Apr 10, 2021 Last Updated 4:12 AM, Apr 8, 2021

Watch that size

OBESITY continues to be a problem which must be addressed if we are to build a healthier region. For this obesity will eventually lead to high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

Across the Pacific, lifestyles are changing rapidly. Throughout the region you can find hamburgers, fried chicken, pizza and carbohydrate-loaded, grease saturated food in every town and city.Food is a thriving business and that’s reflected in the literally growing size of the population. Most recently the United States and Australia have face problems with childhood obesity.

Our children also lead increasingly sedentary lifestyles. With cars available to more families, many students no longer need to walk to school. After class, students spend their leisure hours in front of electronic games or internet screens in the arcades which have sprung up in our towns and cities. Or they are at home in front of the television, playing electronic games or surfing the Internet.

Gone are the days when neighbourhood children would gather in the nearby park or vacant lot for a game of soccer or touch rugby. Gone are the days when boys would make and fly kites, using the grounds of the nearest school as an extended back yard.

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Time for tolerance

WITH the decriminalisation in Nauru of homosexuality under the Crimes Decree, many questions will surface from concerned individuals and civil society organizations. There will be a number of nongovernment organisations which fully support the decriminalisation of the sexual activities of gays, lesbians and people of transgender.

Many conservative Christian churches will, however, take a hard stance against this new approach by the law. Under the old laws which governed Nauru and much of the Pacific, sodomy – now known as men having sex with men – was considered a criminal act.

This is not the case under Nauru’s new laws. Two men who have consensual sex cannot be prosecuted because their actions are not considered criminal. Women having sex with persons of the same danger have never been considered to be taking part in a criminal activity.

Whatever individuals may believe about gay, lesbian and transgender sexual activities, the fact remains that the law now allows for people of the same sex to have intimate relationships. To object to the new laws by claiming that such activities never happened in the past would be an act of hypocrisy. Research shows that consensual homosexual activities, especially among Pacific men, have existed for hundreds of years.

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Walk the talk

LAST month Fiji marked the 137th year of the arrival of the first Indian labourers under the indenture system. Just under 61,000 labourers were transported to Fiji from India beginning in 1879 under what was to become known as the girmit (from the English word, agreement). On the backs of those labourers, Fiji’s once thriving and lucrative sugar industry was built. From the blood, sweat and tears of these proud, industrious people was built the economy which made Fiji a jewel in the crown of the British Empire.

Without that industry, independence would not have been a viable option for Fiji in 1970. This year ceremonies to mark the arrival of the Leonidas and its human cargo on May 15, 1879, were presided over by Fiji’s first non-indigenous president, Major-General Jioji (George) Konrote. He paid tribute to the labourers and their descendants. Konrote said the day was important and marked the vast contribution of these pioneer indentured labourers towards the socio-cultural and economic to Fiji.

Konrote said it was befitting that the occasion was celebrated on a national scale as the entire nation had benefitted from the labour and sacrifices of the first indentured labourers.

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A call to action

REGIONAL leaders have greeted the outcome of the Paris Climate Change talks with a sense of jubilation. In fact, there is a little euphoria in the region after developing countries agreed to keep the global temperature below two degrees Celsius. Many were excited that the deal came very close to what they had wanted - a temperature rise limited to 1.5 degrees.

Papua New Guinea Planning Minister Charles Abel recognised that the final agreement was a watered down version of the Pacific’s wishes. But he saw the agreement as mostly positive for PNG and its Pacific island neighbours. Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga saw the Paris outcomes as an indictment on Kiribati President Anote Tong and those who met Barack Obama on the side lines of the event to hammer out individual deals.

Perhaps Pacific leaders are happy that – after the dismal failure of talks in Copenhagen in 2010 – there has been international recognition of our low-lying atolls and exposed coastlines. There will be some satisfaction with the success of the advocacy undertaken by Pacific countries jointly and individually in an effort to effect attitudinal changes in the leaders of the developed world.

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