Letters to the Editor – Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Fijian Drua’s Teti Tela breaks through the Crusaders defence during their Super Rugby clash at Churchill Park in Lautoka. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

Tela’s kicking boots

No more carpool for Fijian Drua flyhalf Teti Tela with special friends from Fiji Airways before an important match like last Saturday (jokes). Hope he has his kicking boots on next time around. Well done Drua! Sailosi Naewe Naduru Rd, Nausori

Go Drua

Congrats Drua but be grounded. Too much coverage in the media can have a negative impact. The Reds team is next and it’s a form team. We need to go and play our best game. KHALID AHMAD

Debt mountain

REFERENCE to the article on Page 12 under Business column (FT 13/03) titled: “Do not fear the debt mountain”. I am concerned and worried after reading this. I am not an economist but the comment by ANZ international economist Dr Kishti Sen that we should not fear the “debt mountain” is a matter of concern to me. Our interest repayments on Fiji’s total debt is $400 million per year. Now how much more should we pay to reduce the principle debt? With less than a million people in our population, how can we meet these repayments to reduce the mounting debt? At one stage, sugar used to be the main source of our revenue but look at the critical situation of our sugar industry now. The agriculture sector shows very little progress and may take time to rely on this if we put in a more concentrated effort towards it. By all means our “tourism” appears to be our main hope but again the Tourism Minister says we need an additional 4000 rooms to meet the challenge, but this again will take time. Looking at the whole scenario, I believe the income tax structure may be another area to consider. I am no expert on this. The Finance Minister has appointed a Fiscal Review Committee with capable members to look at this. Nearly always the word “tax” causes a bit of panic in public but I am almost certain the Coalition Government will spare the poor. VIJAY MAHARAJ Sydney, Australia

War of words

Mr Chaudhry “jumping the gun” as labelled by Professor Biman Prasad, the Minister of Finance in the Coalition Government could be probably a good phrase used at this point in time. It is too early for Mr Chaudhry to forecast the effects of increases in taxes when the Fiscal Review Committee headed by well-known lawyer Richard Naidu has just formalised its committee and yet to begin with the consultation process. Mr Chaudhry, please leave it in the good hands of the Fiscal Review Committee to do the work. Probably, the committee will come up with some good recommendations for the lower-middle income families in Fiji. The review of taxes is inevitable since it has not been carried out for some time. There is an urgent need to address the revenue and expenditure sides in order to carry out a review in the tax processes. War of words isn’t good. It is a threat to the nation, particularly to the poor. I. Deo Bisun Sakoca Heights, Tamavua

Good news for Tuwai!

I thank the Coalition Government for committing towards building a house for double gold medallist Jerry Tuwai. The hottest player on the HSBC WRSS 7s circuit was promised $33k by the Bainimarama government to build a property at Tacirua East Subdivision. When the then government made the promise there was a lot of excitement. People felt that Tuwai deserved the gift as he had won back-to-back Olympic gold medals. However, two years down the drain and we got to hear from the former FRU interim CEO Tevita Tuiloa that the promise made to Tuwai, after he won the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games gold medal, was not fulfilled. Thank you Minister Jese Saukuru for coming out clean and bold and assuring Fiji that our Government will honour the commitment made by the previous government! Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam Nadawa, Nasinu

New dawn

One thing is for sure. It is becoming increasingly clearer and more prevalent judging from opinions shared in both the English dailies. In Fiji’s “new dawn” many are able to speak freely, without fear of being fateful, and dobbed in. How refreshing! Democracy is again, definitely alive and well. I guess the late Pope John Paul II’s sentiments are here again, ringing true — “The way the world should be”. How nice! Thank you oh Lord our God in Jesus’ holy name for the many mercies and graces showered here, in Fiji. We are grateful for the refreshing privileges enjoyed today. RONNIE CHANG Martintar, Nadi

Guns in cockpit

If the “guns in cockpit” allegation (FT 14/3) is true, then heads must roll and a thorough investigation carried out immediately. It is a serious matter and potentially damaging the aviation industry. Given the frequency of travel of the former attorney-general, aviation security and safety laws must have been breached a number of times. Ajai Kumar Nadi

Heads should roll

What made the previous attorney-general so entitled that his bodyguards were permitted to carry firearms on FijiLink domestic flights? (FT 14/03). Why the privileged conduct by our national airline during the latter’s 16-year reign? What, or who was Aiyaz fearful of, that he required armed personnel on domestic flights? With such heedless acts and with the potential to compromise the safety and security of other onboard passengers, I firmly believe that the Fiji Airways CEO should immediately be given the boot for tactlessly allowing the breach of such stringent civil aviation laws. Absolutely appalling and disgraceful! Heads should definitely roll on this matter of national concern. Nishant Singh Lautoka

Waiting for answers

OK, Guns & Roses I know. They’re a great band. But guns on a domestic flight and without proper approval? Seriously bro? Either someone’s taken leave of their senses or they’re so afraid they need bodyguards with guns to reassure themselves they’re safe. Kemudou bro. This is Fiji. Not the wild West. So who’s going to be the fall guy for this nonsense? And is anyone going to face the music for the countless times it’s probably happened? Waiting with bated breath for sound answers. Colin Deoki Australia

‘Tumaar gun’

You don’t say. He was that afraid? That too in a space he literally controlled? Unkol Allen would have said: “Tumaar gun.” MANOJ LAL Patel Drasa Ave, Lautoka

Pathetic response

Fiji Airways CEO Andre Viljoen’s response to The Fiji Times’ legitimate query in the public interest “on allegations that bodyguards of former attorney-general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum were allowed to carry guns on FijiLink domestic flights without approval from Civil Aviation Authority” ( FT 14/3 ) is an insult to the intelligence of the Fijian public. It’s a pathetic attempt to gloss over a very serious public concern. It sounds like the kind of phenomenon we associate with a banana republic where the rulers can do pretty much whatever they fancy without any regard to the rule of law. Was it coincidental that Mr Sayed-Khaiyum was also the minister for civil aviation? Rajend Naidu Sydney, Australia

Truth comes out

If found to be true, The Fiji Times (14/3), is to be thanked. This is block-busting news. How is it remotely possible? Under international civil aviation laws, no guns can be carried onboard any aircraft without express prior written approval from civil aviation authorities. Is this a truer case of being “drunk with power?” I shudder. Scary stuff unfolding. How many in the top echelons of executive authority in Nadi Airport, and other domestic airports, simply turned a deaf ear and blind eye, and looked the other way? Is this the very tip of the proverbial iceberg revealing itself? The truth always finds its way out. Ronnie Chang Martintar, Nadi

Let the truth emerge

THE headline of The Fiji Times “Who let the guns in” came as a shocking revelation. From the time I saw the preview posted by editor-in-chief, Fred Wesley, on his social media account, I was desperately waiting for the e-edition and print edition in order to read the entire story. Finally, the CAAF and Fiji Airways staff have broken their five-week long silence and revealed concealed information. How many ministers in the previous government had bodyguards with firearms? According to what I understand, if someone went as far as to have armed bodyguards present in public and on flights, it indicates that he was concerned for his safety. That would further suggest that he might have committed a number of bad deeds for which he was feeling self-conscious. Additionally, having firearms in the cockpit jeopardised the security of regular passengers on those flights. This is a violation of aviation protocol and an abuse of office because the CAAF did not provide written authorisation. I think the accused people should be the subject of an investigation. After all, taxpayer funds were used to pay for the armed bodyguards. We appreciate The Fiji Times’ objective, accurate, unbiased and fair news reporting. Just a humble request to Fred Wesley and his dedicated team to find out if more ministers in the previous government were using armed bodyguards at the expense of taxpayers. Let the truth of the matter emerge! DINESH KUMAR BA

We need the truth

I AM shocked to learn that the bodyguards for the former attorney-general and Minister of Economy Aiyaz Sayed- Khaiyum were allowed to carry guns onto Fiji Link domestic flights when he was a passenger. (FT 14/03/2023) Now there are two sides of the story; first from the Fiji Airways chief executive officer Andre Viljoen who said that Fiji Airways has regulatory approved processes and procedures for carrying dangerous goods, in this case guns, and they are followed strictly in every instance. In other words, Mr Viljoen is saying that the guns were indeed carried by Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s bodyguards onto Fiji Link domestic flights and it has followed all procedures in doing so. The other side of the story is from the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji (CAAF) who told The Fiji Times that it issued no approval for firearms to be carried for the purposes of Mr Sayed-Khaiyum’s travel. Now I believe the Fiji public needs to learn about the truth and I request the police to treat this case urgently for it has become a matter of public interest. Again, I am really stunned to learn about guns on planes, especially on domestic flights. KOSITATINO TIKOMAIBOLATAGANE VUNINOKONOKO RD, NAVUA

Virtual demarcation

Paul Geraghty’s letter (FT 14/3) prompted me to have a look at Fred Wesley’s editorial from the 14th of March regarding imaginary demarcation lines. I think that the answer to Paul’s question, “am I making a statement of fact or just imagining it?” Might be both … Irish, Catholic etc, fact, but the demarcation line … this form is imaginary and perhaps all fall within a larger demarcation circle of Fijian 7s supporters? Terry Hulme Eastwood, NSW, Australia

Review committee

The concern of the Fiji Labour Party leader on a likely increase in taxes is truly premature. Government has provided a platform in the form of a committee for fiscal review and they should use this facility to make their submissions. One thing is for sure; the committee will closely focus on tax evaders and tax avoiders for it needs lots of revenue not only to run the ever-increasing economic demands but to also claw at the huge debt piled up. Ajai Kumar Nadi

Fishing lure

A long time ago I was flying back to Labasa, I had a fishing lure which had two triple hooks on them. The security guards told me that I could not take the lure on the flight so I had to ask a flight attendant to carry it on board for me. I would just like to ask the security company at the airport why did they allow A-G’s bodyguards to carry guns on board? If the story about guns on board is true, I believe it just means the former attorney-general was the most powerful person in Fiji Sukha Singh Labasa

Just a thought

I would suggest the current Sugar Minister to consider making jaggery in Fiji. I feel that Australia and New Zealand and also Fiji imports this from India in good quantity, so it may pay to produce this locally and export to our neighbouring countries. Just a thought. K Sahai Auckland, New Zealand

Welfare assistance

From the “many” that do not deserve to get State welfare payment according to Assistant Minister Sashi Kiran can she cite a few specific examples (without disclosing names of course) of why that is the case so that the public can better understand what she is talking about? Rajend Naidu Sydney, Australia

More Stories