UFDF PRESS RELEASE – the Collapse of the Fiji Fishing Industry

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STATEMENT FROM

THE UFDF

[No 9/2014]

[Jan 24, 2014]

The UFDF said today that the suggestion by Minister for Fisheries, Forests & Agriculture Lt Col Inia Seruiratu that another committee be set up to ‘look into’ the plight of Fiji’s Fishing Industry’ is too little too late given that this problem has been allowed to escalate over the past 7 years to the point that more than 8,000 citizen’s incomes will now be adversely affected.

The UFDF said today that the suggestion by Minister for Fisheries, Forests & Agriculture Lt Col Inia Seruiratu that another committee be set up to ‘look into’ the plight of Fiji’s Fishing Industry’ is too little too late given that this problem has been allowed to escalate over the past 7 years to the point that more than 8,000 citizen’s incomes will now be adversely affected.

And who might the members of this committee be? The same officials that have been unable to resolve the issue over the past 7 years and they will advise the Minister how he can resolve an issue they have failed to address in 7 years? Have any of the stake holders been asked for their opinions and input? A quick check yesterday revealed they have not been asked to be part of this Ministerial solution.

The UFDF said while courting China into funding its various projects [all loans no aid] the regime has ignored the fundamental problem that has caused this matter to ‘come to a head’ and that is the ongoing presence of 1,800 or so foreign fishing vessels with licenses issued by our island neighbors. A significant number of these vessels mainly from China operate in international waters surrounding Fiji and other Pacific Islands.

The UFDF said one does not have to be a ‘rocket scientist’ to work out how long our fish will depleted when 1,800 foreign fishing vessels are catching our resources in our backyard 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Not to mention the damage done to our reefs, our sea life by the trawlers. The loss of other types of seafood that get caught in the process as well as the waste and debris from these vessels.

The UFDF said what makes it even more ridiculous is that these foreign vessels are subsidized by up to $US350, 000 ($F662, 000) per vessel to cover costs, fuel, maintenance and they are the only vessels that can sell to China, our Fiji owned and operated vessels cannot sell their catch to China and not one of them are subsidized.

The UFDF say some of the blue painted Chinese subsidized vessels anchored in Suva Harbour can’t afford to operate even with their $F662, 000 subsidies it’s not too difficult to work out why our local boat operators are unable to sustain their operations.

The UFDF says it understands that a major scam is being perpetrated by foreign vessel operators against the Chinese government where operators are falsifying documents and logs of their catch to qualify for the generous subsidy, while remaining anchored. At least 20 officials are reported to have been executed in China for the scam.

The UFDF said none of the foreign vessels are known to hire local crew but if they did it was a minute number, so other than a license fee, there are no real benefits to the Island nations and the areas valuable fishing recourses is being depleted on a scale that will cause catastrophic failure because of the issuance of an excess of fishing licenses by upwards of 400%.

This the UFDF says is despite well researched and sustainable numbers of fishing licenses recommended to all island nations. The recommendations on limiting the issuance of licenses are being ignored for short term financial gain without any regard for the catastrophic long term consequences that will follow the current excesses in fishing of our resources.

The UFDF said the other part of the problem is the local mismanagement of the resource. In Fiji too many licenses have been issued and the resources’ have been depleted.

The problem has nothing to do with migratory fish or seasons it’s all to do with the mismanagement of resources.

The UFDF said the MSG has failed to adequately and prudently address this issue for the long term sustainable benefit of all the island nations and the current discord among the members over the West Papua issue will unlikely allow them to urgently resolve this major economic catastrophe currently unfolding in the region.

Authorized By                       UFDF

UFDF PRESS RELEASE – One law for the nation, another for the Military

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STATEMENT FROM

THE UFDF

[No 7/2014]

[Jan 21, 2014]

The UFDF said today that statements attributed to Lt Col Netani Rika as reported by the Fiji Sun and Frank Bainimarama as reported by Vijay Narayan and Mohammed Feroz show clear breaches of the Civil Service Standing Orders [2011 revision] and abuse of office.

The UFDF says the Civil Service Standing Orders on Campaigning Sec 1222 states quote ‘  Campaigning or political activity by a Civil Servant while on duty is forbidden. Civil Servants must not be canvassing or by any other means attempt publicly to further the activities or aspirations of a political party, or the election or return of an individual (whether a member of a political party or not) in any election to the House of Representatives or to a local Government body including Provincial Councils unquote

The UFDF says Lt Col Rika’s comments are political in nature and breach The Civil Service Standing orders 1222 that disallow quote ‘canvassing or by any other means attempt publicly to further the activities or aspirations of a political party’ unquote. There can be no doubt that Lt Col Rika was canvassing for Bainimarama’s party and as Commissioner Eastern he is abusing the privileges of his office as well as Sec 14 (1) (c) (d) of Decree 4 of 2013.

The UFDF says in the case of Frank Bainimarama he remains Commander of the Military and according to his Regimes own decree No 4 of 2013 he is in breach of the following provisions-

POLITICAL PARTIES (REGISTRATION, CONDUCT, FUNDING AND DISCLOSURES) DECREE 2013 DECREE NO 4 OF 2013

Restrictions on public officers in a political party

Sec 14    (1)          A public officer shall not-

(c)           Engage in political activity that may compromise or be seen to compromise the political neutrality of that person’s office; or

(d)           Publicly indicate support for or opposition to any proposed political party or a political party registered under this decree or candidate in an election

(2)           For the purposes of this section, ‘public officer’ means any person-

(c)           Holding any office in the public service, the Fiji Police, Fiji Corrections Services or the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

(4)           Any public officer who intends to be an applicant or a member of, or hold office in, a proposed political party or a political party registered under this decree, must resign from the respective public office prior to applying to become an applicant or a member of, or hold office in, a proposed political party or a political party registered under this decree.

(5)           A public officer is deemed to have vacated his or her office mentioned in subsection 2 immediately before the time at which he or she applies to become and applicant or a member of. Or hold office in, a proposed political party or a [political party registered under this decree.

The UFDF says the Commander’s repeated statements about forming his own party and contesting elections is in clear breach of Sec 14 (1) (c), (d), (2) (c) and (4) and (5) of Decree 4 of 2013. Just as Lt Col Rika’s statements are in breach of the Civil Service Standing Orders.

The UFDF says Lt Col Rika and Commodore Bainimarama have broken the law and the Acting Commissioner of Police and the Civil Service Commission are obliged to uphold the laws that govern these public office holders and appropriate and immediate action should be taken against them just as they would apply it to any other citizen.

The UFDF says if the newly elected Electoral Commission is serious about ensuring free and fair elections  and remaining impartial and independent then it cannot ‘look the other way’ when clear abuse of office and breaches of the law as reported are committed by their employer.

Authorized By                       UFDF

UFDF PRESS RELEASE – Appointments of the Electoral Commissioner

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STATEMENT FROM

THE UFDF

[No 4/2014]

[Jan 10, 2014]

In welcoming the appointments of the Electoral Commissioners, the UFDF said that although it was a positive first step towards credible elections, it was a pity that the regime did not take this opportunity to act in a bipartisan and inclusive manner in these appointments by asking for recommendations from the political parties.

In welcoming the appointments of the Electoral Commissioners, the UFDF said that although it was a positive first step towards credible elections, it was a pity that the regime did not take this opportunity to act in a bipartisan and inclusive manner in these appointments by asking for recommendations from the political parties.

The UFDF said this would have been in line with best constitutional and democratic practice.

Consequently, the UFDF says, these appointees, some of whom it holds concerns about their independence, are all handpicked by the interim Prime Minister and Mr Sayed-Khaiyum. This will place an additional burden of responsibility on each of them to ensure that they act with absolute impartiality and reject any attempts at interference in their work.

The UFDF said the Yash Ghai Commission is a good example of another non bipartisan appointment that was supposed to be independent but that did not stop the regime from attempting to influence its deliberations and directly interfering with its work.

Authorized By                       UFDF

UFDF PRESS RELEASE – Who are the “liars and troublemakers”?

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STATEMENT FROM

THE UFDF

[No 36/2013]

[Dec 18, 2013]

UFDF CALLS ON THE PM & LT COL SULIANO TO NAME & SHAME THE ‘PAST POLITICIANS’ THEY CALL LIARS & TROUBLE MAKERS AND PROVIDE THE EVIDENCE THAT SUPPORTS THEIR CLAIMS!

At his recent Christmas celebrations with the RFMF the Commander again claimed to have created a new path forward for Fiji but warned the military to be on guard against ‘past politicians who caused problems?

But who are these faceless and nameless ‘past politicians’ he keeps referring to and what exactly is the problem they are being accused of causing?

The people need to know who these trouble makers are and more importantly what kind of trouble it is they are being blamed for causing?

Since Independence, the only thing that has caused the greatest problems for Fiji and her people, are the 4 coups carried out by certain officers of the military command and possibly some ‘old political & self-serving individual collaborators’. Perhaps these are the people that the Commander regularly refers to.

When it comes to calculating the cost to the country and her people, there is enough evidence available that places this figure at approximately $10 billion dollars or more in lost economic activity, growth, employment and development and the individual loss to our citizens by way of their lives, jobs, homes and the accompanying ‘trauma and stress’ inflicted on them is a cost too high to be accurately measured.

If the PM is referring to politicians who ‘colluded with the military to over throw past elected governments? Then its time he named them and shamed them? And a good place to start would be his own cabinet.

Then there’s the standard veil threat once again from the military command and this time around coming from Lt Col Suliano who refers to the ‘threat caused by liars spreading lies’?

But what is the ‘threat?’ What are the lies? Who are the liars? Unless he can back up what he says with facts, then generalizing as he does amounts to nothing more than lies and rumor? The people have a right to know the TRUTH behind what he is claiming.

Fiji is supposed to be just 10 months away from returning to democratic governance and at this stage of proceedings the regime, indeed the Prime Minister, the Military Command as well as the Fiji Sun and other pro regime media organizations should be at least attempting to ‘walk their talk’ and start ‘practicing’ some of the democratic principles they claim credit for and espouse from time to time, but seem to still have great difficulty keeping in line with.

There is a lot at stake for the people of Fiji in the coming 10 months and veil threats of unproven allegations has no place in a free and open society if indeed that is one of the democratic principles that is part of the Bainimarama promise to the people of Fiji and the world.

The UFDF calls on Lt Col Suliano and the Prime Minister to stop referring to faceless and nameless past politicians and making baseless generalized allegations and challenges both of them to name the past politicians and liars they refer to and clarify the ‘lies’ they are spreading and state exactly how these alleged lies constitute a ‘threat’.

Lt Col Suliano is also quoted as saying ‘the RFMF would stand firm to make sure that the ‘transition of power’ after the 2014 elections would be smooth.

Are we to take from that statement, that even if Bainimarama and his party fail to win a single seat in the next elections that the RFMF will ‘stand firm’ and ensure the Bainimarama Regime hands over power to the new government elected by the people?

Is this ‘true’ or just another lie?

Authorized By                       UFDF

For further elaboration or interviews on our statements please contact anyone of the following:

Mick Beddoes – 830524;  Laisania Qarase – 9993113;  Mahendra Chaudhry – 9921865

 Attar Singh – 9921184;  Tupeni Baba – 9373364

UFDF PRESS RELEASE – Madiba – Ending Apartheid with Compassion & Forgiveness

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STATEMENT FROM

THE UFDF

[No 35/2013]

[Dec 7, 2013]

As we in Fiji share the grief of the Mandela family and people of South Africa at the passing of Madiba, we also celebrate the extraordinary life of this great freedom fighter, unifier, reconciliator, statesman and founding father of the rainbow nation of South Africa.

madibaNelson Mandela succeeded in liberating his people through his defiant, persistent and disciplined approach towards the repressive apartheid regime that subjected millions of black South Africans to many indignities and much suffering by stripping them of their rights, freedoms and basic humanity.

The suppression of basic rights and freedoms continues here in Fiji, under the repressive Bainimarama regime, who represent all that Nelson Mandela spent his entire life opposing.

We can draw strength and inspiration for our own struggle from Madiba’s willingness to forfeit his own freedom and liberty for the greater need and good of his people.

After sacrificing 27 years of his life in prison he became, at 76 years of age, South Africa’s first democratically-elected President. His choice of weapons for unifying a divided people was forgiveness, compassion and reconciliation. He embraced his enemies despite decades of harsh and inhumane treatment. Although he could have remained in his job for life, as many leaders try to do, he relinquished power after just 5 years.

Nelson Mandela shows us that outright rejection of any form of imposed rule and fighting for people’s rights, freedoms, humanity and dignity is not only just and moral. It is also a responsibility and obligation we all have towards each other. By endeavoring to adopt the same persistence and discipline of Mandela, and armed with the courage of our own convictions, we can and must restore our peoples’ freedoms, rights and dignity.

Authorized By                       UFDF

For further elaboration or interviews on our statements please contact anyone of the following:

Mick Beddoes – 830524;  Laisania Qarase – 9993113;  Mahendra Chaudhry – 9921865

 Attar Singh – 9921184;  Tupeni Baba – 9373364

LOCAL MEDIA REMINDER

FIJI INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT DECREE 2010

(DECREE NO 29 OF 2010)

 

Schedule 1

Media Code of Ethics & Practice

 Sec 1: Accuracy, balance and fairness: (d) ‘Media organizations have a duty to be balanced and fair in their treatment of news and current affairs and their dealings with members of the public’ & (e) Editorial comment in any medium must be clearly identified as such and kept separate from news reports.

Sec 2: Opportunity to reply: Media organizations have an obligation to give a fair opportunity to reply to any individual or organization on which the medium itself comments editorially

 Sec 21: Impartially and balance: Media organizations shall endeavor to show fairness at all times, and impartiality and balance in any item or programme, series of items or programmes or in broadly related articles or programmes over a reasonable period of time when presenting news which deals with political matters, current affairs and controversial questions.

UFDF PRESS RELEASE – Why Is There No Immunity For Brig. Gen. Driti?

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STATEMENT FROM

THE UFDF

[No 34/2013]

[Nov 28, 2013]

The UFDF calls on the Attorney General, the  PM & Military Commander to explain to the people how Brig Gen Driti who was part of the 2006 Bainimarama team that overthrew a constitutional government and is supposedly covered under  the ‘entrenched’  immunity provisions of  the 2013 constitution has somehow been ‘excluded’ and put on trial?

The UFDF calls on the Attorney General, the  PM & Military Commander to explain to the people how Brig Gen Driti who was part of the 2006 Bainimarama team that overthrew a constitutional government and is supposedly covered under  the ‘entrenched’  immunity provisions of  the 2013 constitution has somehow been ‘excluded’ and put on trial?

The UFDF says if a special decree was passed by cabinet under section 161 of the 2013 constitution that excluded Brig Gen Driti from the protection he is supposed to have enjoyed as a member of the 2006 Bainimarama team, why has that decree not been made public?.

The UFDF says it is ironic that Brig Gen Driti is being found guilty of inciting mutiny against an Army Commander who overthrew a constitutional government?

The UFDF asks how was it possible to have a trial where some of the key characters involved in the alleged crime did not even make a court appearance.

If Driti can be charged and brought to court while supposedly being protected under the immunity provisions, the UFDF asks if this means all those who have aided and abetted the regime who think they are protected from prosecution, can also be removed from immunity protection and prosecuted?

Authorized By                       UFDF

For further elaboration or interviews on our statements please contact anyone of the following:

Mick Beddoes – 830524;  Laisania Qarase – 9993113;  Mahendra Chaudhry – 9921865

 Attar Singh – 9921184;  Tupeni Baba – 9373364

LOCAL MEDIA REMINDER

FIJI INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT DECREE 2010

(DECREE NO 29 OF 2010)

 

Schedule 1

Media Code of Ethics & Practice

 Sec 1: Accuracy, balance and fairness: (d) ‘Media organizations have a duty to be balanced and fair in their treatment of news and current affairs and their dealings with members of the public’ & (e) Editorial comment in any medium must be clearly identified as such and kept separate from news reports.

Sec 2: Opportunity to reply: Media organizations have an obligation to give a fair opportunity to reply to any individual or organization on which the medium itself comments editorially

 Sec 21: Impartially and balance: Media organizations shall endeavor to show fairness at all times, and impartiality and balance in any item or programme, series of items or programmes or in broadly related articles or programmes over a reasonable period of time when presenting news which deals with political matters, current affairs and controversial questions.

UFDF PRESS RELEASE – The Truth about the state of Fiji’s Health Services

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STATEMENT FROM

THE UFDF

[No 33 /2013]

[Nov 20, 2013]

The UFDF calls on Dr Sharma to do the right thing and take responsibility for the decisions and policies he has imposed on the Ministry of Health on behalf of the regime and for once account to the people for this terrible mess and man up and resign.

The UFDF said in his 2014 Election focused Budget provisions; the PM said very little about the state of the nation’s Health except for an admission that quote ‘it is not as good as it should be, given years of neglect ‘unquote.

The UFDF says the regime always speaks of ‘past years neglect’ in general terms so as to infer the democratic government they overthrew in 2006 is the cause of the neglect. But the Regime have been in control for the past 7 years, this is 2 years longer than the previous elected government and still the state of our Health Services is a disgrace.

When the next democratically elected government is in place at the end of 2014, the regime would have had 3 years longer than the previous legal governments to fix things and based on their current performance there is nothing that indicates that they have the ability to fix anything.

The UFDF says there are many hidden flaws and losses that run into the tens of millions of dollars mainly through incompetence, corruption and mismanagement that remain unknown because of the lack of accountability and transparency practiced by the regime and this information needs to be exposed so that people can see what is really going on.

MINISTRY OF HEALTH

An official of the UFDF recently visited the Lautoka & CWM Hospital, spoke to staff, nurses, Doctors and other medical personal and the following is a brief summary of what emerged from discussions with hospital personnel.

  • LAUTOKA HOSPITAL [Visit – Sep 2013]
  1. Dr Neil Sharma announced an $8 million upgrade of the Lautoka Hospital & CWM hospitals on April 7th 2010, yet today both hospitals look a sorry sight and in desperate need of repair? So what was it spent on?
  2. In the Lautoka Hospital as late as September only 1 of the 3 lifts it has was operating and according to staff, the others have been out of service for almost a year?
  3. Should the 3rd lift breakdown, patients will need to be carried up the stairs from the Emergency Department to the ICU and CCU and Major Operating theatre?
  4. Patients are still being asked to buy their own drugs and medication because the hospital has none, yet in 2012 $10 million in medication purchased by government sat in stock, then expired and went to waste? [FT Nov 27 2012 Report]
  • CWM HOSPITAL [Visit –Nov 2013 ]

Like Lautoka, despite the supposed multimillion dollar upgrade, the CWM looks a sorry sight and in desperate need of repair.

  1. In addition the ongoing shortages of drugs and supplies continues, but with the added burden of cheap and inferior medical supplies from China and as well as India. . An example of this is the cheaper intravenous cannulas being purchased from China which are apparently of such poor quality and have flaws that expose the medical personnel to blood when injecting the patient. Previous purchases of these were a better quality without flaws.
  2. Doctors and Nurses alike ‘buy their own’ plaster for use on patients because the officially supplied plaster – referred to by all in CWM as the cello tape’  falls off within minutes of being applied to a wound.
  3. The number of the ultrasound scan machines purchased by the government at a cost of $27,000 each and distributed to other sub divisional health facilities have been returned to the CWM because no one can operate them and when repairs are required the technicians in Fiji can’t repair them, there is also a  new lot of hematological  and biomedical equipment  and like the ultrasound equipment the local technicians cannot fix them so the supplier [alleged to be a relative or friend of the Minister] has to be flown up from New Zealand to carry out the repairs.In his 2014 Budget address the PM said quote

Our biomedical equipment will now be serviced by professionals, and $900,000 has been allocated for this purpose’

  • The approximate $243,000 cost for the equipment has already been paid, so add to this the $900,000 put aside for servicing and repairs by professionals? Then someone is making a cool $1.1 million for equipment that can’t be operated or serviced locally? WHY?
  • The regime recently announced a multimillion plan to build 6 new operating theatres in the CWM, however there is a well known shortage of qualified anesthetist and surgical nursing staff to man the 4 theatres already renovated and in place.  Different surgical specialists are already facing difficulties due to the current shortage of trained medical staff and equipment; another 6 new operating theatres will simply compound the situation.
  • There are specialist shortages which are rife in the Ministry and a specific example of this is in the anesthesia department where anesthetist are working 24 hour shifts looking after the country’s most critically ill and surgical patients.  The situation was further worsened when senior staffs were sent to Sudan and only a handful remained to maintain services. The majority of the anesthetists are made up of junior staffs that have recently joined the department, a factor that led to the recent death of a female patient in Lautoka and the suspension of the Anesthetist.The UFDF says all of the examples of neglect and gross mismanagement referred in this statement occurred in the past 12 to 24 months under Bainimarama’s ‘illegal’ regime and are the result of the prior ‘5 years of neglect’ he referred to in his 2014 budget address and have absolutely nothing to do with any previous elected and ‘legal’ government that he tries to deflect blame to.

Dr Neil Sharma has been the Minister responsible since January 2009 and therefore the person directing the regimes failed policies over the past 5 years that have led to the gross mismanagement and neglect which occurred over the past 24 months as highlighted in this statement.

The UFDF says any person of moral and principled standing would accept responsibility for the failures of their policies in the same way they accept the praise and accolades when things get done right, rare though that may be.

The UFDF calls on Dr Sharma to do the right thing and take responsibility for the decisions and policies he has imposed on the Ministry of Health on behalf of the regime and for once account to the people for this terrible mess and man up and resign.

The UFDF says the ongoing daily struggles of our Doctors and nursing staff in our hospitals and the difficulty they face with medical supply shortages, inferior products, lack of trained specialists and the below average remuneration for their profession is a matter that should concern all citizens as the state of our Health Services is something we will all face a need for at sometime in our lives.

More statements highlighting other areas of gross neglect and mismanagement will be highlighted in the coming weeks.

Authorized By                       UFDF

For further elaboration or interviews on our statements please contact anyone of the following:

Mick Beddoes – 830524;  Laisania Qarase – 9993113;  Mahendra Chaudhry – 9921865

 Attar Singh – 9921184;  Tupeni Baba – 9373364

LOCAL MEDIA REMINDER

FIJI INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT DECREE 2010

(DECREE NO 29 OF 2010)

 

Schedule 1

Media Code of Ethics & Practice

 Sec 1: Accuracy, balance and fairness: (d) ‘Media organizations have a duty to be balanced and fair in their treatment of news and current affairs and their dealings with members of the public’ & (e) Editorial comment in any medium must be clearly identified as such and kept separate from news reports.

Sec 2: Opportunity to reply: Media organizations have an obligation to give a fair opportunity to reply to any individual or organization on which the medium itself comments editorially

 Sec 21: Impartially and balance: Media organizations shall endeavor to show fairness at all times, and impartiality and balance in any item or programme, series of items or programmes or in broadly related articles or programmes over a reasonable period of time when presenting news which deals with political matters, current affairs and controversial questions.