The dear departed

Some bloggers have been celebrating the passing of Bainimarama and AS-K supporters Sundip Patel and Lt Col Manasa Vaniqi. In doing so, they show themselves to be no better than Bainimarama and AS-K. Those who are calling their deaths a judgement from God need a reminder that they are not God.

Russel Hunter did the right thing and admitted that Sundip Patel never interfered when he was editor and spent a lot of money fighting Hunter’s deportation. Sundip backed Hunter to try to increase the Sun’s circulation and then swapped horses in response to the deportation. In other words, it’s just business, the same story that RFMF officers tell their families when explaining why they backed a takeover by the military.

And then there’s the late Lt Col Manasa Vaniqi. Like a lot of other military men he just did what he was told, but Bainimarama will find it hard to find another PS who will so blindly lead our sugar industry down the garden path to oblivion without a thought for what he’s doing. So let’s not blame Vaniqi for what’s happening to sugar.

In the same context we should mark the passing of Crosbie Walsh as a commentator – not dead but he looks broken hearted. He’s been “left disturbed and puzzled by the resignation of former FNU Vice-Chancellor Dr Ganesh Chand”. And he finds the removal Acting Permanent Secretary of Education Ms Basundra Kumar “equally disturbing”.

Cheer up Croz, we at least have a constitution and hopefully that will start to exert some discipline over Bainimarama and Sayed-Khaiyum. The Fiji Times is keeping them on their toes and who knows, maybe the Fiji Sun will have another change of editorial policy.

Happy New Year to all.

The real problem of crime

Pro-democracy bloggers who blame the Bainimarama Government for the murder of an Australian tourist don’t do the cause of democracy any favours.

As far as I’m aware the murder rate in Fiji hasn’t risen in the 8 years since Bainimarama seized power. It remains fairly low by world standards. If anyone has figures to disprove this please feel free to post them. I’m no expert but I do know murder is different to other crimes. Except in the worst crime hot spots, murders usually result from disputes between family and close friends. People don’t murder strangers for no reason and Fiji is not one of those places full of guns that commit half the murders. Thanks to the RFMF’s monopoly on guns, we don’t have guns making our crime problem worse.

But Bainimarama is not blameless in relation to crime. Playing around with the police force – hounding a top professional Commissioner out of the country, replacing him with a local who has soon despatched and then installing an incompetent military mate who knew nothing about policing, and then replacing him with another military mate – all this did nothing to help make the FPF an effective professional force.

Crime is still a problem, but home invasions are the high end of what we’ve got. (Let’s not get into the question of sedition, political thuggery and treason. The fact that Bainimarama’s constitution gave him immunity against these crimes is a signed confession, but let’s put all that behind us.)

The crime problem that worries us is the problem of burglary and home invasion and that calls for a properly funded, professional police force, which responds to calls for help. The random murder of a tourist should not be laid at the feet of Bainimarama. It’s the damage to the FPF we should be holding him to account on.


Who would lend Frank $2.8 billion?

November 5, 2014

According to the 2010 Auditor General’s Report the Government had borrowed $2,759,292,150 from lenders inside Fiji. This is an astounding level of debt and raises the question who would lend an amount like this. We don’t have to stand around scratching our heads too long to work this out. It was the FNPF, in other words you and me. This money is mostly short term, going in and out of the FNPF accounts to keep the government operating. Some 58% of Government revenues in 2010 were spent on repaying short term loans to FNPF and other lenders, leaving only 42% of revenues available for providing government services. This was a 20% fall in the amount of revenues available for services. On top of this huge mountain of debt there were contingent liabilities of $1.8 billion. These are debts that will have to be paid by the Government if the borrower, such as Fiji Sugar Corporation or Fiji Airways can’t pay their debts. This is owed to Banks, including the Export Bank of India. If these fall due we will really be up the creek. If 58 cents in every dollar raised from taxes in 2010 was being spent on keeping the creditors at bay, just think what it would be if Fiji Airways or FSC debts have to be repaid.

What a production!

un delegation

People all around Fiji waiting to have water connected, or reconnected, or just to have some water in the pipes they already have, must be stunned to see the line-up for the presentation of Fiji’s case to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

The group photo shows fourteen of them all looking very pleased with themselves. Fourteen! Who was this meant to impress? The UNHCR? The rest of us back home or around the world in more humble places? All we can see is a huge tax-payers bill for airfares and four star hotel accommodation at our expense.

I can’t make up my mind what offends me most about this epic production. Is it just the AS-K ego tripping, which I guess I’ll have to learn to live with? Or is it the blatant contrast between all the fine words and the fact that the FPF still says they haven’t been able to catch the perpetrators of a crime that was filmed with many faces visible, not to mention a car registration plate. No police force has ever had handed to them a stronger case on a platter, crying out for charges to be laid. If people filmed were not direct perpetrators but are refusing to speak, charge them with being accomplices or obstructing justice.

Whatever the UN Human Rights Commission may make of this circus of people jumping through process hoops, vaulting over bars set very low for themselves and juggling some big ugly facts, we all know a crime was committed and we all know the perpetrators are known to the Police. None of the fourteen can doubt that. Their appearance in this circus casts them as clowns at best and accomplices in human rights abuse at worst.

30 October 2014: Fiji regime presents ‘clean’ human rights report to UN


Fiji says it’s addressing brutality concerns

Updated at 8:37 am today

Senior judicial figures from Fiji have told a United Nations gathering the country is addressing concerns about police brutality.

Fiji is undergoing a review of its human rights record under the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review.

The Fiji delegation told a meeting of the Council in Geneva plans are underway for training police interrogators, videotaping their interviews with suspects and stricter procedures under a review of the Police Act next year.

The Chief Justice Anthony Gates says the problem is due to a cultural misconception.

“Torture during interrogation has been a long-standing problem in Fiji. Members of the police or prison service or others in authority have thought they had a right to impose an extra-judicial punishment on an arrested suspect or an escaped prisoner.”

Justice Gates says the judiciary is helping fund videotaping and interrogation training as courts waste much time having to resolve whether confessions have been given voluntarily.

Members of Fiji police and military forces.Members of Fiji police and military forces.


Fiji Sun is re-writing history again

October 28, 2014

In a story on the return of Fiji to the Pacific Forum, the Fiji Sun claimed “Fiji has been suspended from the forum since 2009 following the change of government in December 2006.” If the coup in 2006 was the reason for the suspension why did the suspension take place in 2009? What Fiji Sun is not telling us is that Bainimarama promised to hold an election in 2009 but reneged on that promise. He also promised to uphold the constitution and the rule of law but when the Appeal Court ruled that his overthrow of the elected government was illegal he threw out the constitution he’d sworn to uphold and sacked al the judges. Has Maika Bolatiki forgotten this or is he a shamless liar?
Fiji Sun 22 October 2014 ‘Fiji Still Out of PIF’

Nowhere in that statement do I threaten a coup! The fact is, the Prime Minister and his side of the House and the 2013 Constitution are themselves the end product of the coups I referred to as the way we have been changing our political direction since 1987. This is a fact. Plain and simple.


Opposition Member of Parliament Niko Naiwaikula today responded to alleged threats against him from Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, as outlined in the Fiji Sun of 16th October.

Honourable Naiwaikula said that Prime Minister Bainimarama and the Fiji Sun would do well to read the context in which I referred to coups in the Hansard – if they had, they would realize that their claims that I ‘threatened a coup‘ were not only baseless, but deliberately distorted to ‘sensationalize ’the issue for their own benefit of fear mongering.

Honorable Naiwaikula said his reference to coups was in relation to his remarks on ‘True Democracy’ where he said quote:-

True Democracy will only be achieved by a Constitution that contains the following essential elements:

1.It is the common will of the population;
2.It guarantees the rights of all citizens, and by that I mean, individual fundamental rights, indigenous group rights, minority rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights and all the other rights that are now established by UN Convention;
3.It provides within its mechanism a clear separation of powers; and
4.It must also provide within it a provision that guarantees accountability, transparency and good governance.

I will be so bold as to say that the sooner we convene a commission to look into and extract from all previous Constitutional documents, the good they have in them, combining them all into one that we all agree with containing those essential elements, the better it will be for us.

Not doing so will be an invitation for another coup because we have shown by the very way that we have been voting since 1987, that a coup is a legitimate way to change things. Unquote

This is clearly recorded in the Hansard records.

Nowhere in that statement do I threaten a coup! The fact is, the Prime Minister and his side of the House and the 2013 Constitution are themselves the end product of the coups I referred to as the way we have been changing our political direction since 1987. This is a fact. Plain and simple.

By threatening me as he did, the Prime Minister himself is mocking the 2013 Constitution because he shows no respect or regard for my freedom of speech, expression and publication as stated in the Bill of Rights Sec 17, and my freedom of conscience and belief as stated in Sec 22.

The Honourable Bainimarama must understand that he is now a Prime Minister, not a Dictator with a mandate to govern, he must exercise his powers with humility, respect and accountability and that includes allowing others to freely express their view and he must protect their right to do so.

Authorized By: Honourable Niko Naiwaikula

Opposition Member

Parliament House

Bainimarama punishes North for promising to vote for him then voting SODELPA

Bainimarama punishes North for promising to vote for him then voting SODELPA

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 01:53 AM PDT

Now starts the era of revenge.

Frank Bainimarama claims “Nobody will be left out” and yet two years ago he withdrew aid from two cyclone-damaged villages because they refused to swear allegiance to him.

Media coverage and stories such as “PM: Supporter first on my list” during the weekend tell us exactly where taxpayer and international aid money is going to be spent by Fiji First.

If Bainimarama has his way, the North will go begging because according to him he was betrayed by villages that said they would vote for Fiji First but voted instead for SODELPA.(Fiji Sun October 26)

Bainimara cited in memo: evidence villages were punished.

The Opposition has been quick to remind Bainimarama the country’s coffers are not his personal funds.

“Everyone pays tax – either it is through VAT, income tax or licence,” says Opposition leader, Ro Teimumu Kepa. “The people are entitled to any developments required.”

The party’s Shadow Minister of Itaukei Affairs, Naiqama Lalabalavu, says Bainimarama’s threats to cut off SODELPA supporters show

Vitogo village bore brunt of Cyclone Evan

what type of government is in office.

“It is consistent with what he did in early 2013 with the Tui Vitogo and his people,” he says.

“It is similar to the threat he made to Niko Nawaikula’s supporters.”

Lalabalavu also asks:

“How does he know who did not vote for him? What does he

Cawaki: Now Fiji First MP

have from the Elections office that will allow him to identify who did or did not vote for him?”

Foreign aid donors are being urged to note Bainimarama’s bias and to secure guarantees to any funds given to Fiji.

“Taxpayers include many who did not vote for Frank Bainimarama and his Fiji First Party,” says Lalabalavu.

“They have equal rights for their tax dollars to be used for their well-being.”

The threats to the North follow the one last week to withhold development support from people who voted for Niko Nawaikula, after he said the good in the Constitution should be extracted and the rest discarded.

Bainimarama went on to accuse Nawaikula of threatening a coup.

Nawaikula said at the time: “This type of behaviour is blackmail….and for the Fiji First Government to use this same tactic ust 11 days after the first sitting of our new Parliamet in8 nyears, is a sign of what the people can expect as the ‘real intent’ of this government.”

Cynicism runs wide because of the well-documented revenge taken against Lautoka villages Vitogo and Naviyago, soon after Cyclone Evan devastated the West in December 2012.

After Tui Vitogo refused to support Bainimarama,  the dictator ordered material to rebuild damaged homes removed.

The suspension of funds was confirmed in writing to all government departments on January 23rd 2013 in a circular signed by then Commissioner Western, Joeli Cawaki.

The Opposition has also called on Bainimarama to drop his conditions for Fiji returning to the Pacific Islands Forum.

Bainimarama insists Fiji will only return when New Zealand and Australia opt out and become development partners.

We have a new web address. You can find us at

“I congratulate the Minister on her honesty,” Hon Dulakiverata said. “Her admission of the shortcomings within the Ministry is a direct reflection of the poor performance of her immediate predecessor, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.”


Opposition Shadow Minister for Lands, Hon Jiosefa Dulakiverata, supports moves by the Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources, Hon Mereseini Vuniwaqa, to reorganize and improve the efficiency of the Ministry of Lands.

Hon Dulakiverata said the Minister (The Fiji Times Oct 25th page 3) had confirmed that complaints of tenants and landowners were caused by ‘lethargy’ within the Ministry which was ‘too laid back’ in its work ethic.

“I congratulate the Minister on her honesty,” Hon Dulakiverata said. “Her admission of the shortcomings within the Ministry is a direct reflection of the poor performance of her immediate predecessor, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.”

Hon Dulakiverata said that the Minister, in her maiden parliamentary speech, had claimed much organizational change had been accomplished in the ministry by Government in the last seven years.  She went on to praise the internal reforms led by the honorable Prime Minister that had laid a solid foundation on which she intended to build.

The Minister was now saying that there was much work to be done in the Ministry.  Certain issues, she revealed, needed immediate attention.  These included rectifying past mistakes caused by corrupt practices and lack of respect for human dignity, equality, basic fairness and good governance.

The Minister’s criticism of the Lands Ministry’s operations undermines her claims about the success of Mr Bainimarama’s reforms.

“What accomplishments by Government and her predecessor was the Minister referring to in her speech when she lavished praise on him?

“Was it the organizational restructure and internal reforms she spoke of that have resulted in uncollected rental arrears of $25 million? Or is this the result of the ‘lethargy’ and ‘laid back’ approach to service delivery that she is now criticizing?

Clearly the Prime Minister must provide some of the answers relating to his time in the Ministry.

why, why, why you ask?

Last week Fiji Democracy Now was puzzled by the decision to set salaries for Ministers and MPs in a decree the day before the parliament met. Wasn’t it an insult to the Parliament to have the salaries set by the two man band the very day the new orchestra was tuning up?

This is no hard puzzle if you look at the figures they laid down in the tablet of stone. The PM rakes in $328K, plus allowances that have no figures on them, while humble MPs are made very humble indeed on $50K. Allowing the humble backbench MPs to speak their own minds about the salary they were paid could obviously lead debate somewhere the duo did not want it to go. They might humbly suggest some comparisons.

Junior officers at the PIF Secretariat earn 27K SDR (Forum money) which equals about F$75K. An Assistant Lecturer at USP, at the bottom of the scale, is paid about $54,000.

The MP salaries make the MPs look like hired hands doing the unskilled job of pounding the rubber stamp on the draft laws prepared for them by the Cabinet. There is no recognition that even the humblest backbencher has been elected by the people, not hired like some day labourer by the PM.

He got away with it for now, but somewhere deep in the breasts of all his hired hands, there will be deep-seated resentment at the way they have been treated. It just doesn’t make sense to treat Parliament in this way. It has all the hallmarks of Khaiyum written all over it. Let’s hope the backbench MPs are able to make Bainimarama aware of just how insulting it is to them, and by extension, to the people who elected them, to have them paid as if they are just junior staff.

Fijian answer to Ebola……… Dont discuss it

Office of the leader of opposition

Republic of the Fiji Islands


[No 2/10/2014]


The Opposition today filed an urgent question in Parliament regarding Fiji’s preparations for the Ebola epidemic currently affecting African states, with new cases reported in the USA, Spain and Germany.

Opposition Member Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu who filed the question which was later denied by the Speaker said that the question was a matter of national importance, especially when we have a contingent of Police officers in Liberia, the heart of the Ebola epidemic.

Ratu Naiqama said that Fiji needed to be on alert and prepared and the Opposition felt obligated to raise the matter in the House. The urgent question stated:-

Given the potential of the epidemic to worsen before it is expected to be bought under control, can the Minister for Health please inform the House the following:-

    • Does the Ministry have in place any plans to create public awareness about the Ebola virus and what can be done to prevent it?
    • What plans do we have to effectively isolate any suspect cases
    • Has the Ministry started any training of Health personnel to handle cases while maintaining their own safety
    • Do these plans include the establishment of an Ebola testing laboratory to enable quick results?
    • Have our Border officials and airline personnel been briefed on this Virus and are they ready to conduct proper screening of visitors and returning residents?
    • What plans have we got in place for screening our Police contingent when they return from Liberia which is the centre of the Ebola epidemic.


Authorized By: Opposition Chambers

Parliament House


Natuva’s flick pass won’t work

October 8, 2014

Commissioner Groenewald has reported to Defence and National Security minister, Timoci Natuva, who has promptly flicked the ball back to him. Natuva says whether or not the Police decide to open a case regarding Bilitaki will be entirely up to the Police Commissioner. That may be true but Natuva is still the Minister who answers to parliament.

Fijilive October 07, 2014 Bilitaki case back with Police: Natuva

Ex Coup 4.5……… If true nothing has changed

Bainimarama slaps photographer at Fiji Day event

Prime minister by title but thug by nature.
A second citizen has been attacked by Frank Bainimarama – a photographer who was slapped across the face after being ordered to stop taking pictures.

The incident happened on Friday evening at Government House during the Fiji Day cocktails and was witnessed by at least two people.
Pita: Forced to leave Govt House

Witnesses say the newly-elected Fiji First leader slapped the photographer and swore at him because he didn’t wanted pictures taken of him and his family.

The incident occurred at about 11.30pm.
The 2006 coup leader also ordered SODELPA youth who were at the event, including the president of the youth wing, Pita Waqavonovono, to leave.
Bainimarama told them: “Raica dou kua tiko ni veitaba, dou vinakata meu cemuri kemudou ike” meaning “Look, don’t take photos or I will chase you out of here.”
Witnesses say while Bainimarama smacked a photographer for taking pictures, the family happily took snaps of themselves.
Government House staff reportedly did nothing about Bainimarama’s attack on the photographer or him ordering Waqavonovono and other youth out from the event.
In fact, staff ordered transport for Waqavonovono.
Just over a week ago, a 60 year old composer was beaten by

Bilitaki: Beaten after argument with Bainimarama

soldiers after he reportedly sent an angry text to Bainimarama over Fiji First using his songs for the election campaign without his permission.

Josefa Bilitaki says he required hospital treatment after the beating, which came just hours after he was told by Bainimarama to “fuck off.”
While Bainimarama didn’t do the beating himself, the order can only have come from him.
Police Commissioner Ben Groenwald originally tried to

dismiss the case but has since said it appears certain processes were not carried out according to the law and an internal investigation is underway.

He says ‘a combined team of police and military people’ were involved ‘ but the investigation will indicate, if there was an assault, who was responsible for the assault.’
“Any person whether it’s a policemanb or a military person, if he or she commits a crime, they will face the law.”
The Bainimarama attack on the citizen at Government House comes as President Epeli Nailatikau waxed lyric about the new Fiji, appealing to people to be patriotric and hopeful about the future.
“On this Fiji Day, let us all dedicate ourselves to our new democracy and join hands to make it work. We owe it to ourselves, to history and to generations to come, to finally achieve our potential as a nation.

“To make Fiji great. On Fiji Day 2014, may God bless us all in our efforts to become a better nation. May God bless Fiji.”



This October 10th Fiji Day celebration is significant in that we have just 4 days earlier witnessed our first Parliamentary sitting in almost 8 years.

This occasion will no doubt give all of our people hope that the future of our Nation and the well-being of our people looks positive.

As Leader of the Opposition I can say we that we stand ready to play our part in building a positive way forward for our people and as long as there is the will among the 50 newly elected Members of Parliament to turn the often misused words of Accountability, Transparency and Inclusiveness, into real measurable deeds that the people can see happening, then there is good reason to be optimistic in our future.

As I reflect back on the significance of this day I cannot help but be saddened by the fact that the actions of my ancestors who ceded these islands to Queen Victoria in 1874 and the return of the Islands to the Chiefs and people of Fiji by HRH Prince Charles on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II on our Independence day in1970 is not recorded for its historical significance in the constitution of Fiji. Yet we celebrate it with all the pomp and ceremony befitting its significance.

On this October 10th Fiji Day celebrations I urge all citizens in Fiji to take a moment to prayer and give thanks for the small blessings that this first step back to democracy has given us and let us hope that the promise given to our people that there will be no more coups becomes a reality.

May God Bless Fiji and all her good people on this our Independence Day

Authorized Ro Teimumu Kepa

Leader of the Opposition

Police investigate unlawful processes in Bilitaki case

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Update: 8:56PM FOLLOWING an internal investigation into the detention of retired teacher Joseva Bilitaki, Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald has issued a statement saying it appears that certain processes were not carried out according to the law.

He cited as examples the seizure of Mr Bilitakis mobile phone and his arrest and detention.

Mr Groenewald said their director Internal Affairs is dealing with the departmental procedures against the officers involved.

“I can also confirm that an investigation has commenced after the receipt of a formal complaint from Mr Bilitaki of his alleged assault by the arresting team,” he said.

Police are continuing their investigations.

Government reforms for next four years

08:10 Today

Report by: Ritika Pratap

President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau says the government will build on the reforms of the past eight years to continue improving the lives of Fijians. Many of the government’s initiatives are designed to alleviate poverty, to provide a leg-up for Fijians. In an effort to unlock further potential for i-taukei landowners to generate wealth for their land, the government will set aside ten million dollars to help i-taukei use their land for subdivision and development. The Funding will be made available as grants. The government will also ensure that the Itaukei Land Trust Board performs at the highest level and reforms at TLTB will continue. Land Owning Units will now not have to pay application fees when leasing their own land. The President also says the government intends to reduce cost of living pressures. National Minimum wage will be revised upwards in line with the recommendation of the Reddy report to a new rate of $2.32 an hour from 1 July 2015. Electricity subsidy for low income earners will increase from 75 kilowatts to 85 kilowatts per hour. Free water for Fijian households earning less than a total income of thirty thousand dollars will be provided. “Free education will now be available one year before admission to primary school at recognised and accredited pre-schools.” Social security system for non FNPF members will continue and eligibility rate will be lowered to 68 from 1st July 2015 and further lowered to 66 in July 2016. Fijians earning less than twenty-thousand dollars will get all prescribed medicine for non-communicable disease currently under price control free. Essential drugs will remain under price control. Other reforms include – Government will now take control of the import of all fossil fuels. International tenders will be called for the supply of fuel and existing companies will then buy that fuel from the government. All state land on which squatters have been living will be subdivided and squatters will be given 99 years leases. Negotiations will also be i-taukei landowners to give 99-year residential leases to squatters. One million dollars will also be set aside to provide emergency assistance to Fijians earning below 20, 000 dollars, who have proper leases, but no insurance and have lost their homes in fire. The Government will double the amount payable under workmen’s compensation for death and injury claims. The President says all these measures are designed to assist Fijians, create economic growth and reduce gap between the more fortunate and the less fortunate among us.

– See more at:


Now Natuva will have to explain to parliament

October 7, 2014

Commissioner Groenewald has laid his report on the beating of Joseva Bilitaki on the desk of the Minister for Defence, National Security and Immigration, Timoci Lesi Natuva. Now Natuva will have to answer to parliament to explain if military personnel detained a private citizen and whether the police investigated a report of an assault on that citizen by military personnel. This is what democracy is all about.

Fijilive October 06, 2014 Bilitaki’s case submitted to Minister

Opposition Leader ready

Opposition Leader ready

17:28 Yesterday

by: Ritika Pratap

Newly elected Opposition Leader – Ro Teimumu Kepa says she is ready for the challenging role.

Ro Teimumu’s appointment is amongst the three new positions that have been filled in Parliament today. Ro Teimumu, who was the Education Minister in the former SDL government, says she is ready for her new role. “Well with the leader of the opposition it is a very important role because it is serving a purpose there in parliament and we have to look at the workings of the government in particular in terms of good governance, transparency, accountability and those are some of the areas we need to look at in terms of the performance of the government.” The Social Democratic Liberal Party and the National Federation Party members make up the opposition in the parliament and Ro Teimumu Kepa says they are looking forward to working together in the next four years

. – See more at:


Fiji’s UFP alleges harassment by military

Updated at 5:28 am today

The Fiji United Freedom Party alleges that members of the military have harassed and attempted to intimidate its officials.

The party’s co-leader, Nayagodamu Korovou, says two vehicles full of men approached the party’s treasurer and vice-president and threatened to take them away.

Mr Korovou says the men also swore and verbally abused their members.

“We know they’re military because we know the people who came in civilian clothes. They were looking for our treasurer and trying to ask him some questions about, blaming us about plotting something to kill the Prime Minister.”

Mr Korovou says he hasn’t gone to the police with his allegations because he has no faith in their work and believes they are biased.

A senior officer in the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Lieutenant-Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho, says he will look into the allegations, but says he doubts the men were military acting under any orders.

“It’s not the RFMF’s job to do such things. We’ve had elections. We have a democratically-elected government in place and the RFMF is supportive of the government that has been elected and we are here to play our role in support of government. That doesn’t mean taking part in such allegations. That’s not part of a democratic process.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Qiliho says he can’t just ignore the allegations but he has suggested they also be taken to the police for further investigation.

Union review

Shalveen Chand
Monday, October 06, 2014

THE International Labour Organisation’s direct contact mission team is in Fiji to verify complaints by local trade unions on the lack of freedom of association.

In June, a decision to send a team to Fiji after the general election was made by the ILO in its session of the governing body.

A tripartite delegation from Fiji, including the then Labour Minister Jone Usamate, unionist Daniel Urai and employer representative Harvey Probert were present at the meeting.

The terms of reference for the mission is based on the conclusions and recommendations of the ILO committee on freedom of association and had been at one stage agreed to by Fiji.

The decision to continue with the same terms of reference was also made.

A similar ILO team with the same objective was in Fiji two years ago but their mission was aborted.

According to the ILO, on September 17, 2012, the Office of the Prime Minister presented the mission with entirely new terms of reference, which the ILO found unacceptable.

As a result, the ILO mission was asked to leave Fiji immediately.

Fiji Trade Unions Congress acting general secretary Rajeshwar Singh said the unions would meet with the ILO direct contacts mission this week.

In July, Fiji’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Nazhat Shameem told the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, that there was a need to work with the mission team to make sure that this was an inclusive process.

ILO, in its June meeting, also noted that there was a need to look into the claims made by the trade unions but also noted that certain trade unionists in Fiji were using workers’ rights, the ILO and its governing body to further their personal agenda.

The direct contacts mission will then give a report to the 322nd Session of the governing body in November.

And if this does not take place then the 322nd Session would appoint a commission of inquiry. No comments could be obtained from the Labour Ministry last night.