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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Letters to the Editor:

Extend the cracker ban

CAN the police extend the warning on the firecrackers craze near airports to neighbours' houses?

People should not be allowed to let off these dangerously loud and fiery contraptions if they are 50 metres (or less) of the next building/ house.

Better still, just ban fire crackers.

We'll have peace of mind as a result


FNPF's response

WE refer to Mr Selwa Nandan's letter titled Win-win situation that was published in The Fiji Times on October 20.

The fund wishes to inform Mr Nandan that under the new FNPF laws, members would be provided the option to save more through additional contributions on their part.

This allows members to deduct more than the mandatory 8 per cent of their salary to boost their retirement savings.

This provision will come into effect on January 1, 2015. Details of this key change and its requirements will be communicated to members soon.

TEVITA NAGATALEKA, Assistant GM Prime Services, FNPF

Trade union election

IN overseeing trade union elections, Government should first abolish bloc voting and other undemocratic tactics which have guaranteed almost absolute powers to the same select few, particularly at the parent bodies.

One member, one vote is the way to go.


Technology platform

I WAS sad to read that a New Zealand-based company has been contracted to provide a technology platform to the Health Ministry.

It will create a paperless office and provide efficient clinical patient management system, through which all hospitals in the country will be connected to each other. Great!

My question is why a NZ company? Why not a local firm? We have a lot of firms and talent available right here in Fiji. Such news is depressing for students studying software development at universities and it paints a very bleak future for the industry. If local firms do not get these contracts, where will these students get a job?

I urge the Government to try its best to keep these jobs in Fiji even if it costs a little more.

If this happens, there will be a boom in the software industry in Fiji and a lot more jobs will be created. Support Fijian made.


Our flag

I REFER to Tessa Mackenzie's response to my letter in regard to the subject matter.

On the contrary, Ms Mackenzie, other post colonial nations have swiftly punctuated their history and independence, with their own unique symbol.

Former British colonies of South Africa, Guyana, Jamaica, Sri Lanka, India, and even East Timor, a former Portugese colony, and our near Pacific Island neighbours, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, have symbols on their flags signifying and reflecting their own identity.

And, it is interesting to learn that only recently, following its general elections, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr Keys, suggested that New Zealand ought to replace the Union Jack on its flag. By the way, New Zealand (Aotearoa) has had a much turbulent history with its British colonial masters than Fiji.

Fiji adheres to a Westminster system of parliament together with an efficient civil service, an independent judiciary and law enforcement agencies and an education system, as do most former British colonies. These nations, however, do not have the Union Jack predominantly displayed on their flags.

It is acknowledged that unlike so many other colonies of the British Empire, there wasn't a war of independence in Fiji against the British colonial masters. And, neither did Britain conquer Fiji. Our transition to independence from cessation was peaceful.

By not having the Union Jack on the banner blue does not mean that Fiji as a nation denies its past and refuses to accept and learn from its history. As a matter of fact we have indeed learnt from colonial history. The lesson is that, despite all the imposed odds, we are One People, One Nation, One Destiny, in these here times.

I would contend that Fiji as a nation has, to use an analogy, matured like a fruit that tastes sweet,and has transited from being a colony, to a dominion and now to being a republic. Albeit, Fiji being declared a republic by an act of treason to the Union Jack.

Despite that we have not seen, and neither will there be, given our customs and traditions, a degeneration of our moral standards. The respect for the royal family, by all citizens of this country, of every ethnicity, are deep and sincere.

It is now 44 years since independence yet the Union Jack continues to flutter on the banner blue displaying, I would suggest, a hangover of a colonial experience, which after all these years, ought to be gradually attributed and replaced.


National airline

THE e-ticket noted flight time: 7.30am, Suva-Labasa, Monday October 20, 2014.

Passengers all boarded, finally, at 8.45am.

Waqele arrival time, 9.30am.

During all this, no announcement of delay or even the slightest hint of an apology from this service provider.

Can they please discard the in-flight magazine in the plane, because whatever the CEOs say on their one-page and the actual service is different from the actual service time and the promised one on the ticket.

Or maybe just add a disclaimer on ticket: "Plus two hours at times, usually on Monday mornings, with no apologies."


Undeclared monies

THE leader of the FLP was convicted for contravening the country's Foreign Exchange Act and resulted in him not being able to contest the election as he was found guilty of collecting monies from Fijians offshore and deposited it in his personal bank account in Australia.

Similarly, can those in Government who regulate religious activities please investigate all religious heads and talatala who also, on the same pretext, have collected monies during their overseas travels to preach to Fijians the world over?

They were given monies in the guise of soli or tithing in their own countries' currencies but cannot bring it into Fiji because there is so much collected and exceeds the limit allowed into our country.

Most of these religious heads have overseas bank accounts whereby they deposited these vast undeclared amounts which they will only specifically use for their personal use when offshore.

I have relatives who are all willing to attest to this. Some of them are in the British Army, NZ, Australia, Canada, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel and the USA.

They all tell of such stories of collections.

If Mr Chaudhry was investigated and convicted for such crimes, I do not see why Government cannot do the same for this lot.


Human liberties

RECENT high-profile terrorist activities are scaring governments into restricting personal freedoms.

However, when we sacrifice our liberties in order to gain security, we will eventually lose both.


Nice bola

GLOBALLY there is so much concern about the spread and containment of the deadly Ebola virus. Locally, there is no exception with the virus being discussed in the talanoa sessions and meetings. One lady from Tailevu remarked "at least we have the nice bola, which is more friendly and charming". The nice bola is here to stay but let's just hope that the Ebola does not find its way to the Pacific.


Ebola crisis

WE can only hope that Ebola does not come our way. We don't have the capability nor the ability to control it.

DAN UIRAI, Lautoka

True equality

TRUE equality is seeing past things such as race, gender, religion and treating the person like an individual.


Hospital service

IN any of his future trips to Ba and, if he's not feeling well, can the Health Minister please catch the next bus to Ba Mission Hospital, join the patients in the queue, get a number and wait in order to be treated? Once he experiences this, I believe only then will the problem of getting a number and waiting long to be seen by a doctor will be solved.


Woman Speaker

ORDER! Order! Cook Islanders remind us that Madam Speaker Jiko Luveni is not the first woman in the South Pacific to become Speaker of Parliament. Marguerite Nora Eikura Kitimira was the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the Cook Islands from 1965 to 1979. She was the first woman elected to the Cook Islands Parliament and was also the first woman in the Commonwealth to become speaker of a national Parliament.


Daylight saving

DESPITE Fijians requesting the Government not to implement daylight saving, still it has been approved. Can I question why? Does this mean the pleas of the general public is never taken into consideration? I hope the minister can give an explanation on this.


Super human

THE history channel was showing a "Super Human" man who was able to make his way past a tonne of cement and ice bricks. Later he also banged his way through a steel tornado-proof door. Reckon what will happen to this super human if he is told to do "firewalking" on one tonne of burning stones? We remind him that we also have our Superman, Hulks and Avatars here as well.


Please explain

MARKS scaling in exams has been a topic that has baffled a lot of uninformed people.

We now have a very good person at the helm of the Ministry of Education in Dr Reddy.

Please Sir, could you enlighten those who believe that marks of students who score high marks are scaled and added to those who score low marks.

Please, tell them that it doesn't work like that.


Smart nation

WHEN we pause and think of it, the writing was on the wall for the return to external exams when the PM announced his budget last year with a vision of making Fiji a smart nation.

Reports that some students in Year 8 cannot read fluently or even write constructive and coherent sentences is alarming and calls for returning to the dreaded external exams.

It worked for us oldies and we did the hard yards so why have we removed the same in the first place?

Let's be smart when we consider copying the education system of other nations.


Education system

THE educational establishment of Pacific divides fairly neatly into three groups.

Those who recognise the need for radical and sustained improvement but fear that it's impossible; those who actively oppose change because their allegiances require them to defend failure; and that small but growing and inspiring group of advocates who see a way to improve and are actually making it happen.

It's an ongoing discussion of how to boost the education and skill levels of the Pacific and Fijian workforce.

One central issue rarely addressed is assessment and standardisation.

Exams are not the only way of accessing students, there are many means and ways as it should be a holistic approach as to measure learning outcomes.

NEELZ Singh, Lami

Police patrols

A HUMBLE request to police officers patrolling near foot crossings in the morning while school students are crossing to, please, refrain from your stories and concentrate on the children crossing as that's the whole purpose of having you there.

This is especially where there are more than one officer on patrol.

We really appreciate the effort the police department has made in allocating officers to these areas of crossing but, please, let the students cross first then do all the talking and yarning.

The students' safety is more important than anything else.

I hope the relevant authorities will take heed of this concern.


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