You will see that this letter is sent to you in my name. Other than that you know absolutely nothing about me or my circumstances. In fact, I am quite sure that you know next to nothing about any FNPF pensioners – each is merely an FNPF ‘number’. The Nazis gave numbers to the inmates of concentration camps – they didn’t care about who those people were, either. 

You are aware of the huge turnout at the latest hearings. You cannot have missed the fact that there was even a walk-out in Labasa. Your senior pensioner scapegoat is now invalid; because the ‘little pensioners’ are mad as hell, not at the big pensioners, but at you, the board. They see, all too clearly, that if you go for the big fish, the little fish have no hope. They know all too well that a thing done once can easily be done again.

This whole ‘reform’ saga has been a comedy of errors right from the start – a start which the members knew nothing of until they were called upon to offer submissions to the board concerning a necessary FNPF reform. Only, of course, that is not strictly correct, since for the past decade and more letters to the Editors of our daily rags plugged away consistently at the need for reform and those warnings, many of them penned by Mrs Talei Burness, were blatantly ignored – how ironic is that? 

The initial call for submissions was a sham and that fact was blatantly obvious. Right from the start the FNPF knew where it was going and how to get there. Two sets of circumstances were manipulated to ensure that the fund would ultimately be wrested from its owners, that is, the members.

1: The FNPF fund was mismanaged for many years; especially by the Qarase govt. Something had to be done to ensure the future of the FNPF. We are all agreed on that point.

2: The FNPF board (or one, or two, or a few disgruntled board members) has a problem swallowing the idea of a small number of high pensions at the top. It sticks in their craw and eats away at them. In the process, it has undermined their sense of right and wrong, good and bad, justice and injustice; and replaced these merits with the base sentiments of envy, resentment, and covetousness. 

Point #1 above: Where pensioners differ from the board is that they should have been consulted from the beginning. The FNPF board had no right to arbitrarily dictate to the members. Members were telling the board the FNPF was in trouble precisely during the times that the board was Okaying huge loans on top of more loans to govt which to this day have not been repaid. 

Point #2 above: Ignoring the fact that those receiving higher pensions had put in more working years and therefore larger contributions – and ignoring the fact that these are the pensioners who for the most part are tertiary educated, and in some cases did not (and do not) enjoy security of tenure, the board targets them as the scapegoat, misrepresenting them to both lower pensioners and new members as leeches sucking the blood out of the FNPF. A brilliant tactic one would think. A) reform the FNPF while B) blaming senior pensioners and C) cutting down tall poppies which D) will blind new pensioners to the fact that in 30 years time their pensions will be lower than today’s poverty line! But best of all? You pull the rug out from under those pensioners who dare to enjoy an ‘over-generous’ pension. 

Now how can a pension possibly be ‘over-generous’? By what yard-stick? Whose yard-stick? FNPF pensions are not a gift from the big benevolent FNPF! Those pensions are an entitlement – a return on investment! One would think that a board managing an investment pension scheme would be able to understand that – on the other hand, that lack of understanding is the reason for the problem in the first place. The bottom line is simply that those on higher pensions paid bigger personal contributions, which in turn required the employers to pay larger contributions, resulting in higher pensions. What is so hard to understand about that? Perhaps future FNPF board members need their mathematics ability to be more carefully assessed. 

Mr Taito, especially, has pensioners baffled and his ears must be burning since he is the main subject of pensioners’ discussions. At the public meeting on Tuesday 29th November he told those assembled who were asking questions that they had had 6 months to make their points. This, conveniently forgetting that most of those points had been made at the first meetings, and that since then letters to the editor regarding the FNPF were not printed by order of govt. The FNPF board is NOT interested in what the pensioners have to say. 

Then again, Mr Taito does not answer a straight question. One feels for him since, perhaps, he might not have been given any answers and is as much a scapegoat as the pensioners are. Nobody would willingly want to make himself look so silly in public – would they?  

The Fiji Times reports (2/12 – page 4) A pensioner who declined to be named, said he preferred the new change…WHAT BLATANT ARRANT RUBBISH! We are not so stupid as to swallow an idiotic stupidity put out by the FNPF. This anonymous pensioner is clearly a mouthpiece of the FNPF. He’s a stooge! A stool-pigeon! Grey Power has more Grey Matter than to swallow such garbage. 

You are losing support, FNPF, big time. You are losing trust. You have lost all credibility. It would not surprise us if there were a future movement against joining the FNPF – after all, one may as well throw one’s money into the Nabukalou Creek, there to fester and feed the fish. 

But let us return to those low-pension members – the faceless ones with numbers. These pensioners are not the sole beneficiaries of their pension. Rare indeed is the pensioner who has only himself or herself to care for. And the FNPF has no idea of their circumstances – no idea of their debts and medical needs. You should have, and could have, asked and this furore would have been averted. 

Of course you could not have taken every single pensioner’s plight to heart. But you could have shown a human face. A caring, thoughtful, fair and just remedy could have been and can still be found. 

It is likely that a majority of the FNPF board and management have a belief in a supreme being. They will attend their churches and mosques and temples. They will subscribe to their religious belief in loving and caring for each other.

But unfortunately, this does not seems to extend to an acceptance, tolerance, and respect for those who are older and wiser. It does not extend to those pensioners who made it possible, for those who are younger, to enjoy the fruits of THEIR labour in aFijithat THEY made possible for you. AFijiwhich, through the fruits of their labour can offer you today so many more choices and chances than they had when they set out on life’s arduous road. 

You, the board members of the FNPF seem to have no compunction in tipping senior pensioners into the garbage truck. Their contributions are ignored and discarded. We ask you this, ‘Where is your humanity?’ You have no knowledge whatsoever of the harm, the distress, the pain, and medical discomfort you are subjecting these people to – people who at their age need more care rather than less. Do you realise how many pensioners have mortgages and stand to lose everything? Have you thought of the problems you will heap upon the heads of the children of these senior pensioners who will now be responsible for up to 4 extra parents to feed and care for? Where is your humanity? Humanity? I am proud to be an atheist. 

So, thank you to the board of the FNPF for waking us up to the fact that our work effort was in vain. Our dream of a secure and happy retirement was in vain. Our hope that we would be able to manage our inevitable health problems when insurance was no longer an option was in vain. Our belief that we lived in a humane, just and lawful society was in vain. We should have taken our pensions and run elsewhere and many of us will surely urge those of our loved ones who have that option to do so. 

Thanks for nothing, FNPF.