February 19, 2010

Why Daylight Savings In Fiji Always Was A Bad Idea

When the military regime announced the introduction of daylight savings scheme in November last year, the illegal Attorney General and Minister for Tourism made the case that:
"from the information available, the implementation of daylight saving in 1998 and 1999 received very encouraging response from the people and the business community.

"Apart from availability of more daylight time for sport, leisure and shopping, the working people are able to spend quality daylight time in the afternoons and evenings with their family and loved ones, including engaging in healthy activities such as gardening or going for a walk.
So the justification we were sold was that a Government driven policy like this would automatically change citizen's lifestyles. And here we would have to say how untrue and overly simplistic such a statement was. 

Citizens despite a longer day still decide how and when they use their free time. If walking, quality time, gardening was never part of their daily routine anyway, there is no way in hell that daylight savings could or would ever change their routine.

Khaiyum further added that:
"In 1999, the Ministry of Labour reported that there was an overall increase in economic activity and productive work as a result of daylight saving."
Ahhh that would have to be another lie as well. The ONLY reason (and productivity had nothing to do with it) why the Rabuka Govt moved the clocks in 1999 was a tourism ploy to be able to sell the fact that "Fiji would meet the new millenium first". Unfortunately Rabuka's Government forgot how international datelines worked and it was actually Kiribati who welcomed the new millenium before we did.

Then we get to the heart of the matter tucked away behind the drivel. The SOLE  reason why the majority of this country is inconvenienced (not just the poor kids) is because of the tourism lobby:
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said that the re-introduction of daylight saving will also benefit the tourism industry, with the tourists being able to make the most out of their visit in Fiji by getting additional daylight time during the afternoons and evenings and engaging in shopping.
And the tourism lobby gives it away by being one of the first to laud the move.

Unfortunately the unintelligent and unresearched thinking from the tourism lobby was never checked out. Tourists come here to get away from any form of timed routine and basically follow the sun -- whether it sets at 5pm or 6pm. If they want longer hours to shop then it falls on those shops to simply extend their opening hours to cater for their whims. It should not be imposed on the remaining majority to suffer needlessly.

We wonder if the military regime realized just how discouraging the impact of daylight savings is on sugar cane farmers and rural subsistence farmers who prefer to carry out their labour intensive (and nation building let's not forget) role and avoid the energy-sapping intensity of the sun -- which is why they are up before the crack of dawn and return to have breakfast and rest while the sun is up, only to return later in the day when the intense heat has dissipated.

So  instead of reversing the bad idea that benefits only approximately 10% of people living in the country, they being the inexperienced, illegal and tunnel-visioned policy makers that they are, think that by moving the school hours back by an hour its all going to be all good.

Well that flawed thinking forgets about some really simple details such as:
  • For rural families, the normal chores carried out pre-dinner by children will not be able to be accommodated as they'll still be stuck in school, possibly setting back the entire family routine;
  • For urban kids starting later they still may not get to school on time because parents who still have to be at work at 8am are not around to crack the whip;
  • For urban dwellers the morning rush hour traffic congestions might be reduced but the traffic congestion will spike in the afternoon as workers and students are all clamouring for return transport home on the same roads. Thus any "quality time" is chewed up queueing on the roads; and
  • What happens to urban kids who travel with parents daily (either by car-pool, cab or private car) will the Government now foot the bill for the now double daily travel expense?
But the most fundamental of questions that the military regime needs to ask is this -- has national productivity actually increased from daylight savings and if so by how much?

And specifically we would be interested in ascertaining:
  • How much tourism earnings have increased within the few months of daylight savings to justify the national inconvenience; and 
  • What percentage of these earnings are positively circulating in the domestic economy as opposed to the percentage being directly siphoned out off-shore.
Let's not forget that daylight savings for bigger countries really makes sense because they  have active and diverse lifestyles and in their routine it is easy for their citizens to waste up to 2-4 hours--each way--just travelling to work. So having a longer day really does improve their quality of life.

A cut and paste approach for Fiji is just inappropriate.


    Anonymous said...

    I have visited Fiji as a tourist and on business. I like the mornings in Fiji when the air is cool and you can smell the freshness of nature just before sunrise. I like to have an early breakfast to make the most of the day. So I wake early and go for an hour's walk before breakfast.
    Daylight saving means I'll be walking in the dark - no thanks.
    Daylight saving is good in higher latitude countries like NZ because in summer sunrise is at 4am and to moving this to 5am does not matter. But closer to the equator the sun rises later all year round.
    Haven't the people in your government had any schooling?

    Anonymous said...

    @ Anonymous 20.15 - apparently they've had schooling, some with even quite impressive credentials. Still, they couldn't hide the fact that beneath all that fancy schooling and exposure, they're all of the wrong KIND - common thugs, thieves, murderers and usurpers. Hence - find the need to hide behind obedient toy soldiers holding guns; close ranks amongst themselves; and ensured that pro-democracy/freedom fighters and initial dissenters were suppressed and terrorized to an extent in order that they be made "an example" to rest of the population.

    For had they not done so, you'd hve every dissenting man, woman, youth and their dog, spelling it out straight up via print/broadcast media etc, or even in person, how these incompetent, thieving thugs had undeservingly benefited their entire adult lives riding the gravy train and done sweet FA about the changes they're now harping on about...oh yeah, u bet!

    About the idiotic changes re daylight saving time - most parents here will still deliver their kids to school before 8am since that's when they start work anyway.

    So what difference does it make, moving classes back by an hour - NONE. Kids will be playing and running around school for a full hour and get themselves all untidy before classes even begin for the day. What a joke.