Govt positive of remaining in US GSP Scheme

Government is positive that Fiji will not be suspended from the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Scheme after having made oral and public submissions.

According to Permanent Secretary for Industry and Trade Shaheen Ali, they also gave a post hearing brief to the US Trade Representative office.

Ali said in addition many submissions have been made by private sector companies and associations in support for the Fijian government’s Labour Reform policies.

Currently the US Trade Representative subcommittee is going through the submissions.

Earlier the Fiji Trades Union Congress(FTUC) and other unions wanted to stop Fiji from benefitting from the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Scheme.

The scheme is a program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty free entry for up to 5,000 products imported by the US.

39 Fijian companies which export a range of products will lose their preferential access and benefits from the US GSP Scheme if Fiji is suspended.

This will mean agriculture, garments and the mineral water sector will lose their business, and these include small and medium enterprises that export niche products to the US.

Ali said ultimately, 15,000 Fijian jobs will be lost if Fiji is removed from the US GSP Scheme.

He said the impact will be felt at grass root level as more than 50% of the workers in these factories are women and are the sole bread winners in their family.

Story by: Ronal Deo

And so the conflict starts………Commission no longer independant as the Government changes the rules to suit its own agenda……”Commodore Bainimarama says Ratu Joni was in breach of rules that say all staff and consultants must be politically neutral.”

Fiji regime demands release of Constitution Commission details

RNZI: The interim government in Fiji has announced it is going to make the Constitution Commission publish the names and salaries of all its staff and consultants.

According to FBC News, the interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Banimarama, has instructed the government to make the change after questioning the impartiality of the organisation.

This comes after the former vice-president, Ratu Joni Madrawiwi, was discovered to be part of a group making a submission that called for Fiji to be declared a Christian state, while he was working for the commission.

Commodore Bainimarama says Ratu Joni was in breach of rules that say all staff and consultants must be politically neutral.

The regime leader has already said that a non-negotiable element of the 2014 constitution will be that Fiji is to be secular state.

The chairman of the Commission, Professor Yash Ghai, is yet to comment, but has said the commission is impartial.

Ratu Joni contract a ‘breach’

Nanise Loanakadavu Friday, November 02, 2012

Fiji Times

CHANGES were made to the Fiji Constitutional Process (Constitution Commission) Decree 2012 by Cabinet yesterday.

The changes require the commission to publish the names and salaries of all its staff and consultants after Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama instructed the government to alter the terms of the decree covering the commission’s activities.

The decision was made following the Prime Minister’s disappointment over the appointment of Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi as a consultant to the commission after the latter was part of a delegation that made a submission to the Constitution Commission which contravened one of the non-negotiable principles.

“The commission is in breach of provisions in the decree that stipulate that its staff and consultants must observe the non-negotiable principles and be politically neutral,” Commodore Bainimarama said in a statement.

“One of these principles is a secular state in line with democracies like the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

“Ratu Joni was party to a submission by a delegation calling for the declaration of a Christian State in Fiji.

“It now transpires that he did this while being a paid consultant to the commission, which makes his position untenable.”

Commodore Bainimarama said the government had been perplexed to learn that Ratu Joni had actually been a paid consultant to the commission from the beginning of October yet this only became public knowledge last week.

“His contract, which has been shown to me for the first time, says he started work with the commission on October the first and it expired yesterday,” he said.

“I am extremely disappointed to discover this and to find that he was being paid a daily rate as a consultant when he filed in with the delegation to argue against fundamental principles on October the 12th as reported in the media,” he added.

Constitution Commission’s media liaison officer Mitleshni Gurdayal said last night that commission chairman Prof Yash Ghai was pre-occupied with the religion and state seminar at the University of the South Pacific and had not seen the statement.

However, a member of the commission, Taufa Vakatale, said they would issue a statement today.

There is a lack of investigative reporting in Fiji…………

Report on issues of controversy

Nanise Loanakadavu
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

CALLS have been made for journalists to report on issues that seem to be controversial.

The call comes ahead of a panel of discussion today at the University of the South Pacific (USP).

The panel discussion is jointly convened by the USP’s School of Government, Development and International Affairs, Faculty of Business and Economics and the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM).

Other women’s groups like the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre will also be actively involved in the discussion.

Speaking from Melbourne yesterday, centre co-ordinator Shamima Ali said the discussions today would be significant to the constitution consultation process currently taking place in Fiji.

“This is a very important discussion and I hope the media will play its role in publishing some issues raised by the speakers,” Ms Ali said.

“The people need to be aware of what these people will bring to the table.”

Members of the public have been coming forward with their submissions for the new constitution.

The three-hour session will be chaired by Constitution Commission chairman Professor Yash Ghai.

The subjects include women’s participation in constitution-making and the South African experience.

The commission will also be present to hear submissions from the public.

Prof Ghai will also launch the book Listening to the People of Fiji.

The discussions begin at 6pm.

Kudos to Mosmi Bhim for asking the hard questions and to FijiVillage for reporting it……

FNU lecturer asks why Govt cannot be taken to court

A lecturer at the Department of Ethics and Governance at the Fiji National University, Mosmi Bhim has raised the question why people cannot take the government to court under some of the decrees.

While speaking at the Media Symposium at the University of the South Pacific today, Bhim said there are some restrictive laws that were promulgated by the government through decrees after the abrogation of the 1997 constitution.

Acting Prime Minister and Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said there are many cases against the government.

Bhim said her presentation this morning is of her own and has nothing to do with her employer.

Story by: Dhanjay Deo

The Electronic Voter Registration (EVR) process will be ongoing till 2014.

How we’ll get all in

July 29, 2012 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by:

 

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimara

By Maika Bolatiki

 

The Electronic Voter Registration (EVR) process will be ongoing till 2014.
This was confirmed to the Fiji Sun on Friday by the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.
“While eight weeks is the timeframe for EVR, it will not end there as it will continue till 2014,” the Prime Minister said.
He revealed this while attending the opening of the Bainimarama-Vatutoko Primary School at Nubuyanitu village in Navosa.
For the eight weeks, he said the EVR team would try to register as many Fijians as possible and the teams had been deployed to rural and to the maritime zones.
He said one group that would need special attention were the disabled and the disadvantaged and special arrangements had to be done to cater for them.
“This group has the same right as abled people but many times they’re forgotten and my government will make sure they are registered and also have a voice in the election of the new government in 2014,” the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister said the Commissioners would look into this matter and make arrangements for the registration.
He said next year’s registration would be for those living overseas.
“We haven’t really looked into this but something will be done for Fijians overseas to register for voting in 2014.”
He said as the voting age has been lowered to 18 years those turning 18 next year would also register next and likewise those turning 18 before September 2014.
The Prime Minister said he was glad with the updates of the EVR process and has again urged all Fijians to register to vote.
At the Bainimarama-Vatutoko Primary School an EVR team was there to register voters.
The Prime Minister said Government would bring the EVR team to villages and settlements and visit homes.
He said Fiji was in the middle of a very exciting time in our history as we are undergoing constitutional and electoral reforms that will bring truly democratic institutions and principles to Fiji for the first time.

Press Release: NGO Coalition on Human Rights

NGOCHR commends Fiji Constitution Commission statement

Monday, 23 July 2012, 11:32 am
Press Release: NGO Coalition on Human Rights

NGO Coalition on Human Rights
Towards a Fiji that respects and protects human rights
Friday July 20, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NGOCHR commends Fiji Constitution Commission statement

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights (NGOCHR) shares the concern expressed by the Fiji Constitution Commission on the promulgation of theFiji Constitutional Process (Constituent Assembly and Adoption of Constitution) Decree 2012 and the Fiji Constitutional Process (Constitution Commission) Decree 2012.

In a statement yesterday the Commission raised concerns on aspects of the Decree giving Commodore Frank Bainimarama “full control over the size and composition of the Constituent Assembly” as well as the“broad immunity provision for the 2006 and earlier coups to be entrenched in the new constitution”.

“You cannot claim to promote or envision ’an inclusive, participatory and transparent process’ and at the same time put in place provisions that clearly undermine and violate those values,” she said.

Like the Commission, the NGOCHR agrees with the conditions imposed in the Decrees “essential principles of democracy are ignored and the independence of the [Constituent] Assembly is negated”.

The NGOCHR believes that this will have a major impact on the participation of Fiji’s people, especially women, in the constitution-making process.

“For the last couple of months various NGOs around the country, as part of their civic education programmes, have been encouraging women, especially young women to be part of the country’s constitution-making. How can we now encourage them to participate when we know that the integrity and the credibility of the process are compromised?” asked Ali.

While the NGOCHR acknowledges the temporary suspension of the requirements of permits for meetings by the State, it agrees with the Commission that the “current atmosphere in Fiji is not conducive to an open process in which Fijians can debate their future properly”.

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights urges the Interim Government to seriously re-think the promulgation of decrees that undermine democratic processes and negative impact on the people of Fiji.
The NGO Coalition on Human Rights is a coalition of civil society organisations that works towards a Fiji that respects and protects human rights
and fundamental freedoms within the framework of the rule of law.

ENDS

However, with yesterday’s meeting, I am optimistic that relations between Fiji and New Zealand is beginning to normalize.

Fiji highlights New Zealand’s willingness to assist its constitutional reforms

Source: XINHUA | 2012-7-21 | ONLINE EDITIO

 

SUVA, July 21 (Xinhua) — Fiji’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ratu Inoke Kubuabola on Saturday highlighted New Zealand’s willingness to assist Fiji in its constitutional reforms.

In that regard, the New Zealand Government was ready to assist Fiji with 500,000 Fiji dollars (285,700 U.S. dollars) towards the work of the Constitution Commission, Fiji’s Ministry of Information said in a media release.

Kubuabola met with his New Zealand’s counterpart Murray McCully here Friday. The meeting was described by the Fiji side as a ” positive” one that would definitely be written in their history books.

Prior to the meeting, McCully also met with the PIF Secretary General Tuiloma Neoroni Slade.

New Zealand, as the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) current chair, would like to make a positive report on the progress made in Fiji to the next PIF Leaders Meeting in Cook Islands in late August, said the media release.

Kubuabola was quoted as saying that since Fiji was suspended from the PIF in 2009, the nation’s “Look North Plus” foreign policy has been revamped to establish ties with countries that understood Fiji’s political and economic situation.

“However, with yesterday’s meeting, I am optimistic that relations between Fiji and New Zealand is beginning to normalize. An added impetus towards good governance and democratic elections are central in Fiji’s way forward,” he added.

McCully left Fiji on Saturday afternoon

John Key says there’s nothing you can read into the timing of Mr McCully’s visit.

McCully not in Fiji over assassination plot – Key

McCully not in Fiji over assassination plot – Key

By: Felix Marwick | Latest Political News | Saturday July 21 2012 13:48

 

 

The Prime Minister says it is Pacific Forum business, not an alleged assassination plot, that has his Foreign Minister in Fiji.

Murray McCully’s in Fiji just days after the police and SIS interviewed Fijians living in Auckland over an alleged plot to kill Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

John Key says there’s nothing you can read into the timing of Mr McCully’s visit.

“He’s in Fiji because he’s the chair of the ministerial contact group, I think there’s a ministerial contact group meeting later in the week. We continue to engage with Fiji, New Zealand’s always said that we want to help that country back to the restoration of democracy.”

Mr Key doesn’t think it’s likely Mr McCully will brief Fijian authorities on the operation that occurred here this week.

Photo: Murray McCully (Getty Images)

Citizens’Constitutional Forum (CCF) Media Release………“We call once again on the Bainimarama Government to remove these restrictions to enable a true and inclusive dialogue.”

Media Release
(For Immediate Release)19thJuly 2012
 
POAD,AMENDMENT INCLUDED NEEDS TO GO
THE suspension of Section 8 of the amended Public Order Act must be seen for what it really is – an initial step towards the removal of restrictions on the freedom of expression placed on all Fijians.
Citizens’Constitutional Forum (CCF) CEO Reverend Akuila Yabaki stresses that,“Critical to this process is the opportunity for Fijians to be able to speak freely about their aspirations and dreams and their fears and frustrations about past, present and future governments.”
“If the discussions on the constitutional process are to be transparent and in order that all people may be apprized of the views of others, the media must be permitted to provide unfettered coverage of discussions, views and consultations,” says Rev Yabaki.
The recent amendments to the Public Order Act covers the period July 18, 2012 until the Constitution Commission hands over a draft document to the President and does not cover the period of the deliberations by the Constituent Assembly.
To this, Yabaki stated that, “It is at that point in our history –when the draft constitution is available – that the people must be allowed to comment and debate the finer points of the document which will be their supreme law.”
“The deliberations of the Constituent Assembly must be open not only to public scrutiny but also to comment and debate and this must be allowed even after the President’s assent and subsequently the Bainimarama Government must take immediate steps to ensure that there is debate in all sectors of the community throughout the entire constitution making process to allow the legislators to hear the views of all Fijians and, hopefully, respond to these opinions by assuaging fears, removing doubts and amending policies.”
Rev Yabaki stated that, “CCF reiterates that for free discussions to eventuate, two important steps must be taken by the administration and these include, firstly to repeal the legislation which requires permits for public gatherings of more than two people and secondly, to remove the Media Industry Development Decree.”
“We recognize the need to ensure that people do not abuse their fundamental freedoms of expression and association and urge all Fijians to act responsibly when discussing matters of national interest.”
“We call once again on the Bainimarama Government to remove these restrictions to enable a true and inclusive dialogue.”
For further information please contact the communications team at CCF on communications@ccf.org.fj
……………………….
Reverend Akuila Yabaki
CEO- CCF

It clears the way for organisations and other political parties to meet with their constituents.

FLP, NFP welcome govt move

13:03 Today

 

 

Taken from/By: FBC News
Report by: Elenoa Turagaiviu

The announcement of the free meetings by the government is a long time coming says political parties.

This basically means that public meetings will no longer require permits.

Fiji labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry welcomes the move and says this will allow them to carry out their meetings.

“It should have come a long time ago. In fact – it should have never been there but we are glad the restrictions have been removed. It clears the way for organisations and other political parties to meet with their constituents.”

National Federation party Secretary Parmod Rae says – government should use this momentum to allow remove other restrictions.

“The National Federation Party welcomes the announcement. We think it’s a positive move. We congratulate government on taking this liberal view.”

Permits will only be needed for meetings on public roads, public parks or gardens and in sports arenas.

You would have to say that really that’s just freedom of opinion and freedom of expression. It’s not really what we would consider contempt of court.”

NZ Law Society slams Fiji contempt charges

Updated July 18, 2012 15:36:37

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-07-18/an-law-society-slams-fiji-contempt-of-court-charge/4138952/?site=newcastle

The Fiji Government’s decision to charge a prominent NGO and its head with contempt of court has been slammed by the New Zealand Law Society.

The Citizens Constitutional Forum, and its director, Reverend Akuila Yabaki, have been charged over an article in the organisation’s newsletter which referred to a critical report on the rule of law in Fiji by the Law Society of England and Wales Charity.

Fiji’s interim government accuses the Forum and Reverend Yabaki of a scurrilous attack on the judiciary which risks undermining the judiciarys’ authority.

Bu the president of the New Zealand Law Society, Jonathan Temm, has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat he doesn’t believe any crime has been committed.

“They simply reproduced in their material quotes from a Law Society of England and Wales charity report so what they were actually doing was saying, is this is what the Legal Society of England and Wales charity said. And it’s on that basis the contempt charges (are) being advanced,” he said.

“You would have to say that really that’s just freedom of opinion and freedom of expression. It’s not really what we would consider contempt of court.”

Fiji says that as the matter is before the courts, it would be best to let the legal system deal with the issue.

Coalition for Democracy in Fiji accused of plotting to kill Fiji’s military dictator Voreqe Bainimarama.

Auckland raids over Bainimarama plot

MICHAEL FIELD

Voreqe Bainimarama

JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax NZ
IN CHARGE: Fiji’s military dictator Voreqe Bainimarama.

SIS and police have raided several Auckland homes of Fiji nationals in connection with an alleged plot to assassinate Fiji’s leader Voreqe Bainimarama.

A former Fiji cabinet minister, Rajesh Singh, said the officials, armed with a search warrant, seized his daughter’s laptop computer and his cell phone yesterday.

Several other Fiji nationals have told Fairfax they were also visited.

A spokesman for Prime Minister John Key refused any comment.

“This is an operational matter. We have no comment on security and intelligence matters.”

Singh said the security officials told him that they had “credible evidence” that the assassination was planned in Auckland a fortnight ago during a visit by Fiji Army Colonel Tevita Uluilakeba Mara.

Colonel Mara, who is wanted on charges that he was plotting to overthrow Bainimarama, fled Fiji in May last year and has refuge with the Tongan royal family, to whom he is related, in Nuku’alofa.

Mara was in Auckland two weeks ago.

Singh said a woman who he named said she was from the SIS and that she had a warrant to search his place.

He asked for a copy of the warrant but was told it was classified and he could not have it.
She was accompanied by three plain clothed police.

They took away the computer and cell phone and gave him a blank receipt for it, which included the SIS’s 0800 number.

“They said: ‘We heard Mara came here’ and I said: ‘Yes, Mara comes here every time, we have been friends for 40 years’.”

They told him they had “credible evidence” that Mara and another New Zealander were planning to assassinate Bainimarama and his attorney general Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum.

“I said that was news to me… I said it never happened, we never talked about those things.”

Singh and others visited were members of a small Auckland based group, Coalition for Democracy in Fiji which is called for the restoration of democracy.

Singh said they took his cellphone. He said he regularly texts Bainimarama who replies to him now and again.

They returned the computer and cellphone later in the day and thanked him for his cooperation.

“They said don’t talk to the media, don’t talk to anybody because the Fiji regime doesn’t know anything,” Singh said.

“I said if you think Mara is involved you should talk to him, not me.”

Mara is in Tonga and could not be immediately contacted.

Bainimarama seized power in a military coup in 2006.

There has been one known attempt to kill him when his own soldiers mutinied in 2000. Eight soldiers died in the attack which saw Bainimarama run away for safety.

In 2007 a Fiji Indian of New Zealand citizenship, Ballu Khan, was arrested in a plot to kill Bainimarama.

Khan was severely beaten but managed to get out of Fiji and now is believed to live in Auckland.

Eight other people, including paramount chief Ratu Inoke Takiveikata and former Fiji spy service chief Metuisela Mua were convicted of the plot and jailed for life.

……………………………………………………………………………

Clarification on news item re : Auckland raids over Bainimarama plot

We wish to object to references made to our organisation, the Coalition for Democracy in Fiji, in this news item.

The individuals mentioned are not associated with the Coalition for Democracy in Fiji. And no members of the Coalition for Democracy were ever visited by police.

In fact, the Coalition for Democracy in Fiji opposes visits by Mr Mara to New Zealand and Australia, and have asked for his arrest for crimes of torture.

The Coalition for Democracy in Fiji was formed in Auckland on 14 May 1987 on the day of the first Fiji military coup, and supports a peaceful non-violent return to democracy in Fiji.

Nik Naidu
Spokesperson
Coalition for Democracy in Fiji
Auckland
New Zealand

Isn’t anyone discussing politics a politician? Naivalurua has raised the question why some people are not applying for permits. No “Politician” can talk to more than one person at a time if he mentions anything “political”. It takes seven days for him get a permit to be able to talk to two people.

Follow the law says Commissioner

http://www.fijivillage.com/?mod=story&id=1807124d14f86d3728750e6a10c128

Follow the law or face the consequences of your actions.

These are the words of Police Commissioner Brigadier General Ioane Naivalurua as he said there is serious concern in relation to some people having meetings without permits.

He said the Public Order Act and the Public Order Amendment Decree is clear on meetings and people should ensure that they apply for a permit.

Naivalurua has raised the question why some people are not applying for permits.

Director of Operations SSP Rusiate Tudravu said if politicians are discussing politics and about the constitution consultations, then they need to apply for a permit.

He said three or more people including politicians involved in political discussions is termed as a meeting and a permit is required.

Tudravu said social or festive events do not require permits but police can intervene if they have reasonable information that any issue could undermine the safety and security of Fiji.

This is based on the Public Order Amendment Decree.

Story by: Vijay Narayan & Kushboo Singh

He said there were scurrilous attacks on the judiciary thereby posing the real risk of undermining the authority of the judiciary in Fiji.

‘Real risk’ to courts

Nasik Swami
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fiji Times

THE High Court in Suva has granted leave to the Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, to issue contempt proceedings against Citizens Constitutional Forum Limited and Akuila Yabaki.

This was announced by Mr Sayed-Khaiyum at a press conference yesterday.

He said the contempt proceedings arose out of an article titled Fiji: The Rule of Law Lost — An Analysis of the Law Society Charity Report 2012 which was published in the April 2012 edition of Tutaka, the quarterly letter of the Citizens Constitutional Forum Limited.

“The contempt proceedings have been instituted against the Citizens Constitutional Forum Limited as the proprietor of Tutaka and Akuila Yabaki as the editor of Tutaka,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“The article published by Citizens Constitutional Forum Limited and Akuila Yabaki essentially in our view scandalises the courts in Fiji.”

He said there were scurrilous attacks on the judiciary thereby posing the real risk of undermining the authority of the judiciary in Fiji.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum also highlighted that his chambers had instituted similar proceedings against other parties such as The Fiji Times and Tai Nicholas.

The proceedings against CCF Limited and Akuila Yabaki will be called in the High Court on July 27.

Every citizen has the right to aspire for political leadership.

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Rajen Naidu <rajen_naidu@yahoo.com.au>
To: fiji sun <letters@fijisun.com.fj>
Sent: Tuesday, 17 July 2012 11:38 AM
Subject: new leaders for fiji
Editor,
I refer to the opinion piece titled ” New leaders for new Fiji ” in the Fiji Sun 17/7.
The writer(s) say “Politicians from the discredited past are back and busy. But is going back to the past good for Fiji? Or should we – as a nation – be insisting on something better when we vote in 2014?”
In a democracy nobody – either individually or collectively ( as the army or even “as a nation” ) – can “be insisting” on anything apart from adherence to the rule of law.
And the rule of law in a genuine democracy is quite clear. Every citizen has the right to aspire for political leadership.
We obviously would not like some people to contest in the elections but we cannot arbitrarily deny them their citizen’s right, can we?
If we do are we then heading the country towards a better democracy? In a genuine democracy it’s up to the people to decide who they choose to lead them. That can of course mean that from time to time some rotten people can get chosen. But that is democracy. And, the people can then boot the rotten ones out when they vote next. That’s how a democracy works.
Finally, logically speaking, shouldn’t the current crop of political leaders in power be regarded as belonging to “the discredited past” when the country goes to vote in 2014?
Or, is that a rule that we will apply selectively?
Does the current leadership contain any politicians from the past?
Why?
Where then is the commitment to “new leaders” for the country?
yours sincerely,
Rajend Naidu
sydney

Objectors should not try to burden the company who is trying to go forth with its work?

Namosi people still against mining

07:01 Today

 

Proposed mine site at Waisoi.

Taken from/By: FBC News
Report by: Apisalome Coka

More than 90 percent of people in Namosi are against the proposed mine at Waisoi.

The Tikina Namosi Landowners Committee says they conducted a survey to find out the people’s views about the proposed mine.

TNLC spokesperson – Saviriano Nariva says many are against the idea.

“We conducted a survey to find what they wanted. From there we gauged that around 92% of the people who have land in Waisoi – these people do not want mining.”

Meanwhile Namosi Provincial Council chairman – Ratu Romanu Matanitobua says there the TNLCshould follow the proper channel in releasing the survey results.

“If they have the endorsement of this number why don’t they come out of their shell and talk it out with the government. They should not try to burden the company who is trying to go forth with its work.”

The mining company – Namosi Joint Venture says they have not seen the survey and therefore cannot comment on it.