Your Fiji Your Voice

Food for thought

The hills and mountains here at Vatukoula are reduced to nothing but barren land, thanks to some who think that burning of our environment looks good generally.

Around the bowl at our favourite bar here at Nasomo, a young man put up if burning could be stopped for 20 years, what good it would be to our future generation, who won’t have to look far and wide for life.

Some mothers now have to go as far as Tavua to look for things that can bring about life, things that could have been found on the doorstep had there been no fires.

Also indicated by this young man was the fact that before these fires, certain trees were growing in this side of Vatukoula, a sight rarely found now. And the request is if fires can be stopped for at least 20 years.

Unfortunately, members of this bar will have no say in this, as people will light a fire whenever they think appropriate. And in this dry whether, it is certainly disastrous.

On the brighter side, the name of this bar will be Noahs Arc, because as soon as it is nightfall, all different types of animals come from far and wide to the borehole to have a drink, myself included.

Thanks Mere, Jone and bar members.

S. Vito Nasomo
Vatukoula

New democracy

Many countries had to fight tyrannical British colonial rule to get their independence.

Fiji got theirs without having to lift a finger. With the democracy the British gave us at independence in 1970 we had stable political governance for 17 continuous years.

Fiji so impressed the visiting Pope in 1986 that he said Fiji is the way the world should be.

Then in 1987 when the party that was in power since independence lost the election suddenly the democracy we had became “false democracy”.

We had our first coup then to correct it. Now another three coups later we have finally succeeded in creating “true democracy” in Fiji just a short 4.5 decades after independence.

How can the Fijian people not be proud of their accomplishment – the creation of a “new” democracy in Fiji?

I believe the Fiji case provides a good example of how myths are made.

Rajend Naidu
Sydney

OFC football

BA has again qualified for the Oceania football meet this year.

And winning the league after 17 years, Suva has also claimed a place in the competition.

Coach Gurjeet makes a difference wherever he coaches.

The Capital City side’s claiming the 2014 league title, which qualifies them into the Oceania playoff, is a testimony of Gurjeet’s soccer coaching ability and achievement locally.

Previously many coaches tried but failed.

For the Ba side, well, they have been consistently earning a place in the regional meet ever since it started except once when Nadi went through.

OFC football is another level of tough soccer competition which the Suva side will be experimenting in for the first time.

Ba has been trying hard for the past many years to win the competition and move further but luck has not been on their side.

Any local side that wins the regional meet will create history and make us all proud.

May I wish both Ba and Suva all the best in the OFC football.

SURESH CHAND
Nadi

Bid for independence

BBC news reported Scotland’s bid for independence from United Kingdom (UK) ended with a resounding “No” vote (55 per cent) last Friday.

So there is still a United Kingdom.

Emotions ran high with UK Prime Minister David Cameron saying if the Scots disliked him so much, he wanted them to know that he would not be around forever.

KORINA WAIBUTA
Suva

Time to act

There has been a lack of response at the drought crisis gripping the sugarcane regions.

The creeks are dry and the soils cracked. Despite repeated warnings, cane burning continue unabated.

The hills have been scorched by bush fires started by ruthless individuals who find joy in seeing animals getting snared by the raging fires.

It’s not uncommon to see livestock now lining the highway to feed on the sticks of sugar cane which fall off the cane lor ries. Alas, the sugarcane is burnt, but what choice do these poor animals have? The grazing fields have been burnt, even the drains along the roads.

The election fever has gone.

It is time our elected leaders get their heads off the sand and see the unfolding disaster that’s taking its toll on livelihoods.

Samu Railoa
Nadi

True democracy

Your correspondent Rajend Naidu demonstrates yet again his predilection for gross ignorance of key facts on a subject matter he knows little about when comparing the credibility of the Scottish referendum with the Fiji national general election using the absence or presence of international observers as a measure of free and fair voting process or a reflection of true democracy for that matter (FT 24/09).

To his enlightenment, the Scottish voting he refers to was a referendum and not a general election as it was in Fiji.

The United Kingdom, of which Scotland is a part, invited international observers to monitor all levels of the electoral process in the UK general election of 2010.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) fielded three delegations: an election assessment mission from the organisation’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR); a delegation from the OSCE-Parliamentary Assembly; and a small group of officials led by the OSCE presence in Albania.

If Naidu cared to research his correspondences thoroughly he would have noted that presence of international observer groups at general elections is the rule rather than the exception – i.e. international best practise – and is in no way an indication of lack of credibility of a national government to conduct a free and fair election.

In the words of Jenny Watson, the Chair of the UK Electoral Commission (2010) and I quote, electoral observation is an essential element underpinning confidence in free and fair elections throughout the world, unquote.

Naidu is caught once again comparing apples with pineapples and falls embarrassingly short of the expectations of the educated readers of this newspaper.

I take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Saneem for delivering a credible, free and fair election in Fiji as endorsed by the international observer group.

This is a reflection of true democracy.

M. M Mudaliar
Auckland
NZ

FNPF response

We refer to the letter titled “FNPF Assistance” by Nardeo Mishra (FT 20/9) seeking clarification on partial withdrawal for medical assistance.

FNPF clarifies that members under 30 are ineligible to withdraw their funds on medical grounds.

The eligibility factor is determined by age to assist members build their savings, noting that FNPF’s main objective is to grow member’s retirement savings to ensure members have enough funds for a meaningful retirement.

Nevertheless, FNPF considers each case on merit.

We urge these members to contact us immediately on 3238209 or 3238244 for further assistance.

Alipate Waqairawai
Assistant General Manager Member Services
FNPF

Glory to our God

I wish to thank FijiFirst party leader Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama who took his oath as the sixth democratically-elected Prime Minister of Fiji before the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, at the Government House in Suva.

I was away for a time but my faith in God and our prayers were always toward you so you may continue to serve our Fiji for the betterment of all peoples.

May God bless Fiji. Vinaka vakalevu.

George Pillay
Lautoka

Those numbers

Selva Nandan of Suva (FT 23/9) said election candidates number 279 and 297 polled the highest votes for their respective party.

While candidate number 279 has been sworn in as Prime Minister, candidate number 297 is nowhere to be seen in the successful candidates list.

Can the Supervisor of Elections or the Electoral Commission Chairman shed some light on this.

Emosi Toga
Nasinu

Election feedback

On election day, after doing away with texting to 545 to know our polling stations at our polling venue, the polling officials resorted to using the alphabetical order.

I was in the first line which was A to L, and then the second line was C to H, and the third line was HU to LA. Seeing the funny side, I said to myself, gosh, this must be the new alphabetical order in the English language, A to L, C to H and HU to LA that I didn’t know of.

Later the first two alphabetical order lines was corrected and HU to LA explained by the presiding officer or team leader: “If, for example, your surname is Hussein or Lata, then you stand here, the rest of you go to the next line.”

When I entered our polling station inside was very quiet. It was like a movie in silence unlike before when they called out aloud names and other details of a voter. Not that I am the “I love myself type” but I always loved and was proud to hear my full name being called out. To hear my Old English surname and middle names called out, Underwood and Wedlock, and also my lovely married name, Bukarau. Having your name and details called out sort of gave you an air of importance that time.

When I dropped my ballot paper into the ballot box I said to the polling official serving me: “Wait, let me see from the side if my ballot is dropping down.” It did and I knew it was going to count. I thought the ballot paper looked beautiful but I expected the numbering order to be written row-wise and not column-wise.

Even on election day campaigning kept going but this time by kids. In a squatter settlement in Suva, one little Indo-Fijian boy called out to a dear friend of mine as she was making her way to her polling venue to vote: “vote 317”. An Indigenous Fijian boy called out: vote 222. Another child yelled out “279”.

But sadly voting didn’t eventuate for my dear friend as her name was missing from the Electoral Roll at the polling venue even though it was written in the Electoral Roll at the Fijian Elections Office. Prior to election, my friend had texted 545 twice and was given the same details of her polling station.

In a village in Kadavu, the villagers were told that they would vote in their village but after lunch on election day they were told to walk to another village to vote. The villagers were not happy with the instructions including their chief. And guess what the chief’s instruction was after that? “Get out the guitars and the ukulele and let’s Sigi Drigi”; and which they did. No one voted that day.

One gentleman from Ra texted to a Kadavuan on election day: 317, “Sa kalougata dina tu na vale” (“O Happy Home”, M.H.B. 875) and in the highlands this very hymn was sung by some old women that day.

To conclude, a friend said to me the following: that she only knew of three numbers of the entire candidates’ numbers: 317, 284 and 279. She was glad that candidate 317 made it to parliament but disappointed that candidate 284 didn’t even though it was not the end of the road for candidate 284. As for the very popular candidate 279 it was a foregone conclusion that he would not lose out.

LYDIA BUKARAU
Nausori

QUICK VIEWS

FH shares

Could the new Parliamentarians make all the shares in Fijian Holdings equal shares so all indigenous Fijians can take advantage of it? Later on if some shares are left other citizens can also purchase them.

Sukha Singh
Labasa

Freedom

And I welcome democracy with open arms! Thank you to Mr Bainimarama for allowing the election after eight years. Now the hard work of keeping government accountable really begins. For me, being a staunch SODELPA supporter, I am going to work harder to ensure our indigenous rights are protected. I was born for this – no doubt about that. Welcome freedom, welcome.

Eroni Daunibau
Samabula

National anthem

So finally it’s all over and as the Prime Minister promises to make Fiji the way the world should be (FT 22/09) let us all join hands and begin our “onward march together”. The national anthem is more meaningful now than ever. God Bless Fiji.

Rajnesh Narayan
Lautoka

By-election

With the successful completion of the 2014 General Elections, would we go through the same process during a by-election to replace an MP if the need arises?

E Balei
Suva

Goat meat

Imported New Zealand goat meat is cheaper than locally bred goat meat. Fiji goat meat is also more tough compared to the tender imported goat meat. Someone said this is because of Fiji goats being used for siviyara (ploughing). Cala tale.

Wise Muavono
Lautoka

The concern

One important thing that we should not distance ourselves from is the concern of the ordinary people.

AREKI DAWAI
Suva Point

New order

The election results of last week have certainly put a new order in Fiji politics. It was something I never imagined I would see in my life. Fijians voted for one party putting aside the politics that has continued on racial lines since independence. The people have spoken that security, jobs, economy, infrastructure to name a few means much more than the usual race game. The old war-horses did try their old game but failed miserably. Congratulations Fiji.

Imraz Sahib
Auckland
New Zealand

A prayer

Dear Lord, we now have a legal government, the people have spoken.

Would you be able to send a little rain please.

We really need it.

Allen Lockington
Mulomulo

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