Monday, November 08, 2010

Media Release: Rebuttal of Sharon Smiths Comment on Australian Visa Applicant

Posted on - 8 November 2010

The illegal Government spokesman Sharon Smith’s reaction to one Viliame on Radio Australia last week was very irresponsible and insensitive.

The Fiji Government should be more concerned and come up with answers as to why thousands of Fijians are leaving Fiji and seeking greener pastures overseas?

The over 2000 applications from Fiji citizens currently clogging the Australian Refugee Review Tribunal’s system is not, to quote her exact words, ‘a handful of people’ .

Instead of brushing aside Viliame’s claims, the illegal self appointed leaders of Fiji should ask themselves, what is wrong here? Why are people leaving Fiji in large numbers?

They must be reminded that it is their responsibility to look after Fiji’s people and their plight wherever they are because these are Fiji’s Citizen. It is the Bainimarama Regime’s duty as the wannabe and self appointed Fiji Government to look after Fiji’s citizens whether they are in Suva, Sydney or the South Pole.

If they want to relieve themselves of the obligation of looking after Fiji’s citizens, then they should do the honourable thing and stop collecting taxes or better still resign their positions and open the way for those better suited and with the right attitude to replace them as public servants.

There are many things seriously wrong with Fiji and the whole world knows about it except those who deliberately deny it. And those who do so are the ones benefitting the most from it such as Sharon Smith.

The current illegal administration made an illegal power grab in December 2006 based on wild unsubstantiated claims of corruption. It is now four years and they have not managed to successfully prosecute any members of the deposed government on corruption.

Therefore, their reason for their continued existence is constantly changing and the flavour of the moment is economic reform. In the last four years, the Bainimarama regime have mismanaged the economy and brought a lot of misery and suffering upon the people. In the mean time they continue to live a life of abundance in their ivory towers.

With no one to answer to, they have gone about their ill thought-out decisions without regards for the consequence of their decisions.

A report commissioned by the Fiji Islands Bureau of Statistics and produced by Dr Wandan Narsey recently indicated the incidence of poverty have increased from 27% in 2006 to 31% by 2008-09. Economic commentators are expecting another big increase by the year end due to the imminent collapse of the Sugar Industry.

The collapse of the sugar industry was avoidable given the European Union had approved a grant of 300 million Euros to rescue the sugar industry. A condition of ‘election first’ was placed on this grant following the 2006 coup which Bainimarama has stubbornly refused to meet.

Results of Dr Narsey’s study has indicated that back in 2003-04 rural people already make up 63% of those classified as poor in Fiji. This percent has risen to 71% by 2008-09. What will the result be given the current state of the Sugar Industry?

Those that can afford to are leaving Fiji by the plane load because no one wants to live under a dictatorship where basic rights and freedom are not allowed. Neither do they want to watch their families’ living standard drop as they become innocent victims of the illegal power grab.

Economically and politically displaced people from Fiji are now scattered all over Australia working in factories, railway lines and fruit farms. These people do not want to leave their families and love ones behind. However, they have no choice but to leave our shores in search of income to sustain their families back home.

The Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement have come across many professionals who have laboured for years in educational institutions and secured jobs in the public service as teachers, air traffic controllers and custom officers and are now picking fruits on Australian farms. They have been forced off their dream careers to go overseas and seek work because they have lost jobs or life has become unsustainable since the coup of 2006 given the 10% pay cut, 10% devaluation of the dollar and the increasing cost of living brought about by Bainimarama’s decisions.

The Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement keeps a close tab on the opinion of the people in Fiji and have noticed a mood shift take hold since April last year. There is now a much greater sense of hopelessness as daily survival becomes more challenging for the average person. Even those living in rural areas are finding it hard to survive in an environment where people are expected to sustain themselves from natural food sources.

Sharon Smith is an Australian expatriate that got paid a six digit salary while managing Connect Internet. She has lived a grand life rubbing shoulders with the elite on the cocktail circuit for the last ten years. She will never know nor understand the real Fiji where the majority now live as marginalised poor.

Sharon Smith has never lived on a $90 a week wages nor have a bath from a bucket every morning, living in a makeshift squatter settlement. She does not have the worry of eviction permanently lodged in her subconscious. That is why she will not understand why Fijians are leaving in droves for overseas.

We challenge her to forsake her luxury lifestyle and go and lives with a family at the Wailea Squatter settlement for a month? It is so easy for her to speak with that tone of arrogance and insult our dignity sitting in the air-condition office of Government Buildings far removed from the realities of life.

Sharon Smith and her master should at least be grateful because without these remittances, the economy and their dictatorship would have faced a financial collapsed long ago. According to Dr Narsey’s research, remittance stood at almost $280 million in 2009.

In a hypothetical situation, let us assume very conservatively that the Fiji Remittance Income money multiplier is 5, that $280 million would have generated economic activity of $1,250 million. In other words, the spin off from these remittances would have generated an extra $970 million of net income in Fiji’s economy. A very senior economist we consulted have highlighted that the multiplier for remittance earnings would be much higher than for tourism, and probably higher than sugar as well- since remittances is pure net income earned from overseas

The Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement calls for a change in direction immediately. It demands that Voreqe Bainimarama’s resign as Military Commander and as Prime Minister because he has in the last four years of self appointed leadership, proven to be a conniving, corrupt individual who has demonstrated his lack of capability, and transparency. The recent ‘Open Budget Survey’ and Fiji’s bottom of the table ranking of zero among the 100 nations surveyed is the most recent embarrassing example of his leadership style.

Bainimarama, like any military dictator, has quickly accumulated enormous wealth for himself and his cronies at the expense of those easily marginalised in society such as the workers, the poor, the rural dwellers and the voiceless and it is time for him to go.

The Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement calls for the appointment of a neutral bi-partisan caretaker government as recommended in the Fiji Court of Appeal Judgement of Qarase and Others v Bainimarama and Others of 2009 to lead the country, allow for a public open consultation of electoral reforms under UN and Commonwealth supervision, and a general election as soon as possible. The Movement also calls for the immediate resumption of basic human rights and freedom as guaranteed under the Bill of Rights of the 1997 Constitution immediately.

Secretariat FDFM
8 November 2010
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