March 30, 2013

Dr Marc Edge - Here's how low Croz has sunk

Friday, March 29, 2013

There's a fine line sometimes between misinformation and disinformation, but the basic rule of thumb is that while the former could be mistaken, the latter is something you know to be false. It's the difference between making a mistake of fact and deliberately spreading a lie. "For this reason," according to the great arbiter of truth, Wikipedia, disinformation "is synonymous with and sometimes called black propaganda. It is an act of deception and false statements to convince someone of untruth." 

Unlike traditional propaganda techniques designed to engage emotional support, disinformation is designed to manipulate the audience at the rational level by either discrediting conflicting information or supporting false conclusions. A common disinformation tactic is to mix some truth and observation with false conclusions and lies, or to reveal part of the truth while presenting it as the whole.
Which makes Crosbie Walsh of New Zealand a purveyor of black propaganda. The retired political science professor, who played a major role in the propaganda campaign that ran me out of Fiji last year, knew – or ought to have known – that information he posted on his blog today is false. Yet he posted it anyway, and judging by the last line of the post, it is obviously designed to influence his country's foreign policy toward Fiji. Some may be fooled, but I wish to cry foul. There are several problems with the blog post. First, he didn't write it, and he does not identify the author. Second, it was written two months ago and much muddy water has gurgled beneath the bridge since then. It is one of the worst pieces of media criticism I have ever read, but I was too tied up fighting other battles to get around to deconstructing it two months ago.

The blog post was authored on 30 January by Cameron "Whaleoil" Slater, a Kiwi blogger. It was enthusiastically reprinted by the regime cheerleader Fiji Sun the next day. For some reason, old Croz waited two months to reprise it. Perhaps he felt it might improve with time. Instead, time has had the opposite effect on it. Slater took Fairfax NZ reporter Michael Field, one of the top journalists covering the Pacific, to task for a couple of his stories on the regime's increasingly bizarre antics in January. The first mentioned what Slater called the "alleged" burning of copies of the Ghai draft constitution by Fiji Police, while the second was a scoop of some proportions about the ordered deportation of "troublesome" priest Father Kevin Barr. Slater didn't seem to see how Field could report accurately from Auckland on anything going on in Fiji.
Michael Field is banned from traveling to Fiji. It is likely that he sourced both of his stories from the anti-government blog Coup 4.5, who are almost all exclusivelyAuckland based. What is particularly galling is that the major media and gullible bloggers simply repeat what Michael Field and the anonymous bloggers at Coup 4.5 have to say. They invariably do not read more widely and find out the exact details of what precisely happened and when in Fiji.
This ignores the fact that Field's story actually quoted Father Barr from a telephone interview he managed to score with the harried priest in Suva, which was a bit of a journalistic coup (no pun intended) because of the sketchy information available at the time. "Our worst fears have eventuated," Father Barr told Field. "I am in an awkward position." So it is obviously not true that Field sourced his story through Coup 4.5. His source was instead the most solid possible –the subject of the story. Field may have first seen the story reported on Coup 4.5, but a good reporter would not rely on any blog as the source for a story. Instead he did what a good reporter should do. He tracked down the subject of the story and confirmed it with him first-hand. Field might be persona non grata in Fiji because of his critical reporting on the regime, but that doesn't mean he isn't able to get a story and get it right. But instead of a solid piece of journalism, according to Slater, this was “a manufactured story” by Field. And how did he know this? Because an anonymous source in the regime told him so. 
The story concerned me and so I made a few calls. What I found out about the situation is in stark contrast with what was reported by Michael Field. My government contacts refused to comment on the record and their off the record comments were that this was a storm in a tea cup unhelpfully stirred up by journalists with agendas.
Of course, the deportation order against Father Barr was later rescinded, which raises the question of why Croz would reprint a piece of media criticism that is both so old and so lame. But wait, it gets better. . . er, worse. The other bee in Whale Boy’s bonnet was Field’s story on the regime’s repudiation of the Ghai Commission's draft constitution three weeks earlier, in which he mentioned that “after it was presented last month, police seized copies of it and burnt printer's proofs.” This is apparently exactly what happened, according to Ghai’s exclusive interview with Bruce Hill of Radio Australia, which cleared up much confusion about just what went up in flames, if anything. There were even photographs to illustrate the incineration, but according to Slater this was still an "alleged" burning. Apparently the offered documentation was insufficient for Whale Blubber, or whatever his handle is. You’ll never guess whose version he preferred.
With regards to the alleged burning of the new constitution you can’t really go past getting the true story from Graham Davis. . . . Compare and contrast the reporting from Michael Field and wonder how he manages to keep his job.
The words "true story" seem somehow out of place in a sentence that mentions Grubby Blogger. The fact that Slater would link to the hit job Davis did on Ghai, which was also based on one anonymous source, leads to the inevitable conclusion that they share the same Bizarro World definition of quality journalism. Of course, it was also reprinted the next day by the Fiji Sun, but we are not surprised that it would join in this brand of gutter attack. Whalegrease, whose subsequent bloggings on Fiji are as ill-informed and pro-regime as the one reprinted today, leaves little doubt that he is as deep in the junta’s pocket as Grubby and Croz.

No Right Turn Blog - Fiji: Unsurprising

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ever since the 2006 coup there have been doubts over whether Fijian dictator Voreqe Bainimarama will relinquish power and return the country to democracy. Now we have an answer, and unfortunately its negative: having eliminated all the political parties, Bainimarama is planning to contest the 2014 elections.

While this is what he should have done back in 2006, against the backdrop of eight years of dictatorial rule (not to mention torture and murder), it suggests that Fiji's new "democracy" will just be a veneer over an ongoing military dictatorship. And Bainimarama's comment that he is confident of victory immediately brings the fairness of the upcoming elections into doubt.

Fiji needs civilian rule, not a continuation of dictatorship. Sadly, it looks like Bainimarama's plan for Fiji is just more of the same.

Reforms are here to stay: Bainimarama

March 23, 2013 11:31:21 AM

Immunity suggested under the new draft constitution has nothing to do with the military, says Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

“The Immunity is done for various reasons, we do not want anyone to come and change the reforms that we have done and that is very important,” said Bainimarama.

“And that’s why the immunity was suggested in the first place, it’s nothing to do with the military; it’s to do with the reform that has taken place,” he said.

“We want those reforms to stay.”

Under the draft constitution, further immunity has been forever granted to the President; Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers, Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Fiji Police Force, Fiji Corrections Service, Judiciary, public service; and any public office.

The draft states they will not face any criminal prosecution from any court if they are involved in government from 2006 until the first sitting of Parliament.

The draft proposes those involved will not have any criminal prosecution from any civil or any other liability in any court or tribunal, in any proceeding including any legal, military, disciplinary or professional proceedings and from any order or judgment of any court or tribunal.

The draft also proposes that immunity granted under the Limitation of Liability for Prescribed Political Events Decree 2010 continues which means that everyone that is involved with the government from 2006 will have immunity and will cannot be taken to task for their involvement.

The draft was released by Bainimarama on Thursday.

By Mereani Gonedua

Copyright 2013 ©

Call for Tui Cakau to support Govt

March 30, 2013 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by: newsroom

A member of the chiefly clan (Mataqali Valelevu) of Somosomo Village in Taveuni, Ratu Jekesoni Yavalanavanua, has called on Turaga Tui Cakau Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, to support the Government.

He said as the paramount chief of Cakaudrove, the Tui Cakau should join other chiefs in the Northern Division in supporting the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama-led Government.

The former senator said during the Prime Minister’s recent visit to Taveuni, the Welagi and Vuna districts offered their support to the Prime Minister but nothing was heard from the Tui Cakau. Ratu Jekesoni said nearly all the chiefs in the 14 provinces had publicly voiced their support but not the Tui Cakau.

“I call on my chief to support the Government especially when we the people of Cakaudrove had given our support to the Prime Minister,” Ratu Jekesoni said.

He said other provinces had benefitted from their unwavering support to the Prime Minister and the Government. Ratu Jekesoni said while there had been a lot of criticisms against the 2006 leadership takeover here and abroad, in terms of development, the Prime Minister Bainimarama-led Government had a much better record than previous elected governments.

In an interview with Ratu Naiqama after the Prime Minister’s tour of Taveuni, he confirmed he had never been at a function where the Prime Minister was.

On his support for the Government he had earlier said he would only support an elected government.

Ratu Jekesoni said the Government had the support of the people because it was delivering its promises.

Past governments he said had made a lot of promises just to get the votes but most of these promises remained unfulfilled today.

‘Accept GCC is finished’

March 30, 2013 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by: newsroom
Tui Macuata calls for chiefs to unite for 2014 polls

Macuata paramount chief, Turaga Tui Macuata Ratu Aisea Katonivere, has called on all iTaukei chiefs to accept the dissolution of the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) by the Prime Minister and unite for the 2014 General Election.

The Tui Macuata said some chiefs had a different interpretation of the dissolution of the GCC.

He admitted that this may be the reason some chiefs were not on good terms with the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama-led Government, including other personal reasons.

He said the dissolution of the GCC was because it had been highly politicised by past government leaders.

Chiefs, he said, should accept the decision especially when it had no impact on their chiefly status.

Ratu Aisea admitted that after the leadership takeover in 2006 until today some chiefs were still split about support for the new leadership.

As paramount chief of the province of Macuata, Ratu Aisea said he had to lead by example in giving his total support to the Government.

“My people followed suit,” the Tui Macuata said.

“I have made the right decision and it is a good step in the right direction, especially when it is the beginning of a new era.”

He said chiefs should appreciate the new leadership the nation was now experiencing.

His advice to chiefs; “Heed the senior religious leaders’ Easter messages where they usually preached a message of peace and forgiveness”. Easter, he said, was a time to remind people of the victory of love over hate.

The Tui Macuata told the Fiji Sun that iTaukei chiefs should at all times be reminded by the wise words of a Catholic Archbishop  who said: “Good leadership is about building people.

“A good leader goes much further than just making people follow and do what he wants.

“Good leadership does not dominate but promotes others. It does not stifle but enables others. It is not oppressive to succeed, it’s supportive.”

Ratu Aisea said Fiji now had a Government that really cared for the people which was what the nation needed after the 2014 elections.

The Tui Macuata said the unity of provincial chiefs and their support for the current leadership would surely lead the people to the new and united Fiji the Bainimarama-led Government has been building since it came into power.

Two names proposed for Vunivalu title

March 29, 2013 10:56:52 AM

Two names being proposed to hold the Vunivalu title in Bau are Ratu Joji Cakobau and Ratu Epenisa Cakobau.

The two are sons of the late Vunivalu, Ratu Sir George Kadavulevu Cakobau.

The names were confirmed to FijiLive by one of the members of the Tui Kaba clan and a senior chief Adi Finau Tabakaucoro.

The Turaga na Vunivalu of Bau, generally considered to be one of three highest ranking chiefly title in Fiji has been vacant since the death of the last Vunivalu, Ratu Sir George Cakobau, in 1989.

Meanwhile, Turaga na Tunitoga Ratu Veiwili Komaitai told FijiLive they have already decided on the incumbent for the vacant position and they will be making an announcement to the Vanua soon.

“We had been having a lot of hiccups as one of the members of the clan passed away after we made our decision but people should be rest assured that a chief will be announced soon,” he said.

The Vunivalu, when installed, also takes the title of Tui Levuka as he is the traditional leader of the Levuka people of Lakeba, Lau.

The four male candidates that had been announced in the past were Ratu George Cakobau Junior, the son of the late Vunivalu, his brother Ratu Epenisa Cakobau, Ratu George Kadavulevu Naulivou, and former Vice-President Ratu Jope Seniloli.

Ratu George had announced on June 9, 2005, that the chiefs of Matanitu o Bau (the traditional chiefly government of Bau, which includes the districts of Dravo, Namata, Nausori, and Nuku), had selected the four chiefly candidates, to be submitted to the Tui Kaba clan, to choose one of them.

A second meeting a week later tentatively proposed Senator Ratu George Cakobau as the new Vunivalu, but his appointment was not finalised and is not without controversy.

Adi Finau had complained that the proper procedures were not being followed. The new Vunivalu should be elected by the whole clan, she said, rather than chosen by a few elders.

The head of the Tovata confederacy is the Tui Cakau, currently Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, and the head of the Burebasaga confederacy is the Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Teimumu Kepa.

Traditionally, the heads of the three confederacies are regarded as the highest ranking chiefs in Fiji.

By Mereani Gonedua

Copyright 2013 ©

Chiefly disputes decline

March 30, 2013 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by: newsroom

Traditional chiefly disputes in provinces around the county have dropped.

This was confirmed by the Deputy Permanent Secretary of iTaukei Affairs Ministry, Colonel Apakuki Kurusiga.

“Chiefly disputes in all the 14 provinces have dropped,” Colonel Kurusiga said.

He said the ministry had been organising workshops on good leadership for chiefs.

He said as future leaders, chiefs had been reminded that “self-serving leaders are not as effective because people only obey them, not follow them. To be a worthy leader, you must be trustworthy.”

He adds – “It is important to understand the fact that it is the followers, not the leader, who determine if a leader is successful. If they do not trust or lack confidence in their leader, then they will be uninspired. To be successful, you have to convince your followers, not yourself, that you are worthy of being followed.”

Colonel Kurusiga said they had also stressed to future leaders that at all times they should be transparent and instill trust to the people they lead.

A message usually sent to workshop participants is that “leadership is doing what is right when no one is watching. People do not follow uncommitted leaders.”

Chiefly disputes according Colonel Kurusiga usually arise when the chiefly clan is divided on who is to be installed.

He said such disputes could easily be resolved through cordial discussions within the chiefly clan and whatever decision reached must be respected.

“At all times the chiefly clan should be reminded that in the eyes of the people, leadership is everything a leader does that affects the people’s objectives and their wellbeing.”

The Deputy Permanent Secretary said the last resort used to solve disputes was for the matter to be referred to the Native Lands Commission (Vola ni Kawa Bula).

“Once a decision is made by the VKB, it will be final and cannot be challenged, “ he said.

FSC targets 2m tonnes of cane

March 29, 2013 10:34:27 AM

The Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) is looking at crushing 2 million tonnes of sugar cane this year.

Speaking to FijiLive, FSC chair Abdul Khan said earlier their estimates for April was 1.75m tonnes but the good weather means they are expecting to achieve 2m tonnes.

“We had a lot of hiccups last year but things are starting to look fine this year and we are anticipating a good year for the sugar industry,” he said.

He said they will be having their maintenance meeting soon to see how work at the four mills is progressing.

The crushing season is expected to begin in June.

By Mereani Gonedua

Copyright 2013 ©

New Cane quality system

08:18 Today (March 30, 2013)
Report by: Christopher Chand

A new cane quality system will be trialed this year and farmers are being made aware of this through the various meetings being held around the western division.

FSC Executive Chair Abdul Khan says the cane quality system will run parallel to the tonnage system which has been in place for years.

He says by testing it out this year they can iron out any weaknesses they find in the cane quality process.

“What we looking at this year is having the system installed and we’ll run both the tonnage as well as the quality system in parallel. Mainly if there are any teething issues or any chinks in the system we want to get that tided up this seasons so next season there won’t be a tonnage system it will be a total cane quality system so when we go into that system we know we have wound up all the bugs.”

This means that farmers will be paid on the quality of cane from next year and not on the amount of cane they deliver.

Policies target growth

Geraldine Panapasa
Saturday, March 30, 2013

POLICIES and incentives that change from one budget to the next do not encourage growth or investment, says Ministry of Industry and Trade permanent secretary Shaheen Ali.

Speaking at the recent Fiji-New Zealand trade and investment mission seminar, Mr Ali said the changes only created instability and uncertainty.

He said the Bainimarama government had long-term policies in place to create stability and investor confidence.

"As part of our domestic look north policy, the government has introduced tax holidays of up to 13 years in the designated tax free regions, including the entire Northern Division, outer regions and recently, from Korovou to Tavua.

"If you are thinking of venturing into the dairy industry, the tax holiday extends up to 20 years.

"For those investors who wish to go into the manufacturing business, the government has put in place incentives such as zero-rated duty on the import of all plant machinery and equipment.

"For aspiring film-makers, Fiji offers the best tax incentives in the world and provides additional protection by licensing and controlling audio-visual agents."

He said government had established the lowest corporate tax rate in the region at 20 per cent.

There was further incentive, he said, for companies that set up their regional or global headquarters in Fiji where a reduced corporate tax rate of 17 per cent applied and 18.5 per cent if their firm was listed on the South Pacific Stock Exchange.

"The ANZ Bank has already taken advantage of this incentive by shifting its regional headquarters from Melbourne, Australia to Fiji," he said.

Mr Ali said there were many opportunities in Fiji's growth sectors like agro-business, tourism, information and communication technology, audio-visual, manufacturing and mining.

New A330 to make first commercial flight

Publish date/time: 30/03/2013 [16:42]

Next week will be an exciting one for Air Pacific as the first brand new A330 will be making its first commercial flight to New Zealand and Hong Kong.

Air Pacific spokesman Shane Hussein said the A330 is flying to Auckland next Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday while it makes its first commercial flight to Hong Kong on Saturday.

Hussein said the airline will mark the occasion with events in Nadi and in Auckland.

He said Air Pacific is excited for their customers to experience the new aircraft and the enhanced levels of service they will receive.

Story by: Sofaia Koroitanoa

Tourism picks up

Luke Rawalai
Saturday, March 30, 2013

IT'S been a quiet period so far for tourism on the Garden Island of Taveuni.

Former Taveuni Tourism Association president Allen Gortan said operations at resorts on the island have been slow but they were looking forward to changes soon.

Mr Gortan said tourist arrivals on the island were slow from January to March but that things would pick up in the following months.

"Our hotels on the island have been receiving confirmed bookings for this year beginning from April and we are looking forward to another busy year from next month," he said. "It is always the case annually as the spring break in the United States of America results in an influx of tourist arrivals that use this period to holiday in the tropics.

"The association is looking forward to the fruition of previous talks with Inter Island Airways who are said to be resuming operations on the island from the first week of July."

Mr Gortan said there were other issues the association were still lobbying for to make the industry more lucrative.

"The association has been having talks with the relevant government agencies on the possibility of a garbage dump for the sake of the hotels and other businesses on the island.

"We have been talking with relevant authorities on the poor condition of the roads which usually affect tourist tours on the island a lot. We believe that once these issues are addressed, we should at least be able to ensure the smooth running of hotel operations."

The association will elect office bearers to take over from the previous association members later this year.

Idle land customers face hefty penalties

March 30, 2013 03:50:40 PM

Customers who want to resell vacant land within two years from date of purchase will be penalised, Fiji's Housing Authority said today.

The move comes after the Housing Authority amended its ‘Consent to Dealings Procedure’.

Housing Authority CEO Alipate Naiorosui said the change is to encourage land only customers to build their homes through a Gold Package home loan.

The “loan enables low income families who earn $16,500 or less per annum to access an affordable home loan package,” Naiorosui said.

Customers who build a home will claim 100 per cent VAT refund if they build a house up to the value of $120,000 to live in.

The authority highlighted three conditions that must be met before a lot can be resold.

Firstly, for a residential leases, a fixed penalty of $3,000 or 10 per cent of the sale pricemust be paid to the authority.

For commercial/industrial leases, $5,000 or 10 per cent of the sale price must be paid.

Secondly, the amount is to be paid to the authority prior to the endorsement of the authority’s consent on the Transfer document.

The penalties, however, are not applicable to transfer of vacant land if its being transferred to their next of kin. The penalties will also not apply if the transfer is by way of administration of an estate and not by way of sale.

The new owner, the authority says will need to be a first home buyer and not own any other property. He/She should also provide a written commitment to build a dwelling within two years from the date of registration of the proposed transfer and provide the building plans and evidence of finance for the construction to the satisfaction of the authority.
The housing authority further said it will closely monitor its customers to ensure the conditions are adhered to.

By Mereani Gonedua 

Copyright 2013 ©

ANZ roadshow offers special rates on car, home loans

Ropate Valemei
Friday, March 29, 2013

ANZ is embarking on a campaign to offer special deals on car and home loans.

The bank carried out roadshows last week inviting customers and non-customers to participate in the great offers.

ANZ communication manager, Lancaster Fong said Saturday roadshows were held at the ANZ House in Suva and branches at Centerpoint in Nasinu, Nausori, Sigatoka, Nadi, Lautoka and Labasa.

"Car dealers and real estate agents across the country were also invited to be part of the roadshow making it easy and convenient for customers to complete transactions. A number of customers drove away in brand new vehicles thanks to the zero per cent deposit promotion for car loans," Mr Fong said. ANZ's car loan package , he said, offered lending with no deposit required on brand new cars and a reduced 10 per cent deposit on used vehicles.

ANZ's home loan or residential investment property loan offered 4.5 per cent per annum fixed for one year without monthly fees. Customer Ana Uluilakeba was excited about her new Kia Motors vehicle.

"I always hesitated asking about the options available to us and never considered owning a brand new vehicle. But I couldn't let this opportunity go by and now it is making a difference for me and my family with work, school and church."

The car and home loan special promotion will end on May 31.

Vendors explain increase

Ropate Valemei
Saturday, March 30, 2013

FRUITS and vegetables do not have a fixed price at the market because it fluctuates depending on the nature of the business.

And this has caused uproar with some loyal shoppers because of the increase in the price of imported apples and oranges at the Suva market

Fifty-one-year-old market vendor Bobby Chand said the prices of vegetables and fruits varied according to the foreign exchange in exported countries.

"I have also received complaints from customers regarding the price of fruits and vegetables," Mr Chand said.

He imports most of his produce from Australia and New Zealand but with the increase in foreign exchange and the present drought, he said supplies had been affected.

"I've had no choice but to increase my price of fruits and vegetables everyday — I can't help it," he said.

"With the current drought in New Zealand and a high foreign exchange in Australia, I've started importing apples, pears, oranges and vegetables from China.

"Why go for a costly product when you have China with the same product at a lower price."

Market vendor Gyan Iswar, 61, said her produce was from middlemen and farmers. Ms Iswar said times were hard and profits from her sales were used to support the family.

Juvenile girls on the run

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Update: 11:07AM TWO juvenile girls have escaped from the Mahaffy Girls Home in Suva.

A 15-year-old of Nawaka in Nadi and a 16-year-old of Makoi in Nasinu escaped from the home in Domain by climbing over the back fence.

Police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri said the duo were State witnesses and he requested the public for information to locate them.

March 29, 2013

Skruff Satire - Big Surprise: Bainimarama ‘confident’ of election victory

Fiji’s military strongman/comedian Voreqe Bainimarama says he will contest democracy-restoring elections next year. Somehow he keeps a straight face while doing so.

Don’t think of him as a ruthless dictator who seized power at the point of a gun. Even though he is.

Fiji’s last experiment with democracy ended abruptly on December 5th, 2006, when the parliament was disolved by the Fijian president Ratu Josefa Iloilo after a ‘meeting’ between he and Bainimarama. This was one of the closing acts of a coup initiated by Bainimarama a month or two earlier.

But that’s all in the past. Now, finally, after many delays, there will be new democratic elections in Fiji. Bainimarama was optimistic about his chances, saying “I am confident that I will win … if not I won’t be standing”, “I don’t stand to lose”. Really – he actually said that.

Skruff contacted several other potential candidates for the role of Prime Minister who would only talk to the paper on the condition of anonymity. One commented that “Of course I think the elections will be fair. It would be grossly unjust to suggest otherwise – just because members of the media and any open dissenters were arrested and imprisoned on flaky trumped up charges in the course of the 2006 coup is no reason to assume these elections will be anything other than free and open”.

A colleague agreed, saying “Yeah, totally. Completely free. And there’s no reason to think Commodore Bainimarama might not respect the result. I mean sure, he staged a coup that installed him as supreme ruler last time he didn’t like the outcome of democratic process, but to do it again? Chance in a million”.

Both men, however, indicated they would not be contesting the election for ‘personal reasons’, and requested that Skruff ask Commodore Bainimarama to, please, not hurt their families.

Accompanying the Commodores announcement was the release of an independent study by the Pacific Theological College indicating that the Fijian people felt, for the most part, that Commodore Bainimarama was “a top guy”, and “the kind of person you could have a kava with”, and praising the fact that “his door was always open”. This study is totally reliable, because it has ‘independent’ in the name. The fact that freedom of assembly and freedom of press remain absent in Fiji should not undermine the study’s conclusions or credibility.

Meanwhile, the global community watched with a tired expression and filed the whole thing under “seriously, you can’t make this shit up”.

Dr Marc Edge: The Economist deconstructs Frank's power play

Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Fiji's dictator might be able to keep the country's media from asking pesky questions about his recent manipulation of the constitutional process (such as, WTF?), but the international press is not so easily cowed. The esteemed UK magazine The Economist has weighed in on Frank's machinations and predicts that the country's "strongman" has already overplayed his hand.

Under the headline "Opportunity blown," The Economist predicts that Bainimarama has lost any hope of even claiming legitimacy for the process. The respected publication quips that "soldiers tend to be poor at handling their nation’s affairs, and so it has proved in the Pacific island state of Fiji." Frank's mistake was in ditching the opportunity for discussion of the draft constitution -- his draft, not the one proposed late last year by the Ghai Commission -- by his hand-picked Constituent Assembly. By not allowing even this measly level of public participation in the process, he cannot hold it up to international scrutiny without people holding their noses. After all, allowing the draft to go to the CA would have "empowered a popular body to deliberate on the affairs of the nation," notes The Economist. In Frank's Fiji this is simply not allowed. Fortunately, such strong-arm tactics do not come without peril, and Bainimarma, according to this analysis, has already bungled it.
By firmly reasserting his control, Mr Bainimarama may perhaps have avoided the risk of troublesome upstarts seizing control over the transition. But he has also blown his chance to preside over the creation of a new political order that is durable and legitimate.
The constitutional consultation process, according to The Economist, was such a success in attracting more than 7,000 submissions that even the RFMF emerged from it stoked about the country's potential under a democracy. The Yash Ghai-led Fiji Constitutional Commission accepted the regime's “non-negotiable” provisions, then demonstrated its independence by pointing out that many of the interim government's decrees, which limited rights the FCC planned to enshrine, would have to be ditched. For one brief, shining moment, Fiji had a chance.
Such was the euphoria around the process that the armed forces, in their own submission, said that the FCC had triggered “a sense of belonging culminating in a national pride” and a “togetherness which we must continue to foster”.
Under the expert-led constitutional consultations, observed The Economist, troubled Fiji"seemed to be enjoying a political renaissance." Then Frank went and blew it because his mile-wide authoritarian streak simply could not truck any semblance of democratic participation. That might mean, after all, someone being allowed to disagree with him and get away with it. Fijians must by now be asking themselves how much the future of their country has been endangered by relying on the wisdom and equanimity -- or lack thereof -- of one self-appointed leader.

The Economist: Constitutional wrangles in Fiji

Opportunity blown
Not all will go the strongman’s way
Mar 30th 2013 | WELLINGTON |From the print edition

IF GUNS were all that were needed to manage countries well, more of the world would be run by military officers. But soldiers tend to be poor at handling their nation’s affairs, and so it has proved in the Pacific island state of Fiji. There the strongman, Commodore Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama, who seized power in a 2006 coup, announced on March 21st that he was scrapping his plans for the constituent assembly that was supposed to deliberate his scheduled new constitution. Three months before that, Mr Bainimarama had ditched a constitution drawn up by his own appointed commission, asking his attorney-general to come up with a new one more to his liking. This second attempt was published on the very day that the idea of an assembly was scrapped.

Troubled Fiji has experienced three coups since independence in 1970, but last year it seemed to be enjoying a political renaissance. In July a Fiji Constitutional Commission (FCC) was appointed, and a constitutional scholar, Yash Ghai, with experience of working on the Kenyan and Nepalese constitutions, became its head. The FCC attracted over 7,000 submissions, including from those political parties most firmly opposed to the coup-spawned government. Such was the euphoria around the process that the armed forces, in their own submission, said that the FCC had triggered “a sense of belonging culminating in a national pride” and a “togetherness which we must continue to foster”.

Popular enthusiasm owed much to the FCC swiftly demonstrating its own independence. Soon after their appointment, Mr Ghai and his fellow commissioners criticised restrictions that the government had imposed on the media. And they said that for the prime minister to control the size and composition of the constituent assembly amounted to a breach of “essential principles of democracy”. Yet the FCC embraced the government’s broad integrationist goals and accepted its list of “non-negotiable” provisions, including immunities for military officers involved in Fiji’s 1987, 2000 and 2006 coups.

This was not enough for Mr Bainimarama, however, who accused the FCC of consorting with the opposition. The commission’s report was completed in December but promptly suppressed by the security forces (though copies circulated freely on the internet). The government’s rewritten and thinned-down constitution dramatically reduces the powers of the president, and makes the prime minister commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The army, in turn, is given a strong supervisory role in the future affairs of the nation.

Why the abandonment of plans for an appointed constituent assembly? Timing is one reason. The assembly had been scheduled to begin in January, but three months were lost in the constitution’s redrafting. More importantly, such a gathering would have again empowered a popular body to deliberate on the affairs of the nation. By firmly reasserting his control, Mr Bainimarama may perhaps have avoided the risk of troublesome upstarts seizing control over the transition. But he has also blown his chance to preside over the creation of a new political order that is durable and legitimate.

A day after he released his draft constitution, Mr Bainimarama, a rugby enthusiast, casually revealed during a training session at the national stadium that he intends to run in the next election. The announcement had long been expected. The difficulty is that, as Fiji’s military leader will soon find out, campaigning for election will also empower the very voices he has sought repeatedly to silence.

Dr Marc Edge: Translating Grubbysplutter

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Having invented a new word, I feel duty-bound to explicate it. Sorry, that's an academic word. Let's just talk about it for a while. The aim of propaganda is perception management. Walter Lippmann, a Progressive journalist who was co-opted into the U.S. propaganda effort during the Great War, later wrote the definitive . . .  er, explication of it in his 1922 classic book Public Opinion. He spoke of The World Outside and The Pictures in Our Heads. Propaganda was the attempt to alter the Pictures in Our Heads until they bore little relation to The World Outside. Censorship was central to this. Government news portrayed a preferred picture. Sometimes an underground press portrayed an alternate reality. In Fiji, blogs are the underground press. The freedom blogs certainly portray a different reality than presented by captive and government media. I am assured by freedom bloggers that Bainimarama would stand little chance in a fair election. Others claim he has widespread support. I actually have no idea which of these is closer to the truth. I would be interested to find out.

Meanwhile, I thought it would be interesting to dissect some actual propaganda, pin it up on the white board here and analyse it. Grubby's latest splutterings will do. Let's take it apart piece by piece and see what the reality might be.

GRUBBYSPLUTTER: There are increasing signs of desperation among the anti-government forces in Fiji
REALITY: Activity on the blogs has increased to not quite fever pitch as the regime nixes both the draft constitution and the Constituent Assembly that was supposed to rubber stamp it.  
GRUBBYSPLUTTER: as the country moves closer to the introduction of a brand of democracy that they are desperately trying to prevent – a non-racial model of one person, one vote, one value.
REALITY: I don't know about the other Freedomistas, but that's kind of what I had in mind, too. Why would I want to prevent this? Let's have the election, already.
GRUBBYSPLUTTER: That sense of desperation has reached fever pitch with the publication of the new Draft Constitution
REALITY: Bloggers have jumped all over Frank's draft and compared it with Yash's draft. Frank's would seem to be really a parody of democracy, with limited rights for Fijians. Do they get to vote on this?

GRUBBYSPLUTTER: that specifically stipulates an election in Fiji before the end of September 2014
REALITY: When does the campaign actually start?

GRUBBYSPLUTTER: and the declaration by Voreqe Bainimarama that he intends to contest the poll.
REALITY: We expected nothing else.

GRUBBYSPLUTTER: With precious little in the Draft to criticise,
REALITY: Here's the nutgraf, or what they call in propaganda The Big Lie. The criticism is heaping up in big piles. Frank may not be able to make this fly  
GRUBBYSPLUTTER: the old order in Fiji is in a state of collective meltdown
REALITY: I would instead liken it to awakening from a deep freeze

GRUBBYSPLUTTER: and actively seeking out small targets to kick.
REALITY: there are several people who could be getting kicked soon. Grubby might be one of them. I am safely in Canada.

GRUBBYSPLUTTER: How else to explain the accompanying cyber pamphlet currently being circulated on several anti-government blogs that specifically attacks Grubsheet and our connection with the American company, Qorvis Communications?
REALITY: I think the phrase, in the immortable words of George Dubya, is -- "Mission Accomplished"
And that's only the first paragraph. Any spelling misteaks in this, Grubby?

More time for law talk

March 29, 2013 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by: newsroom
Requests prompt PM to extend draft constitution consultations

Consultations on and submissions towards the draft constitution have been extended to April 26.

This was revealed by Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday during a talkback show on the Radio Fiji One iTaukei Na Vakekeli programme and FBC TV.

“Sa toso na tiki ni siga mai na i ka lima ni Evereli kina i ka ruasagavulu-ka-ono baleta e so na kerekere sa mai ciqomi. (Date has been extended from April 5 to April 26 because of proposals we have received for its extension),” Commodore Bainimarama said.

“There have been requests from members of the public for its extension and this will allow Fijians more time to put in their submission in the formulation of the constitution.”

He reiterated that the new constitution should safeguard Fiji’s future, the rights of Fijians and ensure that our country is on par with the rest of the world in development and progress. He called on Fijians, local and abroad, to work together in progressing Fiji.

“I assure the nation that this constitution will take Fiji forward. We will look at the submissions and accept those that will be good for the country and not those that caused past differences,” Commodore Bainimarama said.

“We need support and as Fijians, we should change our mindset. We should remove (the kind of) talk that leads to racial hatred. Those were the kinds of talk that past politicians used, which caused a racial divide. They caused fear and that led to the events of 2000 and 2006.

“We do not want to go there again. We want unity and this Government has been trying to do that for the past six years. This constitution is about all Fijians. An Indo-Fijian from Fiji living in Australia is still called a Fijian and that is what this new constitution is all about. We want a constitution for all Fijians.”

Commodore Bainimarama said the new constitution will have Fiji as a Secular State rather than a Christian State. This is because of our multi-racial and multi-belief composition.

“We want a constitution for all. We want it to respect the rights of all races, all people and all Fijians. A Secular State represents that instead of a Christian State. We have our own religions and we should respect all races.
Christians will still be Christians, but what we should do is live like Christians,” he said.

He said the draft constitution called for a 45-member parliament.

“We have a small Government but I am thankful for the civil servants, the permanent secretaries, the commissioners and officials for their hard work,” Commodore Bainimarama said.

“They have recognised what this Government is trying to do and are working towards making Fiji better. A small Government saves money.

“That is what we want in the new constitution. Those who enter parliament should work hard and not those who want to enter parliament just for the sake of it. Before we used to have people who just talk, but we want people who can work and take Fiji forward.”

He said irrespective of gender in parliament composition, all should work to improve the country instead of talk and no action.

“Last Friday I said I was going to contest. I was asked at the grounds and I joked about my answer,” Commodore Bainimarama said.

“Yes, I will contest, but nothing has been done yet. I will form a party. I have seen the hard work of Government officials and thought that if I contest, I will be able to help them complete the wishes of this Government.”

Meanwhile, there were calls from around the country during the show asking Commodore Bainimarama to contest and continue to lead Fiji.

This is because of the developments done by his Government for Fijians compared to those in past leaderships.

If they don’t follow the constitution, they go to prison-PM

Publish date/time: 29/03/2013 [16:15]

If they don't follow the constitution then they will go to prison.

Those are the words of Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama after the Fiji Council of Trade Unions General Secretary Attar Singh said that they reject the government's draft constitution and the process for its implementation.

When questioned by Fijivillage, Commodore Bainimarama said if FICTU does not like the constitution, they just have to follow it.

He said if that is not done then they will go to prison for not following the constitution.

Attar Singh said the best option for Fiji is for people to call for the Ghai draft and the related processes to continue.

He said by dumping the Ghai draft and introducing its own draft, the government has made it clear that it wishes to continue its illegitimate rule.

Singh said FICTU cannot support this document and the process for comments and submissions.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

PM Voreqe Bainimarama leads Military Easter Service

17:09 Yesterday (March 28, 2013)

Prime Minister and Military Commander Voreqe Bainimarama lead his men at an Easter service this morning at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Suva.

The service was conducted by military Pastor Captain Osea Bera who told army officers to reflect on the leadership of Jesus.

The service was held at the Rabuka Hall.

“this is a normal parade for us we have a thursday easter is a normal church parade for everyone in the military”.

Meanwhile, Bainimarama says, Easter should bring some meaning to each one of us.

“all Christians are celebrating Easter this weekend so i hope they will enjoy the weekend and Easter weekends has some meaning for them”.

The holy week started on Palm Sunday with washing of the feet today – which is a Christian tradition commemorating Christ’s Last Supper.

Prime Minister directs review of government scholarships

17:10 Yesterday (March 28, 2013)
Report by: Mika Loga

A review of the processes in approving government tertiary scholarships has been ordered by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

A review team which consists of Vice Chancellors of Universities, the Permanent Secretary for i-Taukei Affairs and the Public Service Commission have been tasked with the job.

The large number of students who applied for the Tertiary Education Loan Scheme this year triggered the review.

One thousand seven hundred and seventy two applied – out of which, only three hundred and seventy two were offered scholarships.

PSC Permanent Secretary Parmesh Chand says, the committee will look at a wholr range of issues.

“we dont want to jeopardise the stasndard of education obviously it is the work of the committe we have to look at all aspects of our scholarships and assistance programme”.

The committee has until April to hand their recommendations to the Prime Minister.

Parliament to appoint President

17:30 Today

Under the draft constitution, the President of Fiji will no longer be the Commander in Chief.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama made this clear today, at a talk back show on GoldFM.

The draft constitution stipulates the President will be elected by parliament after nominations by the Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition.

“In Fiji over the past many years the president has never had the executive authority… it has always remained with the Prime Minister and I think someone in the abrogated constitutions transferred the term in American sense into and called the president the commander in chief.”

Bainimarama also touched on the role the president under the draft constitution.

“He is a ceremonial head of the government of Fiji and of course he assents the bill and if he does not assent the bill it becomes law… but he has got his responsibilities as well.”

The Prime Minister further explained, there’s no reason for Fiji to have a vice president, as in the absence of the President – the chief justice does his work.

Civil servants to be neutral in politics: PM

17:18 Today (March 29, 2013)

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says, civil servants shouldn’t be carried away by politics.
And Bainimarama says, their commitment should remain the same for any elected government.

The Primed Minister, they should faithfully follow the policies it establishes without regard to their own politics and philosophy.

“this is atitude of professional detachment from politics is critical to any quality civil service. you have your vote and you have your conscience. your duty is carry out the will of the people as determined by there representatives. some of you may be tested as we enter an electoral campaign. i urge you aand admonish you to maintain absolute intergrity in your work and to adhere strictly to the laws governing political activities of civil servants”.

The Prime Minister was speaking at the launch of the Finance Ministry’s corporate plan, strategic framework, corporate uniform and the business resumption site.

Fiji’s Bainimarama tackles constitution queries

Posted at 03:28 on 27 March, 2013 UTC

Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama says same sex marriage will not be allowed in Fiji.

His comment came during the first of several sessions on the regime’s draft constitution.

Sally Round reports

“In a talkback radio show Commodore Bainimarama agreed religious reasons were behind his adamant view on same sex marriage. The shows are part of the government’s two week consultation effort which also encourages people to text, write in or email with their suggestions on the 90 page document. The first programme yesterday was dominated by callers wanting solutions to problems with power, water, roads and land.

Commodore Bainimarama said it showed people were worried about their socio economic rights which were to be addressed constitutionally for the first time in Fiji. He promised good governance to one caller complaining about a gagged media and lack of accountability.”

$15m FEA upgrade

Ana Madigibuli
Wednesday, March 27, 2013

FIJI Electricity Authority is looking at spending around $15million in upgrading the under ground 33,000 volt network within the Central Division.

FEA chief executive officer Hasmukh Patel, in a meeting with business stakeholders in Suva last Thursday, said the upgrade was to basically improve the reliability of power supply from the authority.

He said $15million was a lot of money and they would like to give their customers some appreciation on the type of money that was involved in replacing ageing assets.

"I am talking about the $15million for the Central Division that we are anticipating to spend but of course we have to see on how we run these projects and that it was an idea that they have launched and we wanted to share," Mr Patel said.

"The other ageing asset that we have already started to refurbish and we would like to spend some $45million over the period of three years is the Monasavu hydro scheme."

He said they needed to spend a lot of money to improve the reliability of power supply because their customers needed to have that reliable supply.

"The Monasavu asset is also spending around $45million over the period of three years and we are changing a lot of things like the transmitter line, which needs a lot of refurbishment work," Mr Patel said.

"In the next two to three years, we could be spending close to $100million trying to improve the ageing assets so we can deliver better power supply to our customers."

$45m tax refunds

Ropate Valemei
Thursday, March 28, 2013

THE Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority has set a target of $45million for income tax refunds this year.

FRCA chief executive officer Jitoko Tikolevu said more than $16.55m was refunded to 31,447 people.

So far, 46,446 people had applied for tax returns since January totalling more than $21.69m.

"For the 46,446 people who had applied, 36,186 were salary and wage earners while 8243 applications were businesses and 2017 applications were from companies," he said yesterday.

"A total of 14,969 people still have their tax return processed — 11,972 applications are salary and wage earners, 2617 applications are from businesses and 380 applications from companies." Mr Tikolevu said there were challenges faced by the authority in terms of processing tax returns.

"This includes incomplete tax returns lodged by taxpayers such as unsigned returns, bank account details not provided on the return (form), incomplete accounts, part-year employment, and redundancy and lump sum payments without supporting documents," he said.

Mr Tikolevu said the authority was on a mission to be the premier revenue collection, border management and trade facilitation agency in the region.

Meanwhile, the authority made public recently that the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Final Withholding Tax reporting requirements for 2013 were now in effect.

"We acknowledge the effort put in by all stakeholders, however, with the implementation of any new process, teething problems are expected," he said.

The teething problems, he said, would be addressed on an individual basis and customers would be contacted by their officers in the next two weeks. Mr Tikolevu said they continued to receive incomplete applications for Tax Identification Number (TIN) registration.

Export trade surplus

Ropate Valemei
Friday, March 29, 2013

PROVISIONAL data valued Fiji's import of services for June last year at $238.2million, according to a report released by the Fiji Bureau of Statistics this month.

Government statistician, Epeli Waqavonovono said this marked an increase of $4.4million compared to the previous corresponding quarter.

"The value of services exported in the same period was $499.1m, an increase of $19.7m compared to the previous corresponding quarter," Mr Waqavonovono said.

He said the trade services surplus in the March quarter last year amounted to $260.9m, $15.3m more than the March 2011 quarter surplus of $245.6m.

He said the services recording surpluses were travel services, a surplus of $249.5m reflected Fiji's earnings from tourism.

"Government services, a surplus of $48.6m resulted from funds received by foreign government and international agencies in Fiji," he said.

For manufacturing services, a surplus of $3.4m resulted from garments processed in Fiji.

Around $1.8m mainly driven by earnings from mining exploration services was noted in the report while a $0.4m surplus was derived from audio visual earnings and related services.

He said a surplus of $0.3m reflected higher receipts for services provided by the financial institutions.

However, Mr Waqavonovono said there were also deficits recorded.

"For transportation services, a deficit of $17.1m was mainly driven by payments of international sea freight services.

"A deficit of $16.7m was due to an increase in insurance paid on imported goods and a deficit of $8m reflected payments for telecommunication and other associated services such as internet," he said.

Mr Waqavonovono said a deficit of $0.9m was linked to royalty and licences while $0.4m attributed to payments for repair of goods.

Cabinet approves international operators to manage ports

Publish date/time: 27/03/2013 [16:01]

Cabinet has given approval for a partnership with international operators to manage the ports in Fiji.

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said approval has been given for a well renowned port operator who also manages ports in Asia and Africa.

Sayed-Khaiyum said the name of the operator cannot be mentioned at this stage as they are still in the process of negotiating the final agreement.

He said this is expected to be complete by next week.

Sayed-Khaiyum added there are certain shipping companies who actually charge a levy to come into Fiji which affect the imports and exports negatively.

Therefore in order to overcome such issues it is good to have a partnership with international companies who can help manage the ports with the logistical expertise and technological benefit also.

Story by: Khusboo Singh

$23.5m strategy

Ropate Valemei
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

THE Ministry of Public Enterprises and Tourism invests $23.5million every year in international marketing through Tourism Fiji and $3m for operations as it continues its support to boost the industry.

Speaking at the Fiji-New Zealand trade and investment mission seminar in Suva this month, the ministry's principal tourism officer Nanise Masau said the international market competition and positioning Fiji's tourism sector in the global arena were their biggest challenges.

"Government's commitment to tourism includes airport upgrades in Labasa, Nausori and Nadi. For Suva, $59m has been set aside until 2022 for developments in three stages while the Nadi Airports Decree 2012 modernisation has been scheduled to start in June," she said.

"The Labasa runway upgrade is scheduled for the end of the month. For seaports, $5m has been earmarked for the Middle Point Labasa development while $2m has been set for Port Denarau dredging and $8m for the bridge.

"There is also the Ellington Wharf potential particularly with the Kings Road improvements."

She said the Fiji Roads Authority had been allocated $422m for road improvements this year particularly when 70 per cent of hotel rooms were located along the Viti Levu coasts and urban centres.

There were a lot of investment opportunities with air, land and sea transport facilities and services.

"Investment opportunities also lie with different activities like tours, sports, cultural events and entertainment, accommodation like hotels and resorts, restaurants, retail, human resource development and training, and technology," she said.

Investment Fiji chief executive officer Ravuni Uluilakeba said the seminar was an opportunity to encourage more investments in the country by way of engaging local and international stakeholders.

Economy projected to grow 2% this year

Publish date/time: 27/03/2013 [16:05]

Projected recoveries in tourism and increased public capital expenditure are expected to help grow Fiji’s economy by 2.0% this year.

This is according to the Asian Development Bank Pacific Economic Monitor Growth Outlook March 2013.

The report states post-flood and post-cyclone rehabilitation of infrastructure, and an ambitious program for construction of new transport infrastructure, are expected to spur growth and result in a net budget deficit of 2.8% of Gross Domestic Product.

ADB projected that growth will accelerate to 2.3% next year due to public infrastructure works, election-related expenditure, and further expansion in tourism in line with an improving global economy.

Story by: Sofaia Koroitanoa 

Indonesia, Fiji sign deal

March 29, 2013 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by: newsroom
Source: Ministry of Information

Cabinet has approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Republic of Indonesia and Republic of Fiji for co-operation in the field of Small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The MOU covers a relatively new area dealing with the protection of Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (GRTFK), and the rights of the GRTFK holders of both parties.

The Attorney – General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said that this MOU will encourage employment generation and rural development.

A Joint Coordinating Committee comprising members responsible for SME from both countries shall be formed to coordinate the implementation of the MOU.

Goodwill recognition for former judge

Nasik Swami
Friday, March 29, 2013

THE Ministry of Women chose former High Court judge Nazhat Shameem as Fiji's Goodwill Ambassador for Women because she was the most deserving person identified for the role.

Minister for Women Dr Jiko Luveni said the ministry identified Mrs Shameem as she has been working with the ministry for long in preparing reports and formulating decrees that protected women.

Fiji's first Goodwill Ambassador was presented with a plaque of appreciation and certificate of recognition by the minister yesterday.

"She has been the person behind all the decrees put in place in the legal framework to protect our women. So there is no other most deserving person that we would bestow such a position," Dr Luveni said.

She said women's empowerment needed voices of influence.

"For you (Mrs Shameem) have not only excelled in your field, but shared time to better the lives of children, youths and people of Fiji through your engagement with other ministries, corporate bodies and civil organisations."

Dr Luveni said the Goodwill Ambassador would further the cause of women's rights.

Mrs Shameem said she felt honoured for being appointed the very first Goodwill Ambassador for Women in Fiji.

"I think it is recognition not of me but for the many women in Fiji," she said.

"It is recognition that they are important; that they hold up half the world and increasingly government policies and principles of governance should look at the implementation of policies and decision in terms of the impact it has on women's lives."

She said if she was able to contribute in some way to empowering women in Fiji and also having their voices heard, it would be a great honour and privilege.

Sales excite airline

Repeka Nasiko
Friday, March 29, 2013

TICKET sales for the new Airbus' first commercial flight is progressing well.

This was confirmed by an Air Pacific representative as the airline prepared for its inaugural flight to Auckland, New Zealand on April 2.

Spokesman Shane Hussein said they were excited about the huge interest shown from various sectors for specific flights.

"The airline has also launched A330 special fares for Auckland, with economy class specials starting at $299 one way," Mr Hussein said.

Talks to iron out lease issues

Felix Chaudhary
Friday, March 29, 2013

SUGAR industry stakeholders will meet with representatives from the iTaukei Land Trust Board to discuss the possibility of fast-tracking cane land lease renewals.

In an interview yesterday, Sugar permanent secretary Lieutenant Colonel Manasa Vaniqi said the slow process of leases had been highlighted at most of the sugar stakeholders consultations with growers over the past few weeks.

"One of government's plans is to secure land tenure. However, one of the biggest hurdles for us at the moment is the entrenched legislation that is the Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act (ALTA)," Lt-Col Vaniqi said.

"That is why we are promoting the land bank because this offers growers a 50 to 99-year lease and gives landlords a better return for the use of their land," he said.

"We have a lot of land that is idle and the landowners concerned are eager to renew leases or issue new leases but we have discovered that the process is the main issue.

"People are complaining about the long and tedious process and that is why we are meeting with the TLTB next week to see if we can speed up the process."

During stakeholders consultations with cane growers in the Western Division over the past weeks, farmers had raised the slow process as a major drawback for them.

Hospital fees drop

Tevita Vuibau
Friday, March 29, 2013

THE Ministry of Health has slashed its hospital fees and charges in attempts to provide affordable and quality services to the people of Fiji.

Fees for dental, mammograms and dentures led the list of fees reduction while prosthetic or artificial limbs are now free of charge.

Health Minister Doctor Neil Sharma said the ministry had found that 86 per cent of children under five in Fiji suffered from tooth decay and hoped that this decrease in dental prices would see more children receiving treatment for it.

"We believe that by decreasing the dental charges we will see more parents seeking assistance of dentists for their children," he said.

He also said that breast cancer was another cause for concern among women in Fiji which was why the price of a mammogram was reduced as well.

"Another major problem in Fiji is breast cancer. Each year a number of women are diagnosed with breast cancer. To ensure that woman have access to cancer tests, we have also decreased the mammogram fee from $260 to $150," he said.

"This is done to see that more women turn up to our clinics and have tests done at an affordable rate."

And with a majority of the ageing population unemployed and staying with relatives, Dr Sharma said the ministry was making efforts to ensure they had access to cheap dentures.

"We have made denture affordable so that these people can eat properly and are able to get proper diet and nutrition," he said.

* Full dentures: $230
* Dental attendances, examination and consultation: $5.75
* Oral Surgeries (extraction, one tooth: $5.75.
* Each additional tooth: $5.75
* Mammogram: $150

Source: Miinistry Of Health

20 lepto cases in 3 months up North

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Update: 4:54PM THE Health Ministry has urged members of the public to take extra precaution against leptospirosis.


Ministry spokesman Shalvin Deo said  people must keep pets and animals away from water sources to prevent the spread of the deadly disease.

Since January this year, he said there were 20 cases of leptospirosis in the North.

People working in rice paddy or soggy areas where bacterias breed are being advised to wear protection such as boots and gloves to prevent its spread.

Fiji Dairy clarifies milk issue

13:09 Wed Mar 27, 2013
Report by: Dev Narayan

Fiji Dairy has acknowledged that there have been some issues with fat separation in some packets of Rewa Life Milk.

Marketing Manager Nathan Hildrebrand says they have already replaced packets that they knew had this issue and have supplied replacement stocks to consumers.

Nathan Hildrebrand says some stock may still exist and the company is addressing each case as it arises.

To ensure that fat separation is minimized, Fiji Dairy has improved efficiency and delivery to ensure only the freshest stocks are delivered to customers.

Hildrebrand says the homogenization process ensures that the fat is broken down and is unable to re-attach and therefore minimizes the chance for any lumps to form.

The machine at FDL is quite old and no longer capable of ensuring adequate pressure to sufficiently break down the fat.

He says this is why they are now getting a new machine fabricated in Sweden at a cost of over $300,000.

Once complete, it will be air-freighted, again a massive investment, to ensure the separation issue does not continue.

Further on the company says that fat separation is a naturally-occurring process in fresh milk and that Rewa Life UHT is still perfectly safe to drink.

Woman part of robbery gang

Friday, March 29, 2013

Update: 11:50AM SIX men and a woman armed with caneknives and pinchbars robbed a businessman in Vatukoula yesterday.

The suspects robbed the businessman of $4200 and other items, all valued at $23,550, after breaking into his house at Toko.

Police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri said the Fiji Police Force was concerned that females were now also being involved in robberies.

No arrests have been made and police investigations are continuing.

Drug bucket among the flowers

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Update: 12:12PM A 54-YEAR-old woman of Ba was arrested for cultivating Indian hemp in a plastic bucket beside her bathroom.

Police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri said the plant was hidden among flowers.

The woman was interviewed under caution and released.

Police are awaiting analysis results of the plant before charges are laid.

Man fails to declare foreign currencies

Publish date/time: 27/03/2013 [08:07]

A 69-year-old man is in police custody undergoing investigation after he failed to declare the currencies he was carrying at the Nadi International Airport.

He was stopped by customs officers where FJD$30,770, NZD$5,420 and AUD$20 were seized from him.

The man was produced in Nadi Magistrates Court yesterday afternoon.

Story by: Khusboo Singh

Police probe fake notes, suicides and fire

March 29, 2013 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by: newsroom

Fake Notes
Despite so many awareness exercises and warnings another case of fake currency notes was reported to the Police yesterday.

At the ANZ bank, Nausori Airport, a $50 note, believed to be counterfeit, was found.

It had the serial number CW797586, and was seized for verification.

An investigation has started.

This brings a total of 12 cases of fake currency notes reported this year.

The Police are again advising members of the public, particularly businesses, to be alert when handling money and report any suspicious transactions to your nearest Police station or community post, or call 919 or 917.

Members of communities and businesses are warned to be careful with their transactions during this long weekend.

People who use fake money usually do it on busy periods like this long Easter weekend.

Fake $50 found

March 27, 2013 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by: newsroom

The Fiji Police Force has advised members of the public and business community to be vigilant when handling money especially during busy shopping periods.

In a recent case, the Fiji Police Force confirmed Samosa Garden Café in Nadi Airport reported a $50 note believed to be fake. A 33-year-old shift supervisor, while going through the night cash bag, made the discovery and notified relevant authorities.

Police have also discovered more fake notes circulating in the Western Division. Ten cases of fake note discovery have been reported so far this year.

The note with serial number FFA0063899 has been seized for verification.

Investigations are continuing.

Fiji's Airbus flyby

Friday, March 15, 2013

Update: 2:39PM SUVA and Pacific Habour residents may be able to catch a glimpse of the new Airbus A330 next week after Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum revealed yesterday the aircraft might fly over the areas and several islands.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum made the comment while addressing guests at the launch of Nanuku Cove Estates in Pacific Harbour.

With the first of the three new Rolls-Royce-powered A330-200 heavy gross weight aircraft expected in the country on March 19, Fiji's national carrier, Air Pacific, said the new planes would replace its Boeing 747 fleet.

The airline, which was expected to be flying as Fiji Airways soon, announced today its international banking partners German-based KfW IPEX-Bank and Helaba had signed a financing agreement for the first aircraft with a commitment to finance the two additional aircrafts secured.

The financing agreement was guaranteed by the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) of the British Government with reinsurance provided by Coface of France and Euler Hermes of Germany.

In a statement, Air Pacific chairman Nalin Patel said they were pleased with the support demonstrated by its banking partners and the European Credit Agencies.

The second and third aircraft are expected to be delivered in May and November respectively.

Air Pacific said earlier the A330-200s were the first brand new wide-body aircraft ever purchased by the national carrier and were valued in the Airbus catalogue at a price of $US600million ($F1.069billion).

March 27, 2013

Real Fiji News and Discombobulated Bubu: Fiji military junta's lame lamu constitution

Adapted from Real Fiji Website

Real Fiji reveals the LIES THE JUNTA are trying to perpetuate through their hastily revamped draft conshtitushion:

1. The military junta have told you that the authority to make laws in their new Constitution is vested in Parliament right? Wrong.

Frankie Boy 'as Prime Minister' has the supposed authority to enact laws [s.43(2)] including regulations after receiving comments on facebook [s.47] by the express and implied powers conferred upon him by the Constitution [s.91(5)(c), s.91(2), s.130(2), s.159(7) & (11)] that is automatically assented to by the President [s.45(3),s.81] which comes into force as applicable [s.46] without having to use the innovative emergency powers [s.151] that are subject to scrutiny of parliament in or out of “session”.

2. The military junta have told you that the prime minister can be removed by a motion of no confidence right? Wrong.

The self-appointed PM and President are in cahoots and run things together and forever. Frankie can unilaterally instruct Epelie to prorogue parliament [s.56(2), s.81, s.159(1) “session”] so that a motion of no confidence is not introduced [s.93(2), s.92(6)].

3. The military junta have told you that parliament can be dissolved if it has lost confidence in the government right? Wrong.

As stated, Frankie can unilaterally instruct Epelie to prorogue parliament [s.56(2), s.81] so that a motion of no confidence is not introduced; frustrating the precondition that a motion of no confidence was rejected [s.60(2)(c)].

4. The military junta have told you that parliament will determine the rules and procedures for its internal governance right? Wrong.

Frankie and Aiyazie will craft the standing orders of parliament [s.70(2)] including the notice requirement for introducing a motion of no confidence against Frank but more importantly that relating to the disbursement of public finances in the absence of 44 parliamentarians (see below).

5. The military junta have told you that parliament will consist of 45 members right? Wrong.

Frankie 'as Prime Minister' will be your parliament [note 1 above] and government [s.90(1)] and minister for everything [s.91(5)(c)] when parliament is prorogued.

Alas no more coups and state of emergency in Fiji.