Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Paul Reeves needs a reality check

Post by: Rawfijinews - December 7, 2009

Commonwealth Special Representative to Fiji Sir Paul Reeves needs to take a more realistic look at what is happening in Fiji.

He is calling on New Zealand to change its hard line foreign policy stance on Fiji, to lift off travel bans and to re-engage with a military government that is stubborn, insensitive and repressive.

His simplistic view of the Fiji situation is discouraging to say the least to us in Fiji who are forced to live daily with human rights repressions in the form of severe restrictions on freedom of expression and media rights and the inability to openly comment on government policies that are devastating the lives of our people.

The PER is used to curb any form of resistance or dissent. Arbitrary arrests and brutalization of anyone who dares to raise a voice of dissent is the order of the day. There are reports of cane farmers being subjected to abuses like old men made to run around the army camp in the mid-day heat, even violent assaults, from army personnel while they have been cruelly marginalized from their own industry.

The economy is in deep trouble, unemployment high and the cost of living continues to spiral out of control. Insensitive government policies such as allowing bus fare increases and the removal of some 140-odd items from price control will send more of our struggling poor to the poverty heap.

Government fees and charges on services to the public have spiralled within a year to meet the requirements of a severely cash-strapped administration. While the country is going to the dogs, the prime minister is having a grand time trotting the globe on any pretext he can jerk up … he is barely in the country these days!

Despite all the spin about clamping down on corruption, the dictator, his close ministers and senior military officers are reportedly as much on the take as those they earlier denounced.

Paul Reeves needs to start looking behind the rhetoric being spewed out by the dictator and his henchmen to see where actually Fiji is headed on the third anniversary of the December 2006 takeover. In three years, the situation in the country has worsened, the future looks even more bleak.

He wants New Zealand, and no doubt the Commonwealth, to enter into dialogue with a man who is illogically stubborn, and refusing to move an inch in considering an acceptable and realistic timeline to return Fiji to democracy and constitutional rule.

Is Sir Paul trying to tell the international community and the people of Fiji that it will take five years to carry out reforms and hold general elections? Is he telling the world that only Frank Bainimarama and his cohorts in the military council know what is right for Fiji?

As the Comsec’s Special Representative to Fiji, Sir Paul’s first responsibility is to uphold the values and principles of the Commonwealth re-iterated last week in the Trinidad Tobago Affirmation of the Values and Principles of the Commonwealth.

Comsec might one to re-think whether Sir Paul has not comprised himself as his Special Representative to Fiji to help it chart a way out of its current political crisis.

If anything, the international community needs to take a reality check of the current Fiji situation and stop pussy-footing with our future. Sanctions need to be stepped up to force the dictator to a more realistic roadmap to return Fiji to democracy and to get rid of the repugnant Public Emergency Regulations.

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