vehemently oppose it. Perhaps the relative numbers have changed over time.
The real challenge for ACSOG as an organisation is to encourage your Old Girls potential leaders to come out of their “culture of silence” and to assert their views- whatever they are.
I am sure that part of the reason why many ACS Old Girls feel “lost in Fiji” is the failure of the ACSOG elites to be “intellectual beacons”, of whatever colour and whichever direction, in the way that Amelia was.
ACS Old Girls should not be asking “how did ACS produce someone like Amelia”. They should be asking “why are there so few Amelias?”.
ACS Old Girls need to not just exercise their full political rights as equal citizens and voters in this country alongside the males, but to also provide political leadership, to “stand up and be counted” on critical issues.
They do not need to dwell on how special they are as “ACS Old Girls”.
They need to express their solidarity, on shared principles and beliefs, with the Old Boys and Old Girls of any other school, not as a united ACS Old Girls “gang”, but as PNGPs- Principled Non-Gang Persons.
That is what would lead to sustainable empowerment of women, bringing them out of their “boxes”, for the good of Fiji.

Whither the charter?

from w
Fiji Times and Fijilive have been quick off the mark to announce an important court decision today. Sobosobo Lorini and co, you owe me a good dinner of fish in lolo with the trimmings!
from Fijilive:

Fiji High Court stops Charter work

The Fiji High Court has ordered the interim Government to stop all work on the draft People’s Charter for Change, Peace and Progress. The order was handed down by High Court judge Justice Filimoni Jitoko after midday today.

Justice Jitoko ordered that the interim Government stop “promulgating any law, decree order or doing or recommending anything whatsoever to alter or amend the 1997 Constitution or anything whatsoever, including changes to the electoral system that are contrary to or inconsistent with current provisions of the Constitution until the final determination of this matter”.

As well, the interim Government has been ordered to stop distributing articles, leaflets, forms and announcements, advertisements and publication on radio, television, newspapers and any other form of media to secure support for the document.

Other orders stop the interim Government from convening public meetings to promote the Charter and restrain the interim Government from using civil servants and government facilities to promote the Charter.

The final order stops the interim Government or its representatives from appropriating and paying any public funds to the National Council for Building a Better Fiji – the body charged with drawing up the Charter.

The case was brought to court by Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua leader, deposed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

The proceedings have now been adjourned to 10am next Tuesday for directions on the hearing of the plaintiffs’ originating summons.

Qarase and the SDL are plaintiffs in the case and Justice Jitoko has ordered that court costs of $1200 be paid to them.

and from Fiji Times
High Court order against State
Friday, November 14, 2008

Update: 2:12PM The High Court in Suva today passed five orders that will stop further work on the draft Peoples Charter and the interim government from promulgating any law.

The five orders by the High Court judge Justice Filimone Jitoko are:

Firstly, that the interim government of itself or by and through the defendant their agents and/or their representatives restrained from promulgating any law, decree order, or doing or recommending anything whatsoever to alter or amend the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of Fiji, that are contrary or inconsistent with the current provision of the Constitution until the final determination of this matter.

Secondly, that the interim government of itself or by and through the defendants their agents and/or their representatives restrained from distributing articles, leaflets, forms and through announcements, advertisements and publication on radio, television, newspaper and any form of media for the purpose of securing public support for changes to the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of Fiji and/or supporting and promoting the Peoples Charter until the final determination of this action.

Third order, that the interim government of itself or by and through the defendants their agents and/or their representatives restrained from conveying public meetings and gathering in any part of the country or any form of meeting whatsoever to promote and obtain support for the amendment of 1997 Constitution of the Republic of Fiji and the Peoples Charter generally until the final determination of this action.

Forth order passed, that the interim government of itself or by and through the defendants their agents and/or their representatives restrained from engaging and utilising civil servants and government machinery including vehicles, personnel, building, office equipments etc to promote and obtain support for the amendments of the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of Fiji and the Peoples Charter general until the final determination of this action.

The last order by the High Court, that the interim government of itself or by and through the defendants their agents and/or their representatives restrained from appropriating and paying any public funds to the National Council for Building a Better Fiji (NCBBF), its agents and/or representatives until the final determination of this action.

The next court proceeding will be held next Tuesday for the judges direction on the hearing of the complainants originating summons.

The defendants in this matter are President Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu, interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, interim Attorney General Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Archbishop Petero Mataca and NCBBF's Mr John Samy.

(later: And six hours later, the reaction!)
from editorial of Fiji Sun:
A day of drama in the court
In what must be one of the fastest legal processes in Fiji's legal history, a ruling by a High Court judge halting the draft People's Charter process was stayed by an acting judge of the same court only hours after it was given. The ruling by Justice Filimone Jitoko delivered at 11am was stayed - that is halted - by Acting Justice John Byrne. Justice Jitoko had ruled in an action brought by ousted prime minister Laisenia Qarase and the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Party seeking to have the People's Charter process declared illegal. Justice Jitoko ruled that the charter process should cease at once pending a final judgment in the case. Approximately five hours later Justice Jitoko's ruling was stayed by acting Justice Byrne on the application of the interim attorney general. According to Mr Qarase's and the SDL's legal team, they heard of the stay order only through the media. There is as yet no available written stay order, though the interim attorney's statement that such a verbal order exists cannot be doubted. Nevertheless, this is a massive setback for the interim government - whether the stay order is permanent or not. As has been repeatedly pointed out by this newspaper as well as other organisations and individuals, the charter cannot be implemented without amendments to the constitution which the interim government has consistently stated is the supreme law of the land. The status of the constitution was further confirmed in the High Court judgment that legitimised the coup. It was further cogently stated in yesterday's judgment by Justice Filimone Jitoko: the constitution can only be amended by an elected parliament. So where now for the draft People's Charter? The direction is at best unclear. The precise reasons for the stay order are not known. It is believed that acting Justice Byrne will give his reasons on Monday. Until then, the Jitoko judgment is without legal force. What, then, does it all mean for Fiji's return to democratic rule? At this early stage it is difficult to see how the conundrum of the constitution versus the charter can be resolved. Commodore Bainimarama's position - no charter, no election - seems highly unlikely to alter. At the same time the court's stayed injunction may yet gain the full force of law. That remains to be seen. These are difficult and highly uncertain times for Fiji - but ultimately the rule of law must prevail. The nation will now urgently await the final decision of the court on this vital matter. And in his judgment yesterday, Justice Jitoko acknowledged the fact of the national importance, urgency and intense public interest of this case. Of course it is vital to the interest of justice that all the parties will be heard and a fair judgment delivered. Similarly, the stay order can no doubt be challenged at law. But at the end of the day justice will be done and no matter the final outcome that's what we should all hope for and respect.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Computer woes send me scratching the wall

from w
A glitch of some kind last night stalled my boot-up. I blamed the game-player in the house while we were up at Altona representing the Fijian congregation at a meeting. I knew I needed a new battery because the time was reverting to 1980 every three or four days. Anyway I was in a panic, and we unhooked half a dozen cables, drew a diagram on how to put them back, then went to the shop where we bought the computer over three years ago. Four hours later, I rang the technician and he said, 'Hmmm, not looking good. It won't work yet. The hard drive does wear out you know!'

So I watched kiddies TV, I cleaned the kitchen, I watched a bee prowling around the rose bushes. I drew. I painted. Rather woosy pics though. What if we have lost all our email addresses! I couldn't edit pages of a booklet I am writing. I was thinking - I haven't backed up all my files!

Anyway by 6 p.m. Peceli came back from a DIK meeting and had picked up the computer at 5. It is working! How clever is that technician! Thank you Shane! He told Peceli, 'Tell Wendy to back up all the precious files.'

Monday, November 10, 2008

Remembrance Day

from w
For many people, today marks 11th November, the day World War 1 ended and a red poppy signified the fields of Flanders and the madness of war.

for our family, the 11th November marks the birth of our second son at Ba Hospital 39years ago. A beautiful son and in thirty years he lived so fully. So joy and sadness mingle. Rob - 11.11.69 - 10.7.2000.

Friday, November 07, 2008

One long supercalafragilisticexpialadotious sentence

from w
I know that many Fijian men have the gift of the gab - aka speechmaking - but this one long sentence is really funny. It's from a letter to the editor of the Fiji Times today when talking about Fiji as NOT a democracy!

Fijocracy is a takeover-vulnerable type of government system that is, in a roundabout way, based on the Westminster system of governance merged with the indigenous Fijians' fazed traditional administration and various political and universal systems, charters and protocols, recognising indigenous Fijians' adopted religious beliefs while purporting to respect any and all other religious beliefs allowing for a shut-out-free-handed Lower House-based government duly elected through under-proportioned common roll-based representation, overly-proportioned ethnic roll-based representation with a closed-room-ethnic-based-cosmetic-autocratically-appointed executive and Upper House representation backed by a politicised-unionised-professionally-academically-recognised-yet-suicidally-expensive and uncheckable civil service solely defended by a totally-legally-reactive-but-illequipped-and-otherwise-sedated legal system.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Beaut speech from a winner

from w
I came back from a women's meeting where we wore funny cup day hats, to be greeted by Peceli 'Shhhhhhh.' He was watching the TV intently. A few minutes later Obama and his family were centre stage and a very beautiful speech, passionate, simple, humble followed. Yes, it is time for a change and it is a historic day. It is a tough world out there and our prayers are with the new leader in USA. I found bits of the text of his speech here:

Change has come, says President-elect Obama
By Wesley Johnson, PA, in New York
Wednesday, 5 November 2008

President-elect Barack Obama and family members appear on stage for his victory speech at his election party in Chicago

America is a place where all things are possible and the "dream of our founders" is alive, President-elect Barack Obama said today.

The man who will be the first black President of the United States was cheered by hundreds of thousands of supporters as he walked on to a stage in Chicago with his wife Michelle and young daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, seven, at his side.

His era-changing victory came as he swept a series of key battleground states, winning Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

"We are, and always will be, the United States of America," he said.

He said it was time to put "hands on the arc of history and bend it once more to the hope of a better day.

"It's been a long time coming but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America," Mr Obama said.

He said he had received an "extraordinarily gracious" call from his Republican rival John McCain, who he said had "fought long and hard" for this campaign and for his country.

"We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader," he said of the former Vietnam prisoner of war.

"I congratulate him, I congratulate Governor (Sarah) Palin for all that they've achieved.

"And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the month's ahead."

He paid tribute to his running mate Joe Biden and said he would not be standing on stage tonight without "my best friend of the past 16 years, the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady, Michelle Obama".

"Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House," he said to cheers from the crowd.

He also said he knew his 86-year-old grandmother Madelyn Dunham, who helped raise him but died of cancer late on Sunday night, would be watching.

Mr Obama also thanked his campaign manager David Plouffe, whom he described as an "unsung hero" who "built the best political campaign, I think, in the history of America.

"To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics, you made this happen and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done," he said.

"Above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to: it belongs to you.

"I was never the likeliest candidate for this office; we didn't start with much money or many endorsements; our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington."

He said his campaign "began in the backyards of Des Moines (Iowa)" and was built by working men and women "who dug into what little savings they had" to give small donations to the campaign.

"It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generations apathy, who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

"It grew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers.

"And from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organised and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from the earth."

"This is your victory."

Delivering his message, Mr Obama told those whose support he had not won: "I hear your voices, I need your help and I will be your president too."

He told those watching outside the US that "our stories are singular but our destiny is shared.

"The new dawn of America leadership is at hand," he said.

"To those who would tear the world down, we will defeat you.

"To those who seek peace and security, we support you.

"And to all those who have wondered if American's beacon still burns as bright, tonight we've proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth but from the enduring power of our ideals, democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

"That's the true genius of America."

Mr Obama said the challenges to come were "the greatest of our lifetime" - two wars, a planet in peril and a financial crisis.

"The road ahead will be long, our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year, or even in one term, but America I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

"I promise you, we as a people will get there."

He said there would be "setbacks and false starts" and the government would not be able to solve every problem.

But he said: "I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.

"Above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America in 221 years, block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

"What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.

"This victory alone is not the change we seek, it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were."

He called for a new spirit of patriotism and responsibility "where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look not only after ourselves, but after each other".

He added the "great victory" was won "with a measure of humility and a determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress".

Monday, November 03, 2008

Fijians in Melbourne

from w
Peceli went up to Melbourne three days in a row - last night for a party to thank the helpers at Makalesi and Eroni's wedding and to farewell some of the visitors. Here are a few photos from last night's party.

Whoever wins, how will this affect Fiji?

from w
Some commentator in Fiji said it won't make any difference, but I wonder. Anyway I found this picture on the web. Our TV has been full of the American election every day, every night. What a waste of money - could have gone to the poor of the world surely! But I am betting on Obama winning.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Ma and Eroni get married

from w
Here are a few pictures from yesterday's wedding in Melbourne - our tram-driver friend, Ma (known as Lisa by the tramways colleagues) and Eroni from Nadi. It was a lovely celebration at St Marks Uniting Church in Chadstone and then a party in Oakley at a very large hall. Lots of laughter, great speeches, food and conversations with old and new friends. (more stories and pictures later.)