FIJI LAWS TO COUNTER 'SABOTAGE' OF ECONOMY PLANNED BY INTERIM ADMINISTRATION

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (October 1, 2000 - Fiji Sunday Times/PINA Nius Online)---Fiji's interim government intends to put in place laws to counter activities aimed at sabotaging the national economy, the Fiji Sunday Times reported today.

The new decree is similar to the Public Emergency Regulations, which came into force after Fiji's 1987 military coups and targeted people who disrupt the peace or sabotage the economy.

Attorney General Alipate Qetaki said it would be new legislation tailor-made for the protection of Fiji and its people.

"Cabinet decided on the new legislation on Tuesday and now we are looking at all policy issues," he said.

It is understood that the legislation will cover individuals and trade unions.

The interim administration - backed by the Great Council of Chiefs and Fiji Military Forces - is governing Fiji following the May 19 coup by indigenous Fijian gunmen, and the unrest, which followed. Deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry - Fiji's first ethnic Indian prime minister - and members of his coalition government are overseas campaigning against their overthrow and for the return of democracy.

Political parties and trade unions have hit out at the new legislation, which they say will not work.

Fiji Trade Union Congress general secretary Felix Anthony said any moves to block the fundamental rights of an individual will be looked at seriously.

"We will fight any moves to curtail people's fundamental rights," he said. "This type of legislation won't help at all."

He called upon people behind the new legislation to resign immediately.

In an editorial comment The Sunday Times commented at length on moves by the Great Council of Chiefs to restore Fijian unity. The Sunday Times said:

"Now, more than ever, the chiefly system is under threat.

"Many Fijians are now of the opinion that in order to succeed one must work hard and make sacrifices.

"This is a new way of life, something foreign.

"But it is really the only way forward and the road they must travel if Fijians are to become the equal of their Indian neighbors, colleagues and rivals.

"The Fijian community can no longer be held back by leaders who continue to dabble in politics for the purpose of building their own empires.

"Indigenous people can no longer be victims of poor leadership.

"For too long leaders in the Fijian community have been the only ones to benefit from positive discrimination and affirmative action programs.

"Because of this the suburban or village dweller is no better off than he or she was in the days of British rule.

"The chiefs, however, as in the colonial era, continue to have the ears of those who hold the highest offices in the land.

"However, despite having the means to move their people to a better life, the Fijian leaders have not done this.

"And so the people remain unhappy and without a sense of direction or purpose.

"Much like a rudderless ship heading for the rocks, they grab at any alternative leader who happens by.

"This has allowed too many so-called leaders to abuse the trust of the Fijian people for too long.

"Sadly, it is the Fijian leadership which has betrayed its own people.

"For Fijians to unite they must first have trusted, competent and credible leaders.

"Without them the indigenous community will remain a commodity which can be used and abused by any Johnny Come Lately."

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

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

 

AUSTRALIA ENDING CONCESSIONS TO FIJI CLOTHING TRADE

SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 29, 2000 – Radio Australia)---A major Australia-Fiji business group says the end of trade concessions to Fiji's clothing industry could cost 5,000 jobs in the Pacific nation.

Radio Australia correspondent Graeme Dobell reports that Australia will end trade concessions tomorrow, which are central to the life of Fiji's clothing and textile industry.

"The credit scheme which gives Fijian made garments privileged access to Australia, will expire tomorrow.

"The Australian government is refusing to extend the scheme because of the lack of progress on a return to democracy by the interim government installed by Fiji's military.

"The executive director of the Australia-Fiji Business Council, Frank Yourn, said it could end the jobs of up to 5,000 Fiji garment workers. ‘It is a major sanction. Early on the Business Council said that if the government implemented this it was equivalent to applying a trade ban in the form of a sanction, and a serious one,’ he said."

"Graeme Dobell, Radio Australia, Suva."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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