February 28, 2009

Military Junta and Posers on the Caustic Attack

The vitriolic acid is now gushing from the mouth of Shaista Shameem in full stream. It is doubtful whether anyone will pity the selective victims now feeling offended about not being consulted. We however have not forgotten that they themselves blocked access of independent international legal assessments.

We nearly missed key poser Fred Caine’s weedy attempt at causticity in support for the military junta and tries to weigh in his own Samoan lineage as if that will matter.

But you’ve got to hand it AGAIN to Samoan PM Tuilaepa who roundly counters Bainimarama’s “Un-Pacific” comment. He deserves a standing ovation from the people of Fiji with this one. Vinaka Vakalevu, Shukriya and Fa’afetai Lava to the Hon. Prime Minister of Samoa and its people.

Folks feel free to communicate your thanks to him and his fearless attempts to give you a Government you deserve.

In the meantime, take a bow Member of Parliament and Honourable Prime Minister for Samoa, Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi. Fiji will remember your backing and love for our country and the Pacific region.

Bainimarama has little respect towards the Pacific leaders says Tuilaepa

APIA: 26 Feb 2008: Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has questioned what Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama meant by being “un-Pacific” in recent comments which the Commodore also said Samoas Prime Ministers strong criticisms were 'unprofessional'. In a statement released today, Tuilaepa questioned what the Commodore meant by "un-Pacific" particularly in view of the fact that the Commodore:

  1. Overthrew at the point of the gun his elected government and sent into limbo the Parliament of his country,
  2. Had no hesitation in describing the Forum as dominated by New Zealand and Australia; giving no credence to the ability of the other Forum leaders to think for themselves;
  3. Had no qualms in breaking an undertaking he personally made to the Leaders at the Tonga Forum that Fiji would hold elections by March this year;
  4. Did not bother to attend the Forum Leaders meeting in Niue knowing very well that Fiji was high on the agenda and the Leaders would like to hear from him and;
  5. Did not bother to attend the Special Leaders Retreat in Port Moresby to discuss Fiji even with the great diplomatic effort by the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea to encourage him to attend; instead the Commodore sent his interim attorney general to meet the Pacific leaders"
In Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s view, Commodore Bainimarama has shown little respect towards the Pacific leaders and his behaviour and actions could hardly be described as the ‘Pacific Way’. The Commodore should therefore not be so quick in ‘crying foul’.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa said that nothing that has happened so far has changed his view that Commodore Bainimarama has no intention of holding elections and returning Fiji to democratic rule.

Samoa’s Prime Minister who is also Samoa’s Foreign Minister was part of the Ministerial Contact Group that visited Fiji for consultations with the Interim government ahead of the Niue Forum meeting. Asked point blank by the Ministerial Group, the Interim government did not have any idea of a timeframe. In the contact group’s visit to Fiji’s Electoral Commission it was quickly evident that there was no genuine attempt being made to prepare and organize an election. This state of affairs has since been reinforced in video footage taken by the staff of the Commission itself.

This is a depressing situation according to Prime Minister Tuilaepa who referred to his own experience when he was a public servant and worked with highly qualified and very competent officers of Fiji’s civil service. Tuilaepa has no doubt that Fiji has many skilled and dedicated people inside and outside the civil service who would be able to easily organize and hold the elections as well as provide support for all other institutions of government in Fiji if they were only given the chance and the resources. Unfortunately everything hinges on Commodore Bainimarama and whether he is prepared to trust his people, and how genuine he is to do the right thing for his country by returning to the barracks and allowing Fiji to return to a democratically elected government.

Tuilaepa said that given the important role of religion in Pacific society he felt sure that the church leaders of Fiji have good advice to offer if the Interim Prime Minister was willing to listen. Similarly, former commanders of Fiji’s Military who served their country from the barracks would also have good advice to offer Commodore Bainimarama.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa feels strongly that if Commodore Bainimarama’s allows elections to be held within this year as required by the Forum, returns the military to the barracks and makes it firmly answerable to the elected government, the Commodore will recover much of his lost credibility and may still be remembered well by the people of Fiji and the region.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa indicated that as he has made clear his views and the message he wanted to send to Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, he did not intend to say anything further on the issue. Tuilaepa said that he would like to think that if he should meet the Commodore when they are both retired and all of this is in the past that Bainimarama would thank him for his direct and frank advice.

February 27, 2009

Movers: In, Out, Around & About

This week there were lot’s of movements.

It begins with Bainimarama himself perhaps confirming an omen for the week, where he picks himself up from one end of Ratu Sukuna Road to another.

These however are the poor folks who have been moved out by the junta posers:

  • Taito Tabaleka, CEO of Telecom Fijisent on leave by the Board: reasons still largely unclear
  • Charles Sweeney, Chair Commerce Commission – now replaced by Dr Mahendra Reddy
  • Rt Isoa Tikoca – Fiji Ambassador to PNG: contract terminated for “breach of duty”
  • Niko Buke, PWD Divisional Engineer Central – sent on leave: reasons still largely unclear


Those who were moving about this week as part of the poser clique:

  • Surendra Sharma, “un-resigning” from his role as CEO for the Sugar Grower’s Council.
  • A new Water Authority Board which features (unsurprising) appointments such as Mrs Filipe Bole as board member and NZ’er John Prasad as board Chair.


The late chairman of the Electoral Commission, MK Sahu Khan moved from this world to the next, and was laid to rest early this week. Mr Sahu Khan was a supporter of delayed elections and is/was uncle to the Shameem sisters.

What won’t be moving UP thankfully are salary hikes penciled against Bainimarama’s inner circle militia who were assessed somehow as having outstanding performance. Pseudo gallantly, they pull the “officer and gentleman” routine, forego their salary increases and allow civil servants to get their’s.

The only problem is that it’s much ado about nothing. Bainimarama’s inner circle were handed exceedingly hiked salaries upon taking many roles that they knew nothing about within Government (that’s why, for example, Mr Leweni has upgraded himself from a Toyota Corolla to a Toyota Prado/Landcruiser with personalized number plates NATSET to boot – hey presto!). The civil servants however were lumped with pay-cuts through no fault of their own and are just getting what is owed – albeit staggered.

Civil servants are still owed much more.

Bingo!

True to form Shaista Shameem has not disappointed.

The attempt at civility in this response does not hide the thinly veiled dagger jutted towards the media, where she has unleashed her faithful and clueless hack, the junta AG, to get cracking with a vengeance.

It was, after all, her brain child in the first place to clamp down on unfriendly media sorts.

The vitriolic acid however is splattered all over her Emperor's naked butt in this epistlic rant (you were spot on Tim). Even Samoan PM Tuilaepa takes a hit.

The other Shameem however will be worth watching now as all the posers appear to have received the memo that it was ok to come strutting out of the closet now. Unfortunately the closet is where illegally appointed Chief Justice prefers to remain with his wishy washy intentions of his role on the bench.

Nazhat Shameem will rule soon on the legality of FICAC on a motion put forward to the courts by Mahend Chaudhry’s son and heir, Rajend, who must have acquired a conscience that day. The real deal will surface soon though. Bet on it.

Meanwhile the junta AG is himself the target of investigations of the Fiji Law Society which also appears to be helter-skelter in their views of late. Please keep it together guys!

February 26, 2009

We Feel a Vitriolic Tantrum Coming Up!

Uh Oh. Take cover Obama Administration.

Today Shaista Shameem lauded the Land Of the Free and it's justice system (which only as she can, gets twisted around as validation for the flawed Qarase verdict).

This evening however the US State Department’s annual release of their annual Human Rights Report on Fiji is very telling of just how much the world knows about everything happening in this place. Read the report in full here.

Contrary to Frank’s canoeing ambitions, no man (or country) is an island. With the economy flat-lining, our nearest and dearest are fleeing from our side. Hands will only be outstretched to like-minded values. Have democracy, will help. Otherwise, Bon Voyage -- it's a big ol' ocean out there.

The junta’s Attorney General is suddenly besieged with selective amnesia and demands proof that the judiciary is not independent. Someone. Please. Give. Him. A. Clue.

Anyhow. We can predict with certainty that Shameem will come out soon with gun’s blazing against the US touting the now standard “hypocritical” lines of 2006 and 2007. Yawn.

Shameem has already launched herself into a pitiful cat-fight as to “who is the fairest of all” in the human rights domain. It might interest these parties to know that Fiji was a leader in human rights, but from 6/12 we have continued to show all and sundry that rights custodianship can go horribly wrong. Frankly that's not a testimony that will win other Pacific nations over.

Aage Picche, Liumuri, Posers and Pretenders

Heck. This must be the day for clarifying definitions and getting the warped one’s straight.

The Thakurji continues to get it wrong with his outright support for Teleni’s unconstitutional religious crusade in the workplace.

He blatantly misses the point that many are ostracising Teleni not only because of his attempts at religious or ethnic supremacy or the fact that he overdid his disciplining. The point of contention is that the approach used by Teleni was simply out of line and certainly unworthy of a public office holder. The evidence of this debacle simply highlighted that that was the face of military tyranny (which has and will continue to similarly affect many people), that would otherwise remain veiled.

If you are a leader and are mentoring or coaching for improved behaviour or performance, foul language and a condescending tone is not going to get you anywhere. Any HR textbook, will tell you that. The public outcry just proves that people are realizing the power of the constitution and what it protects -- not what the FHWRC tells us that it protects.

The Thakurji then proceeds to slam all who have had opinions on the Teleni Disaster and labelled us as Aage Picche, Liumuri & Hypocrites. Aage Picche is a Hindi term and Liumuri is a Fijian term. Both aptly define the English word – Hypocrite.

In defining the english term hypocrite, Princeton’s online definition lays the term out as:

(n) hypocrite, dissembler, dissimulator, phony, phoney, pretender (a person who professes beliefs and opinions that he or she does not hold in order to conceal his or her real feelings or motives)

Colloquially one could also say that hypocrites are posers or are pretentious or frontin’ .

There are simply no shortages of posers within the Military Junta and their inner circle. As always the proof is in the pudding.

For instance, if one were to pose the question: Was the Coup of 6/12 a Coup? This group of pretenders have already publicly laid their cards on the table:


And again the list of phonies goes on and on and on (and on and on).

If anything the biggest poser would have to be the Thakurji himself who continues to have worldview mood-swings between the cushy life in South Auckland and the struggles in Fiji by trying to show that he cares for Indo-Fijians here with flawed and bipolar logic.

Unfortunately for the posers, the game was up a long time ago. By coming out of the woodwork en masse is Mission Accomplished for many.

An English Lesson: Defining What “Pacific” means

Bainimarama’s lame response to the Samoan PM’s outstanding ass-whooping requires a quick and dirty english lesson on Definitions.

First off, the dictionary (only FJD$5 at the local bookshops Mr Leweni) defines Pacific as:

“pa+cif+ic (pÉ™'sifik) adj 1. tending or conducive to peace; conciliatory. 2. not aggressive; opposed to the use of force 3. free from conflict; peaceful”.

Google (which is free for the junta guys illegally freeloading on public funded GOVNET services) defines Pacific as:

disposed to peace or of a peaceful nature; "the pacific temper seeks to settle disputes on grounds of justice rather than by force"; "a quiet and peaceable person"; "in a peaceable and orderly manner"

So in assessing the military Junta’s record to date, let’s see who really understands what Pacific means.


And The list goes on and on and on and on (and on and on).

The jury will not be out on this one Bainimarama. Tuilaepa, the rest of the Forum leaders (even Australia and New Zealand) and taxpayers in this country all know what Pacific means.

You and your spin doctors on the other hand need need to arm yourselves with dictionaries before your open your mouths.

Better still - step down. Today would be just beaut.

February 25, 2009

The Pranks continue to roll out for Rabaka Trial

This is hardly surprising.

In such a high profile trial such as this where our assessments are that public opinion is undivided, our only access to the going's on of the blow-by-blow accounts are now shut down.

The learned judge is not doing himself nor already tainted views of the independence of the judiciary any favours.

Perhaps we should be realistic and be prepared for judicial activism in action as an outcome.

More power to the Rabaka Family during this time.

Media stopped from covering proceedings
Wednesday, February 25, 2009

High court Justice Daniel Gounder has told journalists in the Lautoka High Court that they should not report anything of this morning’s court proceedings in the alleged murder of Sakiusa Rabaka.

When the trial began journalists were allowed in to listen to the morning proceedings and were also allowed to make notes.

However before the morning break, Justice Gounder ruled that the media should not report anything on this mornings proceedings until he makes a ruling.

A police officer and eight military officers are facing a charge of murder and assault.

All have pleaded not guilty.

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation

February 24, 2009

The Rabaka Trial Re-commences

Mid-way through preliminary hearings the Rabaka Trial was declared a mistrial because of the nasty additional business like forced oral sex that the Junta would rather not have hanging over them. It is however too little too late as it is already in the public domain and the expectations of justice from this trial especially with the convenient stalling will be keenly monitored.

The trial recommences with Mrs Rabaka today taking the stand.

Conveniently Key documents such as post-mortem results and witnesses statements go missing and the new assessors will not be able to draw on any evidence (like the nasty oral sex business) from the first round of the hearing.

The Colour of Our Money

When our national reserves custodians bleat their warnings, it’s often a good thing to heed their advice and react accordingly.

Their assessments of the state of the economy since 6/12 have not painted a picture too different from the real state of play. Fiji has, with Bainimarama at the helm, been and continued to beg, borrow and steal more than we have or make.

Our credit ratings have dropped again which makes us a risky borrower on the global arena that is already stricken.

More worryingly, the effects of Bainimarama’s weak fiscal policies are rearing ugly heads all over the place. Mr Teleni at the helm of the Police Force prompts the all-out pursuing of his unconstitutional spiritual agenda as crime escalates.

Mr Chaudhry’s attempts to remain a relevant and informed commentator on the state of our economy is quickly given a douse of realism.

So what's the colour of our money? Red---in it, under it and overwhelmed by it.

February 13, 2009

Dorsami Naidu in the Line of Fire

Dorsami Naidu, the current President of the Fiji Law Society continues to take a hit for the upholding of constitutional rule.

Firstly he came out strongly against the sham appointment of the II Chief Justice, Anthony Gates.

This is responded to firstly by an administrative official from the Courts Registry.

Which triggers a fabulous reaction from the regime’s judicial hatchet-man, Christopher Pryde.

Followed by a nice rounding off from InJustice Pathetik.

Mr Naidu now appears to be having the last laugh.

So. Just like clockwork. Perfect synchronization.

It’s still an "independent judiciary" *raise eyebrow now*.

Fiji: South Pacific's Burma?

Goddamn. Ever since 6/12 Fiji has been associated with every other military regime infested country under the sun. Today it’s Burma.

I hope the Fiji Me campaign’s pockets are deep enough to undo it all. Patrick Wong’s strong assertions that “TOURISM Fiji is a statutory body, apolitical and supports the government of the day” is surely a signal about just how deep-rooted the powerful tourism lobby group is with the coupster’s.

There have been earlier stories linking "apolitical" connections before such as this one reproduced from a Time Magazine column.

If anything the recent agreement of compensation by the NZ Government to the Maori Kingdom in line with the Waitangi Treaty will fuel the indigenous cause for rights over their resources as First People the world over. Disregard please, if you will, in totality the warped worldview of The Thakurji.


FIJI: South Pacific's Burma?
By Stephen de Tarczynski

MELBOURNE, Feb 12 (IPS) - There are concerns that the behaviour of Fiji’s interim government indicates the possibility of a Burma-style dictatorship emerging in the Pacific nation.
"Are we seeing the development of a militarised democracy [in Fiji]?" asks Prof. Brij Lal, a Fijian of Indian descent and expert on Fijian affairs at the Australian National University.

"I honestly fear that we may be seeing, in an embryonic form, the ‘Burma of the Pacific,’" says Lal, who was part of the three-member Fiji Constitution Review Commission - the report of which formed the basis of Fiji’s 1997 constitution - appointed by then-president Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara in 1995.

Lal’s fear is embodied in the form of Fiji’s current ruler, Commodore Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, who as head of the nation’s military staged a coup in December 2006 - the fourth since 1987 - to oust then-prime minister Laisenia Qarase.

In 2000, Qarase had actually been appointed to the post by Bainimarama, who headed the interim military government organised to counter the coup led by Fijian nationalist George Speight earlier in the year.

Despite remaining prime minister after the 2001 general election and 2006 parliamentary election, Qarase’s policy of reconciliation towards those involved in the 2000 coup angered Bainimarama and was a major factor in the latter’s overthrow of the elected government.

Sandra Tarte from the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji’s capital, told IPS that the political role arrogated by the military to itself has been a common element in Fiji in recent decades.

"The army, especially its current commander, sees itself as the saviour of the nation," she says.

But it is not necessarily the policies of Bainimarama that alarm the experts.

Among these are plans to overcome the racial divide that separates the two main ethnic groups, indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians, most of whom are descendents of indentured labourers brought from India by the British to work in Fiji’s sugar plantations a century ago.

The cornerstone of Bainimarama’s vision of a multi-ethnic yet unified Fiji is the recently-released People’s Charter for Change, Peace and Progress.

"The People’s Charter process, as a national level inclusive and participatory undertaking, represents Fiji’s own way of addressing its deep-rooted, complex and fundamental problems," write Bainimarama and Archbishop Petero Mataca.

The two are co-chairs of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji (NCBBF) - the purportedly broad-based organisation behind drafting the charter - in the charter’s foreword.

"The overarching objective of the People’s Charter is to rebuild Fiji into a non-racial, culturally vibrant and united, well-governed, truly democratic nation; a nations that seeks progress and prosperity through merit-based equality of opportunity and peace," they write.

Also in the foreword, the interim government commits to "restore and sustain parliamentary democratic governance, stability, and peace in Fiji."

Tarte argues that major changes in Fijian society need to be accompanied by an acceptance and an understanding of the need for such reform. "The charter process has so far not succeeded in building that necessary consensus," she says.

While Lal supports the position taken by Bainimarama, he opposes the way in which changes are being implemented.

"His vision is one which I applaud…but not the way he is proceeding," he says.

Fiji’s neighbours, particularly Australia and New Zealand, have been highly critical of Bainimarama since the coup in 2006 and continue to call on the interim leader to hold elections.

At the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) leaders’ retreat in Papua New Guinea in January - the PIF is the region’s leading political and economic policy organisation consisting of 16 full members - forum members unanimously called on Fiji to conduct a general election by the end of the year and to nominate the date for elections by no later then the end of April.

Failure to do so, warned the PIF leaders, will result in "targeted measures" being imposed upon Fiji, in addition to sanctions already in place.

Potential measures include the barring of members of the interim government from all PIF events and meetings as well as Fiji becoming ineligible for any PIF regional cooperation initiatives or further financial and technical assistance.

But with Bainimarama remaining obstinate in the face of international criticism - the PIF’s January meeting was arranged to discuss the failure of Fiji to fulfill its 2007 commitment to hold elections by March this year, yet with the nation’s worst-ever floods occurring just prior to the gathering, Bainimarama sent his attorney-general rather than attending himself - it appears unlikely that such an election will be convened this year.

Besides a lack of election infrastructure, including the need to register voters and demarcate constituency boundaries, a major factor likely to delay elections in Fiji well beyond the 2009 deadline is Bainimarama’s desire to change the electoral system.

The present system, stemming from the 1997 constitution, reflects racial divisions in the country. While the 71 constituencies which make up Fiji elect the 71 members of the House of Representatives, 46 of these seats are allocated along ethnic lines - 23 for indigenous Fijians, 19 for Indo-Fijians, one for Rotuman Islanders and three for minority groups - meaning that only voters from the allocated ethnicities can vote for their preferred representative.

The other 25 are open seats, for which candidates from any ethnic group can vie for votes.

Additionally, the interim government wants to introduce a less proportional voting system.

Lal remains critical of the "the interim administration’s claim that unless we have a new electoral system then Fiji will continue to have political instability."

"My view is that whatever electoral system you have in place, unless there is a willingness to abide by the rule of law, nothing is going to happen," he says.

For him, the more decisive factor in Fiji’s stability is the role of the roughly 3,000-strong standing army.

"You may have a new government in power tomorrow in Fiji as a result of this new electoral system. What if they propose a course of action that the military opposes? What happens then?" he asks.

(END/2009)

February 11, 2009

Rabaka Case begins

In abiding by the protocols of these legal proceedings and in deference to the S-word , here is today’s update.




Forced sex
By MERESEINI MARAU
Wednesday, February 11, 2009

SOLDIERS forced a group of men to perform oral sex on a friend while they were tortured in a military camp two years ago.

Giving evidence in the trial of a police officer and seven soldiers accused of murdering Sakiusa Rabaka, Votualevu resident Josua Saunaqali told the court of the torture.

Saunaqali said he was subjected to military torture. He was ordered to strip to his underwear and perform oral sex. During the examination in chief by State lawyer Wilisoni Kuruisaqila, Saunaqali said he and three friends including Rabaka, were taken to the Black Rock camp on the night of January 24, 2007, on suspicion of buying marijuana.

Saunaqali said it was not the first time he had gone to Black Rock as he had been taken there earlier in the day and subjected to similar treatment.

At Black Rock, Saunaqali said they were told to strip to their underwear and made to run to three points at which three of the accused were waiting to whip them.

When they failed to keep up with the pace, they were beaten. They were made to duck-walk carrying a piece of timber. They were also made to crawl on their stomachs without using their arms.

While all that was going on, Saunaqali said the beating and kicking continued.

He said it was obvious Rabaka was not able to stand the torture.

The court heard Rabaka was groaning in pain but the accused continued to torture him.

Saunaqali said they pleaded with the accused to stop torturing Rabaka because he was just a young boy but their pleas appeared to fall on deaf ears. Saunaqali said at one stage, when he could not complete the drill, one of the accused, Patrick Nayacalagilagi, came and kicked his chin.

"I saw stars," he said. And then they were told to have their shower.

"They told us that drinking on Sunday was not allowed," Saunaqali said.

He said that was when a vehicle arrived with one of their friends in it. He was unconscious.

Saunaqali said Nayacalagilagi ordered him and another friend to perform oral sex on their unconscious friend.

He said he recognised rugby player Napolioni Naulia as part of the squad.

After that they were taken to Namaka Police Station where they were made to wait for hours.

At the station, Saunaqali and Rabaka were told to sleep in the police bure while their friend, Alekisio Ratuvou, was forced to drink yaqona with the policemen.

They did not go home until 5am on January 25.

Before they went home, Saunaqali said Nayacalagilagi, who had taken down their statement, read it back to them and tore it up right before their eyes before throwing into a rubbish bin.

"He warned us that if we told anybody of what happened at Black Rock, they would come after us. He told us there was nothing we could do about it as it was covered under the amnesty."

Saunaqali, when cross-examined by defence lawyer Haroon Ali Shah, said he did not report the incident or tell anyone about it.

He said it was about a month later when police came to him about Rabaka that he gave his statement of the account of the day in question.

The trial of before Justice Daniel Goundar resumes today.

February 10, 2009

Remember Australia today

Our prayers and thoughts are with the people of Australia at this time.

Spy Games

Here's an interesting letter that was posted to the Islands Business magazine recently.

We have borrowed a very fitting image from the "Fiji Silenced" blog.


Letters: Spy Games

I write in response to a report on Mai TV’s Simpson at Seven aired on Sunday 25 January 2009 by Setaita Tavanabola titled: “Are Australia and New Zealand spying on Fiji”? Well, that report has convinced us that they are. So the question we should be asking now is: “Why are they doing it”?

To answer this question, we must look from a global perspective because there are bigger things at stake here and bigger players at play. The interim administration is willing to forego the $350 million in sugar aid money from the European Union, the $1.4 billion in annual bilateral trade with Australia and other aid monies, expulsion from the Pacific Islands Forum and Commonwealth, trade and aid money from New Zealand and other foreign donors because it has made a secret pact with a new ally—China.

China is a rising superpower and the Chinese would love to have a foothold in the Pacific, and what better place than Fiji because of its geographical location and infrastructural capacity.

China currently is facing three domestic problems which are pollution, overcrowding and family planning. So they are looking for places where these problems can be alleviated. Hence, by relocating their factories, the pollution problem is minimised. Mass migration will solve the overcrowding issues while many young couples would love to leave China because of its “one-child policy”.

The move to the Pacific would also alleviate transport costs of shipping goods from China to the markets in the South Pacific region where if you included Australia and New Zealand is around 27.2 million people.

The Chinese government is willing to pay any amount of money to make this happen, and believe me; they have the money to do this.

And so if you take a drive along Queen Elizabeth Drive in Nasese along the seawall, you will find next to the China Club a huge construction work going on there. But you can’t see what they’re building from the roadside because it’s totally blocked out and none of the workers working on that project are local. They have been brought in especially from China to build the new Chinese Embassy complex to accommodate China’s expansion plans in Fiji and the region. And for Fiji’s part, we have good old James Ah Koy in China working tirelessly to bring anything and everything that’s Chinese over to Fiji from car exports, garment factories, ethanol production, road and building construction and even a news media organisation.

But in order for this plan to materialise, Fiji must sever all old friendships and ties with its traditional partners. And so this is what we see the interim government doing right now before our eyes. In the process, they have managed to remove all freedom of speech, including the media, and infiltrate and take control of the last independent estate of power in our democracy – the Judiciary. They already have control of the Executive and Parliamentary framework. So if you are reading this and you haven’t yet realised; our beloved Fiji is being ruled and run by a military dictatorship!

In the Simpson at Seven interviews, Lt Col Raivoce said: “Fiji is not a threat to Australia and NZ” and that: “they have other important things to do than to be spying on us”.

Well, Australia and New Zealand are very concerned at the prospect of the Chinese moving in to Fiji because it’s going to destabilise the peace and stability in the region. These can range from dramatic increases in people and drugs smuggling, prostitution, diseases, manufacturing of illegal substances and its distribution, use of illegal substances in food manufacturing (as was the recent case in China of powdered milk poisoning that killed hundreds of babies). Plus, there would be a huge shift in the balance of trade between Pacific Islands countries and Australia and New Zealand if China were to set up shop in Fiji and in the course of time infiltrate the region.

So, the stakes are high and Fiji is holding the trump card here. And while the political ramblings venture on without any real solution in sight, the spying game will continue and senior government officials will go in and out of office as often as fuel prices change (which is quarterly in Fiji). But are the stakes high enough to warrant an invasion and establishment of peace-keeping forces on the ground similar to Timor Leste and Solomon Islands? And if so, will the invasion be voluntary or in response to an uprising from the innocent people that are caught up in the middle of all this—the ordinary citizens of Fiji?

—Roy Martinez
FIJI

February 07, 2009

Floods, Centipedes and U-tubes

This tongue-in-cheek opinion by lawyer Richard Naidu cracked a smile on our faces despite our trying times of living under Bainimarama's Dictatorship AND Fiji’s pathetic performance at the Wellington 7s (Note: We hope the FRU can still weather the storm of public back-lash as valiantly as they did pre-Wellington).

Perhaps the real reason why the advertised position at the Elections Office could not come to fruition has been laid bare in their now famous U-tube.

It appears to be very much related to a sensitive matter that even the Reserve Bank is side-stepping.


100 feet of trouble
By Richard Naidu
Saturday, February 07, 2009

IN this new, "cleaned up" era of transparency and accountability, I do not believe the citizens of this country have been told enough about the disturbing story of the anti-democratic centipede threatening to compromise the integrity of the Elections Office.

All we are told, in a full-page advertisement from the Elections Office earlier this week, is that the hiring of its last new employee has been delayed "as a result of flooding and one applicant being bitten by a centipede."

Challenged by the news media on this, the Elections Office spokes-person, Diane Waller, would only say "that is a fact."

I certainly hope so. What else could she say? "I am sorry, that is not true, we made that part up?"

But in the obfuscatory tradition of all such spokespersons, her response cleverly denied us further vital information. Many disturbing questions remain unanswered.

It is a shame that Dr Shaista Shameem and her Fiji Human Rights Commission are not as active as previously. If this had been two years ago, they would have launched an immediate investigation into this sinister threat to people's rights to fair elections.

What is known about this centipede and who he (or she) works for? Answers to this question may reveal which hidden agendas are at work as we begin the long road ahead to electoral justice.

For example, is this centipede native to Fiji?

If so, suspicion must first fall on the SDL party, which clearly has an agenda to maintain the current communalistic and unfair electoral system which, despite being unanimously voted into law by Parliament, has apparently caused so many problems, many of which we did not know about until we were told about them by the National Council for Building a Better Fiji. If, of course, the centipede is of an introduced variety, it is interfering in the affairs of our sovereign state.

Indeed, if it came from New Zealand and had diplomatic links of any kind it could well be, to paraphrase our interim Attorney-General, a neo-colonial centipede.

Either way, it should then be declared a prohibited immigrant and expelled.

Another possibility is that the centipede is working for the regime, which wishes to derail the foreign aid-funded Elections Office process to avoid early elections.

What details do we know of the offending arthropod?

For example, did he (or she) have a short-back-and-sides haircut, or was he (or she) wearing army boots on (any of) his (or her) feet?

Either of these things might suggest military involvement.

In that case, the centipede should be reported to the relevant foreign missions for the immediate invocation of smart sanctions against him (or her) and all family members.

What is known of the centipede's position on the People's Charter for Change and Progress?

Shouldn't people be checking how the centipede signed that form on the Charter? Was the centipede for or against? Might the centipede be working for the Citizen's Constitutional Forum?

Is the centipede in communication, by email or otherwise, with the likes of The Fiji Times, Dr Wadan Narsey or Graham Leung?

We know of course as a result of a recent High Court decision that everything the interim Govern-ment is doing is legal, so in attempting to interfere with the lawful process of preparing for elections under a new electoral system, is the centipede potentially in contempt of court?

In that case the interim Attorney-General knows what to do. If the Human Rights Commission will not act, what about the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption?

This seems to have been a vicious attack on one of the nation's most fundamental institutions. It must be possible that the centipede received an inducement or reward of some kind to carry it out, from a person or persons unknown.

Why have the centipede's premises not been raided and all his (or her) files confiscated?

All in all, the nation must be told more. I call on the Elections Office to release full details of the centipede attack so that we may be kept fully informed on this disturbing impediment to our moving forward in unity and harmony as one nation.

* Richard Naidu is a Suva lawyer. In the interests of transparency and accountability, he discloses that a centipede bit him once.

February 06, 2009

We’re Speechless…

...and stumped. Dumbfounded. Flummoxed. Flabbergasted. Staggered.

Is there an end to this nightmare?

Watch the latest tomfoolery on the link below to see your hard-earned taxes “at work” for you and your voting rights:

http://images.tvnz.co.nz/tvnz_video/windows/one_news/ws_6pm_fiji_050209_128k.asx


This is the story carried by TVNZ:

Doubts surround the future of New Zealander Felicity Heffernan who heads Fiji's electoral office.

A video skit, made by her staff for a local competition on democracy, has been posted on YouTube. It shows the elections' supervisor saying it will be a superhuman effort to conduct free and fair elections in Fiji.

Parliament may be silent but staff at Fiji's electoral office feature prominently in the video posted on the internet and criticising the way ahead for Fiji.

In the video, Heffernan says they are hellbent on creating international history by achieving the superhuman event of conducting free and credible elections in Fiji while under-financed, understaffed and under-resourced.

Just days after being condemned by the region for not holding elections, the elections' supervisor casts doubt over the nation's ability to do so.

Electoral office staff talk about the lack of support they are getting and how this is affecting their performance.

An electoral office spokesperson has told ONE News that three of its junior staff filmed the video and they should get the credit for it. But far from credit, Fiji's interim government is not expected to take this lightly.

Nobody from government was publicly talking but sources have told ONE News that Heffernan's days in Fiji may be numbered.

Like the elections itself, the future of some electoral office staff is in doubt.

February 05, 2009

Pacific agony over Fiji folly

A Lowy Institute weblog opinion on the outcomes of the recent special PIF leaders meeting written by Graeme Dobell who is one of the ABC's most experienced reporters of Asia Pacific affairs.


Pacific agony over Fiji folly


Fiji’s military regime is a slow-motion folly that seems to roll inexorably towards further disaster. And the disaster dynamic is now confronting the Pacific Islands Forum. The Forum is edging towards the expulsion of Fiji, knowing that this would deeply damage the Forum itself.

A sense of sad inevitability now dogs the Forum. Bainimarama claims to be helping Fiji but, in truth, inflicts ever greater damage. The Forum inches along the path to an expulsion that would rend its own fabric. Expulsion would cut across the original conceptions of the ‘Pacific Way’. It would set back newer ideas about the Forum taking a great role in running and coordinating Pacific governance.

By giving itself the power to expel, the Forum could damage broader hopes to centralise and utilise power for the region. The conundrum centres on both the nature and personality of Frank Bainimarama and evolving ideas of Pacific regionalism. Ignore Bainimarama’s protestations of good intentions and commitment to democracy. Look, instead, at his actions in imbedding the coup culture deeper than ever in Fiji.

Fiji has had four successful coups, and Bainimarama staged two of them. Rabuka ran the same coup twice in 1987 — the first to seize power and the second coup to ensure the shape of the emerging power arrangement. In 2000, George Speight and some renegade troops staged what was, ultimately, an unsuccessful coup — at least for George and his cohorts. The lawful government was ejected from power, but this was achieved by the President and Fiji’s military, not by the Speight gang.

Speight seized control of the parliamentary compound and kidnapped the Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry and his cabinet. This was a major criminal act. But the real overthrow of the legal government was carried out by Bainimarama, not by Speight. The initial response to the Speight siege in Parliament was that the President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, relieved Chaudhry and his ministers from office. Mara argued that the cabinet was being held captive and could not carry out its lawful functions. So far, probably so legal.

The successful coup took place nearly a fortnight after the start of the Speight siege. Bainimarama, as chief of the Fiji military, went to Mara and told him the military was taking power. The President was dispatched to his home island on a patrol boat. As Mara departed, so went the legal basis for the regime response to the kidnapping siege.

Bainimarama deposed Mara, Fiji’s founding leader, to unite the military. Dangerous splits were opening in the ranks. Too many of Bainimarama’s officers had direct links to the renegades inside the parliament. The first Bainimarama coup in 2000 had more to do with uniting Fiji’s military than it did with protecting democracy. The military commander eventually negotiated a peaceful end to the siege. But when Fiji’s elected Prime Minister emerged from captivity he was sidelined. Instead, Bainimarama maintained the regime he had installed and put in place Laisenia Qarase as Prime Minister.

The irony is that Qarase went on to win an election. So when Bainimarama staged his second coup in 2006, he wasn’t merely casting aside the man he’d put in power. The military chief was again discarding an elected leader.

All this history weighs on the Forum. The reason the Forum may finally act against Fiji has much to do with the South Pacific’s experience of Bainimarama’s personality and style. The old Pacific Way was built on ideas of mutual respect, dialogue and slow persuasion. The formula isn’t working this time. The Forum no longer believes what it is told by Bainimarama. And privately, many in the region worry about the character and stability of Fiji’s military supremo.

The argument for the Forum to expel Fiji is strong. Expect Papua New Guinea, though, to strain to create some wriggle room. If Bainimarama were smart enough to lift his eyes from the Suva melee for a moment, he still has some cards. Getting into the game would involve more regional sensitivity and less Fiji chauvinism. A quick check of the old Ratu Mara playbook would help.

The debate about expulsion leads to a separate but equally important question — the future of the Forum and Pacific regionalism.

Imagine the ructions in Southeast Asia if ASEAN decided it had to expel Thailand because of its military-political shenanigans. This is a fanciful notion. ASEAN can’t even bring itself to throw out Burma. The strengthening of ASEAN’s institutional order gave the grouping a stronger voice but no real teeth (the Singapore formulation).

Ejecting Fiji from the Forum would be like expelling Thailand from ASEAN. Or make the formulation even weightier. Imagine ASEAN without Indonesia at its centre. Impossible. This, though, is the bureaucratic significance of Fiji. The ASEAN secretariat is in Jakarta. The Forum secretariat is in Fiji.

A Pacific Islands Forum without Fiji is a significantly weakened regional grouping. The ambitions of the Pacific Plan for the Forum would be indefinitely suspended. If Fiji were thrown out of the Forum would it also be ejected from the Melanesian Spearhead Group? Probably not. It is going to be hard enough for PNG, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands to agree to action by the Forum.

As patrons and players of the Forum, Australia and New Zealand are pushing for action against Fiji. Distaste for Bainimarama might help Canberra and Wellington to achieve something unprecedented in the four decades of the Forum — the expulsion of a member.

As patron of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, China wants a strong and united MSG, with Fiji on the inside. And one of the unintended consequences of expelling Fiji might be to lift the standing of the MSG and weaken the Forum. Fiji’s folly would truly turn into a regional tragedy.

February 03, 2009

The Fellowship of the Thugs

This recent Letter to the Editor was wickedly apt in its analogy:

Beware, power corrupts

EVERY leader in Fiji, elected or otherwise, walks up the steps of Parliament with noble intentions, I am sure.

Once they step inside Parliament however, there is a sudden change of heart. Power is infamous for its ability to corrupt the mind of even the noblest of man or woman.

It is like the ring in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Once you handle it, it is impossible to let go. Are our leaders turning into gollums – the hideous creature from Lord of the Rings who once used to be a noble hobbit?

M MUDALIAR
Christchurch
New Zealand


One thug ring to rule them all,
One thug ring to find them,
One thug
ring to bring them all,
And in the darkness bind them.

The IIG Locks n Loads

Bainimarama’s continued defiance of democratic norms means he will just have to learn the hard way. That is, that the people always have the last laugh. We laughed Rabuka out and oh how the mighty did topple. We laughed Speight out (luckily the constitution saved his life). We will laugh out Frank et al too.

It will undoubtedly be a clash of resolve. Whether our resolve is to last for 10 or 50 years, the people will sit it out. Depending on whether the junta themselves live that long, their unfettered access to the free-for-all hogging at the trough is never guaranteed. The reality of unjustly frog-leaping your way to the head of the trough will always mean hogging with eyes at the back of their heads. Always.

You see Frank, the future of Fiji are learning first-hand best life-long experiential lessons that a safe, secure and just society can only exist if respect for each other and the rule of law remains paramount. History, being the wonderful storyteller that it is, continuously points to tales of the limitless strength of human resolve in the face of oppression. Indeed our own people of yore were themselves leading characters of many episode’s that are Fiji’s.

So. When opinions vary about our constitution and its impending death we find it truly unconvincing that some of us would just give up the Supreme Law of this Land without so much as a whimper. Are our founding documents that inferior that we continue to mimic Rabuka in ever demeaning the document that holds much promise for us as a people? Moreover, is our ambivalent but silent acquiescence perpetuating the disrespect for the laws of our land to our future generations?

Already we see that the IIAG naively continues to pave the way for the demise of our blue book by sugar coating it as just a teeny-weeny change to the constitution that really (really, really, REALLY) is in the best interest of urban Fijians who are giving away too much power to rural representatives. The IIAG has learned well from his mentor. He is after all emulating the teeny-weeny stepping "out of" the constitution stunt that Bainimarama (who copied from Rabuka) pulled in 2000 where he deliberately hid from the long armed tentacles of modern law, under the skirts of tradition through the now bastardized token tabua offering. It did not, it does not, and it never will be OK for such a grave assault on the constitution. That's called Treason and no amount of judicial activism can ever sugar-coat that even if the illegal appointment of a Chief Justice now guarantees him active front row seats in the Supreme Court.

But wait. There’s more on our still grey horizons. It has become quite evident that there has been an almost rapid eruption of activity on the higher education scene.

The II Cabinet has approved yet another university for the country. Apart from the University of the South Pacific and the very recent University of Fiji , that currently services higher education needs for our students we will now have a National University of Fiji. The recent acquisition of academics by the Fiji Institute of Technology (full paged ad in Saturday’s Fiji Times of 31 Jan 2009), which is one of the 6 institutions (many of them boast regional enrolments) to be amalgamated under this new university is fascinating.

Especially as now the University of the South Pacific announces that some remaining staff could be facing job losses.

Incidentally we are told that this new university could be up and running as soon as “policy guidelines and mechanisms are in place”. With the advertised position of the head of the Council also featuring in the Saturday Fiji Times of 31 January, that could be sooner than the cited time-frame of 9 month.

This initiative begs the question of whether at this critical juncture of nation building so soon after our recent disaster, could not such a wasteful venture have waited until our already competing priorities are met?

In this already complicated mix we now add the impending arrival of valiant Knights in Red soaring to Frank's trough hogging rescue this weekend in the form of the Vice President of China. The contingent boasts an 80-member delegation that includes investors. No wonder there was the illegal fast-tracking of amendments to the Income Tax Act which currently guarantees unchecked access to new tax free zones in Vanua Levu, Rotuma, Kadavu, Levuka, Lomaiviti and Lau.

There will undoubtedly be international ripples about this one.

But more to the point the entourage will come bearing gifts. They are gracious and kind. No doubt. We only have to look to the Dalai Lama and the Falun Gong to see how truly kind China can be.

So yeah it’s all happening right now. The balls rolling. They’re in Lock n Load mode ladies n gents.