Letters to the Editor | Thursday, January 18, 2024

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Former attorney-general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at the Suva courthouse yesterday. Picture: ANDREW NAIDU

National economy

The former attorney-general stated that Deputy Prime Minister Biman Prasad had no clue on how to run a modern economy.

Maybe he is correct and he did show how during his tenure with the Bainimarama administration.

In all those years, the FijiFirst “core members” with its “yes men” cronies, had a “face-lift prosperous life”, that almost all did not even think about.

That is from rags to riches.

And the icing on the cake was the Fiji Government’s national debt which reached unimaginable levels.

Thank you for the demonstration Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.

I believe it was only proper for your own gain.

Samu Silatolu, Nakasi, Nausori

War on drugs

Today’s drug addiction and society’s apparent inability to respond properly, perhaps it would behoove us to tackle one of the main roots of the problem — drug dealers and suppliers.

Why not create the legislation necessary to come down exceedingly hard on them.

Raising the maximum sentence for hard drug offences, more room and flexibility will be given to determine what sentence or sentence demand is appropriate given the circumstances of specific cases.

Also, by increasing the maximum sentences for hard drug offences, Fiji will be more in line with first world countries when it comes to the criminal law approach to serious drug crime, often committed in the context of a criminal organisation.

This could be one constructive and direct way we can deal with one of the defining dilemmas of our present time.

Wise Muavono, Balawa, Lautoka

Aiyaz’s claim

I do question the validity of Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s claim that the Finance Minister Professor Biman Prasad “had absolutely no clue on how to run a modern economy”. (FT 17/01)

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum further claimed that “Biman Prasad had an economy that was handed to him on a platter with the fast growing economy …” (FT 17/10)

The former minister for economy Aiyaz seemed to suggest that he is the only one who knows how to run a modern economy and Fiji’s economy was fast growing during his time as minister.

I believe, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum must have been wondering in a dream land if he is suggesting that he is the only one who knows how to run a modern economy and Fiji’s economy was fast growing during his time in power.

Many Fijians know that during his time in power, Fiji’s economy was reckless and hence accumulating almost a $10billion national debt which the Coalition Government is trying its best to service among other things in their agenda.

My advice to Mr Sayed-Khaiyum is to stop the lies you have been spreading in your years in power.

Full stop.

Kositatino Tikomaibolatagane, Navua

Improved roads

Driving in heavy rain from Nadi to Suva on Monday night gave me a different experience from before.

I can say that the quality of the improved road from Nadi to Suva, except a few portions, is worth a praise.

The surface of the road from Nadi to Sigatoka is indeed great.

For the first time I could drive easily without playing hide and seek with the potholes as they had disappeared.

I was amazingly impressed by the reflectors both on the side and in the middle of the road.

Driving at night in heavy rain became much easier with the reflectors.

I do hope that soon we will have similar reflectors all over the country along the major highways.

Well, I guess 2024 on the road began quite well.

Vinaka FRA.

Rajendra Prasad, Nakasi, Nausori

Aiyaz’s outburst

Aiyaz should be the last person lecturing the Coalition Government on how to run a modern economy since he had impelled the country into financial collapse in his capacity as Minister for Everything in the past 16 years (FT 17/01).

And instead of sparing with the media and at

And instead of sparing with the media and attempting to sound relevant, I suggest the former A-G save his breath and instead spar in the court of law during his next appearance.

The fact of the matter is, no one really cares about your babble statements since you are insignificant now.

Nishant Singh, Lautoka

In a man’s world

The story of Salanieta Divala, who is a mother of five and one of the few female taxidrivers in the Suva City among an overwhelming majority of men, was shared by Zifirah Vunileba.

I thank Vunileba and The Fiji Times for yet another powerful dose of inspiration.

According to Divala, she enjoyed her job and despite all odds, it had been good to her.

The 37-year-old, who hails from Saqani, Cakaudrove, is the sole breadwinner in her family and operates from a taxi stand at the CWM Hospital, and while being the only woman can prove to be a challenge, her desire to drive overrides those challenges.

Via her story, Divala shared how she used to work in retail at two supermarkets and it was tough working on a weekly wage.

Now that she drives a taxi, it allows her to manage her own time which also fits well with her family needs.

To ensure that she does not miss out on family time, Divala works split shifts.

Her message to women was timely, “We only see men driving taxis, but I want to challenge all women out there. Women can drive taxis as well.”

Divala is an inspiration to women who are trying to break into the men’s world.

She has shown women that nothing is impossible of the heart desires.

Rajnesh Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

On a platter

The former attorney-general Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says “Biman Prasad had an economy that was handed to him on a platter with the fast-growing economy” (FT: 17/1).

Was the high national debt also not handed to him on a platter?

BHARAT MORRIS, Vatuwaqa, Suva

Levuka roads

According to media reports the Attorney-General, Siromi Turaga, visited Levuka over the weekend.

Just wondering if there were any road improvements done in Levuka prior to his visit.

SANJEET PRASAD, Bulileka, Labasa

That stress

Stress can indeed make people do strange things but a NZ female MP is alleged for shoplifting not once but three times which she solely blames on her work making her behave out of character!

Vikel V Lal, Nasinu

Pay inequality

The notion of equal pay for equal work resonates strongly in the teaching profession.

My concern is that it is wrong for one or two teachers performing the same exact duties to be paid less as the other.

Can FTU look into the matter and do something about it.

Just a thought from a concerned citizen.


PM’s attitude

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said when interviewed at Davos that he had put in a phone request to speak with Israeli PM Netanyahu but three months on there has been no response (Aljazeera 17/1).

Is that the kind of attitude expected of a national leader towards the world’s apex international body?

Rajend Naidu, Sydney, Australia

Drug problem

Fiji has a high drug problem.

That means, there are many drug users here.

I wish, one day we will be told the reason(s).

Mohammed Imraz Janif, Natabua, Lautoka

90pc pass

Can the Minister for Education or the Permanent Secretary for Education tell whether marks received by students are raw marks or scaled marks to allow more students to pass and enter universities.

Raj Kumar, Vatuwaqa, Suva

Fiji soccer

The Fiji Football Association will kick-start the CVC playoffs before the transfer window closes.

Don’t those sitting in FFA headquarters realise that after playoffs, those players who plan to apply for transfer to other districts will be affected?

Something for the CEO of FFA to think about.

Geoffrey Chand, Lautoka

Congratulations from Fiji

We congratulate former prime minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand for tying the knot to Clarke Gayford on Saturday in Hawkes Bay.

She captured the hearts of Fiji citizens few years ago when she met families and conveyed condolence message for those who tragically lost their lives because of a shooting spree in a Christchurch mosque.

With her broad smiles, Jacinda also acquainted with many including handicraft vendors and was named “Queen of hearts” for her short but memorable visit.

We also congratulate Ms Sheetal Deo formerly of Fiji, who had passion for acting from childhood and finally rose to stardom as a Hollywood actress.

The milestone led her to fame after being featured on the cover of Forbes magazine’s Los Angeles edition.


Lightning deaths

Recent reports of people being struck and killed by lightning is alarming.

What is more alarming is the lack of any response from authorities and experts on how people can avoid exposure and such incidents.

Aren’t there qualified people at the Fiji Met Service or NDMO who can provide guidance?

Surely the weather forecasts should know when thunderstorms are likely and then advise the people to take basic safety precautions.

The science of lightning and thunder is well established and given the advancement in technology, it is inexcusable that people should die from such avoidable incidents.

I am aware of an “expert” who was recruited by USP about two decades ago and has spent his own life researching on this.

Could he or his institution not feel qualified to use some of this knowledge for the benefit of the people he is working among and who should benefit from such work.

The silence from the scientist is deafening and disappointing from someone who has used this work to advance his own career but seems to have contributed nothing to assist the society.

Altauf Chand, Minto, NSW, Australia

AI’s exponential growth

AI is developing at such an exponential rate that we may have already passed the point of no return.

That’s both frightening and very alarming because — heaven forbid — AI may have already become sentient, self-aware and independent of any human control and without the public being aware or even formally told.

We are all so busy immersed in the drudgery of living our own lives daily that we often fail to realise how AI has quietly and masterfully “infiltrated” everything we do.

We are still unable to connect the dots, nor see the ramifications of it all on our very survival as human being.

But what can we do in terms of prohibitive, cautionary and fail-safe measures, despite knowing that the horse had already bolted ages ago?

Not much really, except to accept the inevitable and develop and adopt protective, reactive and proactive, adaptive measures and actions against further AI risks.

It’s interesting that Australia has recently announced that it proposes to establish an advisory body to create guardrails in terms of AI-related risks.

Maybe, that’s something we can also think about in terms of our own exposure here and also learn from such responsive moves — although much belated!

Edward Blakelock, Pacific Harbour

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