Letters to the Editor – Saturday, February 23, 2019

Four-year-old Vive Winston Marama at her mother's memorial plague at Qelekuro Village in Tailevu. Behind her is her grandfather Leone Ravuataki watches. Her mother Sera Tinai died at this spot at the height of TC Winston in 2016. Picture: RAMA

A sad tale

The picture of four-year-old Vive Winston Marama at her late mother’s remembrance stone at Qelekuro Village in Tailevu brings to the eyes memories from the devastation caused by STC Winston in 2016.

We are almost three years into the aftermath and sadly such events take us back to those dark days as Fijians suffered the brunt of the monster and families lost their valuables and loved ones.

However, we showed as a nation that we were stronger than Winston and charmed the world with our resilience and fighting spirit and character.

On the other hand, it saddens me that our number one newspaper has highlighted that so far repairs and construction of schools and infrastructure damaged by STC Winston remains incomplete as students wait in vain.

I hope that the relevant authorities will speed up construction work and lessons learnt from Winston will enable Fiji to be better prepared for another catastrophe as such.

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Space shortage

The police force is running out of space to store drugs and drug-related equipment confiscated during raids.

Based on reports, I think it is more like sprinting than running.

The Police Commissioner has given out a stern warning that his force is out to get each person involved in the drug trade.

How much time do we have before Fiji’s prisons start to run out of space for inmates?

Mohammed Imraz Janif, Natabua, Lautoka

Marijuana analysis

Could someone tell us how the marijuana plants are analysed?

Do they smoke the leaves to find out?

I agree with Simon Hazelman on why take the whole lot of plants to the lab.

Sukha Singh, Labasa

Teacher shortage

Could the Government admit that the shortage of teachers was their fault?

Allen Lockington, Kava Place, Waiyavi, Lautoka

Front page

The front page of The Fiji Times (22/02) was eye-catching as the headline read, ‘Too much to handle’.

A well-known shopkeeper in our area exclaimed at the topic as he served me while purchasing the daily.

He said, ‘Have a look at the front page. Why is there no storage space, I thought they are supposed to destroy it instead of keeping them?’

I looked at him and just said ‘oh, OK’ and in my mind agreeing to his comments.

I was able to understand the point made by the Commissioner of Police as I walked back home and read the article by Felix Chaudhary.

Perhaps the shopkeeper missed the point.

The police chief clearly pointed out that “temporary storage facilities would house the illegal drugs until cases were cleared by the courts and the substance and plants could be destroyed”.

Perhaps the judiciary should prioritise illegal drug-related cases so that they are expedited.

However, at the end of the day, the judiciary in itself must follow legal procedures to ensure the criminal justice system is observed with due diligence, independence and impartiality.

The war against drugs in Fiji has become the talk of the town as the marijuana, methamphetamine and cocaine business is rapidly increasing.

Recent reports revealed the $31million cocaine seizure from a house in the Central Division and the raid at a prominent nightclub in the West uncovered an alleged lab for producing illicit drugs.

One can deduce that the market demand for illicit drugs has increased astronomically.

We need to work together as a nation to curb this “cancerous” problem.

Our police force cannot do it alone.

They need our help and support because together we can make a difference for our beloved nation as a whole.

Have a blessed and great weekend.

Spencer Robinson, Suva

Costin’s plans

It’s pleasing to note that our newly-appointed Fiji Bati coach Brandon Costin (F/T 20/02) has made some reasonable plans for local-based players.

All the best Sir and we hope that you’ll take us to greater heights and take over from the illustrious and successful journey that Mick Potter enjoyed with the Fiji Bati, especially that 4-2 historic win against NZ in their home country during the 2017 RLWC.

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

At risk

Cocaine, cocaine, cocaine.

Ice, ice, ice.

Marijuana, marijuana, marijuana.

The nation’s well being is at risk.

Sailesh Naidu, Naceva St, Lautoka

MOG report

The MOG report has been made to look like a joke by the Fijian authorities.

They failed to incorporate 2014 recommendations, I wonder what will happen to the 2018 recommendations.

We seem to be wasting resources in trying to please the international committee when their effort in trying to help us is given no value.

If these issues are not solved today, it will lead to major problems in future which will be very hard to eradicate.

Sharveen Chaudhary, Nausori

The man

Way to go Hasmukh, you the man.

You have tact and stick to the issues people bring up about power cuts.

Unlike some people I know regarding fish.

By the way, any spare generator, just to standby for Kava Place?

Allen Lockington, Kava Place, Waiyavi, Lautoka

Kava footpath

I just want to tell my uncle Allen Lockington of Kava Place that the construction of footpaths for his area is in the pipeline.

Just for his information the pipe is a bit long!

Narayan Reddy, Lautoka

That article

Reading ArchibishopPeter Loy Chong’s article F/T 16/02 tells us a lot about his knowledge on current affairs.

A very detailed and professional one indeed!

An MBA graduate friend of mine being baffled, by knowledge gained in the article, especially by the agendas of outside powerhouses.

Vinaka talatala.

Steven Chandra, Suva

Black economy

There has been a recorded downturn in beer sales because of high excise tax (FT 22/2).

Whereas the upsurge in drugs seizures points towards a growing market led by increase in consumer demand.

Is there a correlation between the two?

Are consumers switching to drugs as a more affordable substitute for alcohol and cigarettes?

If this trend persists then what will be its long-term impact on the economy.

It surely indicates a mushrooming black economy.

Selwa Nandan, Lautoka

Fiji Hindi

I thank your correspondent Dhirendra Prasad for his thoughts on my thoughts on Fiji Hindi (FT 20/2), since it gives me the opportunity to counter some commonly-held myths on the topic.

Your correspondent writes: “Fiji Hindi has no structure in terms of grammar, tenses and meaning.”

Not true.

Fiji Hindi has its own grammar, which is different from the grammar of standard Hindi.

If he is referring to published grammars by linguists, the American linguist Rodney Moag published a grammar of Fiji Hindi in 1977, and since then many linguists have published papers on aspects of the grammar of Fiji Hindi, including Jeff Siegel, David Arms, Nikhat Shameem and Rajendra Prasad.

“It would be a joke if news presentation, lectures and classroom teaching is (sic) done in Fiji Hindi.”

Not true.

Many schoolteachers teach in Fiji Hindi when appropriate, and Fiji Hindi has been used in lectures at USP, including a series of conferences organised by Dr Mohit Prasad in which scholars presented research papers in Fiji Hindi.

Nobody was laughing.

“All our scriptures are written in Hindi, not Fiji Hindi.”

True.

Similarly, Christian scriptures were written in Hebrew and Greek, but you don’t need to know these languages to practise Christianity because they have been translated into thousands of languages — including Fiji Hindi.

There is no reason why Hindi scriptures cannot be translated into Fiji Hindi.

“Hindi cannot be written in Roman script.”

Not true, it can and it has.

Any language can be written in Roman script, with the addition of diacritics if necessary.

Similarly, English could be written in Devanagri.

Turkish has far more vowels and consonants than Hindi, yet it uses the Roman alphabet.

“We cannot write Japanese or Chinese in Roman script” is also not true, there are a number of rigorous romanisation systems for these languages that have been in use for centuries.

“Do use the broken Fiji Hindi in your daily engagements.”

I am not sure what the writer means by ‘broken’ here.

If he is under the impression that the girmitiya came here speaking standard Hindi and that subsequent generations changed it, that is wrong, because none of the girmitiya spoke standard Hindi, they spoke mostly Bihari and other languages of north-east India.

It is true that I am not a speaker of Fiji Hindi, but I have taught hundreds of USP students over the years in linguistics class to learn to appreciate their own language, and I am pleased to report that all Fiji Hindi speaking students have enjoyed and profited from studying their native tongue, and all have written term papers on aspects of Fiji Hindi phonology, grammar and lexicon.

My impression is that there is boundless enthusiasm for Fiji Hindi among the younger generation, not just as a means of colloquial communication, but as a vibrant language that only needs to be developed to serve as a language of education, government etc.

It is inevitable.

Remember that only 50 years ago, only British English was used in Australian media, now it is exclusively Australian English.

Paul Geraghty USP, Suva

Brothers for Fiji 7s

In my letter titled 7s rugby family dated January 11, I mentioned my wish of seeing brothers Isoa Tabu and Sevuloni Mocenacagi “play alongside each other and follow the footsteps of the famous Savea, Ioane and Barrett brothers” and I’m delighted that the duo have come close to accomplishing this wish of mine.

This means that the “dynamic duo” get an opportunity to make headlines just as the Rauluni brothers (the late Meli, Vili and Vesi) and our former 7s coaches Tabulutu and Dere made in the ’90s.

Gareth Baber has named a power-packed side for the third leg and has included the duo alongside Kunavula, Nasoko, Josua, Meli, Paula, Jerry, Nacuqu, Terio, Botitu, Tuimaba, Naduva and Tuivoka.

From the squad that I had wished for in my letter titled My choice in Thursday’s The Fiji Times, the only exclusion is Cakaubalavu and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that our “burning train” and “ace man” Naduva gets his visa to travel with the team to USA and Vancouver.

Otherwise, thumbs up to Baber’s selection as he has opted to keep the momentum burning and maintain the winning combination from Cape Town and Hamilton.

So far, the world has seen four tournaments but only two winners — arch rivals and traditional gurus of 7s rugby Fiji and NZ.

Fiji is not too far from NZ and USA as we trail them by four points and a win in USA and Vancouver should cement a top finish heading into the Asian leg.

As our boys prepare to leave our shores, I wish them all the best on behalf of my family and urge the boys to keep the spirits high but remain humble and be good ambassadors on and off the field.

Thank you so much for the efforts boys but a little more is needed to topple NZ and USA.

Toso Viti toso, kemudou ga rawata! It’s time to face the underdogs Wales and Scotland and the heavyweight Australia!

Cheers!

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Social media

We know that social media is a highway where all sorts of things can be seen.

Facebook is one, you have people speed posting — posting without thinking.

You have trash post — people posting stupid things.

You have the “illegal parking or entry” — people joining a conversation and not knowing what the real topic is.

You have the one track mind people — that can’t seem to get the government out of any of their posts.

You have the road ragers — people who post in capital letters.

Then you have those who stroll down the social highway hanging out their dirty laundry.

One person posted today and made my day — he said, “To all you people who are posting please be civil, some of your posts seem like you had marijuana for breakfast”.

Soon as I heard that I had a baby mix at 3pm.

Oops, did I breach the baby mix copyright thingy.

Oh never mind.

Allen Lockington, Kava Place, Waiyavi, Lautoka

Education system

I believe history shows that the last major review of our education system was undertaken by an education commission 50 years ago in 1969.

A lot of changes and developments have taken place since then. Governments have come and gone and yet I believe we have never really fully and holistically reviewed our education system in line with the global trends and changes in our local socio-political circumstances.

A new and holistic review seems therefore to be long overdue. I think it’s time to appoint a new education commission to re-look at our system, so that we can have a “helicopter view” of where we are right now, where we want to go to and how to get there and then make recommendations accordingly for implementation.

Otherwise, we will continue to see piecemeal and ad-hoc changes being made.

Edward Blakelock, Admiral Circle, Pacific Harbour

‘FRU must start talks with Mataele

The article in yesterday’s The Fiji Times titled ‘Magnificent Mataele’ shows the strength and character of a solid wing and flyer who had the ability to bulldoze his way past an aggressive Blues defensive pack.

After his dazzling runs, Mataele should be one of the frontrunners for the number 14 jersey for Fiji at the RWC 15s after the departure of Nadolo and Jim.

The Flying Fijians have a good chance of toppling Wales and Australia in Japan as we have a lethal back line and a set of forwards who are capable of dominating the scrums and lineouts.

Therefore, FRU and McKee must start talks with Mataele before he is stolen by the All Blacks.

On a lighter note, Mataele and his Crusaders teammates will face a fiery Hurricanes outfit which beat the Waratahs away from home (20-19).

The Hurricanes have won the Super Rugby title once in 2016 after beating the Lions 20-6 at home but lost to the Crusaders in the semi-finals last year by 30-12.

During the home and away clash last year, the Hurricanes won at home in round four by 29-19 while the Crusaders won at home in round 15 by 24-13.

With stars in Jordie Barrett, Ben Lam, Dane Coles, Toomaga-Allen, TJ Perenara and Ngani Laumape, the Hurricanes will put up a fight against the nine-time Super Rugby champions.

Scott Robertson has made one change to the side that beat the Blues as Jack Goodhue makes the team alongside the famous rugby names in Havili, Mataele, Crotty, Bridge, Mo’unga, Hall, Todd, Taufua, Strange, Barrett, Franks, Makalio, Moody, Funnell, Alaalatoa, Hunt, Romano, Drummond and impressive Ennor.

My best wishes to the Crusaders for this important clash!

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Road woes

Just to let the road authority know that the part of the road which meets the curb is vulnerable.

We will be having heavy rains and water rushing down that part will dig into tarseal.

The part of Kaunitoni St is a good example.

It has been sealed/repaired, one heavy downpour and the gash opens up again.

With this kind of repeated job, I am now suspicious.

Allen Lockington, Kava Place, Waiyavi, Lautoka

UN peacekeepers

On Thursday, The Fiji Times printed a short letter of mine on the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.

For those who missed it, in 1988, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the United Nations peacekeeping forces.

On reading my letter, a friend from New York shared as follows.

In 1988, he had just started work in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

He was asked by his immediate supervisor, a Major General from Ghana to collate a list of peacekeepers from peacekeeping missions worldwide.

There were to be two soldiers from each mission area.

The intent was for a group of peacekeepers to accompany the then UN Secretary General, Perez De Cuellar to Stolkholm, Sweden for the presentation of the award and the other group to attend the celebration in New York.

My friend then submitted the list of names.

It included two Fijian soldiers from UNIFIL.

The list was approved.

Our soldiers from the Fiji battalion in Lebanon were the late WO1 Apakuki Najoritani and retired WO1 Onisivoro Koroidiliva.

The late Mr Najoritani was part of the group that accompanied Sec Gen Perez De Cuellar to Stolkholm.

Mr Koroidiliva attended the celebrations in New York.

On reading my letter, the now 72-year-old Mr Koroidiliva or Cody, as he is fondly referred to in military circles, recounted as follows.

He was to spend five days in New York for the celebration.

While there he also applied for 10 days leave.

At the celebration, in full uniform, he recalled that he was probably the centre of attraction.

He wore the most number of military medals!

His photograph even appeared in the New York Times!!

He spent his Christmas in New York and New Year’s Eve with his “tauvu” from CBM (Cakaudrove, Bua, Macuata) in Lebanon.

“What a contrast, he said.”

Especially with the big bowls of yaqona that greeted him upon his return to the area of operations!

In his words, he still remembers the experience with clarity.

I’m glad that I came across this piece of history that I could share with my fellow former peacekeepers.

Furthermore, it is a piece of history that appears to have not attracted much attention then and now.

Looking back, I remember with fondness this giant of a man, Mr Najoritani.

A renowned no-nonsense Warrant Officer.

He was always ready to proffer advice to junior, young and fresh out-of-military academy officers such as myself who were going on active service for the first time in 1987-88.

I also remember Mr Koroidiliva.

Another well-known military instructor whose words of wisdom have done many a soldier a treat then and is still a sought after speaker now at military training wings.

Most of all, the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize for United Nations Peacekeeping Forces brings to mind the many sacrifices of our soldiers and their families.

I remember those who did not make it home alive.

I remember how so few, from our little corner of the Pacific, continue to contribute so much for the benefit of so many worldwide.

As I said in one of my letters some years ago; in our contributions to world peace, we are offering some hope to people who daily seek the ever elusive dawn of a day without armed conflict.

To all our former and current UN peacekeepers and our families, I salute you all.

To those who have gone on before us, I say, rest well, good and faithful soldiers.

Kiniviliame Keteca, Nausori

Those escapes

Over the recent past, I believe we have witnessed a good number of people escaping from the holding cell at the Suva courthouse.

Three days ago, a person waiting to be sentenced escaped in broad daylight and the police did not seem to have things under control.

What is the problem?

It seems that those assigned to keep these people contained before they are passed on to prison authorities are not doing a very good job.

Escaping from lawful custody, both within police and prison service, is an area that needs to be improved.

It is more costly to chase and search for them after they escape, when we could have done better by doing a good and secure job in the first place.

Is this an inside job or is someone sleeping on the job?

I am worried the axe is going to fall on someone.

Ilaitia Bose, Samabula, Suva

Parliament sitting

I was closely following the Parliament sitting as a concerned citizen.

I am sorry to say that the answers given by various ministers to questions directed to their ministries were very unsatisfactory.

Ministers do not seem to genuinely attempt to answer questions or people’s concerns raised through the Opposition, but instead attack them for not understanding the situation.

A good example was highlighted in The Fiji Times 20/02 titled “MP calls for ministry to improve complaints process”, wherein Lenora Qereqeretabua commented that the issues are lack of information on how to file complaints about the environment and lack of access to relevant documentation, which is a problem for Fijians concerned about the environment.

To support her argument, she cited a case she and a complainant from Nadroga went through last year which according to her, after all the due processes, was inconvenient.

Furthermore, she made a suggestion in the comments section of the Environment Department’s website page on April 17, 2018, that the complaints form be made available online.

She received a response on February 14 this year that her suggestion was “still awaiting moderation”.

In his response, Environment Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy said and I quote, “If you put it to perspective, some four decades ago, the level of attention on environment and what is the level of attention on environment now; four decades ago, the quantum of industrial and commercial development and the quantum of industrial and commercial development now, we are mindful of that”.

I want to remind the minister that 40 years ago, computers, mobile phones and the internet were not known in Fiji and he should be mindful of that as well for they were introduced to make our work faster and easier nowadays to cater for the fast developing country we have chosen to become.

Kositatino Tikomaibolatagane, Vuninokonoko Rd, Navua

EIA issue

If we want to get absolutely serious with environmental impact assessments (EIAs), then we first need to look at ourselves and assess the impact that we as citizens of Fiji are doing to our country.

I believe we are absolute hypocrites in crying foul over large projects when in reality we are the biggest culprits.

One only needs to observe our surroundings to notice that we are our own worst enemy.

We are masters at damaging our environment.

As a matter of fact, we are not only reckless, but totally inconsiderate!

As a nation, we are damaging our environment on a daily basis and EIAs will not fix our problem.

We need to come up with long-lasting solutions that start from pre-school level.

We are merely scratching the surface of an impeding environmental disaster!

The EIA system is nothing more than a smokescreen!

Simon Hazelman, Rava Estate, Savusavu

Electronic fiscal device receipt

I believe the new Tax Administration (Electronic Fiscal Device) Regulations 2017 came into force with the primary objective to monitor sales in the business environment ensuring the right amount of taxation is paid.

I believe all business must operate within the framework of the regulation so the system is fair and just to all the other players in the market.

There has been a lot of effort put in by the relevant authority to educate everyone including the consumers of the concept and the result is now very much tangible as compliance is on the rise.

However, as a lay person it becomes difficult to understand the size of the receipt that are now issued to consumers in the supermarkets who are in adherence to the legal notice.

I did a purchase worth 90 cents and was shocked after paying the cashier, over the size of the fiscal invoice that was issued to me.

It was 30 centimetres long and eight centimetres wide.

At the bottom portion of the receipt there was a box like image measuring 6.5 cm by 6.5 cm that contains the tax core invoice verification normally known as the QR code.

This also contains a lot of the vital information where all the elements of the business details are captured to ensure a smooth flow of information from the dealer’s outlet to the governing authority since the interception of the legislation in 2017.

I believe the size of my receipt may be equal to or greater in cost with the original purchase.

The worldwide concept in business is heavily heading towards the paperless operation through e-commerce and the digital age and we must also align ourselves to the trend.

The bottom line is that it will be more friendly to the environment if we reduce the size of our shopping receipt eliminating the features that are not important or may have to re-organise the format.

This will reduce the operating cost of the business, reducing littering and will not have to cut down that many trees to produce the paper to print our purchase on.

Satish Nakched, Suva

Combined effort

Do we have a serious national issue before us?

The continued and increased discovery of illegal drugs like marijuana, ice and cocaine pose perhaps a clear and present danger.

On one hand, one commends the efforts of our law enforcement officers in making a concerted effort against this trade.

On the other hand, one can imagine what it must be like for parents and guardian as it takes perhaps just one or few attempts at consuming these drugs before one gets addicted.

The social and health implications of this illegal trade certainly has impact on families, communities and the nation.

The economic costs including medical bills cannot be ignored.

Sadly, a number of young men in need of special assistance at St Giles centre are amongst those who have become hooked to drugs.

Some parents may not like to micro manage their children but given the prevalence of these drugs, parents have every right to know where they children have been and amongst which group of friends.

Growing up in a middle-income neighbourhood in the western division, I have sadly witnessed several young boys, including friends, fall into this trap.

Unfortunately, several have had to spend time in prison.

Years of productive life have been lost to confinement in prison.

Parents and guardians they have left had to deal with much disappointment and frustration as years of investment in their young ones’ education have gone down the drain.

Falling into the wrong hands of peer pressure can lead to lifelong issues including health, crime and other social issues.

All in all, let’s support our police officers and leaders but not forget that awarewness and training starts from home, including prevention and counselling for those already engaged in the trade or consumption of such substance.

It is a combined effort requiring the support of including communities and families.

Floyd Robinson, Toorak, Suva

 

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