Vol. 5 No. 2
NORMALCY - AND ITS MEANING
By the editor: Reggie Dutt
OVER the past two weeks a lot has been said about returning the troubled nation of Fiji to "normalcy".
One can ask what normalcy?
President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara said the country would return to normalcy soon after the rebels took the former government hostage. He ended up handing power to the military.
The army commander said he would work to bring the country to normalcy. But did that bring any type of normalcy?
Nothing more than soldiers at every other junction in Suva and around the country. How normal is that?
Can you say that the USP students coming back from the “brought forward” mid-year break will have their lives back as normal?
What about the academics and the lecturers who have been unsettled by the crisis situation in Fiji?
If we are to take the university life as a narrowed down example, there are a lot of ways in which the negative consequences will be seen.
There are already academics who are considering leaving the country. The university personnel manager says most of those considering leaving are senior members. And one does not have to spell out who is in the losing seat. Yes, firstly, it will be the students from Fiji who lose out, but foremost, it is the regional students.
No matter how much the university may reassure them about their safety, there will always be a notion of fear and uncertainity to deal with. What kinds of repercussions is this going to have on students’ studies is also yet to be seen. It was the uncertainity of the crisis situation that led to the university to bring forward the mid-year break.
The Vice-Chancellor said it would be hard for students as well as staff to concentrate on their work while the crisis persisted.
Now, if and when the regional students return depends on the resolution of the situation here in Fiji. Whether their academic lives here at USP can be restored to “normalcy” remains to be seen.
Normalcy to the Fiji economy? That is going to be tough and the trend of decisions made recently don’t sound very promising. If the Fiji dollar is going to be devalued, the first people who will reconsider their positions will be the expatriate academics — they have to look at their financial abilities to stay here, says the USP personnel manager.
The imminent economic sanctions also don’t bode well for the country and the region. Because Fiji is central in region, a lot of other Pacific nations depend on her for trade and what effects economic sanctions will have on Fiji could well drip on to the rest of the region.
USP is just a small part of the picture here but it being based here in Fiji means that Fiji has an extra responsiblity to provide adequate personal security and safety. And how much significance Fiji’s administrators’ calls for normalcy have on the region, will be interesting indeed.
— The Editor
File created: 3 June 2000
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