May 30, 2012


How privileged we are as a people of Fiji to be given much needed words of counsel on the sanctity of a constitutional process from a country like Indonesia that very often tramples upon sacred tenets of democracy  like human rights and equality.

The hue and cry of the illegal and treasonous Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum on the validity of a military led LOGISTICAL management of the registration process falls apart upon a recent revelation that  Major Isoa Loanakadavu who is earmarked to head it, has very close blood ties to Col Mosese Tikoitoga.

Ministry of Information
May 28|11:17 am

The constitution making is a sacred process and moment whereby it transcends below and above politics.

Those were the comments of Dr I  Ketut Putra Erawan, director of the Institute of Peace and Democracy – Bali, Indonesia, at the public lecture on Constitutional Reform on Indonesian Experience at the University of the South Pacific (USP).

Dr Erawan said that all people must come together and be part of this process because constitutional making is a sacred moment.

The Director for Institute of Peace and Democracy spoke at length the challenges, choices and lessons of constitutional reform and how Fiji could learn and model the Indonesian experience as both are archipelagic states.

These include Indonesia’s transition from three decades of authoritarian rule to a stable democracy which is responsive to the needs and aspirations of its people.

In delivering a welcome address, the Indonesian Ambassador to Fiji His Excellency Chandra Salim reaffirmed that his country was ready to assist Fiji in preparation for the 2014 general elections.

Meanwhile, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Elections Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, in giving his deliberations, said the values and principles were the most defining and vital features of a constitution.

“As announced by the Prime Minister, the constitution consultation process outlines some non-negotiable measures which include equal and common citizenry, one person, one vote, one value, elimination of ethnic voting and socio-economic rights for all citizens,” said Mr Khaiyum.

The public lecture was organized by the University of the South Pacific’s Faculty of Arts, Law and Education in conjunction with the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia.

The forum also had a panel discussion on issues pertaining to the constitution process as Fiji prepares for general elections in 2014.

The panelists included: Dr Alumita Durutalo of School of Government, Development and International Affairs – University of the South Pacific, Professor Peter Larmour of School of Management and Public Administration – USP,  Nainendra Nand of School of Law –USP and Reverend Akuila Yabaki of Citizens Constitutional Forum.

Qantas vs Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum

Qantas play's by the 'rules' imposed on them by the illegal and treasonous regime.
Qantas withdraws four from Air Pacific board as Fiji issues decree 
BY: STEVE CREEDY From: The Australian May 29, 2012 11:55AM 
QANTAS has withdrawn its four directors from the board of Air Pacific in response to the Fijian government's bid to take control of the airline. 
In another sign of the deteriorating relationship between the major shareholders, Qantas International chief executive Simon Hickey, QantasLink boss Narendra Kumar, company legal counsel Brett Johnson and Charles Harvey will step down immediately. 
Qantas, which has been trying to sell its stake in the Fijian carrier but has been unable to agree on a price, said the government decree was expressly designed to reduce the Australian carrier's role in the board. 
It said that, under the Civil Aviation (Ownership and Control of National Airlines) Decree 2012, at least two-thirds of the board of directors of Air Pacific must be Fijian citizens, meaning only three directors can be foreign nationals. 
Qantas said today: "Qantas has held a 46 per cent share in Air Pacific since 1998. 
Throughout this time, the airline has been substantially owned and effectively controlled by Fijian nationals, as required by the Air Pacific Articles of Association. 
"Qantas' only right under the Articles of Association has been to appoint four directors to the Air Pacific board (where a two-thirds majority must endorse major decisions). At no stage has Qantas had 'veto rights' over any aspect of Air Pacific’s management. 
"Despite these parameters, the government has made clear its intentions to unilaterally take absolute control of Air Pacific under the new decree. In the circumstances, Qantas believes it is appropriate to remove its four directors." 
Qantas said it retained its rights as a shareholder and would continue to consider options for the potential sale of its stake.
And the regime has the nerve to now cry foul and backtrack on all the posturing by Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum?

Ministry of Information
May 29|18:44 pm 
The Fijian Government is disappointed by the actions and statements of Qantas, and it categorically denies that it has any intention of taking control of Air Pacific Ltd. The recent Civil Aviation Decree was designed to ensure that Fiji complies with the Chicago Convention and Bilateral Agreements that require national airlines that fly to other countries to be “owned and effectively controlled” by the citizens of that country. 
This very point was made by Qantas on 12 March 2012 when they themselves argued to the Australian International Air Services Commission that Virgin Australia was not under the “effective control” of Australian citizens and hence ineligible to transfer capacity on the Indonesian route as Virgin had requested on 23 February 2012. 
Fiji’s laws regarding the ownership and control of its national carrier are now the same or similar to those that exist in many other countries, such as the EU, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. 
The Fijian Government has no interest or intention to nationalise any company in Fiji. Qantas is welcome to maintain the same rights as a normal minority shareholder, and dividends will be paid as and when declared.

May 25, 2012

36th Parallel.Com: Status of Forces Part 2 - Military Professionalism in the Pacific (Paul Buchanan)

Written by Paul Buchanan on Friday, May 25th, 2012

In Part One of the the Status of Forces series, 36th Parallel Assessments offered an overview of typologies of military forces and civil-military relations. Designed as an introduction to the subject for readers and clients, it also serves as a starting point for more in-depth analysis of the militaries that currently operate from permanent stations in the region, be they in their home territory or as part of extended overseas basing networks.

There are currently seven “resident” militaries in the South Pacific: those of Australia, Chile, Fiji, France, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Tonga. Although the US has a presence in the South Pacific, to include the recent deployment of the first company in what will become a permanent 2500-troop strong US Marine Task Force stationed in Darwin, it shall be treated as an extra-regional actor for the purposes of this analysis (it should be noted that the Marines being re-deployed to Darwin are doing so as part of an agreement with Japan to reduce the US military presence in Okinawa, which has also seen the shifting of Marines to Guam. It is therefore a re-positioning of Western Pacific Marine assets rather than an increase in them). Likewise, Ecuador and Peru have naval forces on the Southeastern Pacific perimeter, but they do not have a blue water presence or permanent land bases off-shore that would justify their inclusion.

Four of the South Pacific militaries are variations of the traditional professional model: Australia, Chile, France and New Zealand. In each country the military as an organization is subordinate to elected civilian authority and primarily has an external focus. The Australian and French armed forces are examples of expeditionary forces, those that are organized and trained to fight overseas. That includes a logistics and supply capability that permits ongoing off-shore combat operations. In Australia’s case it has become a major ally of the US and serves, to a great degree, as the “deputy sheriff” of the US in the Southwestern Pacific and Indian Ocean Areas of Responsibility (AORs). Its strategic outlook dovetails with that of the US accordingly. France home ports its Pacific Fleet in Papeete, French Polynesia and has sizable land-based garrisons there and in New Caledonia. Although these garrisons are designed to reinforce French sovereignty over its territorial possessions and thus have internal security functions within them, they constitute overseas deployments for the soldiers involved and are combat-ready (local and mainlander gendarmes do domestic policing). French military forces in the South Pacific are not as integrated into US strategic planning as are Australian forces, but nevertheless exercise and share intelligence with their Antipodean and US counterparts.
The strong Prussian orientation of the Chilean officer corps made impossible significant reforms within the military institution until the former military president and armed forces commander in chief Agusto Pinochet Ugarte died in 2006. 

The Chilean military
 has reverted to a traditional professional military role after three decades of a praetorian and new professional orientation in with it was directly involved in national governance and internal security (1973-1990), followed by a decade and a half of political autonomy and independence from civilian authority (1990-2006). The strong Prussian orientation of the Chilean officer corps made impossible significant reforms within the military institution until the former military president and armed forces commander in chief Agusto Pinochet Ugarte died in 2006. Thereafter the military quickly moved to reduce its internal security role and embrace international peace-keeping as a complement to its traditional external defense obligations.  Although the Army remains the dominant branch in the armed services, the Chilean Navy and Air Force are significant powers in their own right, something that has promoted the restructuring of the Chilean High Command into a more collegial, power-sharing organization much like the US, Australian and New Zealand joint command leadership structure. Although not as expeditionary in orientation as the Australians and French, the Chilean military trains and exercises in ways constant with forces that are prepared to sustain extended deployments abroad. What it lacks, and what is being addressed, is its logistic and long-reach lift capabilities.

The New Zealand Defence Forces are by far the smallest of the traditional professional militaries in the South Pacific, and are characterized by an overt orientation towards international peace-keeping. They do not have a combat air force and have limited naval power projection capability. Although it has a well-respected elite Special Air Services unit that has served in a number of conflict zones including Afghanistan and (reportedly) Iraq, the Army spends as much time on its combat engineer and medicine deployments as it does on combat operations.  This is in line with New Zealand’s long-standing peace-keeping orientation, which has seen its forces recently serve in places as disparate as Bosnia, Lebanon, the Sinai, Solomon Islands and East Timor. Like the other three traditional militaries in the region, the NZDF prides itself on its professional integrity and autonomy from partisan politics.

Australian and New Zealand military and police provide security coverage for all of the Pacific Island countries other than Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Tonga that are not covered by the US or France. These include Manu Samoa, Nauru, Kiribati, Niue, the Cook Islands, and the Solomons.

Fiji is the largest and longest-established of the Pacific Island Country (PIC) militaries. It has a long and distinguished record of international peace-keeping service, and has sent its troops into battle (and lost many) alongside other British Commonwealth nations, where they have distinguished themselves with their bravery and warrior spirit. However, although it has given the appearance of a new professional military from time to time (that is, one that divides internal and external security functions more or less equally and which is largely independent of civilian oversight), in the last 15 years the Republic of Fiji Defence Forces (RFDF) have reverted to first an arbitrator and now a ruler praetorian role.
The military regime currently is preparing the framework for the holding of general elections in 2014, but the question of a full relinquishing of power in favor of civilian government remains an open question.

As of 2006 that role includes assuming control of government via armed means, the “colonization” of the civilian bureaucracy by retired and active duty military personnel, and the imposition of martial law under the leadership of the commander in chief of the RFDF, currently Commodore Voreque “Frank” Bainimarama. The military regime currently is preparing the framework for the holding of general elections in 2014, but the question of a full relinquishing of power in favor of civilian government remains an open question.

The RFDF were stripped of their UN peace-keeping contributor status after the 2006 coup and remain barred from participating in United Nations, Commonwealth and Pacific Island Forum-mandated multi-lateral military operations (in the latter case, such as the RAMSI mission in the Solomon Islands). Fijian officers and officer candidates are barred from Commonwealth and US military training and exercises, so have increasingly turned to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for military training and education exchanges and, in a limited way, operational exercises. Because military service has traditionally been seen as an avenue for upward mobility and a major source of hard currency income for lower class families (since international service entailed payment in UN-determined US dollar or Euro rates), the prohibitions on international peace-keeping was a major source of concern for the Baimimarama regime. It has solved the problem by allowing RFDF personnel to serve in foreign militaries such as that of the UK or with private security companies (PMCs) in conflict zones. In fact, the Fijian Defense Ministry oversees a private-public security partnership in the form of Fiji Defence Logistics (FDL), which offers logistical and operational support to private and public agencies abroad. The three vehicle of military labor absorption had had the dual effect of guaranteeing hard currency remittances (which are a third of the GDP) while providing career opportunities for officers and soldiers otherwise sitting idle in barracks at home (since even very generous bureaucratic placement of military personnel cannot absorb all of the excess capacity and requires a different skill set than that possessed by most RFDF soldiers).

At present the RFDF retains a strong internal focus, to the point of armed intervention in domestic security matters. The concerns with regard to its Fijian military professionalism are two-fold:
  • will it continue to retain an active, if not dominant position in any future civilian government, and if so, in what way?
  • what will be the effect of prolonged involvement in government on the RFDF fighting capability?

Bilateral military-to-military ties with the PRC are a potential avenue for reconciling the two concerns because the Chinese model of civil-military relations presumes a dominant role for the military in conjunction with a strong party and allied state bureaucracy. A future military-backed civilian party that was led by a retired military officer and supported by the military “colonists” within the state bureaucracy would, if elected on open and competitive grounds, be eligible for resumed international security duties, thereby restoring its combat orientation and edge. Even so, difficulties in agreeing to a framework for the holding of elections and international opposition to military involvement in a post-2014 government make the transition to a so-called “professional revolutionary” typology of military institutionalism problematic (but not impossible).

The Papuan New Guinea Defence Forces (PNGDF) are a classic example of military praetorianism. Larger conflicts in civil and political society are played out within the officer  and non-commissioned officer corps.  This has impinged on corporate autonomy, standards of training and operational readiness. Army-dominant and formally organized around the concept of external defense, in practice the PNGDF has since independence been largely dedicated to internal security functions, including counter-insurgency operations such as those against Bougainville secessionists in the early 1990s that resulted in numerous human rights violations and atrocities against civilians and which precipitated the infamous “Sandline Affair” where private mercenaries attempted to put down the insurrection after PNGDF failures, only to be ordered out of the country by the government of the day.
Simmering tensions persists between the PNGDF and the PNG Police Force (which is considered to be more factionalized and less professional than the PNGDF due to persistent ethnic tensions within it)

Simmering tensions persists between the PNGDF and the PNG Police Force (which is considered to be more factionalized and less professional than the PNGDF due to persistent ethnic tensions within it), and the retired and active duty officer corps is divided in its loyalties even if generally supportive of  the current government of Peter O’Neill (seen as recently in the attempted mutiny of January 2012 when troops under the command of a retired Army Colonel loyal to deposed Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare “arrested” Defence Force Chief Brigadier General Francis Agwi, only to capitulate and surrender a few days later). More fundamentally, the PNGDF, at less than 2500 total personnel, is simply incapable of exercising a monopoly on organized violence within the extensive territorial limits of the PNG.

Although in comparative terms, relative to other branches of the PNG state, the PNGDF is considered to be moderately stable, internal factionalization, low levels of recruitment and retention, budgetary constraints and limited professional training and education opportunities have impeded the professional development and orientation of the armed institution as a whole. Australia continues to provide training and education liaison services for PNG defense personnel and PNG military officers have begun to participate in limited military outreach programs offered by the PRC. Even so, ongoing political crises and simmering social tensions reverberate within the military institution to the point that it remains an open question as to its reliability as a cohesive combat organization.

Tonga represents a novelty in that it is undergoing the transition from a praetorian to a new professional military. Traditionally inward-oriented and at the service of the King (something seen in its deployment during the Nuku’alofa riots in 2006), the Tongan Defence Services (TDS) have during the last decade participated in international security operations, most notably as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (2004-2008) and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan (2011-present). Since 2002 TDS personnel have also participated in the RAMSI peace-keeping and enforcement mission in the Solomon Islands. With a very small complement of 500 soldiers, this means that the majority of uniformed personnel have overseas combat and peace-keeping experience, making them arguably the most field tested of all of the current PIC militaries. Tonga has defense cooperation agreements with Australia, New Zealand, the US, the UK, and more recently India and China. In 2011 the PRC and Tonga signed a military aid grant agreement by which the PRC would transfer several million dollars worth of non-lethal military equipment to Tonga free of charge. Tongan military officers attend training and educational exchange programs with all of these defense partners, and exercise regularly with Australian, US and New Zealand defense forces in search and rescue (SAR) and humanitarian assistance operations.

Exposure to combat operations with larger professional military forces such as those of the US and the UK are considered to be a significant step towards the corporate professionalization of the TDS as well as an impediment to its involvement in domestic politics short of a national emergency.  In fact, the orientation of the TDS towards traditional military professionalism and foreign field experience is consonant with the gradual liberalization of the Tongan political system under King (George) Tupou V and expected to continue under King  (Aho’eitu) Tupou VI. This places the TDS in stark contrast to the Fijian and Papua New Guinea defense forces, both of which are deeply embroiled in domestic politics that some believe impacts negatively on their operational readiness, corporate cohesion and command discipline.

The South Pacific contains a mix of militaries ranging from fully professional large expeditionary forces to small “niche” peace-keeping contingents and internally-oriented praetorian militaries that directly involve themselves in governance. Although the general trend is towards increased military professionalism throughout the region, events in Fiji and Papua New Guinea argue against wholesale acceptance in Melanesia of traditional models of civil-military relations based on military subordination to elected civilian authority, while in Tonga the military remains, as in the case of Thailand, firstly at the service of the King rather than society at large in spite of its significant degree of professionalism and a gradual move towards genuine democratic rule. With military to military ties between the PRC and PICs expanding in recent years, the possibility of them adopting a version of the professional revolutionary or new professional models of civil-military cannot be discounted.

Futures Forecast:
Praetorianism will continue to characterize Fijian and PNG military relations of the next few years, to the detriment of their combat capabilities. Tongan military professionalism will continue to improve as a consequence to its exposure to and interaction with larger professional military forces in conflict zones overseas. Australia’s military will evolve into that of a major regional power, with New Zealand increasingly integrated into its force planning. France will maintain the current status quo with regards to its regional military presence, and Chile will continue to develop its blue water fleet and logistical and lift capabilities as it asserts its status as the dominant Southeastern Pacific power.

May 24, 2012

Radio Australia: Union to question Australian Air Pacific director

Jeff Waters
Last Updated: 21 hours 59 minutes ago

The head of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) says she'll seek a meeting with Qantas International's new chief executive, because of his role as a director of a Fijian airline.

Simon Hickey is the boss of the new Qantas international company, but he's also a director of Air Pacific, which is part owned by Qantas.

Australian unions say Air Pacific has been too close to Fiji's military government.

Last year Air Pacific said it had helped that government draft a decree to crush the country's union movement.

There's no evidence that Mr Hickey was involved in drafting the decree but ACTU President, Ged Kearney, says she wants to meet with him.

"We would have some concerns about somebody who was involved with Air Pacific at the time that Air Pacific helped draft a decree for Fiji," she said.

The ABC is waiting for a response from Mr Hickey.

Financial Review: Qantas within its rights on Air Pacific


I would like to provide the facts on Tansy Harcourt’s “Fiji hits out at Qantas over Air Pacific sale”.
Qantas acquired its 46 per cent interest in Air Pacific in 1998. We have always been aware that Air Pacific needed to be “substantially owned and effectively controlled” by Fiji nationals and there is no doubt that it has been substantially owned and controlled by the Fiji government.
The only “right” granted to Qantas was the right to appoint four directors to the nine member Air Pacific board (where a two-thirds majority is required to endorse major decisions). Qantas has no other “veto rights” and no ability to unilaterally control the operations of Air Pacific.
We expect our appointed directors to comply with their legal obligation and make all decisions in the best interest of Air Pacific – even if that conflicts with the interest of the Qantas Group.
Despite this, the Fiji government has made clear its intention to unilaterally take absolute control of the airline under a new decree.
In the Air Pacific articles of association, there are clear provisions for a potential sale of Qantas’ shares. We have simply said to the Fiji government that we expect it to abide by these provisions and requested that an independent international arbitrator be appointed if a purchase price cannot be agreed.
It is unfortunate that the government has seen fit to publicly attack Qantas for upholding the agreement between us.
Olivia Wirth Group executive Qantas Airways Ltd Sydney NSW
The Australian Financial Review

FLP: Fiji Sun – a puppet of the regime

NFU replies to Vaniqi
[posted 22 May 2012, 1500]

Despite the removal of restrictions on the media with the lifting of the PER, the Fiji Sun continues to ignore statements that are critical of the regime’s actions and policies.

The Sun did not run a statement by National Farmers Union general secretary Mahendra Chaudhry on 15 May in reply to an attack on him by Permanent Secretary for Sugar Manasa Vaniqi which had appeared in  the Sun.

Yet on 21 May the paper published a lengthy reply by Manasa Vaniqi to Mr Chaudhry’s comments, again attacking the NFU General Secretary. It made no mention of comments made by Mr Chaudhry which prompted the second reply by Vaniqi.

The Fiji Sun has simply become a stooge of the regime. Is it a case of media ethics being jettisoned to serve the commercial interests of its owners? The paper is blatantly one sided in its coverage of news events, does not bother to seek a response to attacks on people carried in its paper. It does not even provide a right of reply afterwards.

This is a gross violation of the media code of ethics which has a basic requirement that media organisations provide fair, balanced and accurate coverage, and a right of reply to anyone attacked in articles run by the media.

This newspaper is a disgrace to the media world and its publisher, editor and other senior editorial staff deserve rebuke from the people at large in the strongest terms.

The Fiji Sun like any other media organization carries a heavy responsibility to inform the public accurately. In running government propaganda without question and without looking at the accuracy of its claims, it is doing a great disservice to the people of Fiji. It is disseminating false information.

The truth here is that the powers that be in the sugar industry are desperately looking for scapegoats for the current critical state of the industry. They are trying to put the blame on politicians and trade unionists but statistics speak for themselves.

How can the Fiji Sun or any other independent observer ignore industry statistics from 2008/2009 to 2011 which show a marked rapid decline in industry performance in just three short years? This was at a time when all political activity was banned and trade unionists particularly in the sugar industry faced severe restrictions.

So where is the basis for Mr Vaniqi’s claims that politicians like Mahendra Chaudhry wrecked the sugar industry? In fact, at the heyday of trade union politics, the sugar industry prospered as the leading Fiji export and revenue earner raking in upwards of $300 million a year.

Vaniqi keeps harping on the so-called “reforms” carried out by the regime in the past three years. Let’s look at the ground reality:

• Increase in cane price he says from $45 to $60 per tonne - but he is not comparing apples with apples because cane price from 2009 onwards have been boosted by the devalued dollar. Even then, growers were receiving more on a dollar to dollar basis.

2007 –cane payment was $59 a tonne ($70 tonne in terms of a devalued dollar

2008 - $62 a tonne – $75 a tonne in devalued dollar terms

2009- $56 a tonne in devalued dollars; of this $6 was a loan to growers which had to be repaid from the proceeds of 2011 and 2012

2010 - $49.16 a tonne

2011 - $52 (forecast)

• A bag of fertilizer cost $19.50 in 2007; it costs $31.50 now

• TCTS – growers have suffered enormous losses as a result of gross milling inefficiencies since the 2009 season. In 2007 TCTS was 10 and 11 in 2008; in the three years from 2009 -2011 it has ranged from 13.5 to 14. This means that at least 40% of all cane supplied to the mills by the growers have gone to waste.

• $2500 assistance per hectare to growers affected by the floods – of this 50% will be in the form of a loan. No grower to date has received any of this money. In fact, farmers have to pay up front to plough and prepare their land and get the seed cane – only then will they qualify for the grant and loan. Farmers don’t have the money upfront to do this.

Secondly, cane farmers, crippled by losses inflicted on them by FSC in the past three season, no longer have the capability to take out any more loans.

• Fairtrade benefits? All that growers in Labasa have received so far are cane knives, hand gloves, weedicides and a one-off fertilizer subsidy of $5 per bag as inducement to join the Fairtrade group. Farmers are not beggars. They want a fair price for their cane ($75 per tonne minimum) and not cane knives etc.

So Mr Vaniqi, if one is to look beyond the rhetoric uttered by the Sugar Ministry it is hard to see any benefit to the cane grower.

BUT industry officials have definitely benefitted through abuse of funds judging by the number of overseas junkets they are taking under the pretext of reviving the sugar industry. Just in the past few weeks, they were in London, then India, then Mauritius and now a trip is being planned for the Reunion Islands! The money wasted on these junkets could have easily rehabilitated several cane farms.

The sugar industry was doing much better when it was free and not under a dictatorship!

Fiji Sun: Take care, says army - Tikoitoga cautions critics

May 24, 2012 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by: newsroom
By Maika Bolatiki

The military is concerned with statements from critics and political parties against the constitutional process.

Republic of the Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) Land Force Commander, Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga cautions critics and political parties against uttering remarks against the process.

He said many critics were raising issues to champion their own cause.

He made the comments following remarks by Soqosoqo Duavata Ni Lewenivanua Party (SDL) leader, Laisenia Qarase who said the involvement of senior military officers indicated Government was determined to control and direct the election process.

Mr Qarase said the direct involvement of the Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, and military officers in the election process cast doubt on the process itself, and on its ultimate outcome.

Colonel Tikoitoga said while the SDL leader had the right to air the party’s view, Mr Qarase should be reminded that the SDL did not correct what was wrong in the 2006 General Elections when they were in power.

He said the military took leadership in 2006 with the main objective to conduct a clean-up campaign. Colonel Tikoitoga said part of the clean-up was the Elections Office.

He said the Laisenia Qarase-led Soqosoqo Ni Duavata Ni Lewenivanua government knew of irregularities in the voter registration, but did nothing about it.

"The military in supporting Government does not want to see a repeat of what happened in 2006," Colonel Tikoitoga said.

The 2006 European Union observer report identified a number of flaws
(Editorial Note: One such observation by the EU observer mission detailed on page 1 highlighted that "The Chief Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces became inappropriately involved in the political campaign through a series of public statements before and during the elections.")

Colonel Tikoitoga said this would be addressed in a credible and transparent manner. He said the comment from SDL on the involvement of the Attorney General and military officers was childish.

He said the military supported the Government and would work with it until a new government is elected into power.

He said military personnel were involved to see what everything done would be transparent.

"When we leave, there will be zero tolerance on corruption, abuse of office and Fijians will enjoy living in a very peaceful and harmonious atmosphere where all are treated equally," he said.

Bangkok Post: Fiji defends military's election role

Published: 23/05/2012 at 11:48 PMOnline news: Asia

Fiji on Wednesday defended the army's role in preparations for the Pacific nation's first elections since a 2006 military coup, saying there was no other way to lay the groundwork for the vote in 2014.

Opposition politicians have raised concerns about the military's involvement in efforts to enrol voters, arguing it threatens the credibility of the electoral process.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said that with 1,100 voter registration centres planned across 110 islands, using the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) was unavoidable.

"Any logical person would know that this is a purely logistical exercise, there is no other way to get the job done," he told news website

"By having the RFMF it does not mean that somehow or other you are obfuscating the system."

Fiji has experienced four coups since 1987 and faces close international scrutiny as it launches a programme to draft a new constitution ahead of the 2014 vote.

Former prime minister Laisenia Qarase, who was ousted in 2006, has called for all preparations to be handled by an independent body, while Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry said it was "absurd" to involve the military.

"The registration process as structured does not have the confidence of the people," said Chaudhry, another ex-prime minister, who lost power in a coup in 2000.

Military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama seized power in the 2006 coup, pledging to root out corruption and introduce a one-person, one-vote system intended to end entrenched racial inequalities in the nation of 840,000.

However, he reneged on a promise to hold elections in 2009, leading to Fiji's expulsion from the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum.

Prof Wadan Narsey: A Proposal for Reform of Fiji's Electoral System

May 23, 2012

[This article is addressed:

* to the YashGhai Commission
* political parties in Fiji (old and new)
* those intending to make submissions on possible reforms to the electoral system, and
* those interested voter educationin the run-up to the elections.

It would be useful for the Ghai Commission to publicise  an email and a Skype address so citizens (abroad or locally) can communicate their views to them, without being in Fiji in person.]

There is consensus that the electoral system in the 1997 Constitution must be changed and a system without any ethnic constituencies, as the Regime insists, will be an improvement.

The weaknesses of the current system are many and I won't repeat them here. Interested readers can look at my analysis of the 2001 elections.

The current system is not unfair on ethnic grounds. See this article examining the results of the 2006 elections from an ethnic perspective.

The real weakness in the results is that small parties with reasonable national, but scattered, support are not likely to win in any one constituency, and so are under-represented or totally unrepresented in parliament.

A practical weakness was that it was extremely difficult to explain the system to ordinary voters, leading to high percentages of invalid votes.

There is an annex at the bottom of this article, which the Ghai Commission might look at, on my politically neutral educating attempt in 2005, and how this 2005 practical workshop exercise could be easily replicated, for a new electoral system, to reduce invalid voting.

Both these sets of weaknesses will be reduced by a simple "proportional" system, which gives each party the same share of seats in parliament, as its share of votes nationally (allowing for Independents).  The Party does not even have to win a single seat in a local constituency.

There is also consensus that Fiji should try a "List" element which will have two very important advantages for Fiji.

First it will help to elect larger numbers of women by forcing Parties to put women candidates high on the Party List (which every voter will see before the election).

Second, parties will be able to bring capable people into parliament, without having to be elected in any particular constituency.

A third advantage of the proportional system is that electoral boundaries will become totally unimportant: there will be no incentive for parties to try to manipulate electoral boundaries(as they used to in 199, 2001 and 2006).

A fourth advantage is that the results will be extremely predictable - even if any new party comes on the scene.

There is no one perfect system: all systems have some advantages, some faults.

This article suggests recommends a system that is relatively simple to understand and operationalize. Readers are advised to go through the arithmetic examples in a group, for discussion and easier understanding.

The system in operation

This is a simple working example based on 50 seats in Parliament: 25 for local constituencies; and 25 from the List part. You can easily change the total number.

If you cannot understand the simple arithmetic, get your secondary school children to explain to you.

Each voter will get 2 ballot papers: one for the local constituency, and one for the national party of choice.

The National Ballot paper containing the list of all the political parties, is the most important vote, which will determine how many seats each party will have in total in Parliament (in addition to any Independents who may be elected at the local constituency level), adding up to 50.

Local constituencies will elect 25.

The Party List will then provide 25 to ensure that the totals are as determined by the national party vote..

Election for the local constituency

Every electoral system in the world has local parliamentarians whose primary responsibility is to serve the local constituency needs in roads, bridges, electricity, health, jetties, investment projects etc.

If they don't perform, voters don't vote for them the next time.

We can imagine the same 25 "open" constituencies that were used in the 2006 elections: no ethnicity criterion for either candidates or voters (except to be over the age of 18).

You will not get hundreds of names on any one ballot paper (as the current NCBBF/David Arms proposal for only four large constituencies would give you, leading to a total confusing mess at election and counting time).

The ballot paper will only have the names for the candidates for that constituency, in random order, with their party symbols (Independents allowed).

The voters will place numbers in order of preference of candidates: 1, 2, 3, etc  so that if the first preference candidate does not win, that vote is not wasted but goes to the second preference, etc.

Voters can use their own personal preference order,or use the ones their party gives them.  But the voter decides in the secrecy of the voting booth, not the political party (i.e. no confusing "above the line" or "below the line" nonsense).

Voters can stop at any number, without the vote being disqualified- that vote would simply not be counted further if the preference counting goes beyond that number. So advise voters to fill in all the numbers.

The winner is the candidate who manages to win 50% of the votes, either on the first count, or following the counting of preferences.

For example, the following could be the result for the 25 local constituencies:

Table 1

Local seats
List seats entitled
Total seats
Perc. of  National party votes
Party A

Party B

Party C

Party D



The national result for parties

Each voter uses the National Ballot paper (which has all the political parties on it) to tick against his or her party of choice.  No numbers are required.

These National Ballot papers are counted and aggregated throughout the whole country to get each party's share of the total votes- eg. as in Column D:this is the most important column, more important than A.

Table 2

Local seats
List seats entitled
Total seats
Perc. of  National party votes
Party A

Party B

Party C

Party D




You have 48 seats to distribute between the Parties, because of the 2 seats won by Independents.

Those percentage shares in Column D, multiplied by 48 seats then gives you each Party's total number of seats entitled in parliament (here in Column C).

In the example here,      Party A is entitled to (40% of 48) = 19 seats altogether.

                                    Party B is entitled to (35% of 48) = 17 seats altogether.

With a total of 50 seats in parliament, any party that can get a minimum of 2% of all the national votes (roughly 12,000 votes), will get one seat in Parliament.

In other word, Column D is the target for all political parties:  what percentage of national votes will they get?

If they appeal only to one ethnic group- they will be limited by the numbers in that ethnic group.

Any party which can appeal to all the ethnic groups, will have larger percentages in column D, hence larger numbers in parliament.  FULL STOP.

So it does not matter at all (except to the Independents) how many seats the party won in the Local Constituencies!

Because Column B (= Column C minus Column A) will then give you the number of parliamentarians coming from the "Party List" by simple subtraction: the total in parliament stays the same- as in Column C.

The Party List

Every political party will publish a "List" of their candidates in order of importance, at the closing date of nomination of candidates i.e. before the elections (there will be no surprises sprung on voters).

The List must start with their Leader, who will be Prime Minister if that Party forms Government. (Let there be no doubt about that,as there was in the 1999 elections, remember?)

The party will be expected to put names of their candidates in their order of importance.The public will be able to see clearly from the order in the List,

(a) how multi-racial the party is
(b) how much importance they give to women at the top?
(c) how regionally representative this party is? Viti Levu? Vanua Levu? urban? rural? etc.

Since Party A won 10 local seats, and is entitled to a total of 19 seats in Parliament, they will get the remaining 9 candidates from the top of their List, in order, elected into Parliament.

Since Party B won 7 local seats, and are entitled to 17 in Parliament, then will now pick 10 from their Party List.

Note that Party D did not win a single seat in the Local constituencies, but gets 2 seats from the List, because they got 5% of all the votes in the country.

They do not have the total freedom to select who they want.  They must work down the List, in order.

Table 3

Local seats
List seats entitled
Total seats
Perc. of  National party votes
Party A
Party B
Party C
Party D


If any local constituency winners are already on that List (and they can be), they are simply skipped over.

Party List will encourage Gender Balance in Parliament: MDG Target

All Pacific countries, including Fiji, are totally failing the MDG target of having gender balance in Parliament.

Women generally are reluctant to go on the campaign trail for all the usual reasons, and voters often are reluctant to elect women parliamentarians, for all the usual reasons.

The List system will force political parties, to women candidates, fairly distributed at the top of the list, to make sure that there is gender balance in parliament, without women having to win in local constituencies.

The List system will also give political parties the ability to introduce good candidates into parliament, even if they do not stand, even if they are not selected, or if they are not elected from a local constituency. 

A certain Taufa Vakatale will remember this bitter experience.

If a Party puts undeserving candidates at the top of their List, they will lose voters.

Absolutely no need for Electoral Boundary manipulation

This system will have the huge advantage that it will not matter at all where the boundaries are, as all votes for any party will be counted, wherever the voters are, and no party's votes are wasted, even if their local candidate is not elected.

This will totally eliminate all the political nonsense that used to go in the Electoral Boundaries Commission where political party representatives used to try to move a boundary this way and that in order to win some local constituency.

There will be big saving in costs for the Electoral Office and the Fiji Bureau of Statistics, who traditionally had to go through these laborious boundary exercises, trying to satisfy ridiculous criteria such as ensuring reasonable proportions of ethnic groups in each constituency.  All of that can be chucked out the window.

I recollect from my own 1999 experience how illogical many boundaries were, especially in urban Suva.

There is also no need to even make constituencies around the same size, since the national votes are all aggregated, from big and small constituencies.

The boundaries can be designed primarily to make it convenient for the local elected member to serve his/her constituencies, without any confusion, although you would not make them too small or too large in number.

Once boundaries are defined, the Electoral Boundaries Commission can go into hibernation, unless there is a need to increase the number of constituencies because of population movement.

Minor arithmetic problems

If you experiment with different examples, you find small arithmetic difficulties on how to determine proportional seats where parties are entitled to fractions of a seat.   e.g.  10.8  or 7.6    or    4.9

A simple rule is to choose the highest fractions, just enough to ensure that

(a) the total seats in parliament, including the Independents, add up to 50; and

(b) the total in the List column adds up to 25.

Predicting the future?

It will be very simple to predict how many seats each Party, old or new, will winunder the system.

The easiest (and cheapest) way is to start with the 2006 Open Constituency percentage results for SDL (47%), FLP (42%), NFP (7%), NAP (4%), PANU (1%).

You can even add a new party - let us call it NPBBF (National Party for Building a Better Fiji), led by You-Know-Who.

You can make an intelligent guess how much support (in percentage points) NPBBF will draw away from each of the other parties, and reduce the other parties' percentage support accordingly.

OR, if you want to be really scientific (like the Gallup Polls etc) you can spend some money to conduct a small random sample survey of all the rural and urban constituencies, and adults over the age of 18, to find which party they would vote for. A small sample of 3000 households would be very accurate indeed. Tebbutt Poll or some university entrepreneur could do it easily, using some help from the Fiji Bureau of Statistics household survey unit.

Put the revised percentages in column D in my Table 3 above, then just work out Column Cas "percent of 50"(assume 0 Independents).

Column C will then give you the final result in Parliament, with each party's numbers  exactly in proportion to their percentage support in the country.

You don't need to worry at all about Column A and who gets elected in individual constituencies: regardless of how many are won by each party in the local constituencies, the total number in Parliament remains the same- as in Column C.

Only the number from the List will change.

Simple, isn't it?

Multi-party government?

The Ghai Commission should be advised by all political parties, not to interfere with the multi-party government provision in the 1997 Constitution (as the NCBBF very unwisely did).

The only change required would be the minimum number of seats required to eligible to be invited into Cabinet: 10% of 50 seats will give you a minimum of 5 seats.

While Fiji's political leaders failed to make use of this mechanism in 1999 (Chaudhry) and 2001 (Qarase), it was being made to work in 2006 (by Qarase), until cut short by the 2006 coup.

Planners of any new parties should remember that it is relatively easy to get the minimum of 5 seats (or 10% of national votes) which would give them the right to be invited into Cabinet.

It is much harder to get 50% of all votes through secret ballots which a party would need to form government on its own.

It would be useful for all the political parties in Fiji to first discuss amongst themselves, perhaps facilitated and moderated by independent advisers, what they would like to see in the revised electoral system, given their experiences in the past.

A broad political agreement and a consensus set of recommendations to the Ghai Commission  should also facilitate and encourage the Ghai Commission to report quickly and with some degree of confidence to the Constituent Assembly.

Annex: Suggestions to the Ghai Commission for Voter Education Campaign

Having seen the poor performance of the electoral system in 1999 and 2001, I developed in 2005, a more detailed and hands-on voter education training kit for the Fiji Elections Office.  I used these in workshops held in Suva, Lautoka and Labasa, for voters, district officers, and returning officers.

These training kits may be seen here in Englishin Fijian and in Hindi

These "hands-on" voter education kits used simple language and cartoons to explain (a) the workings of the Alternative Vote Electoral system (b) the establishment of the multi-party government and Senate after the elections, and (c) as well as all the good governance issues associated with a democratic electoral system.

Essentially: the work-shop participants individually or in groups, acted like Returning Officers, and actually counted the votes in 5 model elections, transferring preferences where needed, in order to identify the "winners" for each constituency.

This was extremely useful in understanding how that complex system worked.

Thetraining manuals and the accompanying sets of Ballot Papers that go with the exercise, may be seen at the USP Library.

It will be miles simpler with the electoral system I am proposing here.

What the Ghai Commission could do

A comparable workshop training kit for the electoral system that I am proposing here (or some variation of it which is a compromise with the NCBBF/David Arms system) would be relatively easy to devise and agree on.

All the political parties could be taken through a national workshop to ensure that they fully understand how the system will work. Their election campaigns can then focus totally on their policies for development and good governance.

The voter education materials could be printed, within three months of the Electoral System being approved by the Constituent Assembly (and this could easily be the first task achieved by the Ghai Commission, as the NCBBF committees have already discussed alternatives in 2008).

The whole of Fiji could be made familiar with such a system, in just three months of workshops and media campaigns, with the co-ordination of NGOs and "good governance" international institutions, all completed by March of 2013.

The public media campaign would just show two colour coded ballot papers that all voters would fill out (if they wish):

1. Green National Ballot paper: Tick against the party you want (only a tick).

2. Yellow Local constituency paper: Write down the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, etc against the candidates.

With such an easy system, the elections could be easily held by June 2013.