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

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.

The all powerful executive

We can be sure that Bainimarama and Sayed-Khaiyum will take no notice of the opinion of Anthony Regan, an Australia-based constitutional lawyer, that the new Constitution gives too much power to the Executive branch of Government to exercise influence over the judiciary.

They are assuming that the reins of Executive Government will still be in their hands after the elections. The idea that they could lose the election hasn’t really registered.

The price they pay for their heavy-handed government – the censorship, the bullying and intimidation of anyone who speaks out – is they have no idea just how despised they are. Bainimarama knows of course that his joined at the hip side-kick is despised by iTaukei, but he thinks his strong hand will bring them all to heel. Bainimarama must be unaware, however, that AS-K has made enemies for the regime everywhere, meaning literally everywhere.

All through the bureaucracy normal civil servants who just try to do their job have been frustrated by his interference. In business, people who would love to invest in new opportunities hold back because they fear his all pervasive interference in anything he hasn’t personally approved. His support base is limited to people like Mohammed Saneem who owe everything to him personally. The fact that many of them are Muslims is unfairly giving the impression of a Muslim takeover, so many Muslims are also uncomfortable with the AS-K ascendency.

If Bainimarama does not win this election, control of the all-powerful executive will pass to other hands. At that point they will regret their creation of an all-powerful executive. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum never favoured a strong executive until he became part of it. He will have to hope that the people who hold the reins of executive power after the election show more respect for the spirit of the constitution than he has since he joined the unelected government.

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.

Time for affirmative action

In the days before the Bainimarama coup we used to talk about affirmative action. It meant assisting indigenous Fijians overcome obstacles which made it harder for them to enter business or gain access to higher education. The 1997 Constitution tries to make sure that this was done in an open and transparent manner.

Is the time ripe now for us to talk about affirmative action for Indo-Fijians to join the RFMF? At least let us be open about what those obstacles are.

Ask an RFMF officer why there are so few Indo-Fijians in the army and he’ll no doubt say that they don’t want to join. They’re happier in business. We all know this is nonsense. The RFMF has some of the best jobs going in our devastated economy.

Ask any Indo-Fijian who has tried life in the RFMF and they’ll tell you it is a stifling mono-ethnic culture. If you’re not an officer, life is not easy, especially if you don’t speak na vosa vakaviti.

Affirmative action doesn’t mean lowering standards or making it easier for some people to join than others. It means taking action to ensure that no-one who could become an effective soldier faces unnecessary obstacles on the path to becoming a member of the RFMF.

The 1997 Constitution allows Parliament to make laws designed to overcome disadvantage in equal access to “all levels and branches of service of the state”. This includes “special measures ….for the purpose of achieving substantial equality between different groups or different categories of people”.

Can anyone say there is “substantial equality” between iTaukei and Indo-Fijians in the make-up of the RFMF?

This is a perfect opportunity for the Interim Government to show that its vision for Fiji is more than empty propaganda designed to give a naked seizure of power respectability it doesn’t deserve.

IS LAISENIA QARASE BECOMING A MARTYR FOR FIJI DEMOCRACY? – Fiji regime continues its persecution of the former Prime Minister – CFDFiji.org

The Corrections Service of Fiji, like every other public institution in Fiji, is controlled by the Army – it is headed by a Lieutenant Colonel. Like every other public institution in Fiji it does nothing which would not be approved of by the current alleged Prime Minister of Fiji, who is head of the Army.

A victim of the hypocrisy of lesser men?

From this we can understand the Correction Services’ latest affront to humanity by declining to transfer a sick old man to a medical facility as distinct from the rigours of the Fiji prisons. The person involved is the former Prime Minister of Fiji, Laisenia Qarase, who gathered the largest number of votes at the last democratic election held in Fiji.

A long time ago the current illegal Attorney General was boasting that he would prosecute Qarase and drag the case on to keep him out of public life.

Qarase has been outspoken against the regime, including stating that he would stand in any elections to be held by the regime and that he would win them, and, after the latest coup the current alleged Prime Minister agreed and conceded that if fresh elections had then been held Qarase would win them.

The following is the full list of indignities inflicted by the regime upon Laisenia Qarase:

  • He was selectively charged upon outdated offences dating back to the early 1990s whereas those who arranged for his prosecution have never been charged for the much more recent crimes which they have committed, in the current alleged Prime Minister’s case extending at the very least to murder and treason, and in the case of the current alleged Attorney General to not only treason but many other offences.
  • He was tried by an imported Sri Lankan Judge who, together with other Judges is completely discredited in the recent petition of William Marshall QC, former Judge of Appeal.
  • His appeal is being ‘entertained’ if that is the word by another like Sri Lankan import.
  • He is being refused a healthful environment  for recovery from his grave illness.

Clearly Qarase was charged to remove him from public life, by those who should not even be in public life.

The Council deplores the Regime’s treatment of Qarase.

Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara
Council for a Democratic Fiji
Cfdfiji.org

Hand-out fever

The sudden outburst of hand-out fever is being greeted with cynicism by the blogging community. Isn’t this just what Bainimarama accused Qarase of doing? Isn’t that how Bainimarama said Qarase won elections in 2001 and 2006?

So what do people who bought Bainimarama’s big boast that he was above all politics say now that he’s handing out largesse like there’s no tomorrow? Is he just being compassionate after six years of saying he had to make all the hard decisions and give us a lot of pain with the promise of gain in the future?

There are two possibilities. One is that he’s really worried about his immediate future. The sudden withdrawal of Khaiyum from the public scene can be taken as an indication that the RFMF membership is sick of his arrogance. The threat of losing access to the US market for a lot of products, thanks largely to his campaign to break all our trade unions, is a huge cost for the entire nation to bear just to feed this giant ego.

Then there’s the revelations of Khaiyum’s interference in the judiciary which were contained in the huge dossier dumped on the internet by the disaffected appeals court judge.

One solution to the problem would be to simply sack Khaiyum, and a lot of people wonder why he hasn’t done this already. Sacking has never been a problem for Bainimarama. He’s left behind him a long trail of former supporters who’ve been thrown over because they made mistakes, got blamed for the mistakes of others or managed to get off-side for some reason. Look at most of these, however, and you’ll probably find that Khaiyum was one of the reasons for their removal. He could never tolerate any rival for Bainimarama’s ear.

Khaiyum’s continued presence in the regime suggests that there is more to the outbreak of hand-out fever than Bainimarama’s fear of discontent within the ranks over Khaiyum’s crazed power trip.

The other possible explanation for the hand-outs now, so far in front of the 2014 elections, is that elections are going to be brought forward. The problem with this is that we don’t yet have a constitution under which the elections could be held. So what Bainimarama may be contemplating is a vote on the constitution itself, which would come intact with his blanket immunity for all his crimes. That’s why Bainimarama and Khaiyum have made sure they have a voter roll in place so far in advance of the elections, even if it doesn’t have all the names after the rushed registration process.

But wait, there’s more. A national vote would give the regime a chance to elect a President, who would, of course, be Bainimarama. The current puppet is like one of Khaiyum’s judges, holding office at the pleasure of the regime, not a real holder of office. With the Presidency in their grip they may think they can do anything.

But it may not prove so easy. Once people see all the scheming involved in scenario two, it may quickly turn to scenario one. He could soon be doling out state assets as fast as he can to shore up support with the military who keep him in power. In 2000 many people, especially overseas Fijians, were appalled to see the video footage of ordinary people running through the streets looting shops. But what has the last six years been but one long looting session, with Bainimarama using the spoils to buy support?

Only one thing is certain – Frank Bainimarama is going wild with hand-outs to serve his own purposes. He cares nothing for the people to whom he has brought 6 years of steadily increasing hardship.

The Fiji regime and its opponents – Who are the cowards? – CFDFiji.org

The Council refers to the practice of the current regime of seeking to brand as ‘cowards’ its overseas opponents who are the subject of trumped up charges by the regime but who decline to accept the invitation of the regime to return to Fiji to, in the regime’s words, ‘face justice.’  A prominent person falling into that category is Ratu Tevita Mara, who considerably embarrassed the regime by his flight from Fiji last year after being the subject of alleged sedition charges.

The Council has pointed out many times that there is no more justice in Fiji to which any opponent of the regime can return, that the regime trumps up charges against any party disagreeing with it, and that Bainimarama’s view of sedition as any disagreement is wrong and perverted.

William Marshall QC, who recently left Fiji when his contract was not renewed, has cast further light on the matter of Ratu Tevita Mara’s departure in his 143 page petition to the regime, in which he refers to Ratu Tevita’s distrust of the Fiji prosecution process and legal system which led to his flight from Fiji and to his declining to return to Fiji to ‘face justice.’  He is entirely in agreement with the attitude taken by Ratu Tevita.

Thus, Ratu Tevita in fleeing Fiji and declining to return was not being cowardly in any way.  His departure and refusal to return were inspired by his clear knowledge that there was now no rule of law in Fiji and that the sedition charges against him were drummed up to harass him.

Ratu Tevita is not of course alone.  There are many others the subject of trumped up charges by the regime, some of whom have rightly fled and rightly stayed away.

Who then are the real cowards?

The real cowards are those who enjoy luxury and domination at the point of a gun – the regime and all its adherents.

Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara
Council for a Democratic Fiji
Cfdfiji.org

Dictator Bainimarama announces review of oppressive Decrees – A ploy to hood-wink the US Government – CFDFiji.org

Fiji’s military dictator remains under siege 24 hours before the hearing commences in the United States against Fiji for breach of  labour rights and standards arising out of the rogue decrees of Aiyaz Sayed  Khaiyum – the  insalubrious Attorney General.

Frank has been left holding the can and is now trying to lie his way out of trouble.

This afternoon the besieged leader managed to raise enough courage to announce the immediate review of the labour laws that contravene (34) international standards. He appeared in a TV ONE news bulletin looking rather perturbed from the looming crisis and attempted to explain the steps being taken to remedy the breach for which Fiji faces US sanctions.

The Fiji village website reported that;

The prime minister has revealed that as part of Fiji’s progress toward establishing parliamentary democracy, the government is reviewing current labour laws to ensure their compliance with the 34 International Labour Organisation conventions that Fiji has ratified”.

The regime leader has finally succumbed to the truth that several decrees his tainted Attorney General has promulgated threaten Fiji with the most serious employment crisis ever, involving 39 companies and 15,000 – 36,000 jobs. It appears that the rattled leader has been forced to make this conciliatory announcement and it may well be more of his typical trickery and lies.

The CFDF wishes to remind the people of Fiji, the trade union leaders and the US government of some of the previous broken promises and pledges of the regime leader and which render this review process meaningless and untrustworthy – it must be treated with grave suspicion.

Following the 2006 coup, Bainimarama vowed to preserve the 1997 constitution under the President’s mandate and subsequently included this in the People’s Charter – he later trashed the Constitution. He also made a personal commitment to the Pacific Forum leaders to hold Elections in March 2009 and later broke that promise.

He promised to be accountable and yet refuses to release the Auditor General’s report on government accounts from 2007 – 2011. He publicly stated that he will only collect the Commander’s salary while holding the position of interim Prime Minister but secretly receives multiple salaries, paid privately through Nur Bano’s Accounting firm in Suva – the details of which he refuses to disclose to the taxpayers of Fiji.

With such an impeccable record in keeping his word; should the US government and the trade union leaders dare consider the review process as free, fair and transparent?  The regime leader’s public record is as poor as his ability to separate issues of national importance from the corrosive influence of his attorney general’s ego and tantrums.

Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum – the author of so many lies and Decrees, remains silent.

The CFDF urges the Trade Union Leaders not to fall victim again to the lies and dishonesty of Bainimarama – he has no credibility or integrity. The latest knee-jerk reaction comes from international and domestic pressure and is merely a ploy to escape the scrutiny of on-going abuse of labor rights, human rights and the other fundamental rights of Fiji Citizens.

The Unions in Fiji must insist that all decrees identified by the ILO and the ICFTU must be immediately rescinded.

Further, the tainted Attorney General must be ejected from Office. He is the source of most of Fiji’s political and constitutional problems. The review process does not go far enough. It lacks goodwill, competence and commitment to deal with the issues in a holistic manner.

Bainimarama must do the right thing if the jobs are to be saved.  The decrees and its author must be removed from public life permanently to allow for genuine dialogue at all levels.

The workers of Fiji deserve nothing less.

Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara
Council for a Democratic Fiji
Cfdfiji.org

The Military Council must Act to Oust Khaiyum and Restore the Rule of Law – CFDFiji.org

The recent spate of controversies including the shocking revelations from Justice William Marshall QC and the imminent crisis of massive redundancies that would occur once the US sanctions kicks-in; the Military Council has a solemn duty to act and oust Aiyaz Saiyed Khaiyum from Office of the Attorney General. 

In April 2009, Khaiyum deceptively advised the Military Council to abrogate the 1997 Constitution by taking advantage of the ailing late President Ratu Josefa Iloilo contrary to the pathway set out by the Fiji Court of Appeal for the return of democratic rule. The devious plan of Khaiyum was a self-serving charade of creating a so-called new legal order away from Commodore Bainimarama’s set commitment to the international community within the 97 Constitution. The Khaiyum plan was completely divorced from the original President’s mandate which necessitated the preservation of the 1997 Constitution. His plan was to ensure his long haul in power as Attorney General.  Seemingly, calculative and cunning plot to entrap the Commodore hopelessly beyond the point of return so that he can prolong his stay.

In it lies the ultimate betrayal of the military council’s commitment to return to early elections and a conspiracy to disenfranchise the people of Fiji of their political rights for a very long time. It is little wonder that his father Sayed Khaiyum is seeking to have the 2014 General Elections delayed to 2020.

By 2010, Khaiyum settled in his position neatly surrounded by a small group of leeches who were in it for rewarding contracts and consultancies. He went on a rampage of churning out decrees that starting to occupy public space with media under his tight control through censorship. He then started to weaken the Military Council by plotting against senior military officers who were continuously advising the Commodore to remain committed to the pledge made to the Pacific Forum and the European Union in 2007.

By August 2010, his venom had infiltrated the Council with me and Brigadier General Pita Driti accused on plotting a coup which was really a smokescreen to weaken the military council and make him the exclusive advisor to the Commodore. Sadly he succeeded.

Three and half years after the abrogation of the Constitution; Khaiyum has silenced most of the critics on trumped up charges, created a self-censoring media, stripped the workers of Fiji of their fundamental internationally accepted rights through  the essential services decrees and is gaping like an owl to see the aftermath.  It should be clear to all now that Khaiyum and his group of advisers have hijacked the President’s Mandate and the Appeals Court Ruling for their own selfish agenda.  Fiji has been under the destructive and divisive policies while the military council has been administratively incapacitated.

The nation’s debt has climbed from $2.3 billion 2006 to $4 billion in 2012. Investments are all time low at 2% of GDP and inflation running in double digits. Some 9,000 graduates are jobless and 11,000 pensioners stripped off the benefits by 50%.  Poverty has climbed to unprecedented level while the regime refuses to accept Wages Council’s Chair Father Kevin Barr’s forth recommendation to lift wages. Hospitals around Fiji don’t have morphine and other basic medicine but the health minister lectures people on their responsibility.

Law and order has shaken the fabric of the nation whilst hangers-on are having cocktail on beer budgets. 15,000 jobs will be lost soon and the regime is now befriending the rogue nation of Iran which  wants Israel eliminated.  Police officers enjoy the proceeds of crimes and prefer to sort their differences out in the night club intoxicated from the stolen cash. The nation has really been brought to its knees and it’s time for action.

It is time now for the Military Council to assert its rightful place and wrestle the control away from Khaiyum and his small group of self-serving individuals to avert the looming crisis of unparalleled magnitude which will lead Fiji into abyss of poverty never seen in her history.  We have seen enough and the curtain must fall on the satanic verses chanted by Khaiyum against the people of Fiji.

The Military Council must act now.

Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara
Council for a Democratic Fiji
Cfdfiji.org

Fjiileaks website joins blog ranks to take on illegal regime in Fiji

Fijileaks: You could sent to it confidential documents: fijileakseditor@gmail.com

Fijileaks: It also means since the 2006 coup Fiji has been sinking deeper and deeper into mess

Cartoon: It speaks for itself – dictator trying to keep afloat from the mess he has created since 2006

The Crumpled Document: It reveals his fraudulent back-pay of $185,000.

There are many others in his back-pocket – to be revealed soon on Fijileaks

Keep blogging on Fiji Today.

Vinaka vakalevu, to all.

Read on:

http://www.fijileaks.weebly.com

http://www.fijileaks.weebly.com/blog

YASH GHAI STUMBLES: Fiji Constitutional Review at Crisis Point – CFDFiji.org

The Council for a Democratic Fiji has the highest respect for the intellectual brilliance and integrity of the Chairman of the Fiji Constitutional Review Commission, Yash Ghai.

Notwithstanding this, however, the Council is constrained now to make known its belief that the work carried out by him in Fiji has run into a blind alley, and that he ought to have anticipated that this would happen.

Yash Ghai: Having second thoughts.

For the current regime, the making available by himself of Yash Ghai was indeed a major coup – to use that word colloquially. Here was an internationally respected figure who could give the regime’s Constitutional ambitions and processes a clear appearance of being pursued in good faith, notwithstanding the reality of the situation in Fiji.

For Yash Ghai, however, his acceptance of the role of Chairman has in the Council’s submission now resulted in him being placed in an impossible situation potentially prejudicial to his good
name and reputation.

The Council wrote to Yash Ghai at the time of his acceptance of the Chairmanship warning him regarding the true intentions of the Fiji regime, but to no avail. The fruits of his acceptance of the
Chairmanship are however now emerging.

There are two matters upon which the Council would focus, namely the minimal numbers of those coming forward to make submissions, already noted by Yash Ghai himself, and the issue of  the stipulation by the alleged Attorney General that a priority in drafting the new Constitution should be for amnesty for those participating in coups- such as the alleged Attorney General
himself.

As to numbers coming forward, Yash Ghai has very correctly stated his view that many will not come forward because of fear, and he is now going back to the head of the Army and alleged Prime Minister to seek assurances in this regard.

With respect, Yash Ghai should have anticipated this major problem well before he accepted the post of Chairman. He is very familiar with Fiji and has been engaged by the regime previously.

Amnesty International has been very critical of the regime.

 

The truth is, and has been since 2006, that Fiji is under a reign of terror. It is not so dramatic and visible as, for example in the case of Syria, but it is a reign of terror nonetheless. That reign of terror is not expressed simply in terms of the innumerable repressive and draconian decrees imposed by the alleged Attorney General since 2006, immunising the Army and alleged Government from scrutiny or challenge, and destroying basic human rights. It is also a de facto state of affairs which needs no written law to support it .

The Law Society of the UK has condemned the regime.

The factual absence of the Rule of Law and lack of independence of the judiciary is but one aspect of this issue. The unpunished beatings, rapes and killings perpetrated by the regime, the tapping of all communications, the omnipresence of spies and quislings to monitor the public are other aspects. Basically the Army can and does do whatever it wants without let or hindrance. The regime is, as the Australian Foreign Minister recently pointed out militarised and there is no prospect of return to barracks. The entire population is muzzled.

The above factors show why the Fiji ‘popularity’ survey done last year and purporting to show popular support for the regime was a farce. The public whom Yash Ghai wishes to hear from is very aware of this and that the regime cannot and will not tolerate dissent or expression of dissenting views. How then does he expectit to co-operate with him?

Human rights abuses and politically motivated intimidation continues.

It is the Head of the Army and alleged Prime Minister who has been orchestrating the abuses mentioned. What point is there then in seeking any assurance from him? His credibility as per past broken promises is zero. He himself has even personally assaulted women prisoners and stated that those who disagree with him ought to be taken up to the Army barracks. What person is this for Yash Ghai to be dealing with?

No doubt, the alleged Prime Minister may utter whatever words he wishes to silence Yash Ghai’s concerns, but such will not be worth the breath with which they are spoken or the paper on which they are written. Like considerations apply to assurances by the alleged Attorney General, Foreign Minister or other agents of the regime.

Submitters to the Review will know full well that the Regime will find out the fact and nature of their submissions and react accordingly – if not now, in the future, after the glow of the Review has died and Yash Ghai is no longer around to complain. In this regard, the practice of the regime in harassing the relations of those whom it dislikes would no doubt be continued.

Even if there is now a temporary lull in harassment, such is a chimera. The regime will tighten the cords of strangulation of free speech whenever it pleases. There are of course some whose submissions the regime would embrace, such as those of Akuila Yabaki. The reasons for such attitude are clear. They are admirers of the regime.

Turning to the issue of amnesty, the alleged Attorney General seeks priority for insertion of same into the Constitution. This is small wonder because he himself has committed the capital offence of treason and has endorsed the malpractices of the alleged Prime Minister.

The request is of course outrageous and any amnesty even if inserted into an alleged new Constitution would have no validity. Any truly democratic Government taking power in the future would no doubt incarcerate the alleged Attorney General for a long time.

The Council is of the view that the above occurrences have now placed Yash Ghai in an impossible situation, and respectfully calls upon him to relinquish his current role. Yash Ghai must now cease to lend credence to the charade of Review being played out by the Fiji regime, and of which he has inadvertently become a participant. This can only be achieved by his resignation as Chairman.

Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara
Council for a Democratic Fiji
14th August 2012
Cfdfiji.org

SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL, SPEAK NO EVIL: The New Zealand Government’s new stance towards the Fiji regime – CFDFiji.org

The motto of the three famous monkeys has now come very much to be exemplified by the Government of New Zealand in its dealings towards the current military dictatorship in Fiji. The latest rapprochement and cosiness of the Government towards the regime is in stark contrast to its former principled stance:

  • Government was concerned that the regime is a military dictatorship.
  • Government was concerned about the many human rights abuses committed by the regime, notably against the hundreds of people taken to the Army barracks and systematically raped, beaten and abused and even killed.
  • Government was concerned about the repressive decrees produced at whim by the evil genius of the regime, the purported Attorney General, the practice of which was in 2009 condemned by the Fiji Court of Appeal.
  • Government was concerned about the absence of basic human rights, suppression of essential freedoms, tapping of communications and other evils committed by the regime.

In the twinkling of an eye all that is changed.

The engaging by the regime in the current charade of Constitutional Consultation, and its giving of blandishments to the apparently gullible New Zealand Government, has changed everything.  Suddenly, lifting of sanctions and diplomatic engagement is full on. New Zealand taxpayers’ money is being channelled to the regime, on top of the many millions of dollars wasted in previous Fiji elections. And all this on account of the ‘word’ of the regime itself.

The untrustworthiness of the regime has been proved on many occasions in the past. What makes the regime trustworthy now? What justification is there for the expenditure of taxpayer funds in return for promises from the like of the alleged Attorney General?

Actually, nothing has changed. Fiji is still fully militarised, under the very militarisation not long ago condemned by the Australian Foreign Minister. The Army has not withdrawn to barracks. There is no independent body running the country in the run up to promised elections.

Pernicious decrees remain in force. De facto, apart from the technical position, the Army retains complete control.

Any alleged temporary relaxation to accommodate the current Constitutional process is a chimera.

As has been stressed many times before, there is no real prospect of a genuine democratic election because the alleged Prime Minister and Attorney General simply cannot afford ever to truly relinquish power. Genuine relinquishment would entail their prosecution for the host of grave offences of which they are guilty. Hence the feverish desperation of the alleged Attorney General to force into a new Constitution clauses absolving him and his cronies from guilt.

Even if the saving clauses are forced through any future truly democratic Government would be unlikely to respect them.

It is necessary, in considering the current charade, to look at the unduly respectful language currently being used by the international community and others in regard to the regime. Thus, the Foreign Minister of New Zealand refers to the alleged Fiji Foreign Minister as his counterpart. But he is not. He is the illegal creation of a military dictatorship. Nor can he properly be called Foreign Minister.

The Fiji police refer to controlling the process surrounding the conviction of the former Prime Minister as necessary to protect the independence of the judiciary. But such independence does not exist in Fiji.

The Australian media refer to the body convicting the former Prime Minister as a court. The word ‘court’ implies legality and Constitutionality. But those attributes do not pertain to that body. The media also assert that it cannot comment on the verdict because it is ‘sub judice’. However that assertion is also false. Nothing produces nothing. The right of appeal only attaches to a genuine verdict.

The Foreign Minister of New Zealand produces as a pretext for lifting sanctions that this will enable Fiji to recruit competent persons in high positions to enhance an alleged movement towards free and fair elections. The point however that he misses is that it is not a good career move for a person from outside Fiji to take up high position in a military dictatorship. Nor does such a move enhance that person’s reputation.The Foreign Minister in this connection should, with respect, for an example, seek the views of past Judges and Directors of Public Prosecutions axed by the regime, and of the Law Societies of Australia and New Zealand.

The fact that the current charade in Fiji is indeed a charade is already apparent but this will become even clearer in time. There may indeed be elections but in their nature they cannot be free and fair .

At this time, the Council calls upon all fair and right minded people everywhere to reject that charade.

Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara
Council for a Democratic Fiji
8th August 2012
CFDFiji.org

Blanket Immunity – a blanket to cover what?

When the Parliament was debating the Promotion of Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill (PRTUB) in 2005 Bainimarama flew into a rage. By the miracle of selective vision, many supporters of the overthrown Chaudhry Government took this to be rage at the prospect that the thugs who had ousted the elected government would be freed from prison.

But it is now obvious that Bainimarama had other things entirely in mind. He wasn’t worried about freeing them, because that’s exactly what he plans to do with his blanket indemnity.

We’ve all been fed the story that indemnity for the the takeover is needed to persuade the troops to return to their barracks and end the coup culture, but why does this have to go back before 2006, or Bainimarama’s treasonous warm-up acts just before the coup?

The answer is not hard for those who’ve read the Board of Inquiry report which has been posted on the Roko Ului website.

If immunity was given for people freely confessing their parts in the Speight coup and offering evidence about the role of others, Bainimarama would be exposed. He knew about the coup, but deliberately left the country, returning to try to take advantage of the chaos. Troops involved in the siege of Parliament continued to be paid. No action was taken until he had deposed the President, the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, while positioning himself to take power.

After seizing power in 2006 there was no pursuit of those suspected of involvement in the Speight coup who had slipped the net. Quite the opposite. Jim Ah Koy, the reputed financier- of Speight, was made Ambassador to China. Bainimarama even tried to give former Commissioner Isikia Savua a Government position in the Charter process, withdrawing it only after heated protest. Inoke Kubuabola, another reputed 2000 veteran, also joined the government.

What Bainimarama feared from the Promotion of Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill was the exposure of his role in the Speight coup, not the prospect that the guilty would escape judgement.

One of the great mysteries of the Bainimarama dictatorship is how he has managed to keep the military behind him. He has no military credentials and his continued rule threatens to ruin the RFMF as an institution.

The only possible explanation is his talent for involving others in his crimes. He made sure that none of his senior officers could avoid having their finger-prints on the crimes of the RFMF in 2000 or 2006. Roko Ului’s muted comments about 2000 and 2006 can be traced to the way Bainimarama made sure that as many as possible of his officers were compromised in one way or another.

Media Release – Letter to His Hon. Bob Carr with submissions in relation to his upcoming visit to Fiji – CFDFiji.org

Hon Bob Carr
Foreign Minister
Government of Australia
Canberra ACT
AUSTRALIA

By email

27th April 2012

Dear Minister

RE: YOUR PENDING VISIT TO FIJI

I am writing to you on behalf of the Council for a Democratic Fiji, to seek to emphasise certain vital issues which the Council would respectfully request you to consider during your meetings with representatives of the Fiji regime.

You will no doubt recall the submission recently made by the Council to the Ministerial Action Group of the Commonwealth, and you may also recall the previous submission by the Council to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting at the end of last year. I take the liberty of attaching, for ease of reference, the submission to the Group. That submission sets out the credentials of the Council and evidences its legitimate concerns regarding current events in Fiji, and also shows its representative nature as representing a broad range of interests in Fiji including those of the majority political parties engaged in the last democratically held General Election in Fiji, the Fiji Democracy Movements worldwide including those in Australia and New Zealand, and the Fiji unions and Churches. The submission also annexes the Council’s previous submission to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

For present purposes, I seek to focus upon the issue of the process of consultation regarding Constitutional change offered by the current regime, which process I understand to be scheduled to commence next month. No doubt, the regime would seek your support for that process and acceptance of its legitimacy.

However, as the Council made clear in its submissions, especially that to the Ministerial Action Group, the climate in Fiji, created and deliberately persisted in by the current regime, is wholly unconducive to and indeed inimicable towards the holding of free and democratic consultations.

It is clearly understood from study of the published decision of the Ministerial Action Group that the Group is of like view.

Assurances, promises and blandishments by the regime as to how the consultation will be conducted are in the Council’s view wholly inadequate to allay legitimate concerns regarding the issue of consultations being free and democratic, especially having regard to the past conduct of the regime and the maintenance by the Army of a firm grip upon the people of Fiji.

It is understood that it is the above consideration which has led Australia and New Zealand both to decline to mitigate current sanctions imposed upon Fiji solely by reference to assurances, promises and blandishments by the regime.

For the above reason, the Council respectfully repeats and re emphasises its viewpoint expressed to the Ministerial Action Group that consultation should only occur upon satisfaction by the regime of the following conditions precedent, whose fulfillment would be absolutely necessary to ensure that the climate of discussion would be free, fair and frank:

  1. (I)  Rescission of the Public Order (Amendment) Decree 2012 and its non replacement;
  2. (II)  Rescission of Decrees immunising public officials from public discussion;
  3. (III)  Removal of the Army and security forces from public places;
  4. (IV)  Rescission of all Decrees hamstringing or prejudicing the basic freedoms of expression, communication and assembly;
  5. (V)  Rescission of all restrictions upon leaders of parties which participated in the last democratic election which violate their freedom of expression, communication and assembly and also their rights of movement.

Above are the views already expressed to the Ministerial Action Group.

Further, in regard to item (v), the Council would wish that the leaders of parties which participated in the last democratic election be at liberty without let or hindrance to participate fully in the consultation process.

The Council would further wish that no restrictions be placed by the regime upon the publicising of submissions made during the process of consultation, and that no outcomes be visited upon the makers of same.

The Council respectfully requests that above considerations be paid regard to during your meetings with representatives of the regime.

Sincerely

 

Roko Uluilakeba Mara
For Council for a Democratic Fiji

For this document and further documents, please see the following link for hard copies of same.

 

Bainimarama republic – The New Zealand Herald

By Andrew Laxon

An unlikely secret mission reveals how military power has overturned the country’s rule of law. Andrew Laxon reports

English lawyer Nigel Dodds was able to tell the truth as he passed through Customs on his way into Fiji last November. The 62-year-old semi-retired solicitor from Morpeth, Northumbria, was in the middle of a long-planned world trip, so he ticked tourism as the primary reason for his visit. However, the chairman of the English-based Law Society Charity was really on an undercover mission to determine first-hand whether the rule of law had collapsed in Fiji, as reports had claimed.

The evidence looked damning enough. Since Commodore Frank Bainimarama seized power in 2006, lawyers who question the military Government’s actions have been rounded up and tortured. The entire judiciary was sacked in 2009 and the Government has ruled by decree since then. However international observers who tried to report on the problems have been turned away.

Dodds thought he might have more luck with a low-key approach. He figured no one would take too much notice of “an elderly gentleman tottering round the world” so, with the help of a few advance phone calls, he worked his way round the main island, Viti Levu, chatting to current and former judges and lawyers in a series of clandestine meetings in bars, restaurants and coffee shops. (Fiji’s public emergency regulations banned any meeting of more than three people without a permit.)

He tapped the brains of the British High Commission and international agencies working in Fiji and tried less successfully to get the views of ordinary Fijians, who were reluctant to speak out.

His report, published last week, was unequivocal. Fiji is effectively a dictatorship, with no rule of law, no democracy, no freedom of expression and no legal way for citizens to challenge Government decisions. Dodds sees little hope in the short-term, as the military has the power to suppress virtually all dissent and rewards those who support it. But he believes other nations can and must speak up against Bainimarama’s abuse of power, as ordinary Fijians can no longer do so.

Under the decree system, courts cannot rule on Government decisions in any way. Notices on courtroom walls remind lawyers and judges not to go down this track and if any cases do slip through the net, the Government-appointed chief registrar can simply terminate them.

“Given you’ve got no right of assembly, you’ve got a controlled press, there’s no way legally to challenge the Government,” he told the Weekend Herald this week from his home in England.

“Even people sticking up minor graffiti are charged with sedition. That’s actually happening… It’s absolutely monstrous.”

Fiji’s legal and political problems date back to 1987, when Lieutenant-Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka led an abortive coup in May, followed by a successful attempt in September. Rabuka, who later became Prime Minister, changed the constitution to guarantee indigenous Fijians dominance in Government. Despite this, an Indo-Fijian-dominated Labour Party headed by Mahendra Chaudhry managed to win power in 1997. It was overthrown in 2000 by George Speight, who occupied Parliament and held the government MPs hostage for 56 days.

Witnesses say Bainimarama wanted the military to take over then, but was persuaded to allow the formation of a new Government, headed by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. After two coup attempts, which failed when senior officers refused to support him, Bainimarama seized power in December 2006 and suspended Parliament, which has not sat since.

According to a comprehensive 2009 report by the International Bar Association Human Rights Association – compiled from phone interviews because the group was not allowed to visit – judges soon became the victims of a series of attacks and intimidation. Justice Gordon Ward’s home was burned down while he was on holiday. The suspected arson was never investigated. Justice Gerard Winter’s car was sabotaged by the removal of key mechanical components, which could have resulted in a serious accident. Justice Roger Coventry was reportedly followed by military officers after he made a ruling awarding costs against the interim Attorney-General. The report said lawyers who spoke against the Government were taken from their homes late at night, detained in military barracks and subjected to violence.

The entire judiciary was gradually replaced with judges willing to do the regime’s bidding. Within days of the coup, Justice Daniel Fatiaki, who had provided legal advice to Bainimarama’s opponents in the 2000 Speight coup, was forcibly removed from office on questionable charges.

He was replaced by Justice Anthony Gates, who had previously supported upholding the constitution in defiance of the 2000 coup. By this time however, Gates’ reputation was severely tarnished – overseas-based judges on Fiji’s Court of Appeal found he told guests at a cocktail party that he would “put away” a prominent chief, Ratu Takiveikata, on criminal charges relating to the coup. The three New Zealand and Australian judges who ordered a retrial found Gates lied under oath when he denied in court that he had made the statement.

At the end of 2007, six New Zealand and Australian judges resigned from Fiji’s Court of Appeal, apparently because they felt they could no longer work with the military regime. Other judges resigned or let their appointments lapse in 2008, some explicitly blaming the regime for their decision.

When three Australian judges on the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court decision in April 2009 and declared the coup unlawful, the Government simply sacked all the judges and began ruling by decree.

Dodds’ report says Chief Justice Gates has since used his personal connections to recruit large numbers of judges from Sri Lanka on short-term but renewable contracts. It says the quality is seen as variable and independence from the regime must be difficult.

The report says newly qualified lawyers and recent Sri Lankan imports make up the bulk of staff at the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Four directors have been sacked or replaced since April 2009. The current director is former Solicitor-General Christopher Pryde, a barrister in Christchurch until 2007, who this week described Dodds’ report as spreading “false, outrageous and inflammatory allegations against the country’s judicial system”.

Dodds says he deliberately spoke to a range of people, from supporters to opponents of the regime.

He rejects the argument, sometimes put up by the regime’s supporters in New Zealand, that Bainimarama has done the country a favour, even if his methods are a little harsh.

“That’s been the excuse of most dictators, that they are actually making things better for the people and running things more efficiently.”

In a comparison guaranteed to end any prospect of a return visit, he adds: “Mussolini made the trains run on time.”

Blow by blow

December 2006:
Military commander Frank Bainimarama seizes control in a coup. He suspends Parliament, which has not sat since.
2007-08:
Senior judges and lawyers are subjected to attacks and intimidation, including torture and suspected arson and sabotage. The Chief Justice is removed from office but after two years all charges are dropped and he receives a $275,000 settlement.
2007:
New Zealand and Australian judges on Fiji’s Court of Appeal find the new Chief Justice has lied on oath.
March 2009:
The International Bar Association Human Rights Institute produces a scathing report on the collapse of the rule of law in Fiji.
April 2009:
Australian judges on the Court of Appeal overturn a finding by local High Court judges that the coup was legal. The military government sacks all judges and begins to rule by decree. It bans any meeting of more than three people under public order regulations.
November 2011:
English lawyer Nigel Dodds visits Fiji on a secret fact-finding mission.
January-March 2012:
Public order regulations are suspended but fresh decrees and arrests occur. Elections – originally set down for 2009 – remain promised for 2014.

Please see the following link to the original article on the NZ Herald Website.

The Bainimarama Brief – Crimes, Deceit and the Ruination of Fiji – CFDFiji.org

Crimes, Deceit and the Ruination of Fiji

A paper for United States Congressman Eni F H Faleomavaega

Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara, a representative of the CFDFiji, was present at the meeting you had with Bainimarama and his Military Council on February 19th 2007. The Council thought the discussion was largely positive, in the tactical and strategic sense. The proof of this was that you were so impressed with what you heard that you became a key backer of Bainimarama.

The extensive briefing papers he sent to you after the February 19th discussion are a useful reference point for this submission. We have copies of those documents. The CFDFiji’s examination of the goals set out reveals starkly that Bainimarama and the man who manipulates him, his “Minister for everything” Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, have given Fiji a spectacular record of failure and deception in the last five years. They are the chief protagonists in the dictatorship and make the main decisions. Sayed-Khaiyum’s counsel normally prevails.

Their leadership is disastrous. It is directed at one objective – to save themselves from the consequences of their crimes. That was Bainimarama’s driving compulsion for executing the coup.

We now look at some of the prime aims of the Bainimarama government as laid out in the so- called “mandate” he sent you. The mandate has no legitimacy because it has no proven popular support.

It is essentially fiction.

Please see the remainder of the paper here.

CFDF – Letter to US Congressman Eni F H Faleomavaega – CFDFiji.org

United States Congressman Eni F H Faleomavaega
Member of the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs
Ranking Member of the House Sub-committee on Foreign Affairs for Asia and the Pacific
P.O. Box Drawer
Pago Pago
American Samoa 96799

Dear Congressman Faleomavaega                                                                 6th March 2012

The Council for a Democratic Fiji – Achieving democracy in Fiji
Please accept my respectful greetings.

You will know that following my escape from the clutches of the Bainimarama regime in 2011, I have been actively campaigning against the dictator and calling for an early return to democracy in my homeland. I have publicly acknowledged that I was wrong in joining Bainimarama’s coup and have offered to make myself accountable to the people of Fiji for my part in it.

As time passed following December 2006, it became clear there was nothing laudable about the take-over by force of the elected government. From my vantage point, as one of Bainimarama’s associates and a member of his Military Council, I could see that all the enlightened aspirations Bainimarama put forward belatedly as a justification for his actions were simply a cover for his real intent of self-preservation and seizure of power at any cost.

When I look back it is astonishing to me that he was able to finally convince the Republic of Fiji Military Forces to become a party to his insurrection and imposition of military rule. We in the officer corps, despite our education and training, were swept along by the phony arguments advanced by our commander. We allowed ourselves to be fooled. Those brave enough to dissent did not stay on the payroll for long. The rest of us became part of what is a criminal enterprise. When the majority of us in the military leadership endorsed the Commodore’s plans, the other ranks fell into line.

Please see remainder of the letter here.

Bainimarama is the real fugitive from Justice – CFDFiji.org

MEDIA RELEASE
BAINIMARAMA THE REAL FUGITIVE FROM JUSTICE

The leader of the current Fiji regime has frequently labeled Lieutenant Colonel Ratu Tevita Mara, formerly one of his right hand men, and who left Fiji last year upon being threatened by Bainimarama, as a fugitive from justice, on account of his not returning to Fiji to face Bainimarama’s version of justice.

There is of course no question of Ratu Mara being a fugitive from justice because under Bainimarama there is no justice, and indeed no Rule of Law, as noted in the New Zealand Herald of Monday March 5th 2012 at page A6.

In accusing Ratu Mara of being a fugitive from justice, Bainimarama is the pot calling the kettle black.

It is Bainimarama who is the most conspicuous refugee from justice in the South Pacific. His taking of that refuge caused him to stage the Fiji coup of 2006. His preservation of that refuge is what has led him to impose a military dictatorship on Fiji. It is what will cause him to ensure that his refuge is not disturbed by any occurrence such as a free and fair election. His maintenance of that refuge continues to blight every aspect of life in Fiji.

The fact that Bainimarama is a refugee from justice also involves that all his stated pretexts for the coup mounted by him, and the continuation of military dictatorship, are false. His initial statement that he staged the coup to counter corruption is false. His later statement that he staged the coup to change the Constitution is false. All his public statements as to his motivations in taking and holding power are false.

Bainimarama is simply a criminal on the run. The sooner his run is brought to a halt, the better.

It is necessary to review the extent of Bainimarama’s criminality in two stages:

Firstly, to show what charges Bainimarama faced immediately before his coup in 2006, which prompted him to mount the coup;

Secondly, to show what additional charges will have accrued against him since his staging the coup.

For more details, including the proposed charges by the Fiji Police investigation, please see the following weblink:
http://www.cfdfiji.org/Council_for_a_Democratic_Fiji/Media_files/120309%20RUM%20PR%20re%20Bainimarama%20charges.pdf

Carr rejects talk of softening Fiji stance – Australia is not as ignorant as the regime would think

By New Zealand correspondent Dominique Schwartz, ABC March 9, 2012, 8:26 pm

“Foreign minister designate Bob Carr has rejected media reports that he is planning to soften Australia’s hard stance against Fiji.

Mr Carr was speaking in Auckland after holding informal talks with his New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully.

Mr Carr said he had noted Friday’s announcement by Fiji’s military leader Frank Bainimarama about planned public consultation over a new constitution.

Both Mr Carr and Mr McCully greeted the announcement with caution and said time would tell if the Fiji’s rulers were truly moving towards democratic elections.

The former New South Wales premier also says he will be seeking more information from the ACTU about the human rights situation for workers in Fiji.

Mr Carr says he wants to further investigate claims that any union official who speaks out against the interim government still risks life imprisonment.

“Certainly one of the tests we’d consider in the future is the right of organisation in the workplace,” he said.

“That’s a fundamental human right.

“I’d expect to have more conversations with unionists, in particular the ACTU.”

Mr Carr said his hour-long discussion with Mr McCully about the region was wide-ranging and helpful.

He will meet prime minister John Key on Saturday morning.

It is his first overseas trip since being named the replacement for Kevin Rudd.

He is due to be sworn in as a senator and foreign minister on Tuesday.”

CFDFiji.org