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Jul 20, 2018 Last Updated 6:35 AM, Jul 20, 2018

Is regulation the answer?

Social media under state scrutiny in Fiji

DISCUSSION around regulating cyberspace at Fiji Attorney General’s conference generates a few interesting questions and reactions for public discussion. Police Commissioner, Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho, was perhaps the clearest in his sentiment stating, “To answer the question of whether we should regulate cyberspace, the answer is a definite yes.”

This sentiment in amongst others is underpinned by a variety of what can be termed as cases of digital deviance that has recently attained a significant level of notoriety and attention. This has overshadowed healthy digital discourse and dissent, which does exist in Fiji’s digital landscape. To an extent Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama’s statement of “when used correctly, can be an invaluable tool for… encouraging healthy discourse” only reaffirms the obvious for the constructive and engaged digital Fijian citizens.

Most of the notoriety has been generated on interactive platforms or social networking sites (SNS) such as Facebook. It is worth acknowledging that there are a variety of other social networking sites that are active in Fiji, such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and Tumblr. However, Facebook is the most heavily engaged and prominent social networking site in Fiji’s digital landscape. Facebook in Fiji now has an estimated 490,000 accounts, ranging in age from 13 to well over 65. 

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Since assuming the mantle of Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, I have been committed to championing inclusivity in many aspects of the Secretariat’s work. Inclusivity ensures a variety of perspectives in dealing with issues dear to us as Pacific peoples and as a region. Inclusivity also builds ownership and empathy - which are both key to strong advocacy on all fronts. For the Pacific region, our advocacy on climate change and its impacts has been built, in most part on the impacts that we are facing today.

Our Leaders have been and remain strong advocates in international fora on this issue. I acknowledge in particular, the work of the late Tony De Brum, former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Climate Change Ambassador for the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and former President of Kiribati Anote Tong - who have become synonymous with the Pacific’s advocacy on climate change and its drastic impacts to our livelihoods and wellbeing.

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Winds of change

From colonialism to democracy, coups and a fight for the Earth

I WAS born when Fiji was under colonial rule on January 30th 1961; nine years before Fiji gained her independence from Great Britain. During the years leading up to her independence Fiji experienced an atmosphere of racial mistrust between iTaukei’s and Indo-Fijians.

I recall my childhood days walking in the night either to church or the store and we would jump off the road and hide in the grass at the sound of an on-coming vehicle. At that time Indo-Fijians owned most vehicles.

Our folks told us that IndoFijians would readily use knives to attack people. Despite the racial mistrust and prejudices between the iTaukei and IndoFijians they shared a common historical reality, namely British colonialism. Fiji Independence Day celebrates our nation’s history, hope and commitment. Internationally influential Roman Catholic Biblical scholar Raymond Brown states that God writes on the crooked lines of human history. Theologians now consensually agree that there is only one history of salvation and it takes place in human history. 

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THE statement in the media by the Chief of Staff of the Fiji Military Forces, Colonel Jone Kalouniwai, in September criticising the speech of National Federation Party MP Parmod Nand, has again raised the question of the role of the army in the political and constitutional system of Fiji. This Essay poses the question whether Fiji, is evolving towards the situation of a “controlled democracy” like in Pakistan under an imposed 2013 Constitution. Does recent history answer this?

This question was first raised by Colonel Kalouniwai’s article July 24, 2017 in the Fiji Sun that provided justification for Section 131 (2) of the Constitution: “It shall be the overall responsibility of the Republic of Military Forces to ensure at all times the security, defence and wellbeing of Fiji and all Fijians”. This provision did not exist in the 1970 and 1997 Constitutions that were passed by our Parliament. There was a similar provision in the decreed Constitution of 1990 but it was repealed under Section 195 of the 1997 Constitution.

It then resurfaced under the decreed 2013 Constitution. The Pakistan situation is where the military and intelligence services are the actual long-term rulers of the country and usually decide how long an elected government can be tolerated in power?

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Truth and justice

Bishop stands firm on environmental issues

AS the Pacific and global focus turns towards COP 23 and the Oceans Summit, the region continues to face challenges with climate change, extractive industry and development. How much should the region give up in return for development? Are global development models applicable in the Pacific? Those are just some of the questions which challenge leaders, industrialists and the people of the Pacific. In his Easter message, Archbishop of Suva, Reverend Reverend Dr Peter Loy Chong, spoke about the link between God, creation and development.

Peace — Shalom! (May you have fullness of life). Peace is the first word uttered by Jesus to his disciples after he rose from the dead. Jesus greets the disciples who were still traumatised by his humiliating and brutal death. Easter celebrates the most important event of the Christian tradition, namely the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, the writings of the New Testament have no record of Jesus’ actual rising from the tomb. Instead it only has accounts of the appearances of Jesus to the disciples. This means that the disciples’ knowledge and experience of the Risen Jesus was given to them. In other words revelation is a gift from God. Therefore, to understand what happened on that original Easter and to reinterpret its meaning for Fiji today we turn to the disciples’ experiences of the risen Jesus.

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