The Fijian Community Spirit Is Still Alive And Strong

Yaswant Singh proved that the Fijian community spirit is still alive and strong. Picking up a Police officer trying to hitch a ride to Navua recently opened his eyes to
20 Jan 2015 14:50

Yaswant Singh proved that the Fijian community spirit is still alive and strong. Picking up a Police officer trying to hitch a ride to Navua recently opened his eyes to the challenges our law enforcement officers face.

Mr Singh, who made his fortune after migrating to the United States in the early 1980s, has like many Fijians decided to return to his land of birth. The offer of dual citizenship for former Fijian residents and the improved business environment has attracted other Fijians like Mr Singh.

The Namosi Community Post is now a beneficiary of his benevolent act of charity. Namosi’s difficult terrain makes policing work difficult and power cuts do not help. The four Police officers manning the police post in the highlands of Namosi, are thankful for the solar power generated by the $11,000 solar panel donated by Mr Singh’s US-based company, Cal Valley Solar.

The company also donated other electrical appliances and a computer for use by the Police officers. The Fiji Police Force need all the help they can get. Despite incremental budgetary increases over the years, the law enforcers still need public support to ensure their work is successful.

There are other individuals and companies like Mr Singh who donate valuable equipment, time and resources to ensure law enforcement is maintained at optimal levels.

The recent Operation Sasamaki in Kadavu would not be as successful as it is without the support of the vanua. Working off tips, the Police teams have managed to uproot over 1000 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of over $500,000. Police Forces in many countries struggle to work with communities who view them with suspicion, because they are perceived as being corrupt.

The Fiji Police Force has its own internal challenges, but it does not seem to have any major negative perception problems. Fijians like Mr Singh see their gifts as investments in the future of this country, through the improvement of law enforcement. We commend them for support and hope other Fijians will follow their example and help our law enforcers in whatever way they can.

Legislation change

It might be appropriate at this juncture to propose that the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority (FRCA) consider tax incentives for people or companies whodonate to the Duavata Policing Initiative.

This is a conversation that will have to involve other stakeholders like the Ministry of Defence, National Security and Immigration and the Ministry of Finance and the Attorney-Generals Office.

Investing in community policing means improved ownership of law enforcement in this country.

Law enforcement is key to business confidence. In the context of drug enforcement, it means an improved quality of living, especially for villages.

Offering these incentives is a win-win situation for all stakeholders. Businesses get financial returns, in a manner of speaking and selected community police posts have improved operational capacity.

There are governance issues that need to be addressed – checks and balances and ensuring the integrity of the process but this is something that be part of initial discussions. At the end of the day, the less crime there is and the more people take responsibility for helping law enforcement (without going into vigilante mode!) the better it will be for our wonderful Fiji.



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