What on earth are Fiji’s current FNPF pensioners to make of the inauguration of The Fiji National Policy on Ageing which was launched on the 19th December by the United Nations Population Fund Pacific sub-regional director Mr Dirk Jena? 

What are we to make of the reports on the launch in yesterday’s Sun and Fiji Times? Bizarre comes to mind and of course Ironic – but more to the point would be Sick Joke because 2012 has been declared the Year of the Ageing, and to commemorate this the government has decreed that many pensioners will be pushed into poverty.

What irony – we are the first country in the Pacific to launch a policy to safeguard the elderly while at the same time planning to cut the pensions of most of our current pensioners as a Year of the Ageing joke in March 2012. 

The 4 main ‘visions’ of the policy include ‘Recognition of the contribution of older people to the social, cultural, economic and political sectors of society’. It is a pity that the board of the FNPF does not agree.

Along with this policy, a National Council for Older Persons will be established next year, to ‘oversee, implement and monitor the goals and objectives contained in the policy’. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah – just more hot air. It is yet another Committee for Fabrication of Flatulence. 

Did you know that Fiji’s Council of Social Services has a ‘HelpAge Centre’? Its executive director, one Hassan Khan, has a lot to say about this new policy of actually acknowledging that people over 60 really do exist. Quote…The dignity and security of the older people encompasses the rights of older citizens to live lifestyles of their choice…What? 

Mr Khan has more to say…older people who have time, talent, experience, energy, motivation, passion and commitment…Come again? But then he really puts his foot in it because according to him…The dignity and security of older people meant…NOT LOSING THE BENEFITS FROM THE YEARS THEY HAVE WORKED! 

Where have you been, Mr Khan, during all these months whileFiji’s current pensioners fought hard to retain their pensions? Why were you not at those farcical and fruitless meetings between the FNPF and its pensioners? Why did you not speak up? And have you no idea of the effect that those words have on those who are about to lose their security, lifestyle and dignity? Of all people, you would have been a most appropriate champion of the pensioners’ cause, but you kept silent for too long and spoke too late, Mr Khan. 

HelpAge Fijiwill be joining HelpAge International to commemorate the Year of the Ageing next year which is also the 10th anniversary of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, or MIPAA. Just another production of the CFF (see above). 

Meanwhile, the FT reports at some length on the United Nations Population Division’s ageing forecast. Basically human beings are going to be living longer by 2050, which means there will be more elderly people on the planet. The problem is that this is actually viewed as the problem. The inference is not ‘Wow! There will be more old people around in the future with all their experience and expertise’. No, the inference is ‘Oh shit! There will be many more old and useless people in future hanging around past their use-by date’. 

And this, from the editorial in the Sun (20/12), which opines that the ‘sadly lacking’ consideration for the ageing might be …’because of competing priorities for the Government or other stakeholders.’ You said it, Mr Editor!