STATEMENT No 21: SODELPA’S POSITION ON MATTERS MISREPRESENTED BY THE MEDIA

SODELPA

STATEMENT No 21:    

SODELPA’S POSITION ON MATTERS MISREPRESENTED BY THE MEDIA

 August 22 2014

Over the past few weeks certain sections of the media have set their sights on SODELPA through a number of issues. Those concerned have mounted a relentless effort to portray us as something other than a political party with sound values and principles. This is pro-regime propaganda.

It is quite extraordinary that the same media have nothing to say about the usurpers of our democracy, the draconian decrees they have in place, the plight of the 13 families [now 14 with the death of the robbery suspect while in Police custody], whose loved ones were killed, or the numerous citizens whose rights have been abused, with many of them subjected to beatings and other forms of torture, torment and persecution.

SODELPA will seek answers from these aiders and abettors of treason after the elections, but for now, I wish to state our position on the various issues that the media have, in our view, deliberately misconstrued.

1. Christian State

The SODELPA constitution and Manifesto do not call for a Christian State. What we say is that as a government, we will conduct ourselves based on Christian principles and values. These are values shared by all the world’s great religions. We are commanded to love our neighbors and do to others as we would have them do to us. We are required to forgive and to be merciful. We must care for the poor, the sick, the homeless, the forgotten and those in need. We must seek truth and social justice. These are the principles and values by which we shall govern.

We continuously stress that all religious groups in Fiji are free to practice their faith and beliefs without any fear or intimidation or threat from a SODELPA-led government.

The fact that SODELPA is committed to Christian values and principles makes our party more sensitive to the importance of respecting the values and principles of all other religions in the country.

This is in line with SODELPA’s vision of a Fiji that draws its strength from the rich variety of traditions, languages and cultures of its communities.

The alternative vision of a Fiji devoid of its cultural richness and diversity would give us a country that would be a pale imitation of the Fiji we know and love.

2. Common Name

SODELPA does not recognize or accept that two unelected people, who seized power through armed intervention, have the authority to decide arbitrarily that citizens of Fiji are called Fijians.International conventions and declarations of the rights of indigenous peoples stress the importance of prior consultation and consent on the use of their names as their identity. Article 19 of the UNDRIP (UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) says quote

‘States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them’.

Again we stress that the indigenous Fijians do not recognize the right of unelected individuals to take away their established identity and give them another like iTaukei.

The indigenous people have, for well over a century, been commonly known as Fijians; that name now is part of their tradition and culture. SODELPA will retain it for the indigenous community.

The issue of a common name for all will be addressed by SODELPA once a democratic, transparent and accountable government is established after September 17th 2014. We will initiate a national conversation among all communities in Fiji to establish a common name that does not divide us but creates a sense of unity and patriotism.

It will not be an imposed decision.

3. Indigenous Rights

SODELPA’s position on the indigenous people of Fiji is in keeping with established conventions of the ILO 169 & UN Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). We are guided by these international instruments.

A SODELPA Government will adopt UNDRIP Articles that ensure:-

  1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the full enjoyment, as a collective or as individuals, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law.
  2. Indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to all other peoples and individuals and have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination, in the exercise of their rights, in particular that based on their indigenous origin or identity.
  3. Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
  4. Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions.
  5. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.
  6. Every indigenous individual has the right to a nationality.
  7. Indigenous individuals have the rights to life, physical and mental integrity, liberty and security of person. Indigenous peoples have the collective right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples and shall not be subjected to any act of genocide or any other act of violence, including forcibly removing children of the group to another group.
  8. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture:-
  9. States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for:
  10. Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their
  11. cultural values or ethnic identities;
  12. Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources;
  13. Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights;
  14. Any form of forced assimilation or integration;

4. Fair Distribution of rental income by Itaukei

SODELPA will allow the land owners themselves to decide how the lease funds received for their land should be distributed. This cannot be dictated to them. It is their money and therefore they should decide how it is shared.

SODELPA notes with concern the attempt by some media reporters to push the Bainimarama–Khaiyum policy of dictating how landowners should share their wealth. The regime’s motives for doing this are very much related to its continuing campaign to undermine indigenous traditions and way of life.

Members of other communities decide for themselves how their earnings should be shared. No one else tells them how this should be done. The same principle should apply to the indigenous people surely.

5. The Abolition of the Great Council of Chiefs

The abolition of the Great Council of Chiefs, like the imposition of a common name, was the decision of two unelected, unrepresentative usurpers of our democracy. They acted and continue to act without a mandate from our people.

The GCC is the pinnacle of Fijian society, and just as other communities continue to enjoy their community and cultural structures without interference from the state, so too must the indigenous people of Fiji have the same right.

SODELPA will bring back the GCC and in so doing take the opportunity to review its functions and operations so that it can be better resourced to ensure more effective delivery in addressing specific issues affecting not only the indigenous people but all the citizens of Fiji.

The decision on the future of the GCC will remain the prerogative of the Fijian people and we expect all other communities to respect that right in the same way that their rights are respected by the Fijian itaukei community.

This is the position of SODELPA on these issues.

Authorized By
Ro Teimumu Vuikaba Kepa
Party Leader, SODELPA
August 22, 2014

Distribution of rent

Somebody asked me the other day what was wrong with Bainimarama’s decision to stop distributing a share of rents to chiefs? Isn’t it fair?

The first thing that’s wrong is that it wasn’t Bainimarama’s decision to make. The colonial government never made such decisions without consultation. The NLTB was set up by the colonial government under the leadership of Ratu Sukuna after extensive consultation with the Great Council of Chiefs.

All previous constitutions restricted the ability of elected governments to make such changes without broad-based support – a two thirds majority of an elected Parliament – and support from the Great Council of Chiefs.

Only Bainimarama’s arrogance fuelled by years of dictatorship allowed him to make changes without consulting a single landowner.

He will not listen to the Great Council of Chiefs but he follows every word his illegal Attorney General tells him.

Many iTaukei support a share of land rents going to chiefs and they have said this to Bainimarama when he met them after the decision. If a share goes to their chief, the chief can contribute to projects to help their village and their Vanua. If it goes only to individuals it is lost to the community.

Under the present regime money can be sent out of the country to mataqali members overseas if that’s what the mataqali decides and they have a majority of members overseas.

Who wants this apart from a few selfish individuals who think it suits them?

Statement from Qarase regarding the Minister for Elections and General Secretary of the proposed Fiji First Party

STATEMENT FROM

L. QARASE – 9 May 2014

 

The angry reaction from the Attorney – General, Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum against criticisms on his dual roles as Minister for Elections and General Secretary of the proposed Fiji First Party raises an important issue.

The issue is that of a serious conflict of interest; the people of Fiji have a right to insist that this is not acceptable in a “free and fair” election.

In the Fiji TV news last night (8.5.14) Mr Khaiyum said that his position is no different from what has been the practice in the past. When I was Prime Minister, for example, I was also Leader of the SDL Party. While this information is correct the truth is that I was never Minister for Elections.

In fact, since Independence in 1970, there has never been a Minister for Elections. The reason for this is that both the Electoral Commission and the Office of the Supervisor of Elections must carry out their functions within the laws regulating their operations, with complete independence and without interference from the Government in power.

This golden rule has been broken for the first time by the Bainimarama-Sayed-Khaiyum regime with the appointment of the Attorney- General as Minister responsible for elections. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum exercises the power of this portfolio as a member of a government with no legal or popular mandate, no accountability and no parliamentary oversight. This is the crux of his problem and public concerns about his role.

In a parliamentary democracy, all government agencies must come under a ministerial portfolio. Both the Electoral Commission and the Office of the Supervisor of Elections have always come under the Prime Minister’s portfolio. As Prime Minister from 2000-2006 my role was two-fold in relation to the two agencies. Firstly, I was expected to deal with their submissions for budgetary allocations and, secondly, I had a duty to respond to parliamentary questions as they arose. In no way did I influence or interfere in the work of the Electoral Commission or the Supervisor of Elections. I am aware that the Prime Ministers who preceded me played a similar role.

In contrast to this legal and accountable role of an elected Prime Minister, both the regime’s Prime Minister and Attorney-General have been in complete control of the current election process. This has included the formulation of the onerous Political Parties Decree, the Electoral Decree, with its controversial provisions, the appointment of the members of the Electoral Commission and the appointment of the Supervisor of Elections. They also have control of the media resulting in self-censorship.

The Attorney – General and Minister for Elections, Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum must do the right thing and step down from the position of Minister for Elections. Indeed there should be no Minister for Elections. The general elections must be carried out by a truly independent Electoral Commission and Supervisor of Elections.

 

Authorized By         L. QARASE

You can have “policy”

Is anyone surprised that Frank’s big tour has produced questions from villages about the long-promised by never delivered village By-Laws? The By-laws were about to be delivered in 2010 when they were shelved without a proper explanation.

Since then, for four years, we’ve been told the by-Laws are on the way, but they never arrive. Now as Bainimarama tours villages people are asking: where are the By-laws you promised?

Deputy Permanent Secretary for iTaukei Affairs, Colonel Apakuki Kurusiga, has been pushed out to answer for Bainimarama. The hapless Colonel was forced to admit there have been a lot of questions about Village By-laws. People went through a long process of discussing By-laws and sending them to the Ministry for approval and implementation. They will not be happy to find out this was just going through the motions.

Kurusiga’s response was to advise villages to call a meeting under the turaga ni koro and discuss what they want to be observed by everyone within the village, like the dress code, the consumption of alcohol, respect for village elders, etc. They could then take a vote and agree on a POLICY!

But then what? Anyone can see that Kurusiga is just stalling. Why doesn’t Bainimarama just come out and say it straight: “We are all Fijians, there can be no law that applies only to iTaukei villages.”

At least the IAG who wrote the constitution should tell us if the Constitution would permit Village By-Laws, which apply only in villages, to have the force of law.

Where is the hate?

Ashwin Raj has labelled the speech by Ratu Timoci Vesikula as “hate speech”.

But where is the hate?

The statement that oil and water have not mixed is a simple statement of fact.

The two major communities have not mixed. Is Bainimarama not aware that the RFMF is mono-ethnic? Even if he’s not troubled by this fact, he should have noticed it? (But then again he didn’t notice his second in command in the RFMF, and his logical successor as Commander – he was somehow invisible to Bainimarama).

Then there is the statement that Bainimarama’s most reliable supporters are iTaukei. Is that hate speech?

Ratu Timoci said that Bainimarama could not rely on the vote of ‘others’, meaning those who are not iTaukei. Is it hate speech to suggest that a group of people will not vote for Bainimarama? Most people I talk to think that saying people don’t support Bainimarama is a compliment, a tribute to their intelligence and common sense.

One thing we need to clear up is who is supposed to be the object of this alleged hate. The accusation by Ashwin Raj is that it’s directed at Indo-Fijians and yet there was no mention of Indo-Fijians by Ratu Timoci. The word used for the group we’re talking about – let’s call them the ‘False Friends of Frank’ – was Vasu. Evidentially, this is a new word to Ashwin Raj.

Vasu is not a term of abuse, nor does it mean Indo Fijian. Our vasu are the people outside our group to whom we are most closely related. Vasu iTaukei is a positive way to refer to our Part European relatives. The Melanesian-Vasu-i-Taukei (MVT) development fund, which has been around since 1998, has been funded by Bainimarama to help people from all minority communities (apart from the Rotumans, Banabans and Kioa Islanders, who have access to their own special help).

Prosecuting Ratu Timoci is going to make for some very interesting legal argument. Where is the authoritative source for the meaning of vasu? Not Ashwin Raj, I’m guessing.

What was the “incitement”? He was urging people to vote for Bainimarama! Is the idea that people might vote for somebody other than Bainimarama incitement to hate those people?

This keeps getting better and better. Every speech in vernacular is now going to be handed in advance for Ashwin Raj to peruse in translation. Is this the way Talanoa works? Ashwin Raj may not be aware that Ratu Timoci was speaking in a Talanoa session at the Tailevu Provincial Council.

As I said, this keeps getting better and better.

A problem of his own making

I have not stopped smiling since I listened to the bucket tipped on Bainimarama by his supporter Ratu Timoci Vesikula.

He reminded Bainimarama that the Vanua is his power base and the Vanua was already there when the church and government, the others pillars of iTaukei society, arrived.

And the Vanua demands answers: “you talk of royalties, what about our qoliqoli and our land which is entrusted to you” and “why have scholarships for iTaukei been taken away?”

If Bainimarama thought all his campaigning would be like a visit to villages where overwhelmed villagers sit by and give their big-shot visitor the royal treatment, he has been rudely awakened from that dream.

He is dreaming if he thinks assurances that land is protected and in a the constitution will fool someone like Ratu Timoci, who was a Valuer by profession. He understands very well that a 99 year lease without proper provision for rents to be re-assessed in line with inflation is no different theft and is exactly what the Land Use Decree allows for.

Most important of all: Ratu Timoci is a supporter of Bainimarama. When the Charter was the issue in the early days of the regime Ratu Timoci put his hand up in support. He is not one of the supporters who turns up out of nowhere to mouth words of support on the day. He is a long-standing supporter who is now potentially facing a prison sentence of up to 10 years for simply telling Bainimarama what the ordinary iTaukei voter is thinking.

But what Bainimarama has still not appreciated is that it is his control of the media which gave rise to this problem. The intimidated media toned down Ratu Timoci’s words, attempting to gloss them in a way they thought would be acceptable to the regime.

Then the truth became clear and MIDA made its on translation of Ratu Timoci’s blunt declaration: “we’ve lived together for a long time but the water and kerosene have never mixed”

Bainimarama will hit the media hard, without understanding that self-censorship is the root cause of this blow-up. If he also hits Ratu Timoci hard, he will make matters even worse. His attempt to silence Ratu Timoci will be the focus of discussions around yaqona bowls all over the country, not to mention the barracks.

If long time rivals SODELPA and the FLP can discuss their competing policies freely Bainimarama and his supporters should be able to do likewise.

UFDF PRESS RELEASE – the Collapse of the Fiji Fishing Industry

UFDF Logo

STATEMENT FROM

THE UFDF

[No 9/2014]

[Jan 24, 2014]

The UFDF said today that the suggestion by Minister for Fisheries, Forests & Agriculture Lt Col Inia Seruiratu that another committee be set up to ‘look into’ the plight of Fiji’s Fishing Industry’ is too little too late given that this problem has been allowed to escalate over the past 7 years to the point that more than 8,000 citizen’s incomes will now be adversely affected.

The UFDF said today that the suggestion by Minister for Fisheries, Forests & Agriculture Lt Col Inia Seruiratu that another committee be set up to ‘look into’ the plight of Fiji’s Fishing Industry’ is too little too late given that this problem has been allowed to escalate over the past 7 years to the point that more than 8,000 citizen’s incomes will now be adversely affected.

And who might the members of this committee be? The same officials that have been unable to resolve the issue over the past 7 years and they will advise the Minister how he can resolve an issue they have failed to address in 7 years? Have any of the stake holders been asked for their opinions and input? A quick check yesterday revealed they have not been asked to be part of this Ministerial solution.

The UFDF said while courting China into funding its various projects [all loans no aid] the regime has ignored the fundamental problem that has caused this matter to ‘come to a head’ and that is the ongoing presence of 1,800 or so foreign fishing vessels with licenses issued by our island neighbors. A significant number of these vessels mainly from China operate in international waters surrounding Fiji and other Pacific Islands.

The UFDF said one does not have to be a ‘rocket scientist’ to work out how long our fish will depleted when 1,800 foreign fishing vessels are catching our resources in our backyard 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Not to mention the damage done to our reefs, our sea life by the trawlers. The loss of other types of seafood that get caught in the process as well as the waste and debris from these vessels.

The UFDF said what makes it even more ridiculous is that these foreign vessels are subsidized by up to $US350, 000 ($F662, 000) per vessel to cover costs, fuel, maintenance and they are the only vessels that can sell to China, our Fiji owned and operated vessels cannot sell their catch to China and not one of them are subsidized.

The UFDF say some of the blue painted Chinese subsidized vessels anchored in Suva Harbour can’t afford to operate even with their $F662, 000 subsidies it’s not too difficult to work out why our local boat operators are unable to sustain their operations.

The UFDF says it understands that a major scam is being perpetrated by foreign vessel operators against the Chinese government where operators are falsifying documents and logs of their catch to qualify for the generous subsidy, while remaining anchored. At least 20 officials are reported to have been executed in China for the scam.

The UFDF said none of the foreign vessels are known to hire local crew but if they did it was a minute number, so other than a license fee, there are no real benefits to the Island nations and the areas valuable fishing recourses is being depleted on a scale that will cause catastrophic failure because of the issuance of an excess of fishing licenses by upwards of 400%.

This the UFDF says is despite well researched and sustainable numbers of fishing licenses recommended to all island nations. The recommendations on limiting the issuance of licenses are being ignored for short term financial gain without any regard for the catastrophic long term consequences that will follow the current excesses in fishing of our resources.

The UFDF said the other part of the problem is the local mismanagement of the resource. In Fiji too many licenses have been issued and the resources’ have been depleted.

The problem has nothing to do with migratory fish or seasons it’s all to do with the mismanagement of resources.

The UFDF said the MSG has failed to adequately and prudently address this issue for the long term sustainable benefit of all the island nations and the current discord among the members over the West Papua issue will unlikely allow them to urgently resolve this major economic catastrophe currently unfolding in the region.

Authorized By                       UFDF

UFDF PRESS RELEASE – One law for the nation, another for the Military

UFDF Logo

STATEMENT FROM

THE UFDF

[No 7/2014]

[Jan 21, 2014]

The UFDF said today that statements attributed to Lt Col Netani Rika as reported by the Fiji Sun and Frank Bainimarama as reported by Vijay Narayan and Mohammed Feroz show clear breaches of the Civil Service Standing Orders [2011 revision] and abuse of office.

The UFDF says the Civil Service Standing Orders on Campaigning Sec 1222 states quote ‘  Campaigning or political activity by a Civil Servant while on duty is forbidden. Civil Servants must not be canvassing or by any other means attempt publicly to further the activities or aspirations of a political party, or the election or return of an individual (whether a member of a political party or not) in any election to the House of Representatives or to a local Government body including Provincial Councils unquote

The UFDF says Lt Col Rika’s comments are political in nature and breach The Civil Service Standing orders 1222 that disallow quote ‘canvassing or by any other means attempt publicly to further the activities or aspirations of a political party’ unquote. There can be no doubt that Lt Col Rika was canvassing for Bainimarama’s party and as Commissioner Eastern he is abusing the privileges of his office as well as Sec 14 (1) (c) (d) of Decree 4 of 2013.

The UFDF says in the case of Frank Bainimarama he remains Commander of the Military and according to his Regimes own decree No 4 of 2013 he is in breach of the following provisions-

POLITICAL PARTIES (REGISTRATION, CONDUCT, FUNDING AND DISCLOSURES) DECREE 2013 DECREE NO 4 OF 2013

Restrictions on public officers in a political party

Sec 14    (1)          A public officer shall not-

(c)           Engage in political activity that may compromise or be seen to compromise the political neutrality of that person’s office; or

(d)           Publicly indicate support for or opposition to any proposed political party or a political party registered under this decree or candidate in an election

(2)           For the purposes of this section, ‘public officer’ means any person-

(c)           Holding any office in the public service, the Fiji Police, Fiji Corrections Services or the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

(4)           Any public officer who intends to be an applicant or a member of, or hold office in, a proposed political party or a political party registered under this decree, must resign from the respective public office prior to applying to become an applicant or a member of, or hold office in, a proposed political party or a political party registered under this decree.

(5)           A public officer is deemed to have vacated his or her office mentioned in subsection 2 immediately before the time at which he or she applies to become and applicant or a member of. Or hold office in, a proposed political party or a [political party registered under this decree.

The UFDF says the Commander’s repeated statements about forming his own party and contesting elections is in clear breach of Sec 14 (1) (c), (d), (2) (c) and (4) and (5) of Decree 4 of 2013. Just as Lt Col Rika’s statements are in breach of the Civil Service Standing Orders.

The UFDF says Lt Col Rika and Commodore Bainimarama have broken the law and the Acting Commissioner of Police and the Civil Service Commission are obliged to uphold the laws that govern these public office holders and appropriate and immediate action should be taken against them just as they would apply it to any other citizen.

The UFDF says if the newly elected Electoral Commission is serious about ensuring free and fair elections  and remaining impartial and independent then it cannot ‘look the other way’ when clear abuse of office and breaches of the law as reported are committed by their employer.

Authorized By                       UFDF

Where is the good governance coup?

In December 2006 the Army Commander seized power in the name of transparency and good governance. It was all about cleaning up government. The issue wasn’t how genuine our democracy was, it was all about cleaning up government. All of the claims about genuine democracy came later as an excuse for not allowing us to elect a clean government. However flawed past elections may have been, they’ve all had more democratic credibility than a Government imposed by force.
In 2007, when Bainimarama was talking all the time about ‘transparency and good governance’, it was obvious that he was repeating words from a coup script written by others. Good governance means more than sacking the government boards and advisory bodies appointed by Qarase. It means making sure all decisions made by government, whether directly through cabinet or indirectly through government-appointed board members, can be seen, understood and questioned by the public.
Over the seven years of Bainimarama rule there has been a steady decline in all the principles of good governance, in paticular transparency. We don’t know what the government is doing and we are not allowed to ask.
Annual Reports from the FNPF have shrunk and no longer provide the information we need to be confident our contributions are safe. The Fiji Sugar Corporation no longer has to produce an Annual Report because it has been de-listed from the South Pacific Stock Exchange, but we know it is insolvent. FSC should be placed the hands of a receiver to protect all the people that trade with it – banks lending it money (if there still are banks foolish enough to do this) suppliers providing it with goods and services and hoping to be paid, not to forget small farmers investing in their farms in the hope that they will sell cane to FSC and be paid.
Then there’s Fiji Airways. Who knows what they owe or what interest they’re paying on their debts. We know the planes are owned by some artifical Irish corporation.
The pine and mahogany industries are covered in fog. We know Aiyaz buddy, Faiz Khan, is head of Fiji Pine, giving him control of Tropik Wood and Fiji Forest Industries. But that’s all we know. Try checking with Bloomberg Businessweek to see who’s running FHCL and you’ll find this: “Fiji Hardwood Corp. Ltd. does not have any Key Executives recorded.” There are no reports to show what is earned from mahogany sales, no doubt because Bainimarama doesn’t want the landowners to be able to work out what share he’s leaving for them.
Fijian Holdings is the one small ray of sunshine even though is shine through a dark and threatening cloud. FHL still publishes the Annual Reports required by the Stock Exchange and from that we find that total liabilities for the FHL group grew by a staggering 244% during the year ending 30 June 2013. Assets grew by only 46%. And yet it is claimed FHL made a small profit. Is this profit real or just a result of accounting tricks?
The FHL Annual Report claims “All Directors are independent Directors with no substantial interest in the shares or Group business.” In other words they lose nothing if the company is bled dry by the regime. Dividends are being paid out to the iTAB and then grabbed back by Bainimarama to repay the ‘loan’ he invented to cover his grab-back of the Qarase Government grant to the iTAB and Provincial Councils of B class shares.
FHL is being looted but at least we can get a glimpse of it in the Annual Report, which is more than we can say for Fiji Pine and the Fiji Hardwood Corporation.
If we had an independent media they could demand answers to these questions, but sadly, we do not

UFDF PRESS RELEASE – Who are the “liars and troublemakers”?

UFDF Logo

STATEMENT FROM

THE UFDF

[No 36/2013]

[Dec 18, 2013]

UFDF CALLS ON THE PM & LT COL SULIANO TO NAME & SHAME THE ‘PAST POLITICIANS’ THEY CALL LIARS & TROUBLE MAKERS AND PROVIDE THE EVIDENCE THAT SUPPORTS THEIR CLAIMS!

At his recent Christmas celebrations with the RFMF the Commander again claimed to have created a new path forward for Fiji but warned the military to be on guard against ‘past politicians who caused problems?

But who are these faceless and nameless ‘past politicians’ he keeps referring to and what exactly is the problem they are being accused of causing?

The people need to know who these trouble makers are and more importantly what kind of trouble it is they are being blamed for causing?

Since Independence, the only thing that has caused the greatest problems for Fiji and her people, are the 4 coups carried out by certain officers of the military command and possibly some ‘old political & self-serving individual collaborators’. Perhaps these are the people that the Commander regularly refers to.

When it comes to calculating the cost to the country and her people, there is enough evidence available that places this figure at approximately $10 billion dollars or more in lost economic activity, growth, employment and development and the individual loss to our citizens by way of their lives, jobs, homes and the accompanying ‘trauma and stress’ inflicted on them is a cost too high to be accurately measured.

If the PM is referring to politicians who ‘colluded with the military to over throw past elected governments? Then its time he named them and shamed them? And a good place to start would be his own cabinet.

Then there’s the standard veil threat once again from the military command and this time around coming from Lt Col Suliano who refers to the ‘threat caused by liars spreading lies’?

But what is the ‘threat?’ What are the lies? Who are the liars? Unless he can back up what he says with facts, then generalizing as he does amounts to nothing more than lies and rumor? The people have a right to know the TRUTH behind what he is claiming.

Fiji is supposed to be just 10 months away from returning to democratic governance and at this stage of proceedings the regime, indeed the Prime Minister, the Military Command as well as the Fiji Sun and other pro regime media organizations should be at least attempting to ‘walk their talk’ and start ‘practicing’ some of the democratic principles they claim credit for and espouse from time to time, but seem to still have great difficulty keeping in line with.

There is a lot at stake for the people of Fiji in the coming 10 months and veil threats of unproven allegations has no place in a free and open society if indeed that is one of the democratic principles that is part of the Bainimarama promise to the people of Fiji and the world.

The UFDF calls on Lt Col Suliano and the Prime Minister to stop referring to faceless and nameless past politicians and making baseless generalized allegations and challenges both of them to name the past politicians and liars they refer to and clarify the ‘lies’ they are spreading and state exactly how these alleged lies constitute a ‘threat’.

Lt Col Suliano is also quoted as saying ‘the RFMF would stand firm to make sure that the ‘transition of power’ after the 2014 elections would be smooth.

Are we to take from that statement, that even if Bainimarama and his party fail to win a single seat in the next elections that the RFMF will ‘stand firm’ and ensure the Bainimarama Regime hands over power to the new government elected by the people?

Is this ‘true’ or just another lie?

Authorized By                       UFDF

For further elaboration or interviews on our statements please contact anyone of the following:

Mick Beddoes – 830524;  Laisania Qarase – 9993113;  Mahendra Chaudhry – 9921865

 Attar Singh – 9921184;  Tupeni Baba – 9373364

The question of immunity

Some people have been surprised that Driti was not able to claim immunity for the acts which was alleged to have committed, but which he, of course, denied.

No-one should be surprised that the regime has acted hypocritically or illegally, but the issue of immunity is an interesting one.

We know the Constitution tailored for our illegal PM by Aiyaz Custom Legal Tailors has an intentional immunity gap. According to Section 154 “immunity for the period between 18 July 2012 to the date of the first sitting of Parliament elected after the commencement of this Constitution shall not apply to any act or omission that constitutes an offence under sections 77 to 390 of the Crimes Decree 2009″.

Ordinary crimes committed by our extraordinary government before they hand over to the elected Parliament are not covered by immunity. Sounds highly principled but there is really no inconsistency. This is the same crooked regime we know so well. Until there is a new Parliament Bainimarama and AS-K control the police and the court system, so they do not expect their criminal acts to be investigated.

If Bainimarama ceases to hold power, however, the situation will be different. The Fiji Police Force has any number of individuals who can give evidence of ordinary crimes which have been covered up, all of them involving deliberate attempts to pervert the course of justice. And in their professional capacity they know how to ensure strong evidence is available. Dates and places, all the key facts will be nailed down.

There are many people biding their time who will be able to claim credibly in the future that they could not report the crimes they witnessed because the criminals controlled the justice system.

Bainimarama will have no-one to blame but himself when he finds that immunity is a house of cards. He has placed his faith in AS-K, excluding advice from any other source. The price he will pay for this will be very high.

UFDF PRESS RELEASE – Why Is There No Immunity For Brig. Gen. Driti?

UFDF Logo

STATEMENT FROM

THE UFDF

[No 34/2013]

[Nov 28, 2013]

The UFDF calls on the Attorney General, the  PM & Military Commander to explain to the people how Brig Gen Driti who was part of the 2006 Bainimarama team that overthrew a constitutional government and is supposedly covered under  the ‘entrenched’  immunity provisions of  the 2013 constitution has somehow been ‘excluded’ and put on trial?

The UFDF calls on the Attorney General, the  PM & Military Commander to explain to the people how Brig Gen Driti who was part of the 2006 Bainimarama team that overthrew a constitutional government and is supposedly covered under  the ‘entrenched’  immunity provisions of  the 2013 constitution has somehow been ‘excluded’ and put on trial?

The UFDF says if a special decree was passed by cabinet under section 161 of the 2013 constitution that excluded Brig Gen Driti from the protection he is supposed to have enjoyed as a member of the 2006 Bainimarama team, why has that decree not been made public?.

The UFDF says it is ironic that Brig Gen Driti is being found guilty of inciting mutiny against an Army Commander who overthrew a constitutional government?

The UFDF asks how was it possible to have a trial where some of the key characters involved in the alleged crime did not even make a court appearance.

If Driti can be charged and brought to court while supposedly being protected under the immunity provisions, the UFDF asks if this means all those who have aided and abetted the regime who think they are protected from prosecution, can also be removed from immunity protection and prosecuted?

Authorized By                       UFDF

For further elaboration or interviews on our statements please contact anyone of the following:

Mick Beddoes – 830524;  Laisania Qarase – 9993113;  Mahendra Chaudhry – 9921865

 Attar Singh – 9921184;  Tupeni Baba – 9373364

LOCAL MEDIA REMINDER

FIJI INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT DECREE 2010

(DECREE NO 29 OF 2010)

 

Schedule 1

Media Code of Ethics & Practice

 Sec 1: Accuracy, balance and fairness: (d) ‘Media organizations have a duty to be balanced and fair in their treatment of news and current affairs and their dealings with members of the public’ & (e) Editorial comment in any medium must be clearly identified as such and kept separate from news reports.

Sec 2: Opportunity to reply: Media organizations have an obligation to give a fair opportunity to reply to any individual or organization on which the medium itself comments editorially

 Sec 21: Impartially and balance: Media organizations shall endeavor to show fairness at all times, and impartiality and balance in any item or programme, series of items or programmes or in broadly related articles or programmes over a reasonable period of time when presenting news which deals with political matters, current affairs and controversial questions.

UFDF PRESS RELEASE – The Truth about the state of Fiji’s Health Services

UFDF Logo

STATEMENT FROM

THE UFDF

[No 33 /2013]

[Nov 20, 2013]

The UFDF calls on Dr Sharma to do the right thing and take responsibility for the decisions and policies he has imposed on the Ministry of Health on behalf of the regime and for once account to the people for this terrible mess and man up and resign.

The UFDF said in his 2014 Election focused Budget provisions; the PM said very little about the state of the nation’s Health except for an admission that quote ‘it is not as good as it should be, given years of neglect ‘unquote.

The UFDF says the regime always speaks of ‘past years neglect’ in general terms so as to infer the democratic government they overthrew in 2006 is the cause of the neglect. But the Regime have been in control for the past 7 years, this is 2 years longer than the previous elected government and still the state of our Health Services is a disgrace.

When the next democratically elected government is in place at the end of 2014, the regime would have had 3 years longer than the previous legal governments to fix things and based on their current performance there is nothing that indicates that they have the ability to fix anything.

The UFDF says there are many hidden flaws and losses that run into the tens of millions of dollars mainly through incompetence, corruption and mismanagement that remain unknown because of the lack of accountability and transparency practiced by the regime and this information needs to be exposed so that people can see what is really going on.

MINISTRY OF HEALTH

An official of the UFDF recently visited the Lautoka & CWM Hospital, spoke to staff, nurses, Doctors and other medical personal and the following is a brief summary of what emerged from discussions with hospital personnel.

  • LAUTOKA HOSPITAL [Visit – Sep 2013]
  1. Dr Neil Sharma announced an $8 million upgrade of the Lautoka Hospital & CWM hospitals on April 7th 2010, yet today both hospitals look a sorry sight and in desperate need of repair? So what was it spent on?
  2. In the Lautoka Hospital as late as September only 1 of the 3 lifts it has was operating and according to staff, the others have been out of service for almost a year?
  3. Should the 3rd lift breakdown, patients will need to be carried up the stairs from the Emergency Department to the ICU and CCU and Major Operating theatre?
  4. Patients are still being asked to buy their own drugs and medication because the hospital has none, yet in 2012 $10 million in medication purchased by government sat in stock, then expired and went to waste? [FT Nov 27 2012 Report]
  • CWM HOSPITAL [Visit –Nov 2013 ]

Like Lautoka, despite the supposed multimillion dollar upgrade, the CWM looks a sorry sight and in desperate need of repair.

  1. In addition the ongoing shortages of drugs and supplies continues, but with the added burden of cheap and inferior medical supplies from China and as well as India. . An example of this is the cheaper intravenous cannulas being purchased from China which are apparently of such poor quality and have flaws that expose the medical personnel to blood when injecting the patient. Previous purchases of these were a better quality without flaws.
  2. Doctors and Nurses alike ‘buy their own’ plaster for use on patients because the officially supplied plaster – referred to by all in CWM as the cello tape’  falls off within minutes of being applied to a wound.
  3. The number of the ultrasound scan machines purchased by the government at a cost of $27,000 each and distributed to other sub divisional health facilities have been returned to the CWM because no one can operate them and when repairs are required the technicians in Fiji can’t repair them, there is also a  new lot of hematological  and biomedical equipment  and like the ultrasound equipment the local technicians cannot fix them so the supplier [alleged to be a relative or friend of the Minister] has to be flown up from New Zealand to carry out the repairs.In his 2014 Budget address the PM said quote

Our biomedical equipment will now be serviced by professionals, and $900,000 has been allocated for this purpose’

  • The approximate $243,000 cost for the equipment has already been paid, so add to this the $900,000 put aside for servicing and repairs by professionals? Then someone is making a cool $1.1 million for equipment that can’t be operated or serviced locally? WHY?
  • The regime recently announced a multimillion plan to build 6 new operating theatres in the CWM, however there is a well known shortage of qualified anesthetist and surgical nursing staff to man the 4 theatres already renovated and in place.  Different surgical specialists are already facing difficulties due to the current shortage of trained medical staff and equipment; another 6 new operating theatres will simply compound the situation.
  • There are specialist shortages which are rife in the Ministry and a specific example of this is in the anesthesia department where anesthetist are working 24 hour shifts looking after the country’s most critically ill and surgical patients.  The situation was further worsened when senior staffs were sent to Sudan and only a handful remained to maintain services. The majority of the anesthetists are made up of junior staffs that have recently joined the department, a factor that led to the recent death of a female patient in Lautoka and the suspension of the Anesthetist.The UFDF says all of the examples of neglect and gross mismanagement referred in this statement occurred in the past 12 to 24 months under Bainimarama’s ‘illegal’ regime and are the result of the prior ‘5 years of neglect’ he referred to in his 2014 budget address and have absolutely nothing to do with any previous elected and ‘legal’ government that he tries to deflect blame to.

Dr Neil Sharma has been the Minister responsible since January 2009 and therefore the person directing the regimes failed policies over the past 5 years that have led to the gross mismanagement and neglect which occurred over the past 24 months as highlighted in this statement.

The UFDF says any person of moral and principled standing would accept responsibility for the failures of their policies in the same way they accept the praise and accolades when things get done right, rare though that may be.

The UFDF calls on Dr Sharma to do the right thing and take responsibility for the decisions and policies he has imposed on the Ministry of Health on behalf of the regime and for once account to the people for this terrible mess and man up and resign.

The UFDF says the ongoing daily struggles of our Doctors and nursing staff in our hospitals and the difficulty they face with medical supply shortages, inferior products, lack of trained specialists and the below average remuneration for their profession is a matter that should concern all citizens as the state of our Health Services is something we will all face a need for at sometime in our lives.

More statements highlighting other areas of gross neglect and mismanagement will be highlighted in the coming weeks.

Authorized By                       UFDF

For further elaboration or interviews on our statements please contact anyone of the following:

Mick Beddoes – 830524;  Laisania Qarase – 9993113;  Mahendra Chaudhry – 9921865

 Attar Singh – 9921184;  Tupeni Baba – 9373364

LOCAL MEDIA REMINDER

FIJI INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT DECREE 2010

(DECREE NO 29 OF 2010)

 

Schedule 1

Media Code of Ethics & Practice

 Sec 1: Accuracy, balance and fairness: (d) ‘Media organizations have a duty to be balanced and fair in their treatment of news and current affairs and their dealings with members of the public’ & (e) Editorial comment in any medium must be clearly identified as such and kept separate from news reports.

Sec 2: Opportunity to reply: Media organizations have an obligation to give a fair opportunity to reply to any individual or organization on which the medium itself comments editorially

 Sec 21: Impartially and balance: Media organizations shall endeavor to show fairness at all times, and impartiality and balance in any item or programme, series of items or programmes or in broadly related articles or programmes over a reasonable period of time when presenting news which deals with political matters, current affairs and controversial questions.

Bainimarama’s blind following of ASK’s plans

Nearly 3 years ago Bainimarama ordered the TLTB to distribute lease money equally to mataqali members. What this meant in particular was that chiefs, heads of yavusa or Vanua, would no longer receive a share. But it seems that nearly three years later this hasn’t happened.

Bainimarama hasn’t explained the delay but we can be sure it’s not a result of him listening to requests from landowners not to do it. It seems it’s a result of the decision to require all payments to go into bank accounts with trustees who have to make sure that the money goes to all mataqali members. This includes children as well as adults.

In the meantime we don’t know whether the lease money is being held by the TLTB or payments under the old system are being continued.

Bainimarama is always berating landowners for idle land, urging them to lease it, while ignoring the fact that rents are low and often not paid anyway, with the TLTB making too little effort to collect them. All he’s done is make this problem worse with his cock-eyed equal distribution policy, which landowners did not ask him to institute.

So why would he do it? Like so may decisions it’s down to one man, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, who thinks he has a mandate to impose what he thinks is equality. But Sayed-Khaiyum is also motivated by a desire to see the death of all Fijian institutions.

When lease money was distributed in cash in villages people could see it and it tended to stay in the village. When people know their chiefs are receiving lease proceeds they can ask them to contribute to village projects. And giving the money to mataqali members in the village, directs the money to those most in need.

Bainimarama should leave lease money in the village where it’s needed. Apart from helping to strengthen village life it might encourage more landowners to approve leases.

The gender gap shows the credibility gap

The Bainimarama military regime has tried to present an image of itself as a reformist government. They call the halving of our sugar production, the bank-rupting of FSC and the impoverishment of thousands of cane farmers ‘reform’.

They even try to tell us that they are leading a charge of feminist reform but the truth is they’re a 2 man band and women are more marginalised than ever. Fiji has slipped four places to 117 among 136 countries in the 2013 World Gender Gap Index, with poor marks for political empowerment and economic participation for women.

Bainimarama’s cabinet has five military men (five out of eleven) and only one woman. Four out of twenty four Permanent Secretaries are women, the same as the number of military men in the ranks of Permanent Secretaries. It’s obvious a military government is a male-dominated government and it goes without saying, an undemocratic government.

The one woman in Cabinet is pure window-dressing. The regime’s propaganda regularly shows her handing out sewing machines in a blatant attempt at vote-buying in iTaukei villages.

When it comes to women in the senior ranks of the civil service the treatment of Mere Vuniwaqa shows us how it works. She was pushed out without explanation for daring to exercise the responsibility of her office, and then replaced by a pip-squeak upstart, chosen for his close links to the illegal A-G.

Actions speak louder than words and the actions of the military regime are clear. They were installed by force of arms and the message they send to everyone is might is right. The sad result of this example is that family violence is worse than ever and home invasions and assaults have not decreased.

Frank could win 27% of the vote!

Psychologists have noted the amazing fact that a percentage of the victims of terrorists and kidnappers identify with their tormentors and do not feel inclined to blame them. It’s called ‘Stockholm syndrome’ or capture bonding.

Some victims of kidnappers and terrorists adjust to the trauma of their abuse by identifying with the criminals who hold their lives in their hands. They end up feeling gratitude that they weren’t raped, maimed or killed rather than anger at the violation of their freedom and human dignity.

According to experts at the FBI up to 27 percent of victims may react this way. The others, of course, display a normal response – a fierce desire to see their tormentors face justice.

Could it be that the expressions of support some people actually show for Voreqe are the result of capture-bonding or Stockholm Syndrome?

If so, what this means is that the highest vote he can hope for is 27% because the rest of us do not feel grateful to our captor that we have not been among the number picked for beating, sacking, confiscation of property (including a chunk of pension). We do not identify with the criminal – we identify with his victims.

Better imperfect constitution than none

There are only two people who could say that the new constitution is everything everyone wanted, and that’s the two who drew it up. They put page after page spelling out that they cannot be held responsible for crimes and a few measly lines saying that Fijians own their land, without protecting their right to control leasing of land.

We can work out how weak the support for their constitution was from the fact that they couldn’t even find a handful of people to form a Constituent Assembly to rubber stamp it.

They announced that there would be a Constituent Assembly, with the job of legitimising the burning of the Yash Ghai draft, but they delayed and delayed as they tried to find members who were credible puppets, eventually giving up because no-one credible could put their name to such an exercise.

What the new constitution brings is constraints on the power of the regime. Since they trashed the old constitution they’ve had nothing restricting their ability to use powers of government as they like, especially current Rule by Decree, which is not rule of law at all. They set up the Yash Ghai Commission and then changed the rules once they found they didn’t suit.

They are now bound to hold elections. Bainimarama will have to stand down as Commander before he can set-up his political party. He might remain as PM, but he will no longer be Commander. This will be a significant check on his power, hence his reluctance to step down. Also, the constitution creates electoral framework, sets rules of the game, and paves way for return to parliamentary democracy.

But everyday he delays the day of announcing his party restricts his ability to set up an effective party. With the well organised parties now opposing him he’s going to find these elections very hard to win.

At least now he’s going to have to play by some rules.

Bainimarama’s transparency

When Bainimarama seized power in 2006 he kept talking about ‘transparency’. Since then he’s hidden everything his Government does and banned the media from reporting anything critical of his actions.

But the latest draft of the proposed Constitution makes his motives very clear for all to see.

The 1997 Constitution, which Bainimarama scrapped, said: “The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the military forces.”

The first draft produced by Sayed-Khaiyum working to Bainimarama’s orders was very similar: “The Prime Minister is the Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.”

The powers are the same but the office that holds them has been changed. Bainimarama wanted to keep the powers of the Commander in Chief for himself. Now that IS transparency.

It seems that Bainimarama’s motives were so transparent that they created a lot of unrest in the RFMF. The proposal that Bainimarama would be their PM and their Commander in Chief left no-one in any doubt that his only aim was to hang on to power.

The new Constitution gives the role of Commander in Chief to the President, but makes a big change in what that role means.

Now we have “The President shall perform the ceremonial functions and responsibilities as the Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.” In other words he is just a uniform standing on a podium to take salutes.

The Commander will exercise all his powers under the direct orders of the Government, which will be headed by Bainimarama.

Bainimarama has not forgotten the undermining, insubordination and plotting that made him Commander and Thief.

Protection of land will be just another right

Our long awaited constitution has been promised for the end of this month. Once again Bainimarama has been saying that land will be totally protected, and then adding that he’s guaranteeing rights to livelihood, water and electricity and who knows what else.

This is hardly likely to satisfy iTaukei Fijians. Their right to ownership of their land should not be equated with the rights of “everybody” to electricity or safe drinking water.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has a strategy that’s not hard to see. Everyone has a large number of rights – rights to a job, rights to water, education, electricity etc. In the first draft the right to ownership of land was just another right to ownership. No different to ownership of any other piece of property.

It’s not hard to guess what the new ‘revised’ constitution will contain. It will mention iTaukei landownership as one of the full range of rights. It will mention that iTaukei landownership is inalienable. It cannot be transferred to another person.

Of course, rights to use of land can be handed to others through the medium of leases. That won’t change. And it’s the power to hand out 99 year leases under the Land Use Decree that Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum sees as the key to his land plan.

The Land Use decree gives Bainimarama as PM the power to do whatever he wants to hand out 99 year leases. It says he should look at the best interests of the landowners but he has to balance this against the best interests of the economy and the nation.

With a Constitution that hands out rights to all, it will be the state and the ASK controlled court system that will be deciding on who is entitled to what. Make no mistake, the first draft we saw was a charter for state power and the next version will be no different. Itaukei landownership rights will be transformed into just one right alongside many others which will be handed out by a regime posing as a state.

Frank’s Cassava Patch fever in 2007

That marvel of international diplomacy, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, showed himself to be a bit of a clumsy baboon in the mould of his boss with his dressing down of Australia about the Asylum Seeker agreement with PNG. When his verbal IED went off it also took out Peter O’Neill.

O’Neill was party to the agreement Kubuabola was attacking, and-if O’Neill didn’t run the proposal past Bainimarama, why should Australia? PNG is an independent sovereign state perfectly capable of making its own decisions.

The fact is that Kubuabola is treating O’Neill like he’s a fool who doesn’t know what he’s doing or a gutless coward who needs lessons in courage from our very own self-made ‘strongman’.

What a joke! Lessons in courage from Bainimarama! Forget about the Cassava Patch in November 2000, he showed his true colours to best effect in the Pacific Forum meeting in Tonga in 2007 when he promised that he’d hold elections by 2009.

This was not in the script prepared for him but he went to water when he was surrounded by a room full of serious leaders asking him why he couldn’t hold elections if his coup was a ‘clean-up coup” welcomed by the people.

This is why he carries on so much now about Australia’s and New Zealand’s role in the forum. He has never recovered from his bout of Cassava Patch fever in the 2007 Forum Leaders meeting in Tonga. And it may explain why he doesn’t want an Australian High Commissioner. Faced with a senior diplomat he might find himself persuaded against his will to do the right thing.