Letters to the Editor – June 30, 2018

Players of South Korea celebrate after the FIFA World Cup 2018 group F preliminary round soccer match between South Korea and Germany in Kazan, Russia, 27 June 2018. EPA-EFE/ROBERT GHEMENTPlayers of South Korea celebrate after the FIFA World Cup 2018 group F preliminary round soccer match between South Korea and Germany in Kazan, Russia, 27 June 2018. EPA-EFE/ROBERT GHEMENT

Mega exciting stage at soccer World Cup
The 2018 FIFA World Cup has only become mega exciting after South Korea created history by defeating super power Germany.
Obviously Germany will be a nation in mourning for the next week at least.
Meanwhile, this should be a wake-up call for rugby fans in terms of their expectations at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco.
It’s the World Cup knockout stage in each pool.
We have to be very careful in pool games, playing smart rugby.
Meanwhile, aside from the soccer World Cup, looks like the new budget will dominate talanoa sessions over the weekend as people try to understand and digest its implications in terms of everyday welfare and wellbeing.
Whatever one’s views, it will certainly have implications on personal, family and community budgets. A blessed week and stay warm.

National budget
It is understood that the national budget reflects government policies but while it is based on family security, it is unfortunate that pensions and house insurance were not catered for, especially after the cyclones although mitigation for flooding were implemented.
I believe the increase in maternity leave from 84 days to 98 and indeed paternity leave discourages employers from employing women. I believe authorities should also negotiate with the British Crown for compensation for girmitiya descendents who came from British India.
I believe this budget may be anti-family.
Amenatave Yaconisau
Palm Drive, Delainavesi

Drug awareness week
I must say that our students these days are privileged with the amount of awareness carried out by our stakeholders.
From careers expo to university open days and to awareness carried out on drugs, teenage pregnancy, NCDs, violence, abuse and mental health simply has made school days exciting.
Youths have a lot of positive aspects in terms of skills and knowledge and these must be nurtured to drive out the negativities that may arise because of the impact of social media and peer pressure.
Look at the number of young artists and sports personalities around us and we will marvel at the wealth of assets here at home.
Today’s youths need our love, care, empathy, guidance, prayer and support.
Glancing through Wednesday’s Kaila! I was amazed to read the strong message of love by the girls from St Joseph’s Secondary School as they prepare for their school concert with the theme “Love is a mission: Let us transform the World by the civilisation of love”.
Indeed thought provoking and beautiful.
Our students were creative this week decorating their classrooms, making bookmarks, posters and charts, reading and writing poems, stories and taking part in role plays and character parade.
The blue fever hit Monday, red struck Tuesday, purple made Wednesday and the rainbow colours brightened Thursday.
As we conclude with the drug awareness week, let’s emphasise on the importance of sharing love and caring for each other for a better Fiji that we can be proud of!
Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam
Nadawa, Nasinu

Challenges we face
We all have challenges in life that test our resilience.
Challenges can be in many forms such as disasters, accidents, death of close ones, loss in sports, hatred and being victimised.
These are times when our real personality is exposed.
If we are able to contain our emotions with positivity, we may be successful but with a little negativity things can get out of hand.
There are many things we are never satisfied with.
Let us try to be content with what we have and strive to work hard.
Instead of lazing away with helplessness, plan for better times. But do believe that the Almighty has a plan for all of us.
Let us show maturity in our thoughts, words and deeds. This is the way for a happier life ahead.
God bless our readers.
Dhirendra Prasad

Teenage pregnancies
This topic is hardly discussed at home.
While we cannot stop it, we can reduce it by openly discussing it with our teenage children not only for girls but boys too.
Whenever a teenage girl got pregnant the blame is focused on the girl but not the boy.
I believe this has been the norm for generations and we need to take away that mentality.
We should not treat this issue as taboo but openly discuss it during family time, social and traditional gatherings, church meetings, etc.
Maybe the various ministries of health, education, and youth and social welfare with UNICEF or SC Fiji and FWCC including the faith-based organisations should organise divisional national conferences or dialogue for parents/guardians and daughters /sons to attend.
Jioji M Cakacaka
Concerned parent, Nadi

Plastic bags
I am totally behind the initiative to reduce plastic bag usage.
However, I still purchase single use plastic bags and rubbish bin liners for one very good reason, to protect the health and safety of the poor guys who have to load, and ride on, the Tavua rubbish trucks.
How can they be expected to work safely if raw rubbish is loaded into the truck, they have to stand in it, and breathe the obnoxious fumes?
The council was given a compactor truck by the Japanese I believe, but it is not used.
Why not? Come on Tavua Town Council, do something about it, why don’t you get into the truck and do the job yourselves and see if you like it.
Allan Loosley

Public holiday
What’s with the public holiday to celebrate or commemorate National Sports and Wellness Day?
Oh, we are supposed to do something to play sports and get well.
Well, one day is a start.
Allen Lockington
Kava Place, Waiyavi, Lautoka

FNPF expo
It’s good to note the expo being organised. This will encourage our future retirees to plan ahead to manage their finance for a happy, healthy and wealthy retirement.
Retirement is what we make it.
Tahir ali
Hamilton, New Zealand

National budget
Open heart surgery will be available 24/7 (Fiji Village 29/06). Is it a typo or someone flailing around at the big ones with a lot of lip service?
Parmendra Sharma
Brisbane, Australia

Free gifts
I LOVE this saying “Muft ki sharab qazi ko bhi halal” loosely translated “free alcohol is even good for a priest”. We all should be thankful for all the free gifts offered in the budget.
I would personally would like to thank the A-G and the PM for this beautiful budget.
Sukha Singh

Israeli offer
With its offer to help Fiji and Pacific Islands at no cost (Help at “no cost” – The Fiji Times 27/6) Israel proves charity does not have to begin at home.
It can happen very far from home (region).
Wow, what altruism on the part of the Israeli State!
Rajend Naidu
Sydney, Australia

THE director Immigration tightening up on illegal workers in Fiji is commendable. It will assist the department if they open a call line for complaints as I believe there are many illegal workers around.
Dan Urai

Head phones
I noticed during the 2018/19 National Budget presentation this week in Parliament that the Prime Minister wore headphones.
Could somebody enlighten the public whether the phones were facilitating vernacular translation of the presentation or a live broadcast of the Economy Minister?
Or some other feedback?
It was so conspicuous especially when he is sitting beside the minister who commanded the main TV focus during the event.
Emosi Balei

Food labels
IT is very pleasing to note that the consumers are very cautious now when out shopping and many read the information on the back of the package before a decision is made to purchase it.
Gone are the days where the customers in a supermarket were attracted by the bright colours and the beautiful wrappings.
The primary role of food labels is to inform consumers of the food’s nutritional values and ingredients, its manufacturer, health claims and possible allergens or some other potentially threatening food information.
All this data helps people decide whether they will eat certain food, which is why food producers put a lot of effort into creating perfect labels for their product.
This must also have the product expiry date.
Food labels are an important source of information about calories and the nutritional value of the foods and which become a crucial tool in building healthy diets for the family.
In many countries the products have an advisory in the form of the warning labels.
This becomes the responsibility of manufacturers to notify their consumers of possible risk or injury when using their products.
Lack of sufficient warning labels or even inadequate wording may result in taking the products off the shelves to protect the customers.
Such non-compliance is viewed as a serious breach of the regulatory requirements.
However, it is noted with great concern to see an increasing number of foreign food products on our supermarket shelves sold at a reasonable price.
The problem is that there are food labels on the products but written in a different language apart from English in a very tiny font.
I have also come across a medication for diarrhoea sold in a chemist that had the entire instruction in the Arabic language.
We need to be mindful of what we purchase and consume and I believe that the dumping of such foreign products will increase through this unethical trading.
We as people on the receiving end would be grateful if the Consumer Council could advise us if there are any legislative powers that would give us protection on the matter.
The dissemination of the information in the correct form and language must be made mandatory.
I believe if there is, than more audits must be conducted in the supermarkets by the Consumer Council in a proactive measure to eliminate such threats.
Satish Nakched

Round of 16 teams
Finally, the wait is over. The top 16 teams have been declared.
A few surprises but the inclusion of Russia and Japan at the expense of teams such as Germany, Senegal and Nigeria makes the play-offs worth watching.
Five South American teams, one Asian and 10 teams from Europe have made the final cut.
Uruguay plays Portugal while France will tussle against Argentina. Brazil faces Mexico while Belgium will take on Japan. Spain faces hosts Russia while Croatia heads off against Denmark. The Sweden vs Switzerland and Colombia vs England clashes are bound to hit top level.
I am picking on Portugal vs France, Brazil vs Belgium, Spain vs Croatia and Sweden vs England cup quarters. But then upsets are bound to occur and anything can happen as the games are going to be tight.
One defensive blunder and it may well be all over.
Happy watching fans!
Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam
Nadawa, Nasinu

World Cup soccer
It has happened before and has happened again when the defending champion does not make it to the last 16.
Germany, being a powerhouse of football, were defeated by a very low-ranking team South Korea.
The Koreans played brilliantly in the second half and were quick in defence and attack.
The second goal was an act of brilliance with the scorer almost the only person in the opposition half of the field with the German goalkeeper which was just unbelievable.
My only wish is that Fiji footballers learn the skills displayed by top football players participating in the World Cup 2018.
Tomasi Boginiso
Nepani, Nasinu

Football coverage
I write to express my disappointment and frustration at the inability of Digicel Sky to air live FIFA World Cup coverage.
I was told this when I called their customer services (Thursday, June 14) after scrolling through the menu and not finding the listing for the coverage.
The customer services agent did not bother to give any reason.
Just a sorry and an almost pin drop silence after that.
This is the single biggest sporting event in the world and I am being deprived of watching it. No notice or advice was issued to forewarn me as they usually do when my payment is overdue, splashed right across the TV screen.
Yes, I could switch over to Fiji One or FBC, but this would mean I have to purchase an antenna and at my cost. But why should I when I am paying for a service already and I expect to get what I pay for.
We are living in a digitised and an advanced technological age but I guess someone forgot to tell Digicel Sky this.
There are ways to facilitate the subscribers (I believe I am speaking for others as well) if the normal programming did not allow them to air an event such as this if, of course, they have the capability for doing so, which I seriously believe they do not possess.
I have just done a stint in one of the, if not the most, powerful democratic nations in the world and the service provision in this field is very methodical and meticulous.
You really do not have to be a rocket scientist to disseminate your duties and services.
In conclusion, I would like to say, “If it’s getting hot you need to get out of the kitchen.”
Shaheed Eroni Ali
Navoka, Natouloa, Nairai

Stray dog issue
Amenatave Yaconisau’s comments on the problem of stray dogs (FT 28/06) reflects the frustrations of a great many people around the country.
There’s no denying it is a huge problem, but we humans have to take ownership of our part in creating this situation, and in managing it humanely.
Dogs are in fact intelligent, feeling animals who with the proper education can be very useful members of the community.
Many people are surprised to know that dogs can not only be trained to detect drugs and explosives, but also to predict an epileptic attack or diabetic episode, to find people buried after earthquakes, and to act as ‘eyes’ for the blind and ‘ears’ for the deaf.
In Fiji there are steps we can and are taking on a small scale with support from other stakeholders in the animal welfare community, but without the support of the public it will never be enough.
We need more help — from everyone, whether dog owners or not.
Many of the dogs found wandering the streets of Suva, for example, are ‘owned’ dogs, locked out of their compounds during the working day, and left to roam without access to water, shelter or food.
They gather in groups, since dogs are naturally social creatures, and roam in two and threes, sometimes in packs.
Dogs are frightened by people who ‘tease’ dogs. This provokes dogs who don’t understand what teasing is.
In humans, teasing is often the first stage of bullying, and is not always as friendly as it pretends to be.
People can be frightened when confronted by a strange dog, or a group of dogs as they walk the streets, and often react by trying to ‘scare’ the dogs off, by shouting, throwing rocks or waving sticks.
This ‘aggressive’ behaviour from a human naturally causes many dogs to feel scared and to react aggressively too.
Over time, they behave aggressively around humans because they’ve learned to expect aggression from them.
Yes, believe it or not, much of the aggressive behaviour of dogs is caused by their fear of humans. Fear breeds fear, in both humans and dogs, and it’s a cycle that needs to be broken through education of the public about dog behaviour, better management of animals by their owners, and better humane management of genuine strays.
Education needs people to devise a program that can be incorporated into the school curriculum for instance and to take to villages and communities so we can teach people how their own behaviour influences the behaviour of dogs, and how to change for the better.
This is only one part of the problem of course, the other being what dogs do while they’re roaming free.
Dogs that haven’t been de-sexed are out making puppies with each other, whether owned or stray. This creates a bigger problem as endless unplanned and unwanted puppies are born.
We at the SPCA have a constant stream of puppies being abandoned or dumped at our premises. We do our best to find them good homes, and require that adoptive ‘parents’ get their animal de-sexed as soon as it’s old enough (included in the ‘adoption fee’).
While this won’t solve the stray dog population problem overnight as many would like, it is a step in the right direction. Every dog that gets de-sexed is one less animal making puppies.
It’s climbing a very high mountain, very slowly, one small step at a time. But it’s still far better than doing nothing.
The SPCA, like other charitable animal welfare organisations, is not government funded, although we do have our premises provided by the Government for which we are grateful.
Perhaps one day this will change since we are constantly crowded and need larger premises for the shelter in particular, given the current size of the stray problem.
For now we desperately need the support of our members and you, the public, if we are to make a difference in dealing with the stray dog issue.
We need the funds and resources to hold de-sexing outreach clinics in suburbs and rural areas, as well as more de-sexing clinics in heavily populated urban areas.
Even a trap/neuter/return program would gradually make a positive impact, and is acceptable to people who abhor the idea of laying poison baits, or trapping and euthanising. Poison is a truly hideous and inhumane way of killing animals.
While dogs that are trapped, neutered and returned to wherever they were picked up will still roam, they will not procreate and there will be fewer unwanted puppies.
In countries worldwide, this is considered by animal welfare professionals the most effective, long-term solution to the stray dog problem.
Owned dogs need to be de-sexed, and prevented from roaming.
Chaining dogs is not encouraged, especially on short chains for prolonged periods without exercise, shelter, water and company, but if a fenced compound is not affordable than an alternative is a running line. This entails a wire cable, set up like a washing line, with a long, sliding running-line attached to the dog’s collar that enables the dog to move around over a large area with access to shelter and water, but not to roam.
Every single stray dog given the choice would much prefer to belong in a family with shelter, water, food and people to love rather than roaming the streets, constantly fearing attack, starvation and death.
Female strays are unable to escape the attentions of males and end up almost permanently pregnant.
Engaging the help of the public is not easy and we’re grateful for any and all support we can get. This can come in the form of your time, your ideas, a little of your money and your kindness.
Please consider joining the SPCA, engaging in the process of problem solving and learn more about what we could do together if we had your support and that of your friends.
If we had a dollar or two for every time someone complains about stray dogs, we’d have the beginnings of a fund to help people get their dogs de-sexed, especially those who genuinely find it difficult to find the money to desex their dogs (and cats). The SPCA needs you and ultimately it boils down to this question: will you be part of the problem or will you be part of the solution?

Baber’s mission
I express my gratitude to Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation for the timely sponsorship to our 7s team to help prepare our boys for the RWC 7s in San Francisco.
The Melrose Cup is to every Fijian what the Commonwealth Games gold medal is to a NZ fan.
We win the RWC 7s and all those painful memories from the 2017-18 WRSS will be erased and soon forgotten.
Our 7s team also presented their i-tatau to his excellency Jioji Konrote.
On paper our 7s team is top bets and with the inclusion of “The Beast”, “The Bus”, “King of off-loads” and “The Trailer” Fiji should not have too many problems becoming the first team to win three Melrose Cup titles.
All the best Baber and the boys!
The nation is with you. Win or lose you will be number one and we will continue to support you.
I wish Tanivula and the Fijiana all the best and may you break the jinx of losing to the Australia 7s team!

Insane gun violence
A lone gunman entered and shot dead several people at the Capital Gazette newspaper office (“Multiple people fatally shot at Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis” Capital Gazette 28/6/18).
Why would any sane person do that?
It’s said of the Capital Gazette that it’s “the voice of the community” and that “A lot of good writers have come out of there”.
It’s mind-boggling trying to make sense of this senseless gun violence in America.
My heartfelt sympathy to the folks who have lost their loved ones in this awful tragedy.
Rajend Naidu
Sydney, Australia

Striving for success
Fiji has been elevated to very high levels globally through our leadership reins. The whole world now understands that Fiji is no mean feat.
We are a nation to reckon with through our sporting talents, academic world, leadership and politics, reformers, and many others.
We may have some limitations but smallness has never been an impediment. This is what Fiji needs. Leaders with a vision for all and a team of citizens striving for success.
Lest we forget, our investors who have invested millions of dollars into the economy through their business activities which in return have been able to sustain thousands of families and individuals through employment and other support services. Big thank you to all.
As we enter a new fiscal year, may we progress with a duty of care for our environment, society, children, education, work and nation building.
Let not any negative force enter the horizons of nation building. Listen to all but work within your conscience of your mind to gauge the right from the wrong. A seedling of hatred, jealousy and ill feelings planted now would produce a huge tree of the same kind hard to be plucked out later on. Let us live within our means and teach our young ones to do the same.
Keep your children home when they should be and they will develop into good citizens under your care.
God bless Fiji.
Dhirendra Prasad

McKenzie factor
The Chiefs fullback who dominated in the last meeting with the Crusaders in Fiji last year has return to Fiji this week with fresh from the three Tests with the French ending only last week.
And in the last Test with Damian McKenzie switching from fullback to first five-eighth taking over from the injured Beauden Barrett he was just extraordinary.
The Highlanders shut down Barrett in their last outing with the Hurricanes, now they are bracing for Chiefs’ pivot McKenzie.
The Highlanders will be fielding their All Blacks’ might of Liam Squire, Aaron Smith the world’s best halfback, enterprising fullback Ben Smith, local boy Waisake Naholo, Shannon Frizzell, Jackson Hemopo, Tom Franklin and Liam Coltman.
But all eyes will be on McKenzie who might be the smallest man on the field but with a big rugby heart.
Tomasi Boginiso
Nepani, Nasinu

Super special
As Naholo prepares to play his 50th Super Rugby match for the first time at home, unfortunately fans will get an opportunity to miss the dazzle from fellow countryman and Highlander’s rising star Tevita Nabura.
I was chatting with a diehard RKS fan Lice Kavika and she shared some beautiful moments about the former head boy of RKS, a versatile member of Degei House and how Nabura used to call her mommy in school.
Nabura hails from Naitasiri but was brought up in Nadroga and loved speaking the Nadroga dialect in school and on the playing field.
Upon hearing more stories about Nabura, I did not waste a single moment when the soft spoken and humble Lodonian visited Nabua Primary School.
I made sure I had a moment to capture a selfie with an upcoming All Blacks star.
The battle between the Gallagher Chiefs and the Pulse Energy Highlanders will be tough and will have a huge bearing on the top eight placing.
Highlanders have the upper hand over the fourth ranked Chiefs.
How much I wish for both teams to make the playoffs!
As an ardent All Black fan, I wish the Chiefs and Highlanders all the best for tonight’s bumper and may the best team win!
Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam
Nadawa, Nasinu

Prayers answered
It seems our prayers have been answered as this week we have noticed our roadside has been cleared for nothing else but a footpath.
We Nepani residents have noticed that the new Nepani subdivision is almost complete with footpaths, driveways and walkways, it could have better having the old Nepani Housing subdivision with the same treat.
With the Laqere market near completion and maybe more development around the corner there is no better time in having the footpaths made.
It will also be a boost for the schoolchildren walking home comfortably and drivers would also be cautioned of where to go and where not to.
Vinaka to the relevant authorities for making this possible.
Tomasi Boginiso
Nepani, Nasinu

Street talk
I loved your Street talk the other day — (FT 27/6).
It asks, “What do you think should be done to tighten security at our maritime borders.”
Excellent question!
With all the existing laws and personnel I would like to suggest the following.
As a former Customs officer I would suggest that we empower village headmen and elders in the islands.
Give the means of communication that they can also use personally.
Bring them in and put them through workshops where they learn the basic requirements of what border control personnel do and the laws to some extent.
They can be the eyes of the authorities.
The navy can only be in a few places, the headmen are all over the place.
In Fiji the main focus for Customs re- FRCS, is revenue collection, step up a bit and get officers to specialise in actual border control requirements.
These officers will remain with the border control for the rest of their lives.
They could be taught the language of people who come from countries that are on the red list.
I had suggested this about 15 years ago, but it was shelved because someone thought he knew more than me.
Now to end, how many border control officers can go into the Customs baggage hall and mingle with the passengers and spot risk passengers just by their body language? And I still have the books on this that I received during my overseas training which I have updated via reputable border control agencies on the Internet.
Pssst — FRCS — you need a street wise person who has skills on border control among other things.
Allen Lockington
Kava Place, Waiyavi, Lautoka

Public transport
This eTransport card was an excellent very new system to Fiji and it is a trend that Fijians now find very convenient and easy for all who use public transport as a mode of travel every day.
What was all the negative hype and ranting about?
Aman Singh and Mahendra Chaudhry from the FLP with Biman Prasad from the NFP all made a very big issue out of something good that will benefit the public but I believe they politicised it as usual to suit their own personal agendas.
I believe it is working very well for all Fijians.
Transparency and accountability by the many bus operators who have in the past managed to skip and avoid paying the applicable government taxes for their business. Vinaka vakalevu Government, never heard of anyone complaining now as you hear them speak good about the positives of the cards in the supermarkets, local markets, restaurants, hospitals and all other public outlets, around the yaqona tanoa and even in bars.
I believe the more the e-cards the merrier.
Bring them on government as Fijians will soon learn very fast through a process from whatever is new and hopefully the abuse will finally stop for those that wish to flout our system.
Tukai Lagonilakeba
Namaka, Nadi

My 5 cents contribution
This is what I have to say.
All Fijians have to wake up … (leave politics aside).
Let’s focus on being good citizens.
Let’s work hard … or smart.
When you are at work, put in 100 per cent.
When you go and get your pay, you will feel good.
Earn your pay!
Plant vegetables in your back yard if you can.
Cut down on eating out.
Eat smart.
You don’t have to pay for school fees.
Free bus fare for children to go to school.
Sit with your child when he is doing his studies.
Go to parents’ day at school and get a load of how your child is doing.
If you think education is a joke — don’t complain when expatriates have to be brought in.
Unfortunately I still see some children roaming the streets on school days.
Don’t throw rubbish anyhow.
Clean the drains in front of your home.
Recycle plastic bottles.
When you go for a picnic and there are no bins, take your rubbish back home to be disposed off properly.
If you have to pray, please do pray… but don’t expect the good Lord to actually come down and give you a pay packet!
Get up off your backside and sweat for your living.
Remember, if you don’t school hard, people from overseas will come and do the job.
Well, unless your daddy is rich then that’s a different story.
As for me, I am rich in that I invested in my children’s education, now I can relax.
Allen Lockington
Kava Place, Waiyavi, Lautoka

Down memory lane
I loved reading letters by our evergreen writers Allen and Kosi titled “Down memory lane” where the two gentlemen shared their own experiences and reflections about life.
While our boso levu from the famous Kava Place dwelt on life in Veisari and returning home after watching Dracula movies and improvising coconut juice for popcorn or juice, my kai from Cakaudrove shared a beautiful piece about growing up in Qeleni.
Memories from those good old days came back to bring a smile on my face and I made up my mind to share my life bio-data.
I was born in Vunilagi, a village not far from Natewa Bay. I attended Vunilagi Primary School and enjoyed growing up in the multiracial village where food, warmth and laughter were shared. I loved taking part in meke and because dad was the school headteacher, I was spoilt by our iTaukei family. Village gatherings united the young and elderly.
Then we had to move to Savusavu Town and I attended Khemendra Bhartiya School.
We were taught to respect our teachers and I miss my gurus who moulded me — their support and love in the form of a scolding or beating. Mornings and afternoons were spent playing soccer. Even before school started we would be sweating.
Learning was fun and we looked forward to prize-giving ceremonies which were held at night. Students enjoyed the “bring and buy” occasions and class parties held in school.
We showered our teachers with gifts during teacher’s day. I grew up watching my Savusavu soccer team win three IDC in a row under the guidance of the late Surendra Rama and I never missed watching the ever competitive Bhartiya soccer tournaments and the local league at Narains Park.
Holi, Diwali, Eid and Christmas were looked forward to as it was a time for family bonding.
Secondary school days were full of enthusiasm. From the hustle and bustle at Natabua High in the Sugar City to Nadogo Secondary in Wainikoro! We learnt what struggle was walking to school barefoot and then crossing the dangerous Wainikoro River.
The rainy weather and floods caused havoc during school days. Studying via the kerosene lamp and candles were a challenge but welcomed with open arms. Movies were restricted to Saturdays. No laptops or computers. We had to write letters to organisations requesting for pamphlets and stickers.
I represented my school in oratory. Trophies piled up the school’s cabinet. Today Wainikoro has electricity and mobile reception and people’s lives have become easier.
As I watch my life unfold I pay tribute to my wonderful parents and dedicated teachers.
I miss those chapters of my life growing up and I wish I could rewind time so I could see my grandfather and grandmother and those who left me when I was young.
The only memories left are photos in our family album which bring tears and memories from the days.
Thank you Allen and Kosi for the marvellous piece that motivated me to share a small piece about my life!
Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam
Nadawa, Nasinu

Lucrative market
The special team of the police force tasked to stop illegal drug cultivation raid and destroy so many farms every year in the country.
I believe this team is basically placed in the highlands where illegal marijuana cultivation is mostly done.
There is no doubt these officers face many challenges during the search in rough hills.
It is not a simple mission but the officers never say die. Through their concerted effort, many culprits are now behind bars.
After successfully locating the farm, looking for the grower is another big challenge as he goes underground sometimes.
In my view the campaign is not giving the result we desire as more and more cases surface each and every year. I think as long as there are users, you can never stop marijuana trade in Fiji.
Having said that, I wonder if our law enforcement agents are also keeping a radar on them.
Without the users, the product is useless. For a change leave the farms and chase the users.
This way we might be able to turn the table around. You see new farms coming up every day because of readily available market and healthy financial return. Please change the plan.
Suresh Chand

Bus terminal
The Lautoka Bus terminal is becoming smaller each day because there are a lot of buses and too much congestion.
It is clearly sending a message that it is time for a bigger and new terminal for Lautoka. And because of congestion in the streets it’s adding to the problem.
For the busy times 7am to 9am and 4pm to 6pm is when buses have difficulty moving around and this leads to delays for some buses. And for those buses coming in and moving out at those times, they find it hard to move about. I believe this congestion is impacted by the number of popular supermarkets located around the bus terminal.
I suggest that all buses travelling to Sigatoka and beyond should be relocated opposite the Catholic Parish hall and buses travelling to Ba and beyond should be stationed close to Namoli Village, this might help in some way hopefully.
But a new bus terminal in the future should be similar to the one in Nausori which would be ideal.
Tomasi Boginiso
Nepani, Nasinu

Club soccer
Can the very good CEO and the president of Fiji FA call me on 9955178 and advise me on how many registered clubs are there in every district compared with the ‘90s.
That will definitely give a clue to all soccer-loving fans if we are moving in the right direction.
Savusavu had 16. Now it’s five.
Two months ago they had a very healthy knockout competition and a round or two of club games (thanks only to my letter in the papers then it was organised), the third round had two defaults and one warm-up game just to get together.
It’s back to wait and see.
To my good friends Raymond, Lingam and Sukha, any clues my mates?
I just hope Gamel reads this too and the three gentlemen call me. They haven’t done that certainly up until today even though my number is stated in my letters. Any reasons gents?

Mine safety
The recent incident highlighted by your newspaper about a tragic incident encountered by one goldminer, Saimoni Totoni and his three colleges at the Vatukoula Gold Mine was very serious and should be dealt with accordingly with urgency.
I believe there should be a thorough investigation by two separate independent commissions assigned by the International Labour Organization.
There should be no interference by the Ministry of Labour or Vatukoula Gold Mine office. This is not a political issue. It’s an issue of workers’ lives and safety. There should be no compromise.
I believe the mine should be put on notice and closed unless and until the investigation is completed and all issues and facts have been addressed.
I believe the only time the mine should be opened and allowed for operations is with the approval by both the commissions and the independent industrial judge nominated by the workers’ association. There should be no exceptions.
I believe there have been too many safety issues. This must be stopped.
I believe there should also be a review of workers’ compensation and medical policies by an independent commission offered by the company.
I believe workers should and must have the right to overseas medical treatment in cases of serious medical complications.
It was shocking to hear the statement from the general secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, Felix Anthony, when he claimed that the congress had been trying to negotiate a collective agreement for more than a year and half which seemed ridiculous and throws a lot of doubt on his capability to be the leader for workers’ issues and grievances.
There should not be a collective agreement or compromise on safety issues with the company, period. It just should be a safety agreement per ILO policy and standards in place. No exceptions.
There should have been regular safety inspection visits by international industrial safety officers. Can the FTUC or the company issue data on safety industrial inspections?
Mr Anthony should stop threatening strike action which every time results in hardship for striking workers and their family. It’s about time the members should demand for an open audit of all union affairs by independent auditors.
Abendra Ram Tahal
California, USA

Bold and healthy budget
Reading the 2018/2019 National Budget breakdown online and the response from some politicians including some current FijiFirst government ministers, my mind was impressed with a thought that the opposition forces were already spinning.
The announced budget is a bold and healthy one for all Fijian families and even though the opposition MPs interviewed called it an election vote-buying budget, the current Fiji government ministers interviewed were overjoyed and were already laying down plans for the use of their budgeted allocation.
We are told that $20 million is set aside for the Fijian Elections Office in view of the 2018 General Election.
If Fijians are happy with the recent so-called “freebies” to help families devastated by the recent floods and now we have a national budget that will surely lift us up and benefit every Fijian family and our current ministers are happy with their allocated budgets, what is the point of having the 2018 General Election?
We save $20 million for that alone which could be diverted to further improving our standard of living.
The million dollar question is, “If we Fijians are all happy with our current FijiFirst Government, why change it?”
Bottom line, vote FijiFirst to enjoy this budget if we do indeed go to the polls!
Savenaca Vakaliwaliwa

Mums and cash incentive
You report 5000 mothers from families with a household income of less than $30,000 will receive $1000 at the birth of a child (FT 29/6).
Then the report goes on to say that no child in Fiji will be starting life without a financial foundation.
Is it 5000 for all?
Allen Lockington
Kava Place, Waiyavi, Lautoka

What matters in the end
For what matters, the latest budget is great and has a lot to look forward too.
However, one could have expected the Government to be more sensible on the alcohol tax increase.
Beer should not draw any increase because it’s more healthy than water, taken in moderation, of course.
Besides, I find that taxes on alcohol and cigarettes are outdated. Ouch!
On another note, it is disappointing to notice the increase of 100 per cent in plastic bags for shopping instead of a total ban. The money must be a big lure.
Also, a refund system on all plastic bottles is overdue and Government has failed here to move forward.
When you can increase taxes on cigarettes and alcohol like other countries do, then you could also introduce the refund on plastic bottles.
Hans B. Boernke

Fijians’ World Cup dream
Sukha Singh makes a valid point (FT 29/6) about the state of Fijian soccer. Lionel Messi said, “The day you think there are no improvements to be made is a sad one for any player!”
And Diego Maradona had this to say about the world game, “When people succeed, it is because of hard work. Luck has nothing to do with success!”
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result which is why Fijian soccer will never get anywhere until someone decides it’s “broken” and needs an urgent heart transplant, renewed vision and the passion to succeed at the international level.
The trouble is no one is walking the talk to make the dream of Fiji qualifying for the World Cup a reality because most administrators most probably have never had to compete at an international level.
It’s highly competitive and requires a toughness and determination to make it to the top.
Yes, it’s a dog-eat-dog arena where only the strong survive the physical, mental and emotional demands.
Getting to the World Cup is not only about the physical prowess of the team, but has a lot more to do with emotional intelligence in being able to handle the mental and emotional stresses of high pressure success.
Soccer has changed and today’s world-class soccer players are highly competitive because of how they approach not only the rigours of the game, but their health and fitness regimen as well.
Colin Deoki

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