Letters to the Editor – Friday, March 24, 2023

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Ratu Epeli Ganilau. Picture: Supplied

Rest in peace Ratu Epeli

Fijians received the news of the passing of Ratu Epeli Ganilau.

Honourable Sitiveni Rabuka described Ratu Epeli as a humble officer and a gentleman.

He shared that Ratu Epeli’s forte was his quiet determination and love for those under his responsibility.

He said that Ratu Epeli was a decorated officer. Ratu Epeli was the son of the former Tui Cakau and president of Fiji, Ratu Penaia Ganilau, and was married to Adi Ateca Mara, the eldest daughter of the late Tui Nayau and Fiji’s former prime minister and president Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

Ratu Epeli had a distinguished career, having served as the RFMF Commander from 1991 for eight years.

He served the United Nations forces in Lebanon and Egypt, and served as the chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs.

He served as the Minister for Fijian Affairs in the interim Cabinet formed in the wake of the 2006 takeover.

He was the founder of the National Alliance Party that contested the 2006 General Election but was unsuccessful.

Ratu Epeli was down-to-earth, and served Fijians with integrity, respect, love and care.

Rest in peace Ratu Epeli.

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa

Walesi TV quality

Three short months after the fall of the FijiFirst government, there is this regular “no signal” message flashed across the TV screen in the reported $123 million investment of its platform.

In the past one hour, there have been about 20 “no signal” messages.


Furthermore, two channels showing exactly the same program is now a common occurrence.

Any special reason for this?

Besides, the sudden disruption of a program being shown and immediately switching onto another program happens.

Weird indeed.

As a younger retiree, of three scores plus 11 twilight years and steadily counting, there can be some empty spaces in our days.

Disrupted Walesi channels can be annoying at the best of times.

Is this a sign of its continued service in the passage of time?

Early demise?

Planned investigations by our Coalition Government can be very revealing.

Guess we should not complain.

The “service” is provided free-of-charge so there is no room to register any displeasure.

RONNIE CHANG, Martintar, Nadi

Adult diapers

AFTER seeing the picture of an Empower Pacific staff member with an adult diaper (FT 22/03/23) it triggered me to pen this letter.

In your report (FT 14/03/23) on the visit by the Attorney-General Siromi Turaga to the Korovou prison, Mr Turaga revealed that some inmates have medical health issues and also aging resulted in them wearing adult diapers.

I wonder who change these diapers since the inmates cannot look after themselves?

I believe it might be the other inmates acting as caregivers because they have no choice to refuse but to help and assist as and when required.

In our iTaukei concept of solesolevaki, we tend to help others especially our sick, senior citizens and disabled whenever we see them since majority of the inmates at our correctional facilities are iTaukei.

The dignity and rights of both the inmates and caregiver should be respected at all times.

I plead that this issue be treated as high priority and with utmost urgency by the Mercy Commission and I hope that appropriate change in laws are made to pardon these inmates who fall into this category of not being able to look after themselves because of medical issues and aging.

If there are no living family members willing to care for them, then I suppose Government should provide a house to keep these Fijians as its responsibility under the UNDHR and also 2013 Constitution (Bill of Rights).


Fixing potholes

HE is asking on this medium that the people who had given their time and energy to assist in cleaning up Colonial War Memorial Hospital to also fix the road potholes around the nation FT 19/3.

Since fixing potholes is another financial and time consuming process, I can only hope that the gentleman from New South Wales is not mentally retarded or contributing from his death bed.

Sir, you deserve the letter of the year award, but on the mental category!


The fiscal space

HOW much space do we have fiscally to undertake any fiscal consolidation that will in turn be helping without hurting any one in our nation?

We may all need to bite the bullet so as to reduce quickly our growing debt to GDP ratio.

VAT may have to be increased again to the previous level of 15 per cent.

Pursue soft and consessional loans and grants so that our financial situation is not hampered.

Spending on infrastructure be reviewed and restructured and any unnecessary and costly spending, curtailed as much as it is possible.

Increase value-adding industries so as to reduce importation of these.

Focus on investing in human resources so as to be beneficial to our children.

All these may help all of us on the road to development and progress.

Edward Blakelock, Pacific Harbour

Chiefly installation

THE recent installation of the Turaga na Vunivalu na Tui Kaba is a very wise move to begin from the top and the lower ranks chiefs to follow.

I believe the Tui Nayau is next and more to come.

Recently the Tui Nakelo passed away and for decades no Tui Nakelo has been installed so this would be the best moment for the elders or kingmakers of the vanua of Nakelo to appoint whoever is entitled.

TOMASI BOGINISO, Liverpool, Sydney

Passing the buck

GUARDS’ loaded guns: Sayed-Khaiyum deflects questions (FT 23/3).

This is a classic case of passing the buck.

The Fiji Times front page captures it succinctly.

During his repressive reign in power, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum projected the image of the all powerful and untouchable ruler in the country and his gun-toting bodyguards was a linchpin of that projection.

He can’t now dodge responsibility by scapegoating the Fiji military for the shambolic transgression.

He must be held to account for it.

RAJEND NAIDU, Sydney, Australia

Local coach

A LOCAL 7s coach beating the national 7s team in the finals says a lot about the abundance of talent in Fiji.

FRU must review its priorities.

DAN URAI, Lautoka

Members of Parliament

WHAT kind of a weird electoral system do we have?

When a MP resigns, shouldn’t there be a by-election to fill the vacancy?

I believe this weird system must be abolished and replaced by a voting system that all democratic countries practice.

MAHENDRA PATEL, Sydney, Australia

Armed bodyguards

WHEN and why did our political leaders feel so threatened by us Fijians that they needed armed bodyguards to accompany and protect them when mixing and travelling with us.

Was it something we did to them or was it something they did to us?

What changed?


Soccer players

IS the drug test still being done before soccer games?

Mr President, CEO would you care to do a random test to see if there is a drug problem among our players.


Get water tanks

DURING the COVID-19 crisis which rendered thousands of Fijians jobless and destitute, we were callously instructed by the then Bainimarama regime to “foray” into our hard earned FNPF savings as a solution to cushion financial obligations.

When the continuous inadvertent power outages began plunging the nation into darkness, we were likewise directed by the Energy Fiji Ltd head honcho to acquire new generators to counter the “no power” scenario.

Now, with the scarcity of water being met by many major urban and rural dwellers, the Water Authority of Fiji CEO Dr Amit Chanan has opportunely recommended the general public to “get” water tanks (FT 22/03/23).

Brilliant suggestion!

With the cost of living at an all-time high, may I ask Dr Chanan what are the odds of your organisation subsiding these costly water tanks to people who are not in a position to procure one?

I’m sure such a credible move by WAF would be immensely applauded.

And more so, if your tenure as CEO at WAF for the past one year has been a “firefighting” experience as you have asserted, I would highly suggest, with all due respect, that you immediately step down from your ineffective role and call it a day, just like the former FijiFirst MPs who are abandoning their responsibilities one by one.

Why not offer a competent local an opportunity as CEO to navigate the Water Authority of Fiji out of murky waters that they have been submerged in for the past 16 years or so?


Exodus of labour

IT must be accepted that the exodus of skilled and experienced workers is inevitable.

The reality is this brain drain is unstoppable and we will continue to face shortage of skilled labourers in the future as more of them are lured by better pay and working conditions and security of employment which Fiji cannot afford to match.

It will take a miracle to reverse the trend.

But on the plus side our losses are recouped through the inflow of remittances.

We lost more than 800 nurses and 1000 hotel workers last year.

Not to mention other categories of workers.

Opening more vocational training institutions may to some extent temporarily halt the situation but is not a long-term solution.

Sooner or later after gaining necessary experience, they will leave for greener pastures.

There is an urgent need to address the push and pull factors.

One way to mitigate the problem will be to improve the remuneration and working conditions of our healthcare workers.

The wage rates for other sectors is also due for a review.

We should also look at creating more high paying jobs to retain our skilled workers.

The expansion of the ICT industry offers a lot of potential and needs to be fully exploited.

According to the Minister for Tourism, we need 4000 more rooms to cater for the increased demand.

I believe the current incentives are not attractive enough to entice foreign investment in this area.

As major beneficiaries of our skilled labour, both Australia and New Zealand should look at how they can support Fiji with the inception of new industries to create more job opportunities for our locals.

That will have a far greater long-term impact on our economy.


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