Letters to the Editor – February 24, 2021

Seized marijuana plants that were discovered and destroyed by Police in Kadavu. Picture: SUPPLIED/FIJI POLICE

War on drugs

In yesterday’s The Fiji Times (23/02) we read that in 2020 the police seized marijuana plants worth “$321 million”. We also read how the number of drug-related prosecutions in the Fiji courts had steadily increased from 148 in 2009 to 1926 in 2019. Something’s not working in our so-called “war on drugs.” Do the marijuana plants police are seizing really have these stratospheric hundreds-of-million-dollar values? I doubt it. If they do, then clearly all the stuff that gets past the police must be the real source of our much-talked about “Bainimarama Boom”. As for the spiralling drug prosecutions, how many of these involve a teenager caught for a single joint in his pocket being sent to prison with his first or second conviction — so, while his future job prospects are ruined he (usually he) can build a new support network of hardened criminals? Smart countries around the world are reforming marijuana laws so their police officers can focus on hard drugs, which do the most damage, and not create criminal records for young people who are doing the (sometimes unwise) things people tend to try out in their youth. As for the stuff police are running around trying to uproot — those who grow it could actually earn good money by exporting it. No-one’s saying marijuana is a completely harmless drug. But neither is alcohol or tobacco. The taxes on these contribute significantly to Government finances. Isn’t it time for a proper national conversation on marijuana? Our Government generally doesn’t want conversation on important issues with actual people — it seems to find it too much trouble. Perhaps though, the rest of us could start? RICHARD NAIDU Suva (Mr Naidu is a Suva-based lawyer and does some work for The Fiji Times – Editor)

Road upgrades

The road upgrade along the Navua/Suva corridor is ridiculously unbelievable taking into consideration the repetitive work on the same upgraded areas. Parts of the road they upgraded just last year, they are doing them all over again at the beginning of this year and I wonder where is the building back stronger and better which the government of the day usually boasts about. Kositatino Tikomaibolatagane Vuninokonoko Rd, Navua

Water levels

It’s good to know that, according to the Fiji Meteorological Service’s weather report for January 2021, the Monasavu and Nadarivatu areas received the highest rainfall for January. Well above everywhere else. So we don’t expect to hear about any water shortages and restrictions or any planned power shutdown in the foreseeable future, because water levels in the two dams and catchment areas have reached critical levels. No siree! If we do, then something is drastically amiss with the water retention capacity and systems in the dams, with the runoffs and losses much greater than the availability and supply. We will wait with bated breath and see. Edward Blakelock Pacific Harbour

Missing in action

Ashwin Raj, the director of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission seemed like an excellent choice when he was initially hired. He lived up to the precept of the commission — Neither Greater Nor Lesser But Equal Dignity, Equality and freedom for all in Fiji. He would jump in all matters of discrimination at the drop of a hat and pass righteous indignation from his high moral horse and pass judgment in bombastic language — like a person “intoxicated by the exuberance of his own verbosity”. Nonetheless, he was an eloquent voice for human rights. I was glad he had toned down his flaunting manner of speaking and seemed to genuinely care when matters of human rights and discrimination came up. Of late, though, he seems to have shredded the necessary attributes of a human rights leader, and instead, acquired the traits of a politician. He appears to speak only when it is politically convenient or beneficial for him or not at all. And, like many, I have found his silence quite troubling. He makes questionable excuses that he is waiting for the true facts to emerge before he would make a comment. A Human Rights Director needs a stronger spine. He seems to have become irrelevant. Martin Luther King Jr said, “For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This ‘wait’ has almost always meant ‘never’. We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that justice too long delayed is justice denied.” Perhaps in Ashwin Raj’s defence, I will quote a line from John Milton sonnet: “On his blindness” when he said, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” The question is: wait for what? Arvind Mani Nadi

Instrumental individual

Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau described former secretary general to Parliament, Viniana Namosimalua as a resilient, disciplined and visionary individual. Ratu Epeli Nailatikau stated that she was instrumental in the re-establishment of Parliament in 2014, and that up to her last day in office, she persisted in ensuring that the secretariat and Parliament facilities were up to standard and fulfilled the requirements of a functioning Parliament. He also acknowledged Ms Namosimalua’s commitment which led to the establishment of a strong partnership with development partners, in particular the UNDP under the Fiji Parliament Support Project. Ms Namosimalua’s contract was not renewed, but I thank her for her efforts, commitment, dedication and passion! All the best in your future endeavors! RAJNESH ISHWAR LINGAM, Nadawa, Nasinu

Worthy cause

Raymond Singh of the Lautoka Golf Club is the man behind many tournaments being organised for a good and worthy cause. Thanks for your recent involvement towards the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. You are doing a very good job and always have a kind heart towards others. All those funding from the tournaments organised are able to make so much difference in needy people’s lives. I believe Mr Singh deserves accolades and recognition from those in authority. Some people do things out of kindness and no purpose of gain but appreciation is always welcomed by all. I believe good people with such big hearts should always be applauded for their great job and contribution towards our people and the nation. Thank You Mr Singh for the good deeds. May others get inspiration from you. Kirti Patel Lautoka

Not meeting standards

While waiting for my fish to cook, I studied the French fry package. It was a new and unknown brand for me but as it was within my budget I had decided to try them. A case of buy before you try. The first thing I usually search for is the origin of the product: Belgium. I immediately thought Wow! Those potatoes have come a long way: halfway around the world, in fact. Then I wondered just how fresh they are? I searched for an expiry date. There wasn’t one. Next, I looked at the ingredients: potatoes and sunflower oil. Very nice indeed. I’m almost excited these days to come across any product that doesn’t contain palm or palm kernel oil. These palms are what are replacing rain forests in South-East Asia and South America, causing catastrophic environmental destruction and devastation. So, while these fancy well-travelled French fries have come from a country as close as you can get to France, with France being on its south-west border, we know nothing of their freshness by the time they reach our dinner plates. I don’t always have the time to be reading size two font product details to be confident standards are being met with the food products I purchase. I guess I rely, and perhaps too heavily on the Consumer Council to apply a greater degree of scrutiny, especially when it comes to regulations, to ensure we are not importing and consuming substandard products that could pose a public health risk. Julie Sutherland Tamavua, Suva

Meth production

I believe Fiji police and border control would have known for at least 10 years that the ingredients for meth are readily available from chemists in Fiji, to cook and use. Seriously, to suggest it was after closure of borders there’s been a consistent increase and awareness now, about its clandestine production in Fiji, reveals how far behind the ball game Fiji police really are. Or, pretend they are! I believe unless over the counter pharmacy prescriptions become tighter, and less readily available without a script, manufacture of meth will continue unheeded. Not rocket science. Google tells kids how to cook up meth. I believe it is ridiculous for Fiji police to even suggest there was no knowledge of what local cooks of meth and manufacturers were up too. I believe there would have been evidence of manufacture and their toxic labs, as well as psychotic episodes increasing at local hospitals, linking the two –– meth use with meth addict outcomes evident by psychoses increases at all hospitals in Fiji. Go figure. Let’s get real Fiji police, seriously. McGinty Snodgrasse Nabua, Suva

Japan loan

So the “goment” has secured a huge loan from Japan. It’s so huge I can’t spell it. So how many loans has the “goment” secured during its term? Maybe this was the boom they talked about and it’s unprecedented. A small explanation on the word LOAN – Lean On Another Nation. Hehe, sorry couldn’t help myself. Allen Lockington Kava Place, Lautoka

Bicycle rules

OK could the LTA let us know the bicycle rules and regulations. When I got my Hercules bicycle in 1969 for $50.50 cents from MH, I used to pay $1 or 50 cents per year licence fees. For safety reasons I had to ride the bike as close to the edge of road as possible. The bike had to have a light to ride it in the night. Could the LTA tell us if we still have to pay bicycle licence fees and if we can ride the bike in the middle of the road where there are no bicycle lanes? Is there any age restrictions on bicycle riders? Sukha Singh Labasa

Tight ship

USP VC Pal Ahluwalia must have run a tight ship to still keep the “uni afloat” even though it did not get the grant from the Fiji Government (FT 20/2). As a former navy commander I’m sure our PM Voreqe Bainimarama would appreciate the analogy. Rajend Naidu Sydney, Australia

True democracy

Let’s stop kidding ourselves by questioning government actions against true democracy. We just don’t have it. Dan Urai Lautoka

USP issue

I liken the ongoing issue at USP to one of those mini series played on TV. People can’t wait to find out what’s in the next episode. But there is a difference, one has no romance in it. Allen Lockington Kava Place, Lautoka

Dirty water

I think if dirty water is violently disturbed, it would appear to have become dirtier. Mohammed Imraz Janif Natabua, Lautoka

The truth will come out.

If this ain’t a saga, that weren’t incitement. Christopher Griffin Perth, Australia

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