POLITICS OF PANIC
The $10 million assistance package announced by the Fiji First Government’s Minister for Economy to help cane farmers is not a new initiative but part of Government’s rehabilitation programme after the devastating effects of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston.
Minister for Economy Honourable Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s announcement can be likened to politics of panic following the overwhelming rejection for the third time of the Reform of the Sugarcane Industry and Sugar Cane Growers Fund (Amendment) Bills (Bills 19 & 20).
Had Government not picked up the deductions as promised earlier, farmers would have ended up with only $4.586 million dollars from the total of $14.586 million paid out to them as 4th cane payment of $10.57 per tonne. This confirms our long held view that majority of our farmers are in debt in perpetuity.
Most importantly, 70% of farmers’ income has already been deducted as debt, fertilizer, harvesting expenses and land rent in the previous three payments for the 2016 season. So for most farmers this help, which should have been implemented when announced last year as part of Government’s post-Winston rehabilitation package, has come too late.
The announcement also vindicates the National Federation Party’s call for the implementation of a minimum guaranteed cane price of $100 a tonne to ensure all our cane farmers, especially 70 percept who produce an average of 150 tonnes of cane, earn decent income.
On Saturday a Fiji Times opinion poll showed that the Fiji First Party’s popularity has fallen by 10 percentage points in two months. By Monday, the Economy Minister has suddenly found $10 million for cane farmers.
This announcement has come from nowhere. No thought has gone into it. It offers no long-term solutions for farmers. It is not budgeted for in the national Budget. It is driven by the politics of panic.
Honourable Sayed-Khaiyum is the man who, at the same time as he spends public money for blatantly political purposes, attacks other political parties for “using” cane farmers.
Running around offering to pay their deductions for one cane payment, he must really think that the farmers are ignorant. There are at least four more cane payments before the election. Will he just throw more money at the farmers to save his political skin?
After 10 years in power, this Government has no vision and no plan for the sugar industry. It refuses to listen to farmers and their representatives. It has taken away their democratic voice in the Cane Growers’ Council. The Prime Minister is the Minister for Sugar, but he spends more time overseas than in the cane belt. Only now, because elections are coming, has the government started to panic.
NFP says to farmers – these payments are like the Prime Minister’s “small enterprise grants” and “Help for Homes”. So take the money Government is throwing at you. It comes from our taxes after all.
Nobody will be fooled by this vote-buying gimmick.
Authorised by: -
Professor Biman Prasad
Chaudhry to farmers: 'You must hold FFP responsible for your plight'
Fijileaks: Some years ago our Founding Editor-in-Chief VICTOR LAL had condemned Professor Biman Prasad and FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry for speaking in "Indian Hindi" during the election campaign, arguing that most of us did not understand what they were saying. We would like to express similar disappointment regarding the above video - please speak FIJI HINDI for the benefit of all. We are still struggling to decipher Ashwin Raj's 'Gnomic English':
From Fijileaks archive, 7 August 2014:
"ONE of the most ridiculous and nauseating features of the election campaign is the language usage of Indo-Fijian candidates on the election trail: a pseudo pompous and counterfeit Hindi, as if they are contesting for power in India and not in Fiji."
Fiji Hindi baat bolo, Indo-Fijian politicians!
You are not contesting election to Indian Parliament
By VICTOR LAL
ONE of the most ridiculous and nauseating features of the election campaign is the language usage of Indo-Fijian candidates on the election trail: a pseudo pompous and counterfeit Hindi, as if they are contesting for power in India and not in Fiji.
Several potential voters wrote to me complaining that instead of speaking in the everyday Fiji Hindi to them, the candidates have been making speeches in Shudh (Standard/Correct) Hindi, a language a vast majority of the Indo-Fijian voters hardly understand.
A similar spectacle has been displayed during Question Time and Talk Back programmes on Fiji TV. I decided to watch the appearance of Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi of the Fiji Labour Party, Bimal Prasad of the National Federation Party, Shiu Ram of COIN Party and Dildar Shah of the National Alliance Party on these two programmes.
Again, a pathetic reoccurring pattern, as if Vayeshnoi, who is contesting the Nadroga Indian Communal seat, was reading a script out of the Hindu holy book, the Bhagavad Gita. When, all he was trying to do, was to explain his party’s manifesto (for which there is no Fiji Hindi word).
The other three were equally guilty, and at times I felt sorry for Shiu Ram, who even resorted to English to make his point, instead of opting to speak the language of the Indo-Fijian masses, and over 30 per cent of taukei Fijians – Fiji Hindi.
What is wrong with speaking Fiji Hindi? Are they ashamed of the language of their coolie forefathers? Why are these Indo-Fijian candidates contesting the Indian communal seats when they are by commission or omission, speaking to the voters in the language of ‘Mother India’.
For God’s sake, even Indian candidates, despite belonging to different political parties, speak in the 700 different dialects and languages to their prospective voters in India. A regional aspiring candidate in Madras will be speaking in Madrassi, and even the Communist candidate in Bengal will be pouting his Maoist and Stalinist propaganda in Bengali. The Italian-born Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the Congress Party, also speaks in a Hindi language which is understood by the vast majority of the voters.
More importantly, the candidates in Bihar would be speaking in Bhojpuri or Awadhi, from which the corrupt version of Fiji Hindi has originated in our country. So why can not our own aspiring Indo-Fijian politicians speak the language of their people?.
As Nemani Bainivalu, a University of the South Pacific Hindi graduate, and later a cultural assistant with the National Reconciliation Unit, had once pointed out, only 20 percent of Indo-Fijians can read and write their formal language.
Many Indo-Fijians cannot even read their holy books written in the Khadee Bolee dialect, and pass on religious teachings by word. I am not suggesting that Sudh Hindi be replaced in our education system, or that everyone should be writing novels like Dauka Puran by Professor Subramani of the Department of Literature and Language at the USP.
What I am protesting against is the gibberish Shudh Hindi that is being shoved down the throats of Indo-Fijian voters who are struggling to ‘swallow’ the words. The election message and manifestoes of the political parties would be better understood if the Indo-Fijian candidates resorted to the conversational Fiji Hindi at the hustings. It will also help bring the taukei Fijians into the campaign, especially the 30 per cent who speak the language, and many others who have a smattering command of it.
It must be made very clear to Indo-Fijian candidates that despite the teaching of Shudh Hindi and Urdu in schools, Fiji Hindi is an integral part of the identity and culture of the Indo-Fijian population. It is unique to Indo-Fijians in the world. The day Indo-Fijian politicians kill Fiji Hindi, they will be killing a part of their history and heritage in Fiji.
For no matter where one goes in the world, the moment one hears an Indo-Fijian open his mouth, one immediately asks him: ‘What part of Fiji are you from?’ In a similar vein, India Indians are able to separate us from them solely on the basis of our Fiji Hindi.
If the Indo-Fijian politicians and aspiring candidates are too ashamed to speak to us in the language of our coolie forefathers, they should pack their bags and their manifestoes and take the next Air India flight to India, and wait there for the next general election in that country to practice their Shudh Hindi. We don’t need Indian political impostors in Fiji.
Such candidates and Indo-Fijian leaders do not deserve our sympathy or votes.
Long live FIJI HINDI.