Saturday, March 29, 2014

Natonal Federation Party ups the anti

from w
The Natonal Federation Party might give SOLEPHA a run for their money if they become an inclusive party, welcoming people not usually connected with their party. I mean Tupou, an experienced lawyer, daughter of Adi  Kuina Bavadra, and also on deck it seems is Ratu Jone Madraiwiwi who gave a speech also.  I'll post just one of the speeches here. Biman Prasad also spoke. He left the USP to move into political activity. One thing that does confuse and trouble people is that the rule is that some people have to resign from their jobs to stand, but others do not. Apparently the PM, AG, and others just keep on - with their salaries I presume, yet other CIVIL SERVANTS  must take the risk of resigning.

Tupou's speech.

PictureDraunidalo- new NFP President
TUPOU DRAUNIDALO'S Inaugural Speech as President of the National Federation Party, 29 March 2014.

"The immediate past President Mr. Raman Singh, our chief guest na Gone Turaga na Roko Tui Bau and ALL of our invited guests, members, supporters and officials of the National Federation Party.

I am honoured to give this inaugural speech as president of the party. Honoured to follow in the steps of past party members who carried the leadership batons - Messrs A D Patel, S M Koya, Irene Jai Narayan, Balwant Singh Rakka, Dorsami Naidu, Attar Singh and Raman Singh. I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to you all for having confidence in my suitability for this role, I hope to live up to the great expectations of the party.
Before I go any further, I want to take this opportunity to thank and commend my predecessor and his leadership team for holding this fort together in very trying circumstances.
In spite of the various decrees aimed at diminishing our freedom of speech and association – your leadership has brought this party back to re-registration and on even keel – fighting fit – ready for the upcoming elections. Thank you very much Mr. Raman Singh and your leadership team in the branches and at headquarters. You all know who you are and i can see that you are all here.
In this inaugural speech i wish to share with you my reasons for being a member of this great political party.

Opposition to all military coups
Ladies and gentlemen, we have all lived under and experienced life under a military government, on and off since 1987. We all know that these unelected and dictatorial governments – answerable to no one but their armouries – restrict our basic freedoms - of speech, association and religion; they discourage local and foreign investment; and they weaken and destroy important institutions of state.
The combination of those factors is the reason why Fiji is restrained from reaching its social and economic potential. The coup culture holds us back from progress and development. It keeps us in the third world in spite of all of our resources. And it holds us back from better schools and hospitals. It holds us back from more employment creation and better wages. It holds us back from leaving a stable, secure and prosperous Fiji to our future generations.
Look into the eyes of any child in Fiji today and ask yourself – am I doing enough to ensure that this child will grow up in a Fiji that is stable, secure and prosperous? A Fiji that has no more coups to deter investment? A Fiji that devotes its national budget to better schools, hospitals and other public services and utilities over military spending?
I am proud to say ladies and gentlemen that if the National Federation Party were to ask itself those questions – it can hold its head up high and say that it has done very much to ensuring a stable, secure and prosperous Fiji by consistently opposing all military coups in this country.

Human rights
The National Federation is a party of respect for human rights and equality for all citizens of Fiji. The party was in fact born out of the struggle for dignity and justice of all the ordinary people of Fiji. This is reflected in the party constitution since inception.
The party’s commitment to individual rights and equality can be seen in its submissions to various forums and its work in ensuring that these rights are enshrined in both the 1970 and 1997 Constitutions of Fiji.

Indigenous rights (Group rights)
Ladies and Gentlemen, the indigenous people of this land – we own our natural resources communally and we do very many things communally.
I am proud to say that this party has a very good record of appreciating this and working to ensure that these group rights are protected and that any reforms would be matters for self determination by we, the indigenous community.
This philosophy is clearly set out in the 1997 Constitution which the National Federation Party worked hard to sheppard through the Great Council of Chiefs and Parliament. Chapter 13, sections 185 and 186 of the 1997 Constitution enshrine and entrench indigenous rights.
Just as importantly, the entrenchment provisions of section 185 ensures self determination by the indigenous community in that all legislation dealing with our natural resources and other communal matters can only be amended with the ultimate consent of our elected representatives in the House of Representatives and Senate and traditional chiefs through the GCC nominees in the Senate.
As an indigenous person, I commend the NFP and its leaders and parliamentarians for those provisions in the 1997 Constitution.
But even before that process and before the coups of 1987, this party had broad representation in parliament of members of both houses of Parliament from the indigenous community. They include Messrs, Apisai Tora, Isikeli Nadalo, Atunaisa Maitoga, Ratu Glaniville Lalabalavu, Ratu Mosese Tuisawau, Ro Asela Logavatu, Timoci Naco, Sakeo Tuiwainikai, Ratu Jullian Toganivalu, Koresi Matatolu, Ratu Osea Gavidi, Ratu Napolioni Dawai II, Ratu Soso Katonivere, Filimone Nalatu and Temo Sukanaivalu. Those names ladies and gentlemen assure appropriate respect for and primacy of indigenous rights – one that would be jealously guarded and defended when required.

Promotion of youth and women
As both, a woman and a youngish one – I have a lot to commend the NFP. The party has had many women members and group leaders. And the party has always sought more members and participation from these two groups.
We are hopeful of attracting very many from this sector to contest the upcoming elections under the NFP banner.
As I said at another party meeting, this is the party that had Irene Jai Narayan as party president in the 70s then Adi Kuini Vuikaba as a coalition leader in 1990-1 – that is some time before women’s rights took a more central place in the discourse of this conservative and male-friendly country.
But as a party, we cannot rest on those laurels and the appointment of another woman party president – we can and we should do more. We led the way back in the 70s and we should lead the way again now to push for more independent women of substance in our ranks as candidates, office bearers and leaders.
Further, we should actively court and engage the young who need to get better connected to the political history of Fiji so as to prepare themselves better for the rebuilding task that lies ahead.
It is the youth who will take all of our hopes and dreams into the future and so we must involve them now in very substantive ways. As my own mother did with me – baptism by fire never did harm anyone.

Bridge between the educated and the community
Another attraction to this party has been how it is a bridge between the professional sector and the wider community.
One or two persons may make snide remarks about this party being a party of ‘elites’ due to the membership and support of very many professionals – but i truly cannot understand why the membership of professionals would be a bad thing.
Between you and me – i would rather an Economics Professor like Biman Prasad telling us about the national economy and related policies than a soldier. If we went to the hospital, i’m sure we would all prefer to consult the doctor and not a bone crusher.
Further, many high achieving professionals who have led this party had very humble beginnings and so their own personal stories of beating the odds to rise to national leadership should give our citizens hope for a better future.
I have it on very good authority that our former leader, Mr. Siddiq Moidin Koya (the son of a cane farmer) left school at class 6 at Ba Mission School. He never enrolled at a secondary school but he worked hard as a law clerk and cut cane himself to save enough funds to see him through law studies overseas and the rest as they say is history.
If that story does not motivate you, nothing will.

I wish to round up my inaugural speech by saying that the maturity of this party and its leaders, members and supporters was very attractive to me.
At fifty, the NFP shows its class – a fine history of service through dialogue and partnership with other political parties (ALTO, ALTA, 1970 Constitution, FNPF, Housing Authority, 1997 Constitution) and selflessness (both the party and its members). I like that style very much. Dialogue and understanding are sure ways to win allies and in a polarised state like ours – those qualities are rare jewels.

And so in conclusion, I say thank you once again for your confidence and endorsement and, i take this opportunity to ask each and every one of you party members and supporters to take these great messages (including your own personal experiences) about our party out to the electorate.
Let’s tell Fiji more about who and what we are and why Fiji needs very many NFP parliamentarians!
Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen."
Tupou Draunidalo

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Methodist church acapella or guitars?

from w
This is an interesting development and it has taken quite a long time. Of course in the Indian Division, musical instruments such as an organ have been used for a long time. Guitars and drums?  Not that I know of, but the youth like the modern style for their action choruses and include this in some of their meetings.  But it's a different style from the acapella four part harmony or even the Lauan polotu which traditionally is accompanied by a triangle.  Here's where I read about it - in the Fiji Sun. I'm sure many elderly church members would frown if American style choruses push aside the choir style of singing.  My view is to accommodate both styles and I'd go further to say that as I like Indian bhajans very much,  these ought to be added alongside Fijian Methodist hymns.

Methodists to use musical instruments

Rev Waisele Ketedromo (left), and Rev Tomasi Mawi of Serua at Centenary Church. Photo: Ronald Kumar
Ana Sovaraki
Divisional superintendents and chief stewards of the Methodist Churches in Fiji will take back to their divisions and circuits a proposal to introduce musical instruments in church services.
This was one of the proposals discussed during the third day of a week-long workshop to prepare for the church’s upcoming golden jubilee celebration at the Centenary Church in Suva yesterday.

Church’s general secretary Reverend Tevita Banivanua said they proposed to introduce the use of musical instruments alongside the church’s traditional system of worship, considering the interest of the younger generation.

“The Methodist Church is renowned for its singing and worship and we have preserved that. The introduction of musical instruments doesn’t mean that we will move away from that or eliminate it,” Reverend Banivanua said. 
He said the elders of the church may not accept the idea easily.

Brushcutters in Fiji and dependency theory

from w
How to win friends and influence people. It's been done before. And brushcutters are welcome gifts.  Much better than using cane knives to clean up a compound.  These were gifts given just this week.  I just wonder sometimes about dependency and how Fiji people often expect someone else to give them the provisions that they themselves ought to be finding through their own initiative.  Overseas aid gifts.  Local gifts from the Fiji Government. Gifts from charities. Certainly roads and bridges are the responsibility of a government, but small items surely could be purchased after team efforts by the local people to raise the funds.  Dependency theory may be studied in universities and certainly in Fiji, it's relevant.  I wonder if it's part of USP course material.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Defining 'bigotry'

from w
Friends of Fiji might be interested in something that has happened in Australia about bigotry.

The Australian talkback and website and blog comments are really flying after the Oz Attorney-General George Brandis let fly with the following: People do have a right to be bigots. In a free country people do have rights to say things that other people find offensive or insulting or bigoted.

Of course we have the right to private thoughts and views but it gets sticky when these thoughts lead to bullying and insulting people. We also should have the right to be given respect. And there is a huge stretch from saying something crude about a person on a ‘cold call’ line to a passionate tirade against a person or group based on a generalization – whether it’s red hair colour, left-handedness, ancestry, language, religion, dress code or gender and so on. The Attorney-General is foolish to raise this topic in this way. It goes against all the hard work done in schools about bullying and in society about respect and acceptance of other persons.

Some of the comments on the ABC website -
7:21 PM on 24/03/2014
This is really a no brainer. My freedom to say what I want stops where your freedom to say what you want begins. As no one can agree as to where this point actually is - we have laws to define that point. Remove the law and, I suggest, there will be a possibility of chaos.
7:17 PM on 24/03/2014
'to be bigoted: having or revealing an obstinate belief in the superiority of one's own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others'
In my mind, if we want to deal with it in this way, the liberty that you gain from spouting your prejudiced intolerance is not greater than the detriments and offense caused by actions which are able to be judged under this clause. Even if it is, the vast majority of cases which are dealt with under this clause, of racial discrimination towards ethnic minorities etc, are catered to by the Ethnic Discrimination Act.
This isn't even addressing the moral and ethical implications, and that this has been done with very little consultation.
bide and fecht
7:16 PM on 24/03/2014
Sorry....I still struggling with Andrew Bolt and respect being mentioned in the same sentence, let alone it being a statement that Andrew Bolt would be the one offering it.
I get nostalgic every now and then and think about the good old days, but unlike the LNP I've never had the power to go back in time. This statement alone will encourage every biggotted voice in Australia to let fly.....We have become a bogan nation, and the worse we could ever want instead of aspiring to be the best we could become.
guust flater
7:14 PM on 24/03/2014
Why is the government so hell-bent on changing these laws to please Bolt?
Did they have an agreement with him before the election in return for his support?
6:56 PM on 24/03/2014
The country is really going back 50 years and is dumming down with great speed
6:56 PM on 24/03/2014
Brandis, Abbott, Bolt and Morrison should be made to live for twelve months together on Manus Island. That might give them a smidgeon of humanity.
old man
6:55 PM on 24/03/2014
Well if you think that legislating against a person saying what they think is going to change their thinking, then you are total fool.
You can put as many rules forward as you want to but it won't stop me from thinking.
It needs education to change peoples thinking, not a big stick.
1 reply
6:53 PM on 24/03/2014
Most of the people who dont want the law to change are supportive of those people who carried some of the worst placards ever seen recently at march marches.
Go figure?
Score: 3
6:51 PM on 24/03/2014
If we are going to water down hate speech law then we need to strengthen the libel and slander law. If people can tell untruths about others in the guise of "free speech", people should have some legal right of reply.
con sider
6:49 PM on 24/03/2014
I would suggest that this mob in government be very careful what they wish for.
What they are proposing can come back and bite them very severely at a later time, and when it does,(and it will), who will they blame?
I wonder?
6:49 PM on 24/03/2014
Is it consistent with the concept of free speech that free speech can be used to diminish the free speech of others?
6:23 PM on 24/03/2014
Given the following definition of a bigot: "a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion" (,
Brandis' comment "People do have a right to be bigots you know," simply contradicts his stated view that Government is acting in the interests of free speech.
It seems to me that he is acting in the interests of people such as Andrew Bolt who make a living by selling advertising on the back of provocation and controversy.
mentat render
6:19 PM on 24/03/2014
Agreed, you should have the right to be a bigot as long as you wear a badge or tattoo identifying you as such.
ordinary person
6:18 PM on 24/03/2014
Question is where you draw the line. If it is used to insult or discriminate a particular ethnic group it is wrong. Sometimes, there is a confused view that you have to respect other people's views. Not necessarily. That means everyone has to shut up not to offend the others. You respect their right to hold a different view from yours and express it freely. And they should understand that you have the same right. Democracy gives you the right to tell certain things which others don't like to hear and forces you also to listen lot of stuff you don't like to hear. Whichever way, preaching racism, hatred, and violence should be out of bounds.

By political correspondent Emma Griffiths

RELATED STORY: Coalition MP prepared to cross floor over Racial Discrimination Act
Attorney-General George Brandis has defended the Government's plan to amend a key part of the nation's racial discrimination laws, saying people have "a right to be bigots".
The Abbott Government has promised to amend the Racial Discrimination Act by repealing section 18C, which makes it unlawful for someone to publicly "offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate" a person or a group of people… (section deleted)
Bigot definition, a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion. See more.

Grand Pacific Hotel new uniforms

from w

It is pathetic if they have to go for an overseas designer as the local fashion designers are great!  Going by the photograph it doesn't look that smart to me or represent Fiji really. 

Mr Diethelm said the uniforms were designed in three colours — blue, light brown and dark brown.
"Blue is for the sea, light brown for the white sandy beach and dark blue for dark Fijian chocolate. The uniform would be worn during the soft and grand opening of the hotel."

Now that certainly is an oversimplification of representing Fiji life?  Where's the scarlet ginger, the rich green plant life?  And what's with the weird hats?  Are we in Morocco or somewhere in Africa?  Here's a comment from the Mailife blog.
John Delanakaikai This Uniforn design is worn by train conductors and people from India and Asia, GPH just became a laughing stock all over the world, and worst of all it was design by an Australian Based Company, who have no taste to the Fijian Culture and Tradition,all there boast about is Royalty...really..even the Royals here in UK..would laugh if they come and visit, coz its so out of fashion with Fiji Tradition...cant wait for it to be on the Top Worst Hotel Uniform offence to the beautiful ladies and guys here,,but shame to the Desginer and GM of GPH...

GPH unveils colonial look

Ropate Valemei
Saturday, March 22, 2014
GPH staff members Eremodo Vatuwaliwali, left, Maria Tauleka and Isimeli Savou model their new uniforms in Suva yesterday. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU
GRAND Pacific Hotel management is leaving no stone unturned as it strives to maintain the colonial look of one of Fiji's iconic landmarks.
GPH general manager Eugen Diethelm said this "colonial look" extended to their business attire with staff members modelling their new uniforms in Suva yesterday.
He said they had different sets of uniforms for different departments at the hotel.
"There will be four different types of uniforms to give that colonial look.
"The uniforms were designed by an Australian designer.
"The designer is a lady from Sydney who also has a company in Hong Kong."
He said the colonial theme for the hotel staff members' corporate wear complemented the 1920-1930s era as well as the hotel's interior and exterior designs.
Mr Diethelm said the uniforms were designed in three colours — blue, light brown and dark brown.
"Blue is for the sea, light brown for the white sandy beach and dark blue for dark Fijian chocolate. The uniform would be worn during the soft and grand opening of the hotel."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Many rivers to cross

from w
Not all roads lead to the village. Some children walk very very far to their school  and adults walk very very far to sell their vegetables, etc.  Crossing rivers too such as in this story from Labasa.  And the reason - gravel extraction!   I remember a time when 'someone' was taking sand from our seashore, and 'another' was taking gravel from our hilltop. Not happy at all. One of the relatives chased them away and was very cross about it all.

Crossing struggle

Salaseini Moceiwai
Friday, March 21, 2014
CROSSING a river in their home wear every morning and changing into uniforms before walking to school has become a daily ritual for students of Korotari in Labasa.
The reverse occurs in the afternoons. The twice daily dips in the river, according to parents, is the result of gravel extraction carried out in the river a year ago.
Parent Mohammed Khalil said the situation was never an issue in the past because residents used to wade through shallow water.
He said a contractor had extracted gravel from the river a year ago.
Acting Commissioner Northern Alipate Bolalevu said they would look into it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Jone Madraiwiwi, a thoughtful man

from w
I read this article and wondered why Jone Madraiwiwi has been very quiet lately, but he certainly has been thinking about Fijian identity and ways of doing things, especially the culture of silence. The  recent article. is

Beyond a culture of silence and was published in Republica.

The apparent absence of debate, particularly among the Taukei, is attributed by commentators to ‘a culture of silence’. Open, vigorous public discourse is not yet a feature of Taukei or Fijian society at large. It has been explained in terms of a cultural milieu in which authority and communal structures coalesce to muffle expression. While media controls and self-censorship have not helped, it is the epistemology, ways of thinking, of the Taukei that invites closer scrutiny.
‘Silence’ does not necessarily mean consent. It is the lack of oral and written expression about issues passing for acquiescence. From the colonial era to the present, Taukei took refuge in silence until the political climate improved. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, blog sites etc.) represent a contemporary variation, allowing disaffected Taukei to express opinions anonymously.  An assertive few, on opposing sides of the divide, eschew such inhibitions in that virtual world. Safe haven notwithstanding, it is outside the wider public domain. Sanctuary afforded by ‘silence’ comes at a price: uncontested interpretations of issues and events become historical truth and received wisdom.
Reluctance persists among Taukei to ventilate issues of interest openly whether the traditional system, sustaining Taukei culture, the Taukei language, qoliqoli, the protection of land or the status of indigenous people post-December 2006. It is compounded by several factors. Blood and kinship ties remain significant. Personalities matter more than issues. Opinions are an extension of the person and difficult to separate. And the ubiquity of connections renders security in numbers of larger societies meaningless.
Consequently, leaders take offence easily because there is no distance between them and their audience. The ‘personal’ element permeates and colours all relationships: traditional, political, economic, social and religious. Social interaction is complicated by the relative frequency with which people meet at weddings, funeral gatherings, other ‘oga’ (traditional/social obligations) and settings. The implications for free-flowing discourse are obvious: reluctance to disagree for fear of offending.
Communal thinking is interwoven with this ‘connectedness’. The group is preeminent and the individual secondary. The latter is a component of the whole. His/her utility lies in the credibility and weight lent to the consensus. It is sometimes self-evident, but more often a combination of interventions from key persons or groups and circumstances. There is little leeway for the self-validation essential for the flow of ideas.  Seniority determines one’s right of audience and “who can and cannot speak”. Empowerment constitutes work in progress particularly for women and youth.
Advocating a public position necessitates taking a stand. It is not as simple as Nike’s ‘Just do it’ slogan. Consequences arise: it obliges others to react. This may be unsettling if they prefer not to be involved. Individuals or groups are identified with a position, limiting their room for manoeuvre with possible repercussions. In June 1977, as naïve law students, my good friend Graham Leung and I wrote to the Fiji Times criticising then Governor-General Ratu Sir George Cakobau’s decision not to invite Mr S. M. Koya to form government. The National Federation Party had won a plurality in the May election. My fleeting temerity was swiftly aborted by the opprobrium my politician mother endured.
Dissembling is a valued cultural trait: maintenance of relationships and social cohesion is the highest good. Consensus is valued and dissent discouraged. Where it arises or is anticipated, the preceding discussion and ensuing outcome are framed in general terms. It allows those present to project a ‘consensus’, interpreting proceedings to their benefit. Individuals usually reserve judgment during this process to gauge the tide of debate. Throughout this exercise, details are glossed over and face is saved. Either way, it does not allow for closely argued exchanges characteristic of intellectuals and academia.
There is also a sense that indigenous identity is a Taukei prerogative. While not a view I share, the assumption is only Taukei can appreciate the essence of indigeneity. Disinclination to participate in public fora is the result.  Interestingly, the extent to which Taukei are committed to “a common and equal citizenry” of the present dispensation is intriguing. Ambivalence in acknowledging this country belongs to all Fijians continues. Fuelled by a perception that shared identity has been unmatched by reciprocal gestures, for example as in recognising the autochthonous and unique character of the Taukei language. A simple illustration: Taukei wince at references to the Taukei rather than Fijian language, bespeaking inferiority.  Furthermore, use of the phrase “iTaukei” in English displays egregious unfamiliarity with the Taukei language itself (legislative fiat aside – The ‘i Taukei’ reference is mandated by Fijian Affairs (Amendment) Decree No 31 of 2010).  ‘I’ partially serves as the article as in ‘Na i Taukei’ (the Taukei) or ‘Na i Vola Tabu’ (the Holy Bible). The phrase ‘the iTaukei’ in English (lit. ‘the the Taukei’) sounds repetitive, awkward and pretentious to Taukei ears, especially when uttered by non-Taukei.
These minor irritants nevertheless demonstrate how the ‘culture’ curtails more honest dialogue. Taukei keep these feelings to themselves, stoking victimhood. Shared, it serves to heighten awareness and sensitivity among Fijians although that process may be confronting. Those observations about use of ‘i Taukei’ exemplify the spectacle of unchallenged perspectives morphing into accepted orthodoxy. Wadan Narsey has expressed concern about this trait in analysing possible causes for the ‘hibernation’ (Narsey’s description) of ‘Fijian’ (i.e. Taukei) intellectuals.
The manner in which Taukei relate to authority bears on this discourse. The hierarchy of the traditional system, although modified, continues to apply between leaders and led today. Forthright, direct comment yields to endorsing the prevailing orthodoxy. It safeguards the position of followers in terms of anticipated largesse, guising their actual opinions. Taukei are accustomed to dealing with their rulers in this way as a means of self-preservation. The extensive protestations of support for the government, some of which is doubtless genuine, may be understood in that light.
At the same time, some perspective is useful. While the culture has tended to reinforce the status quo by limiting challenges to authority, individuals capable of strong leadership have been able to buck the system to attract a following. Navosavakadua, Apolosi R Nawai, Ratu Emosi of Daku, Sairusi Nabogibogi and Ravuama Vunivalu formerly, Butadroka, Ratu Osea Gavidi, Bavadra, Rabuka, George Speight and Bainimarama more recently have lain claims to prominence.
Their populist appeal and charisma, the promise of a better future and a pointed rebuke to the ‘establishment’ for supposed failings partly account for their success (though varied).
Levelling of both the Taukei community and wider society, particularly since independence, reflects an irreversible trend: those from more representative backgrounds dominating leadership. That dynamic will have a liberalising effect over time. A vision of the future surfaced during debate in 2006 over the Qoliqoli Bill which sought to extend property rights to Taukei fishing rights. It was protracted, vigorous even fierce but open and peaceful. Such scenarios are attainable but an enabling environment is a prerequisite.
The other relevant consideration is that informed and sustained debate requires familiarity with issues, intellectual inquiry and reflection. For Taukei, earning a living, raising a family, undertaking tertiary studies and involvement with ‘oga’ consume their time, energies and resources. It is one reason Taukei are often absent from activities such as service clubs. ‘Service’ as they conceive it is material and financial support provided to immediate and extended family; or bearing the educational and boarding expense of close kin in straitened situations. Taken with obligations to the vanua and the lotu, there is a cost: capacities for conceptualising and articulation thereof are appreciably diminished.
Additionally, the phenomenon of reading not being popular among the Taukei and wider population is worrisome. It is more than a means for acquiring credentials. Exposure to ideas, development of rational thought and nurturing of imagination engendered by this process is critical. Reading moulds the shape, quality and frequency of debate. It stimulates the ability to formulate, synthesise and articulate ideas clearly and logically.
Despite that lack, the situation is changing gradually. Regulation is being eased accompanied by empowerment initiatives for women, youth, people with disabilities, rural populations and other marginalised groups. Rising standards of education and exposure especially in the form of foreign work experience, the present dispensation, the pervasive presence of the media, in addition to accessibility to information technology have all had an impact. The resulting paradox: a more permissive social environment facilitating increasingly diverse opinion.
There remains a need to provide more open, honest debate within Taukei and wider Fijian society, so citizens are able to participate effectively in the issues of the day. It is critical for our development as a nation and as part of the global village. For this to happen, understanding this psyche of ‘silence’ makes possible remedial measures through socialisation, educational initiatives, empowerment, community and civil society support and other means. While ensuring the emerging landscape is focused and engaging rather than visceral; promoting balance with respect but not hostage to sectarian sensibilities. Journeying beyond a culture of silence to where meaningful dialogue and debate become commonplace.
·         Joni Madraiwiwi is a traditional leader, lawyer and a former Vice President of Fiji (2005-6).
This article appeared in the March 2014 printed edition of Repúblika on pages 26 and 27.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Fijians in YWAM

from w
Yesterday Peceli and I drove to Surrey Hills (Melb) a leafy surburb with fine houses to YWAM (Youth with a Mission) for a gathering of Lomaiviti Fijians. We arrived on time and waited and waited for the lot to turn up, so I explored the strange rabbit warren set of old buildings and took photos. It was lovely to meet some of the Fijian young men who are studying the Discipleship program and working with the excellent youth outreach in difficult places in Melbourne and beyond.  Some had come from Levuka. YWAM is a non-denominational training and outreach for Christian youth and is international. We'd met some of their young people before such as at the Geelong Waterfront. The buildings at 1 Kent Rd. there evoke a past history that is problematic though - it was a Catholic orphanage for many years with some sad stories, some on web sites. YWAM have been there for thirty years so it's redeemed somewhat. I'll post something abut that later. My photograph of the beautiful Lomaiviti girls didn't turn out which was bad luck as Labasa and Lomaiviti have a specially jolly relationship. Driving home to Geelong was a bit of a pain, with a very bright sun up in front.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How to treat the stranger

from w
Padre James Bhagwan often puts an article into the Fiji Times, and for Lent he has given a piece from Lenten studies organised by the Pacific Council of Churches for a gathering in Suva. I was interested to read one by Francois Pihaatae. PCC's general secretary - the part about  'the stranger' is relevant in today's world.

The biblical narrative of loving the stranger speaks to Israel's own experience: "You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the hearts of the stranger — you yourselves were strangers in the land of Egypt." (Ex 23:9). "When a stranger lives with you in your land, do not ill-treat him. The stranger who lives with you shall be treated like the native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God." (Lev 19:33-4). In these two verses God is telling the people of Israel, "You know what it is like to be different, because there was a time when you, too, were persecuted for being different."

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Israel had to undergo exile and slavery before their birth as a nation. They had to learn from the inside and never lose the memory of what it feels like to be an outsider, a stranger (the ritual of the Passover every year is a reminder of this lesson). Moses had to undergo his own exile in Midian ("Gershom", the name of his first son, means "there I was a stranger". Only those who have felt the loneliness of being a stranger find it natural to identify with strangers. The Bible's single greatest and most revolutionary contribution to ethics/morality is this:

We encounter God in the face of a stranger.

Friday, March 07, 2014

World Day of Prayer

from w
Yesterday in many churches in Fiji the annual World Day of Prayer linked women and also men to the rest of the world.  Dudley church in Toorak, Suva.  A Labasa church. Many others in towns and villages. Ecumenical, not just Methodist.

Here where we live in Geelong, Wesley Uniting Church was one of the local venues for this annual World Day of Prayer, something we feel connected with women and men all over the world using the same material in a worship service, this time from Egypt but written before the current political troubles. The theme - water in the desert. I went to this service and we shared lunch afterwards. children from St Mary's School took part also, and it was truly ecumenical. The preacher Joy was from the Church of Christ in the city. It is always a good feeling to feel connected with people in hundreds of countries through this service. One photo is two of my friends from East Geelong, our local church on the corner of Boundary Rd and Ormond Rd. behind a funeral parlour!
ke ·  · 

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Ro Kepa leader of political party

from w  and from Fiji Village this afternoon:   - Strong words from a strong lady.

The Marama Na Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Teimumu Kepa

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Ro Teimumu Kepa is the new leader of SODELPA
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Ro Teimumu Kepa is the new leader of SODELPA
Publish date/time: 07/03/2014 [17:10]
The Marama Na Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Teimumu Kepa is now the President and Leader of the Social Democratic and Liberal Party.

She was unanimously elected as the Leader by the party management and the announcement was made in the Special General Assembly at the FTA Hall.

Ro Teimumu has also announced that she will contest the general elections later this year.

While speaking as party leader to over 200 people gathered, Ro Teimumu said SODELPA will ensure that religion will be allowed to be practiced openly in any institution without any limitations. 

She said that if SODELPA wins, then God will be put in it's rightful place.

She also questioned why the Fiji Military Forces and the Police are not subject to any religious restrictions. 

Ro Teimumu said both these institutions are allowed to pray together.

SODELPA has also revealed that their intention is to ask the Supreme Court for an advisory opinion on the status in law of the 1997 constitution.

There is an audio file attached to this story. Please login to listen.

Ro Teimumu said if SODELPA comes into power after the elections, it will resume a multi party government with the Fiji Labour Party and will invite like-minded parties to join.
She also laid out SODELPA's plan for the first 100 days in office which include the removal of any restrictive decrees, removal of the restrictions that were placed on the Methodist Church of Fiji, undertake a comprehensive review of the legality of the Fiji National Provident Fund's unilateral reductions of pension entitlements and ensure that pension contractual agreements are honoured. 

Ro Teimumu also said that the Fijian Affairs Board and Multi Ethnic Affairs scholarships will be brought back.

SODELPA also said that it will reinstate the Great Council of Chiefs.

There is an audio file attached to this story. Please login to listen.

Ro Teimumu said the Land Use Decree and the Mahogany Decree will also be abolished and all itaukei land will only be managed by the Itaukei Land Trust Board. 

She said the Chairman of the TLTB will be chosen by the landowners.

Ro Teimumu said the equal distribution of lease money to landowning units will also be reviewed as she claims the current system is effectively destroying the communal foundation of the indigenous Fijian society. 

SODELPA also said that if it forms government after the elections, it will seek traditional reconciliation meetings with the military under its new leadership.

Ro Teimumu also welcomes the pledge from Army Commander, Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga that the military will be non-political. 

Those who attended the Special General Assembly included Mahendra Chaudhry, Lavenia Padarath, Viliame Gavoka, Leba Qarase, Raman Pratap Singh, Mick Beddoes and Attar Singh.
Checkout for the photos on fijivillage facebook page. 

Story by: Vijay Narayan and Gwen McGoon

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Ash Wednesday in Fiji

from w
It's a Catholic and Anglican tradition to put an ash cross on the forehead of members of the church on Ash Wednesday.  Even in the Uniting Church in Australia this custom is happening nowadays, such as in Geelong when our Tongan minister took a lovely service last night using ashes from our written prayers of confession burnt with palm crosses from last year's Palm Sunday.  We did this outside the church on a garbage bin lid as we didn't want the smoke alarm in the church to go off. Then the ashes was mixed with oil. Then we moved inside into a quiet reflective time. We had words and wonderful photos put up on the wall by the data projector to remind us of fire and ashes and our lives mixed up by  hurting one another and occasionally grace. We had Holy Communion next and the song 'Comfort, comfort, all my people.'

Earlier in the day I had met a senior lady, Mrs Fullerton, at a funeral, and she had a black smudge on her forehead. I thought at first it was a bruise but she said, 'Oh no, I've been to church this morning for Ash Wednesday!" She is the wife of the late Rev Doug Fullerton who was a beloved minister one time at Dudley, a long, long time ago.

from the Fiji Times:

Time of reflection

Rebecca Medhurst
Thursday, March 06, 2014
THE Lenten season has begun, and Christians worldwide have been celebrating with the various traditions and holidays the season brings.
During this 40-day period, many Catholics will try to alter their way of living in order to become better Christians — some by giving up things they enjoy, but many others by choosing to forgive and forget about previous disagreements.
The season provides Christians with a perfect opportunity to reflect on their actions, put matters right and begin life anew, says Pacific Conference of Churches general secretary Reverend Francois Pihaatae.
"In the case of Fiji, as the nation prepares for a fresh start and elections in September, it is pertinent for all leaders — religious and secular — to recognise that much hurt has occurred throughout our history," Mr Pihaatae said.
"If we merely push ahead without addressing the hurt and division, these festering problems can come back to haunt us in future.
"With deep humility, may the PCC suggest that during Lent, all Christian churches take the time to go through the process of healing, of seeking forgiveness, of forgiving others?
"Let us open this process to people of all faiths who call Fiji their home."
Mr Pihaatae said the late Methodist Church president, Rev Tuikilakila Waqairatu, had proposed a ritual washing of the feet in all divisions and churches as the beginning of the healing process.
"We must wash the feet of our friends — literally and figuratively — during Lent, difficult as the process may be," Mr Pihaatae said.
He said reconciliation was a three-fold process: Realisation that a wrong has been committed, expressing remorse and making right through appropriate actions.
Mr Pihaatae said the message of reconciliation and forgiveness was applicable throughout the region, especially in Maohi Nui (French Polynesia), West Papua and Kanaky (New Caledonia) where people struggled for self-determination.
Other communities affected include the people of the Northern Pacific — affected by nuclear testing in the 1950s — and low-lying atolls affected by climate change.
"The PCC wishes all people of the Pacific a meaningful and blessed Lenten season," Mr Pihaatae said.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Rev Bill Gillard a friend of Fiji

It was with sadness that we heard of the passing of Rev Bill Gillard, always a friend of Fiji and of all kinds of people. Richmond Church friends wrote:
In Richmond, Bill was a passionate activist for social justice over many years: a man of wise and generous vision. Bill led us in worship and offered leadership. He gave himself unstintingly to many practical and pastor matters, including caring for our Iranian friends. We grieve with June, Penny, Talei and Family but rejoice in a life lived beautifully.
The congregation of
Richmond Uniting Church.

Studying to be a minister, Bill Gillard was a colleague of Danny Mastapha and Edward Caleb then he led a  Methodist work camp to Fiji and later was a minister at Butt Street, Suva. Back in Melbourne he welcomed Fijian migrants in a fellowship group at Richmond Church. Throughout his long life he was a compassionate person, concerned with social justice and care of individuals and families.  The funeral will be held at Wesley Church Melbourne Wednesday morning from 10.30 a.m. Rest in peace Rev Bill.

(Later - Thursday)  Yesterday Peceli and I drove up to Melbourne for the funeral, a very crowded Wesley Church in Lonsdale Street. It was a dignified fine service paying tribute to Bill with some good old Wesleynn type hymns as well as  John Bell song. Afterwards we had a light lunch in the adjoining Nicholas Hall, still very very old so perhaps they can't modernise it because it's heritage listed.  We met a few Fiji people there, especially with links to Butt Street such as Peter and Dorothy Trail. We paid a huge sum for parking next door -  $80 for just over two hours.  Sobosobo, us country bumpkins were very naive by driving into that car park!  The funeral procession meanwhile had proceeded to a small country town in Gippsland for the burial.