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Update on Fiji

By Sue Richards last modified Aug 05, 2010 03:07 PM

Published: 2010-08-05 15:07:10
Countries: Fiji

A report from Fiji
From Jim Bandy: ALSO Island, Udu, Vanua Levu
Commodore SSCA, Director ALSO Island Limited

My wife and I have been in Fiji since 2001.

We continue to hear via the International News things that we do NOT find true in reality. The Current Government, we believe, is a making a serious attempt to clean up corruption and give all Fijian Citizens equal rights. These are monumental tasks as corruption ran very deep and previous governments have promoted limited rights for anyone other than Indigenous Fijians: Indo Fijian, European or Valangi (anyone other than Fijian or Indo Fijian).

While on the surface it may appear to be a religious or racial problem it really runs much deeper than that. The Church: Methodist, Muslim and Hindu (to a lesser extent) have seized the issues for their own purposes. Even within the Church it is the leaders that are using the issues for their own purposes: power and gain. The rank and file people are not so prejudice. The Fijian Culture of Chiefly inheritance and status along with the cultural trait of non confrontation makes it easy for the Chiefs and ruling class to take advantage of the situation to secure their power, position, gain and actions. This Culture is so engrained that it is very difficult to get the people to challenge it in any way.

The current situation is better than previous and there is a strong feeling by many that the Current Government is the best thing that has happened to Fiji.

I have recently spoken to Civil Servants, citizens (both Indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian) and several business owners, who privately state that they believe the Current Government is attempting to make things better and do right, much more so than any previous Government. The Government is causing things to happen, following up on contracts let, ensuring quality work, holding people responsible and keeping promises made. This is even being felt by the rural or bush people. Criminals and wrong doers are being held accountable. Projects are being completed. People in positions of authority that use the power for personal agendas are being relieved. All of this has got to make things better in the long run.

So for visitors to Fiji things are definitely better!

I believe you are safer and your rights will be looked after more forcefully than prior to December 2006. Yes, there have been cases where people are asked to leave or deported, but while I do not have direct inside information I have learned enough to believe there was probable cause in most cases.

For the yachties I would advise that this government has made new rules that makes it easier, not necessarily more convenient, for you to visit and cruise. On the other hand they are serious about their rules and expect you to follow them.

There is a strong residue of corruption to weed out and it is going to take a long time and strong measures to clean things up. There are many unresolved issues from independence; many of those caused by British Colonialism. But, I believe we are moving in the right direction. (I have become a dual Citizen, US, Fijian).

My hope is that this report will in some small way encourage people and yachts to visit Fiji. It is a beautiful and welcoming Country. I ask that you not be put off by the tainted International Media. Unresolved issues, yes; but civil unrest, dangerous, no! Things are better now than they have been and are improving!