Letters from the Editor – Saturday, June 5, 2021

Ilisapeci Ranadi Tunisa celebrates her birthday with family members at the Momi border in Nadi yesterday. Picture: REINAL CHAND

Surprise birthday

Despite the COVID-19 situation going on, some stories continue to bring smiles.

One such story made yesterday’s front page.

The story of nursing student, Ilisapeci Ranadi Tunisa, who celebrated her 21st birthday at the Momi border in Nadi, will also go into history books.

We all look forward to our 21st birthdays, and Ilisapeci was no exception.

Her family members surprised her with a birthday cake, 21st birthday key and a special made garland.

Although Ilisapeci was overwhelmed and excited, she became emotional, as she could not hug her family members to show them how much she appreciated the gesture.

Indeed a beautiful gesture and on her special moment her parents did not let her down.

They reached her with a surprise that she will remember in years to come.

Vinaka Siteri for the story!

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Pen sharper than sword

I am again compelled to implore avid writers of LTE column to consolidate a political party and contest next year’s general elections.

Let’s put our mouths where our monies are!

By far, I have gathered that most writers, if not all, have been walking the talk and continue doing so!

Not only by the stroke of a pen we’re telling the government how it’s better and supposed to be done but actually showing them how it ought to be done.

Recently in Parliament, the A-G has mentioned significant names in Parliament, FRIEND, Jon and Richard, folks, already we’re getting into his nerves!

It’s high time that we, writers, unite and pull the bull by the horns!

Remember, that the pen has yet again and will always be sharper than the sword!

Together everyone achieves more!

(TEAM) Vacava, Viti?

Toso?

Alipate Tuberi, Suva

Vaccination fear

I see that Australia and New Zealand have pledged millions of vaccines to Fiji.

With a population of only some 900,000 everyone should be vaccinated before the end of the year.

My concern is that people are being discouraged from getting vaccinated due to religious rubbish perpetrated deliberately by some.

Perhaps they want people to get sick so that they can blame the government.

They appear to have their own agenda.

I have not seen politicians from all sides nor church leaders publicly getting vaccinated in order to encourage the population to get vaccinated.

That is what they do in other countries.

At least that is what Australia is doing at both federal, state and church and religious levels.

I hope there is no undercurrent of a sinister agenda by some politicians discouraging people to get vaccinated.

To allay such fears, I encourage all politicians, chiefs, business leaders and other community leaders at the village level and especially church and all religious leaders to line up and get vaccinated publicly.

That is the only protection from this virus.

If the opposition wants to work with the government — this is an area they can easily work together.

No amount of praying and fasting is going to help.

The virus does not discriminate based on ethnicity or religious belief.

Jan Nissar, NSW, Australia

No power in the pen?

Obviously, there is power in the pen.

Long after we are dead and gone actually.

Otherwise, Sue Cauty, why bother writing to The Fiji Times, at all?

But you have at least twice, specifically to defend the position of Pacific Harbour and The Pearl’s closed doors.

Moreover, if it was just the Pearl’s facility owners decision, then why oh why at the 11th hour did the Pearl owners change their minds, and go belly up on being part of Fiji’s assistance in a great time of need?

Simultaneously, other hotel and motel owners, who are less well equipped, are stepping up to fill the gap to help out.

I’m sure it has nothing to do with a minority of Pacific Harbour residents and business stakeholders there, putting any pressure on the owners?

Please do reassure Fiji’s public about this, right now in Suva.

Meanwhile, despite these decisions in front of our whole nation, our CWM and Nadi hospitals are locked down and we are crying out for containment spaces.

Go figure Sue: The pen remains mightier than the sword, for all of time, forever and ever.

Jean Hatch, Nabua, Suva

11th hour

WILL the 11th hour be a deciding factor for international rugby matches?

This is perhaps a reality, difficult or impossible to ignore.

For example, what if a member of either the Flying Fijians or mighty All Blacks is announced as a positive case (coronavirus) hours or minutes before the match.

There may come a time when teams will be expected to camp in groups in separate locations and train.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the 11th hour is favourable, let alone our men being able to adjust to winter in New Zealand.

FLOYD ROBINSON, Toorak, Suva

Tabuya video

WHATEVER the morality of Lynda Tabuya’s video showing her meal appetite, I believe she can nonetheless rejoice that the A-G watches her TikTok videos!

BIMAL PRASAD, Newtown Rd, Wailoaloa, Nadi

Realisation

THIS pandemic has made us realise the amount of things we take for granted in life.

Even life itself.

WISE MUAVONO, Balawa, Lautoka

Support

I HOPE people are getting support from any form of agent in this crisis.

JAHEED BUKSH, Korolevu, Sigatoka

Kiran for polls

THE honourable A-G “may be” right in saying that the FRIEND director Sashi Kiran is gaining a lot of political mileage.

Please note I have used the words “may be”, anyway as far as I know Sashi Kiran is not a politician, but I would request her to stand in the next election.

SUKHA SINGH, Labasa

Vinaka FRIEND

UNKOL Allen and I support you Sashi, you are being criticised.

We stand by you.

Thanks for helping the needy families.

Vinaka FRIEND.

NAVNEET RAM, Lautoka

Don’t worry

IT seems only those “two” are worried about NGOs.

Let me say: “You should be worried about why you are worried about us.”

Karaik!

ALLEN LOCKINGTON, Kava Place, Lautoka

Diversify

I BELIEVE the current pandemic has taught businesses and even individuals many economic lessons.

One of the fundamental lessons it has taught us is that, is it wise to have so many eggs in one unpredictable basket?

I am sure the businesses and people have already started planning to diversify.

PRANIL RAM, Votualevu, Nadi

The cold hard truth

THERE exists a parliamentary logo which reads as “Parliament of the Republic of Fiji – Our Parliament Our Pride”.

Obviously, whoever came up with the latter part had thought of great things.

Is there any possibility of accommodating a few words said by Michelle Obama?

“When they go low, we go high”.

She has been asked many times how workable this is and once she delivered the following:

“Going high is the only thing that works because when we go low, when we use those same tactics of degrading and dehumanising others, we just become part of the ugly noise that’s drowning out everything else.

“We degrade ourselves. We degrade the very causes for which we fight but let’s be clear. Going high does not mean putting on a smile and saying nice things when confronted by viciousness and cruelty.

“Going high means taking the harder path. It means scraping and clawing to the mountain side. Going high means standing fierce against hatred while remembering that we are one nation under one God.

“And if we have to survive, we have got to find a way to live together, work together across our differences.

“And going high means unlocking the shackles of lies and distrust with the only thing that can truly set us free. The cold hard truth.”

MOHAMMED IMRAZ JANIF, Natabua, Lautoka

EFL subsidies

I REFER to SODELPA leader Viliame Gavoka’s comment in Parliament quoting Nadi Chamber of Commerce’s concern that struggling Nadi businesses have not received any kind of relief from Energy Fiji Ltd.

I believe the Minister of Economy prevaricated by ludicrously retorting that EFL subsidies were not for rich doctors.

The honourable minister ought to know some facts.

Firstly, while the president of the Nadi Chamber of Commerce is a doctor, Nadi businesses nonetheless are not made up of only doctors.

In fact, a tiny proportion of them would be private doctors and from my knowledge, not many are rich.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, there are numerous small businesses in Nadi which the honourable minister would have noted during his numerous runs to the West in the past 15 years.

In fact, these small business, on aggregate count, may perhaps outnumber the larger ones.

An example is barber shops that are often owned by low-income households, who have not been operating for weeks but still have EFL and other bills piled up.

A number of such businesses in the past would have been recipients of Small and Micro Enterprise Initiatives, run by one of the ministries under the said minister’s jurisdiction.

As such, I believe an informed and considerate minister would surely be aware of their existence and respond sanely when constructive suggestions are presented by the opposition.

BIMAL PRASAD, Newtown Rd, Wailoaloa, Nadi

Road to Olympics begins

Our road to defending the men’s 7s Olympics gold medal begins now.

After quarantining themselves in Queensland the men and women’s sevens team will be taking part in a three team Oceania tournament which will include Australia and New Zealand.

I believe the challenge for the men’s sevens team this time around is far much bigger.

It is just not about preparing for title defence but overcoming the knock on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which has hit us all very hard.

I deeply believe that there will be huge mental health challenges.

However, this opportunity in Australia will be a good chance for the team to test their mettle and subsequently set the strategies right come Tokyo.

I am sure Baber and the team is well aware of the challenges ahead.

The Australian government through DFAT has been the key catalyst in seeing this initiative gets through.

As we all are aware, Australia’s stance is very clear on restricted travel from countries that have COVID-19 outbreak and especially of the new variant.

Thanks to the Australian government for taking such a big risk.

Pranil Ram, Votualevu, Nadi

Yato’s contribution

The name Peceli Yato is familiar in rugby circles.

He is a versatile member of our Flying Fijian squad, and I’m hopeful he will be part of the team that will play against the All Blacks in the two-Test match series in July.

Apart from demonstrating his lion-heart and brave character on the field while donning the Flying Fijians jumper, he has just showed his true humanitarian qualities, as he helped with some charity work here at home.

Thank you so much Peceli Yato.

Trust me, this gesture by you has not gone unnoticed!

Just wish that all our overseas-based players in NZ, Australia and Europe can do what Yato has done!

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Ecosystem restoration

World Environment Day is celebrated annually on June 5.

This year’s theme is on ecosystem restoration but given the context of COVID-19, do we really know how much of our coral reef ecosystems are being exploited especially with many losing their employment opportunities.

How many have returned to farm on steep slopes?

To what extent is this impacting on soil erosion?

With such an ever-increasing demand for kava consumption and reasonably high prices, one can be sure the cutting down of forests to make way for new garden is on the rise.

Do we know full extent of impact of termites on commercially important crops such as sugar cane and what is the value of their damage to residential buildings in Lautoka and Labasa.

All in all, one hopes that individuals, communities and organisations take time to reflect on the values placed on our precious ecosystems.

For now, I have made a commitment to avoid using fertilisers but using leaves and grass as natural source of manure for my gardens at home.

Floyd Robinson, Toorak, Suva

Attack on NGOs

IT irks me that the ones who should be leading by example are making a mockery of themselves.

What good will you two get in return by attacking non-government organisations that are providing for struggling families?

With modesty I hope wise sense prevails and stop crying over spilt milk.

AREKI DAWAI, Suva

World Environment Day

The fifth of June is

A memorable day for

All true nature lovers

The little tree by the old road fence

Grew in the summer sun.

“I want to grow tall”, said the little tree,

“And growing is so much fun”.

The little brook running beneath the bridge Babbled and sang all day.

“I want to become a river”, it said, “So I’m hastening on my way.”

The little bird fluttered from out the nest,

And flew far across the yard.

“I’ll be a big bird,” said she and twittered,

“If each day I try real hard.”

The little boy stood on his tiptoes and stretched.

“I’m just like the rest,” said he, “I want to grow up and see the big world – And the sooner the better for me!”

Mother Nature smiled at all her fledglings,

But she did not bid them stay.

She knew that to live and grow and age

Is forever Nature’s way.

World-wide most people will

Raise a toast to Nature on Environment Day

Please save the green trees

They are our present and future.

Neelz Singh, Lami

Our environment

(This poem is dedicated to Environment Day celebrated on June 5)

ENVIRONMENT supporting various lives

Nurturing and protecting everyone

Virtually providing everything for all

Including food, water, air and more

Range of diverse things it gives

Opportunities for growth it provides

Needs and wants always it fulfills

Many species living on our planet

Enjoying the gifts of the environment

Tender care needs the environment

Decision, actions hurting environment

Affected by pollution and climate change

And many other dangers and calamities

Yet always supporting life and livelihoods

Let us reimagine, recreate, restore environment.

BHAGWANJI BHINDI, Nasinu

Inner strength

INNER strength is toughness

Sparking from inner passion

Sprouting from determined will

Coming from repeated persistence

Derived from enduring pain

Overcoming the fear of anything

Boosting self-esteem and confidence

Is the creative inner wisdom

Is the inner stillness of peace

Is the answer to difficult times

Pushing to do impossible things

Now building new inner strength

For the battle and toils of tomorrow.

MAHARAJ KUMARI BHINDI, Laucala Beach Estate, Nasinu

Airborne transmission

Fifty years ago, I som​etimes slept on canvas cots under the open sky on decks aboard World War II era steamships in tropical waters when electric fans, open portholes and wind scoops failed to make inside berths habitable.

It was a relief to work aboard more modern vessels with central HVAC (heating ventilation and airconditioning) systems that kept crew accommodations comfortable no matter the temperature outside.

But I was occasionally bothered by cigarette smoke that permeated recycled air.

Fibreglass filters that protect HVAC machinery from dust and dirt do little to arrest aerosols like smoke and odors.

Decades later smoking on most vessels was eventually restricted to designated areas away from return air ducts or banned entirely inside living quarters and I breathed easier.

Then towards the end of my seafaring career I served a long time aboard a vessel in Hawaiian waters with smelly mouldy aircon ducts that gave me headaches and swollen nasal passages.

The mould made breathing so difficult that I bought a portable air purifier for my own cabin and kept it running 24/7.

It was just a small blower that forced air through a HEPA filter but made a big difference as it kept my cabin free of airborne mould.

HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorbing) filters are designed to catch particles smaller than one micron in size and will remove viruses from the air.

A micron is one millionth of a metre.

Particles less than 40 microns are not visible to the naked eye.

HEPA filters may be found in household vacuum cleaners and have long been used in commercial aircraft HVAC systems, but heretofore not in ships or buildings.

Since COVID-19 broke out last year however, some cruise ship lines and hotel chains have announced they will retrofit HVAC systems with HEPA filters at great expense.

Regrettably, it took too long last year for the World Health Organization to heed warnings from aerosol scientists that COVID-19 can be airborne on microscopic particles that stay aloft for minutes and sometimes hours.

Hand washing and social distancing are very important but the virus can be aerosolised and that is why we are all told to wear masks now.

Fijians who live or work in crowded modern buildings with sealed windows and central airconditioning are in risky environments similar to large cruise ships and had better be especially wary of the air they are breathing.

It would be prudent to use portable air purifiers in waiting rooms, lifts and other such spaces.

Willard Millard, Ellis Place, Suva

Nurturing new friendship

The story about the bonding and friendship between Shameem Mukhtar Ali of Lautoka and the Ravetau family of Vunisea, Kadavu is heart touching, comforting and uplifting (“Pandemic forges new friendship” in The Fiji Times, June 2, 2021).

What started as a visit to Kadavu turned into a strengthened bond of friendship.

From strangers, Mr Ali and Waisea Ravetau and his wife Mereseini Marama became strong friends that will last forever.

Mr Ali now remembers every moment they spent together.

They are an example of what friendship is all about, with trust and sacrifice being the basis of the foundation of friendship.

According to Mr Ali, “the family treated him like their own and he did not have to worry about anything during the five-week stay.

He said the family showed him a kind of love he had not experienced before”.

The love and care he received from the Ravetau family is unmeasurable.

I am sure Mr Ali must have learnt many precious lessons of life from this friendship.

The lessons of friendship also extend to the readers who have read this report.

This is an exemplary case that symbolises love, care, sacrifice, compassion and generosity which transcends all barriers.

It is a profound study in humanity.

The uniqueness about this event is that a family of another background comes to the rescue of a person of another background, thus reflecting a deep sense of humanity.

Friends are always willing to do anything and everything to lessen the friend’s pain and suffering.

There is great respect for each one’s ideas and views, accommodating and accepting deficiencies and defects of each other.

Friendship is based on understanding, open-mindedness and empathy.

In this case, Waisea and Mereseini display the highest level of unconditional friendship.

I wish to applaud the Ravetau family for offering their selfless help to Mr Ali in his time of need.

Many thanks to Siteri Sauvakacolo of The Fiji Times for such a wonderful and heart-warming story that displays all the qualities of true friendship.

We all can learn valuable lessons from this story.

This is one of the most positively inspiring and motivating stories, as most news lately is of the depressing effects of the pandemic.

This shows that good things can happen even in bad and adverse situations.

We can be demoralised by this pandemic or we can attempt to look at it as an opportunity to learn and find new ways to live and survive.

The friendship between Ali and the Ravetau family is the ideal example we all need to emulate to help and take care of someone in need.

This epitomises the essence of friendship.

According to Walter Winchell, an American journalist, “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out”.

So surround yourself with real friends.

I pray that this friendship between Mr Ali and the Ravetau family grows stronger and lasts forever.

BHAGWANJI BHINDI, Nasinu

Presidential speech

Could the President of Fiji take out time from his busy schedule on any day and deliver a live motivational and inspirational address to the nation?

An approach which is different from the usual deliveries by our national leaders, flat reading from the screen.

A presidential speech which gives Fijians hope and goosebumps.

Something in the vicinity of Bill Pullman’s (President Thomas J. Whitmore) Independence Day motivator.

Mohammed Imraz Janif, Natabua, Lautoka

Ungrateful citizens

First and foremost I wish to thank all our frontline workers in their tireless efforts and sacrifice to contain the spread of COVID-19.

On Thursday, I got my first jab and I consider myself so lucky — but there are a few things that I have noticed with some of our people that has prompted me to put pen to paper.

While waiting in the line for my jab, I was appalled at the attitude of some of our citizens who were so impatient — a lady kept cursing the volunteers, claiming that they were not doing their work properly and that the lines were moving slowly.

People like her need to have a bit of patience (and also common sense).

There are hundreds of people queuing up but just a few nurses giving the jab — our health system is being stretched to the wire — health workers, volunteers and police will be at that location whole day (without taking breaks even), while once you get your jab — you are out of that place!

These vaccines are now administered at our doorsteps — think of those countries where it is still so difficult to get vaccinated.

Also, one of our neighbours told us that her family will not be taking the vaccine as they have watched a clip informing people that the government is inserting chips to keep a tab on us — people who are falling for this are so gullible.

Would the leaders of the world be taking this vaccination if some chip was being inserted through the jabs?

And the point of the needle is so small — where would the chip fit!

People knowingly ingest things that are harmful to their bodies but when it comes to a life saving drug — some people are up in arms over it.

Think of those millions of individuals who have died — including some entire families, doctors, nurses and so forth when no such vaccine was available — they were unfortunately, so unlucky as COVID-19 vaccines were not developed back then.

And here we are now — getting free vaccination after so much effort from scientists in creating it — yet so many individuals are undermining it.

If our government was unable to secure this vaccine, then the same individuals would again be pointing fingers at the government.

Some of us have truly become ungrateful citizens, to say the least!

Azeem Ud Dean, Saru, Lautoka

Conspiracy theory

Social media posts claim

COVID-19 inoculations are an elaborate cover for the implantation of microchips, with videos suggesting people’s arms exhibit magnetic properties afterwards.

Hahaha!

So wrong.

The posts are the latest incarnation of a microchip conspiracy theory pushed by individuals and groups whose amplification of falsehoods are adding to vaccine hesitancy.

The government has more important things to worry about than your whereabouts.

Anthony Sahai, speechless saraga o au my boy!

Wise Muavono, Balawa, Lautoka

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