Aiyaz Khaiyum - or is it the Qorvis brats Seth Thomas Pietras and Tina Jeon - writes to the New Zealand newspaper, the Dominion, to say 'Fiji is working diligently to define a new future for itself' and will be a 'true democracy in 2014.' The following was found in the Opinion section in yesterday's paper.
Fijians control own destiny under BainimaramaAIYAZ SAYED-KHAIYUM
Last updated 12:29 19/01/2012
OPINION: The Dominion Post can make outlandish claims and offer distasteful descriptions of the Fijian government (Commodore's foot still on Fiji's throat, January 10) but what it always fails to do is ask the simple question of what the Bainimarama government has done while in power? Wild accusations overwhelm any desire to examine what is actually happening in Fiji.
To begin, the government has strengthened the Fijian economy and created jobs. Standard & Poor's recently upgraded Fiji's sovereign debt rating. We have a net deficit position of 1.9 per cent (ahead of the IMF's recommended target of 2 per cent). And we have even sought to creatively align ourselves more closely with free market principles, including cutting or eliminating taxes for 99.4 per cent of taxpayers (putting about $53 million back in the pockets of Fijians) and significantly cutting taxes across the board for businesses to promote investment.
A "Social Responsibility Levy" has further been applied to the top 1 per cent of taxpayers to help fund new social welfare programmes, and all of the existing ones have either continued or expanded this year to serve the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women, school children and squatters.
The government is also providing real and tangible services to Fijians: new roads, electricity, clean water, subsidised bus fares, unrestricted internet access – including free internet tele-centres – most of which is being brought to places that never had it before. There's also unprecedented investments in healthcare and education, with new programmes to provide practical skill training for rural and maritime Fijians to better compete with their urban peers.
In fact, according to the United Nations second National Millennial Development Goals Report 2010, Fiji has already made significant progress in universal primary education "through strong and effective education policies".
Enabling our government to deliver to our citizens is our focus on eliminating waste, fraud and abuse. Our government unreservedly ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in 2007, for which Fiji has volunteered and undergone peer reviews by countries such as the United States and France.
Anti-corruption practices have angered many who benefited from the old system, but these new ways have encouraged trade and investment – which we have seen from Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand and the United States, among other countries.
New and further transparency rules will soon be put in place to ensure all government officials properly disclose their assets and investments.
MOST importantly, however, the Bainimarama government has undone decades of institutionalised racial and religious discrimination, and created a common and equal citizenry. All citizens of Fiji are now "Fijians". This was never the case before.
Critics in New Zealand and Australia may decry our process of establishing a path to true democracy, but what has enabled Fiji to get this far were the Public Emergency Regulations, which curbed self-interested individuals, religious groups and self-serving unionists – all of which would have prevented the passage of such decrees as anti-discrimination laws, the codification of equal rights for women, child welfare laws, and the equal distribution of land lease monies, among many other basic rights that previously did not exist.
Those emergency restrictions are now gone, and while Fiji welcomes statements of support from the international community, we do recognise that many in this group for decades either directly or implicitly supported Fijian governments that were corrupt, that relied on ethnic categorisation and discrimination, and that maintained only a thin veil of democracy.
As obviously bears repeating, Fiji has never had "one person, one vote, one value". Yet the international community never required that to offer its backing to previous governments. They just needed hollow elections, which in Fiji merely concealed the turmoil of pre and post-colonial strife – which led time and again to destabilising events, coups and terrorism.
Fiji will, however, be a true democracy in 2014 – consisting of an equal and common citizenship, access to substantive justice, and true universal suffrage. We will soon commence consultations for the formulation of a new constitution that will guarantee these universally accepted principles and values.
Foreign media such as the Dominion Post and its columnists may make pointed threats and bluff with scorn, but Fiji is working diligently to define a new future for itself, one that provides Fijians with control of their own destiny.
Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is the Attorney-General of Fiji.