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.

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.

This ship is heading for a reef

Six years ago a mutiny changed the course of our ship of state. For those six years we’ve had no say in the course we’ve been on. We’re told by the captain that he knows best.

On the quarter deck the he struts in his white uniform, barking orders, but the ship’s wheel is in other hands. Out of sight below decks we have a navigator using a chart he picked up in Hong Kong. And his compass seems to be suffering some kind of malfunction, because he keeps looking at the Eastern sky for a sunset.

A lot of people are very sea-sick, but so far no-one has wanted to rock the boat too hard. The passengers and crew fear that a capsize is in no-one’s interest. But no-one can escape the feeling that the vessel is on course for disaster.

Rations are low. The vessel has not been maintained – it’s taking water and efforts that should go into repairs are diverted to the Qorvis bilge pump.

But this voyage will soon end. The vessel is heading for a very large reef which the navigator doesn’t have on the chart which he drew up himself. One morning he will wake up to find he will be high and dry on the reef. And the name of this reef: Na qele ni iTaukei.

For six years Bainimarama has helped himself to all the resources of Government but he’s making a big mistake if he thinks he can give himself power over Native land as if it was his own.

Why Bainimarama can’t bear the 1997 Constitution

Bainimarama who has set himself up as the ultimate law giver has told us we cannot have the 1997 Constitution.

If he going to give himself the role of the ultimate judge of our constitution he needs to tell us exactly why the constitution is flawed and when he discovered this.

We can thank Yash Ghai for an account of Bainimarama’s past view of the 1997 Constitution. In a paper written jointly with Jill Cotrell for the United States Institute for Peace, entitled Between Coups Constitution Making in Fiji, Yash Ghai says that he met with the Commander and senior officers in October 2000. They discussed the 1997 constitution, which Bainimarama and his officers told Prof Ghai, they had just started to read. To their surprise “they found it an excellent constitution and a better one could not be imagined. But they had not known this when they more or less supported the coup!”

So let’s get this straight. In early 2000 Bainimarama thought the 1997 Constitution was was so bad he abgrogated it in a process which he and his officers described as “more or less supporting the Speight coup”. That’s right, he admitted that he had more or less supported the Speight coup. By October of that year, however, after reading the 1997 constitution, Bainimarama thought it was very good, so good that he and his officer corps said they could not imagine anything better.

Even after his coup in 2006 he was still swearing his loyalty to the constitution. The Charter of 2008 which Bainimarama gave us declared the 1997 Constitution was the basis of all things good. Then sometime after that he came to see it was “no good for Fiji”.

Bainimarama says it is ‘discriminatory’ and ‘no good for Fiji’ but he hasn’t told us is exactly what discriminatory bits he doesn’t like and when he discovered them.

Does he think we don’t understand what’s going on here? The problem with the 1997 constitution is that, if it is regarded as valid, he is guilty of treason. If we return to the 1997 constitution it means all of the Decrees passed since the Court of Appeal decision in 2009 are not only illegal, they are treasonous. His dishonesty about this does no-one any good.

We need genuine reconciliation, with honesty, openness and a readiness to start anew. The two obstacles standing in the way are Bainimarama and Khaiyum. Given a choice between these two and the 1997 Constitution, who apart from the two criminals themselves would not choose the 1997 Constitution?

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

Fijileaks: You could sent to it confidential documents:

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:

Bainimarama’s role in the Speight coup

It seems that there are people who simply can’t believe that the author of race-free Fiji could have been involved in the Speight coup. If he’s the enemy of Qarase, he needs no other credentials.

It doesn’t matter that in 2000 and 2001 all of the allegations against Bainimarama, Ah Koy and Kubuabola were made by Qarase’s enemies, including Sayed-Khaiyum. If Bainimarama changes side, the facts change sides with him.

There are hard facts in the report of the RFMF Board of Inquiry. It’s over a thousand pages long and much of it is recorded in the language of the RFMF other ranks (na vosa vakaviti) so Crosbie Walsh cannot access the evidence first hand, but the fact is it’s clear RFMF supply and rotation of staff at Parliament House continued for some time after the seizure.

Then there’s the issue of all the weapons taken out of the armoury. Who approved this? It seems no-one did.

It wasn’t until 6 June that Bainimarama ordered all his troops out of Parliament complex. This is a matter of record, not conjecture or rumour.

Question S of the Board of Inquiry terms of reference asked what the reaction of the commander was to the takeover of Parliament. The Board report stated that they “‘cannot answer that question because the Board was unable to interview him”.

On Saturday 1 July 2000, the BOI report states Army Commander Bainimarama, who had assumed the Executive powers of the President declared “issues concerning Fijian interests and aspirations will be give priority in response to questions on the delay in the appointment of an Interim Government”.

The BOI report doesn’t have enough information to convict Bainimarama of complicity, but it raises enough suspicions to warrant a full investigation.

Lieutenant Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga says he can’t comment until he’s read the reports of sexual intimidation, harassment, assault and rape of men and women by military personnel……

Wikileaks allege rape by military in post-coup Fiji

Posted at 01:39 on 29 August, 2011 UTC

Women who say they were subjected to sexual assault by members of Fiji’s military remain traumatised by their experiences after the 2006 coup.

Leaked cables from the United States Embassy have documented cases of rape and sexual assault by military personnel.

Sally Round reports.

“The Wikileak reports are unearthing events so traumatic for those involved, women’s rights activists are reluctant to speak publicly. The cables from Suva to Washington allege at least one group of detainees was forced to engage in group sexual acts and the military used rape threats by phone as a method of intimidation. One woman activist spoken to by Radio New Zealand International has listed allegations involving sexual intimidation, harassment, assault and rape of men and women by military personnel, in the months after the 2006 coup. She says the alleged acts have not been reported to police for fear of retaliation and the trauma involved. Social stigma also contributes to a low rate of reporting sexual crime in Fiji. Fiji’s military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga says he can’t comment until he’s read the reports.”

News Content © Radio New Zealand International
PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand

Its Official!………Lieutenant Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga has a sense of humour.

NZ government turns down visa request from Fiji rugby chief

Posted at 01:49 on 29 August, 2011 UTC

The New Zealand government has turned down a request by Fiji’s Lieutenant Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga to attend the Rugby World Cup.

Colonel Tikoitoga who’s also Chairman of the Fiji Rugby Union has been farewelling the Fiji team on its departure this morning still waiting to hear about his own visa.

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully says the visa application was immediately declined when it was received last week under a ban on allowing Fiji regime members into New Zealand.

He says another rugby official with links to the regime has also had his application refused.

“I regret that we haven’t been able to see some movement on things in Fiji which would have enabled us to make more progress in the way in which we deal with these things but the sanctions are there for a reason and banned means banned.”

Mr McCully says the visa refusal should have been communicated to Colonel Tikoitoga before now.

News Content © Radio New Zealand International
PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand

Fiji becoming hell for workers

Fiji’s Military Regime Smashing Workers’ Rights

25 August 2011

Posted by AlexSchlotzer

Fiji becoming hell for workers

Workers in Fiji might come across as super-friendly and bursting with positive vibes and good will. The reality though for workers is that they have no rights.

The ruling military regime under Frank Bainimarama has recently issued a decree that effectively stamps out union activity and removes basic workers’ rights. Unions are required to apply for permits in order to hold meetings of members, which can take months to be approved. The permits require that the military sits in and observes meetings; taking notes and the details of those that attend. Permits can be revoked without notice allowing the regime to violently break-up meetings, especially those meetings it sees as a threat to its legitimacy and authority.

Reports are coming out of Fiji that union leaders and delegates are being physically threatened and intimidated. There are confirmed reports of union leaders being detained and beaten. In one case a union leader had to tell frightened hospital workers that they’d had an accident in the cane fields before they would treat him, despite having significant injuries including kidney damage.

Needless to say that the recent decree revoking basic workers’ rights must be of significant concern to the region as a nation takes drastic actions to curtail rights.

Unfortunately, Bainimarama’s regime maintains its regional legitimacy through successfully winning the control of a regional committee for Micronesian states. The regime’s continued clamping down of human and workers’ rights only weakens the country’s ability to trade. While the regime may think it clever to entice foreign investment and businesses to open through smashing workers’ rights, it in fact signals an unstable political and business environment.

The issue has become of such concern internationally that the International Labor Organisation (ILO) sent a delegation to investigate the situation. The ILO’s delegation were witness to the reality for Fiji’s trade unions and members with Bainimarama’s regime withdrawing the permits for the Fiji Trade Union Congress (FTUC) to hold its annual general meeting. The regime went about breaking up the meeting while the ILO’s delegation was in attendance.
The issue is of rapidly growing concern to trade unions globally including in Australia, the UK and New Zealand. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is involved, working with its affiliates in the South Pacific and Australasia region to put pressure on Fiji’s military regime to restore human and workers’ rights.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) through its Your Rights at Work campaign platform has launched the Human Rights for Fiji campaign. The campaign is asking Australian unionists and supporters to tell Bainimarama to restore Fiji’s human and workers’ rights. The ACTU is working with its affiliates to organise rallies at Fiji’s High Commissions in Sydney and Canberra on September 2 in support of union leaders on trial for breaking the regime’s anti-union laws.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), the Australian Workers Union, the CFMEU, the education unions and a range of other unions are active in the campaign. The MUA has established a Facebook page about the campaign and a Facebook event page for the rallies on September 2.

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) is also working with its affiliates to put pressure on the regime. This will become of some significance once the Rugby World Cup begins, especially as Fiji’s team includes members of the military. New Zealand will have the world’s focus for the World Cup, which presents an opportunity to highlight the worsening situation for Fiji’s workers to a global audience.

Within Fiji itself a blog, Coup Four And a Half, operating to expose the regime’s crack down on workers’ rights, provides details of the on-going harassment and intimidation of unionists and union leaders. It is reporting from the front lines in the campaign to restore human and workers’ rights in Fiji. They have a Facebook page you can like and share with friends and family.

Undoubtedly this will prove to be an even more dangerous time for Fiji’s union leaders, organisers and delegates as the regime attempts to prevent any sign of disunity should the international media’s glare focus on Fiji. And the regime’s nepotism and corruption will only help fuel growing resentment towards it, even among Fiji’s first peoples (of which the military is predominantly comprised).

What might be an idyllic holiday paradise for Australians, is in reality a nightmare for Fiji’s workers. Workers wake up knowing that any attempt to stand up for their basic rights is met with threats and intimidation. At least 50 per cent of workers live below the poverty line, including workers with full time employment.

They need our help putting pressure on Bainimarama’s military regime to restore human and workers’ rights.

Fiji’s workers need more rights not less.

Visit Human Rights for Fiji for campaign details; including details for the rallies and ways to help restore human and workers’ rights in Fiji. There are PDF downloads available and a banner for blogs and websites to show your support for the campaign.

Religion threatened by the military in Fiji………..again

Military cautions Methodist Church

The military stressed that the law will take its course if a member or delegate of the Methodist Church of Fiji conference engages in any unlawful activities.

Military spokesperson, Lt Colonel Neumi Leweni said the RFMF has been reliably informed that there are elements within the church that have been planning on utilizing the mass that will congregate during the church meeting to instigate instability.

He said the RFMF has met with the church executives at QEB to make it clear that the military will not tolerate any actions that may deviate from the agreed agenda.

There is an audio file attached to this story. Please login to listen.

Lt Colonel Leweni also revealed that the RFMF has been monitoring the movements of key figures in the church, meetings conducted and information being disseminated.

He also said the church Secretary has been told that the government’s intention is to cancel the meeting should the church deviate from the original agenda.

Lt Colonel Leweni said the RFMF will continue to scrutinize the activities of the Methodist Church to ensure that it focuses on its rightful role of developing the spiritual foundation of its members and not to engage in politics.

Methodist Church Assistant Secretary, Reverend Tevita Nawadra said no political issues will be discussed in the conference.

The church conference will be held at the Centennary Church in Suva from August 23rd to 25th.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

A Military Government and a Methodist Church conference……..”Any suspicion will not augur well with us because they have the power to take us out.”….”they will pluck those people out from conference or from where they are seated”

Methodists advised to follow agenda

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Government has asked the Methodist Church to inform its members to follow the agenda of the annual conference.

Church Assistant General Secretary Reverend Tevita Nawadra told FBC News there are some members of the Church who may want to use the conference to their advantage.

“If there is anything that will happen – they will pluck those people out from conference or from where they are seated. Any suspicion will not augur well with us because they have the power to take us out.”

Rev Nawadra is advising everyone to refrain from pushing their personal agendas as government has the power to cancel the conference.

”I want to ask to request those that are involved, if they are those element within the church please do not do that because it ill jeopardise whatever plans we have for the church and the future.”

The conference will be held from the 23rd to the 25th of this month.

Report by : Savaira Tabua

Unionists should not undermine government reforms……..Ministry of Information permanent secretary Sharon Smith-Johns

Unionists charged for unlawful assembly

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Police has confirmed that unionists Daniel Urai and Dinesh Gounder appeared at the Nadi Magistrates Court this afternoon charged with unlawful assembly.

Both have been released on bail and are due to appear in court on the 2nd of September.

Police say the two were conducting a union meeting without a permit as required under the Public Emergency Regulations.

Ministry of Information permanent secretary Sharon Smith-Johns says it is clear that these unionists failed to gather support from union members overseas and are now targeting local union members in an attempt to undermine government reforms.

Smith-Johns says people should be mindful that the PER is still in force and should be observed.

Report by : Ritika Pratap

Dreaming about a stable Fiji without the military albatross around our neck.

 By 2020 the Fiji Military should be a ceremonial force only.

An opinion piece by Peter Firkin

In the future no immunities.

Let’s look into the future when Fiji has a new constitution and new democratically elected government and concentrate on how we stop a reoccurrence of the repeated cycle of military coups.

There will be no elections without handing out immunities to all those who have committed crimes in the process of removing an elected government.  Why would you give up control if you were then arrested and jailed?

These immunities have become accepted as part of the “normal method” of ending a coup and would have been factored into the thinking of all the various coup perpetrators.  Apologising and seeking forgiveness is built into our heritage and is accepted in Fiji as a normal part of daily living.

 This must end in relation to coups.  A stable democracy requires a subservient obedient military under the direction of an elected government.

The new constitution must specifically ban the issuing of any immunity for any activity that undermines the democratic government. 

 How does a civilian government protect itself from its military?

The current coup will not be the last unless there is a radical change in attitudes towards the democratic “rights” of Fiji’s citizens by the military.

Unless action is taken the new constitution will be no more secure than the old one from military whim and abrogation.

As the military has been involved in all the previous coups then how do we protect ourselves from those with military authority and weapons?

 How do we bring the military back to its correct position as subservient to the government of the day?

Do we need the military?

Do we need a military and what size army does a country of 800,000 people need?  

Fiji has a larger army than Papua New Guinea that has a population of 7,000,000.

 Fiji is unlikely to be attacked from an external country and our wide geographic area and 330 islands make it indefensible to our traditional infantry type ill equipped army.  We have neither the air force nor the type of navy required to take on any of our major neighbours.  There is no current or potential threat to the nation of Fiji

 Why does it exist?

Peacekeeping is often cited as a reason with remittances from overseas soldiers a significant foreign exchange earner for the country.   The remittances however do not compare well with the overall cost of maintaining a standing army of 3,500 active soldiers and 6,000 reservists.   The drain on the countries budget cannot be justified by remittances.

So why does it exist?   Border protection could be handled by a ready reaction force of less than 100 military trained officers operating under the jurisdiction of the Police Commissioner.

Any new constitution must not enshrine the Fiji Military Forces as the defender of the people.  With no external threat the only potential use of this force is against the civilian population.

 The recent activities by the armies of Syria. Egypt and Libya against their civilian population and the reaction of the international community show this is not an acceptable use of military force.

So what do we do with a force of 3500 trained soldiers?

I suggest we wind them down. 

Stop recruiting and retrain those with other skills.

 Offer a paid redundancy to all soldiers. Our standing army cost us in excess of $35,000 per soldier per annum to maintain.  Offering all soldiers a year’s salary as a redundancy payment should be a start.

 The military engineers should be made into a State Owned Enterprise or a Shareholding Cooperative to contract road and civil engineering projects.  If necessary these projects should be subsidized by the government until the commercial skills are developed.  By 2020 all subsidies should be removed with a fully commercial unit remaining.

The navy should be converted into a Coast Guard with emphasis on protecting our fisheries and our Exclusive Economic Zone as this becomes more important with the development of undersea mining.

Private companies in Fiji should be given a subsidy to recruit active soldiers into the workforce. 

 The Australian, New Zealand and British armed forces should be encouraged to select from the current standing army in our country.

There should be a plan in place to reduce our military to a ceremonial status by a suggested date of 2020.

Al of the above should release the majority of the estimated $129 million dollars currently drained each year from the economy by the military.

This is sufficient to service all of our current overseas debt.

Its easy to offer vague promises of future profit sharing when the company lost US$50 million last year and its major partner Qantas is trying to bail out.

Fiji union wary of Air Pacific profit share plans

Posted at 03:30 on 02 August, 2011 UTC

Fiji’s Transport Workers Union says a profit sharing programme proposal for Air Pacific employees seems vague and not a good enough incentive for workers.

A statement from the company last week said the board of directors of Fiji’s national airline has, in principle, approved management’s recommendation for the proposal, but a finalised plan is yet to be approved.

The union’s general secretary Kamlesh Kumar says the company recorded a loss of over 50-million US dollars last year, so it’s likely to be some time before its profitable again.

Plus he says the board would also still determine what would be paid out to employees.

Kamlesh Kumar says the union has been kept in the dark and heard about it through local media.

“We as workers and as workers representatives do not have any control over what is contained in the proposals, neither what will be offered, or given to the employees therefore we repeat our claim that it is totally baseless, and it is hollow, and it does not mean anything.”

Kamlesh Kumar

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PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand

Inflation and poverty to increase but tourism should boom as Aus/NZ visitors now have more money to spend.

Aust/NZ dollar strengthening against Fiji dollar not a good news

The continuous strengthening of the Australian and NZ dollar against the Fijian dollar is not good news for Fiji consumers as we import a lot of items from these countries.

With all these factors coming into play, indications are that the prices of imported items will continue to rise or remain high.

Economist and Chairman of the Commerce Commission, Doctor Mahendra Reddy said this is the reality of the situation.

And do not expect the price of imported food items and fuel to go down any time soon as inflation continues to rise internationally.

Doctor Reddy said the devaluation of the dollar and several global factors now in play means that we are at the mercy of changes of prices at the global level.

He said the commission is responsible for setting price controls for about 5 percent of the items sold in the supermarkets, and it is difficult to stabilize the prices due to increasing costs.

Doctor Reddy said that they have managed to keep the prices of certain brands of the basic food items low.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

Ratu Tevita Maru approachs Maori as traditional leader?

Fijians want Maori support for democracy

Wednesday 27th July, 2011

Democracy activist Frank Robanakadavu says the Fiji for Democracy Movement will ask iwi for support against his country’s military rulers.

Frank Robanakadavu accompanied exiled officer and traditional leader Ratu Tevita Maru to meet King Tuheitia last week.

He says support from fellow indigenous peoples like Maori is important to the cause, which is why a direct approach to iwi is being considered.

He was pleased to see many Maori among the 500 people at a Fiji for Democracy rally in Pukekohe at the weekend.