Letters

Letters To The Editor, April 18, 2015

Pacific Islands Forum Biman Prasad,                       Leader, National Federation Party The Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama should stop being belligerent and participate in the Pacific Islands Forum in Papua New Guinea. The
18 Apr 2015 10:47
Letters To The Editor, April 18, 2015

Pacific Islands Forum

Biman Prasad,                      

Leader, National Federation Party

The Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama should stop being belligerent and participate in the Pacific Islands Forum in Papua New Guinea.

The PM should stop dictating terms to the Forum to force out Australia and New Zealand out of the 16-member organisation that has existed for 44 years.

He deliberately ignores the fact that both our neighbours are founder members of the Forum along with Fiji.

And Fiji’s importance in the Forum is cemented by the fact that the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has been domiciled in Suva for many years.

It is abundantly clear that the PM wants new members in the Forum who obviously befriended Fiji after the coup.

These countries were not Forum members but dialogue partners.

Australia and New Zealand, like the European Union and the United States, adopted a stance in conformity to their democratic ideals but suspending direct aid to Fiji.

But they continued to assist Fiji in terms of empowerment of non-governmental organisations, funding development projects through NGO’s, donations during natural disasters in 2009 and 2012 and contributing funding towards the work of the Constitution Commission in 2012 led by Professor Yash Ghai.

Most importantly, Australia and New Zealand are our closest allies.

One does not ditch long-standing friends to include new ones.

Both nations are our long-term trading partners. Australia is our principal export destination and in 2013, Fiji’s exports amount to 13.6 per cent of total exports worth $250 million.

Australia and New Zealand are our two biggest sources of tourists. An average of 50 per cent of our total number of tourists are Australians while New Zealanders make up 16 per cent of our tourist market.

With a combined GDP of more than 1.6 trillion US Dollars, Australia and New Zealand will remain significant economic partners in the future.

We should concentrate on deeper and more meaningful regional integration, which includes Australia and New Zealand.

Furthermore, millions of dollars come in the form of remittances to Fiji from former Fiji citizens, contributing significantly to our economy.

Majority of our migrant population live in these two countries.

The PM should know he is swimming against a tide of overwhelming opinion amongst Forum member nations who cherish and value Australia and New Zealand’s partnership.

Government should build bridges instead of destroying existing ones. This is the cornerstone of democracy and diplomacy.

 

School bus

Sangeeta Devi, Lautoka

It has taken me a while to gather the courage to spill the truth about a school in Lautoka.

This is where students’ specialised transport owned by the school is being overloaded time and again during school runs.

This is becoming habitual since February 2015.

Children with disabilities have been overloaded on the bus, squashed together between seats.

Seat belts are ignored, care-givers made to accommodate children on their laps, whilst others made to sit on bus floor over exceeding the 21 passenger capacity.

I would like to ask Ministry of Education the following;

– Where is your duty of care towards students with special needs?

– How are your school heads and their assistants implementing the child protection policy that you have been addressing in media?

– What is your OHS policy on overloading?

– Do you think that monitoring by your offices is sufficient enough




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