Chaudhry nominated as FLP leader for election

10:30 TodayTaken from/By: FBC NewsReport by: Shanal Sivan

Convicted Fiji Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry has nominated himself as the person who will lead the FLP into the elections. The FLP filed its nomination in the last hour with fourty-two candidates. Chaudhry confirmed to FBC News outside the Fijian Elections Office that he remains party leader and will stay on until his legal battle is complete. Under the Electoral Decree Chaudhry is not eligible to contest the elections and this throws into question whether party nomination signed under his name will be valid. Appeals and objections to party nominations will be finalized by Friday. The Social Democratic Liberal Party is currently at the Elections Office filing its nomination. One of the first parties to lodge it’s nominations on the final day today was the National Federation Party. The deadline for nominations is 12pm. – See more at: http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/22261/chaudhry-nominated-as-flp-leader-for-election#sthash.xf9h6pGq.dpuf

GCC rearing its head as a major electoral concern

Mixed reactions to GCC

Nasik Swami
Saturday, August 16, 2014

THE latest Tebbutt-Times Poll has canvassed the issue of the reinstatement of the Great Council of Chiefs and poll results are showing mixed reactions.

When asked should the GCC be restored, out of the 1047 surveyed in urban and peri urban areas of Suva, Nasinu, Lami, Nausori, Nadi, Lautoka and Ba between August 4 and 6, 2014, 33 per cent said they did not want the reinstatement of the GCC while 15 per cent said they did not care.

A total of 48 percent of the people surveyed in the poll said they wanted the reinstatement of the GCC while 4 per cent refused to provide their opinion on the question.

The results noted differences in opinion gender and ethnicity wise, with females more likely than males to support restoration (51 per cent and 44 per cent respectively).

A total of 65 per cent of the iTaukei population surveyed said they wanted the reinstatement of the GCC and 30 per cent of the Fijians of Indian decent supported its reinstatement.

The survey also highlighted that the younger generation (18 per cent) between the ages of 18 to 24 years said they did not care about the reinstatement of the GCC.

The poll results also revealed that more females (51 per cent) and fewer males (44 per cent) said they wanted the reinstatement of the GCC.

Eligibility of candidates for elections and the Mickey Mouse games

 

Dear Sir

Mr Aiyaz Khaiyum advises NGOs like Citizens Constitutional Forum to not play “Mickey Mouse games” before the elections (Fiji Sun, 5 August 2014).  The public should consider that:

(a) The Bainimarama Government has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers money encouraging the voter registration of Fiji citizens living overseas so that they can have a say in electing some candidate for the parliament, even if they have Permanent Residency of and presumably some commitment to other countries.

(b) Civil servants, even if they have been out of the country for the last two years “on government business”, may still be eligible as candidates for the elections, and may even belong to political parties, according to the Permanent Secretary of the PSC.

(c) BUT an ordinary Fiji citizen, like Ms Makareta Waqavonovono, a former Legal Aid and committed senior Fiji government official, who has been overseas for more than 18 months out of the last two years, is declared legally ineligible to be a candidate by a sudden last minute change of the law on the 31st of July 2014, just a month before the elections, after Ms Waqavonovono has already been announced as a candidate by the National Federation Party.

The moribund Fiji Law Society or one of its members, might want to ask the general question if laws are being changed to suit a specific circumstance or individual.

But more specifically, the public can ask why Ms Makareta Waqavonovono, a former senior civil servant, has been overseas for the last two years.

First, she has been guilty of bringing great credit to Fiji by working for AusAID and the Australian Government, arguably the most important donor to Fiji.

Second, she has been using her valuable legal skills in the Solomon Islands, a valuable member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group which Fiji often takes pride in helping, by providing much needed skilled human resources, similar to those possessed by Ms Waqavonovono.

Third, Ms Waqavonovono apparently has had the unpatriotic desire to waste her time and money by studying overseas (in Australia) and acquiring further educational qualifications that will undoubtedly be of great benefit to Fiji.

But with this latest decree by Mr Aiyaz Khaiyum (Attorney General and, apparently without any conflict of interest, also the General Secretary of the Fiji First Party), Ms Waqavonovono has been banned from offering to voters, the use of her extensive legal experience in the Fiji Parliament, the most important public service arena there is, superior even to the Government..

Anyone with common sense knows who exactly is playing “Mickey Mouse” games in Fiji with the elections and our people’s lives.

 

Professor Wadan Narsey

Amnesty International: Fiji must end “climate of fear”

Friday, August 8, 2014

Amnesty International: Fiji must end “climate of fear”

Amnesty International has issued a damning report which calls for the restoration of basic human rights in Fiji, including those of free expression and a free press. “A combination of draconian laws, a pattern of intimidation and harassment of those who are critical of the government, as well as reports of torture and other ill-treatment by the security forces,” it points out, “have created a climate of fear.”

The report comes six weeks before the country is to hold elections intended to restore democracy after almost eight years of military rule. The Amnesty report casts doubt on whether the elections will be free and fair, however, given regime-imposed restrictions on basic human rights, including freedoms of expression, association, assembly, and the press. “Those rights still remain restricted in law, policy and practice, therefore deterring people from speaking freely,” the report states. “Fiji’s current government must commit to protecting and respecting human rights in the lead up to elections, including by lifting restrictions on freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association and refraining from acts of intimidation or harassment against political candidates, civil society organizations, journalists and others.” Amnesty points to the multitudinous decrees imposed by the regime that restrict basic human rights.

Amnesty International is concerned that the government continues to use decrees to criminalize peaceful political activities and to arrest, detain, fine and imprison people for the peaceful exercise of their human rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. Further, human rights defenders, journalists and trade union leaders inFiji continue to face harassment and intimidation solely for carrying out their legitimate work peacefully.

The decrees include the Public Order Amendment Decree, the Crimes Decree, and the Media Decree, which include “hefty” fines and even imprisonment for people exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. “A journalist may face two years in prison for publishing something which is not in the ‘public interest,’” the report notes. “A person may be imprisoned for five years for saying something which ‘undermines the economy of Fiji.’ In addition to this, a person attending a public meeting without a permit or who breaches permit conditions can be imprisoned for up to five years and fined $10,000.”

Heavy fines and jail terms can be imposed on the media for publications that “threaten the public interest or order, is against national interest, offends good taste or creates communal discord.” Collectively, these restrictions in law, policy and practice have compromised frank and fearless media reporting.

Contempt of court proceedings have also been used to stifle expression, the report points out, and concerns have been raised about the independence of media outlets, “including a failure to provide equal space to different political candidates and refusal to publish letters or articles which are critical of the government.” The restrictions, combined with heavy fines for breaching the regulations imposing them, have “stifled open debate on key matters of national interest.”

The media must be empowered to publish a diverse range of views, including criticism of government or of political candidates, without fear of retribution. To achieve this, the government should lift existing restrictions on the media and ensure that journalists will not be subject to prosecution, intimidation or harassment for the peaceful exercise of their right to express and publish diverse views.

The report also points to a number of people who have been “subjected to politically-motivated charges for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, resulting in lengthy and costly court battles, including criminal charges against two former Prime Ministers.” A student recently had his government scholarship revoked for “associating in political agendas,” notes the report, “after he had spent a day volunteering with an independent opposition candidate for elections.” It also highlights the arrest of protesters calling for changes in the Constitution and calling for the government’s budget to be made public in 2013 and the refusal of permission for a number of planned peaceful protests. “In addition, the police have disbanded a number of private meetings, including an internal staff meeting of the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (July 2012) and private gatherings of politicians,” the report notes. “These cases show a disturbing pattern of interference with the right to peaceful assembly and association.”

The Fiji Times . . . deluxe forever

The report calls on the regime to repeal provisions of the Constitution, Public Order Amendment Decree, Media Industry Development Decree, and the Crimes Decree which criminalize freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. It also notes that the rights to form or join a trade union and to collectively bargain, while supposedly protected in the Constitution, have been rendered “almost meaningless” by regime decrees. The Essential National Industries Decree severely curtails the right to strike, bans overtime payments and voids existing collective agreements for workers in key sectors of the economy, including sugar, aviation and tourism. The Political Parties Decree, the Electoral Decree, and the Constitution prevent trade union officials from engaging in political activity or even campaigning on issues such as workers’ rights. “Amnesty International is deeply concerned at the failure to respect workers’ rights in Fiji, including through restrictions on freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association for workers,” states the report, noting that a a high-level mission from the International Labour Organisation was expelled from Fiji in 2012. “The ILO has identified Fiji as one of five countries where workers’ rights violations are the most serious and urgent.”

It also condemns recent instances of torture, which were condoned by Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, and interference by the government with judges and lawyers contrary to international law and standards. It points to the arbitrary removal of judges, lack of security of tenure, and reports of executive interference in the judiciary. “Collectively, this undermines the independence of the judiciary. An independent judiciary is critical to ensuring that victims of human rights violations can seek redress through national courts.” The report does commit one embarrasing gaffe, attributing a statement made by NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad to Bainimarama. “On 12 June 2014, Prime Minister Bainimarama stated on Fiji One TV, ‘People who are opinion makers, academics, NGOs, trade union officials, they’ve all been banned from taking part in political activities and actually talking about the issues.’” Oops, that was Biman. It didn’t sound like something Frank would say. . . .

Amnesty also published on its website a blog entry by a student activist in Fiji who pointed to the suppression of the draft constitution drawn up by an independent commission almost two years ago and the withholding of several years worth of Auditor General’s reports as evidence of political repression. “Once again the lacking consent and genuinity [sic.] behind such actions, leaves us in a state of repressed dissatisfaction, frustration and worst of all, disempowerment,” lamented Jope Tarai.

The fact that the Ghai draft constitution was thrown out, after it inadvertently provided opposing views to the regime, indicates the continuing possibility of genuinely laid plans for participation and engagement of the people, to be subjected to the regime’s whims and self-serving interests, at a drop of a hat. . .  . The old Bainimarama one-liner and overused cliché of shaming all old politicians as being corrupt and deceitful, now leaves him no different from them, as he has become the same politician that he loves to malign.

Coup apologists are predictably furious, especially Crosbie Walsh, who claims that Amnesty has been “hoodwinked” by Fiji informants. “I  have donated to Amnesty International for many years but have now stopped,” spat Croz on his blog. “This article provides an example of why I have changed my opinion about the quality of their work.”

Their assessment of theFiji situation is based on reports from those opposed to the Bainimarama Government. Their allegations are dated, exaggerated, and they appear to make no efforts to verify what they are told. AA was not formed to take sides during an election campaign.

No, Amnesty International was formed to shine a light on human rights violations worldwide, and it has rightly highlighted ongoing and relentless outrages in Fiji. Croz, who quit the blogging game late last year but has recently made a comeback for the election campaign, seems to be saying that those opposed to Bainimarama should not be listened to, making him a veritable cheerleader for the suppression of freedom of expression. He also suggests that any political repression by the regime is either trifling or in the past. Not so, as has been chronicled on this blog and elsewhere. Bainimarama is doing his very best to shut up any political opposition, which will ensure his election, and he is doing it with virtual impunity domestically because the media in Fiji are by and large too intimidated to make much noise about it. The regime is also moving the goalposts on a regular basis across what is already an uphill political playing field for any who dare to oppose Bainimarama. His latest move to amend the Electoral Decree to include a two-year residency requirement for candidates, which renders ineligible three NFP candidates, has opposition parties livid.
Bainimarama is currently in New Zealand campaigning, but ironically the Fijian citizens whose votes he will be asking for have effectively been rendered second-class citizens because under this amendment none of them are now able to run for office. It will be interesting to see how a free press covers his visit. What fun and games! You simply couldn’t make this stuff up, and I’m sure it’s only going to get better as election day approaches. If only Grubby were around to join in the fun. Actually, he’s still here. He’s just lurking, for the sake of his employability in Australia, under his new identity: “Anonymous.” Just try leaving a critical comment on the Crozblog and he’ll jump all over you. That’s right, the international award-winning journalist has been reduced to subsisting as an Internet troll. He and Esther make quite the pair.
UPDATE: Victor Lal over at Fijileaks has dug up a dilly. This letter shows what can happen to your village should someone there speak ill of the regime.

Posted by Marc Edge at 12:42 PM

Jail term for bad memory?

Draw to determine Fiji ballot paper

Updated at 1:05 pm today

The Fiji supervisor of elections says a televised draw will determine the candidates’ number on the ballot paper of next month’s election.

Mohammed Saneem says the draw will be done at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.

Under the electoral decree, there will be a single ballot paper, on which voters have to cross or mark the number of their preferred candidate.

All candidates will have a three-digit number.

It is forbidden to carry a piece of paper into the polling station with a candidate’s number written on it, with offenders being threatened with lengthy jail terms.

Urai resigns for polls

Litia Vulaidausiga
Thursday, August 14, 2014

CAREER unionist Daniel Urai has resigned from the National Union of Hospitality, Catering and Tourism Industries to contest a seat under the People’s Democratic Party.

His resignation complies with provisions of the Electoral Decree, which prohibit trade unionists from joining or being office bearers of political parties.

In Lautoka yesterday, he said these provisions had not deterred him from standing for a party he helped found.

“Trade unionism is something we live with and I will continue performing tasks without being paid” he said.

“This government encourages people to serve and in terms of that, I will serve in my own capacity wherever and whenever they need me.”

He maintained that his aspirations, five weeks away from the general election, would not hinder public campaigning, noting his successful stance during two previous elections, albeit under the Fiji Labour Party banner.

“I have voters in Lautoka and have faith in them for putting a tick on me.”

He noted that the political climate had since changed but said he didn’t find it much of a challenge.

“Voters from outside Lautoka have the opportunity to vote for me and I am happy with the way it is made, it suits me.”

Samuela Yalayala will be acting in the position of general-secretary for the hotel union until its next annual general meeting.

Praise for PM

Nasik Swami
Thursday, August 14, 2014

Prime Minister and leader of FijiFirst Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama has surprisingly won positive comments for his assurance that he will accept the outcome of the elections next month.

SODELPA leader and the Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa believes the response is great news for the country.

“It is a breath of fresh air because we have been, and many people have been wondering how he would react should the situation not be to his dreams and aspirations,” Ro Teimumu said yesterday.

“That shows that the man himself has progressed in his thinking, that he has now evolved into the person we believe we can work with.

“So when the day of election comes, the results are made known and that he has accepted the fact that however it goes, he will accept the results, it shows that he has really grown into a leader that we would hope to have sometime in the future.

“It puts to rest some of the concerns that not only I had, but I am sure other people too have had certain concerns about how he would react and for him to have said on record, not only here in Fiji, but the fact that he said that in New Zealand, and it’s being broadcast all over the world. So we hold him to it,” she said.

Rear Admiral (Ret) Bainimarama was quoted on New Zealand’s Radio Tarana, saying: “That’s the story of democracy now. You accept the results of the elections, so I really don’t deal with hypothetical questions.”

He said his government had been working on ensuring democratic rule.

“… this is what we’ve been working towards for the last six to seven years, a wonderful Constitution and now we have one and, of course, the election on September 17,” he said.

NFP announces more candidates

By MERE NALEBA
Thursday, August 14, 2014

Update: 2:30PM THE National Federation Party, over an hour ago, announced four other candidates who will be contesting the General Elections under the its banner.

The four are: Kalisi Ratuwara, Anshu Lata, Etonia Lote and Anishni Chand. The fifth candidate, who will take the number of NFP candidates to 50, will be announced tomorrow.

Party leader Professor Biman Prasad said NFP could proudly claim they’re the only multicultural party so far as they have a well mix of races contesting elections under its banner.

“Today’s announcement is going to complete the team NFP and I’ve talked about the team NFP as the most credible team in this election, a team that the people of Fiji are going to trust and we are confident that with this team the NFP will be in parliament with a significant number of seats,” Mr Prasad said.

Fiji court dismisses Chaudhry’s appeal

Updated about 1 hour ago

The Court of Appeal in Fiji has dismissed an appeal by the leader of the Labour Party, Mahendra Chaudhry, blocking his ability to contest the election next month.

Chaudhry was convicted in April of breaching the Foreign Exchange Act, in relation to US$1.4m he had invested offshore without Reserve Bank approval.

The court has however halved the US$1.08 million fine imposed.

Fiji Live reports the court found the original fine imposed to be excessive.

The website reports Chaudhry declined to comment on the ruling but told the media he remained the leader of the Fiji Labour Party despite the decision.

It would be a rigged election if FF got all 50 seats.

Bainimarama doesn’t care if he is called ‘dictator’

Frank Bainimarama (via WhaleOil) <!–

–>

Frank Bainimarama (via WhaleOil)

Fiji’s Prime Minister – unfazed by being labelled a dictator – is now talking about dictatorship of another kind.

Frank Bainimarama was in Auckland over the weekend drumming up support for his political party in the upcoming Fiji elections next month.

He told talkback on Radio Tarana he’s out to win all the parliamentary seats in the first elections to be held since his 2006 coup.

“I don’t want even a little chance of the other political parties winning one seat or two seats.

“I need all 50 seats.”

VIDEO: Frank Bainimarama Interview

Mr Bainimarama says he can’t afford to be sitting in parliament talking about development in Fiji, when there’s a group of people talking about secular state and bringing back the great council of chiefs.

He says dictators, presidents and Prime Ministers are people’s definition of leaders nowadays.

But he says for Fiji if he’s doing what needs to be done – then dictator it is.

Mr Bainimarama says the largest number of tourists to his country are from Australia and New Zealand and he will continue to maintain trade relations with the two countries.

But he says that after the coup, Fiji had to turn to other countries for support.

He says they kept a look out for other nations to assist Fiji in what Australia and Fiji couldn’t do, which is accept Fiji politically and China has done that, Russia has now come on board and India has always been there.

 

The government and developer have not responded to requests for comment

Fiji government got ‘carried away’ with casino

Updated at 11:06 am on 11 August 2014

The leader of Fiji’s National Federation Party says the government got carried away with a plan for a casino in the country.

Professor Biman Prasad says he’s not surprised by news that the developer of Fiji’s first casino has sold its stake to another party.

The government announced late in 2011 that One Hundred Sands would build the casino, however construction hasn’t started.

Mr Prasad says real foreign investment in the country has remained low and the government’s own policies have impacted investor confidence.

He says it shows a lack of competence on part of the government that it was so easily wooed by the developer.

“To get carried away by these so-called investors and I think there’s been a number of instances where investors have come up, and there’s big media coverage and the government’s seen celebrating the proposals, rather than the actual implementation.”

The National Federation Party leader, Biman Prasad.

The government and developer have not responded to requests for comment.

Voter polling centre verification deadline…….. Dont make plans to go anywhere on polling day?

Registered voters have until the 20th of this month to verify the details of their polling venue. Superviser of Elections, Mohammad Saneem says after that date they cannot make any changes to details as the list of voters roll have to be printed. At the 2014 general election, each voter can only vote at the polling station he or she is assigned to. Each polling station will have a total number of assigned voters of up to 500. It is critical that everyone understands where they are to vote. Registered voters can check details of their polling venues and make changes at any of the 18 voter information centres. They will need to fill in appropriate forms to make the changes.

- See more at: http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/22072/voter-polling-centre-verification-deadline#sthash.Ky0T36xX.dpuf

Human rights activists in the country have been silenced by decrees put in place by the very man who is now accusing NGOs of being silent.

NGO Coalition of Human Rights responds to Fiji First comments on ‘cowardice’ of NGOs

NGO Coalition of Human Rights responds to Fiji First comments on ‘cowardice’ of NGOs

Shamima Ali. File Photo.

“We have been fighting for the rights of all Fijians for 30 years and will not allow ourselves to be drawn in to the political squabble of politicians. We have proven ourselves as human rights activists on the local, regional and international scene and will not be moved by baseless accusations that have been uttered for political gain.”

This is the statement of the chair of the NGO Coalition for Human Rights Shamima Ali in response to comments by Fiji First leader Voreqe Bainimarama about NGOs “cowardice” in remaining silent on alleged racist and xenophobic comments by former Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

Ms Ali says their stand against human rights violations in Fiji and the Pacific is widely known and while there has been some concern on recent remarks by some politicians, human rights activists in the country have been silenced by decrees put in place by the very man who is now accusing NGOs of being silent.

“Everyone knows that we spoke out against section 115 of the electoral decree because it more or less muzzled NGO’s in the lead up to elections in September. It took away our rights as citizens to take part in political debates and discussions. We had meetings with Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum calling for the removal of 115 but nothing was done. So we have to be very careful about what we say or do for fear of breaching the decree.

“Just recently one of our sister organisations the CCF has come under FICAC scrutiny for allegedly “breaching section 115” of the electoral decree. Because of that they have had to defer the series of conversations they were holding as a lead up to free and fair elections. This sort of intimidation has forced us to refrain from any political issues. In other words, we adhered to the decree and then now we are being criticised for it,” said Ms Ali.

Ms Ali says there hasn’t been any clear explanation regarding what NGOs can or cannot do under section 115.

She is also calling on journalists to be more responsible when reporting such stories as there were no attempts to get comments from her or any other representative of other NGOs in the country.

“This is a critical time in Fiji where media organisations must play their role with integrity and fairness. But if you have reporters quoting Mr Bainimarama criticising NGOs and no comments are sought from the NGO’s, then where is the much touted “balance”? The people of Fiji look to the media for information so it is crucial that journalists play their role with great responsibility, integrity and fairness.”

Ms Ali goes on to caution politicians about what they utter in their campaigns, saying Fiji needs responsible leaders and not those who are out to discredit each other and use divisive politics for personal gain.

She says while human rights based NGOs would like to be a part of the process leading up to 17 September, it’s quite unfortunate that certain decrees have prevented that.

“Even now when preparing press statements, we have to be very careful not to breach 115.  So I’d like to remind Mr Bainimarama, before he says such things to remember why we are not able to say it. It was his government that created the electoral decree so he should know too well why we have remained silent. However, members of the NGO Coalition will continue to input and participate wherever it “legally” can in the electoral process.”

PRESS RELEASE

Rumours are false says AG

Rumours are false says AG

05:34 TodayTaken from/By: Report by: Edwin Nand

The Government has refuted allegations, and malicious misinformation about the registration requirements, for all i-Taukei Fijians. Some political parties and commentators on the social media claim there have been changes. One of these changes is the Registrar-General is no longer allowing the registration of mataqali, yavusa, koro and tikina of all i-Taukei Fijians. Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says these allegation or rumour are completely false and malicious. He says the registration of births and marriages has always been done under the Birth, Deaths and Marriages Act and it has never changed. Sayed-Khaiyum also refutes allegations that a person can’t add the hereditary title of Ratu or Adi, saying any i-Taukei person can register their children in this manner. He adds the Registrar-General is duty bound under the Act to record hereditary titles and other relevant information – and will continue to do so.

- See more at: http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/22041/rumours-are-false-says-ag#sthash.zKjc9E28.dpuf

TLTB cautions on lease issues

Felix Chaudhary
Monday, August 11, 2014

THE iTaukei Land Trust Board said a number of issues needed to be carefully negotiated in terms of the renewal of cane leases.

CEO Alipate Qetaki cited a recent example where discussions were being held between 72 canegrowers from Nawaicoba and indigenous landowners from Yako Village in Nadi.

Last month, the yavusa Leweivunaniu made a request to the TLTB for some parcels of land in Nawaicoba to be returned to them for their own development projects.

During consultations between the TLTB, Fiji Sugar Corporation, Sugar Industry Tribunal and Sugar Cane Growers Council, a number of issues were highlighted.

Mr Qetaki said in some cases farmers had bought land from previous owners and were making payments through cane proceeds, however, the lease was still under the previous owner’s name.

“There are also cases where the owners of the lease are deceased and the next of kin are still processing probate and transmission by death.

“There are also challenges when the original lease is with a financial institution because money is owed by the farmer.”

He said TLTB would request the Sugar Cane Growers Fund to facilitate the process.”

Mr Qetaki said further consultations would be held once all the lease renewal applications were received.

Labour leader challenges media

Shalveen Chand
Monday, August 04, 2014

THE media was challenged by the Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry on Saturday not to withhold information from the public regarding questions about the electoral process.

Chaudhry said the media continued to exercise restraint in publishing articles questioning the credibility of the polls.

“A number of our statements questioning the process have been ignored by the mainstream media. It’s not that we didn’t try to get your attention. We gave media releases throwing attention on to this but they were not broadcast or published,” he said.

“And I would like to make it very clear that the local media has a duty to the people. The media has a duty to the people which overrides its commercial interest.

“They have a duty to inform the people, inform them correctly and if they are withholding information from the people, knowing well that the information is true, important and vital, then they are not doing their duty.

“The media will be failing in its duty to the nation if it wilfully ignores developments that are questionable and potentially dangerous.”

Chaudhry said FLP was looking at removing all laws restraining media freedom.

Fiji the way the world should be……. How far we have fallen

People seek help at campaign meet

Repeka Nasiko
Sunday, August 10, 2014

A LARGE number of people turned up at a FijiFirst party meeting at the Nasereci Methodist Hall in Namaka, Nadi, on Thursday night, the majority making a direct plea to Prime Minister Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama for assistance in personal hardships they faced.

These included sugarcane farmers, sacked workers, concerned parents and landowners. An unemployed parent whose children attend Shri A.D Patel Memorial Primary School informed the PM he was still paying for his children’s bus fare.

The father of three said efforts to get assistance from the Ministry of Education and relevant authorities were futile since the scheme was introduced last year.

Another speaker, a sugarcane farmer, said he was receiving little assistance from the police and the military for the protection of his farm despite making numerous calls. He said lately his sugarcane farm had been destroyed by disgruntled individuals while farm animals were stolen.

“I’ve been writing to a lot of people but nobody seems to want to help me out,” he said.

“Half of my crop has been eaten by cows, my fence has been cut.

“I’ve seen the police and the military but nobody seems to be bothered about this.”

Another woman wanted to know if there was a provision in the Crimes Decree that protected individuals whose properties were damaged in a criminal act.

The Nadi resident said part of her home was damaged by a reckless driver and it cost the family $8500 in repair.

In response to these and the many other grievances raised, Mr Bainimarama asked the party’s support staff to record the details of the complaints.

Widow Wary of numbers

Farisha Ahmed
suva

A widow, Salote Timacilai, 85, of Nakasi, near Nausori, says numbers on ballot papers will be too complicated for her.
She says she would struggle when she goes to vote on September 17.
She was one of 12 people at the Fiji Labour Party campaign meeting in Chadwick Road, Nakasi, last night. Three candidate nominees, Deo Narain, Pratap Sen and Maika Tauva spoke to the people.
Ms Timacilai, who has seven children and more than 20 grandchildren, said she had difficulty in reading and memorising things.
“I do not understand this new system because for people like us, it will be hard and we cannot trust the officers assisting us because not everyone can read and write and we can be deceived,” Ms Timacilai said.
“If only there were symbols or pictures of the candidate, it would have been easier.”
Ms Timacilai has been a strong supporter of the FLP since the leadership of Timoci Bavadra.
“I have supported the party because of its values and principles,” she said.
“They fight for the right of the people, for the labourers, for a better lifestyle for everyone.
“The party actually does what it says and this is one reason I have my faith in the party.”
Ms Timacilai urged all voters to vote wisely and responsibly so that God could help the best party to form the government after the elections.
The Fijian Elections office says help will be available for those who need it on polling day. People need to know only one number, that of the person they are voting for.

farisha.ahmed@fijisun.com.fj

FijiFirst preferred in peri-urban and urban areas

Shalveen Chand
Saturday, August 09, 2014

MOST people polled in the latest Tebbutt-Times survey would vote for the FijiFirst party and choose Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama as Prime Minister should there be an election tomorrow.

The latest poll, which was conducted earlier this week, showed that a majority of respondents — 56 per cent — would vote for the FijiFirst party in an election at this moment in time, while 17 per cent indicated they would vote for SODELPA.

SODELPA’s rating has doubled compared with May and June polling figures, when only 8 per cent of those in the sample said they intended to vote for SODELPA.

Voting intention for the Fiji Labour Party and National Federation Party stood at 2 per cent each, while the People’s Democratic Party garnered 1 per cent.

For FLP, this is a slide downwards by 1 per cent and NFP has climbed by the same margin. Registrations of the two newest parties — OneFiji and the Fiji United Freedom Party — were announced just before the start of polling. Both registered less than half a per cent.

More than one in 10 registered voters say they don’t know who to vote for.

The poll shows a decline in undecided voters, with 11 per cent now saying they don’t know which party or independent candidate they would vote for, compared with 19 per cent and 20 per cent in previous months.

Seven per cent elected not to state their choice.

This was a little higher in the Western Division and among those aged 45 years and over.

FijiFirst leads voting intention across all demographic segments and holds the majority across both genders and all age groups.

FijiFirst remains the first choice across all ethnicities, though support from those identifying as iTaukei has declined a little when compared with the last Tebbutt-Times poll.

SODELPA’s rating improved in this survey and showed a voting intention profile with iTaukei at 31 per cent, other ethnicities at 15 per cent and just 1 per cent from the Fijians of Indian descent.

Voting intention for SODELPA is at similar levels for both males and females and shows a slight skew to younger voters aged 18-24 at 19 per cent, 25-34 years at 20 per cent, 35-44 years at 14 per cent and over 45 years at 15 per cent.

Frank Bainimarama is not a respectable person.

Editorial: Enemy of democracy deserves scorn

Last updated 05:00 09/08/2014

Frank Bainimarama

COUP LEADER: Frank Bainimarama.

OPINION: Frank Bainimarama is not a respectable person. He killed off Fijian democracy and replaced it with a nasty military dictatorship. The fact that he has now resigned his commission and is fighting a democratic election changes none of this. He will be forever remembered as one of the democratic villains of the Pacific.

Ideally Bainimarama would by now have been sentenced to a long time in jail, like the last man who launched a coup in his country, George Speight. Overthrowing a democratic system is a form of treason and it is not something that should be lightly forgiven.

But Bainimarama has given himself immunity for treason through a convenient constitution that his “government” put through. This is a farce and has exactly the moral force of a criminal pardoning himself for his crime. Bainimarama, in short, hardly deserves to be enjoying the freedoms that he denied to other Fijians during the long years of his dictatorship.

The New Zealand government, naturally, does not accept this line of thought. It practises McCullyism in foreign affairs, which is an extreme form of pragmatism. It is happy to forget Bainimarama’s crimes. New Zealand has decided the time has come to forgive him and try to “encourage” his re-entry into the world of democracy, the world that he destroyed. Bainimarama’s Australian friends, of course, have been similarly understanding; he will cross the Tasman after finishing his brief stint here. But that does not mean he should be treated just like any other candidate in the election which he so long delayed.

Bainimarama should understand that New Zealand democrats detest him and everything he represents. Since the Key Government has decided to let him come here, New Zealand democrats should use the other choice open to them. They can go and protest vigorously – but always peacefully – at Bainimarama’s election meetings in Auckland. They should tell the man what they think of him. They should use the freedom we enjoy here to condemn the man who took away democratic freedom in Fiji. Bainimarama, it seems, will never have to pay properly for what he did. But he shouldn’t think that he has got away scot-free.

Unfortunately, it’s entirely possible that Bainimarama will do well in the Fijian election. The man who should be drummed out of any election might end up winning this one. And this shows the long-term damage that Fiji’s coup culture has done to the nation.

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Democracy has not taken a deep hold in this splintered society.

If it had, the first coup, by Sitiveni Rabuka, would never have been repeated. The aggressive and arrogant military of Fiji has become a long-term curse on the nation. The soldiers have been sent back to their barracks this time, but they all know that coups are not only possible in Fiji, they are highly do-able.

The result is that the culture of the coup will continue to cast its shadow over Fijian politics for a long time to come. Even if the rebel Bainimarama decides to behave like a democrat, what other tin-pot dictator is nursing dreams of power in a Fijian barracks?

The demon is out of the bottle, and it will be immensely hard to put back.

– The Dominion Post