January 31, 2012

RNZI: Samoa PM stands by his comments about unlikelihood of Fiji elections in 2014

Posted at 01:41 on 30 January, 2012 UTC

The Prime Minister of Samoa stands by his claim that there is no chance a general election will go ahead in Fiji in 2014.

A public relations firm hired by the regime, Qorvis, has complained to Radio New Zealand International about its reporting of Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi’s comments, saying the story was false and slanderous.

Fiji’s interim Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, reneged on a 2007 promise to hold elections in 2009, but has said since that elections will go ahead in 2014.

Tuilaepa says Commodore Bainimarama has taken no credible action to give the international community assurance that an election will take place.

“Instead he has recruited army people to occupy the administration’s ministries, he has again put in orders which restricted further freedom of expression, and he has done nothing to prepare the nation for general elections.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa says Qorvis’ criticisms of his comments should be put into context.

Meanwhile, the interim Fiji government has selected a Canadian firm to conduct electronic voter registration in the country.

January 28, 2012

Washington Post: Fiji cleaning up after floods

Fiji elections in 2014 'a pipe dream': Samoa PM

(AFP) – 1 day ago

WELLINGTON — Samoa's prime minister on Friday accused Fiji strongman Voreqe Bainimarama of lying about his pledge to hold elections in 2014, saying his Pacific neighbour wanted to retain power "at any cost".

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said Bainimarama, who seized power in a 2006 coup, was leading the people of Fiji and the international community "down the cassava patch" with his pledge to hold a poll in 2014.

"Promises from the military regime of general elections in two years' time are a pipe dream," Tuilaepa said in a statement.

"It's just more deception and creating more false hope among Fiji citizens and the international community. It's synonymous of those who rule by the gun without a mandate from the people."

Bainimarama announced in January 2 that he would lift emergency laws in place since 2009, when a Fiji court ruled his coup was illegal, winning cautious prise from long-time critics of his regime Australia and New Zealand.

But days later he strengthened public order decrees to give the police and military sweeping powers, in a move Sydney-based foreign policy thinktank The Lowy Institute said amounted to "one step forward, two steps back".

Tuilaepa has long been the south Pacific's most outspoken critic of the regime in Fiji, which is the strongest economic power in the region.

Others, such as Kiribati President Anote Tong, have argued Fiji remains part of the "Pacific family" and its expulsion from international groupings such as the Pacific Islands Forum should be reversed to encourage dialogue.

Tuilaepa said Bainimarama, who has previously reneged on a promise to hold elections in 2009, could not be trusted.

"This is just the latest in what's become an endless litany of lies and excuses to hold on to power," he said.

The Samoan leader said Fiji's people were "gradually awakening" and Bainimarama could not suppress them indefinitely.

He accused Bainimarama of stacking the upper echelons of the public service with unqualified army colonels and said there was no room for military rule in the Pacific.

"It's extremely odd and embarrassing to see soldiers patrolling the streets of Suva with bazookas," he said.

"The Pacific Islands region is not used to seeing these frightening images of trigger-happy idiots in full war garb trudging up and down the road."

RFMF donates to Bainimarama's ailing flood appeal

Isa. This would be a total gaff if it weren't so tragic.

While Kubuabola sucks up to Australia and lies through his teeth for favours, the illegal and treasonous military's favourite non-voting (read: irrelevant) and token Pacific US Congressman from American Samoa pitches in to help out.

Alas it will all come to nought. The donors have had enough of being conned, so they're diverting flood assistance directly to relief aid workers.

Bainimarama's boys come to their chief's rescue with their pitiful face-saving graciousness in the hope that they can stir up a flood of compassionate reciprocity from other sectors in the community (backed up no less with some good ol' boots on the jugular "motivation" to business houses).

Military gives $10K to PM's flood appeal
Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Republic of Fiji Military Forces has given $10,000 to the Prime Ministers Flood Appeal Fund.

Land Force Commander Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga presented the cheque to the Prime Minister yesterday.

Permanent Secretary for Provincial Development, Inia Seruiratu was also present at the cheque presentation. Donations to the Prime Ministers Appeal Fund can be made to the Bank of the South Pacific account number 4706578.

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation through its television and radio stations is supporting the Prime Minister's Flood Appeal Fund.

January 27, 2012

FNPF funds yanked from flood assistance

As the country crawls out from the tragedy and domino effect of the recent floods, the pension fund guardians for the most common (and instant) financial access point of many pension fund owners, lock their coffers shut.

It is a complete about-turn from their 2009 "graciousness" (never mind that the money belongs to them anyway).

Contrary to the 2009 floods, the self-preservation stinginess of the pension fund is ludicrous given that those most affected are less in number and are probably worse off compared to the floods of two years ago.

No FNPF assistance for flood victims
Friday, January 27, 2012

The Fiji National Provident Fund will not be giving financial assistance to its members who were affected by the recent floods in the West.

FNPF media liaison officer Wainikiti Bogidrau confirmed this with FBC News.

This follows numerous enquires made to the FNPF offices in Nadi, Lautoka and Ba seeking help.

Bogidrau says the fund will only give financial assistance to Health, Education, and Housing.

In 2009, members were allowed to take $1,000 from their account to assist them rehabilitate after Fiji-wide floods.

However this year, as the flooding does not affect the whole of Fiji and as FNPF has revised its policies, there'll be no financial assistance to members who have suffered losses in the flooding.

Report by: Maca Lutunauga

January 26, 2012

Publication lodges direct complaint to the ICC against 21 members of the military regime

Despite the illegal and treasonous regime's self-inflated and self-defensive moves to force approval of a new Constitution that will undoubtedly secure their freedom and liberty over ours, they remain very much unaware that citizen media and advocacy is already  moving quickly.

A publication recently unearthed on the net by Intelligentsiya, showcases a forward-looking publication that already templates a lodgment of a direct complaint to the International Criminal Court of Justice and you can see (and if you wish, send your own with edits to names of 21 cited names) the complaint.

Furthermore the publication's web-site states that Mr Raju lost his father at the hands of the military.

We salute Mr Rahul Krishna Raju who in 2009 (?) published a book titled "The Death of Democracy in Fiji".

Mr Raju cites himself as someone who believes "in democracy, freedom and equality for all in Fiji. This is his first research book which took him on a journey of some six years of research in understanding as to why there is a leadership struggle in Fiji's Political landscape and in particular the Fiji Military Leadership survival which often projects the coup circle and culture in Fiji.

He has degrees in Human Resources Management and has research interests in Fiji's Political Leadership qualities, behaviour, attitude and styles in governance. He has suffered assaults, harassment, abuse and the sudden loss of his father at the hands of the Fiji Military and the Police agents as this manuscript was to be located. Till today there is no official investigation as to how and under what circumstances his father deceased. The manuscript has been taken by the Fiji Military and Police authorities twice in Fiji and thanks to Google document storage, the manuscript has been retrieved and re-composed into its original intend."  

Mr Raji is "inspired by the will to tell the truthful events in the history of Fiji Islands as the concepts of Nation building was based on the total abuse of all national and international Human Rights covenants, obligations and policies in the 21st century right before the eyes of the International community and they all were powerless to do anything but to act as the toothless tigers, only to bark and see the sufferings of many thousands. To stop one Fiji from the path of this kind of destruction, the World will save many more Fijians all around the World.

The book Death of Democracy in Fiji is divided in the following seven chapters and explains as to why Fiji is at a cross road for political and military leadership survival and the coup circle and coup culture will continue in Fiji. Chapter One – The Perfect Crime, Chapter Two – The Perfect Plot, Chapter Three – The Death of Law & Order, Chapter Four – The Death of Justice & Judiciary, Chapter Five – The Death of Freedom of Expression & Media Freedom, Chapter Six – The Persecution, Fear, Abuse of Fundamental Human Rights & Extra Judicial Proceedings, Chapter Seven – The Promise of Election 2014 or Rule by Decrees.

The Book explains the untold truth about the innocent people of Fiji Islands, who have been forced, persecuted, prosecuted, assaulted, abused, harassed, condemned by death and a direct complaint against 21 named persons of interest to the International Criminal Court of Justice."

January 24, 2012

Tourism Fiji Hunts for Global Agency

By Jessica Kennedy on  24 January 2012

Tourism Fiji is searching for a global advertising agency to lead, develop and implement a new global brand strategy with Australian based agencies amongst the preferred applicants.

The tourism body said agencies based in Fiji, Australia, New Zealand or West Coast USA will be preferred for “ease of communication” with incumbent agencies in those markets invited to take part.

North Sydney based agency PMA Communications Group is the Australian incumbent. A spokesperson for Tourism Fiji said PMA occasionally assists the body’s head office in Nadi.

Tourism Fiji’s New Zealand agency is Barnes, Catmur & Friends and US-based advertising is handled by American agency, Marques Communications.

It is the first time Tourism Fiji has hunted for a global ad agency.

The successful advertising agency will be charged with developing a new global master brand strategy which the body’s local ad agencies will then implement in their corresponding regions.

The new global agency will also be expected to execute targeted media campaigns in its local market.

The tender process will start with an initial credential pitch from which a shortlist of agencies will be drawn and then invited to participate in a full creative and strategic proposal.

Expressions of interest must be sent to Tourism Fiji before Wednesday February 8.

The tender process is due to be completed before June 2012.

Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum's ever changing views on the 1997 Constitution

Despite the loud and dull protestations by the illegal and treasonous Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum on the supposed shortcomings of the 1997 Constitution, the internet always manages to shine a spotlight on our footprints.

For your viewing pleasure, we present here a letter by the then idealistic Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum slamming the Fiji Muslim League and giving his all in passionate defense of (you guessed it), the liberties and freedoms for all as enshrined 1997 Constitution.

So somewhere along the line, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, once a strong proponent of the 1997 Constitution, lost his way.

And we will make it out business to to find out exactly how that happened.
Letter: Critique of FML decision to make submission to Constitution Commissionby A S Khaiyum
(Letter from A S Khaiyum)
The claim by some executive members of the Fiji Muslim League ('League') that Muslims support a review of our Constitution and demand separate seats merely because the executive says so is a gross misrepresentation of the views of the everyday and majority of Muslims in our country. 
The executive lack the mandate to speak as a representative body for Muslims since the League has been and is essentially an administrative institution managing and maintaining mosques, schools, orphanages, a sugar cane farm and real estate. 
In addition to the lack of mandate the arguments and justifications espoused by the executive for a review and separate seats are flawed. They are flawed because our Constitution, in particular the Bill of Rights, namely sections 38(2) and 35 more than adequately guarantee and protect religious freedom and minority rights.  
Indeed if an almost identical South African Bill of Rights provision protects the rights of the minority South African Muslims then what is so special about and differentiates Muslims in Fiji? 
On the basis that last century the then nascent League made submissions on separate seats, it is argued today that so called Muslim rights will be achieved if these seats as submitted then are allocated now. To refer to a resolution passed some seventy years ago, in an era with its own specificities and dynamics, as justification for separate seats in today's Fiji illustrates a complete ignorance and denial of our political, social and constitutional history/experience as a nation-state. 
Indeed if we were to hark back and uphold the standards of 1929 then commoner indigenous Fijians and women would not have the right to vote. Fiji and the rest of the world have moved along. Clearly such absurd referrals to the past illustrate an enormous vacuum in basic critical thinking and analysis, discourse and a general prevalence of obscurantism within the executive. 
Furthermore, it aptly demonstrates a complete ignorance of contemporary developments in and interpretations of Islamic law and jurisprudence vis-a-vis constitutional, human rights and international law and conventions. More tragically, however, the opportunism of the executive displays the absence of and lack of belief in justice, compassion, selflessness and basic human decency. 
Most Muslims in Fiji know that certain officials treat the League and its branches as their own little fiefdoms. Fiefdoms, where nepotism is known to be rampant at most times; where certain families and individuals have reigned as executives literally for decades; where children and families of well-to-do officials benefit from scholarships which were and are meant for poor students; where chairs of numerous committees are held by single individuals; where businessmen and business interests are over represented; where women, the youth, various provinces and other denominations are either underrepresented or not represented at all; where appeals to religious dogma and unity are utilized in response to queries of administrative/financial discrepancies and where certain individuals view the League merely as a means to acquire access to power, influence and ultimately money - all under the guise of "protecting Muslim interests." 
Indeed the absence of proper representation, transparency, accountability and ultimately legitimacy also plague other local institutions in contemporary Fiji. 
The executive of the League cannot and does not represent the political opinion, views, philosophies of individuals or the bulk of Muslims in Fiji. These self appointed guardians do not speak for the masses. Therefore, the current administration and all Fiji Islanders must understand and recognize the majority of Muslims who believe in basic human decency, justice, democracy and constitutionalism reject the idea of separate seats and/or a review of our Constitution. 
Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum
University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Samoa Observer: Enigma called Frank Baniamarama

on 09-01-2012 08:14
Savea Sano Malifa

In the Weekend Observer, 7 January 2011, editorial, we wrote: “By today’s end we should know if Fiji’s unpredictable Prime Minister Frank Baniamarama, is a man of his word.”

We were referring to Baniamarama’s announcement made the previous day that the Public Emergency Regulations (PER) - also referred to widely as “Fiji’s martial law” - that he had enforced in April 2009 when he abrogated his country’s constitution, would be lifted the next day, Saturday.

As it happened, PER was lifted as promised, but then in a sinister twist; it was lifted in name only. On the same day, another law named the New Public Order Act 2012, in which most of the regulations in PER have now been incorporated, had become effective.

And the sinister part is that whereas “Public Emergency Regulations” had been “temporary,” the new law, which has since been revealed as the Public Order Act (Amendment Decree) 2012, is “permanent.”
Genius or deceit matters not.

And so in response to the prevailing uncertainty as to whether “Baniamarama is a man of his word,” the headline of the front page story in yesterday’s Sunday Samoan, which says “Baniamarama fools everyone, law takes over,” should erase all doubt.

According to the Fiji Village, the Public Order Amendment Decree 2012 dictates that:
* Any person who is found guilty of committing an act of terrorism is imprisoned for life;
* Any person who harbours or assists in committing an act of terrorism is imprisoned for life.
* Any person who knowingly provides a weapon used in an act of terrorism is imprisoned for life.
* Any person who knowingly takes part in an act of terrorism is imprisoned for life;
* Any police officer with reasonable suspicion that someone is a threat to public safety may arrest that person without warrant and detain him or her;
* No person shall be detained under the powers conferred by subsection (1) for a period exceeding 48 hours except with the authority of the Minister on whose directions such a person may be detained for a further period of 14 days if the Minister is satisfied that the necessary enquiries cannot be completed within 48 hours.
* Any member of the Republic of Fiji Military may perform all or any of the duties and functions of a prisons officer or police officer;
* Such a member of the RFMF shall have all the powers, privileges of a prisons officer and police officer.

Incidentally, no mention is made of the Media Industry Development Decree that previously empowered the censorship of news, punished journalists, prevented foreigners from becoming majority owners of media organizations in Fiji.

All we know is the assurance from Fiji’s Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, saying there were now “no government censors in the newsrooms …,” during his interview with Simon Lauder of Radio Australia. (Sunday Samoan, 8 January 2012.)

Judging from the new regulations though it seems they are all linked together by the common phobia called fear; it seems that the fear of terrorism posing a threat to personal safety has been the central motive behind these regulations.

According to Bainimarama though, these new regulations “are a modern version of the 1969 Public Order Act,” but then who needs any “version” of a public order if there was uninhibited freedom unshackled by man-made laws?

Perhaps Baniamarama should be told that with freedom, military decrees and dictatorships are irrelevant, worthless.

But then so what? Why should we worry about what’s going on in Fiji when we should be concerned instead about pertinent issues closer to home?

But how can we not worry when we are all sharing the same Pacific Ocean which is sometimes nourishing, other times brutally punishing, and yet in the most challenging of times it is forgiving, reassuring, loving.

The bottom line is clear: the free and peaceful Pacific should allow military dictator Frank Baniamarama to see only that part of its mind it wants him to see.

And the other part? At this point in time it’s forbidden to him. He has to earn the right to see it, even if it means getting someone like him to show him how to do it.

Sacramento Bee: Fiji Selects Canadian Firm to Assist with Electronic Voter Registration for 2014 Elections

By Republic of Fiji
Published: Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 - 5:09 am

SUVA, Fiji, Jan. 23, 2012 -- SUVA, Fiji, Jan. 23, 2012  /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Republic of Fiji today announced its selection of the Canada-based firm CODE Incorporated to conduct electronic voter registration (EVR) in preparation for Fiji's upcoming Parliamentary elections. CODE was chosen based on its experience, accuracy and transparency in assisting developing nations with logistically challenging terrains—a factor important for Fiji, given that its population is spread over roughly 110 islands.

"As the next step on the path to Fiji's 2014 elections, selection of a highly-respected international partner such as CODE Inc. will ensure all segments of the Fijian population are properly registered to vote," said Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. "For the first time in Fiji's history, the 2014 elections will feature true universal suffrage—one person, one vote, one value—and it is critical we get it right."

The Fijian Government chose CODE from among 11 proposals, consisting of four Fijian firms and seven international firms—from Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Spain, and two from the United States. The decision process took more than three months, with presentations and extensive question and answer sessions.

The Ottawa-based firm further distinguished itself through its cost proposal and by offering local knowledge transfer, through which they will educate Fijians on best practices for voter registration. The EVR process will cost approximately FJ$4 million.

Over the past 20 years, CODE has worked with more than 65 countries worldwide to deliver support of their registration programs. CODE recently completed the registration of more than 800,000 voters in Gambia in preparation for the country's 2011 Presidential Elections, and the successful registration of 1.5 million Kenyans at 1,600 registration sites in 18 of Kenya's 210 voting constituencies.

Fiji's projected voter base is approximately 660,000 voters, aged 18 and up. The Attorney-General says the lowering of the voting age will ensure the young adult population has a say in the upcoming Parliamentary elections.

In choosing to use EVR, Fiji is following recommendations made by the European Union's report on Fiji's 2006 elections, which cited irregularities with voter registration and voting practices, such as 101% voter turnout in one constituency, and the disenfranchisement of certain voter groups.

Fiji has sent out invitations to the international community to participate in the EVR process by way of financial assistance; however, so far no countries have opted to participate.

SOURCE Republic of Fiji

January 23, 2012

Radio Australia: Fiji defends raising departure tax

Once again the illegal and treasonous military regime, their cohorts and spineless groupies  continue to rain down on Fiji more desperate acts of economic sabotage

The lame justification that the hiked departure taxes will bring in extra dough for infrastructure upgrades rings kind of hollow seeing as the regimes grand machinations to float more junk bonds domestically for the same objectives have obviously fizzled out before it even started.

Now that we recall it all, as far back as February 2007 we had exposed all these big ideas such as culling of over-55ers; civil service pay cuts; reduced subsidies to provinces, religious bodies, social and sports bodies, USP, schools; rented properties AS WELL as the their mulling over departure tax levies, were already being bandied about. And the discussion revealing these strategies was held in the presence of public sector unions.

Updated January 23, 2012 18:22:15

The Fiji government is defending the lifting of the tax levied on departing visitors.

It's gone up from 100 Fiji dollars to 150.

That's prompted one major travel company, Flight Centre in New Zealand, to offer customers who've already booked a holiday in Fiji the chance to switch their deposits to another vacation destination instead.

Fiji's permanent secretary for Tourism, Elizabeth Powell, says the increase is not that much really, and Fiji needs the money to maintain things like roads and bridges.

Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speaker: Fiji's permanent secretary for Tourism, Elizabeth Powell
Listen here

POWELL: There's been a lot of work undertaken on the roads and bridges and electricity, water supply, all sorts of utilities and facilities, public facilities that the government has been investing in and there's evidence of it everywhere that the roads have improved, still got a ways to go yet, but certainly you'll see huge differences. There has to be money to pay for this from somewhere. In order to make sure that we enhance our visitors experience of our country, we've got to make sure that the facilities are there to cater for their transportation and stay while they're here. So in order to do that we've got to raise the funds and this is where some of this money is going to. So it's to improve their quality of the experience while they're here in our country. From $100 Fijian, while that sounds rather large to anyone. When you translate that into local money, like in Australia and New Zealand and in New Zealand, for instance, I understand is around 60 odd dollars which is about 30 dollars for each flight, each way, which is really not that big a contribution or an increase. And in actual fact Bruce, a couple of years ago, I think there was another increase in the departure tax. It's once you get to that triple digit, I think people start reacting very strongly.

HILL: Well, there has been some reaction already. Flight Centre in New Zealand is quite upset by this and they're actually offering their passengers who prebooked flights and holidays to Fiji the chance to transfer the deposits to other destinations in the Pacific. Are you concerned about that kind of reaction?

POWELL: I am concerned about it. I mean we are concerned, but it's a matter of curiosity, because it seems like an emotive reaction. Flight Centre's attempting to perhaps sway the decision of peoples destination choice. If the value of Fiji to a New Zealand visitor is $60 difference, then certainly I'm sure they will be swayed. But our doors are open and we're continuing to welcome our New Zealand friends and neighbours to our country and bringing this down to this amount of money is really interesting to me on a sort of business level. I think also that it's curious that a couple of years ago Bruce, we increased the departure tax and there wasn't a word from anyone. Why now that this is that Flight Centre particularly there hasn't been any comment as far as I know from anyone else and certainly no such severe response except for Flight Centre's New Zealand and I'm sure they have their reasons and we respect that, but we also have to be pragmatic. I mean sure that what we're offering our visitors is a quality product.

HILL: Do you think the increase in the departure tax would cause tourists or potential tourists to Fiji to look elsewhere or do you think that it won't have any real affect on their decision?

POWELL: I would be surprised if it did have such a severe affect. Like with anything, I think initially people are a little concerned when there is a price increase. We're all like that. I mean I am if there's a price increase of something that I use. I think the thing is that it could be a concern if you haven't budget for it in terms of the notice may be could be the concern, but there are ways of getting around that as well. I don't think it's such a huge amount to really make a huge impact. It could be that it's now reached a three digit number in terms of local Fijian currency, which as I said before is not in terms of New Zealand or Australian currency that much of a difference.

Dr Wadan Narsey: FNPF Transition Decree: last nail in the FNPF coffin

The illegal President has signed the unlawful “Fiji National Provident Fund Transition Decree” which trashes lawful contracts between FNPF and pensioners, takes away their basic human rights to personal property, and removes their basic human right to take their just FNPF grievances to court (while it shamelessly claims that no one’s human rights are adversely affected by this Decree).

The FNPF Transition Decree claims in Part 2, that

“the principal object of this Part is to ensure that the arrangements for the provision of annuities by the Board are sustainable, non-discriminatory, and do not involve cross subsidy of one group (pensioners and annuitants) by another (FNPF members).”

Such phrases are also in the draft FNPF Act, and the drafters have no idea (or they don’t care) how internally inconsistent all these phrases are even within their Decrees (elaborated below).

The Decree makes a pathetic attempt to justify itself by referring to IMF, World Bank, ILO and “actuarial experts” who we know all recommended reductions of future annuities, but none recommended the breaking of lawful contracts and basic human rights to property nor of denying recourse to justice for existing pensioners. 

These agencies need to be publicly challenged as to whether they lend their support to this unlawful Decree which undermines laws of contracts and fundamental human rights of pensioners in Fiji.

The Decree has five Parts:

Part 2:  Terminates the current pensioners’ claims
Part 3:  Share investment scheme (not commented on here)
Part 4:  Protections  (what a farce).
Part 5:  Regulations (not commented here)

Part 2:  Trashing lawful contracts
Despite the FNPF CEO’s strange claim that pensioners do not have a “contract” but an “agreement”, the facts all suggest that pensioners do have lawful contracts approved by the elected Fiji Parliament:

I remind again, Article 4 of the FNPF Act states that the FNPF Board shall be a body corporate and shall, by the name of "The Fiji National Provident Fund Board", have perpetual succession and a common seal .... The Board may sue and be sued in its corporate name and may enter into contracts.

(a) the contracts were freely offered by a corporate body, FNPF, on the OP-9 form all of which were signed by pensioners and accepted by FNPF.

(b) On Form 9-OP, the FNPF informed the retiree that if he chooses to take the pension options, he will receive exactly this or that annuity (annual sum of money in dollars, and exactly this or that precise percentage of his final balance) payable for his lifetime (single pension) and the lifetime of his last surviving partner (in the case of the lower double pension). The FNPF warned pensioners “Once you have made your choice it is final and cannot afterwards be changed or revoked.”    The pensioners had entered a legal contract which could not be changed by them.

But the FNPF and the Military Regime clearly think that they can do whatever they want.

Part 4: Protections: Stealing pensioners’ lawful property
Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) says “Everyone has the right to own property” and “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property”. 

Have a laugh if you thought that Part 4  of the Transitional Decree titled “Protections” was about protecting you, the pensioners and your property.

Do you really believe Subsection 11 (2) of the Transition Decree which brazenly claims “the relevant provisions are not to be taken to provide for a deprivation of property of anyone”.   What a farce. 

By all relevant criteria, the current pensioners’ FNPF annuities are real financial property, guaranteed by a lawful contract guaranteed by elected Fiji parliaments.

Yet for virtually everyone currently receiving more than $300 per month, their entitlements are going to be drastically reduced – by between 30% and 54% of their lawful property. i.e.

The total loss to existing pensioners, in present value terms, will amount to more than $150 to $200 millions in aggregate (I roughly estimate).

Given that Australia and NZ do not recognize the Military Regime or its unlawful decrees, FNPF pensioners who are being adversely harmed might think about suing FNPF in Australia or NZ where FNPF has investments.

Part 4  “Protections”:  Denying Human Rights of Access to Justice
Clause 11 of the Regime’s Transition Decree shamelessly states the following, straight out of Animal Farm: (1) “The relevant provisions are not to be taken to be inconsistent with a human right or a similar right of any person”.  What a farce.

i.e. the Military Decree assures you, in legal gobble-de-gook, that your human rights are not being harmed.  What a farce.

Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states  “Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law”.

Article 10 of the UDHR “Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations...”.

But Subsection (3) of Part 4  of the Regime’s Transition Decree states:  “No court, tribunal, or other adjudicating body has jurisdiction or power to accept, hear, determine or in any other way entertain any challenge by any person, or to grant any remedy or relief to any person in respect of” (a and b) the validity of the Decree and (c) “any loss or damage suffered by any person...” as a result of the provisions in the Decree.

(4) states if there is any relevant claim before any court, “the presiding judicial officer, without hearing or in any way determining the proceeding of the application, shall immediately transfer the application to the Chief Registrar of the High Court for the termination of the proceeding or the application...” and “a certificate to that effect shall be issued by the Chief Registrar of the High Court”.

(5) states if any relevant proceeding has already been started but not determined, that proceeding is also terminated.

(6) in case some brave judge thinks otherwise, the Transition Decree sternly warns that any court that is currently hearing  such a proceeding, “must, on application by the Attorney-General ... issue a certificate to the effect that the proceedings .... have been wholly terminated..”.

And under (7) Such terminating certificates cannot be challenged in court.

Bottom line:  the judiciary will not be allowed to hear your case, even though it involves a lawful legal contract entered into between FNPF and pensioners (backed by elected Fiji Parliaments), your basic human right to personal property, and your human right to go to court with your just grievances.

Tough luck for the Burness/Shameem case, eh?

The very fact that this Military Decree stops all legal challenges is clear evidence that the Regime knows that the FNPF case will not stand up in court.

Why else would they have Part 4 in this Decree, alleging “Protections” – yeah, protection of the Military Regime against legal action.

So much for the separation of the judiciary from the State.

Part 2 of Decree:  False claim Number 1 
Part 2 of the FNPF Transition Decree claims that the lumps sums the pensioners left in the Fund and the investment income thereupon (allegedly amounting to $310 million), cannot meet the present value of the future liabilities owed to current pensioners ($565 million). 

This statement totally ignores that

(a) there was a Pension Buffer Fund specifically set up for this very purpose by the Fiji Parliament;

(b) that Pension Buffer Fund (which had lump sums paid into it and pensions paid out) was not credited with the interest which it was entitled to,

(c) that this Pension Buffer Fund would have accumulated to more than $850 million by now- ie $300 millions more than the $565 million that is admitted (for the first time), to be the present value of liabilities to current pensioners.

Part 2 of Decree:  False Claim 2:  the Board will be non-discriminatory. 
Part 2 of the Transition Decree claims that the FNPF Board will be “non-discriminatory”.

Yet Clause 8 (titled “Top ups”) is all about arbitrarily discriminating between different classes of retirees- whether they are currently receiving less than $100 per month, receiving between $100 ands $300 per month, and more than $300 per month.

Subsection 8 (2) states that for those pensioners currently receiving less than $100 per month, and who wish to convert their lump sum to the new annuities offered which will of course be less than $100 per month,  the Board will arbitrarily offer $100 per month.

i.e the FNPF now will become a welfare organization, (with whose permission?) subsidizing current low annuity pensioners at other pensioners’ expense.  So cross-subsidization will continue, whatever the Decree claims.

I will also bet you, that the over-paid drafters of this Military Decree have never thought about those retirees who might currently have an annuity less than $100 per month, only because they took a partial lump sum upon retirement.

Subsection 8 (3) states that if any pensioners are currently receiving more than $100 (bad drafting- it should really be stating that if a pensioner is receiving between $100 and $300 per month) and they leave all their lump sum entitlement with the Fund and take the new annuities being offered, then they will receive either their current annuity or $300, whichever is the lesser.

i.e. those pensioners currently receiving between $100 per month and $300 per month will be left alone.

Subsection 8 (4) then states amazingly, that if you  are currently receiving more than $300, ands leave all your lump sum entitlement with FNPF and take the new annuity rates that apply to you, then you will arbitrarily have your lump sum increased by $10,000 or 25% of your existing lump sum, whichever is less.

Why are they giving this small “bonus” lump sum option rather than just raising the annuity rates?  Because they want future retirees to receive the lower annuities.

They will give a small lolly to existing pensioners, whose contracts they know they are breaking.

So for any particular retirement age in the past, pensioners will lose a higher proportion of their annuity, the higher was the lump sum they left in the Fund:  i.e. the more you trusted the Fund, the bigger is the percentage you will be losing. 

For a lump sum of $100,000 you will lose 36% if you have just retired, the loss increasing to 50% if you are age 66,  and then decreasing to 46% if you are about 72 years old now.

How astonishing for a Decree that claims that the FNPF will be non-discriminating!

This Transition Decree, contrary to its claims, is discriminating between all kinds of retirees, discriminating by age and by lump sum originally left in the Fund.

The Military Regime and the FNPF Board have set themselves up as redistributing agencies between pensioners or all kinds.

And how do they intend to make sure that future pensioners and future contributors are not discriminated between?

Aaaah. You do not need to be an Albert Einstein to figure this out, do you?  Just as they allegedly eliminated discrimination between past pensioners and current contributors.

What of the future?
Many current and future pensioners are asking what they should do

Should they take the lump sum being offered, or the new annuity rates?

Sorry, but all current and future pensioners have to answer this question themselves.

But there is a quiz in the previous article which current pensioners can rack their delicate or tired brains over, if that’s any help.

January 19, 2012

Dominion Post opinion piece by aiyaz sayed khaiyum

The spinners up at Qorvis must be really earning their keep. Now they've managed to needle the illegal and treasonous fashionista aiyaz sayed khaiyum into coughing up an Op-Ed piece that as per usual massages bainimarama's ego (read: Qorvis wrote it, aiyaz plonks name to it).

What is equally revealing is that Qorvis have now set themselves a new target battleground of Australia and New Zealand in the naive hope that if they can convince them to have a change of heart toward the regime, they will in turn move the USA (and therefore the world) to welcome with open arms the fascist and unelected  "rulers" we reluctantly have before us.

As of right now there are only 4 comments in response to aiyaz's spun out of control lies (which in itself is very telling), and you can set the record straight by making your own views known.

Fijians control own destiny under Bainimarama
AIYAZ SAYED-KHAIYUM Last updated 12:29 19/01/2012

OPINION: The Dominion Post can make outlandish claims and offer distasteful descriptions of the Fijian government (Commodore's foot still on Fiji's throat, January 10) but what it always fails to do is ask the simple question of what the Bainimarama government has done while in power? Wild accusations overwhelm any desire to examine what is actually happening in Fiji.

To begin, the government has strengthened the Fijian economy and created jobs. Standard & Poor's recently upgraded Fiji's sovereign debt rating. We have a net deficit position of 1.9 per cent (ahead of the IMF's recommended target of 2 per cent). And we have even sought to creatively align ourselves more closely with free market principles, including cutting or eliminating taxes for 99.4 per cent of taxpayers (putting about $53 million back in the pockets of Fijians) and significantly cutting taxes across the board for businesses to promote investment.

A "Social Responsibility Levy" has further been applied to the top 1 per cent of taxpayers to help fund new social welfare programmes, and all of the existing ones have either continued or expanded this year to serve the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women, school children and squatters.

The government is also providing real and tangible services to Fijians: new roads, electricity, clean water, subsidised bus fares, unrestricted internet access – including free internet tele-centres – most of which is being brought to places that never had it before. There's also unprecedented investments in healthcare and education, with new programmes to provide practical skill training for rural and maritime Fijians to better compete with their urban peers.

In fact, according to the United Nations second National Millennial Development Goals Report 2010, Fiji has already made significant progress in universal primary education "through strong and effective education policies".

Enabling our government to deliver to our citizens is our focus on eliminating waste, fraud and abuse. Our government unreservedly ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in 2007, for which Fiji has volunteered and undergone peer reviews by countries such as the United States and France.

Anti-corruption practices have angered many who benefited from the old system, but these new ways have encouraged trade and investment – which we have seen from Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand and the United States, among other countries.

New and further transparency rules will soon be put in place to ensure all government officials properly disclose their assets and investments.

MOST importantly, however, the Bainimarama government has undone decades of institutionalised racial and religious discrimination, and created a common and equal citizenry. All citizens of Fiji are now "Fijians". This was never the case before.

Critics in New Zealand and Australia may decry our process of establishing a path to true democracy, but what has enabled Fiji to get this far were the Public Emergency Regulations, which curbed self-interested individuals, religious groups and self-serving unionists – all of which would have prevented the passage of such decrees as anti-discrimination laws, the codification of equal rights for women, child welfare laws, and the equal distribution of land lease monies, among many other basic rights that previously did not exist.

Those emergency restrictions are now gone, and while Fiji welcomes statements of support from the international community, we do recognise that many in this group for decades either directly or implicitly supported Fijian governments that were corrupt, that relied on ethnic categorisation and discrimination, and that maintained only a thin veil of democracy.

As obviously bears repeating, Fiji has never had "one person, one vote, one value". Yet the international community never required that to offer its backing to previous governments. They just needed hollow elections, which in Fiji merely concealed the turmoil of pre and post-colonial strife – which led time and again to destabilising events, coups and terrorism.

Fiji will, however, be a true democracy in 2014 – consisting of an equal and common citizenship, access to substantive justice, and true universal suffrage. We will soon commence consultations for the formulation of a new constitution that will guarantee these universally accepted principles and values.

Foreign media such as the Dominion Post and its columnists may make pointed threats and bluff with scorn, but Fiji is working diligently to define a new future for itself, one that provides Fijians with control of their own destiny.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is the Attorney-General of Fiji.

moo   #4   04:52 pm Jan 19 2012
Thank you for including the line at the end of the article.

ahem!   #3   04:51 pm Jan 19 2012
Slight correction the budget deficit for 2011 was in fact -3.5% ,similar to previous years, the figure Mr Khaiyum is referring to is forecast for 2012.Actual economic growth since 2006 has been marginal if not negative. This is typical of the spin Khaiyum has become notorius for.

Tafa   #2   04:05 pm Jan 19 2012
I agree with what the current Fijian Govt has done for the commoner in Fiji. For the first time as a middle class income earner it is possible for me to build a house in Suva, the economy is taking a step in the right direction and measures have been put in place to kerb corruption. Considering the current state of world economy I think Fiji is coping very well, I am sad to say this was not the case under the democratic govt. Those who are really upset and against the govt are the ones who can no longer fill their pockets at the expense of poor.

An example would be that FIRCA is now put in place a policy to combat tax evasion, where by companies who are not paying taxes do not get a tax exemption certificate, it is definite these companies will cry foul but now it requires companies doing payments to companies without a tax exemption to first pay the tax component to FIRCA first then release the remainder of the payment. This ensures that the govt get the revenue it deserves and doesn't go into someones pocket, while they reap all the benefits.

As a citizen of Fiji if I am given an option to choose between this (as some would say "illegal govt") and the past democratically elected governments, I would chose Franks team any day of the week.

moo   #1   12:51 pm Jan 19 2012
It might have been helpful to include that Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Anti-Corruption, Public Enterprises, Communications, Civil Aviation, Tourism, Industry and Trade in Fiji.


Papua New Guinea Mine Watch: Tikana Namosi Landowners Committee tells Newcrest ‘no mining on our land’

JANUARY 18, 2012


The formation of the Tikana Namosi Landowners Committee (TNLC) in 2009 eventuated as a result of the landowner’s frustration in the manner in which our previous landowner’s committee and Newcrest were colluding to ensure that prospecting works were conducted unhindered on our land. It was formed to ensure that landowner’s rights are respected, that developments on our land are sustainable in nature and importantly to ensure that our prestigious environment be preserved as has been by our fore fathers.

The Issue of the Prospecting License (SPL 1420) was done without our knowledge and consent and is seen to be one of the main causes of the recurring differences between Newcrest and landowners.

In addition, unresolved grievances and the unethical approach by Newcrest over the years has been a major concern for landowners especially since work is still in the prospecting stage and therefore gives us great concern should the mining license be granted.

Misinformation is a common strategy used not only to mislead the landowners but most recently the Fiji Public as evident in its newsletters, media releases and project information pamphlets.

We are deeply concerned about the repercussion of this works to those villagers living downstream in the provinces of Naitasiri, Tailevu and Rewa.

We are also concerned with the manner in which Newcrest is advocating the EIA when in fact most of environmental impacts of their prospecting works in Namosi remains unresolved and is still a major concern for landowners. It seems like the EIA is the solution to all queries raised by landowners and we have been informed to await its outcome.

We have seen and experienced the impacts of prospecting works on our land for over 40 years and we feel that it is enough for us in terms of the environmental and social impacts on our people whatever the EIA outcome might be.

Costs and Benefits
We acknowledge the benefits received so far in terms of Employment opportunities, Education assistance, Community assistance etc and we understand its benefit to Fiji if the project is approved. On the contrary, we value our environment and our future generation more than the current and future benefits from this project.

Involvement of NGOs
We wish to clearly state that the involvement of NGOs is in no way related to our objective in our initial formation that there be no mining on our land. It is an insult to landowners that NGOs be implicated to be responsible for our actions with regards to opposition to the project on environmental grounds.  It is our land and we are very much capable of speaking for ourselves, we the landowners are very much responsible for our actions and Newcrest should be bold enough to face us and our grievances rather than diverting the attention from the real issue.

In fact we had been requesting for more than two years that there be awareness on the impacts of mining as Newcrest is only informing the people of the benefits of mining but this did not eventuate. Thus, the decision to seek assistance from NGOs to enlighten the people on the impacts of mining, they were also requested to provide current updates on the impacts of mining from all over the world and our pacific neighbors as well.

We have reached a stage where we are so frustrated with NJV and its activities on our land and we have come to a decision to let our intentions known to the whole of Fiji and the rest of the world in that we do not want our land to be mined. Our decision today is based on our experience of over 40 years of exploration on our land and also taking into consideration the plight of our relatives in the provinces of Naitasiri, Tailevu and Rewa who will be affected by whatever decision we make today.

We will be seeking an audience with the Honorable Prime Minister to voice our grievances and the decision we’ve reached communally and we also extend our invitation to interested parties and individuals and all those who are not landowners but will be directly affected by this project to accompany us on the day.


January 18, 2012

More Govt bonds sales to prop up Fiji's flat-lined economy

It's all coming full circle now.

The illegal and treasonous regimes wrongly aligned fiscal policies for economic recovery year after year are coming to fruition. Sadly, while the generations to come are unjustly yoked by the burden of this regimes debts, they carry on with their habitual frenzy of spending what they don't have, while obnoxiously frittering away what little they do.

And as with all of the regimes unoriginal 'cut & paste' approaches, to help prop up their 2012 election budget they once again turn to the sale of junk bonds, domestically.

Jan 18|15:34 pm

The Fijian Government will be issuing its new bond, called the Fiji Infrastructure Bond (FIB) in the domestic capital market from February 2012.

Government plans to raise a total of $195 million in 2012 through the issuance of the FIB, with maturities ranging from 2 years to 15 years.

The objective of the bond is to fund Government’s capital infrastructure programs that are outlined in the 2012 National budget.

The bonds will be used entirely for key capital projects to be implemented this year, including the:
  • construction and maintenance of roads,
  • upgrading of ports and jetties,
  • continuation of the rural electrification projects,
  • upgrading of school buildings and classrooms,
  • upgrading and maintenance of hospitals around the country; and
  • purchase of new medical machines and equipments as well as Divisional developmental projects.
Ministry of Finance permanent secretary Mr Filimone Waqabaca said the new FIB will replace the existing Fiji Development Loan bonds. Mr Waqabaca said the change reflects Government’s commitment to its citizens and portrays its willingness to develop Fiji’s infrastructure which will promote economic growth and development, improve connectivity and minimize rural-urban migration.

This investment opportunity is open to the general public including individual retail investors, Tikinas, Provincial Councils as well as institutional investors.

The issuance program, along with copies of the FIB prospectus and application forms are available from the Ministry of Finance at Level 6, Ro Lalabalavu House and from the Domestic Markets Unit, Tower 2, Reserve Bank of Fiji Building. Electronic copies of the aforementioned are also available online at either www.finance.gov.fj or www.rbf.gov.fj

January 16, 2012

Islands Business Viewpoint: National Unity Government way forward for Fiji? (Jioji Kotobalavu)

Jioji Kotobalavu 

The commitment by Fiji’s interim government for a list proportional representation method in the new parliament is welcome news for everyone.

Also encouraging is the news that the Fiji Government intends to review and change the country’s system of elections to the party provisions in the 1997 Constitution relating to the formation of government.

This is to enable political power sharing by all communities in a National Unity Government, led by an executive President, who will be directly elected by the people, and with the ministers in cabinet drawn from all political parties represented in Parliament and in direct proportion to the number of their elected MPs.

Party list proportional representation
Evidence drawn from New Zealand’s application of the closed party list proportional representation method (with the whole of New Zealand as a single national electorate) in its Mixed Member Party electoral system has clearly proven that PR (Proportional Representation) produces three very good outcomes.

Voting results are fairer than under the “winner takes all” method of determining voting outcome. There is a better representation of all communities and women. And voting for the party list is based on one person, one vote, and with each vote bearing approximately equal value. For Fiji, there are two further advantages.

The PR system is easy for the people to understand and, very importantly, it will make it possible for Fiji to move away from the ethnic-based communal system of representation and voting, which the country has had since independence in 1970, and which has directly led to politically divisive ethno-centric extremist and confrontational politics and political instability.

It has created mono-ethnic political parties whose sole interest is to appeal to the primordial instincts of communal loyalty for voter support. It is also the main contributory cause of the disappearance of multiracial parties like the Alliance Party under Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, which provided a stable government for Fiji for close to 17 years after independence.

The Fiji Labour Party was an integrated multiracial party when it was formed in 1985. But it has since veered towards the Indo-Fijian end of Fiji’s political spectrum, pulled in that direction by the political dynamics of ethnic-based representation and voting.

Indigenous Fijians or i-Taukei, now comprises more than 57% of Fiji’s total population and this was projected in the 2007 Population Census to increase further to 68% by 2030.

The census also projected that by 2030, indigenous Fijians will also be the numerical majority in provinces like Ba and Macuata. With this absolute numerical majority, indigenous Fijians no longer need political protection in the form of guaranteed communal-based representation.

Fijian political leaders had insisted on reserved communal seats in the lead-up to independence in 1970 because at the time, the i-Taukei were a minority, making up only around 45% of Fiji’s population. But this is no longer the case.

As long as indigenous Fijians are politically united and turn out to vote at election times, they can expect to win majority representation in Parliament in future elections and provide national leadership and control of government.

However, what we have also learnt from our political experiences since 1970 is that a numerical majority government that is confined to only one or two of Fiji’s ethnic communities has not really been able to win and enjoy the confidence of the people.

And, by “the people”, I mean not just individual citizens but more importantly all of the country’s communities. So for Fiji, the critical challenge in constitutionally rebuilding our country is to move towards a system of elections and formation of government that will politically integrate and bring together the people, both as individual citizens with equal fundamental rights and also as communities with equal opportunity to be represented and to participate in cabinet in governing the country.

The consociational power sharing through the mandatory multi-party cabinet arrangement under section 99 of the 1997 Constitution was an attempt to bring the communities together but it was politically unworkable in the long run because it gave no real political advantage to the entitled party.

And further, since only parties that win at least 8 seats can qualify to be invited, the minority communities of the General Electors with their allocated three seats and Rotumans with one seat in Parliament were discriminated against as they would never qualify as an entitled party to be in cabinet in their own right.

A government of national unity
The adoption of the proportional system of representation is, therefore, a very important positive first step in moving Fiji towards a system of political power sharing in the form of a voluntary coalition government of all willing parties represented in Parliament. It would be a Government of National Unity [GNU].

This is the only form of government that would genuinely enjoy the confidence of all communities in Fiji. It is also the only realistic, effective and efficacious way of promoting national unity and solidarity in Fiji.

In other countries with multicultural civil societies, parliamentary elections and the formation of democratically elected governments take place within the framework of an integrated homogeneous polity or political society founded on individual citizens endowed with equal fundamental human rights.

Fiji, however, as a polity, is uniquely different from these other countries. This is because right through from Fiji’s colonial period with the British Administration’s governing strategy of “divide and rule”, and then continuing on after independence in 1970, Fiji has always been constituted not as a single integrated political society, embracing all of its citizens as individuals, but as separate communal political enclaves.

Under the 1970 Constitution and continued under the 1997 Constitution, Fiji, politically, was divided up into the Fijian, Indian, General Electors and Rotuman communal enclaves. So long as we continue this political separation, we can never achieve national unity and solidarity in Fiji.

For this reason, the undertaking by the Interim Government for new constitutional arrangements is to be welcomed. In this regard, we need to encourage the government to adopt a roadmap that will ensure genuinely free, fair and openly competitive elections, the preparation and promulgation of new constitutional arrangements in a manner that will ensure their legal validity and political legitimacy, and also to use this opportunity to lay a more secure and enduring foundation for the long-term success of constitutional democracy and long-term political stability in Fiji.

On this last point, we need to encourage the Interim Government to lead the people of Fiji in also considering other new constitutional arrangements that would better suit our country in addressing its long term need for political stability and national unity and solidarity.

In the new elections system, adopting the PR on its own is not enough. The new electoral regulations ought also to include the requirement that all political parties that want to take part in the elections must present a multiracial slate of candidates, reflecting the multicultural character of our society, and a fair number of women candidates.

In the formation of government, this is an opportune moment to discard the numerically based “majoritarianism” principle and provide for voluntary power sharing through a voluntary coalition of all parties in Parliament; in effect, a Government of National Unity (GNU).

And for the GNU to be workable as a broadly representative, i0ncl usive, united, and stable government, there are two crucial ingredients.

Elected executive president
Firstly, it has to be centred in, and led by, an executive President combining the two positions of Head of State and Head of Government. The incumbent would be elected directly by the people. However, once elected, the executive President would draw Ministers for the GNU Cabinet from all willing political parties in Parliament directly in proportion to the number of their MPs.

This would be a hybrid presidential and parliamentary system. Neighbouring countries such as Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and Nauru have adopted variations of this hybrid presidential/parliamentary system of government in their constitutions.

Secondly, decision making in the GNU cabinet is to be strictly by consensus in accordance with the customary norms and values that normally guide the Great Council of Chiefs [GCC] in its proceedings.

Samoa practices the same traditional customary approach in its cabinet decision making processes and it is this which explains why it has enjoyed political stability and why we do not see in this country the kind of politically divisive and destabilising “votes of no confidence” against the incumbent government, which has become a regular occurrence in some of the countries in the region.

For Fiji’s GNU, it would be prudent not to adopt the mutual veto decision making procedure in the power sharing cabinet in New Caledonia. It has led to much political instability there.

Finally, whilst the GCC no longer has a role in appointing the President, it can be assigned a constitutional role as advisory to the executive President and a guardian role for the welfare of all communities in Fiji.

If the Senate is to be maintained, it can be reconstituted as a representative chamber of communities, with members appointed by the GCC and cabinet.

Ideal system for Fiji
A GNU-led by an elected executive President would, I believe, be ideal for Fiji. It would be politically workable and bring all the communities together. It is the best way of forming government that would enjoy the confidence of the people and, therefore, lead to long-term political stability.

This is what Fiji needs for inter-racial harmony and national unity, and in creating an environment conducive for economic growth and development.

For the presidential elections, it is expected that a i-Taukei would be elected. But all candidates would have to appeal across all communities for voter support.

Since the executive President would be empowered to appoint his or her Vice President from Parliament, there would be very good prospects for the appointment of someone from the minority communities.

With all ministers drawn from Parliament, one would have to be assigned to serve concurrently as Leader of Government Business [LOGB] in the House of Representatives and another in the Senate.

For the first time in its history, Fiji would have an executive government that is truly representative of the people in its broadest sense. And because it will have the confidence not only of the majority of individual citizens but also of Fiji’s communities, the GNU will have the highest degree of political legitimacy.

Political dialogue and public education
To ensure the validity and legitimacy of the 1997 Constitution review and reformulation process, the most crucial step would be the convening of a Political Dialogue, comprising the Prime Minister and other representatives of the Interim Government, and parliamentary representatives of the three political parties that won seats in the May 2006 elections: the SDL (Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua, the FLP (Fiji Labour Party) and the UPP (United Peoples Party).

As the convenor, the President may wish to consider on the advice of the Prime Minister and cabinet the appointment of an independent chair. Here, taking advantage of offers of assistance from Fiji’s overseas friends will greatly facilitate international acceptance of the consensus outcome of the Political Dialogue and with that, their lifting of current embargoes against Fiji’s membership of the Forum and the Commonwealth, and their removal of restrictions on development assistance and entry into their countries.

In their meetings last year, I have noted that both the Forum Leaders and the Commonwealth Heads of Governments publicly expressed a readiness to provide all needed assistance by Fiji in facilitating this political dialogue process and the implementation of its consensus agreement.

Donors have also stated their willingness to work with local NGOs, if supported by the interim Government, to promote awareness and understanding among the general public on all relevant governance issues.

What I sincerely hope the Political Dialogue will achieve as a consensus agreement is a roadmap focused on four key objectives.

Firstly, interim and transitional constitutional arrangements, without expressly or explicitly amending or replacing the 1997 Constitution, to incorporate and to try out the new system of elections and the proposals for a GNU centred in a directly elected executive President and with Ministers drawn from Parliament under a hybrid presidential/parliamentary constitutional framework.

Secondly, the holding of parliamentary and presidential elections which will be free, fair and openly competitive.

Thirdly, that simultaneous to the implementation of the new arrangements, government and the NGOs will carry out a comprehensive public awareness and education programme to embed in the people a thorough understanding of the new arrangements and generally of constitutionalism, democracy, justice, human rights, and the principles of solidarity and duty of care.

Fourthly, that after an appropriate period of trying out the new arrangements, the executive government and parliament will then mandate and carry out the preparation of a new substantive constitution to succeed and replace the 1997 Constitution, drawing from the success of the new arrangements and from the good provisions in the 1997 Constitution such as its Bill of Rights.

I believe that adopting this pragmatic and longer term approach and enabling the full participation of the people will enable us all to lay a stronger and enduring foundation for constitutional democracy and political stability in Fiji.

Adopting this two-stage approach also gets around the legal hurdles which Justice Gates, now Fiji’s Chief Justice, had given clear warnings about when delivering his judgements in the Prasad [2000] and Koroi [2001] cases in the High Court.

Commenting on the purported abrogation of the 1997 Constitution in 2000, Justice Gates said that a country’s Constitution promulgated by its Parliament as the representative body of the people is immutable and indestructible. It is not possible for any man to tear up the Constitution. The Constitution remains in place until amended by Parliament in accordance with the Constitution’s own amendment provisions.

These statements by Justice Gates clearly have a bearing on the de jure status of the 1997 Constitution in light of its purported revocation on 10th April, 2009 and it would be wise to take them fully into account in devising Fiji’s roadmap for returning the country to constitutional legality and democratically elected government.

• Mr Jioji Kotobalavu is a former CEO in Fiji’s Public Service.