Letters to the Editor – August 15, 2020

Bruce and elder brother Setareki Hughes at the Saraswati Primary School grounds in Nausori on Thursday, August 13, 2020. The brothers are part of the Rewa Football Club that will playing against Ba in the first semi-finals of the Punjas Battle of the Giants tournament. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

Brothers in arms

Warriors on the field and brothers in arms – Setareki Hughes and Bruce Hughes – are not new to soccer fans. Both have played their hearts out for Rewa. Their bonding reminds me of brothers who have played alongside each other including the Watkins, Bali and Work brothers from Nadroga, the Masi brothers from Ba and the Naitasiwai brothers, to name a few. Osea Vakatalesau and Peni Finau played together for Ba and Lautoka. As far as rugby is concerned, Tomasi Mawi and Peni Rokodiva, and Avenisi Vasuinubu and Waisea Nayacalevu played together for our national 7s team. Last season, for the first time in the modern era, three brothers played together for the Fiji 7s side. Sevuloni Mocenacagi and Isoa Tabu were joined by their younger brother Kavekini Tabu when they ran out at the Oceania 7s at the ANZ Stadium. The brotherly bond flows in our blood and adds excitement and glamour. I’m sure the presence of Bruce and Setareki Hughes will spice up the Delta Tigers as they aim to gift Rewa the trophy. Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam Nadawa, Nasinu

Football fever

The BOG semifinals and finals during this weekend has sparked a climate of football fever amongst fans. Fiji Football Association, together with the sponsors, Punjas Fiji, deserve heaps of accolades for organising this tournament at a time when businesses and organisations have taken on financially prudent measures. I believe it is a risk taken by the association which may or may not be profitable. However, I deeply believe this is done with one view in mind – that football remains active in our country. The four teams who are in the running to win the title are equally matched. I am sure the players are as excited as the fans and are ready to give their best after one week’s break. My best wishes to the four teams who will be competing this weekend. May the best team win. PRANIL RAM
Votualevu, Nadi

Drug trial

The Health Minister is yet to read through in full detail research involving pregnant women being undertaken at the CWM Hospital and does not remember the purpose of the drug trial (FT 14/08). After reading through both the articles, learning about its suggested purpose, the high target number and its side effects, I’d ask, “Has the drug trial reached suspicious stage?” Mohammed Imraz Janif Natabua, Lautoka

Fiji Airways

I believe force majeure is when “a common clause in contracts that essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation, in the event of an extraordinary situation, beyond the control of both parties, such as an epidemic.” (Wiki) How many months, at $38 million per month, will it take for Fiji Airways to impact the Fiji Government? What happens if borders are closed for two years? Or if tourist numbers are still below 50 per cent in four years? These deferrals of six and 12 months might be a bit meaningless and irrelevant, given that tourist numbers are most certainly likely still going to be way down in 12 months and this money will still have to be paid anyway. Even with borders open, airfares are likely to increase significantly, occupancy is likely to be down, and a socially distanced-half empty plane is not going to be very profitable. There may not be a vaccine. If the crystal ball told us that borders were going to be closed for five years and tourist numbers were going to be only 50 per cent in seven years time, would it not be better to close the business now and save this mountain of money for re-establishment later on? Contrary to what the CEO has said, I believe acquiring these loans does not “ensure” the survival of the airline. And is Qantas still a shareholder? Are they also chipping in? These repayments must be stopped. I believe Fiji Airways cannot just give away a billion dollars, irrespective of whose money it is. Wriggle harder! If we don’t, I believe it may take a century for Fiji to recover. Just my humble and ignorant opinion. Abdul.K.Khan Lautoka

Rescue package

I have been following very closely Fiji Airways “rescue package”, which has been guaranteed by our Government via an act of Parliament. The survival of Fiji Airways, during this pandemic is equally important for the revival of Fiji’s tourism industry when our borders reopen, but at what cost? How far can our Government go in order to keep providing loan guarantees? According to CEO Andre Viljoen, “Fiji Airways cannot hand back the newly-leased aircraft sitting ‘idle’ at the Nadi International Airport because of complex binding agreements that have been likened to “sitting with this noose and there is no way you can wriggle out of it.” Further he said defaulting on loan or lease repayments for one aircraft could make Fiji Airways lose everything and go belly up. The above statement, if scrutinised further, would undoubtedly reveal that the leasing agreement signed by Fiji Airways with the lessor has to be unbalanced and lopsided to Fiji Airways’ disadvantage. I believe any such unfair and heavily lopsided agreements, regardless of how, where and when it was signed, can and will be set aside by any competent jurisdiction, either in Fiji or even in the country of the lessor. The rescue package, that is $455 million Government’s guarantee, is based on an assumption that Fiji Airways will and must come out from its financial problems within a year or less. Taking into account that no country is in a rush to open their borders for tourism, chances are extremely slim that Fiji Airways will recover from its financial problems within one year. If Fiji Airways does not recover within a year or less, as assumed, then does Fiji Airways
have a contingency plan or will they go back to the Fiji Government and ask  for more loan guarantees.
Sooner than later, Fiji Airways will have to bite the bullet and make hard decisions,  as in accordance
with industry experts, our tourism industry would not normalise for at least  the next three years or
more. My most sincere advice to Mr Viljoen, CEO of Fiji Airways is the following:  a) Re-devise the
rescue package on an assumption that it will take a minimum of three years  or more for our tourism
industry to recover. You will need, in total, a rescue package of approximately  $1.4 billion, for the
next three years at least. Answer yourself most sincerely the following questions  that, does Fiji Airways
have the ability and capability to raise such funds without Government  guarantees in future? If it
does, then how competitive will Fiji Airways be against Qantas, Virgin and or Air  NZ? How long will it take Fiji Airways to repay the government-guaranteed loans or any loans to other financiers?
b) Mr Viljoen if any one of your answers to the above questions is no, then  I would very strongly suggest
and recommend that as CEO of Fiji Airways, you should seriously look  at litigation that is applying
to set aside the Lease Agreement with the lessor. Needless to say that once  you start litigation, all
your lease payments will be put on hold, at least this way, Fiji Airways won’t be  seen as defaulting on their obligations to make lease payments. RUDRA PRASAD Forestdale, Qld, Australia

careFIJI app

I think our attorney-general should’ve been madua about himself for failing to factor the impediment to downloading the careFiji app. Simple and basic factors such as affordability, ownership and accessibility of gadgets and internet to download app from. I believe during the last census; one of the many questions asked was how many had mobile phones in a household and what types of mobile phones or gadgets are they? These questionnaires are still vivid since I was an enumerator myself. He should’ve used that particular data to ascertain how many Fijians could possibly download the careFIJI app that he’s been harping about. Situationally, who would be buying expensive phones during this time to just download the app? When majority of our people are struggling to make ends meet. When businesses are closing down and jobs lost. I think having led and managed two main crucial ministries is beginning to take its toll on him. I believe he needs to delegate responsibility and share the load. He has to be reminded that no man is an island! He cannot do all things by his own and there are some things that he cannot do. Chiuu! Alipate Tuberi Suva

Apisai Tora

Vina du va levu, Graham Leung (FT 12/08) and Colin Deoki (FT 14/08). Thank you for the heart-warming tributes paid to the late, Mohammed Apisai Tora, na momo e na vanua Betoraurau. It is also only appropriate for me to pay my tributes, on behalf of our 89-year-old mum, Annie Chang. Our late father, and storekeeper, Peter Chang, was 51 years old when he was murdered in our family store in Sabeto, Nadi, that fateful Saturday morning, January 22, 1972. In the immediate ensuing weeks, mum decided we should leave Sabeto. Mr Tora, the good Samaritan, assisted mum, handsomely in securing a piece of land in Waiyavi, Stage 2, Lautoka. Our shop and spacious 3-bedroom timber home were taken down and rebuilt in Waiyavi. I, too, will never be able to repay this huge debt of gratitude to this “giant of a man” from yonder Ravoravo Natalau, Sabeto, Nadi. Thank you belatedly, na momo na taukwei ni qwele o Natalau. Go in perfect peace and eternal happiness. I also take this moment in time, to belatedly and posthumously thank Graham’s parents, uncle Lambert and auntie Fanny, for comforting mum shortly after I received the heart-stopping news from the doctor on duty that fateful Saturday, around midday, that dad had passed away during emergency surgery at Lautoka Hospital. Words do not adequately convey my deepest and heartfelt sympathies, condolences, tributes and belated thanks to Mr Tora’s and Graham’s family. When you cross over to the “other side”, the brighter side of eternal bliss and everlasting happiness, na momo, please give our beloved dad, uncle Lambert and auntie Fanny a great big bear hug (minus the Cuban cigar). Sail on peacefully to heavenly shores. We will all meet again; Some sweet day; Way out yonder; Beyond the stars. Ronnie Chang Formerly of Sabeto, now of Martintar, Nadi

Globalisation

Will the effects of COVID-19 have an impact on globalisation and which would mean more of fragmented economies? Pranil Ram Votualevu, Nadi

Flirty slangs

I suppose people still remember all the flirty slangs which males and females used some years back but it is all chained, locked and hidden. Usage of those slangs today could lead to a call or visit from law keepers. Times have changed. It has become risky. Mohammed Imraz Janif Natabua, Lautoka

State lifts ban

I noted with interest that in an initiative to assist fishing businesses affected by the COVID-19 restrictions, the State lifted the seasonal ban on kawakawa and donu at the beginning of this month. According to honourable Semi Koroilavesau, the Minister for Fisheries, the lifting of the ban would ensure food security and financial assistance for coastal communities. Hence, the ban on kawakawa and donu has been reduced by two months but will be put on again after the COVID-19 pandemic. Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam Nadawa, Nasinu

Action please

Could the online commission let me know why they can’t take any action on a guy who wrote something bad on my post on Facebook. Sukha Singh Labasa

Lease conditions

Politicians questioning Fiji Airways’ leasing conditions compels me to ask another question. Who directed FSC to spend money on the purchase of 117 cane haulage trucks knowing the crushing season is only three or four months in a year? Dan Urai Lautoka

Mobile phones

Maybe schoolchildren should be allowed to carry mobile phones in school. I believe Government did say a laptop per child, then a tablet per child will be provided to school children. What say honourable Rosy Akbar? John Brown Lautoka

Madua situation

To avoid the “madua” situation, I suggest the Government put up a reward, preferably in each district, for downloading the app. For example, a ballot draw can be done each month and a certain number of winners selected and rewarded with cash, or even a piece of land. This will certainly speed things up! Bimal Prasad Newtown Rd, Wailoaloa, Nadi

Farebrother

So my teams Suva and Naitasiri will have second bites at the cherry, right? Chiuu! Toso Suva! Go Black! Alipate Tuberi Suva

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