Letters to the Editor: Consumer Council, Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Health
The CEO of Consumer Council (Mrs Premila Kumar) very responsibly informed the public (Fiji TV, 26 May 2014) that consumers keep making serious complaints about the Ministry of Health due to:
* bad and insensitive attitudes of the staff,
* gross negligence
* with some patients even dying
* and with the Dental and Medical Councils not responding to consumer complaints, even when the complaints came via the Prime Minister’s Office.
Although Mrs Premila Kumar quite understandably praised Bainimarama for raising this health issue (just four months before the elections), sensible tax payers must be mulling over many questions:
(a) Why would Mrs Premila Kumar tell the country that she was working very closely with the Prime Minister’s Office on this health issue?
(b) if most problems in the country are being solved by the Prime Minister’s Office (as it seems from the media) does this indicate that all other Ministries are not doing their respective jobs, and should everybody (following Mrs Premila Kumar) make a beeline for the Prime Minister’s Office?
(c) if the Minister or Permanent Secretary of Health have not responded to Mrs Premila’s complaints after eight years, should they both do the honourable thing, and resign?
(d) why have the Dental and Medical Councils not addressed the complaints and should they all resign?
(e) given the numerous media statements by the impassive and impressive Permanent Secretary of Public Service (Mr. Parmesh Chand) about their many initiatives towards improving the efficiency of civil servants (such as retiring civil servants at age 55 and sending everyone for training to China), have all these efforts been a failure as far as the Ministry of Health is concerned, and should Mr Chand resign?
(f) given the seriousness of complaints from the CEO of Consumer Council, should Rear Admiral (retired) Bainimarama himself resign, given that his government has been in charge for eight years now (the lifetime of two normal governments), given that he has determined his own salary, and given that the buck should stop with him in more ways than one?
(g) or is the real fundamental problem that the Ministry of Health budget has been severely constrained for the last eight years, the salaries of doctors and nurses have been totally inadequate, they have been over-worked, and the funds for medicines and equipment have been grossly inadequate, because of the Bainimarama Government’s other spending “priorities”?
(h) for instance, would the $230,000 of public funds, unnecessarily paid to Fiji Sun to print the 40,000 signatures for the registration application of Fiji First Party (when only 5,000 was required), have been better spent on medicines for the Ministry of Health?
(i) Or why was not a mere $10 million reallocated to Health in the last budget, out of the massive allocation of $1 billion (i.e. $1,000 millions) to FRA over the last two years?
Professor Wadan Narsey
Medical Decree will be reviewed under NFP Government:
The leader of Fiji’s new National Federation Party, economist Professor Biman Prasad, has pledged to review the controversial media decree and pass a freedom of information law if it gains power in the September general election.
He has also called on Fijians to shed their fear and become involved in the election process.
“Our people are still afraid. Our youths are afraid. Our civil servants are afraid, our farmers are afraid, our women are afraid,” professor Prasad said in a speech at a party working meeting at Tamavua the weekend.
“Our businessmen are afraid. They are all afraid of participating actively in the campaign.”
Professor Prasad called on the Fiji government to “stop the threats, stop the victimisation, stop the intimidation of anyone – including media from participating and articulating their views” in the lead-up to the election.
“I call upon the people of this country and come out and be part of the election and campaign process.”
While the state privileges decree and the media decree remained in place, the 2014 general elections “cannot be free and fair – period”.
“The media decree with its heavy fines and penalties make it impossible for the country’s journalists to cover issues openly and without fear. It makes it impossible for us to project our messages to our people.”
He praised the country’s journalists who “in spite of these harsh restrictions are doing their best to keep our citizens informed”.
“To these journalists, let me say a big vinaka vakalevu. The stakes have rarely been higher and weight on your shoulders so heavy.
“The national owes you its profound gratitude as you take real risks to help project our messages to Fiji citizens.”
Professor Prasad cited a paraphrased message from a regional media and elections training programme: “Freedom is when people can speak. Democracy is when government listens and the media is the messenger”.
He said the NFP did not fear the media.
“If the Bainimarama government has nothing to hide and if it has the moral courage to do the right thing, it should lift the media restrictions with immediate effect.
He said the NFP in government would “remove all of its unreasonable provisions including the fines and penalties”.
Professor Prasad also pledged to enact a Freedom of Information – “right to information” – bill.
“We no longer live in the dark ages where governments habitually kept secret, public information such as salaries paid to our leaders, and allowances they are paid on foreign junkets,” he said.
Source: Pacific Scoop
Report – By the Pacific Media Centre news desk
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