Thursday, 29 January 2009

being indian in fiji

i'm thinking that it's going to be pretty sad preparing financial statements and tax returns for the 2009 financial year. on the bright side, there will be 1 october 2008 tax cuts to reduce the tax bill. but offset against this is:

- much lower interest income, particularly for senior citizens, as interest rates have fallen
- significant loss of capital due the closure of so many finance companies
- significant loss of capital due to the fall in share prices
- loss of income in the retail and service sectors due to a slowing economy
- significantly reduced income from the much lower dairy payout

it won't be a very pretty picture, and many people will be getting tax refunds. this is not a good thing, despite what people might tell you. tax refunds only happen when your income is low or non-existent, and while they provide a little bit of cash relief, it's not anywhere near the relief of earning a decent income.

so, workwise, it's not looking like a very happy year.

these posts at kiwipolitico on the situation in fiji got me thinking. almost every fijian indian i come across in nz is a firm support of mr bainimarama, and extremely angry at the response of the labour-led government to the latest coup. the best conversation i had about the whole issue was with one of our district court judges of fijian indian heritage, soon after the latest coup.

he covered some of the issues that kiwipolitico raises, and in particular the fact that prior to the coup, fijian democracy was not a "one person, one vote" system. as far as he was concerned this was not a true democracy, so why had the nz government failed to take action in demanding a move to true democracy prior to the coup? he saw it as a completely hypocritical stance.

i think what the fijian indian community would like to see from nz is some support in helping the country move to a true democracy, rather than the rather than the pushy, demanding stance that we see at present. as an aside, i wonder how this community is feeling, after watching john key follow exactly the same line as helen clark & winston peters. this was a community that voted for a change, but there hasn't been any.

one of the interesting issues about fiji is the tension between the indigenous population and a migrant population - well, migrant from 100 years or so back. the current generation are all locally born and bred, as were their parents and grandparents. the difference with this migrant population is that they were never colonisers. in fact, they were almost as much victim of the colonial empire as the indigenous population were.

and so the fijian indian population, it seems to me, feel hard done by in being made to suffer as if they are outsiders. especially when they have been there for several generations, and when they didn't go about stealing land or siphoning off major resources to the home country. in fact, most of them have now pretty much lost touch with the home country.

it reminds a little of the situation in pakistan (of which i don't know much, really, other than at the most superficial level). a lot of the population of pakistan are of indian origin, having migrated at or around the time of partition. but even to this day, even though it's now a couple of generations since then, this part of the population are called "muhajirun" ie migrants, and as far as i know, are discriminated against on that basis.

it raises the question: at what point do migrants become accepted as part of the country they're living in? at what point can you demand to have the same rights and recognition as everyone else in the country, given that you have worked hard and paid your taxes and contributed to the country?

it's a difficult question, to be balanced against the issue of indigenous rights, and redress for what the indigenous population have lost. i find it especially difficult when i fully support the waitangi tribunal and crown settlements; when i fully support the apology given by kevin rudd and think it's about time they followed it up with serious money; and when i've argued with lebanese australians that the current government should pay up even though neither they nor their ancestors had anything to do with the actions that required an apology. i support indigenous people's rights, but i can't find it in myself to support what was happening in fiji prior to this latest coup.

not that a military coup and dictatorship is the answer. but i'll go back to the conclusions over at kiwipolitico: there are some serious issues to be dealt with here, and there is no point in pushing for a quick solution. especially if that solution will only lead to another coup in a few years time.


Berita dari gunung said...

Life is never easy anywhere. Even Myanmar's Rohingyas are tossed as toys.

Lets work out for a better life wherever we are.

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