Fiji military warns about campaigning

Updated at 3:54 pm today

The commander of the Fiji military has told political parties campaigning for next month’s election to refrain from promoting discriminatory policies.

Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga says otherwise the military will have difficulty in balancing its role.

He says under the constitution, the military has to ensure at all times the security, defence and wellbeing of Fiji and all Fijians.

Brigadier General Tikoitoga has told the Fiji Sun in all the places where the Fiji forces serve as peacekeepers, the problems started with some sort of discrimination.

He also says the military will accept the outcome of next month’s election.

Brigadier General Tikoitoga says the military won’t favour any individual or political party and he has reminded those soldiers who had not read the constitution to familiarise themselves with the document.

The commitment is in contrast to his predecessor, Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama, who removed the last elected government half a year after the polls.

During the counting process in 2006, he said he hoped the two newly elected independent MPs would side with the Fiji Labour Party to give the country stability.

However, the SDL Party of Laisenia Qarase emerged as winner and was then ousted in a military coup – Fiji’s fourth in two decades.

no caption

Photo: RNZI/Sally Round

USP will not host Media Watch’s panel discussion “Reporting On The Elections Now and After the Elections” as it is likely to be in breach.

NGO’s election debate to avoid Fiji decree breach

Updated at 3:55 pm today

The University of the South Pacific in Fiji has cancelled a non government organisation’s debate on issues relating to the election because it could be in breach of the Electoral Decree.

Section 115 restricts any group receiving foreign funding from campaigning on election issues, which includes organising debates, panel discussions or publishing information.

A journalism lecturer, Pat Craddock, says the USP will not host Media Watch’s panel discussion “Reporting On The Elections Now and After the Elections” as it is likely to be in breach.

He says Media Watch’s offer to pay for refreshments may also infringe the decree as it could be seen as a gift from an NGO.

Mr Craddock says the university will put on a replacement event to discuss press freedom.

“It excludes educational organisations such as the USP, so we’re going to do it ourselves, because there is no point in putting any NGO under pressure. They can be fined up to 50,000 bucks and they can get 10 years prison or both.”

Pat Craddock says Ashwin Raj from the Media Industry Development Authority is a confirmed panelist at USP’s event.

An excellent Post from 4.5 that is worth circulating.

Waqavonovono: ‘RFMF should not fear Fiji citizens and politicians’

The youth activist, Peter Waqavonovono, says the recent comments of the ‘outgoing Army Commander Frank Bainimarama’ blaming politicians and external factors for the 2006 mutiny are ‘irresponsible and unnecessary.’
Waqavonovono especially disputes Bainimarama’s claim that his departure from the Queen Elizabeth Barracks should not be met with ‘fear’.

Waqavonovono: Political parties not a threat.

“Soldiers in the Royal Fiji Military Force should not fear the Citizens of Fiji,” says Waqavonovono.
“Nor should they fear the comments coming from politicians and political parties in the lead up to September General Elections.
“Politicians gather their opinions from those around them, and so far, no political party or politician should be considered a threat to the military – they may be a threat to the political ambitions of Frank Bainimarama, but not to the Security of Fiji.
“I ask that the RFMF instead respect the will of the People who have embraced the call for Elections and are keen on taking Fiji back to a democracy.
“Through voter registrations and discussions at campaign outreaches, the people of Fiji have decided to endorse the system and will go to elections under the new Constitution.
“If the Constitution must be changed, that will happen in a democratically elected Parliament.”
Waqavonovono says the only person who can thwart ‘the elections and prevent our desire to regain our democracy is the Prime Minister unelect Frank Bainimarama.’
“Even after he resigns from the RFMF as Commander, he is still Constitutionally the head of the RFMF and through the interim cabinet, still influences the RFMF that indirectly is still in control of Fiji.
“Politicians and Community Leader’s want a Peaceful transition to Democracy and there is no reason to fear the will and the voice of the People of Fiji.”
Waqavonovono says the 2000 mutiny & 2006 coup were influenced by internal elements within the RFMF and ‘we should stop blaming ‘external factors’.
“In reality the actors trying to dismantle Bainimarama’s grip of the RFMF were military officers.
“It has always been military officers.
“The time has come for the RFMF to align and reconcile themselves to the WILL of the People.
“The majority of citizens of Fiji did not want the 2006 coup; and after the tortures of hundreds of citizens at various army installations since 2006 and after two deaths at the hands of our RFMF, a reconciliation between the people and the security forces is needed.
“I invite the RFMF to now walk hand in hand with the people and vote freely with the best for Fiji in their heart’s.
“You should also attend political rallies and read up on party manifesto’s and make up your own mind on what is best for Fiji.”

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.

“They have enough standover cane to supply the Lautoka mill for one month.”…..Remember the promise of no standover cane?

Standover cane remains an issue after mill closing

Felix Chaudhary
Thursday, December 06, 2012

FARMERS taking stock of standing crop in the Lautoka and Nadi areas have noted a large amount of standover cane in the Nawaicoba sector.

Fiji Kisan Sangh general secretary and Fiji Cane Lorry Operators Association president Mahendra Prasad said Nawaicoba was unfortunate because of its location and a number of issues that plagued the cane farming area.

“They had a lot of problems beginning with a lack of canecutters and then there were issues with the cane access roads not being repaired on time,” he said.

“Finally, when the canecutters were found, they had problems with the very high transportation charges because of the distance of the cane farms to the Lautoka mill.”

Mr Prasad said it was imperative that the issues facing the Nawaicoba farmers be discussed at length to ensure standover cane did not continue to be an issue.

“They have enough standover cane to supply the Lautoka mill for one month.

“It is not a small amount of cane and that is why stakeholders need to discuss how best problems facing growers and transport operators can be sorted out for the benefit of the industry.”

Crushing at the Lautoka mill drew to a close on Tuesday with the FSC citing poor cane supply as the reason for closing proceedings one day earlier than the previously announced December 5 closing date.

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

And it is possible that the new Constitution, once it has been finalised by Bainimarama’s handpicked Constituent Assembly, might become a setback to democracy by spawning a military backed one-party state.

Democracy for Fiji?

26 Nov 2012

Commodore Frank Banimarama. Photo by AFP.With Fiji’s military rulers promising to send the country to the polls in 2014, JONE BALEDROKADROKA examines whether elections will be free and fair, and the hope for democracy in a state built by military muscle.

In 2006, Commodore Voreqe Frank Bainimarama overthrew Fiji’s democratically-elected government led by Laisenia Qarase. Having ruled by decree ever since, the military regime now promises democratic general elections in 2014 under a new constitution. The Pacific Islands Forum meeting in the Cook Islands in August 2012 acknowledged in its communiqué that the “interim government has made progress towards democracy”. However, the path in this progress towards democracy has been fraught with allegations of continuing military oversight and interference in the constitution-making process.

Delivering the keynote address at the Democracy in the Pacific Conference in October this year, New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon Murray McCully noted that “this year Fiji has taken some encouraging steps to prepare for elections in 2014”.The foreign minister went on to say:

We have been encouraged by the firm intention to hold elections, and by the machinery that has been put in place so far to make them possible. A Constitutional Commission was established earlier this year to conduct public consultations on a new constitution, and the process of registering voters was completed at the end of August. New Zealand has supported both of these activities.

McCully also made the point that when he took office a couple of years ago elections were not certain given the Fiji regime’s belligerent stance to democracy in general. After the forging of warmer diplomatic relations with Australia and New Zealand, the question now is whether the elections will be free and fair. The positive outlook by McCully, though, was not shared by Major General Sitiveni Rabuka, the former Prime Minister of Fiji who delivered the conference’s second key note address. Rabuka said that he was unsure about the 2014 Fijian elections and that he “hoped the elections would go ahead, but that that hope is not based on very good grounds”.[1] Rabuka also controversially stated that:

The 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 has happened many times in Fiji.[2]

On the same topic of military intervention, I presented a paper, The role of the military in Post-Colonial Fiji. The media reported it in these terms:

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. 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. 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.[3]

Rabuka’s assertion in fact substantiates my findings that the Fiji military has developed a mediator mindset in its present extended role in politics. The transformational process has been further enhanced by the Fiji military’s international peacekeeping role since the late 1970s.Whether this parallel process, involving military involvement in politics, will continue into the future is a bone of contention for Fiji political specialists.

In August, at the beginning of public hearings by the Constitution Commission, the chairman, Professor Yash Ghai insisted that, “there will be no government interference in the public consultations on the new constitution”.[4] To further illustrate the point, in July 2012, even before the five member Constitution Commission began soliciting public submissions, the regime promulgated a decree requiring immunity for those involved in the 2006 and earlier coups to be entrenched in the new constitution. In a press statement intended for the regime and the military, the Commissioners stated “this type of prospective immunity is most unusual, perhaps unique, and, we believe, undesirable”.[5]

Fiji’s major political stakeholders were scathing in their criticism of the integrity of the Constitution-making process and of the next phase, the selection of the constituent assembly that will deliberate on the draft Constitution. In an open letter that appeared on all the major Fiji pro-democracy blog sites, the key political party leaders, trade unionists and traditional high chiefs have put their names to a petition to the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau calling for a caretaker government.[6]

Constitution making process time line Meanwhile, the Commission has been given a timeline under the Fiji Constitutional Process (Constitution Commission) Decree 2012 which will see a draft constitution presented by January 2013.

The major political stakeholders and NGOs say the Constituent Assembly Decree gives the interim Prime Minister full control of the composition of the assembly. They say it is non-transparent. As a result, these major political stakeholders run the risk of being excluded from the Constituent Assembly and the critical phase where the draft constitution will pass into law.

At the same time, Bainimarama has censured the Commission for appointing high chief, former Vice President and High Court judge Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi as a consultant to the Commission. These events are further evidence of Bainimarama’s antagonism towards Fiji’s chiefs and the church. Bainimarama took exception to Madraiwiwi, who in his capacity as high chief was part of his Bau district delegation that wanted Fiji declared a Christian state. Commission Chairman Yash Ghai responded that Ratu Joni had academic law experience, in particular local law, and had appeared before the Commission as a traditional leader. Madraiwiwi has since withdrawn from his position.

Many see Bainimarama’s close scrutiny of the Commission’s work as an endeavour to ensure he survives post-election Fiji in a powerful position, as his coup-making predecessor Rabuka did in 1992. The big question is whether the military will continue to play a key role in Fiji politics after the 2014 elections. This issue is now being faced by the framers of the new Constitution. The role of chiefs and the veneration of the church still play an important part in Indigenous Fijian politics, and some say they should be reflected in constitutional arrangements. Alarmingly, a new generation of young political leaders is not emerging as an alternative to the seasoned leaders given the oppressive and restrictive environment of Fiji politics in the last six years. And it is possible that the new Constitution, once it has been finalised by Bainimarama’s handpicked Constituent Assembly, might become a setback to democracy by spawning a military backed one-party state.

Jone Baledrokadroka is a former land force commander in Fiji and a PhD candidate at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia program in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.

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.


Pacific Media at its worst………Edge website removes critical article…….. Davis like a rabid Qovis attack dog with the last five articles all attacking Edge…..

We Say: The Fourth Estate stoush


“The media’s role is said to be to hold a mirror to the government and to society without fear or favour. But Pacific media practitioners and academics are doing a disservice to their professions and to media consumers at large as they continue blackening one other’s faces putting their narrow egotistic interests above the greater good…And in the process, only fuelling politicians’ proclivity to ride roughshod over themselves and the powerless public”

What is it that incites Pacific media owners, journalists, media academics and students to go ferociously for one another’s jugular every so often? The short history of journalism in the Pacific Islands is littered with numerous episodes of media proprietors, scribes and tertiary teachers lunging at one another’s throats, polarising the student community at an enormous cost to their study.
These confrontations always tend to begin with ideological differences, which is not a bad thing at all, given that the raison d’etre of journalism is to question the status quo in an informed and collegial manner, but the debate quickly degenerates into unabashed personality clashes.
Before long, the quality of the discourse spirals out of control into petty name calling, questioning of credentials and antecedents, abusive comments—right down to racist remarks directed at all concerned.
In years past, such quarrels were restricted largely to the print medium and points and counterpoints were to a large extent reasoned and measured. But the popularity and accessibility of the online medium and the lack of editorial control, particularly on blog sites, reduces the level of debate to little more than the raucous, expletive filled exchanges in a bar brawl.
The latest episode in this continuing sordid saga involves Marc Edge, the current head of the University of the South Pacific’s Journalism Programme; David Robie, one of his predecessor;, Graham Davis, the twin hat wearing journalist cum consultant to the PR company rendering services to the Fiji government; and a bunch of journalism students hopelessly divided across the continuing unseemly stoush that is spreading to all sorts of Pacific centric websites—all at the cost of their study.
At the Pacific Islands News Association’s biennial meet earlier this year, questions about journalistic ethics were raised and inconclusively argued between Edge and Davis resulting in frothy debates on websites for several months following.
Then again at last month’s USP hosted media freedom symposium, what started out as a an extremely interesting debate about what style of journalism is best suited for the region’s realities, quickly deteriorated into another unseemly spat with the washing of copious amounts of dirty linen in the public domain.
Last month’s debate began around something that has been a subject of discussion among media academics in the region for some time now: whether journalism in the Pacific should be based on the ‘social responsibility’ or ‘deliberative’ model—which Robie favours—or whether the more libertarian ‘western style’—which Edge seems to prefer—suits it better. Associated with the former are what go by the labels ‘peace journalism’, ‘development journalism’, ‘guided’ and ‘collaborative’ journalism.
The discussions around this interesting debate would have been collegial and conducted in an atmosphere that would churn some great ideas one would think, but if one goes by the posts on a range of websites and blogs one can see that the discourse has moved away from this topic and degenerated into name calling, accusations and even unbecomingly petty racist remarks.
Parties slugging it out on these websites and blogs have cast aspersions on one another’s credibility, exhumed past skeletons going back decades, accused one another of impropriety, reproduced leaked work emails and correspondence, and have even called for people to pack up and leave, to say nothing of all sorts of veiled threats and counter threats.
Students have waded in to the controversy and added their own bit of venom to the arguments. In the process, the debate has veered light years away from where it began, resembling a street fight rather than an informed collegial discussion.
The no holds barred highly personal exchanges have exposed the poor regard these journalists and academics have for one another—which, reading through some of their vitriolic responses, is probably justified.
For instance, prolific Fijian affairs commentator Davis is hard put to defend his work as a consultant to an overseas public relations outfit engaged by the Fiji government while being a journalist at the same time. Small wonder then that his arguments in defence of juggling two hats and justifying the charade look like the proverbial fig leaf.
Such obvious as daylight conflict of interest would scarcely, if ever, have gone unchallenged in the country where this commentator lives and works from. But apparently, as we have known all along, everything is fair game in the Pacific. This only goes to show the poor regard that these sparring individuals have for the people of the region.
Edge, on the other hand, has been accused of using western, developed world yardsticks to instruct and evaluate his students.
He has been criticised for insisting on punctuality and discipline, which according to his opponents are rather harsh given the “realities” in the Pacific islands region.
On an unrelated matter, his integrity has been questioned for not adequately explaining the arrangement about his involvement in an endorsement for a commercial entity in Suva.
In another raging controversy with Fiji journalists, which also gained currency during last month’s symposium, Edge insists that self-censorship is rampant in Fiji, which Fiji’s journalists rather unconvincingly refute.
Again, this is an important topic for wider discussion—but the fact that it quickly descends to the level of personal attacks and even abuse in the form of comments written anonymously, many times quite obviously the same person assuming multiple online identities, robs the region of healthy, informed debate.
In Samoa last month, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi gratuitously offered the services of his head spin doctor and former scribe Terry Tavita to his former employer, Samoa Observer publisher Savea Sano Malifa. Malifa publicly refused spewing out a range of reasons why he thought it was a bad idea, while going over Tavita’s employment foibles in great detail.
That a prime minister can even think of suggesting that his PR man should work for what is truly the nation’s truly independent newspaper speaks volumes for how poorly regional politicians think of the national and regional media.
And why wouldn’t they when regional media stalwarts, academics, journalists and media organisations continually indulge in ugly and very public stoushes as is now being played out in Fiji?
The media’s role is said to be to hold a mirror to the government and to society without fear or favour. But Pacific media practitioners and academics are doing a disservice to their professions and to media consumers at large as they continue blackening one other’s faces putting their narrow egotistic interests above the greater good, reflecting the rot in their lot. And in the process, only fuelling politicians’ proclivity to ride roughshod over themselves and the powerless public.

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.

Find CCF guilty – Acting SG

The Attorney General’s Office is asking for the High Court to find the Citizens Constitutional Forum and Reverend Akuila Yabaki guilty of contempt of court.

CCF and Reverend Yabaki have pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The contempt proceedings arose from an article titled “Fiji – The Rule of Law Lost” which was published in the April 2012 edition of Tutaka, CCF’s quarterly newsletter.

While making the submission before Justice William Calanchini, Acting Solicitor General Sharvada Sharma said the article published in the CCF newsletter is unfounded and unsubstantiated, and undermines the dignity and independence of the judiciary.

However, CCF’s senior counsel Neil Williams said the article contains no reference to any individual.

He said the article deals with questions of structures and the law.

Williams said it is nothing about scandalizing the judiciary.

He also asks the court to consider the justification of truth in this matter.

Justice Calanchini will deliver his ruling on notice.

Story by: Vijay Narayan & Tokasa Rainima

Fijis new scrap collectors……..

Fiji cane industry welcomes Aussie hand-me-downs

By Marty McCarthy
Friday, 30 November  2012
A Fijian man travelling around North Queensland buying up surplus mechanical cane harvesters has been overwhelmed by the response.

John May, the chairman of South Pacific Fertilizers, has a vision to bring Fiji’s flailing hand-cutting cane industry into the modern world.

After the story went to air on the ABC, listeners from Bundaberg to Tully began calling up wanting to sell their own used harvesters.

But it won’t just be mechanical harvesters aboard the cargo ship to Fiji… judging from the response, there might be a few north Queenslanders squeezed in as well.

Mr May, who is now back in Fiji with a long list of equipment he hopes to snap up, says there’s a variety of reasons growers no longer need their machinery.

He hopes to begin contacting interested sellers on December 19 when his plan to modernise Fiji’s cane industry gets final regulatory approval.

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

Another Political Party on the Left.

Fiji unions to form their own political party

Updated 27 November 2012, 18:04 AEST

One of Fiji’s two peak union bodies has announced it will form its own political party and stand at the elections scheduled for 2014

The Fiji Trades Union Congress has had an increasingly tense relationship with the Fiji Labour Party in recent years, and there was talk of breaking away earlier this year.

But speaking from an international trade union meeting in Su\ydney, FTUC President Daniel Urai has confirmed to Bruce Hill that the new party will be formed, with details to be announced in two weeks time.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Speaker:Daniel Urai, President of the Fiji Trades Union Congress

URAI: Looking into the announcement that there will be an election, the trade union movement is moving towards organising its own political party to stand up for the elections.

HILL: Are you talking about the trade unions in Fiji organising their own political party?

URAI: Yes.

HILL: What about the Fiji Labour Party which says it stands for the working man?

URAI: The Fiji Trade Union Congress as you know formed the Fiji Labour Party, but over the years the Labour Party has detracted from its intention that it was formed for. It has seemed more like only looking after one ethnic group and just one group of farming community, and its leaders had annouced lately that there’s no link between the Labour Party and the Fiji Trade Union Congress.

HILL: If the Fiji Trade Union Congress goes ahead and forms its own political party, given what you’re alleging is the government’s attitude towards trade unions, do you think the interim government would actually let such a party operate unhindered?

URAI: Well it’s about rights, it’s about democracy, if you want to bring that back then first rights have to be given back. We cannot have democracy and rights limited to certain groups. We are banking on the fact that because of the international community or various governments now close their involvement with Fiji, that this regime will be directed to follow the norms in terms of human and trade union rights.

HILL: If the trade unions form their own political party though and you stand for these elections in 2014, wouldn’t you be tacitly acknowledging the legality of the elections, by participating you’re suggesting well this whole thing is ok? Previously you’ve said whatever this coup-installed military government does is illegal, if you take part in elections you’re more or less saying it’s ok?

URAI: Well we’re between the devil and the deep blue sea. You don’t partake, things still move on. If we partake, then we may be able to have some say in the formation of the next government.

HILL: How far advanced are these plans for a political party? Do you have a name yet or national office holders?

URAI: That will be announced probably in a fortnight’s time.

HILL: And how much support do you think you might get at the elections in 2014?

URAI: We’ve done it once, we’ll do it again and we know we have support from the workers, not only the workers, but the families of workers and that takes a lot of people around the magnitude of the Fiji population.

HILL: Would an FTUC-backed political party be multi-racial or concentrate on one particular community?

URAI: It will be multi-racial. We are one of the rare organisations in Fiji that has a structure built on multi-racialism.

Investing a minimum of nearly 600 thousand US dollars in dairy……….the New Zealanders couldn’t do it at Navua on better land than is available in the east.

Fiji farming leader doesn’t expect tax incentive will have much impact

Posted at 03:39 on 27 November, 2012 UTC

The National Farmer’s Union in Fiji believes there may be problems finding land for those wanting to take advantage of new agricultural tax concessions.

Under the 2013 budget, a tax free area will be created in the east of the main island of Viti Levu and those investing a minimum of nearly 600 thousand US dollars in agriculture will qualify for a tax free holiday for 13 years.

If that investment is in the dairy industry the tax holiday will stretch to 20 years.

The National President of the Farmers Union, Surendra Lal, says he doesn’t think there is much opportunity for huge developments

“Most of these pieces of land are tied up, currently tied up with dairy farming, cash crop farming and this sugar cane farming. For any entrepreneur coming with huge investment requiring a large and wide land area, well that is what we have to see whether there is availability for huge development.”

Mr Lal says various incentives have been tried before, but for whatever reason have not generated much investment.

But a local chamber of commerce believes the area is wide open for investment and that the incentives will give the required push for development

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

No Public consultation for the Draft Constitution

As the Constitution Commission prepares the draft constitution, there is confirmation that the military is yet to give in its constitution submission.

Military’s Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Mohammed Aziz has told Fijivillage that the submission will be given to the commission and arrangements are being made.

The deadline for the submissions ended in early October.

At the time, Chairman of the Commission Professor Yash Ghai said that they were only awaiting the military’s constitution submission.

Meanwhile, the commission is expected to wrap up its work after it finishes with the draft constitution before Christmas.

The commission’s work will end there.

According to the Constitution Commission Decree, the commission is expected to hand the draft to the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau in early January.

The next process then takes place where a Constituent Assembly deliberates on the document.

Members of the assembly will be appointed by the Prime Minister.

The decree states that the composition of the assembly shall reflect the diversity of the people of Fiji and include but not limited to the government, registered political parties, faith based organizations, employers representatives, trade unions, farmers and members of the rural community, the military, national organizations, women, persons with disability, youth, pensioners and other civil society groups.

After the Assembly adopts the draft constitution, the document will be forwarded to a tribunal which will consider whether the immunity provisions and other matters are contained in the draft.

If the draft does not comply with the stated principles in the decree, then it will be referred to the President and then to the assembly for necessary amendments.

The decree states that upon receipt of the draft constitution and the report of the tribunal, the Constituent Assembly shall, within seven days, make the necessary amendments in accordance with the report of the tribunal and shall present draft constitution back to the President.

The new constitution for Fiji shall come into effect on the day following the date of assent by the President, subject to any provision in the constitution that postpones the coming into effect of any aspect of the new constitution.

The work of the Constituent Assembly is expected to be completed by late March 2013.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

The fallout continues ………Nicholas told the Fairfax Media owned Star-Times there was no judiciary in Fiji and that the place was run by a military regime.

 Fiji regime wants editor jailed


Fiji’s military regime has asked a court to fine the country’s major daily newspaper F$500,000 (NZ$342,000) and send its editor to jail for six months for printing a story first published in New Zealand’s Sunday Star-Times.

The story last November quoted a comment made by Auckland based Oceania Football Confederation secretary-general Tai Nicholas who was critical of Fiji’s military appointed judiciary.

Nicholas told the Fairfax Media owned Star-Times there was no judiciary in Fiji and that the place was run by a military regime.

The story was printed unchanged next day in the Fiji Times.

The military-appointed Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum filed contempt of court proceedings against Nicholas, who cannot now visit Fiji, and the Fiji Times.

The Fiji Times was found guilty of the contempt charge and was today before High Court Justice William Callanchini to discuss sentence.

Fiji media report that the acting Solicitor General, Sharvada Sharma, asked for the fine and the jailing.

Sharma said the Fiji Times is a repeat offender and an appropriate penalty needs to be imposed on the company to ensure that it serves as a deterrent for would be offenders.

Sharma asked that publisher Hank Arts be given a three months suspended sentence due to his medical condition and six months prison sentence for editor Fred Wesley.

Fiji Times lawyer Jon Apted said the penalties should not be excessive and there should not be any imprisonment as this was a mistake by a third party.

He also said the mistake was not intentional.

Apted said Wesley, who was not present when the story was processed, was remorseful.

He said the sports editor did not read the full article.

He said the deputy sports editor reviewed the story and made a wrong decision as he was not aware of the legal implications.

Apted said that The Fiji Times like any other media outlet is facing great difficulties in attracting staff at the editorial level and they have lost senior people in the last few months.

The military, who seized power in 2006, have tightly controlled newsrooms with censors in place. Although censorship was lifted earlier this year, many journalists have left the industry.

Justice Callanchini reserved sentence.