FOREIGN TV COMPANIES STILL INTERESTED IN FIJI DESPITE COUP

SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 27, 2000 - Radio Fiji/Fiji's Daily Post/Fiji Times/The Fiji Sun/PINA Nius Online)---Two overseas companies still want to set up TV operations in Fiji despite the May 19 coup, Radio Fiji reported yesterday.

Both are reported to want to set up cable television services.

The government's Director of Communications, Josua Turaganivalu, said the two foreign companies, Pacific Consortium and the Hawai‘i-owned Fiji Vision, have verbally indicated that despite the coup they are still interested in setting up their TV services.

Mr. Turaganivalu said the Pacific group’s proposal includes providing 20 pay TV channels, of which four will be given free to the government.

Locally owned Fiji Television Limited is due to lose its exclusive license to operate national TV services at the end of the year, following an out-of-court settlement between the company and the government.

Under the agreement, restrictions on some forms of advertising on Fiji Television are to be lifted and the company's eight-year exclusive license ended.

Fiji Television Limited operates the national free-to-air service Fiji One plus three pay TV channels.

Fiji Television had earlier reported that the government-owned Fiji Broadcasting Corporation Limited - which operates six radio stations – is also considering applying for a TV license.

In other Fiji developments:

* The Fiji Times reported the Health Ministry is moving ahead with plans to hire expatriate nurses from the Philippines to overcome a growing shortage in hospitals because of migration. The country already gets doctors from the Philippines.

* Radio Fiji reported an international organization for Fiji Indians has decided that Indo Fijians should stay in Fiji because Fiji is their country too. University of the South Pacific academic Dr. Biman Prasad, who chaired a forum after the formation of the International Congress for Fiji Indians in Auckland, said: "The international congress is not an organization which is formed to take people out of this country." The congress resolved to have a secretariat in Auckland and another in Fiji. It aims to provide support for Indo Fijian farmers whose land leases have expired.

* Fiji's Daily Post reported the Fiji Military Forces are considering a complete ban on fireworks during the coming Hindu festival of Diwali, which is a national holiday in Fiji. One of Fiji's biggest Hindu organizations, the Shri Sanatan Dharam Prathinidhi Sabha, had earlier called on the Interim Administration to ban fireworks this year. Military spokesperson Lieutenant Alipate Mataitini said: "The use of firecrackers is a serious issue, especially when one considers the current political crisis and the overall situation in the country." However, he emphasized the military will not try and stop anyone from observing any religious festival.

* Fiji's Daily Post reported the military is investigating a meeting allegedly held at an island resort last weekend and attended by George Speight rebels who are out on bail and prominent indigenous Fijians known to have supported Speight's coup.

* Fiji's Daily Post reported the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is seeking the assistance of a Queen's Counsel from New Zealand to strengthen its treason case against Speight and his men.

* The Fiji Times reported Fiji Sugar Corporation chairperson Hafiz Khan as saying the national sugar miller faces financial trouble and would announce a loss for its last financial year, which ended March 31. Mr. Khan said the corporation has hired expatriates to carry out reforms, improve efficiency and restore profitability.

* The Fiji Sun reported Fiji's important garment industry is under threat if the interim administration does not undertake to restore democracy within 18 months. Textile, Clothing, and Footwear Council of Fiji president Ranjit Solanki said Australia is asking for a return to democracy within 18 months or its Import Credit Scheme will be suspended. Australia is one of the main markets for the garment industry, which employs an estimated 20,000 people.

 

THE FIJI TRADE SHOW GOES ON DESPITE THE TROUBLES

SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 26, 2000 - The Fiji Sun/The Fiji Times/Fiji's Daily Post/PINA Nius Online)---Fiji's biggest business and community show is going ahead despite the country's political crisis and economic troubles - thanks to support from the public and business community.

The 2000 Showcase, one of Fiji's biggest promotional events, opened yesterday at the National Gymnasium in Suva.

Manager of the Total Event Company, Loretta Jackson, said the exhibitors wanted to continue and people needed something to get things moving after the coup of May 19 and unrest which followed.

Showcase started in 1986 as the Home and Leisure show at the Suva Civic Centre, and an increase in number of exhibitors resulted in the yearly event moving to the National Gymnasium.

Usually there is another Showcase for the Western Division, which, Ms. Jackson said, was always bigger than the Suva event.

However, with no Showcase organized for the Western division this year due to the venue being used as a refugee center, two Western companies, Southern Apparel and Quality Shoes, are exhibiting their products in Suva.

According to Ms Jackson, their coming to Suva was a great show of trust. "They had heard all the negative things about Suva and moving here was a big thing for them."

Other items on sale range from clothing to furniture, a handicraft center with crafts from different Pacific islands , kitchen appliances, plants and food.

F$ 200,000 (US$ 91,000) has been spent on organizing this year’s event and, according to Ms. Jackson, around 30,000 people are expected to visit the Showcase.

In other developments:

* Fiji's Daily Post reported official work on the consultations over a new constitution will start next week. The secretary of the Constitution Review Commission, Walter Rigamoto, said they were consulting members of the Indo Fijian community about their four representatives on the commission. The two main Indian political parties, the Fiji Labour Party and National Federation Party, have refused invitations to take part.

* The Fiji Times reported deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry supports calls from some quarters for a government of national unity to be formed under the 1997 constitution. Mr Chaudhry, Fiji's first ethnic Indian prime minister, was deposed after being taken hostage by indigenous Fijian rebels. He said a government of national unity should not include any people who took part in the overthrow of his government. Mr Chaudhry would not say whether he would want to lead a government of national unity.

* A minister in the deposed Peoples Coalition Government, Poseci Bune, claimed Police Commissioner Isikia Savua did not give the then government security information that could have prevented the May 19 takeover, the Fiji Sun reported.

* The Fiji Sun reported that the Fiji Military Forces said an attack on a taxi near Suva on Sunday was a stoning incident and not a shooting as earlier reported.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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