Nov 23, 2017 Last Updated 9:11 AM, Nov 15, 2017

Whispers

Report cards

SO, two regional NGOs recently failed the test of an independent assessor appointed by international donors. One NGO claims to be the umbrella of all Pacific civil society organisations and claims as much to the international community in order to secure maximum funding. The organisation has not been shy to muscle in on other civil society organisations to claim funding or actually hijack concepts which are marketed to overseas donors as their own intellectual property. The second has been busy in the area of trade and commerce. Both organisations were recently marked down by a regional assessor who was commissioned by a European funder whose outgoing Pacific head was close to the leaders of the NGOs. Incensed that her favourites had not fared well in the reporting process, the Hitler-like donor trashed the reports. So much for good governance.

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Whispers

Samoan passports

THERE is anger in Samoa after the Prime Minister revoked the diplomatic passport of the outgoing head of state. The PM, who is also responsible for the Immigration portfolio, was apparently well within the law when he cancelled the official passports of the former customary head of the land and the first lady. But the people of Samoa reacted loudly on electronic media condemning the action as disrespectful and not Fa’a Samoa (the Samoan Way). Despite the justifications offered by the PM and his references to international laws and practices, the people remain unconvinced and continue to call for the return of passport privileges to a muchloved couple. 

Unlikely prizes

THERE was much nudging and eyebrow raising at the awards ceremony of a communications company in Fiji last month. The new CEO received an award for Outstanding Leader of the Year while staff members have been abandoning the company due to poor leadership and vindictive management. So dire has the situation become that the once proud company has lost its best managers and highly-skilled technical staff as insiders cosy up to relatives in government. The recent award and the sacking of the CEO’s best friend of over 30 years has forced staff members to reconsider their future in the organisation.

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Whispers

Missing cash

WHERE is the $515,000 given by Methodist people from Fiji who now live in New Zealand for the construction of a new home for the head of the church? At the recent Methodist Church in Fiji annual conference, New Zealand observers raised the prickly question and received no satisfactory response from the leadership. Even though the church treasurer has stepped down and will shortly return to the ministry, that fact remains that there is only $35,000 of the original amount donated by New Zealand Fijians in the church coffers. And the home which was to have been built at Davuilevu, Nausori, remains but a bundle of drawings on an architect’s table.

University plans

WHERE is the head of the regional institution who wants to build a university before his retirement? The aged cleric has already convinced his board to amend the retirement age to allow him to stay on. And this only after first removing faculty members in his age group. Now the prospective vice-chancellor is believed to be out of the country on sabbatical as he tries to convince funders and church leaders to fund a new university in the Fijian capital, Suva. But word is that church leaders have had enough and are now ready to concentrate on their own educational institutions.

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Whispers

Leading diplomat

FIJIAN diplomat Amena Yauvoli is the toast of the regional diplomatic community. Not only is he Director-General of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, Yauvoli is also Fiji’s climate change expert. That means he is on loan from the MSG to Fiji as part of regional cooperation ahead of the COP23 meeting in Germany later this year. Ironical that Fiji would depend on this senior civil servant who was removed at the height of the 2006 coup by the man who now cannot do without him. And, for the record, Yauvoli was removed three times by the Fijian Government and returned each time for love of country.

Missing wallet

WHICH regional diplomat had a big night on the town with colleagues in a French territory and lost his belongings in the process? After kava and cocktails the diplomatic party continued through several clubs until the wee hours. The regional diplomat in question was not seen the next day and most assumed he was a bit worse for wear after painting the town red. It later transpired that in the process of meeting the locals, the aforementioned diplomat had lost his special passport, a wallet and other miscellaneous items.

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Whispers

Double standards

INTERESTING to note that there is a huge campaign in Fiji for the second year running to conserve stocks of the kawakawa (grouper) which is under threat, The country’s first citizen – President, Major-General Jioji Konrote – is the patron of the programme which calls on citizens to refrain from catching, selling or eating the fish during specified times of the year. It’s somewhat unnerving that while one arm of the state has mounted a campaign to protect the fish, another is selling the kawakawa and advertising the fact on social media. Perhaps eyes will be averted to the sales because the campaign is voluntary and will not become law until 2018?

Immobile officers

TRAVEL into some of the more remote areas of Fiji and government officers have been severely hampered in delivering their services to the public because of a lack of vehicles. In the provinces of Cakaudrove, Bua and Macuata, officers at remote posts often have to wait up to two weeks for access to a pool vehicle to visit up to 1000 farmers on corrugated roads hours apart. Public service vehicles are often available just once a day in these areas. Yet, late last month farmers and agriculture officers watched in awe as up to 60 Government vehicles stirred up the dust along infrequently accessed public roads as officials accompanied Rear-Admiral Frank Bainimarama on his most recent constituency visit.

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