Letters to the Editor – Monday, February 6, 2023

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Speaker of Parliament Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu during the traditional ceremony (vakasenuqanuqa) at the Albert Park pavilion in Suva on Saturday, February 04, 2023. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

Use of vernacular in Parliament

I APPLAUD the decision of the Coalition Government to allow members of Parliament to speak in their own language – Hindi and iTaukei – while delivering their speeches in Parliament. According to the Speaker of Parliament gone turaga bale na Tui Cakau Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, the use of iTaukei and Hindi languages in Parliament was last spoken two decades ago. I agree with Ratu Naiqama that his would promote and strengthen the use of vernacular languages in Fiji. If we do not pay attention to the decline in the use of vernacular, a time will come when the next generation will find it hard to speak in Hindi and iTaukei. If other countries can place emphasis on vernacular, why can’t we? Blessed week Fijians! RAJNESH LINGAM Balgovind Rd, Nadawa, Nasinu

Higher Salaries Commission

BEFORE the 2006 coup of Voreqe Bainimarama, there was a commission known as the Higher Salaries Commission which approves and regulates the salaries of permanent secretaries commissioners, government statutory bodies and other civil servants with high salaries. The commission controls the ceiling for the maximum and minimum wages for civil servants with high salaries plus other benefits outlined in their contracts. I believe the Bainimarama government abolished the commission and gave powers particularly to the boards of government statutory bodies such as FBC and FSC to determine their own salary. In the absence of such regulatory body, it gives a leeway for such boards to exploit their arrogance, greed, power and bad governance in a legal framework. I wonder who should be responsible for such legal abuse. MALAKAI NADUVA Malau Rd, Labasa

Be truthful, not neutral

WORLD-ACCLAIMED journalist Christianne Amanpour insists that journalists need to be truthful, not neutral. Trying to be neutral, she says, can create a false equivalence. The other newspaper’s report on Saturday of the President’s address at the opening session of Parliament is one such instance of mischievous reporting. The newspaper’s headline “President calls on Coalition Government to Get its Economic House in Order” seems to be directed at making the reader feel that the President was chastising the coalition Government. What the President was actually saying was that the in order to grow and diversify the economy, the coalition Government would have to “…get its economic house in order”. It was an observation, not an instruction. It is very sad that instead of being brave like Amanpour and reporting the truth, some journalists follow the path of seniors in their organisation who have no reputation left to lose. They need to realise that end of day, the only thing that will back them will be the credibility they build on the job – not some weak senior, goading them to compromise journalistic integrity. Report the truth and leave it to the readers to make what they want of it. INOKE VAKALABURE Yasiyasi Rd, Nadera

Topics of discussion

ONE of the popular topics of discussion is the massive remuneration packages being paid to executives of some of the government-owned entities in the past 16 years. It reminded me of the reasons the Higher Salaries Commission was set up and operated by governments before the FijiFirst government, which was to actually avoid such irregularities and to maintain a monitoring mechanism to ensure relativity in salaries and benefits for top positions in state-owned enterprises. Just saying. EMOSI BALEI Suva

Finally moving on

IT’S somewhat of a respite to learn that Voreqe Bainimarama has finally started to vacate the PM’s official residence. Thank you Mr Bainimarama, as I was a bit worried that you would have been branded a “squatter” if you had continued to occupy Sitiveni Rabuka’s formal home for a few more weeks. It’s certainly time to pack up, move out and move on. Anyways, all the best to the students and educators who will be going back to school day. I wish you all a rewarding academic year. NISHANT SINGH Lautoka

A trip to the shop

SO at the usual gathering on Saturday night, one shared this story. According to him, it occurred in the outskirts of Lautoka some years ago. Two brothers were sent by their mother to buy kerosene from the nearby shop. The family kept an old model car. Off the brothers went in the car. On their way back, they decided to test its speedometer. Enthusiasm (and young blood) led to the car landing in a ditch. The older brother got out to inspect the damages. The younger one was still inside and he received a mouthful. He finally came out with the gallon of kerosene intact saying mother will not be angry with us. MOHAMMED IMRAZ JANIF NATABUA, LAUTOKA

The quality of Opposition

IT is indeed so sad and shamefully disgusting to learn that some members of the Opposition saw it fit not to be present at function hosted by Fiji’s first citizen, the President, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, following the opening of Parliament’s 2023/2024 session. How childish and degrading, to say the least. The quality of the Opposition must be seen to be better than this. The younger generation, our future leaders, are watching and listening. The Opposition’s absence at such an important function in Government House, if correctly reported, does not augur well. Seems all too strange. So unfitting and lacking of national pride and dignity. Qi madua du. E bura du na itovo ko. RONNIE CHANG MARTINTAR, NADI

Shocking revelations

THE recent salary revelations of CEOs of certain government entities is truly shocking to the public, like myself. The fact that these “high standard” CEOs claimed all those large sums of bonuses and salaries during COVID-19, when the country’s economy was crumbling, makes it even more baffling. No heart for the struggling ordinary Fijians, just the self-centred greed for money and power, while claiming to be the protectors and saviors of our beautiful land. Now reports are surfacing that former Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem tried to leave the country early yesterday morning and had to be stopped due to him being referred to FICAC. The question now is how much more money is dashed out to undeserving nepotism products? How would the public and taxpayers know since the previous government even canceled out auditing of their financial reports. This is ridiculously shameful and appalling. We, the public, have been blatantly misled and fooled throughout FijiFirst’s 16-year tenure. RAYNAV CHAND JP MAHARAJ ST, NAKASI

Consult the people

IN his address to Parliament the President, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, did not mince his words when he sent a stern warning to the Coalition Government to ensure that all legislation that are drafted, follow proper consultation and deliberation and are taken to the people (FT 4/2). In my view the government will do well to take heed of his advice. After all that’s what they had promised to the electorate during the election campaigns. It is noted that an announcement has already been made that the “no jab, no job” policy will be removed. I believe this measure was introduced to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of the public. Latest reports confirm that the coronavirus is on the rise again. As such the wider implication of this decision needs to be carefully examined and considered giving due cognisance to the interest of all communities. SELWA NANDAN Lautoka

Courage in journalism

JOURNALIST Victor Mambor, the chief editor of the West Papuan newspaper Jubi, has received an award for Courage in Journalism . He took the decision “to return to his father’s homeland to defend the rights of indigenous Papuans through journalism as well as being steadfast in the face of intimidation after intimidation” (for further details see The Sunday Times 5/2 ). It’s a well-deserved and proud award. Given the coercive media climate in which some journalists in post-coup Fiji continued to work in the last 16 years – to uphold honest journalism, to hold power to account and to uphold the people’s right to know – they too deserve an award for courage in journalism. The two who come promptly to mind for such an award are The Fiji Times chief editor Fred Wesley and The Sunday Times deputy editor John Kamea. There are no doubt other journalists who deserve that recognition . And, let’s be frank : there are other journalists who failed to uphold ethical professional journalism in post coup Fiji. That is a shame! RAJEND NAIDU Sydney, NSW, Australia

Legal eagles

FIJI is truly blessed to have the calibre of some brilliant legal eagles who have written great articles on the rule of law and legal interpretation of the Constitution. Maybe they could also write articles on the interpretation and legality of the immunity clauses which covered the perpetrators of the 1987 and the 2006 military coups from prosecution. Those illegal events took place because of the perceived breach of or threats to the wellbeing and rights of particular sections of citizens of our country. These people, who have legal qualifications, may also share some light in their articles to people in our country such as myself to have a broader understanding on the interpretation of the inconsistent application of our laws in our country. Also they may share some light on why the perpetrators of the 1987 and 2006 coups did not abide by the authority of their ministers who were elected by the people of this country. Maybe that idiom is true sa vakaloloma ga o ira na puaka lalai. The people who perpetrated the 2000 instability did not have the same luck as those in 1987 and 2006. As in the book the Animal Farm the pigs grants themselves privileges and rights which they deny to other animals after they successfully usurp the leadership of their farming establishment. Small animals, who tried to usurp the leadership of the pigs but were unsuccessful, were brutally crushed.As usual another brilliant and visionary book by the late great author George Orwell. MELI MATANATOTO Nadi

Back to school

GOOD luck on your first day at school students and teachers. Hope you have lots of fun, make great friends, and knuckle down with your studies. As you take the next step to success, remember to make your parents and teachers proud. NAVNEET RAM (TD) Lautoka


LOOKING forward to who will answer or raise questions during the next session of Parliament, now that their mouthpiece will be attacking from outside. DAN URAI Lautoka

New phrase

HEY, I have learnt a new term today — “constructive resignation”. I had honestly never heard of that phrase before. But thank you Saneem (FT 05/02). NISHANT SINGH Lautoka

Generous offer

GOOD on you Opposition Leader for refusing to accept Mr Rabuka’s generous offer. I’d rather see taxpayers money spent on upgrading education or health system rather than paying for someone’s quarters. AREKI DAWAI Suva

Legal term

HEARD about constructive dismissal. What is constructive resignation ? Was Saneem using a legal term? DAN URAI Lautoka

Talat special

I THANK Noor Jahan for Talat special via FBC program “Yaadon ki Baaraat” (February 04). Songs from Talat Mehmood were amazingly organised. I hope to enjoy more of the program. SARITA LAL Malolo St, Lautoka

Policies, politics

MANY years ago at a Social Welfare Department training workshop at Nadave Dr Satyendra Prasad, who was then a lecturer in sociology at USP, gave us a talk on government policies and their ramifications. He said social policy choices were a function of economic choices (resource allocation and distribution ) and these in turn were a function of political choices. He went on to say some political choices that severely adversely affected the poor and the vulnerable in society could be considered “criminal”. Given what has come to light regarding the political choices the FijiFirst government made during its 16 reign in power I wonder if Dr Satyendra Prasad considers some of these to border on criminality? RAJEND NAIDU Sydney, NSW, AUstralia

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