Letters to the Editor – Thursday, May 13, 2021

Image: THE FIJI TIMES

The stark reality!

After reading the statement by Save the Children Fiji chief executive officer Shairana Ali that people were worried about two things – their inability to provide food for their family and fear of what could happen next, and that the COVID-19 containment had separated people from their places of work and they were receiving requests for help, especially from single-income families (FT: 11/05), my mind drifted to the article in yesterday’s People column titled The stark reality by Unaisi Ratubalavu.

In the article, Una shared the story of Napolioni Raqitawa from Nukutubu Village who is 62 years old and is a water taxi operator.

Napolioni described the challenges he faced because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as it had slowed his business.

Just like Napolioni, people are suffering, and in extreme cases families are rationing whatever food is left.

The pandemic has resulted in challenges and obstacles which have hit vulnerable Fijians, and I rise and salute those individuals and organisations who have reached the needy, desperate and genuine families.

This is a critical time in Fiji’s history, and every effort must be made to reach out to those suffering because of COVID-19.

The Fiji Times, like any good newspaper, has been reaching us with the stark reality stories of hardship and survival.

Thank you The Fiji Times!

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Inspirational contributor

I would like to acknowledge and compliment Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam for his daily inspirational contribution to the number one newspaper in Fiji.

Very topical and thought provoking indeed and it becomes the daily centrepiece of the Letters to the Editor section.

I get immense pleasure reading your articles and I thank you sir, you are indeed a gentleman and a scholar.

Steven Singh, Sydney, Australia

COVID response

We have followed with trepidation the rising cases of COVID transmission in Viti Levu and the ensuing hardships on families and business, already reeling from Fiji’s poor economic situation.

We pray and hope this is contained within Viti Levu and not allowed to Vanua Levu and outer islands.

Notwithstanding the briefings by the MOH, we are miffed by the apparent conservatism from the authorities in terms of the openness with information.

I am naturally comparing that to the situation here in Australia.

Just yesterday a person, who had completed the required quarantine in South Australia and travelled to Melbourne, was tested positive.

Immediately all the information in relation to where the person had travelled to, how he had travelled and all the spots visited had been highlighted, encouraging people who may have had a brush with the places to get tested and, if necessary, isolate.

One other issue that comes out of the Australian case is that people test positive after the mandatory quarantine period.

The weight given to close contacts testing negative only a few days after contacts in Fiji seems misplaced.

In Fiji we hear about the Makoi case, for example.

There is scant information on where the case had travelled to, ie which shops, supermarkets etc, how he/she had travelled (buses, taxis etc) and other relevant details such as dates and times to allow people who may have been in contact to be tested.

Surely, the person tested positive should be able to relate this basic information in relation to his/her movements over the past few days.

This is not the usual cause for fear or panic.

I believe the sudden announcements that particular supermarkets or places are being closed off and guarded leads to fear and people naturally want to know if the positive case visited these places.

No amount of pacification by authorities will placate people’s alarm, for surely there had to be a reason for such sudden actions.

It is also important to do a self-assessment of the credibility the public attaches to the official information provided.

Our impression is that given how economical authorities have tended to be with information, people are naturally cautious and they need to establish trust, in order for any actions to be effective.

Altauf Chand Minto, NSW, Australia

Girmit era

We may celebrate this day, but it was a painful event from the first voyage, ship named Leonidas sailed from Calcutta, on March 3, 1879 and the last ship named SS Sutlej landed in Fiji on November 11, 1916.

Few people knew some untold stories of the girmit era.

Between 1879 and 1916, a total of 42 ships made 87 voyages, carrying Indian indentured labourers to Fiji.

Initially the ships brought labourers from Calcutta, but from 1903 all ships except two also brought labourers from Madras.

A total of 60,965 passengers left India, but 60,553 (including births at sea) arrived in Fiji.

A total of 45,439 boarded ships in Calcutta and 15,114 in Madras.

Sailing ships took, on average, of 73 days for the trip.

The shipping companies associated with the labour trade were Nourse Line and British-India Steam Navigation Company.

“Girmitiya” or Indentured Labourers, is the name given to the Indians who left India in the middle and late 19th Century to serve as labourers in the British colonies, where the majority eventually settled.

Girmit is a corrupt form of the English word “agreement”.

A labour emigrating under the “agreement” or girmit was a “girmitiya”.

However, above and beyond, we shall make this Remembrance Day that will strive to be an occasion to celebrate the Fiji-Indian identity and the contributions they had made to Fiji, Pacific and NZ, culturally, socially and economically.

Most of you must be proud of your heritage that our great-greatgrandfather brought through their journey of seafarer glory and landed on unknown land we call our home “Fiji”.

We not only marked this day but shall cherish the past that they had for better future lies ahead.

In this regard, the willingness of the older generation to preserve and hopefully could create some notable connection.

All the best wishes and endeavour of preserving and celebrating the Fiji Girmit past.

Vinaka.

NEELZ SINGH, Lami

There is no ‘stupidity’

THERE is no stupidity in food buying Dr Fong.

Imagine if people rush in to buy essential items if your ministry enforces a nationwide lockdown, so people doing their shopping early I believe are practical and will give other shoppers onwards a space not to queue up lining at supermarkets.

It would be wise of you to focus on a strategy planning to stop the COVID variant from entering our national borders rather than labelling people with “stupidity” on panic buying.

Regardless of the socalled panic buying by the PS, it is the people’s money that they are using to stock up their food ration rather than being caught out flatfooted in an imminent lockdown.

It is better to be prepared and have enough food at home rather than seeing our family members going to bed hungry.

AREKI DAWAI, Suva

Fingers crossed

Everyday we read people giving their views on how and what Government should do to control the situation the pandemic has placed the country in.

Fingers crossed they don’t take forever to implement directives as numbers of those affected soar daily.

Dan Urai, Lautoka

Kerosene

Kerosene is a commonly used fuel for cooking and lighting fires but unfortunately I believe it’s quite difficult to purchase now.

At one time, it was sold by most shops but sadly this is not the case now.

The other day I had to check through several shops and service stations but the response was the same.

Fortunately, the service station in Raiwaqa still sells kerosene and the queue was quite long.

Floyd Robinson, Toorak, Suva

Guidelines

Because of social distancing guidelines, I will no longer be shaking hands, fist bumping or hugging.

In lieu of this, you may bow from a safe distance.

Except for Allen, he may kneel!

Wise Muavono, Balawa, Lautoka

Fake news

I refer to the headline in The Fiji Times 12/4 ‘Remain calm’ that we should always follow the ministry’s advice.

There is a lot of fake news going around.

Don’t be fooled by social media.

Peoples’ social media posts and other news made people panic.

I saw panic buying.

Even some people exhausted their savings.

We stand beside you Dr Fong.

Navneet Ram, Lautoka

Restrictions

I think people who are still not taking the COVID-19 restrictions seriously have added it to their automatically forwarded new year’s resolutions list.

Mohammed Imraz Janif, Natabua, Lautoka

Movements

Would it be beneficial if we schedule movements to areas of residence, eg. Kashmir in Lautoka only having Monday’s to move about, likewise for all other areas be given other days of the week, this be done so for all lockdown areas, but giving medical emergencies, freedom of movement.

Would this assist with contact tracing and managing people’s movement, thus reducing the spread and timeline of lockdown.

Nigel Fiu, Owls Perch, Lautoka

Online learning

Can online learning be introduced for our school children please?

We should have done this long ago.

Our children are aimless at home.

One parent said to me: “Al, my head is sore”.

Allen Lockington, Kava Place, Lautoka

Behavioural change

The fight against COVID-19 is one of the greatest challenges facing mankind in this century.

The coronavirus has redefined the way we do almost everything.

Humans face the greatest test of its survival on Earth.

I believe our future will seriously depend on our ability on how quickly we can adapt to COVID-safe behaviours of wearing face masks, hand sanitising and social distancing.

This should become part and parcel of our life.

The sooner we adjust to this, the better for us.

Unfortunately, as many theorists have suggested, it takes time for humans to bring about permanent behavioural change and achieving this absolutely requires experience.

Vaccination campaign has already begun but it will take some time to reach herd immunity.

However, no one can predict new variants and new forms of this virus, and thus predict the future.

Perhaps, in the foreseeable future, the efficacy of vaccines may also decline.

Hence, to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission, we must permanently change our behaviour by resolutely complying with COVID-19 safety measures.

Pranil Ram, Votualevu, Nadi

Myth of subsistence

One major myth the coronavirus pandemic has exploded is the myth of subsistence affluence, the notion that people living in an island paradise always have sufficient subsistence food resources to access and that the poor are poor only because they are either not resourceful or plain lazy.

The stories of people struggling to put food on the table/ mat during the COVID lockdown which we read regularly in The Fiji Times is a stark reminder that Fiji is an integral part of the world capitalist system.

It’s a cash-based society.

When people do not have adequate cash income, because of COVID job loss or drastically reduced earnings, they are faced with hardship and struggle to make ends meet.

That’s the reality.

Hope people who tend to demonise the poor have gained a better perspective in light of the many who have joined the ranks of the poor during COVID.

Rajend Naidu, Sydney, Australia

Lockdown issue

Respectfully, very thoughtfully and heavy-heartedly, in my humble view as a very concerned retiree, had Sugar City, Lautoka or Jetset Town, Nadi reported 12 new overnight COVID cases, I am quietly confident we would have been subjected to an immediate 14-day lockdown.

Humbly, I stand corrected.

Allow me to sincerely thank both Dr James Fong and Dr Alisha Sahu Khan for all your monumental efforts and sacrifices keeping Fiji safe.

Some will definitely not appreciate this.

Ronnie Chang, Martintar, Nadi

COVID-19 vaccination

Every day we hear that so many people are infected by COVID-19 in our small country.

Our population is not even one million and yet we have so many COVID-19 cases.

The Government is trying it’s best to control the spread of the epidemic and we all should follow the advice given.

However, a full lockdown is quite imminent.

I would suggest now is the time for the Government to start full swing COVID-19 vaccination going house to house and the frontline people as the starting point.

We should be able to control this spread within one month of giving the jabs.

Nardeo Mishra, Suva

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