Letters to the Editor | Saturday, December 23, 2023

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Josefa Nata (middle) with his daughter Heilala and son Josua Nata at the state house in Suva yesterday. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU

We all make mistakes

I wish to add another letter in gratitude for the presidential pardons.

I am especially pleased to see Josefa Nata freed.

I remember Jo as an upcoming reporter in 1999.

I personally did not think he was very actively involved in the events of 2000 (I stand to be corrected).

I understand that Jo used those long years in Naboro to do some further study at university level, gaining at least one degree.

I was touched by Jo’s words of regret quoted in The Fiji Times (21/12) and I pray that he will be able to forgive himself.

We all make mistakes and a few of us pay as dearly as he has done.

Tessa Mackenzie, Suva

Spirit of forgiveness

The spirit of Christmas is indeed a spirit of forgiveness.

I totally agree with Colin Deoki’s sentiments in your LTE column (FT 22/12) that a few others need his excellency’s generosity and pardon this Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all Fijians!


Message of forgiveness!

Days away from the birth of Jesus Christ, it is vital that we take heed of his message of forgiveness.

If we walk with the spirit of forgiveness, we will be kind, compassionate and forgiving.

We will forgive others just as Christ forgave us.

We will love others just as Christ loved us, by willingly giving His life for us.

Christ walked this Earth with a spirit of forgiveness.

The release of three Fijians, who were involved in the 2000 civilian coup, have received mixed reactions, both on the print and social media.

Paramount chief Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, Ratu Timoci Silatolu, and Josefa Nata sought the nation’s forgiveness, as they were pardoned by his excellency Ratu Wiliame Katonivere.

Since the ‘dark’ events of 2000, 23 long years have gone by, and we need to forgive them.

The trio, including George Speight, have served their time in prison.

They lost so much in their lives.

Family time, which is vital in a man’s life, was lost as well.

Courage and understanding are values that one will need to embed as we forgive them.

Dearest Fijians, let’s accept their remorse and move forward with the spirit of forgiveness!

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Out at sea

With all these inter-island vessels drifting like flotsam and jetsam after experiencing engine trouble, I am wondering if they should all have backup masts like in the olden days.

A mainmast and a mizzen as Plan B may be the way to go.

One thing is for sure, it would have zero carbon footprint.

And if that doesn’t work, my nephew there at Dayal Steel Pte Ltd is ready to recycle them into homegrown steel.

Toso Drua!

Merry Christmas!

Praneet Singh, Sacramento, CA

Human after all

In the midst of the party rivalry, we as the public forgot the former attorney-general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is the son-in-law of current Deputy Prime Minister Viliame Gavoka.

Reading yesterday’s The Fiji Times front page took me to an emotional side of their relationship as Gavoka stated that Sayed-Khaiyum is recovering well after surgery in Singapore.

I am sure some years down the lane we will learn about how the two political leaders dealt with their public rivalry and personal relationship, putting the country’s interest above their own, especially when the renowned former A-G was at the helm of national matters.

This only proves one thing – we are human after all.

Raynav Chand, Nakasi

Survival skills

Organisers of the SDA Pathfinder Club, The Girl Guides Club and SUIS are to be commended for their efforts to train children with survival skills and values and discipline that are not being taught in our schools.

Tying knots, lighting fires, building rope bridges, learning how to sew, cook, hike, swim and so many more, for me are critical skills that our children really need which form the basis of survival.

Alongside these wonderful achievements, our newspapers have been filled with stories of our children graduates.

I was wondering how many of them can catch fish with a line, a net or a spear?

How many can sew a button onto a shirt or top?

How many can cook a healthy meal?

How many can scrape a coconut?

How many can wash clothes in a stream?

How many can make oil for cooking when there is none?

How many can find a healthy substitute for sugar or salt when they run out?

How many can swim?

How many can chop wood?

How many can till the soil?

How many can plant and prune a fruit tree let alone plant beans and cabbages and other wholesome vegetables?

How many can plait a mat or weave a basket?

How many can sew a blanket?

These are but a few of the realities I worry about seeing so many of our children leaving school each year.

Noleen Billings, Savusavu

Change for the better

This “Memories” feature on Facebook is such an incredible thing.

A very important memory popped up yesterday on my Facebook.

On December 21, 2022 the front page headlines of The Fiji Times read, “Change has come”.

The sub title of the news article stated that the “Kingmaker opts for Alliance Federation Coalition”.

The atmosphere in the country a year ago was very tense as the 2022 General Election concluded on December 14, 2022 and the counting process began.

Afterwards, the ousted Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem declared the seat allocations.

None of the parties had a clear cut majority so the two rivals, FijiFirst and the PAP/NFP coalition had to negotiate with “kingmaker” SODELPA to join in order for either of them to have the majority.

I would say that after a bit of drama SODELPA agreed to join the PAP/NFP.

And the rest is history!


Fruit cake

Seeing the unreasonably high cost of fruit cake, I wondered if the packaging is also edible.


Wise Muavono, Balawa, Lautoka

Taxidriver lesson

Stepping over the curb and rushing towards a taxi that was still in the lane and from which passengers had just got off.

Me: Driver are you free?

After allowing me to get into the back seat of his taxi he turned towards me.

Taxidriver: Did you mean is the car free or is the driver free?

Me: You got me!

Noleen Billings, Savusavu

Free from fear

DPM Gavoka is absolutely right in claiming the greatest achievement of the Coalition Government in its first year is to free the people of Fiji of fear (FT 22/12).

Fear of those in power had become pretty much the norm since the 2006 coup and even after the purported “return to democracy”.

It’s no wonder the common reaction of people after the exit of the FijiFirst government was “free at last!”

Let us pledge to never again allow our rights and freedoms to be debased by authoritarian rule.

Rajend Naidu, Sydney, Australia

Garden refuse

A correction to Dewan Chand’s letter (FT 22/12) re the above subject.

Garden refuse is collected once a month in Suva not once or twice a year as stated by him.

In our area it is on the first Tuesday of each month.

Vijay P Madhavan, Borron Rd, Suva

Education issue

There’s ongoing discussions about reviewing our school curriculum.

Particularly physical education.

I would strongly suggest adding agriculture into it and making it compulsory.

Having English and Maths compulsory won’t keep us healthy and provide food security.

Steven Chandra, Suva

Name and shame

The FCCC and Consumer Council should publish the names of the supermarkets for the safety of the public.

By not publishing their names you are putting the public at risk of getting sick.

This is a disservice to the public.

Paras Naidu, Lautoka

Pensioners’ plight

If as the Finance Minister and Deputy PM Professor Biman Prasad has said the post coup regime in 2012 had imposed a “unilateral and illegal reduction” in the pensioners payment, why hasn’t that been rectified promptly by the Coalition Government?

Is it the absence of the required political will?

If so that’s a shame!

Rajend Naidu, Sydney, Australia

Spirit of Christmas

Christmas is celebrated with tremendous zeal and passion

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Lord Jesus Christ

Christ’s birth signifies hope, optimism and enlightenment

The true spirit of Christmas lies in the spiritual fragrance and ambience

Jesus, the son of the Father is the most wonderful gift

Let us celebrate this unique gift to set mankind from sin

And restore the relationship with God

Christmas is a time for reflection and renewal

It is a time to appreciate the lessons learned

It is a time for genuflection

Embracing humility, gratitude, and love

Symbolizing realization, reprieve, repentance and forgiveness

Expressing our grateful intentions

For the upcoming year

The birth of Christ is seen as the saviour of mankind

His birth signifies dawn of light in the darkness

How far human beings have sailed away

From the pristine teachings of scriptures

Perhaps a sip of “spiritual” wine

Can satiate the craving wolf

Spread of love and goodwill is the hallmark of Christmas

It serves as a reminder to embrace the spirit of giving and compassion

The gift-giving reflects generosity and selflessness

Families and friends come together to share joy and goodwill

Fostering a deep sense of family bonding and re-bonding

Christmas in Fiji has become an integral part of Our multicultural, multiracial, multilingual and multireligious society

It is a national celebration

Where people from diverse backgrounds come together

In a spirit of joy, love and enthusiasm

Celebration of Christmas is a tapestry

Woven with the threads of faith, love, tradition and joy

As Christmas nears the whistling and weaselling impact of commercialization

Overtakes the spiritual facet of Christmas

The spirit of commercialization predominates and subdues

The real meaning and significance of Christmas

There is more focus on shopping, gifts, decorations, food, alcohol, kava

Over-indulgence in these activities alleviate the deeper meaning of Christmas

This is not denying the enjoyment part of Christmas

Suffice it to say that there is a need for profound balance

So that we relish both the spiritual and material fibre of Christmas

Cherish peace, love and goodwill

Be plenteous in mercy, giving and forgiving

In order to embrace the true spirit of Christmas

Let’s bring back the spirit of Christmas

By loving people around.

Bhagwanji Bhindi, Laucala Beach Estate, Nasinu

My challenge

According to a print media report, Jan Nissar Mohammed who is a trustee of the South Seas Club in Lautoka, landed in the country from Sydney with sponsorship and awards for the Trustees Cup snooker championship.

The biggest grog dopey from Down Under keeps harping about the beautiful 7s rugby union game as Mickey Mouse sport.

As of late, I have not been putting pen to paper in the LTE column as I have been busy with golf and more importantly donating $16,500 towards WOWS Kids Fiji, of which I personally gave $10,000.

I had even challenged Jan to a snooker challenge match with the loser to give $10,000 for our children diagnosed with cancer.

But as always he has not been able to accept any of my many challenges.

Jan, you say 7s is a Mickey Mouse sport, I boldly say that your snooker sponsorship was worth peanuts compared to my personal golf and charitable sponsorship as an individual.

Christmas is upon us, how about we both give $5000 each towards WOWS Kids Fiji Foundation.

By the way many members asking when is the AGM at the South Seas Club?

Again I doubt you will respond in any form.

Finally, a very Merry Christmas to our proud 7s national teams and all Fijians.

Our back-to-back Olympic gold medal wins are hard to beat on our way to a hat-trick.

As always, for Fiji ever Fiji.

RAYMOND SINGH, Golf Links, Lautoka

‘Trusted’ brand

After reading the letters to the editor column, I ensure I devote my time reading stories from the People column.

The story of Riyant Rohan (FT 21/12), who was the dux for Suva Sangam, was shared by Anish Chand.

The title itself, ‘The reward of diligence’, was apt and well-chosen.

Riyant’s story is a must-read by those who are willing to excel in life.

As he encouraged students to work hard, he had a timely message for students, “Never be absent from school because each day we learn something new. Go over the lesson notes on whatever you have learnt in a day so that you don’t have a big pile of books to study in the last minute.”

Well said, Riyant!

Parents and students must take heed of the thought-provoking message.

Moving on, the piece titled, ‘Nurturing children’, by Naomi Baselala was a beauty, as it focused on life-long lessons from the success of Courtney Underwood, who started the business ‘Bush Bunny Crafts’, and embarked on a journey to create enriching and healthy programs for children in her community.

Thus, though music, craft and storytelling, Courtney tells her students about the world they live in.

Indeed, her story is an inspiration to other educators who help to shape the next generation and instil in them valuable lessons for a prospective future.

Good on you, Courtney for being a wonderful role model!

Thank you, the trusted brand, for continuing to inspire readers!

Not forgetting, Harold Koi and the industrious Kaila! newspaper team for this week’s magnificent edition!

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Municipal elections

An interesting time for all townships throughout the country with municipal elections set for October 2024.

With women being encouraged to stand, it is an opportunity which I, along with many others like myself, would like to participate in, vying as a candidate for council in my little township.

Doing so would give us the initial experience we need to stand in the national general elections giving us a chance to become members of parliament where women representation is a mere 5 per cent.

What I’m trying to fathom is that my town was built by the sweat of the people in the villages and estates surrounding it who were farmers, fishermen, copra millers and gold miners.

Yet strangely enough, for starters, none of us who live outside the town boundary can stand to support our township.

The recent draft amendment to the 1972 Act cited as the Local Government (Amendment) (No.2) Act 2023 which comes into force on a date appointed by the Minister by notice in the Gazette, states under Section 10 (2) A person may be a candidate for any municipal council election if the person— (c) must be a resident of the ward within the municipality they are nominated from for at least one year.

There are many cases here in Fiji which beats all the practicality and logic one can think of and this being said is one of these instances — Why does one need to leave the comfort of their home and move into town and pay rent for a year just to be able to represent the town that they helped to build?

Also, seeing that the amendment is yet to be gazetted and it being less than a year already, does this mean that we have missed the deadline for the October elections?

What now?

And what of the passionate and very capable women out there?

How eager are we really to raise that 5 per cent?

Noleen Billings, Savusavu

Finding our way back!

THE editor-in-chief, Fred Wesley, must be commended for providing an in-depth analysis and insight into finding a way back for the Fiji Airways men’s 7s team to winning ways (19/12).

The editorial is a must-read and I loved it to bits, being a crazy 7s fan.

Fred alluded to the opinions expressed by former playmaker Livai Ikanikoda, who reckoned that the side had lost the team culture and that there appeared to be a lot of individual play which impacted teamwork and subsequently determined the results on the field.

These lines, “We lacked fire in the belly. We weren’t assertive up front. We weren’t dominant and were far from the once intimidating presence on the field. Our challenge is going to be on how we can rediscover what we have lost, and how we can regain the confidence, assertiveness, and passion we had. We know we can make a point of difference with natural talent, flair and something former coach Ben Ryan referred to as organised chaos,” are an eye-opener for Ben Gollings and his team management.

Indeed Fred, fans miss our big, formidable, dominant, and aggressive forwards who had great athleticism, amazing ball handling skills and tackled like men possessed, and who understood the game and could condense the toughest of defences, be wrapped up and still pushed some amazing passes.

We miss the exciting halves and pivots, and speedsters.

We miss those stars who terrorised, stood out and left an indelible mark on the minds of rugby fans all over the world.

I can’t wait to see those glorious days hit the nation.

Thank you for the powerful editorial, Fred!

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Patriarchal system

You may notice that the age group of rape survivors seems to be lower while perpetrators’ age is higher.

This should be sounding the alarm to the people of Fiji that something is not right and not something that we push aside and not discuss openly on all platforms and spaces.

What kind of society are we trying to portray to our children, grandchildren and generations to come?

Why is this happening in Fiji now?

Why are these older men committing these inhumane acts on young girls?

Even some are still babies or infants?

Let me open up this ongoing discussion that it all goes back to our patriarchal system.

It’s about gender, it’s about inequality, and this is why we have crimes against women and children.

Some food for thought to open up our discussion.

Can we further discuss this important issue in our various spaces, so we can be able to find a solution because it’s an eyesore reading it on newspaper or watching it on the TV.

I plead with our Government to organise open dialogue to discuss this before it gets out of hand.

Any outcome document derived from this forum should be translated in all languages including giveaway leaflets and constant advertisement on all media outlets just like the COVID-19 awareness.

Our mainstream church leaders should do more awareness and livestream preaching on gender based violence GBV related topics such as Say No 2 Rape.

Our traditional leaders have to play a role as well.

Elimination of violence against women and girls is everyone’s business. #16daysofActivism

Jioji Masivesi Cakacaka, Carreras-Votualevu, Nadi

Road safety

Road accidents are a major cause of injuries and fatalities, and it is critical that we take action to prevent them.

It is important that we all take necessary precautions while driving, such as following traffic rules and regulations, wearing seat belts, and avoiding distracted driving.

One of the most significant problems that seems to be causing a lot of accidents on our roads is reckless driving.

Many drivers speed or drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which greatly increases the risk of accidents.

It is crucial to educate drivers about the dangers of reckless driving and to enforce the laws that are in place to deter such behaviour.

As we all know, the roads can be a dangerous place, and it is up to all of us to do our part in keeping ourselves and others safe.

Pedestrians need to take extra care and be very alert while crossing the road.

Any distraction can prove fatal.

Drivers, on the other hand, need to be mindful of their presence and give them plenty of space and time to cross the road safely.

Together, we can make our roads a safer place.

Suresh Chand, Nadi

A request

The few seating benches installed in the open space opposite the Nadi Market Car Park for the benefit of tired shoppers and their children to sit and relax has been seen mostly occupied by alcohol-consuming groups seven days a week.

The park I am talking about is located just below the Nadi Magistrates Court yard.

Nadi Police Station is also nearby.

Police officers are often seen patrolling the area but nothing happens.

We all know that drinking in public place is strictly prohibited.

Hence, those found to be contravening the order must face the consequences.

Now, once the drunkards filter down the streets, they really become a nuisance.

Innocent people fall victim to their disorderly behaviour and misconduct.

The purpose of this letter is to ask the OCPD Nadi to tighten his grip and act accordingly to prevent such things from happening.

People deserve to do their business and leave the town peacefully and hassle free.

Tourists also are watching this which is not good for the image and repute of a tourist destination.

We hope good sense will prevail.

Suresh Chand, Nadi

Blessings forward

The Christmas season is meant to bring hope and peace to everyone.

On Jesus birthday don’t forget to give Jesus a gift.

What does he want?

The scriptures say: “As you have done the least of these, so also have you done unto me.”

So Jesus would want you to give unto the least of these.

That is those who have little or nothing.

This Christmas, give something to someone who needs it.

Feed the hungry.

Clothe the naked.

Show love to the lonely.

Blessings go forward.

God bless you and have a Merry Christmas.

Wise Muavono, Balawa, Lautoka

The festive season!

Counting days to Christmas, the festive season is a reminder that, despite the difficulties and unpredictability of our lives, there is always the chance of brighter times ahead.

As we navigate a changing Fiji, it is a season that calls for unity, reflection, and celebration and reminds us that there is always room for renewal and growth.

The festive season is often equated with frivolity, indulgence, and lots of glamour, and no matter one’s culture or background, everyone gets involved in Christmas by attending the annual office party, exchanging gifts with friends, or going all out and hosting the very special family meal.

It’s all exciting and a welcome break from daily routines and responsibilities, but during the parties, festive outfits, and holiday shopping, we sometimes tend to lose sight of the meaning of the festive season.

I believe it’s time to dig a little deeper and change the narrative to a healthier, and more joyful one.

The festive season should be about mindfulness, love, authentic connection, simple experiences, heartfelt feelings, and genuine emotions, as joy can be found in life’s smallest everyday moments, if we choose to see it.

Wishing the readers, a joyous festive season!

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Letter of the Week – 20/11 – 30/11

Simple solution

With reference to the villages of Nabavatu in Macuata, who have been camping in tents for three years, there is a simple solution that should have been implemented straight after the hurricane.

Talk to the village and determine what they need to rebuild their village with traditional houses (vale vakaviti) – I suspect it would be mostly, gasau, bitu, duru, icoka, isa and perhaps expertise.

Supply it and let the villages build their own houses in the traditional way, as their ancestors did.

Result: beautiful all-weather village (rather than a row of chicken coops) which its inhabitants enjoyed building and are justly proud of – and can make tourist attraction like Navala if they want – at far less expenses than has been incurred and continuation of valuable house-building skills using local materials, rather than killing indigenous knowledge (technocide) and increasing dependency on hardware stores which government seems to be pushing for some reason.


Authorised to beg

AN authorised beggar, with the letter from the Commissioner’s office, came to my home asking for money on behalf of his sister and said he had authority to ask for money.

When I proceed to read it, he became upset and impatient and said “why are you reading it? Just look at the signature at the back. The Commissioner signed it.”

I asked him to read the second paragraph and he said that it was OK and he knew what it said.

I politely asked him to just read it.

He looked at the paper and said that he couldn’t read.

I told him that the documents authorised only his sister to collect and only from the Nadi area.

He said all the members of the family had the photocopies of the letter and were begging on behalf of his sister.

When I told him what the letter said, he said: “Do you want to give or not?”

I looked at him and wondered if he was a really a relative of the person mentioned in the letter.

I asked for ID and he took out a driver’s licence, but was reluctant to hand it to me and just held it up for me to look at.

I was curious and insisted that I take a look at it closely.

He handed it to me and when I wrote down the numbers, he was furious.

He asked me again whether I was going to give or not and I said that I would.

This went for a while and he pulled out a receipt book and pointed to a $10 that had been receipted and said: “See one man gave $10, if you don’t want to give tell me so I can go.”

I was shocked.

Is this one of the many people who take advantage of the system to get money?

Something must be done to curb legalised begging; it turns good people into monsters and the authorities have the power to do this.


Letter of the Week – 04/12 – 17/12

Bravo Waiyevo Hospital

IT’S a common complaint made worldwide about the diminishing quality of public health.

So often resources are taken from it so that people either don’t get the services they need, or it cost them a great deal of money.

The same can not be said about Fiji.

Yesterday morning I woke up COVID like symptoms and realising I didn’t have a COVID test with me, I went to our local medical facility here in Taveuni.

There was a large crowd on the waiting room, and I thought OK, looks like it’s gonna be a long.

How wrong I was.

I was seen by the triage nurse, given a COVID test (I was negative but do have a nasty chest infection), went to the doctor and then to the pharmacy where I was given medications to deal with my symptoms, all within an hour, and for the grand total of $0.00.

This is what public health is meant to look like.

I understand the health system here is stretched but it is still wonderful to see that anybody can be treated for free by competent and well-trained medical staff.

I’d like to thank all the staff members at the Waiyevo Hospital here in Taveuni for the quality of care.

Vinaa vaa levu.

ANDREW BOYLE, Tutu Rural Training Centre, Taveuni

Military assurance

It appears that almost every three to four months, Republic of Fiji Military Forces Commander, Major General Ro Jone Kalouniwai has to reassure the nation that there are no tension in his organisation and that its relationship with the Government was “very good”.

Does this happen in other democratic Government or only in Fiji?

BHARAT MORRIS, Rifle Range, Vatuwaqa, Suva

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