Subject: Pita Driti -January 6, 2007
I have a message for army officer Pita Driti from a relative of Laisa Vulakoro.
He as the Land Force Commander gave orders for innocent and courageous Fijians to be picked up and taken to the army camp for questioning. He and his superiors are nothing but cowards because they hide behind the guns they have.
They have now won themselves the title of "women bashers".
They have disgraced the institution that Laisa's uncle and Fiji's sole Victoria Cross recipient, Sefanaia Sukanaivalu, died preserving. Driti should ask himself whether he had remotely done anything to uphold the proud tradition of the Fiji military he and his misguided and deranged superiors have now bastardised?
History only records heroes and not the likes of Bainimarama, Driti, Kean, Teleni and Leweni.
Driti should know that as long as he walks this earth, the people of Yacata in Cakaudrove will always despise him and his bullies for what they did to Laisa Vulakoro.
PM Be Firm - 10 November 2006
The PM must never bow to the illegal, illegitimate and nonsensical demands by the Military to withdraw any of the Bills his government is currently navigating through parliament. He has the support of all indigenous Fijians minus the brainwashed lackeys of the Military Commander who he labels as his "silent majority". The BLV has upheld the legality of his government and the paramountcy of parliament to make laws. I suggest he has again the mandate and endorsement of this body and he should go ahead and implement the policies.
Has the Commander ever thought of the generational impact on Fijians if these legislation are not enacted? As in other nations, when natives' interest get positively addressed in a significant manner, the country's progress often flourishes because the discourse then moves on to developmental and not "rights" based entitlement. I will tell the Commander that what the PM is striving to achieve for indigenous Fijians in Fiji is the envy of similar indigenous groups in other Pacific nations with a large European population.
The real issue with the Military and Commander's position is the very low regard they have of the average Fijian who they keep believing as not being smart enough to discern the implications of these legislations. I would suggest it is perhaps an assessment more suitably directed at the Military leadership, than Fijians who have and will in generations to come, never rest until they have back their entitlements and birthrights.
Military Officers - 4 November 2006
Police should go ahead and arrest the Commander and blacklist him as an international fugitive if he wants to defy Police authority to do so. Then let us see what he and his lackeys and yes people under him resort to in response.
What is obvious in all this sad development is the lack of steel and loyalty in the officer corp in the Fiji military to the institution, instead blindly pledging their loyalty to the Commander. The officer corp should wake up to the folly of this and be counted to redirect the Fiji military back to its rightful and proud place as an agent of the state and people of Fiji that is under civilian control.
History often remembers only those who stand up to do the right thing for their country and not for an individual who happen to hold sway for only a period in time. Let Fiji record in its history those officers in Fiji's current military who will decide to take such a step. Fiji and the vanua eagerly awaits.
Subject: Army's Outburst - 16 October 2006
As an obvious apologist for the military in Fiji, Iliesa Cewanivavalagi (FT 15 October) is displaying a dismal lack of understanding of the organisationa and machinery of government.
There is nothing wrong in the military alerting government to implications of any intended policy, but it has to do this within the processes set out for government agencies and not as an added arm of the state. The military is an agent of government and subject to its decision making and policies. It is therefore odd for the military to be opposing government policies let alone publicly advocating against it. Sadly, this appears to be conveniently ignored by Cewanivavalagi.
It indicates bad leadership and smacks of hypocrisy when you expect your subordinates to tow the line while not applying the same principle to those who are your superiors and who are legitimately mandated through the electoral process. This in essence is what is
fundamentally wrong about the Miitary's outburst in Fiji. Anyone blind to this is refuting the indefensible and belittles the excellent work and reputation of the military built up over the years, especially by those of our forebears who spllied their blood upholding this and similar principles.
Those of us who have retained our Fiji citizenship while working away for the time being, feel very keenly the lost opportunities the perceived instability such a confusion is creating offshore. To that end I would be taking every opportunity, such as at my upcoming Bose ni Yasana on my island, to table and discuss the topic with others.
Perhaps Cewanivavalagi could do something similar, and outside his immediate circles, if he really cares for the military in Fiji.
Subject: Indigenous Partnerships - 15 October 2006
The just completed Melanesian Arts and Cultural Festival in
In the area of public policy, it is this same ingredient that is critical, yet lacking, in seeking to move indigenous groups up the economic value chain. But the political environment in which this has to be pursued do not often place a high regard on those values. Value conflict is the very basis of problem solving and the need for governments. Even worse when approaches to solving those problems in government are often derived from a monocultural and largely Eurocentric base.
One way to capitalise on this value based approach is increased partnerships among and between indigenous peoples in the Pacific. For
What would be unique in this partnership is the need to not only learn from each other on how to develop and obtain a commercial return from their natural assets, but also to gain an understanding of each other’s history, myths, arts and culture as indigenous people. These are areas in which a common understanding based on peoples’ values and beliefs could be used as levers to drive other opportunities such as economic and business development.
It is simply about applying and utilising human and cultural capital to realise economic outcomes. It is founded on affirming who we are as people as opposed to the exploitation of who we are and what we own for the time of our lives, on behalf of our forebears and those to come ahead of us.<>Subject: Economic Panic - October 2006
While the doom merchants may be having a field day in relation to the current economic situtation in Fiji, there is no need to panic at this stage. Government has signalled a number of key economic reforms that should help curb the blow out in its spending while
maitaining its current account status. Reforms of a number of departments and ministries should provide opportunities to absorb surplus staff from core departments. However this need to be accompanied by more concerted effort to recover lost revenue either through unpaid taxes, duties and fines.
Dealing with the demand side will only bring about limited savings if revenue rightfully due to government is also not efficiently gathered in. Raising the dividend paid to government from its commercial entities should also be part of raising its revenue base as some of them continue to underperform.
Investment in infrastructure is also critical and much needed even though it is capital intensive and has long term impact on government accounts. Tourism and trade depends on it and Fiji is now reaping the cost of not investing in the now aged infrastructures and
utilities. With these in place, Fiji has every chance of emerging from its current economic situation without creating additional pain for its citizens.
However, all these would be useless in an environment of political instability as has been singularly generated by an unruly military. That is why a Supreme Court ruling of its role is critical to sorting out its proper place. While it is obvious to most, the military does not yet realise that its untutored foray into politcs in Fiji now poses as the single most factor that will relegate Fiji back into the backblocks of developing nations. Perhaps this is what
the army commander was referring to when relating his vision of Fijians back to wearing grass skirts.
Subject: Military Leadership -October 2006
The Military's recent submission on the Qoliqoli Bill
merely lay bare again for any right thinking person to
conclude that its leadership has reached its use by
date. As everyone locally and even externally have
witnessed, it has become one of the biggest obstacle
for Fiji in trying to move forward.
One of the marks of good leadership is knowing when
you have become a hindrance to the desire of the
majority to pursue a particular path. Despite blatantly obvious
signals and directions to the Military that this is what Fiji wants,
as enunciated by those legitimately mandated to do so, they persist in
their illegal attempt to derail the wishes of the
government of the day. It now behoves those in the
military with sense to show true leadrership and
correct the path the current commander is taking the
Subject: Economics Not Politics - August 2006
Fijians have tended to respond to perceived or real erosion of their rights in the political governance of the country in political terms. This has often resulted in either some restoration of those rights or the tipping in the balance of power to the other end of the nationalistic spectrum, sparking condemnation allround. Often not much gain in real economic terms arises from this political recalibration until the next so called “political upheaval”.
What if the responses have been economic via a concerted focus on developing Fijian human capital and asset base to yield ongoing economic and commercial returns? The fact that the economic lot of a majority of Fijians have not significantly improved as a result of righting the political ship, would mean that
The challenge then for Government is providing a climate that will enable the Fijian potential to unfold and blossom. Yet this will remain only a dream if the size of Government is around 11% of GDP, and investment is largely towards consumption. It is a clear indication that
Subject: Review NLTB – August 2006
Recent cases of Fijian landowners resorting to blockades over developments on their land point to a disturbing trend that requires a focused policy response from Government. It must be understood that these are not unrelated but interconnected issues that is world wide as the centre of government begins to deal with the desire by its citizens for self sufficiency and independence.
Fijians no longer regard the State as their own as in former times. Just look at landowners taking government to court and recent blockades. Devolution of power outwards always push government in the way of trying to preserve the status quo. Instead, what is required is a good stocktake of what is and should be the role of the State in fostering self sufficiency and independence. Those indicating the desire and are able, should be supported to gain independence from the State. To this end, machinery of government initially set up to preserve the centre also has to be assessed if it is still "fit for purpose".
Sad to say in the case of the NLTB, its organisational culture and mode of operation increasingly appears to be all about keeping Fijians under the apron of the State. This is simply contrary to the tide of events as Fijians want to strike out their own pathway to self sufficiency and independence from the State.
Subject: Sack Commander-June 2005
The latest childish outburst by the Commander against the PM further reveals the sad state of affairs in the military and the increasing risk posed by them against moving the nation ahead.
As stated by the CEO in the PM's office, what is clearly lacking in the military is credible intellectual leadership capable of discerning what the legitimate role and functions of public servants are and acting in accordance within the rules of the public service. One simply has to contrast how the Police Commissioner goes about engaging his political superiors in order to table operational matters for his portfolio to how the Commander stumbles all over rules of public sector governance with undue arrogance. The said thing about it all is that the Commander may have inadvertently brought this on without even realising the gravity or consequences of such actions.
Any law abiding public servant would know what to do if he or she feels strongly about the policy direction of the Government of the day. The decent and honourable thing to do is to resign, join a political party, and take on the Government on the same political footing, not hiding behind the cloak of the public service and taking pot shots at the Government that pay his salary, then appealing to the political and moral high ground to justify his actions. Worse still, to also brainwash junior officers in the military to his line of thinking against Government speaks more of his insecurity than the legitimacy of his position.
By his actions, the Commander may well not realise that he and the military have now become the biggest obstacle to moving
Subject: Reconciliation Bill - May 2005
The proposed Bill is so far the best approach to bringing about closure to the events of 2000 despite the opposition raised so far by the vociferous few, most of whom could never claim to represent indigenous Fijian aspirations.
It needs to be made clear that the cost in political, social and economic terms of Not moving to bring matters to a close would stifle current and future desire for stability and positive development. In essence, it is about weighing and balancing the observance of justice on one hand and the need to move ahead as a nation. For now, it is my view that moving ahead rather than placing too much weight on "punishing" the perpetrators, which appears to be the driving agenda of those opposing the Bill.
Fijians are not going to put up with the ongoing retributions meted out to those who now want to move on to positive development and dialogue without being dragged back by the vengeful desire of politically correct public servants and misguided and politically naive elements in the military.
Subject: Unity Bill Cost – May 2005
Dr Wadan Narsey placed a $6million cost on the Unity Bill in a way designed to suggest that it would be a waste of resource and effort.
As an economist, he should have seen it fit to also compare such a cost with the benefits that would result from undertaking such an exercise. The finality in resolving differences and its impact in ushering in a climate of stability would no doubt result in untold return by way of inward investments, unclogging the courts system and general positive outlook of the future. Admittedly, it may well be difficult to quantify valuations that could be placed on some of these changes. Dr Narsey, to be balanced in his analysis should at least acknowledge this other side of the ledger.
Doing so would be a much more balanced approach to his analysis in that it would make it clear that for any decision there are always trade-offs involved. And that depending on the valuations applied, people, and in the case of Government its true representative, unlike the military or police, have the mandate to consider and implement.
Subject: Message for
The choice for the Commander and others in the army who think they're to be treated differently from other public servants is nakedly simple- tow the line and follow Government policy consistent with the concept of government or resign and test your mandate with the people so that you could engage in a political debate with Government on policy issues.
Have they not caught on to the concept that it is Government that sets policy and public servants carry it out, no matter how unpalatable it is? That is what being a public servant is about, in that you serve the public through service to those who legitimately have the mandate of the people, which is the Government of the day. Once you engage in a debate that impinges on that mandate as a public servant, the honourable thing to do is to resign and seek that mandate in order to legitimise your position in that debate. After all, it is Government that pays your salary pure and simple.
Subject: Under-Performing Government Companies - February 2005
I have always argued, and continue to hold, that major State enterprises are not being challenged enough so as to return maximum revenue for Government. A reason could well be in the formula for structuring dividend payments, in that based on profit, State enterprises such as Telecom Fiji and Fiji Post could achieve their target without any connection to the level of investment (by way of capital and asset worth) tied up in the enterprises.
A much more realistic approach would be a return based on 10% net worth of the enterprise compared to over 50% of profit. I distinctly recall commenting on this same point some years back on Winston Thompson, now of Telecom
Subject: Law as Policy – October 2004
Recent, current and upcoming court cases involving Fijian chiefs around their alleged involvement in the political events of 2000 raise fundamental issues around the place of laws as instruments of public policy.
In effect, outcomes to date of court cases such as that for the Vice President, appeared to have elevated the place of laws of the land and the status of judicial officers who administer it, to a position which for a place such as Fiji, seem unrealistic and bound to be unproductive in public policy terms. I say this because it seems clear that law making and legal pronouncements in
Law is merely an instrument of public policy, a means available to elected people to realise outcomes they seek for their constituencies. To the extent the law becomes an obstacle, it is well within the mandate of those popularly elected to seek changes to it. It seems to me that
Subject: ADB Projection Flaw – September 2004
I recently read an item on the Asian Development Bank's forecast for
Too much undue emphasis also appeared to be placed on the political situation and its impact. While this is a key factor, at least the economic fundamentals and efforts to date at promoting reconciliation will provide some buffer against any adverse impact on the economy, especially during the onset of the next general election.
Two other factors need to be addressed in order to really bed down the economic recovery
Secondly, there is a real need to break up Telecom's monopoly to ensure equitable access to, and hasten wide use of, broadband technology. E-commerce will not take off in
Otherwise, you would just be creating a new IT underclass with the cost to be eventually borne in forgone benefits to the national economy in the end.
Subject: Mixed Policy Signals – September 2004
On arrival at Nadi one is instantly impressed with the boom in economic activity in
This picture changes significantly on arrival in
One way to deal with these untutored utterances is to factor it in the performance management system within the public service in a manner that is focused on achieving outcomes for Government. In that way, it takes the focus away from managing for departmental interests and recasts the mindset away from "what departments do and how, to what difference what they do makes to realising outcomes for the Government of the day".
Subject: Envoy Out of Line – November 2000
What ever sound reasons Mr Tia Barrett may have to utter the words he did at the USP event about the situation in
Even more disappointing is the fact that, as a Maori, he should have displayed much more sensitivity and understanding about the difficult task ahead for the Interim Government in balancing the demands of the indigenous Fijians and the need to restore democratic government.
I like to think that Mr Barrett's unfortunate choice of words has more to do with echoing the negative sentiments of his political masters towards
Subject: Blueprint Plan- July 2000
The sooner Mahendra Chauhdry realises that any hope he has of his former government being reinstated is all but vain hope, the better it will be for
The Bose Levu Vakalevu is once more and rightly at the titular head of the governance of
Mr Qarase's blueprint plan for Fijians outlines some very useful areas of much needed affirmative policies for Fijians and should be welcomed. It will be critical that the plan is well co-ordinated and brought under clear and overarching framework of implementation and monitoring that forges close partnership between central government and the provinces.
Provinces must be empowered to take advantage of the opportunities while central government develops the necessary monitoring, accountability and support structures. After all, the coup has highlighted how Fijians were alienated from the centre of government in relation to some of their long held concerns about their development. The takeovers by landowners of ancestral lands were telling reminders in recent weeks.
Much of the success of the policies in the blueprint plan will depend on how the responsibility for its implementation is bedded in at three levels namely: government or ministerial, departmental, and personal at the departmental head. It is at these levels that the accountability for realising the achievements in the plan should also be configured.
Subject: Military Option - June 2000
The Military should think very carefully before opting for any role in the direct governance of
From a conceptual standpoint the Military is basically a loose organisational entity whose identity and culture is determined by its members and whose values are in turn prescribed by external community forces. It is therefore no different to any other organ of government, except in relation to its capacity to enforce its authority with the means solely at its disposal at a point in time. Though they may not realise it, the criticism by FPSA and the unions of the military and the PSC is basically founded on this reality.
For that reason, the Military has so far been regarded as an enabling force in resolving the current crisis in
This is bound to change the moment the Military assumes direct governance of the country, especially if it does so without seeking the endorsement of the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC). Ratu Inoke Kubuabola's call to convene the GCC, which I agree with, points to the changing nature of the issue at stake. For Fijians, the authority to resolve the current problem is far different from a determination of their sovereignty and how best for it to be acknowledged and upheld. The Military runs the real risk of confusing these two interlinked yet separate questions if it insists on its own approach to resolving the coup in
The military therefore needs to explore other options rather than issuing ultimatums which are unrealistic. To persist on its own solution to the problem in
Subject: Political Reality - June 2000
Recent display of pragmatism by the military in accepting that George Speight and his followers may have a contribution to make in the revamp of the 1997 Constitution is very welcome, be it a long time coming. It is critical that the military places priority over the re-examination of the constitutional framework for governing
A similarly welcome sense of reality was referred to by the Chief Justice as the basis for his accepting the current status of governance by the military. For that matter the Fiji Law Society would be misguided not to support the Chief Justice in his move as the optimal option to ensure the continued implementation of judicial policy and services for
The same could be said for unions and those agitating for non co-operation with authorities in
Subject: Diplomatic Doublespeak- June 2000
The hardline and punitive approach taken by
In the long term, the way out for
Subject: Provincialism Welcome- June 2000
Recent moves by provinces and confederacies in
Rather than being regarded as a detrimental development, it is a trend occurring globally in nations peopled by more than one ethnic grouping. It would therefore be inaccurate to portray it as a disintegration of a nation but rather a redefinition in the mode of governance. Accepting this will focus attention on how best to manage such a development.
For Fijians, there are no reasons why a number of central government powers and functions cannot be devolved to provincial-type governments. These could be in the delivery areas of rural and economic development, social welfare, health, education, aspects of law and order and the like. In turn, central government retain powers relating to raising taxes, defence and foreign relations and trade, in addition to setting overall policy direction for the nation.
If well considered, provincialism could offer an avenue for Fijians to realise their quest for self government in an age where weak central states are increasingly becoming the norm.
Subject: Fijian Paramountcy- June 2000
Despite all the doom and gloom forecast as a result of the current crisis in
The failure to date has been due to an overdependence on a constitutional and electoral response in dealing with the Fijian concerns. While these responses are important, it has been insufficient in ensuring appropriate and targeted policy responses to deal with the poor socio-economic outcomes confronting Fijians at the practical level. This has meant that initiatives for Fijians remain mainstream and lumped with those of other groups thereby diluting its effect. The opening up of the Fiji Development Bank to other groups is an example of a mainstreaming approach.
As well, there are no clear accountability on government departments to respond to Fijian needs in a targeted manner. To address this, the Ministry of Fijian Affairs could have a greater role in monitoring and ensuring that departments and permanent secretaries annually report on how they respond to the needs of Fijians in all outcome areas.
As long as socio-economic outcome gaps exist between Fijians and other groups in
Subject: Policy Flaw – June 2000
The coup in
Public servants have only a limited part to play in figuring out the political implications of government policies as this is the proper function of political appointees such as a Private Secretary. In a public policy sense, the downfall of the Chaudhry government resulted from bad political management. S. Lealea
Subject: Folly of Multiculturalism- June 2000
The military needs to be cautious about being seen to be prolonging the resolution of the current crisis in
No amount of pontificating by outsiders on the virtues of democracy can resolve the crisis in