Monday, August 03, 2009

Fiji Economy and Society Slowly Drowning

Lorry drivers are forced to wait up to 18 hours at a time to unload their cane at the troubled Lautoka and Rarawai Mills. On Saturday NFU general secretary Mahendra Chaudhry found between 80-100 lorries piled up at each of the two mills which have been running intermittently on a stop-start basis since the beginning of the season. “It’s one big mess out here. No one knows what is happening,” said Mr Chaudhry who visited both the mills on Saturday. “The plight of the lorry drivers is pathetic. They are forced to wait here for 12-18 hours at a time to unload the cane, without any food, water or lights at nights. It is very sad that no one in authority seems to care about the drivers.”
Mr Chaudhry said the canteen at Rarawai that was set up to cater for lorry drivers was no longer available. It is now being used to house workers form India. So there is no where the drivers can go for even a cup of coffee or tea to relieve the long tedious hours of waiting. The NFU has repeatedly highlighted problems at the Lautoka and Rarawai Mills. Last available mill statistics show pathetic crushing record at both. The Lautoka Mill is crushing at 61 percent capacity and Rarawai at a pathetic 39%, according to crush figures for the week ended Monday 27 July. NFU calls on the Sugar Minister to go down and see for himself how the mills are performing and the condition under which these lorry drivers are forced to wait for 12-18 hours at a time.
Meanwhile, the Union draws attention to a statement by FSC on Saturday regarding its first sugar shipment to the UK. CEO Deo Saran exults over the $32 million shipment. What he did not tell the media was that FSC failed to meet the full shipload of 30,000 tonnes. It shipped only about 27,500 tonnes. Here is the alarming truth: as of 27 July, a total of 383,000 tonnes of cane had been crushed. On average this should have produced 43,000 tonnes sugar. Our information is that only 27,500 tonnes were produced, leaving a shortfall of 15,500 tonnes. This translates to an estimated loss of $15 million at current price.
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Documents have surfaced revealing a $1 transaction made by Alec Chang to purchase Fiji Forest Industries mill in Malau, Labasa from Fiji Development Bank. The transaction happened with the full knowledge and concurrence of Epeli Ganilau, whom records show was also party to the deal. According to these documents, it was important to Epeli Ganilau to control forestry and milling in Macuatu, Cakaudrove consitituency since that was supposedly his political territory.
That political ambition of dominance within his own constituency made his partnership with timber shark, Alec Chang, very convenient and strategic.
Documents we have show that Epeli Ganilau is also a director of FFI along with long-time funder Alec Chang. But FFI is supposed to be a wholly owned subsidiary of Tropikwood, another company that was headed by Alec Chang until recently. And guess what, FFI is the same milling company that is under investigation by FICAC for possessing stolen items from the incomplete Wairiki, Bua government port. A similar FICAC investigation is now underway at Tropikwood for illegal uplifting of machines, equipment and parts by Alec Chang to FFI in Malau prior to his forced departure as CEO. It is said that the racket also includes one Daniel Mani and a Rotuman engineer working for Alec Chang.
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There are fresh revelations today that Fiji’s strongman and coupmaker, Frank Bainimarama, has invited the Methodist Church to advise him closely on affairs of the state. Frank, a Methodist himself, is said to very happy with the outcome so far and is allowing more leeway with the Methodist Church so long as they are willing to swing their members support to his illegal regime. It is also reported that the Methodist Church is now split on the Ratabacaca-led group’s move to bulk and abide by Frank & Co’s call to cancel the August annual conference meet. According to sources, there is a good number of movers and shakers within the church who believe that Ratabacaca & Co have compromised the church by yolking them with the same source of coup take-over sins manifested in 1987 ,2000 and again in 2006. They say that Ratabacaca & Co. should stand firm and stick by their biblical principles by not bowing down to usurpers.
They also say that Ratabacaca & Co’s stance is happening at a time when the church is trying very hard to disassociate itself from being brushed with the same paintbrush as coupmakers like Frank and Rabuka. But other commentators say that with the Church now giving in to Frank & Co. with a request to get permits to fundraise at their own church districts, the Methodist Church main agenda has been exposed. They say the annual conference is all about raising money to feed its confused and morally corrupt clergymen and that it’s a blessing to Methodist congregation that the Rewa conference is not happening.
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The Methodist Church should have visited before Ro Teimumu was charged for inviting them. Seems now that all the hardship the Marama Bale endured because of her insistence that the conference go on is in vain. If it was to have any meaning at all, then the Methodist Church will also insist on going ahead with the conference. Why put the Marama Bale through all this hassle? She had the guts to stand up for what she believed in and paid the price because of it. That’s the challenge now facing the MC.
Will they stand up and be counted regardless of the cost? Don’t quote scripture to justify your decision. It seems that it’s all lip service. If you want to quote scripture, here’s one for you when Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” The cross speaks of sacrifice. Seems like the MC ministers are not willing to put their lives on the line for what they believe in. They live a comfortable and cushy lifestyle, they are not willing to throw that away. Hebrews 12:4 says that ” you have not resisted unto blood”…… so true for this crop of ministers….men of God of old endured suffering for the sake of the gospel, the apostles in the Book of Acts said that , “they would rather obey God than man” They got into trouble with the authorities and guess what, They rejoiced “because they were considered worthy to suffer for his namesake”.
All this takes place while Israel was occupied by the Roman Army. They didn’t have a democracy back then. Our country, for all intents and purposes is under “military occupation”. So why don’t you MC ministers follow in the footsteps of the apostles of old and “obey God rather than man” if you are so convinced that the Church Conference is the will of God. Let’s see if you will “rejoice for having being counted worthy to suffer for his namesake”. What I’m saying is, walk the talk, don’t be fair-weather church ministers only. You wanna quote scripture, go right ahead! We’ll come back with a few of our own to set you straight.
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There are calls for the Papua New Guinea government to reconvene parliament or risk civil unrest and the loss of foreign investment. The call from non-government organisations, unions and women’s groups follows a vote to adjourn parliament until November, which was taken last week when the opposition was about to table a motion of no confidence in the government. Jonathan O’ata, the chairman of the NGO group, Voices for Justice and Governments, says there is public anger at the adjournment and other government actions and a high risk that people may take the law into their own hands.

“People’s participation in trying to determine the outcome of these projects and have a say in it has been suppressed by a dictatorial leadership. It has not represented our interests and people all over the streets, all around the country are crying foul.” Jonathan O’ata says NGOs are trying to harness public feeling into a peaceful show of dissatisfaction with the government.
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Fiji’s Methodist Church fears there would be more arrests if it went ahead with its annual conference in Rewa this month. After weeks of defiance against the interim government’s ban on the conference the church’s leaders have backed down and cancelled it. The assistant general secretary, the Reverend Tevita Banivanua, says nine church leaders are currently before the courts and they feared the reaction if the conference was held as planned. “When it comes to the people, the people would not take things lying down, that’s our worry. If some of their own ministers from other parts of Fiji come to the conference and then were taken up we feared the worse.” The Reverend Tevita Banivanua says the cancellation does not mean the Methodist Church accepts what the interim government is doing but will look at other ways of expressing its opinions.

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Another phony contractor who has received huge sums of payment from TFL is Metal Work and Joinery Limited owned by Shailesh Singh. Metal Works was an unknown struggling company before Felix Anthony became Chairman for TFL. Felix and Metal Works owner, Shailesh Singh are good mates from Lautoka and go back a long way.
Documents we’ve obtained reveal that Metal Works was busy acting as a beneficiary under Felix Anthony’s chairmanship. Like Midland Engineering and VK Rattan Digging Works, Metal Works got their jobs without any tender process. One such job was the costly fit-outs it undertook at TFL’s Namaka Customer Care Centre in Nadi. The job was not only lousy but was way over-priced at $160,000 Metal Works received for the job.
Another similar job where the project price has been hugely inflated by Metal Works is the chain-link fencing around the back of Ganilau house. That job alone cost TFL $75,000 while experts whom we sent to value the job put it to $20,000. So where did the additional $55,000 go to? Did Shailesh Singh re-route part of his TFL project payments to Felix Anthony and some other TFL staff concerned?
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THE Fiji government says it will not react to the latest suspension threat from the Commonwealth until directly informed of the ultimatum. The Commonwealth has renewed its warning that Fiji will be suspended from the grouping in September if it fails to commit to holding new elections by next year following a 2006 coup. Fiji Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum was quoted by the Fiji Village website on Saturday as saying the government had not received official word on the suspension threat and would only comment when there had been talks with the Commonwealth. In a statement agreed after seven hours of talks in London on Friday, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) – whose members are the United Kingdom, Ghana, Malaysia, Namibia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St Lucia, Sri Lanka and Uganda – called for Fiji to inform it in writing by September 1 that it would hold elections by October 2010.
“In the absence of such confirmation, Fiji will be fully suspended on that date,” they said.
Informed sources said the ministerial group was split down the middle, with countries including New Zealand in favour of suspension, but others including Malaysia, which chairs the CMAG, against. Since seizing power in a bloodless coup in December 2006, Fiji’s self-appointed prime minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, has resisted all international pressure to restore democracy. When he said earlier this year there would be no democratic elections until 2014 it led to Fiji’s suspension from the 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum for refusing to return to democracy “in an acceptable time-frame.”
- Agence France-Presse
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There are five questions that I would like to ask Frank:
1. Where is the new FNPF Board?
2. Where is the FNPF Annual Report?
3. What happened to Momi Bay, an injunction been granted to stop the sale, why has no body reported this?
4. Has FICAC managed to read the Funding Agreements to charge all those involved, the evidence will be found in the Affidavit Supporting the application for the Injuction on the clauses relied upon by Garry Urwin to state that FNPF cannot sell the Resort, this was a scam from the start it will take Teleni 12 months to read, 5 years to understand, and 10 years to compile the file for the DPP’s Office, which will take another 5 years to prosecute, by which time everyone involved would have died?
5. Finally can John Rabuku WITHDRAW the frivolous charges against Ro Teimumu Kepa since the Conference has been canceled and since she was used as a scape goat by unethical members of the Methodist hierarchy?
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All those that give excuses for supporting any military regime do not understand because of their lack of education, are in denial, ignorant or simply the insecurities which makes them not have a clue what they want in life. I am Indo Fijian with Samoan and German blood and because I was born and educated in Fiji in Frank’s terms I am classed as a Fijian. I reside in a free country now which is exactly what I want for my birth country, “FREE” All the excuses that is being given today by Frank’s Military Regime and supporters of the regime is just that “EXCUSES” The Fiji I know was fine until we had all the coups and this coup is no exception. The “taukei” did their thing in their land and Ratu Sukuna made sure of that with the British and we the “vulagi” were allowed to make a life for ourselves, even adopt our culture, traditions and religion in which Ratu Mara encouraged.
Indo Fijians like myself couldn’t see anything wrong with living in Fiji amongst the “taukei” and the other races. If we were prepared to work hard we could achieve our dreams and that was all we wanted. I worked hard and with my family managed our finances well so today live a very comfortable and happy life, unfortunately not in Fiji but else where because of the coup. We all do not aspire to become Fiji’s Prime Minister or President of a country that wasn’t our fault we were born into. The sad and disappointing thing is the insecurities and mentality of the chiefs that have supported any illegal Military Regime.
They all seem to think that the world owes them a living and because of this, it seems that Fiji’s chiefly system has had its days. It wasn’t the British or any of the Commonwealth countries, wasn’t the Indo Fijians, wasn’t the UN but these chiefs themselves and those that still support them today. Karl Williams
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The Methodis church has to take responsibility for actions of it’s clergy and leaders for events pre-1987 up to now. it’s intimate involvement with nationalistic elements in the past has brought about the present situation. There was no outcry from the church in 1987 or 2000. Some of it’s leaders figured prominently in those two coups. Tomasi Kanailagi was not content with his salary as the church president but wanted to be a senator as well! I’ve just returned from a three week trip to Fiji. The whole time I was there, the consistent comment from the methodists I spoke to was one of thanks that the conference was canceled. Why? Because the conference had evolved into something so expensive and extravagant that the common people continue to be burdened with the financial obligations.
Reverend Tuwere is right. Cancel the conference and give the people time to recover. it is also time for the church to streamline it’s operations and practice sound fiscal management, so it can get out of and stay out of debt, so it doesn’t continue to be a burden on it’s membership.
Churches are not supposed to burden people, they’re supposed to be a means through which people’s burdens can be eased.
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Before making assumptions, we need to delve into our experiences of the past. One of the dimensions could be that the people of Fiji are still scarred after what happened in 2000, as well as various other reasons. At present no one can fully under estimate the might of the military nor would people wish to come across this terror again. One would probably have the legitimacy to say that the Fijians are (as quoted by you) ‘one lamu sona race’- if one were to live in our people’s shoes- walking the streets of Suva and living in the outer most parts of Fiji. Mark Manning does not. What is vitally important is for us to look at the bigger picture and to prepare ourselves for when FB and his crew are finally where they belong- jail. The 10,000 phone bill that Mohammed Aziz rakes up in a month is something he will never ever get to make in probably a few months time. His time is almost over. It’s inevitable. But that’s beside the point so let me get on with it.
Before we go back to representative democracy (ie. the people choosing who they want to represent them); we need to firstly begin through deliberative democracy which is whereby the people of Fiji are consulted about the way forward. The mistakes of the past governments in general- in making a blunder of things is first and foremost- not consulting the people in making policy and strategy. Social capital is just as important as anything else and must be invested upon. By that I mean- the people must be involved at ALL levels of decision making, policy and strategy. In the past we have only consulted the people by imposing decisions that have already been made by the elite few.
A classic example of this is the silly NCBBF Charter- whereby it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out its fly by night popularity which was one sided to say the least. Also, we often make the mistake of elevating people with the highest accolades just because they we think they have said the right things from an educated point of view. Normally, this is given to professional people such as lawyers etc, who are often middle class males with no idea about what the grassroots community voices are crying out. Their version of doing the grassroots thing is probably having grog at the back dock behind the courts with the hired help.
Also, we welcome multiculturalism without being comfortable with who we are as a people. We chop and change to suit people. That is in our nature which is a great misdemeanor. I read an article yesterday where a British Army Soldier said that he was proud to be British and loyal to the Queen etc. He said that he no longer had loyalties to Fiji. What a load of hogwash! And when we talk about being nationalist it’s as if its a filthy word and ridiculed as this term is associated with the likes of Dumuloco without fully grasping its true meaning. There’s nothing wrong with being a Nationalist- I am in the true sense of the word and not ashamed to say it- it is my human right.
My point is- let’s get back to the basics. Let’s hear what the people of Fiji really want. Just because someone speaks fine English it don’t mean that he/she is speaking the gospel truth. The answers are from within and we probably don’t even realize this. To demonstrate good governance, the voice of the people above all must be heard. The young must benefit from leaders, leading by example.
Lastly, there is nothing wrong with our culture and the church. We just haven’t learnt to draw a balance but most probably this experience will teach us that we need that balance. Finally, we are far from sitting ducks, we do what we can to assist in moving Fiji forward even if it means that we support our villages and mataqali’s from afar- but we are doing our part. The best is yet to come. I am positive of that. As a person in my early 30s-I am excited at the prospect of another phase into Fiji’s leadership.
Frank your time is truly drawing to a close. You don’t deserve the opportunity to ask for forgiveness. You simply need to pay for your crime, and we simply move on and maybe remember you (if we’re having a bad day) as someone who came and wasted the most part of the last 2 or more years of our lives. You will become a diminished memory- nothing more nothing less.
End of story.
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Surely this is an ideal opportunity for Bainimarama to show that his impassioned advocacy of equal political rights for the the various races in FIji is more than just empty rhetoric. The appointment of an Indian will be a watershed event in the political landscape of Fiji and history will record Bainimara as the greatest champion of multiracialism. In my view Charan Jeat Singh, the Labasa businesman, ex mayor and ex MP, would be the leading contender amongst the Indians. As they say “there cometh a time cometh a man.” The present challenges of Fiji needs a leadership which is capable of some lateral thinking and a fresh vision. Recycling the old political rethreads is not going to deliver the solutions that Fiji desperately needs. His continued investment and business diversification in Fiji is a very clear testimony to his confidence in the country. As a relentless promoter of the North, he has almost single handely expanded the economic frontiers and employment opportunities for its people.His long term crusade to have Labasa and Sausavu declared as ports of entry is almost reaching fruition.
But what makes Charan’s candidacy most compelling is his proven record of engagement with the common people and those in government. Over the many years of public service he has proved that he can share a whisky with the highest chiefs with the same ease and comfort as he can have a grog with an ordinary villager. Indeded his business partnership with Ratu Mara, Ratu Soso and many other icons of Fiji has taught him that Fiji’s future lies in not only a continous platform of investment and economic reform but also respect and regard for the values and aspirations of the various races. Its time to demystify and humanise some of these regal positions and Charan has the credentials to exactly that with his common touch and taste.
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I’m no coup apologist. Buy what I’m saying is that I understand fully well why Frank and the RFMF had to take the government back from Qarase. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. As a start I don’t like Sereana Qoro. My dislike of her began when I obtained some inside info regarding the failed National Bank of Fiji. She was a board member of the bank after coup 87 and she did something that I don’t like to this day. Secondly, she was one of the very first people who visited parliament during Speight’s so called civilian coup. In fact, she was a supporter.

I’m led to believe that some of you guys were just not following Fiji’s progress and political developments from 1987 to date. Fiji has never been right ever since coup 87. This is why we are going through all these turmoils. Had Fiji been right, we would be living happily ever after. The ideology of coup 87 was a manufactured one based on a lie. The issue of race was used to create a fear that Fijians were going to lose their land, identity and so forth.
Again coup 2000 was done by those who used race as ploy to gain support amongst indigenous Fijians and legitimise the cause. Look at all those who were involved in that coup. They are either failed business people, politicians and what not. The only reason why that coup 2000 was done was to remove the Labour party from the leadership of this country. Period. It was supported by businesses and failed politicians. Businesses feared Labour’s policies towards them.
The differences of opinion that we have is a result of the level of information we each have that shape our different perspectives.
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According to the Fiji Sun, the Lau Provincial Council is still waiting for the dividends from its FHL shares for last financial year 2008. They’ve been told that they’ll be paid in October but it looks like FHL are lying again. We’re talking about last year’s dividend, not this year’s.
According to the Annual Report for 2008 the dividend has already been paid. Check it out on page 10.
It looks like more lies from the FHL Board. They were probably sitting on the money to help them through the financial stress caused by their insane attempt to buy-out BP.
Fiji Democracy Now
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Traditional heralds of Rewa Province will be dispatched tomorrow to inform their people of the cancellation of the Methodist Church conference they were to host this month. It will be two months after the Fiji military and police issued a joint statement telling the church to call off the two-week long gathering scheduled for Lomanikoro, the home of the province’s high chief. Fiji LIve says the sending out of messengers follows the visit to the village of Lomanikoro by a delegation of Methodist Church executives. They informed the high chief, Ro Teimumu Kepa, of their compliance with the Government’s directive to cancel this year’s summit. Ro Teimumu Kepa was arrested along with nine members of the Methodist Church earlier this month for insisting the conference go ahead.
It took the people of Rewa two years to prepare for the hosting of the meeting, the biggest on the Methodist Church calendar. An announcement is expected later in the week on what they plan to do with the food crops, mats and other items the people had been preparing for the meeting.
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New Zealand’s foreign minister, Murray Mccully, says Fiji needs to decide to bring itself back into the international community at some stage soon. The Commonwealth has given Fiji a deadline of September the 1st to commit to elections in October 2010 or face full suspension from the organisation. The Minister, Murray Mccully, who was at the meeting in London, says the conditions under which the Commonwealth will engage with Fiji were made very clear today.
“Now the Commodore needs to either sign up to that process or he will be suspended on the 1st of September from the Commonwealth, that’s clear outcome its one that reflects the clear principles of the Commonwealth and its one that’s very much in line with the position of the Pacific Forum.” New Zealand’s foreign minister, Murray Mccully. Fiji was suspended from the Pacific Islands forum at the start of the year
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The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which addresses serious or persistent violations of the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values met in London on 31 July 2009.
1. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group on the Harare Declaration (CMAG) held an extraordinary meeting in London on 31 July 2009. The Meeting was chaired by Hon Datuk Anifah Aman, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia. It was also attended by H.E. Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ghana; Hon Marco Hausiku, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Namibia; Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand; Hon Samuel T. Abal, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration of Papua New Guinea; Hon Rohitha Bogollagama, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka; Hon Rufus George Bousquet, Minister of External Affairs of St Lucia; Hon Sam Kutesa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uganda; and Mr Ivan Lewis, Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom.
2. CMAG received a written communication from the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, Hon Toke Talagi, Premier of Niue.
3. The Group also received with appreciation a briefing from the High Commissioner of Fiji to the United Kingdom, H E Mr Pio Bosco Tikoisuva.
4. CMAG further received and took note of a Joint Statement dated 24 July 2009 made by two former Prime Ministers of Fiji, Mr Laisenia Qarase and Mr Mahendra Chaudhry, as well as a letter from Mr Mick Beddoes, Leader of the Opposition in the last parliament of Fiji.
5. CMAG recalled that, at its previous meeting on 4 March 2009, it had deplored the fact that Fiji remained in contravention of Commonwealth values and principles; that CMAG’s call for the Interim Government to adhere to its March 2009 deadline for holding elections had not been heeded; and that the Interim Government had not indicated an alternative date for elections. It further recalled that, at that meeting, CMAG had reaffirmed that the engagement of the Commonwealth in Fiji should continue to be directed at protecting and promoting the fundamental values and principles of the Commonwealth, in the interests of the people of Fiji.
6. The Group further recalled its decision in March that, should sufficient progress not be made by Fiji towards a return to democracy, Fiji would be fully suspended from the Commonwealth at the Group’s next regularly scheduled meeting in September 2009.
7. The Group noted that Fiji’s situation with regard to fundamental Commonwealth values had deteriorated strikingly since March. It deplored the President’s purported abrogation of the Constitution on 10 April 2009, the further entrenchment of authoritarian rule in Fiji outside the Constitution and the rule of law, the ongoing violation of human rights including freedom of speech and assembly, arbitrary detention of opponents of the military regime, and the undermining of the independence of the judiciary and legal system. CMAG also deplored the intention of the Fiji regime to further delay the return to democracy by more than five years.
8. In relation to Commonwealth engagement with Fiji, CMAG expressed its deep regret at the Fiji regime’s withdrawal of cooperation with the Commonwealth and UN on the proposed President’s Political Dialogue Forum (PPDF) and the effective abandonment of that process.
9. CMAG noted the decision by leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum to suspend Fiji from participation in the Forum as of 2 May 2009.
10. CMAG urged the Fiji regime to immediately reactivate the President’s Political Dialogue Forum process, facilitated by the Commonwealth and the United Nations. CMAG stressed that such a Dialogue must be independent, inclusive, time-bound and without any pre-determined outcome, and lead to credible elections in the country no later than October 2010.
11. CMAG urged the Fiji regime to state its firm commitment to reactivating the PPDF as indicated in the terms outlined in paragraph 10 above, by no later than 1 September 2009, in writing to the Commonwealth Secretary-General. In the absence of such confirmation, Fiji will be fully suspended on that date. CMAG authorised the Chair and the Secretary-General to consult on engagement with the Fiji regime should a positive response be received, and to furnish a report to CMAG’s next meeting in New York on 26 September 2009.
12. Consistent with the provisions of the Millbrook Action Programme and CMAG’s own earlier statements, the Group reaffirmed the importance of continued engagement by the Commonwealth with Fiji, in pursuit of its entrusted responsibility to support the restoration of constitutional democracy in that country and protecting and promoting human rights and the welfare of the people of Fiji.
London31 July 2009
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I would put on record here again what I previously posted when “Frank’s shifty position” was under consideration. It is not just one church, the Methodists, but it is a matter for all Christian citizens to seek justice. A church that forgets to encourage its members in that calling has not only forgotten what the mandate for the church is they have forgotten who Jesus Christ is. If the Roman Catholics of Fiji follow Ro Teimumu’s Christian example and demand, as they should, that meetings of their own church be cancelled out of solidarity with the attempted abortion of the Methodist annual conference, then the situation takes on an much needed ecumenic dimension along the path of peace. Here again is my explanation of why this path is the one all Christians, including Fiji’Catholics, should consider now.
The principle is a simple one: to stand against abortion also means an in-principle stand against the dismemberment of parliamentary democracy. Why do I say this? Christians and others seeking an answer to how they should stand in relation to the Junta’s attempts to ban the annual Methodist Conference, might find something valuable in the recent Papal Encyclical Caritas in Veritate.
Let me illustrate my point by adding a quote from the Encyclical that is an integral and foundational part of the argument Pope Benedict wants to put forward in this promulgation. He is developing his case by drawing a principle of universal consequence from the church’s (albeit in some places fiercely contested) views about the sacredness of life and the character of marriage as a God-given male-female institution.
Pope Benedict: “The Encyclical Humanae Vitae emphasizes both the unitive and the procreative meaning of sexuality, thereby locating at the foundation of society the married couple, man and woman, who accept one another mutually, in distinction and in complementarity: a couple, therefore, that is open to life[27]. This is not a question of purely individual morality: Humanae Vitae indicates the strong links between life ethics and social ethics, ushering in a new area of magisterial teaching that has gradually been articulated in a series of documents, most recently John Paul II’s Encyclical Evangelium Vitae[28].”
CW’s comment: So the Encyclical says that these matters of vital personal and “private” morality have a direct and decisive bearing upon social ethics. You can’t keep them separate. Life and social ethics are really the horse and carriage, you can’t have one without the other. That is what this document clearly affirms. It continues:
Pope Benedict: “The Church forcefully maintains this link between life ethics and social ethics, fully aware that “a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized.”[29]”
CW continues: Now, the question comes, what happens when a church “radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized.” Will not the church itself find that it lacks solid foundations? Will not it have undermined its own social contribution by “allowing or tolerating” by “devaluing or violating”?
The question that arises, and which justice-seeking Fijians of all faiths will want answered, concerns the abortion of the weak and now marginalized institution of Fiji’s Parliamentary democracy. This is not just playing with words and tricking the Junta supporters by the ue of metaphors. The principle is that life ethics should NEVER be separated from social ethics, and vice versa. The teaching promulgated in Caritas in Veritate will lead those who now read these declarations not only to respect life in the womb, but it surely leads them on to critical questions about the way the Roman Catholic church (as well as other churches) has conducted itself in the wake of the December 5th 2006 coup and particularly after the Good Friday abrogation of the now weakened and marginalized Fijian constitution. We live in a common region and that is why the Roman Catholic church in Fiji must now ask itself whether it has departed from its own sacred teachings when it has appeared to allow and tolerate “… a devaluation and violation” of political life itself? Has not Fiji’s own Parliamentary Democracy been weak? Has not that weakness been exploited by ruthless men who would “swallow it alive”? (Psalm 124)
But that is surely not the end of the matter. There are strong and enduring God-given links, Caritas in Veritate declares, between “life ethics” and “social ethics”. So the questions non-Roman Catholic Christians in Fiji and others seeking justice need to ask of their Roman Catholic Christian brothers and sisters and fellow citizens are indeed difficult ones. The asking and the seeking of answers will require great care to avoid anything even slightly resembling the disastrous 16th and 17th century wars of religion.
In this respect the truly prophetic and diaconal service rendered so courageously by Ro Teimumu Vuikaba Kepa has been an indispensable contribution to help Christians of all denominations work together as servants of Jesus Christ in the political service they are called to give to all of their neighbours whatever faiths they might have. Her efforts, as a Catholic Christian leader of her people, in insisting upon the holding of the Methodist annual conference, should be interpreted as her declaration that says to the Junta: “You have tried to abort the weak and fragile institution of Fijian democracy; you shall not do the same to this Christian church, (or, by implication, any other).”
And in this way, her resolute stand affirms the teaching of her church on the God-given connection between life-ethics and social-ethics, and in so doing also lovingly makes amends for recent mistakes that seem to have been made by some of her church’s senior office-bearers. Indeed, such a sacrificial act endorses the underlying insistent approach of Caritas in Veritate while also giving expression to the fact that it is love – God’s love poured out for us in His Son – which alone can cover a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8)

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