Thursday, January 22, 2009

THE AFTERMATHS OF FIJI FLOODS: "GRAHAM LEUNG" CUTS DEEP AS IF HE HAD THE PRECISION OF A SURGEON'S KNIFE!!!

As written by Fiji Times Online:

Alice in Blunderland
By GRAHAM LEUNGTuesday, January 20, 2009
THE recent disaster caused by floods has exposed the regime's near total inability to govern in time of crisis.
They are finding that the easy part was taking over the government by force.
It's a different ball game running the machinery.
The latter takes brains and experience.
If the floods have shown anything, it is that they are in short supply.
Complaints and criticisms
It has been impossible to ignore the complaints and views of the people in recent days that the administration's response to the humanitarian disaster that is facing parts of Fiji has been too little, too late.
Unbelievably some of the regime's lackeys have taken to blaming the flood victims for the predicament they are in.
For not moving in time and not stocking up on food rations in anticipation of evacuation.
One could be forgiven for thinking that we are living in "Alice in Blunderland".
What world do these people live in? The people most affected by the disaster have enough difficulty putting bread on the table in normal times.
They are hardly likely to be able to stock up extra supplies in a cupboard to take with them after the floodwaters have subsided.
Faced with a barrage of criticism, government stooges have now taken to suggesting that its critics are politicising the crisis and should exercise self-restraint.
When the regime is able to show the people of Fiji it is deserving of praise, some might come its way.
But until that day happens, the people are entitled to be disgruntled and dismayed. This is the regime, to use a cliché, that wants to take Fiji forward to a more perfect democracy with its People's Charter.
Accountability and criticism are a hallmark of democracy as is the freedom to criticise.
It's a strange brand of democracy which is uncomfortable with criticism.
Instead of rebuking its critics, the regime should spare no effort in deploying every available civil servant in the massive effort needed in rehabilitation work.
Response Time
The delay and response time to the victims of disaster, put simply, have been abysmal and incompetent.
While hungry mouths have waited for food and blankets, the response of those in charge has been that they are doing assessments.
Why could the distribution of rations and need surveys not have been done together?
A Fiji Times report (FT 15/1) quoted Major Neumi Leweni as saying there were 30 soldiers deployed in the Western Division on relief work.
If this is correct, one wonders where the rest of the military are and why they have not been dispatched to reinforce numbers on the ground.
There has been little sense of urgency and that the West, Nadi in particular, is a disaster.
They need help now, not tomorrow.
DISMAC, the arm of government set up to deal with disaster relief, seems almost clueless in its response.

Surely with all the natural disasters and institutional experience gained over the years (Bebe, Lote, Meli, Eric, Nigel etc), DISMAC should have been in a state of readiness from the start of the cyclone season in November.
By contrast, the Red Cross moved swiftly into action even before the floodwaters had receded.
But for their timely intervention, the effects of the disaster would have been far worse and the humanitarian impact of the crisis much greater.
There is a lesson too to be learnt from this.
Institutions do far better when they stick to what they are supposed to be doing.
When they exceed their mandate, they are likely to botch things up through sheer lack of experience and ability.

The regime's response to the people's suffering has been callous and indifferent.
In short, very poor.
Such inefficiency would not be tolerated in the private sector.
Through all the tears and tales of woe and destruction, the President has been conspicuously silent and invisible.
I remember past disasters and the congenial frame of the late Tui Cakau, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, touring affected areas soon after cyclones when he was head of State.
It's a pity his good example has not been followed.
The people of Fiji deserve better.
Soul searching
I read that a senior government official said they would ask for help internationally from Fiji's friends.
Given the way we have been shouting at our neighbours recently, I'd be surprised that we have any friends left.
People who throw their weight around don't win friends that easily.
Governments are not that different.
The days of the Orion at Nausori and the Hercules at Nadi (within days of a disaster bringing much needed relief to stricken areas) are gone.
Why should our neighbours care when we publicly scold them and send their envoys home?
The chickens have definitely come home to roost. To their credit, the governments of New Zealand and Australia, regularly on the receiving end of abuse, have shown remarkable grace and generosity towards Fiji in terms of the aid they have promised since the floods.
The attitude of our neighbours should be a salutary lesson that it pays not to burn bridges because one day you might have to cross them.
It is time that the regime and its advisers took time out for a bit of reflection and soul searching.
The current crisis presents a good opportunity for the so-called interim Prime Minister to front up to the Forum leaders' meeting in Port Moresby next week and to announce that he will take Fiji to elections in December 2009.
Eleven months is ample time to undertake the necessary preparations for elections under the current Constitution.
This would be a courageous step that would signal Fiji's return to the international community.
Even the USA is learning that the world today is about building alliances and partnerships, not destroying them.
The last two years have shown that we are adept at the latter.
It's nice to beat the drums and puff your chest out, but where will it get you?
Some good old fashioned courtesy and humility will go a long way.
Isolationism is not an option.
Constructive engagement is.
Fiji has been an independent country now for 38 years.
There is no returning to the womb.
Fiji's recent foreign policy shifts since the latest coup place us in the same league as Syria, North Korea and Iran.
The rhetoric of self-reliance and blaming your neighbours for all the country's ills may sound good, but it is hollow and comes at a huge price for a poor, aid-dependent country.
Maybe it's time to swallow our pride a bit and eat humble pie.
Maybe it's time to ditch the streak of stubbornness and arrogance which has been the modus operandi of the administration since its seizure of power.
When will we learn
The damage to infrastructure, agriculture and small business will easily run into the millions.
It would be foolish and unrealistic to think that as a country, we are capable on our own of fixing the mess left by the floods.
Put simply, we will need outside help.
The international community is more likely to be receptive to requests for assistance if they are assured that credible steps and specific timetables towards returning Fiji to a parliamentary democracy are in place.
Foreign governments are not comfortable handing out their hard earned taxpayers' dollars to regimes that are accountable to no one except themselves.
The effects of the financial meltdown on Wall Street are being felt across the four corners of the globe.
The days of unconditional development assistance are over, if they ever existed.
The mops, buckets and brooms are out in Nadi.
In six months maybe, there will be a semblance of normality. Our wannabe leaders and civil servants will return to their slumber and it will be business as usual. Attention to blocked drains, a sustainable and effective disaster management plan, assessments on the adverse impacts of logging on coastal towns etc will all be but forgotten.
When will Fiji ever learn?
We seem to be a country that continues to repeat the errors of the past.
If there was ever an opportunity for the regime to prove that it is capable of running this country, it was last week in the wake of the disaster.
If it can't get the job done, it should make way for those who can.
Armies the world over have little training in how to run a country.
Their raison d'etre is to defend a country against its external enemies and threats.
The regime should not take advantage of the patience of a docile and politically inert populace.
People can only take so much.
* Graham Leung is a former president of the Fiji Law Society. The views expressed here are his own and not those of The Fiji Times. Email: gleung@howardslaw.com.fj.



Très Désabusé - another Fiji blogger which has posted some interesting blogs in 2007 on Fiji saga.

What they posted in 2007 & which Graham Leung is reiterating in his most recent article 'Alice in Blonderland' on Fiji Times Online 20/01/2009.

DO TAKE THE TIME TO READ SOME GREAT COMMENTS BELOW:
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"A National Day For Prayer. Say a prayer for Fiji tomorrow citizens.Thursday, June 14. I will be at Sukuna Park @ 1: p.m wearing black. Before you break for lunch, wherever you are say a prayer for all the suffering and hardship people are going through today, those without jobs, those without food and children who cannot go to school. Those who have lost loved ones, lets pray for them. Sa cakacaka tiko na vu ni ca e Viti. Meda masulaki na noda Viti lomani. Kemuni na noda mai vavalagi, please say a prayer at the appointed hour. If you can go without food on that day and break after your prayers, believe that there is power in prayer, then let God do the talking after that. Pass this message around.God Bless Fiji.Tui.
June 12, 2007 5:26 PM



Très Désabusé - another Fiji blogger
Standing up for me, my children and my grandchildren....
Saturday, June 9, 2007

I salute you Graham Leung
I have just read Graham Leung's remarks at the 20th biennial LAWASIA conference and hope that all who read it, copy and redistribute it to as wide a forum as possible.This is one man. Standing up for what he believes in.He knows there will be a backlash. He knows he will be vilified - if not already. But he stood up at this forum full of his peers and he told it like it was. Without embellishment. He told the Truth.If there is any time that is right for the people to realise that the coup is not what it seems. It is now.We have to wake up from this lethargy.I ask the Law Society to stand up as one behind their own on that march to freedom and democracy.Your voice has to be heard. For us. Our children. Our grandchildren. Our future.And we will listen. And we will follow.Because we are many. We are poor. We are nothing. But we look to people like you to stand up for that oath you took to protect people like us.
Standing up for me, my children and my grandchildren....
Saturday, June 9, 2007

I salute you Graham Leung
I have just read Graham Leung's remarks at the 20th biennial LAWASIA conference and hope that all who read it, copy and redistribute it to as wide a forum as possible.This is one man. Standing up for what he believes in.He knows there will be a backlash. He knows he will be vilified - if not already. But he stood up at this forum full of his peers and he told it like it was. Without embellishment. He told the Truth.If there is any time that is right for the people to realise that the coup is not what it seems. It is now.We have to wake up from this lethargy.I ask the Law Society to stand up as one behind their own on that march to freedom and democracy.Your voice has to be heard. For us. Our children. Our grandchildren. Our future.And we will listen. And we will follow.Because we are many. We are poor. We are nothing. But we look to people like you to stand up for that oath you took to protect people like us.

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