Dear Ms Smith-Johns 

The following is a copy of an email dated  11 September 2011 that I forwarded to Mr Kodagoda the Chairman of the Fiji National Provident Fund.  I have not had any response to this email.  The contents of the email are self explanatory. 

Since forwarding this email I have seen news items about FNPF, FNPF advertisements, and letters to the editor about the proposed reforms and I have  spoken with the Fiji Times and they advise sometimes the censors let FNPF items through for publication and other times they will not permit them. 

I would be grateful if you could advise if, we the pensioners who are going to be disadvantaged by the proposed reforms, may have our views expressed in the media either through news items or paid advertisements, and if not,  why not. 

Thank you for your assistance. 

Yours sincerely 

RG McDonald
(Pensioner)

There has been no response from MS Smith-Johns

Dear Mr Kodagoda and associates 

I refer to my email of 19 August 2011 to which I have not received a reply. 

For the past four to five weeks  I have been reading your full page advertisements placed in the media   and noted the comments you have made concerning the proposed FNPF Reforms.  At this point I will not make any detailed response to the points you raise, even though they are filled with contradiction and uncertainty and simply raise further questions  about  exactly what FNPF intends to do in these reforms, as your intent is far from certain, and clearly you are undecided on the way forward.

 It is good that you publish these comments so that pensioners and members are able to have an understanding of the cuts in pension   FNPF will make in implementing these reforms and also to see the confusion and uncertainty of your intent. 

Unfortunately this has become a one sided argument as whilst FNPF is able to publish its views in the media, pensioners, members and other interested parties who have a vital interest in these reforms are unable to have their views published in the same way. 

Thus I am unable to respond to your comments by taking a full page advertisement as these are being refused publication by the censors. 

This to me seems to be very unreasonable and unfair as the media is not able to publish a balanced discussion on the proposed Reforms expressing all points of view  which is the very essence of any open debate and good journalism…….….to have both sides of the argument. 

I note from your advertisement of 3 September 2011 in The Fiji Times that you go on to state in the right hand column, second paragraph  that……quote…” The Board supported by the Government, must take decisive action to put FNPF on a proper footing once and for all”…..…unquote. 

It seems to me that for FNPF and Government to make the right decisions that there needs to be a truly open and public debate so that pensioners and members can also openly contribute and have their views published in the media, just as FNPF is able to do.  There needs to be healthy discussion between interested parties and interviews on TV and the radio.  In this way all views can be considered and debated and consensus agreed on the way forward. 

I for one have had my letters refused publication as a letter to the editor, or as a paid advertisement by the Editor of the  Fiji Times  and have been advised these have been refused by the censors.  I am aware of other pensioners and interested parties  who have also had their letters  refused  publication by the media.  This is unfair and unreasonable as there are a significant number of interested persons who are unable to have their views known and to be taken into consideration in deciding on the reforms.  

 Indeed, if Government and FNPF do not take into consideration the views of all, the wrong decision will be made, and  this will lead to exactly the  same situation that you claim now exists because those making the decision were not fully informed of all of the facts and potential ramifications of the proposed changes, and FNPF will make the wrong decision because of this. 

The proposed reforms to FNPF are not a political matter, but very much a social welfare issue that will impact on all pensioners and members, and the community at large, therefore the widest range of views and opinions need to be obtained in deciding this very important issue.  Censors do not need to be involved. 

I therefore request that as …………“ the Board is supported by the Government” …. in the proposed reforms,  that you seek the approval of Government to allow a free and open debate on the proposed reforms so that the views of pensioners, members, all interested parties and the FNPF can be debated in public.  

Please ask the Government to instruct the censors  to allow publication of letters and views on the proposed changes so that there can be a healthy public debate on the reforms which can only assist the final decision to be fair and reasonable to all, so that the correct decisions  are made,  as all views will have been taken into consideration.   

Would you please confirm you have forwarded this request to Government. 

Yours sincerely 

RG McDonald

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