Pocket meetings to the fore in Fiji campaigns

Originally aired on Dateline Pacific, Tuesday 29 July 2014

 

Transcript

As campaigning steps up before Fiji’s election, the “pocket meeting” is king.

But political parties say even in small intimate gatherings they’re finding people are afraid to ask questions or express their views.

Sally Round went along to one meeting in the suburbs of Lautoka held by People’s Democratic Party candidate Vijay Singh.

VIJAY SINGH: A pocket meeting is where we get a small crowd, say ten to fifteen, to twenty people and we speak to them and we advise them and we share the views and we ask them questions to tell us what their views are, and tonight is this four pocket meetings in different places in Lautoka. So all of us leaders are distributed evenly everywhere.

SALLY ROUND: So how does it work, do you just turn up and people come and go?

VS: What we do during the day or probably give them notice at least four or five days, we give them small flyers and just them to advise ten to fifteen houses around the vicinity and we get to one venue so that we can talk to them.

SR: And are people generally welcoming this idea because three years ago meetings of three or more people were not allowed in Fiji?

VS: Yes that’s right, anything more than three people was not allowed and I think that was a great deception of democracy and people could not come out and they were in fear and even today they are in fear. Some people don’t come and they tell us ‘we are scared’ so we don’t get big numbers, so we do pockets.

SR: Why are they scared?

VS: I think they still feel the fear of the military and they’re still scared, and there’s coups, and what has happened in the last seven years, there’s people have been killed and everything was forced onto people by decree and they still haven’t come out of that.

SR: So this is a bit of a challenge, getting people to come along to these meetings.

VS: Very true, it’s a bit of a challenge getting people to the meetings. We have tried bringing big crowds at some stages but then we still find it difficult, they are scared but they will be standing in the corner far away listening but they won’t come to the core place of the meeting. The fear is still there, which is very sad.

SR: Will you have big rallies at all, is that in mind?

VS: Yes we will, once we have rounded up the pocket meetings, we have created little committees in every community where we go, and then we will utilise that committee and gather them at one place and make big rallies as the election gets closer.

Provisional voters roll released

Provisional voters roll released1

9:08 Tue Jul 29, 2014Taken from/By: GoogleReport by: Edwin Nand

 

The Fijian Elections Office has released a provisional list of voters for the September elections. Supervisor Mohammed Saneem says the list is based on the venues confirmed for voting. There are 1337 polling venues with 1987 polling stations. However, voters won’t have to go through tedious search process. The elections office has launched an SMS or texting service for voters to check where they’ll be casting their votes on September 17th. According to Saneem, people have to send their Electronic Voter Registration number to the number 5-4-5 and receive and automated reply with all the relevant details. The number runs on both Vodafone Fiji and Digicel networks and is a free service. A call centre can also be accessed on the number 5-4-5 to assist voters with any queries. An electronic copy of the voter roll can be bought for fifteen hundred dollars. – See more at: http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/21740/provisional-voters-roll-released#sthash.VMF3NrVn.dpuf

FLP and PDP support secular state

Tuesday, 29/07/2014

PDP Leader, Felix Anthony

The Fiji Labour Party and the People’s Democratic Party have stressed that they support Fiji to be a secular state.

Fiji Labour Party Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry said Labour has always advocated freedom of religion and people should not have any doubt on FLP’s policy on secular state.

Chaudhry said the party would like to see full religious freedom accorded to all citizens of Fiji.

When asked if the party is satisfied with the provisions of the 2013 constitution which promotes freedom of religion, Chaudhry stated that all previous constitutions had provisions for freedom of religion and so does this constitution.

PDP Leader, Felix Anthony said the party fully supports the idea to have a secular state.

According to the 2013 constitution, religion and the state are separate which means that the state and all persons holding public office must treat all religions equally, must not dictate any religious belief and must not prefer one religion over another.

The constitution also states that every person has the right to freedom of religion, conscience and belief.

It further said that every person has the right, either individually or in community with others, in private or in public, to manifest and practise their religion or belief in worship, observance, practice or teaching.

Story by Vijay Narayan, Dhanjay Deo and Semi Turaga

Fiji bullies Solomons

Fiji suspends code-share flight with Air Niugini

Tuesday, 29/07/2014

The Solomon Airlines has strongly condemned the action of the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji for suspending its code-share flight with Air Niugini however the Fijian government stresses that it is ready for talks to break the impasse.

This came after the airline’s current Honiara-Nadi code share flights operated by Air Niugini were suspended last week forcing many passengers booked through Solomon Airlines to miss their flights.

In a letter to the Solomon Airlines, Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Civil Aviation, Sharvada Sharma stated that given the breach of the Air Services Agreement and the suspension of services to Fiji by Solomon Airlines, any designated airline of the Solomon Islands will not be allowed to operate or sell services to Fiji from the Solomon Islands.

Solomon Airlines CEO, Captain Ron Sumsum said Fiji Airways has had every opportunity to code share with Air Niugini from Nadi to Port Moresby but has decided not to participate.

He added its approach to this entire situation can only be described as a ‘Bully Boy’ approach and one that they do not intend taking too lightly.

Attorney-General and Minister for Civil Aviation, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said after the Solomons Government banned two successive Fiji Airways flights from Nadi to Honiara in breach of our Air Services Agreement, the decision was made to suspend all Solomon Airlines flights until the matter is resolved

Sayed-Khaiyum explained that the suspension includes selling seats on airlines designated by Solomon Islands as code share partners.

He said they regret the inconvenience to the travelling public but this action was triggered by Solomon Islands and the responsibility lies with Honiara to make the first move.

Sayed-Khaiyum reiterates that Fiji is willing to hold discussions to break the impasse, but he made Fiji’s conditions very clear.

Story by Filipe Naikaso

IMPORTANCE OF OPINION POLLS

By : Sachin Anand Balram
Andykam007@comcast.net

Every time I read the “Razor Research/Fiji Sun” opinion poll, I get shivers in my spine. The latest poll shows FijiFirst party leading by a large margin. It reveals that Frank Bainimarama is the most preferred Prime Minster getting polled in eighties percentile. Others lagging behind in lower than six percentage bracket. I am fully aware that “Fiji Sun “is the propaganda machine of Fiji First party. I have no doubt that the polling data and method of polling is skewed by fraud, mischief and meant to scare the opposition. The pollsters should be cross –examined as to how they arrived at those outrageous numbers.
In spite of all that, I still argue that polls such as one done by Razor/Fiji Sun should not be ignored by the candidates and their parties. It should not be shrugged off as piece of garbage. Voter’s opinion (no matter how rigged the polls are) should be paid attention to in a big way. The present poll shows voters preference towards Frank Bainimarama and his FijiFirst party in a large favorable way. He will win big unless the opposing parties can put to the voters some mind-blowing argument why Bainimarama should not be the Prime Minster. I have not heard of any good counter- arguments, as yet. However, it is not late. If the opposing party leaders have the drive, desire, determination and gumption, they can find few powerful issues and evidence that will create doubt in the minds of the voters not to cast their vote for FijiFirst party. Party leaders- let’s hear those arguments in some detail with specifics supported by clear and cogent evidence. Just by repeating over and over again that Bainimarama got into power by gun- trotting means and illegitimate method will not suffice. That he has has suspended the freedom of speech, press and assembly and so forth of Fiji people will not suffice, either. When he ascended to power by crooked method, the people of Fiji were mired in poverty, corruption, crime, unemployment, rising food prices, land and housing problems. Bainimarama stepped up, he quickly straightened the nation’s ship, hit on all eight cylinders and got to work. He did everything what his core strengths and beliefs inspired him to do. Granted- he used some abusive and high- handed manner in achieving his goals but so what? Over eighty percent of the voters still like him and think he has done a great job. Yes! Maybe, he has personally benefitted in numerous ways during his eight years of reign. But think! Name one leader of Fiji who did not benefit from his leadership position? Even late Ratu Mara known as the “father of new Fiji” did things for Lauans at the expense of other villages.
Hence, what needs to be taken to heart is that polls should give politicians an indication of popular issues and the mood of the voters. It should not be ignored. True leaders should find ways and means to prove that Razor/ Fiji Sun polls are dead wrong. Candidates can do it by persuading the voters that they have better ideas and programs how to run the country. They can do it by demonstrating to the voters that if voted into power, they can do hundred times better than the present dictatorship/oligarchy. If the opposing party leaders can take this approach, persuade the voters that they can work tirelessly for the benefit of the country to improve the standard of living of all the people then we should see a shift in polls. I suggest that the opposing parties should get together and pay for an independent polling company (there are many), to conduct an opinion poll every week. It is usually done over the telephone. We will then be able to see what the actual, true result will be. I bet they will not be surprised. The result will be similar to the one being conducted by Razor Research/Fiji Sun. Party leaders – it is up to you to prove that Razor/Fiji Sun poll is completely and absolutely wrong.

NFP Leader says they never said they will reinstate GCC

Sunday, 27/07/2014

Leader of the National Federation Party, Professor Biman Prasad

The Leader of the National Federation Party, Professor Biman Prasad said they have not said anywhere in their manifesto that they want the Great Council of Chiefs to be reinstated.

Prasad said they have only said that within the first 100 days in
government, they will be calling a meeting of the Chiefs and the head of Yavusa’s to discuss issues in relation to the itaukei administration and discuss issues about other provisions in the constitution within the parliamentary process.

While speaking at a party campaign meeting at Navo Mandir in Nadi, Prasad also made the party’s stand clear on the 2013 constitution.

Meanwhile, Biman Prasad has also confirmed last night that lawyer, Faizal Koya will contest the general elections under NFP banner.

Story by Dhanjay Deo and Gulsher Ali

Ex Fijileaks

FijiFIST Party: Fijifirst party candidate Nemani Bainivalu loses temper and assaults man in the Wainivula Church Hall: “O iko na luveni kailoma sega kemu qele”; Luveni turned blind eye to co-candidate’s violent rage!