Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Great Pacific Way: Great Teamwork by MSG & PIF Leaders.

Following the much recently publicised decision of the Vanuatu Prime Minister, Edward Natapei, when he aborted MSG meeting that would have seen current Fiji coup master, Frank Bainimarama take the Chair for MSG. It was indeed a timely decision made and people of Fiji can at least have a sigh of relief knowing that fellow Melanesian leaders have looked through to what matters to the ordinary people in Fiji.

In essence, there are alot of joblessness in Fiji now. Take for instance, many professional Indigenous Fijians who have been driven out of their Government jobs in droves, i.e teachers, nurses, police, administrators etc. This has resulted in many of these Fijians, as noted by FDFM President Usaia Waqatairawai, taking up alternative jobs like picking fruits overseas if they are able to obtain required visas. Otherwise, its back to their islands to work the subsistence farming in their home village. Meanwhile, other segments of Fiji population who are able to continue with their businesses are doing so under duress considering the adverse business environment they are working in. Fiji people stand to loose in a big way, while Bainimarama, Khaiyum and their illegal regime continue to live a life of luxury in Suva, driving around in flash four-wheel drives and government vehicles. The gaps of 'haves & have-nots' have widen even more.  Is this the master plan Bainimarama & Khaiyum has mapped out for Fiji & its people?  

As a point of interest, one of the veteran bloggers recently commented on Bainimarama's radio interview with his favourite 'mouthpiece' radio tarana where he claims that the Aussies had given funds to Vanuatu thereby resulting in Natapei's call to withdraw MSG meet. Is it a sign of desperation, one wonders? When we examine some historical pieces of information on the formation of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, the initial signing of Trade Agreement as shown on its Preamble, refer http://www.worldtradelaw.net/fta/agreements/msgfta.pdf , quoting excerpts,

 "TRADE AGREEMENT AMONG THE MELANESIAN SPEARHEAD GROUP COUNTRIES

PREAMBLE

The Government of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, the Government of the Solomon Islands and the Government of the Republic of Vanuatu (hereafter referred to as "the Parties");


Conscious of the overriding need to foster, accelerate and encourage the economic and social development of their States in order to improve the living standards of their peoples;


Convinced that the promotion of harmonious economic development of their States calls for effective economic cooperation largely through a determined and concerted policy of greater self-reliance;

Recalling the Agreed Principles of Co-operation Among Independent States of Melanesia signed by the Parties in Port Vila on 14 March 1988, wherein the Parties undertake inter alia to promote economic co-operation between States;


Determined to foster closer economic and other relationships among their States and to contribute to the progress and development of their three countries as well as the South Pacific Islands region; and Bearing in mind the principles of international law governing relations between nations, such as principles as sovereignty, equality and independence of all States and non-interference in the domestic affairs of States." unquote.
Fiji joined only in 2007, several years later and it is ironic that the new agreement of which Fiji is a signatory included the excerpt quoted here, "Determined to have a region that is respected for the quality of its governance, the sustainable management of its resources, the respect for and promotion of its Melanesian cultures, traditions and values and for its defence and promotion of independence as the  inalienable right of indigenous peoples of Melanesia and the promotion of their human rights;..." unquote.

One only need to take a step back in time to 05 December, 2006 when Bainimarama executed the coup up till now and run a comparative analysis on the before and after of Fiji's economy, citizens & their jobs, job losses, poverty, Human Rights abuses, Indigenous Fijian Rights to determine who they are & their Fijian Identity, 'back-door' policy on Communal Land issues done in the name of freeing up Native Lands, gagging of Great Council of Chiefs, gagging of Media, Rule of Law & Constitution abolished etc. Fiji is deep economic & social trouble.

In conclusion, we take our hats off the strong stance by MSG, PIF Forum and the Regional Nations within the Pacific rim. To name them Vanuatu, Solomons, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, New Zealand & Australia. Great teamwork indeed.
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Read more from Mr Daunitutu,

Answers needed from the Melanesian Spearhead Group

Opinion piece by Suliasi Daunitutu

The U-turn by the Vanuatu Prime Minister over the Melanesian Spearhead Group summit in Nadi has been a heavy blow to Voreqe Bainimarama’s confidence in his last Pacific line of support.

Edward Natapei said that “Fiji hosting the meeting and allowing Bainimarama to chair the meeting is a threat to the organization's values”.

What he failed to say was that Bainimarama’s inclusion in the group shows they condone his dictatorship which is the biggest threat to democratic values, in the Pacific or anywhere in the world where democracy is the steadiness of purpose and good and fair governance.

This is a great victory for everyone who is vigorously campaigning for an election and a return to democratic governance. However, I would like to ask a few hypothetical questions regarding the sudden change of heart.

We are now familiar with the fact that the MSG in July 2009 agreed that the Strategic framework for change had key components for Constitutional change. That led them to believe there were indeed visionary contents to Bainimarama’s reforms ..... or was there?

I would like to know how did the Melanesian Spearhead Group come to that conclusion in 2009 but have found the same principle behind those reforms to be a threat to the MSG values now? I think that we the people of the Pacific would like to know how the structural reforms that would lead Fiji to a sustainable democracy in 2009, aren’t the same a year later.

I would also like to know what Michael Somare’s stance is on the sudden back flips of the group, as he was on record as saying the rest of the world “don’t understand the Pacific way.” Has he also realized the Melanesian way is a threat to our democratic values?

I would also like to know if the MSG is contemplating a push for Bainimarama to legalize his government, so Fiji’s inclusion is not a hindrance to their democratic belief. Because that's what we are now led to believe after Natapei’s comments, that “the MSG has a more critical role in assisting Fiji.”

There’s a lot of questions but as we know, when a person is shunned by his friends there is a bitter taste in his mouth and an unmistakable embarrassment that could lead one to either isolate himself or on the other hand, do something drastic that can have negative, critical or even tragic consequences.

In Fiji’s case, it should not come as a surprise that Bainimarama will do both. He is sure to isolate Fiji from everyone and the tragic consequences will be felt by the people and the economy.

1 comment:

  1. Smith rejects Dictator Bainimarama's attack
    23 July 2010

    Australia did not try to pressure nations into avoiding a forum in Fiji, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith says, rejecting claims by Fiji's military ruler Frank...

    Australia did not try to pressure nations into avoiding a forum in Fiji, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith says, rejecting claims by Fiji's military ruler Frank Bainimarama.

    Commodore Bainimarama has claimed Australia's attempts to prevent the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) meeting taking place have backfired, leaving Canberra with "egg on its face".

    Australia and New Zealand were the only two nations to decline an invitation to attend an Engaging Fiji meeting, which began in Nadi on Thursday after the MSG meeting was postponed.

    Mr Smith said he "rejects absolutely" that Australia attempted to interfere in the workings of the MSG or Fiji itself.

    However, he said the government had publicly objected to the convening of the MSG meeting by Commodore Bainimarama in Fiji.

    "Our rational for that, which we made clear throughout the region, was that we believe this was an attempt by Commodore Bainimarama to undermine the standing, authority and unanimity of the Pacific Islands Forum," he said

    "I make no apology whatsoever for this representation."

    Mr Smith said it was entirely a decision for individual countries to determine whether they would attend the meeting in Fiji.

    Australia had been at the forefront of efforts to return Fiji to democracy, the foreign minister said, questioning claims by Commodore Bainimarama that elections would be held in 2014.

    He said the military ruler, who seized power in a 2006 coup, had earlier said elections would be held in early 2009, but they never eventuated.

    Tensions between the countries have been on the rise since Fiji expelled Australia's acting high commissioner Sarah Roberts earlier this month, the second Australian diplomat to be kicked out in nine months.

    Mr Smith said Commodore Bainimarama's motivation was obvious, as the Australian government had been publicly critical of his military regime.

    "Since he assumed power, Fiji's economic and social circumstance have deteriorated. That's a matter of objective fact," he said.

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