In a week where the world has looked at Fiji and wondered how much further the military leadership will go to rob its citizens of their freedom and rights, the interim government is trying to ‘empower’ women.
It’s promoting a study tour of cottage industries to help upskill women, telling everyone the initiative is in line with its Womens' Plan of Action (2010-2019), which, of course, is one of the pillars of its Roadmap 2009-2014.
The tour is being organized by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation, and according to the government, will be an opportunity for women leaders to have first-hand experience of successful cottage industry projects like vanilla, bee keeping, poultry farming, and bakery.
Many can laugh at the Study Tour to Empower Women and the irony of the Bainimarama government giving power to its citizens. Because in the past week, this government has shown again that people are right to distrust it and to be scornful of its efforts.
Last week, Bainimarama and Co put the fear of God in Methodist Church leaders at a special meeting where it was spelled out the church could no longer criticize the government. It was also made clear the church had no authority to gather, even for AGMs, and that the government wanted people it could work with, not the troublesome old guard.
We’ve also now learned that the military is running Fiji rugby with the appointment of Navy Commander, Francis Kean (Bainimarama’s rellie), as Chairman of the Suva Rugby Union. The role of president, secretary and treasurer went to fellow military cohorts.
So that’s the church and rugby taken care of. What of media? It’s a similar story with the military regime preparing to put the final nail in the media coffin.
The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation reported today that the ‘public consultations’ for the new Media Decree will take place next Wednesday in Suva and Lautoka.
Advocates for the new decree insist it will be fair, but the more realistic in our midst say it will be the death of the media.
Like the Methodist meeting, the media talks will see Bainimarama laying down the law and the media forced to obey. And as was done with the Church, the military junta will try to get rid of ‘problematic’ media. The likes of the Fiji Times and Fiji TV could become casualties like Ame Tugaue and Tuikilakila Waqairatu.
The people of Fiji are right to keep asking the world for help, and the world must not take its eyes off Fiji and the shifty Bainimarama.