Letters to the Editor: Saturday, September 12, 2020

Sunita Matthews commonly known as Soni in the art fraternity stands in front one of the masterworks. Picture: SUPPLIED

Love for colour

After unveiling Amish Naresh’s natural curiosity for art, Ana Madigibuli in yesterday’s People’s column shared the life of Sunita Matthews, whose artwork was showcased yesterday at the Artists Matter Art Exhibition at the Fiji Museum veranda thanks to the French Embassy.

Apart from the letters to the editor column which is my favourite, I never miss reading the People’s column as our journalists go out of their way to bring stories that educate, entertain, thrill, motivate and add spice to our lives and I commend The Fiji Times for having a power-packed People’s column with interesting articles from the likes of Ana, Kasim, Kamea and Shreya.

In her article titled “Soni’s love for colour” (FT: 11/09), Ana unveiled the journey of Sunita who makes art lovers think critically about her piece and wants to inspire everyone who wants to take up painting.

I agree with Sunita that the COVID-19 pandemic has played a crucial role in bringing out hidden talents.

Sunita concluded with a powerful message, “Spend time with people who push you to succeed and inspire you to better your trade.

Remember, failure just means you are learning so don’t let anything hold you back.” Thank you, Sunita for the message!

A big vinaka vakalevu to Ana and The Fiji Times for yet another piece of literature which is set to motivate those who love artwork!



Something special

It’s wonderful having a long weekend holiday straight after Father’s Day, but could someone please enlighten me if there’s something special to celebrate about Constitution Day?

Perhaps I’m becoming cynical in my old age but if Fiji’s current Constitution truly reflected what the original founding fathers had envisioned about one person one vote, then I would definitely be sharing your pride and enthusiasm. Colin Deoki Melbourne, Australia Learning curve

“The opinion article headed “Is it the right decision” by Prof Mahsood Shah published in The Fiji Times on September 5, 2020, is spot on.

The personnel based at the Education Headquarters should read this article so they may be empowered to make informed decisions regarding future issues that may crop up. This article should be a learning curve for the decision-makers in the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts (MEHA). Prof Shah has stated that the “Education Minister had again made a wrong decision”.

He further states and I quote, “Instead of closing the school, she could have done the following: ask the principal to take leave for two weeks while the ministry investigates the issue; leave the vice-principal to lead the school and ensure the continuity; consult the school governing committee and provide assurances to students and staff about continuity of education; and make an informed decision, based on facts, in moving forward.” End of quote.

The current Education Minister has a habit of shooting from the hip regardless of the future consequences or repercussions. Another classic example of the minister meddling, mishandling and making the wrong decision is the summary dismissal of the Head of School (HoS) at Nadi Centre for Special Education with the assistant teacher in the same school.

The case as alleged in his summary dismissal letter was never investigated. The ministry’s discipline guidelines were neither followed nor adhered to.

The aggrieved teachers were never given the opportunity to formally respond to the allegations made against them when the CCTV footage from the school’s office reception at Nadi Centre for Special Education was stolen and leaked on Facebook on August 13, 2020.

It compels me to ask a salient question on how efficient is the Education Minister in her role to lead the Ministry of Education?

On a different note, I take this opportunity to wish my heartiest congratulations on its 151st anniversary.

Lage raho Wesley bhai!



Open letter to the Fiji Government

I have always been impressed and find it absolutely awesome at the diverse breath and depth of the opinions of people in Fiji. This comes to us Fijian diaspora overseas via a trusted reputable publication as The Fiji Times, in its content — news, in-depth articles, letters to the editor and other columns. These brilliant Fijians are crying out to make Fiji a greater place. This resource must be tapped for the greater good.

You must listen.

Stop being constantly defensive. You must heed the opinions of others. There is no doubt there have been an excellent work by the incumbent Government, though, be humble, accept constructive criticism, and allow alternate views, when developing your policies and implementing them. One or two brains is nowhere near brilliant as say 800,000 brains. Surround yourself with smart people.

I suggest you have a national summit, not for just the economy, but all aspects of good governance of all sectors — health, education, tourism, agriculture, labour and industrial relations, communications, land and mineral resources, women and youth, indigenous affairs, science and technology, justice, housing, transport, defence, Indian affairs, sugar, poverty alleviation, sports, and everything else I have missed.

Don’t appoint only your favourites to further your agenda, but get those that may volunteer their opinion and expertise, all citizens invited, no limits. Form working groups and propose a development plan for Fiji in all these different areas.

Of course the Government and Opposition should be represented as they represent an almost even split in Fijian voices, and can get the policies through to see this achieved. Remember everyone has a story, do more listening first, and less talking.

I have had more sense coming from, for example, a commentator who walks the talk from a Kava Place in Lautoka, to economic experts, a former Reserve Bank governor, tidal man from Rava Estate, Savusavu, the Owl on the Perch, the list of these brilliant voices is endless.

Reminds me of being under the tree of knowledge at the Bilo Levu club in Suva, where politicians to the shoeshine lads converged, all hats and titles off, wide views were expressed, and the country’s problems were once solved, other than the spouse at home with the dinner going cold. OK! It is not true when former Fiji residents living overseas are told to mind our own business.

Your business is our business. You can send us out of the country but the country lives within us. We love Fiji and her people and genuinely care (especially those of us who have roots there, and I don’t know of a single Aussie who doesn’t love Fiji).

We are the biggest aid donor to Fiji (we are always there whether it be in development or in disasters; this is funded through us Australia taxpayers). We represent the biggest number of tourists visiting Fiji (we love the people and country).

We send the biggest repatriations of funds from overseas (money to our families/friends/village/organisation, from what we earn whether it be playing rugby or running a business here, also in our fundraising and advocacy efforts).

We are Fiji’s biggest export and import market (we share, barter what we can from each other).

Of course we’ll need your vote in New York, or Geneva, as a token of your appreciation.

When we say, vuvale it is in words and actions a genuine relationship on our part.

In conclusion, what about a summit?

EDWARD HERMAN Melbourne, Australia


Cautious approach

The articles in yesterday’s The Fiji Times titled “Cautious approach”, “Qolisese wants Flying Fijians spot”, “Suva to avenge defeat” and “Tough game” by our wonderful rugby writers — Koroiwasa, Tuinuku and Biudole, in a buildup to the Nadroga versus Suva clash, has created a lot of interest among Suva and Nadroga rugby fans.

In round one, Nadroga scraped through in injury time with a penalty try.

As a result of the 15-13 win, the Stallions started their 2020 Skipper Cup campaign on a winning note and defended the Farebrother-Sullivan Trophy.

However, the Suva brigade looks promising with a solid forward pack and a back line full of speed, skills and flair. The “Blues” walloped Namosi last week and I’m adamant will put up a valiant fight at home.

Nadroga had a close win against Lautoka last week and when the curtains closed on round one, the Stallions set the pace on the Skipper Cup points table but are followed closely by Suva.

The Sakaraia Labalaba-coached Suva outfit has the likes of Qolisese, Vasuinadi, Saulo, Tamaya, Ratu Meli, Tuifagalele, Sadrugu, Brown, Nawai, Manu, Paul, Vularika, Vota, Misaele and Enele with a powerful bench in Cakobau, Vatubuli, Makutu, Seru, Canakaivata, Buliruarua, Sevutia and Raoba. Our journalist Koroiwasa has earmarked Suva prop Qolisese as the player to watch so I’ll be keeping a close tab on him.

On the other hand, Esala Nauga knows well that playing Suva at home will be tough as the Stallions lost back-to-back Skipper Cup finals to Suva.

Hence, Nauga has named an explosive team with big names like Sauvoli, Neori, Somoca, Ratuniyarawa, Nasiga, Navori, Nasove, Lawavou, Vucago, Ralulu, Nalaga, Nakalevu, Tuinamena, Nadeba and Waqatabu with the likes of Gavidi, Apete, Vatunicoko, Dawai, Davu, Lulusini, Jiuta and Sakiusa Gavidi to spark the intensity from the bench.

The experience of Nadro will be up against a resilient Suva pack and fireworks are set to erupt this afternoon in the Capital City.

My best wishes to Nadroga!

I’m confident that we will conquer the stadium and return home victorious.



Rugby and redemption

A clash of the giants is anticipated as Suva and Nadroga clash in a battle which is expected to result in fireworks on the rugby paddocks.

Both teams will be out to seek redemption after experiencing some unexpected losses.

One does not need to bring back memories of their losses to Lautoka and Nadi.

This is perhaps the most important clash of the weekend as both sides will be out to redeem their status as champion sides.

Meanwhile, Namosi is on a back paddle after the loss last weekend and urgently conducting some soul searching. All in all, this will be an exciting weekend of rugby with all eyes on the clash between Suva and Nadroga.

For now, I will side with Suva but would not rule out the resilience of Nadroga.



Focus on mental health

The importance of mental health will be deliberated upon by the stakeholders as the Health Ministry launched the mental health month in Suva.

On Thursday, Lifeline Fiji board member Helen Williamson joined Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, Vodafone ATH Fiji Foundation executive Ambalika Prakash and Digicel marketing manager Liesl Low to cut a cake to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.

It was alarming to read via yesterday’s The Fiji Times that Lifeline Fiji had recorded 72 suicide cases and 66 cases of attempted suicide in the past nine months and now with the COVID-19 pandemic which has tortured many Fijians who have been affected due to work redundancy, job loss, and reduced hours and reduced pay, these Fijians must be provided with counselling services so that they do not fall victims of depression and attempt to commit suicide.

After all, an increase in anxiety levels will lead to depression. On the other hand, it is pleasing to note that the Health Ministry is strengthening community health programs with more doctors and nurses being trained who can support and provide counselling. In addition, Digicel has helped launch the toll-free call number by Lifeline Fiji in a bid to reduce the number of suicide cases.

Finally, I must at the outset congratulate and thank The Fiji Times for taking a lead role in creating awareness on the mental health month. Together we can help save lives. God bless Fiji!



Lifeline Fiji

It is heartening to note that Lifeline Fiji has relaunched itself through a new toll free number 1543. Now more Fijians could access these services through this short code.

However, I still feel that authorities need to do more to create safe spaces pertaining to this issue of mental illness. People must feel emboldened to share their problems.

I am sure the experts who are trained to provide the much needed support vis-à-vis this problem are carrying out this in the different languages which is more suited their patients. There is a lot of stigma around this issue and until and unless people feel empowered they may not share their problems.

As has been proven by research the current covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated this problem. It would also be enlightening to hear from some of our own people of how this support has helped them changed their lives.

One of the places we could take this is in our schools, where awareness could be created on this. We must remember the fact that these people who are going to access these services are on the verge of committing suicide or are feeling very low in life.

Right assistance could prove to be a life changing moment for them. It’s about saving lives.

PRANIL RAM Votulaevu, Nadi


Ve’s message to boxers

Former Fiji boxing sensation and 64-year-old Ovalau native Sakaraia Ve had a timely message to boxers and boxing offi cials, “Be unique, be natural and be yourself”.

Don’t be a copycat. Develop your own style and use it. Copycat will not improve your standard. It will not help the sport, so work hard to become a champion.

In the ring, it’s you and your opponent, so you should modernise your style and technique in fighting and training.”

I agree with Ve that we need more boxing competitions around the country and that we need to tap into the talents that are in rural areas.

On the other hand, I commend Manasa Baravilala and his team for reviving the weekly boxing competitions.

Furthermore, last week’s Sunday Times paid tribute to the late Bas Deo (Wilisimeci Radovu) who had created history by defeating Fiji’s “Golden Boy” Sakaraia Ve.

The article was heart-touching. Thank you The Sunday Times for publishing the story about the late Bas Deo.

I’m looking forward to an article on our legendary boxer Sakaraia Ve.





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