No recommendation yet to put Qarase in prison infirmary

Publish date/time: 07/12/2012 [16:15]

The Fiji Corrections Service said there is no recommendation as yet to put prison inmate, Laisenia Qarase in an infirmary.

When questioned by Fijivillage, Corrections Commissioner Lt Colonel Ifereimi Vasu said the recommendation for any ill inmate to be placed in an infirmary is done solely by the Visiting Medical Officer after his assessment.

He said the authority lies only with the authorised Visiting Medical Officer for the Fiji Corrections Service.

Lt Colonel Vasu also said an inmate will only be accommodated at an infirmary if he or she was hospitalised prior to admission into prison custody.

Meanwhile, one of the grounds for Qarase’s bail was that he is not being placed in the infirmary though recommended by the Government or Prison Medical Board in view of his age and health issues.

On this, Fiji Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Suresh Chandra said this relates to administrative issues and the prison authorities should seriously consider Qarase’s age and health condition in placing him in a suitable environment while he is serving his sentence.

Qarase’s appeal on conviction and 12 months sentence for the Fijian Holdings Limited case is expected to be heard in February.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

SDL Press Release

Posted 6th Dec 2012

——————————————————————————–

Replacement of the Queens Portrait with Fiji’s Flora and Fauna

The Nation has noted with deep regret another uninvited announcement of the unelected Regime to change and replace the portrait of the Queen with some flora and fauna of Fiji from our notes and coins as from January 2nd 2013.This we understand is part of the Military Regime’s plan to remove the symbol of our connection to the Queen and the Royal Family and Great Britain, which has been part of our proud tradition for over a hundred years.

It is important to understand the meaning of our relationship with Great Britain and the Queen as its Monarch, to fully appreciate its significance. This relationship was initiated by our Chiefs who signed the Deed of Cession in full concurrence with the then Native Council- the forerunner of the Great Council of Chiefs- whichhas also been deliberately put aside by the current Regime since 2007.

It is clear that the Regime is uncomfortable with properly established symbols of authority like that of the Queen and the Great Council of Chiefs, with all their proud history which arealso tied to our own. The Regime has obviously lost its direction: it has no history to write about; its future is as uncertain as its present. That is not a sufficient excuse to be discourteous to her Majesty Queen Elisabeth the Second who had served us loyally as Queen and TuiViti for over 60 years.

During those years we have been guilty as a Nation, of discourteous actions through the coups and the abrogation of our connection to the Crownbut after at each time, we return as an Independent Republic to the Commonwealth of free nations with the Queen as our symbolic Head. That has been part of our history and we are proud of it. We have however, maintained the spirit of trust of our forefathers and the Chiefs who signed the Deed of Cession, even as an independent nation.

The SDL dissociates itself from the action of the Regime in what it regards as a shameful action which is totally at odds with the sense of trust that our chiefs who signed the Deed of Cession wanted to promote. The Party maintains that no unelected Government let alone one without any real sense of history needs to deprive its citizens and future generations, the benefit of understanding their own past and learning from it.

In taking such action at a time it is trying to promote a return to democracy, the Regime displays its own cynicism in its own efforts. In doing so, it has obviously ‘shot itself in the foot’ in trying to win the attention of the international community for its efforts.

The SDL concludes that the flora and fauna of Fiji have already brought international attention to Fiji and they should not be used as an excuse to hide the intentions of the Regime in trying to feature itself into our notes and currencies which would be totally unacceptable and to the overwhelming majority of our people.

The SDL feels that the Regime should shelve its proposal, apologize to the Queen and TuiViti and leave this issue to be handled by the Incoming Elected Government in 2014.

Fiji: Abuses Jeopardize Constitution Process

Fiji: Abuses Jeopardize Constitution Process

December 5, 2012

While promises of constitutional consultations provide some hope for democratic progress in Fiji, the sixth anniversary of the coup reminds us how far there is to go. The bottom line is that so long as the government targets activists and muzzles the media, a truly rights-respecting and democratic transition won’t be possible.

                    Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director

(Bangkok) – The government of Fiji should end human rights abuses that threaten to undermine the legitimacy of the process begun to draft a new constitution, Human Rights Watch and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) said today in a letter to Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama. Fiji’s interim government announced in March the beginning of long-promised consultations on a new constitution, an important first step toward 2014 elections.

The letter was sent on the sixth anniversary of the 2006 coup by Commodore Bainimarama.Human Rights Watch and the ITUC called on theinterim government to cease curtailing the rights of Fiji Islanders to freedom of speech, the press, peaceful assembly, and association. The military and police have arbitrarily arrested and detained human rights defenders, labor leaders, journalists, and others perceived to be critical of the government.
“While promises of constitutional consultations provide some hope for democratic progress in Fiji, the sixth anniversary of the coup reminds us how far there is to go,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The bottom line is that so long as the government targets activists and muzzles the media, a truly rights-respecting and democratic transition won’t be possible.

Human Rights Watch and the ITUC urged the government to significantly revise the Fiji Constitutional Process (Constituent Assembly and Adoption of Constitution) Decree 2012 to address concerns about the body’s independence. The decree grants full control over the composition of the Constituent Assembly to the interim government; the assembly has the authority to amend or delete provisions of the draft constitution with a two-thirds vote. Furthermore, the decree requires the inclusion of provisions in the constitution to grant immunity to government officials and security forces involved in toppling the democratically elected Qarase government in December 2006.

The Fiji government should promptly repeal the Public Order (Amendment) Decree 2012, Human Rights Watch and the ITUC said. The amendment, which the government announced in January just days after repealing the Public Emergency Regulations, broadly restricts the rights to freedom of speech and assembly. The government has used this decree against people whom officials perceive are critical of the government, particularly representatives of civil society groups, trade unions, and political parties.

The government has also sought to dismantle the labor movement. In September, the authorities stopped representatives from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) from carrying out its mission to verify workers’ complaints about restrictions on freedom of association. The government has also used the Essential Industries Decree 2011 to undermine union activity in industries the government determines to be essential.
“Under Commodore Bainimarama’s rule, the governmenthas stripped workers of their fundamental rights,” said Sharan Burrow, general secretary at the International Trade Union Confederation. “Work sites were militarized and trade union leaders beaten. Trade unionists are under constant police surveillance and police listen in on private union meetings. The trade unions stand firm to enforce international standards to protect workers and their union representatives despite the climate of fear and repression. The government must heed the growing call to respect these rights from the international community.”

The government should immediately cease media censorship, which it asserts through intimidation and the criminal law, Human Rights Watch and the ITUC said. The Media Industry Development Decree (Media Decree), which took effect June 2010, forbids publications that are “against public interest or order” and restricts foreign media ownership.

“Fiji’s abusive government has for too long benefited from the island nation’s remoteness,” Robertson said. “It should show it’s serious about constitutional consultations by taking prompt action to respect the basic rights of all its people.”

The military government has disabled the institutions essential to the industry’s health.

New Fiji head of international sugar body has crippled domestic industry: union

Posted at 03:49 on 04 December, 2012 UTC

The president of Fiji’s National Farmers Union says the interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has virtually crippled the sugar industry in his own country.

Surendra Lal’s comment follows the Commodore’s appointment as chair of the London-based International Sugar Organisation, which comprises 86 member states.

In his acceptance speech, Commodore Bainimarama highlighted the importance of a healthy sugar industry to Fiji’s economy.

But the farmers union’s Surendra Lal says in abolishing the Fiji Sugar Commission and restricting the operations of the growers council the military government has disabled the institutions essential to the industry’s health.

“These were the organisations where we had a side by side approach to the sugar industry. There are so many issues which are pertinent to the sugar industry that have to be talked through and listened to and then decisions made on a round table basis where we have bilateral talks over the issues.”

Surendra Lal says he hopes Commodore Bainimarama’s appointment brings him to his senses about how to reverse the declining fortunes of Fiji’s sugar industry.

He says otherwise he doubts the industry will survive.

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

Apparently, the dictators of the world are free to do as they please, provided their nation is far enough away to avoid any unseemly publicity.

Fiji – Fun in the Sun with Guns!

  • November 22, 2012 6:38 am

By James Walker

In the rough and tumble world of International Relations, it is sometimes easy to focus too much on the major players, and allow the smaller (but no less interesting) states to disappear from view. With that in mind, and with the caveat that a brief article can only hope to scratch the surface of even the smallest of players on the world stage, this exploration of the current situation in Fiji is intended to view the IR arena through the lens of a small island nation. From the absurdity of Westphalian notions of sovereign functional equality, to the demonstrations of Rosenau’s “Fragmegration” in action, the tiny, beautiful state of Fiji allows students of IR to view the swirling complexity of modern globalization in a microcosm.

To set the scene, Fiji has been an independent state since 1970, and in its short forty year history has suffered through four military coups. The last one took place in 2006, and while Commodore Josaia Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama (the reigning Prime Minister), swears that nation-wide elections will take place in 2014, the fact that he is the same man who overthrew the last regime suggests to most outside observers that they should not hold their breath. The revelation that Fiji is now regarded as a  “Parliamentary Republic”, run by a “Military Appointed Government” also suggests that even military dictatorships have a sense of humor, in addition to a good PR department.

So good, in fact, that the G-77 (+ China) recently announced that Fiji would take over as chairman of the UN’s largest geo-political voting block in 2013. As the “voice of the developing world”, the G-77 represents the vast majority of the “Global South”, encompassing 132 players in the great game of international relations. This is Westphalianism at its most interesting, given that Fiji (an island nation with a population of just over 850,000) will be the point-person for developmental agendas in a group that encompasses states such as Brazil, India and China. It takes a great sense of faith in the precepts of sovereign equality to see how this is supposed to work. Either that, or a healthy dose of skepticism about the realities of power relationships in our anarchic system.

What is truly fascinating about Fiji is the nature of its domestic troubles, and the way in which they represent the turmoil that has become such a topic of academic debate in globalization theory. The population of Fiji has been split along both racial and economic lines, with institutionalized racism as an explicit aspect of the national political discourse. Within the Fijian constitution (currently abrogated) 37 of the 70 Parliamentary seats were reserved for “native Fijians”, meaning that a nativist political infrastructure was mandated as a majority. This issue of racial politics is just one of the things that the current regime promises to reform in the new constitution, due by 2013 but still the subject of some debate.

However, the vast majority of the Island’s commercial wealth is generated within the Indo-Fijian population – a diaspora that was brought to Fiji during the British colonial era to work the sugar plantations, and has since shown the same entrepreneurial spirit that has marked their presence in so many other Commonwealth countries. Unfortunately, this has also led to many of the same discriminatory tactics faced by Indian diasporas elsewhere. In fact, there was a substantial, violent backlash against Indo-Fijians after the third coup d’état in 2000, exacerbating an already troubling trend towards an exodus from paradise for the Indian community.

If the situation were not complex enough, Fiji recently made international headlines when the winner of the Ms. World – Fiji contest (2012) provoked outrage over the fact that she did not look “native” enough. Ms. Torika Watters, of mixed Fijian and European heritage, was subsequently disqualified for being too young to enter the competition, thereby neatly side-stepping the inherent racism involved, and avoiding the need to address this political hot-potato on a global (if somewhat superficial) stage.  However, while the incident may have been swept under the carpet, the notions of ethnic identification that were behind the outrage have not been displaced so easily.

These issues concerning nationality, ethnicity, and fundamental notions of identity in the modern state are indicative of what James Rosenau describes as “Fragmegration.” While the processes of globalization continue to draw this tiny state into the global flows of commerce, governance, and communication, they are also serving to pull the fabric of society apart. The changing nature of Fijian demographics, fluctuating as they do with the flow of new ethnicities into and out of the country (including many new immigrants from the Philippines) mean that the “imagined community” of the state is under ever increasing pressure. The response of the military to retreat into authoritarianism in order to shore up the walls of nationalism can only be a stop-gap measure at best.

While trendy hipsters and society dilettantes sip their Fiji Water in bars on Rodeo Drive (shipped across the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, in bottles manufactured from Chinese plastic) they are partially funding a military dictatorship hidden behind the image of a tropical paradise. What is astounding is the fact that, even in this day and age, the image of Fiji as an Island paradise is so pervasive that folks happily go there on their dream honeymoons, without ever actually coming into contact with the political reality of visiting a dictatorship.  This is not to suggest that people should stop going, simply that they should be aware of where they are going, and what is happening there. Given that tourism is the lion’s share of the national economy, this is a significant potential lever for change.

While the situation is still tense, and the prospect of reform is rather aspirational at present, it is both heartening and disappointing to see the reaction of the world at large. On the positive side, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Pacific Islands Forum, and the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations have all suspended Fiji from membership. However, while the UN Security Council has called for “fair elections” to be held as soon as possible, it has still not seen fit to recall the 1000 Fijian Peacekeepers that are stationed around the world, representing the international community in their famous blue helmets. And then, of course, there is the chairmanship of the G-77. It seems that even in the modern era of global governance and institutionalized legalism, the Waltzian ideal lives on, no matter how crazy it might be. Apparently, the dictators of the world are free to do as they please, provided their nation is far enough away to avoid any unseemly publicity. As they say in the corridors of power, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” (The more things change, the more they stay the same” – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr).

James Walker is a fourth-year Global Studies student and a research intern at the Burkle Center

WTF……..China Railway is under scrutiny for failing to deduct FNPF contributions for its workers dating back five years.

China Railway 5 fails to meet deadline on FNPF payments

08:43 Today

 

 

Taken from/By:
Report by: Mika Loga

The China Railway 5 company has failed to meet its deadline to pay all FNPF contributions due to its workers it hired for its Samabula contract with the Water Authority Of Fiji.

The one month deadline given to China Railway 5 by the Water Authority of Fiji expired yesterday.

China Railway is contracted to upgrade sewerage reticulation systems and have all homes in Samabula connected to the main sewer line to Kinoya.

The Watere Authority had said it will review the contract of the company if it failed to meet the deadline.

China Railway is under scrutiny for failing to deduct FNPF contributions for its workers dating back five years.

The company’s Commercial Manager Charles King says, they still need time.

” FNPFand our company need sometime for the process we’ll have to submit record of the payment first and they to review asnd do the right calculations.”

According to the company it has already paid over fifty thousand dollars in FNPF contributions until June this year.

This is for workers hired for the fencing of Government House and those currently working at Samabula.

“We hope the officers from the water authority and even the people from the public can give us some understanding.”

China Railway admits its mistake – saying it is affecting their administration side of things.

 

Long Live King Frank?……….. I don’t think even Frank is this stupid.

Fiji to replace Queen on currency with military dictator

Fiji is removing the Queen’s picture from its currency and may instead show images of its military dictator, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

Fiji is removing the Queen's picture from its currency and may instead show images of its military dictator, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

Fijian military Commodore Frank Bainimarama and the Queen’s face on a Fijian two dollar banknote Photo: AP/Alamy

By Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney

9:48AM GMT 30 Nov 2012

British royals have appeared on Fiji banknotes since 1934 and remained both after independence in 1970 and after the country became a Republic in 1987.

But the country’s current military rulers were angered after Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth following its 2006 military coup and its repeated failure to hold elections.

The Reserve Bank of Fiji said a new currency without the image of the Queen would enter circulation from January 2.

The bank’s governor, Barry Whiteside, said the Queen’s image would largely be replaced by a flora and fauna design. He said he was “sad” to be removing the image of the monarch and the change marked the end of an era.

“We are indeed grateful to have had the privilege of this association over the past 78 years,” he said.

The bank did not say whether a new face would appear on the notes but reports said Commodore Bainimarama and the military-appointed president, Epeli Nailatikau, were both likely candidates.

Mr Whiteside said Commodore Bainimarama, the country’s self-appointed prime minister and finance minister, has approved a currency design committee to oversee the selection of the designs.

Earlier this year, Fiji abolished its annual holiday celebrating the Queen’s official birthday because it was deemed “no longer relevant”. The Union Jack still appears on the flag, reportedly because several hundred Fijians serve in the British army.

But Commodore Bainimarama, who took power in a bloodless coup, has at times spoken of restoring the Queen as head of state and has portraits of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh hanging above his office desk.

The bank said it hoped to promote Fiji’s biodiversity, particularly flora and fauna which have been listed as endangered species.

“All Fijians must be made aware of this fact and how critical it is to preserve our heritage,” Mr Whiteside said.

The new note designs will be unveiled on December 12.

Member of Fiji regime allowed into New Zealand on humanitarian grounds

Posted at 03:09 on 30 November, 2012 UTC

The sanctions against members of the Fiji regime have been temporarily lifted to allow a member of the government into New Zealand on humanitarian grounds.

Fairfax reports that 76 year Filipe Bole, the interim Education Minister, suffered a severe heart attack last week.

A Foreign Affairs spokesperson has confirmed the smart sanctions imposed since the military coup in 2006 had been lifted for Mr Bole on humanitarian grounds.

The sanctions ban people associated with the regime and their families from entering New Zealand and Australia

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

“We only knew of 3.5 acres, now they want to cut the mangrove to develop the area”

Villagers angry,  PBS says deal is on

November 20, 2012 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by:

By MAIKELI SERU

The controversy surrounding a proposed land development by Pacific Building Solutions (PBS) at Wailekutu, Lami, has taken a new twist. Yesterday the fishing grounds owners at Waiboloa where the development was earmarked, Tikina (district) ‘o Suva, said they want the project cancelled. Their representation, Navakavu Development Committee (NDC), delivered a letter to the Roko Tui Rewa – Suva, Taniela Tabukarawa, stating they want Government to stop the developers. “We were tricked,” committee spokesman Taniela Vueta said. “We only knew of 3.5 acres, now they want to cut the mangrove to develop the area. “There is something fishy happening. We want to close the deal and do not want it discussed again. “We do not want them to come to us again. “This is the collective agreement of all leaders in our district. We feel we were cheated,” he said. He said copies of the letter would be given to line ministries and the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama. Last Friday the Director of Lands, Jope Davetanivalu said a permit was given for 3.5 acres to PBS which excluded the mangroves. On Sunday acting Permanent Secretary Lands Tevita Boseiwaqa said clarification would be made on the size of the land owned by the company. He said no approval had been given for development. But yesterday PBS managing director Michael Fairfax maintained that everything was still in order and that they had obtained all necessary approval from landowners. In email correspondence he said, the proposed development area was 12 acres and included mangrove areas. Mr Fairfax in response to questions on residents concerns said PBS was investigating concerns on possible pollution within the area. According to the company, the new PBS headquarters is a state of the art eco- friendly designed structure that will be the first of its kind in Fiji and the proposed reclamation of the foreshore area approved by the Navakavu Development Committee (traditional iqoliqoli owners) will have a positive environmental impact on the area.

Fiji gets a “Yellow Card” on illegal fishing.

EU Warns Developing Nations about Illegal Fishing

November 15, 2012

The European Commission warned eight developing countries Thursday of sanctions if they did not do more to stop “criminal”illegal fishing, saying it was taking the first step of its kind.

The Commission said it did not plan to impose penalties as yet on Belize, Cambodia, Fiji, Guinea, Panama, Sri Lanka, Togo and Vanuatu, but stressed they could face a ban on the sale of fishing equipment, for example, failing action.

“This is not a black list but a yellow card,” European maritime affairs commissioner Maria Damanaki said in a statement.

Source: AFP. Read full article. (link)

Wait and see Croz may surprise us.

The attacks on Croz for rightly declaring he was sponsored by the Fiji Government on his recent junket are absurd. It is premature to say his report will be a whitewash for the government.

We must wait and see but he has been upfront about the circumstance of the visit and for this we must give him some Kudos. I do however know the drivers were telephoned each night to confirm his visits and plans. As any PSC driver will tell you this is not unusual when driving people, like potential investors, of interest to the government

While I disagree with him not asking the opinions of those opposed to what is happening in Fiji. I do however know he spoke to Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi and this interview alone is worth the wait.

Tu Jone has a major role to play in Fiji’s future and I will be disappointing if he is sidelined by the administration.

Wait and read  the message before you decide to shoot the messenger

Peter.

RFMF and its roll in Government and why the Commodore sees himself as filling the seat a high chief.

Former Fiji military commander reveals research into military thinking

Tuesday, 23 October 2012 03:28

RNZI: A former land force commander in Fiji, Jone Baledrokadroka, says the Fiji military’s role as a peacekeeper in overseas conflicts has helped transform its mindset and influenced its role in recent Fiji politics.

Mr Baledrokadroka has been conducting PhD research at the Australian National University and he presented some of his findings to a gathering of Pacific leaders, experts and academics in New Zealand last week.

He argues there have been unintended consequences of peacekeeping that are pervasive in Fiji’s present day military.

He says politicisation of the military also dates from an earlier overseas campaign against communist insurgents, the Emergency of the 1950s.

“It was very much ingrained I say within the military institution from the days of the Malaya campaign where our troops first came into contact with this idea of security, development … this working together of the state, the government, the people and the security forces.”

Mr Baledrokadroka says there needs to be a Commission of Inquiry into the ethos of the military followed by reform of the institution.

He also presented research showing more than 60 members of the military are playing a role in the present day Fiji government.

Mr Baledrokadroka was imprisoned following alleged involvement in a plot to kill the regime leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

His studies also include the demise of the chiefly order in Fiji and he argues the Commodore sees himself as filling the seat of high chief.

– RNZI

PMs Office interferes in the work of the the Constitutional Commission by stating what it can and cannot recommend.

Forget about the 1997 Constitution

18:14 Sat Oct 20, 2012

 

Taken from/By: Report by: Epeli Tukuwasa

People should forget about any possibility of the 1997 Constitution being reinstated.

That is the word from Kisoko Cagituivei from the  Prime Ministers Office.

He was responding to submissions of  political parties to the Constitutional Commission that the 2014 general election should be based on  the 1997 constitution and that a new one can be formulated after the polls.

Cagituivei says their calls are impossible as the 1997 constitution has been abrograted and claimed that the international community had accepted that.

He claims political parties want the 1997 constitution because it is the only way for them to get into parliament and play dirty politics and use the race card for their political gain.

He said he hoped the elections would go ahead.”But that hope is not based on very good grounds,” he said.

Fiji: Major Rabuka casts doubt on 2014 elections

12:55 PM Friday Oct 19

Sitiveni Rabuka talking at the Pacific conference on democracy at the University of Canterbury today. Photo / supplied

Sitiveni Rabuka talking at the Pacific conference on democracy at the University of Canterbury today. Photo / supplied

Major General Sitiveni Rabuka, who led two military coups in Fiji, has cast doubt over whether the elections in Fiji will go ahead in 2014 as scheduled.

The former Fijian Prime Minister was the keynote speaker at the University of Canterbury’s Democracy in the Pacific conference today.

He said he hoped the elections would go ahead.

“But that hope is not based on very good grounds,” he said.

“When we talk about democracy in the Pacific, one size does not fit all. Military has always had a presence in the Fiji culture. We think of militant ways of changing things, rather than waiting for the next elections.

“It may be that we have corporate cooperation in 2014 where together the government and the military keep tabs on our civil military relations to prevent things from breaking down again, as it has happened many times in Fiji.”

Rabuka said he visited the deconstruction this week of Christchurch’s QE2 Park, the venue for the 1974 Commonwealth Games where he was a decathlete and captain of the Fiji team.

He passed on his sympathy to the people of Christchurch because of the earthquakes.

APNZ

Immunity and a process of truth and reconciliation to be considered very seriously

Immunity provisions questioned: Ghai

17:05 Tue Oct 16, 2012

 

 

Taken from/By: FBC News
Report by: Devendra Narayan

Some members of the public have raised concerns about an immunity decree in their submissions to the Constitution Commission.

And Commission chairperson Professor Yash Ghai says some people feel issues related to the provisions of immunity should be debated.

“Most people were realistic, any regime anywhere in the world will not give away powers unless they have an assurance for immunity, people are concerned that it is not for public debate or consultation, they said there should be a process of truth and reconciliation and that process can also deal with immunity.”

Professor Ghai says he initially thought the issue had been exaggerated.

“I thought maybe it is not so necessary but in view of wide spread request there is a need to consider it very seriously.”

The Commission concluded receiving submissions from the public yesterday.
It expects to have a draft Constitution by the end of the year.

A timely reminder on our Fiji Day

Frank’s boat is sinking but he will paddle to Ride Out the Waves

By Russell Hunter


Commodore Frank Bainimarama on December 5 2006 deposed a lawfully elected government by force of arms. This was, as he and his inner circle are well aware, nothing short of treason for which the penalty is life imprisonment. So he now seeks to be somehow spirited from the tiger’s back by a promise of elections in 2014 and the construction of yet another constitution.Even though, he has two overarching difficulties.

Part of his much-touted exit strategy is to stand for election in 2014. But the many thousands of Fiji Islanders who eagerly await their chance to remove him by means of the ballot box are doomed to disappointment. He has no intention of ceding power -not to them or anyone else.

His first problem, then, is that he has conditioned the people of Fiji (and the wider region) to doubt his word. In his takeover address of December 6, 2006 he made eleven clear pledges to the nation, none of which – not a single one – have been honoured.

Frank Bainimarama’s Race Card: The Great ParadoxHe famously remarked “I don’t trust the people” – a sentiment now widely reciprocated. This does little for his election prospects and the harder headed elements among the military are well aware of it. The buffoonery of its public mouthpieces only partly conceals a well organized planning and intelligence function that is much closer to the reality of Fiji than the public statements would have us believe.

Bainimarama’s second highest hurdle is the perennial one of race. His promise to end racism and racial voting has gained deserved support among the commentariat. And deservedly so. The harsh reality, however, is that the majority of the people he illegally governs do not agree – and not just the ethnic Fijian majority. It will take more than a few decrees to end the politics of race in Fiji.

The Fijians strongly feel – with at least some justification – that they are the ones called upon to make all the concessions to a highly identifiable mono-cultural immigrant block that declines to assimilate. Why should it? Its culture has served it well since long before the Bible was thought of. The landless Indo-Fijian community – again with some justification – feel ostracised and unwanted in the land of their birth.

Multiculturalism has proved to be a power for good in Australian and New Zealand. In Fiji, however, there are only two cultures that for the most part stand back to back. This needs to end – but Bainimarama will not be the one to end it. It won’t be achieved by decree or by force, the only weapons left to the dictator as his past catches up with him

The military over which he has complete control still comprises some 99 per cent ethnic Fijians and Rotumans, though precise figures are no longer available in the new transparent Fiji. The language of the military is Fijian. In addition his actions against Fijian institutions, for example the Great Council of Chiefs and the Methodist Church, have engendered a seething resentment among the indigenous population – which now constitutes a clear majority, adding further difficulties for his election campaign.

Again, the military planners are well aware of this and have already produced an outline series of measures to build bridges to the ethnic Fijian population. Its effectiveness is yet to be gauged.

Sadly, too, the indigenous population increasingly regard the Bainimarama coup as an Indo-Fijian plot or, worse still, as a Muslim takeover organised by Bainimarama’s “eminence grise”, the illegal attorney general and minister for many things, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. The theory that Bainimarama, the honest though gullible Christian Fijian, has been exploited by a devious Indo-Fijian Muslim is gaining traction in Fiji.

Of course nothing could be further from the truth. As we now know – Bainimarama’s routine denial notwithstanding – the coup of 2006 was his fourth attempt and was driven as much by his urgent need to stay out of jail as by any “clean-up” desire. The potential for racial and religious mayhem should be obvious. Yet the dictator has done nothing to defuse this ticking bomb.


Immunity, Mutiny and Murder ChargesAt the same time, any new constitution will have to contain an amnesty for Bainimarama and his collaborators. The crimes of treason and torture to name but two will be forgiven. But can it credibly afford to offer amnesty for the five murders that followed the mutiny of November 2, 2000, investigation of which the commander has steadfastly stonewalled? If the overwhelming reaction as expressed in submissions to the constitution commission is any guide, it’s clear that the population is set against any immunity arrangement.

That won’t stop Bainimarama. He can’t afford to let it. The betting in Suva seems to be that he’ll simply impose immunity much as he imposed the People’s Charter by the simple device of declaring that 90 per cent of the people supported it. Where is it now?

Bainimarama’s Fiji an economic cot

But Krankie Frankie is no longer in charter territory. An election is a quite different matter with secret voting, international observers and the desire of the people to make a statement regarding their futures. Governments (and prime ministers) offering themselves to the voters need to stand on their records. If that is so, Bainimarama is unelectable. His record stinks. As Minister of Finance he has transformed Fiji from being the powerhouse of the Pacific to an economic cot case. As Minister for Sugar he continues to preside over the death throes of an industry on which 200,000 people depend for their livelihoods.As Minister for Fijian Affairs he has dismantled institutions, alienated the Methodist Church, and angered landholders. Yes, when he arrives in the villages boasting and glad handing, they’ll tell him what he wants to hear. Some fear to do otherwise. But even he must know that they will not vote for him. He has alienated and angered the civil service by his policy of militarisation. At the same time his secret salaries remain a matter of extreme resentment. He has slashed people’s pensions for no apparent reason – the study on which this action was based remains, like much else in Fiji, secret. It’s no way to win an election and his efforts at hand-outs (for which he rightly castigated the SDL in the 2006 election) can never hope to clean up his record in the eyes of the voters.

If an election does take place, Bainimarama cannot allow a winner other than himself. Possibly his only viable survival option lies in the white house on the hill. The illegal president’s term expires in a few days and the dictator must be tempted to have himself appointed and continue to rule by decree while indulging his taste for luxury.But who would be prime minister? Who could be trusted? Or could the position simply lapse? Certainly the option must look preferable to an election he cannot win without rigging it. He once told the world that general elections in Fiji would take place on March 13, 2009, if all necessary preparations can be accomplished in time. But some days later Sayed-Khaiyum, now also Minister for Elections, told the media Bainimarama had only been joking. But these are no joking matters. Neither is Operation Jericho. E-mail: russellfji@gmail.com

A Comment stolen from Grubsheet that I agree with totally…….. All of the coups have been for self serving self advancement and not for the benefit of our Fiji as a country.

Charlie Charters

Posted October 9, 2012 at 7:22 PM

Riverside,

Despite the best attempts of Graham and others to paint me as a vassal of my mother in law, personally, I am not anti-Bainimarama or pro-Qarase. But I am deeply anti-coup. These things just don’t work out as intended.

I was a young reporter working at FM96 during the first two coups. There was a lot of after-the-fact justifying of why the coups were necessary: the easiest to understand narrative was that Fijians/i Taukei had not had fair access to the economic benefits of the country, and therefore the coups happened as a logical consequence of that disenfranchisement.

I always thought that was a lot of self-serving nonsense. For me, the real motivation behind those coups (and subsequent) was that there existed in Fiji a tightly associated clan of business and political figures who felt an overweening sense of entitlement, and whose jobs for life were threatened by the Bavadra victory in April 1987.

It was that unholy alliance of Coup-Enablers that conspired to create the circumstances that delivered 1987, 2000 and 2006.

Certainly there was and remains a huge number of Fijians/i Taukei who feel marginalised and passed over by the many and conspicuous benefits of development (electricity, piped water etc.). But these same disadvantaged people did not lead the coups; the coups were not mass uprisings (along the lines of the Arab Spring); all four coups were events of huge national significance (and great long-lasting economic damage) that were done in all our names but by a tiny few who self-selected themselves based on what they feared they had to lose, and who subsequently have enjoyed the huge trappings that come with high political office, salary, entitlements, pensions, or in the case of the cabal of business leaders, have enjoyed preferential tariff protection, access to loans, etc.

Last Chance for written submissions…….

Wednesday final day for written submissions

http://www.fijivillage.com/?mod=story&id=0810129c477acd82119edacaff5db1

People have two more days to make written submissions to the constitution commission.

According to the commission, this Wednesday is the last to day to receive any written submissions.

The commission is requesting people to send in their submissions by post, email or drop it off at their office at the parliamentary complex.

Meanwhile the commission will be in Savusavu today and will tour Taveuni tomorrow before returning to the Central division on Wednesday.

Next Monday, the commission will go to Lau and Rotuma.

Story by: Kushboo Singh

Reports in Fiji press incorrect………

Samoan PM denies he has forgiven Fiji

Updated 5 October 2012, 17:39 AEST

Samoa’s prime minister is denying claims by the Fiji interim government that he had told them that all was forgiven between them and the relationship between the two nations was back on track.

The coup installed interim government said the conciliatory statement was made by Tuilaepa Sailele at a kava drinking session at the United Nations in New York.

The Samoan leader has been a trenchant critic of the interim government and its leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

Tuilaepa Sailele tells Bruce Hill he and his government have not changed their policies towards Fiji at all.

Presenter:Bruce Hill

Speaker:Samoa’s prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele

SAILELE: Well, you see, we were there at the United Nations and the Pacific delegations were especially interested in the Pacific hosting the proposed review meetings on climate change, a meeting at the United Nations level and we made a strong bid from the Pacific vis-a-vis bid from the Caribbean and because there were two countries from here.There was a compromise solution and the compromise solution that we agreed with Fiji was that Fiji would host the officials meeting and we will host the plenary of the leaders and with that agreed, Fiji Ambassador invited the delegations that were there at the Pacific to come over and have a kava drink to celebrate the compromise, so we had other delegations as well, the President of Kiribati, the Ambassador from Nauru, representative of Solomons and the representative also of Palau and the Foreign Minister of Papua New Guinea. The Foreign Minister of Fiji was there as well. So we were very pleased that we eventually came to this compromise. It was a subject that was discussed at the level of the forum and the hope was expressed that the Pacific would be promoted strongly to host the meeting and there was this difficulty that had to be resolved and we resolved it with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Fiji over a cup of kava.

HILL: The Fiji interim government have suggested to us that what was said at that meeting by you to the Fijians was that all is forgiven and the relationship is now completely back on an even keel. Is that a fair summation of what happened?

SAILELE: Well, on the basis only of the meeting. We never discuss anything outside of the compromise on the meeting at all.

HILL: So this doesn’t really indicate that you’ve dropped your opposition to the coup-installed military government there and your opposition to that continued rule by Frank Bainimarama. This was just for the purposes of that compromise at the UN?

SAILELE: Oh, just compromise. The situation with respect to the Fiji government proposal to proceed with the general election, I have already stated my position and my position is one of facilitating and enabling the Fijians to proceed. This is the kind of move that the forum leaders have been trying to get from Fiji, although there are still difficulties, for instance, the rejection of ILO delegation, as well as those letters from the appeal judges. These are very, very, very serious events that can raise doubt on the genuine intention of the leader of Fiji and we do hope that they would proceed with their preparations to its rightful conclusion. And I have also expressed my support for the flexible attitude taken by New Zealand and Australia to provide the help with this opening from Fiji. It is only right for us to provide Fiji with the benefit of the doubt that we should be flexible in our approach and hope for the best that they will proceed with these promises of fair election. It must be fair. If that is done, and only after this has taken place, then we can then formally admit back Fiji into the Forum.