January 29, 2009

FICAC continues Clean Up rampage

It is almost as if FICAC have been given an ultimatum—churn them out or you will become like Robin Nair the now former interlocutor of the political forum, Rt Isoa Gavidi the now former Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and Rt Isoa Tikoca the now former High Commissioner to PNG.

FICAC or the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption is the illegally formed body tasked with weeding out corruption. One of its early appointment members, Mr. Mah Weng Kwai who is also President of LAWASIA quit shortly after he was appointed.

So churn them out they have and FICAC are working their socks off to justify their FJD$3mill budget corruption claims as part of the IIG’s self-righteous Clean Up Campaign. Conceivably we could be seeing more judicial activism propping these cases up soon.

At the top of the list we see Bainimarama’s eternal vendetta continuing against Qarase.

Those who have been hauled up to the Magistrates Court by FICAC recently are:

  1. Ousted PM, Laisenia Qarase
  2. Former Fiji rugby 7s team manager, Usaia Daunivalu
  3. PWD Hydrologist, Faga Solomone
  4. Fiji Audio Visual Commission boss, Taniela Bolea
  5. Former Native Land Trust Board general manager, Kalivati Bakani
  6. Former FNPF heads, Olota Rokovunisei & Foana Nemani
There sure seems to be much scurrying and flurrying from the IIG. Something else more defiant and downright uncouth is definitely on the cards.

The hints from a pro-IIG blog which shall remain nameless, seems loud and clear:

We will ensure that this action by the PIF is not unanswered. As soon as the grassroots people are back on their feet and their children are back at school, a strong response will no doubt be issued to ensure that our voice is heard and our decisions taken in response will be felt throughout the Pacific.

It sure smells to us like there’s gonna be some sweeping out of regional bodies before we get kicked out.

Let’s just watch to see if and/or how these pieces fall into place.

January 28, 2009

Our Constitution Needs Defending

While we applaud the recent PIF leaders hard-line stance against the IIG, just like Brij Lal we are not holding our breath. Bainimarama is after all military man. Have plan, will execute. Opponents will be crushed.

The fact of the matter is that Bainimarama needs to get rid of the constitution in order to make the changes that he wants. If he rids himself of the hassle of answering to the PIF while he's at it, he's sitting pretty.

Intelligentsiya has known for a long time that our Constitution is on its last legs. Many of you also know this to be true. How could it not be, when the IIG themselves have been saying so?

  • In March 2008, a Capt Suliasi Gukimaleya of the army’s Civil Affairs Department told civilians in Labasa about the junta's intentions.
  • In June 2008 Bainimarama said that scrapping it would be no big deal.
  • In July 2008 the FLP was applauding the Human Wrongs Rights Commission for an “independent” inquiry poking holes at the 2006 election results that poked more holes at the current electoral system and therefore the constitution.
  • In August 2008 Filipe Bole gave a convoluted statement about how the constitution could be changed but only with the consent of the people.
  • And of course it wouldn’t be a big deal for Bainimarama because he scrapped it once before during the 2000 coup.

But Fiji without a constitution translates to what he have now politically, and magnified a thousandfold. The Constitution is the legal guarantee of the upholding of our liberties as a People of Fiji.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. If you haven’t already familiarized yourselves with the document that keeps the country humming in accordance with law and order, do it today. You might not be able to enjoy the liberties they protect for very much longer.

The assault on media freedom is just the tip of the ice-berg. Next down the food chain is you. This is not scaremongering. It is the simple truth. Time will be our witness.

The fundamental nature of the Constitution is captured very humbly in its Preamble. Sadly we have never seen fit to inculcate a patriotic allegiance to our founding document in our schools. This may be why there is a limited appreciation about the significance of this document and what it safeguards for everyday people.

Perhaps the phobia of this document is heightened by an unfounded notion that it is the lawyers’ domain. It is not. It belongs to and protects teachers, taxi drivers, students, market vendors, fishermen, nurses, doctors, elders, housewives, farmers, retailers, civil servants, those trying to rebuild lives after the floods—all races—all creeds—all faiths—all genders—all ages. All of us. Even those in the military.

The Constitution was agreed by We The People of Fiji then that it would be the founding document for our nation. And so shall it be until We The People decide otherwise. Not Frank, not Chaudhry, not Qarase, not Pramod Rae, not Aiyaz, not Shaista, not Anthony Gates and definitely not Leweni, but We The People.

And We The People must defend the Constitution. Who else is going to do it? Not the IIG. Not the judges. Not the NGOs. Not the media. Not the politicians. Not the lawyers. We. The. People.

Read the preamble. Be inspired. Defend your Constitution.

SEEKING the blessing of God who has always watched over these islands:

RECALLING the events in our history that have made us what we are, especially the settlement of these islands by the ancestors of the indigenous Fijian and Rotuman people; the arrival of forebears of subsequent settlers, including Pacific Islanders, Europeans, Indians and Chinese; the conversion of the indigenous inhabitants of these islands from heathenism to Christianity through the power of the name of Jesus Christ; the enduring influence of Christianity in these islands and its contribution, along with that of other faiths, to the spiritual life of Fiji:

ACKNOWLEDGING our unique constitutional history:

(a) first, the Deed of Cession of 10 October 1874 when Ratu Seru Epenisa Cakobau, Tui Viti and Vunivalu, together with the High Chiefs of Fiji, signifying their loyalty and devotion to Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria, and their acceptance of the divine guidance of God and the rule of law, ceded Fiji to Great Britain, which cession was followed in November 1879 by the cession to Great Britain of Rotuma by the Chiefs of Rotuma;

(b) secondly, our becoming an independent sovereign state when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II promulgated the Fiji Independence Order 1970 under which the Fiji Constitution of 1970 came into being;

(c) thirdly, the abrogation of that Constitution in 1987 by the Constitution Abrogation Decree 1987;

(d) fourthly, after a period of 3 years, the giving to Fiji of the 1990 Constitution by His Excellency the President, Ratu Sir Penaia Kanatabatu. Ganilau, Tui Cakau, GCMG, KCVO, KBE, DSO, KSt J, ED, with the blessings and approval of the Great Council of Chiefs;

(e) fifthly, the review of that Constitution undertaken under its provisions; and

(f) sixthly, the conferral by the High Chiefs of Fiji in their abundant wisdom of their blessings and approval on this Constitution:

RECOGNISING that the descendants of all those who chose to make their homes in these islands form our multicultural society:

AFFIRMING the contributions of all communities to the well-being of that society, and the rich variety of their faiths, traditions, languages and cultures:

TAKING PRIDE in our common citizenship and in the development of our economy and political institutions:

COMMITTING ourselves anew to living in harmony and unity, promoting social justice and the economic and social advancement of all communities, respecting their rights and interests and strengthening our institutions of government:

REAFFIRMING our recognition of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all individuals and groups, safeguarded by adherence to the rule of law, and our respect for human dignity and for the importance of the family,


Obama administration weighs in on PIF decision

In case there was any doubt in anyone's mind that the Obama Presidency would not be in tune with what's going on in these parts, think again. The Obama administration has not missed a beat:

Bainimarama Has No Plan For Elections in Fiji
Press Statement

Robert Wood

Acting Spokesman

Washington, DC

January 27, 2009

The United States is extremely disappointed that Fiji’s self-appointed leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, refused to attend the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) conference of leaders in Port Moresby on January 27. The United States firmly supports the PIF’s statement that “More than two years of rule by an unelected military government, with no clear timetable for the return of constitutional government to the people, is not acceptable by international standards.” The United States strongly endorses the PIF position and urges Fiji’s interim government to move immediately to restore democracy and to hold free and fair elections by the end of this year.

And the verdict is…

No Suspension. Only very tough Sanctions. And squirm-free actions to be undertaken by the IIG ASAP.

The PIF wants elections to be held in December 2009 and no undue processes contrary to the Constitution. Now that’s a verdict we can dance the jig to.

We thank you PIF Leaders for your leadership and wisdom. Until December 2009 or otherwise you are now Fiji’s stand-in Parliament and Opposition.

We can already see Bainimarama’s retaliatory sound-bites. And they've locked in the IIAG as being in some kind of agreement at the last para. That should be interesting. No doubt he'll be spinning a bloody good yarn about this.

Change is coming y'all but the PIF cannot do it alone.

Read On: http://www.forumsec.org.fj/pages.cfm/newsroom/press-statements/2009/forum-leaders-special-retreat-communique-on-fiji.html


Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

27 January 2009


Heads of State and Government of Australia, the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu; and representatives of Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji and Palau; met in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on 27 January 2009 to discuss the situation in Fiji. Leaders noted the apologies received from the Republic of the Marshall Islands for its inability to attend due to circumstances beyond its control.

2. Leaders expressed their thanks to the Government and people of Papua New Guinea for their warm hospitality and generous hosting of the meeting, and the excellent arrangements made for the Retreat.

3. Leaders:

(a) Reiterated the condemnation expressed by them in the Niue Communiqué of the failure of the Fiji Interim Government to demonstrate the necessary political will to fulfil the undertaking made to Forum Leaders in 2007 that it would hold parliamentary elections by March 2009;

(b) Noted and acknowledged the steps taken by the Fiji Interim Government towards re-engagement with the Forum since the Leaders’ Meeting in Niue, including the reconvening of the Forum-Fiji Joint Working Group, and the second visit of the Ministerial Contact Group; but expressed serious concern at the continuing lack of practical preparations for holding elections;

(c) Stated that more than two years of rule by an unelected military government, with no clear timetable for the return of constitutional government to the people, is not acceptable by international standards including those embraced by all Forum members and enshrined in the Biketawa Declaration, and emphasised the need to restore democracy without further delay;

(d) Reaffirmed that there are long-term issues that need to be addressed in Fiji, including through independent and inclusive political dialogue; but that such dialogue must be primarily focused on the holding of elections. The dialogue process should not be the cause for further delay in holding elections;

(e) Called on the Interim Government to take the following actions to demonstrate its commitment to the restoration of parliamentary democracy in Fiji:

(i) provide to Forum Leaders a new timetable agreed with all key political stakeholders, specifying in detail the agreed steps to elections and a return to democracy, and the timing for completing them, reflecting a consensus reached through a genuine, open, inclusive dialogue without threats, preconditions, ultimatums or predetermined outcomes;
(ii) make a clear commitment that any reforms agreed through political dialogue will be implemented in accordance with the Constitution and laws of Fiji;
(iii) undertake and sustain serious and credible election preparations, including allocation of necessary resources to the Office of the Supervisor of Elections, and the prompt preparation of the electoral roll; and
(iv) make a renewed commitment that the military will withdraw from civilian politics following such an election, return to barracks, and submit to the authority of the elected civilian government in accordance with the Constitution;

(f) Agreed, subject to progressing the actions specified at sub-paragraph (e) above, to positively consider providing prompt financial and technical assistance to the President’s Political Dialogue Forum; in recognition of the value of independent and inclusive dialogue as a long-term process to assist in resolving broader issues in Fiji. The specifics of such assistance would be determined in close consultation with the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations;

(g) Reaffirmed the ongoing readiness of Forum members to continue to assist Fiji with preparations for an election, and called on the relevant authorities in Fiji to cooperate fully with Forum members and other donors to expedite such assistance;

(h) Agreed, in furtherance of Forum members’ collective commitment to the fundamental principles enshrined in the Biketawa Declaration, to the imposition of “targeted measures” under paragraph 2(iv) of the Biketawa Declaration in relation to Fiji to take effect unless:

(i) the Fiji Interim Government nominates an election date by 1 May 2009;
(ii) that election is held by the end of December 2009; and
(iii) the actions in paragraph (e) above are taken and publicly declared by 1 May 2009

(i) Agreed that such targeted measures will comprise the following:

(i) suspension of participation by the Leader, Ministers and officials of the Fiji Interim Government in all Forum meetings and events; and
(ii) ineligibility of the Fiji Interim Government to benefit from Forum regional cooperation initiatives, and new financial and technical assistance, other than assistance toward the restoration of democracy under the framework of the Biketawa Declaration;

(j) Agreed that the targeted measures, if imposed, will remain in place until such time as a democratically elected, civilian parliamentary government is restored in Fiji;

(k) Tasked the Ministerial Contact Group with continued monitoring of the Fiji situation, within the framework of Leaders’ decisions, including in relation to the assessment of the Fiji Interim Government’s compliance with sub-paragraph (e) above, and directed it to report further to Leaders as required and in any case before their 2009 annual meeting in Australia. Such reporting could, if necessary, recommend the partial relaxation of existing measures, or, alternatively, the adoption of further measures, which might include full suspension of Fiji’s membership in the Forum; and

(l) Called on the international community to support the measures outlined above by taking complementary actions to encourage the prompt restoration of elected constitutional government in Fiji.

4. Leaders considered that the timelines specified in these decisions are consistent with the position stated to Forum Leaders by the representative of the Fiji Interim Government on a timetable for the return to democracy.

Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea

27 January 2009

January 27, 2009

Do Not Suspend Fiji

As once firm advocates of Fiji’s suspension, the latest drama of the soon-to-be expelled Fiji Times publisher got us thinking.

On the eve of the special PIF leaders meeting, Bainimarama has once again pulled another fantastic stunt not forgetting his arrogant communication to stand up leaders again, and the confusion he caused using Somare as the scapegoat on meeting dates. Let’s also remember that on the weekend he sacked the second official who was supposed to front up to leaders with the IIAG. Bainimarama being a military man is big on unwavering loyalty but obviously Rt Isoa is not privy to his grand machinations.

One thing about Bainimarama that has been clear from his coup involvement of 2000 is he never does anything untoward without a reason. The giveaway however was the military precisioned timing and flawlessness of the stars all conveniently aligning and aimed at this PIF meeting.

Bainimarama is therefore intentionally annoying the leaders and these tactics are aimed at getting them to react accordingly.

So leaders don’t be fooled. Here’s our theory. The bottom line is that Bainimarama wants Fiji to be suspended from the Forum. If you read his prepped statement for Niue (which he didn’t attend) he was almost cajoling leaders to that point and his reaction to suspensions have always been so flippant. Why?

Basically Bainimarama and his crew do not want to be openly criticized or questioned about his undemocratic vision for Fiji. That’s why he’s muzzling the media and he needs unfettered freedom to now “work” on the constitution which he knows will require some major footwork. He can easily stem any domestic opposition to that process, but if he is out of the Forum he no longer has to squirm, report, face up, basically be accountable to anyone. Least of all PIF leaders.

He is not accountable to the people of Fiji, has no intention of ever being so and craves the ability to be untouchable at both the regional and international level.

At this point in time leaders of the PIF are Fiji's stand-in Parliament and Opposition. There is no one else who can hold his feet to the fire. And that's why Frank wants out.

Here’s what leaders can do. They must keep Fiji in the ring and in the hot seat but make life as a the II Leader, an IIG member and supporter exceptionally hard. Don’t bother with an envoy either, it’s a waste of time and money and there’s a good chance the envoy will also be expelled if she/he talks to people that Frank doesn’t want them to talk to. Instead leaders must remain engaged in the Ministerial Contact Group process, with tougher smarter sanctions that do not affect us everyday people, and keep the pressure on.

The people of Fiji and the world are watching and waiting.

BBC: Third Fiji publisher 'expelled'

On the eve of a day for very important decisions for Fiji, the IIG find themselves in a tight corner and choose to flex by kicking another Media Publisher out.

Media Freedom and Human Rights in Fiji is virtually non-existent but the people will not be silenced. Bank on it Bainimarama.

The BBC caught this latest episode very early:

Third Fiji publisher 'expelled'

Military rulers in Fiji have moved to expel an Australian newspaper publisher - the third such case in a year.

Rex Gardner and the Fiji Times were convicted of contempt of court for publishing a letter criticising judges who supported the 2006 military coup.

Fijian newspapers report that Mr Gardner will be deported on Tuesday.

It comes a day before a regional forum meets in Papua New Guinea to discuss Fiji's failure to restore democracy since the coup.

Australia and New Zealand have been pushing for a harder line on Fiji's government, but smaller island nations have refused to back them.

In May, Mr Gardner's predecessor at the Fiji Times, Evan Hannah, was expelled for "breaching national security", just weeks after the editor of the Fiji Sun was deported.

But critics of the government labelled the move an attack on free speech, and Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said it was a "reprehensible act" which continued the pattern of "severe erosion of human rights" in Fiji.

Fiji's government, led by Frank Bainimarama, came to power in a coup in 2006.

It has been widely criticised by rights groups and governments in the region.

January 26, 2009

What Frank was going to say in Niue

A quick web search revealed this telling prepped statement for Frank Bainimarama. By the looks of it, it lends support to the notion that the decision not to attend the PIF meeting last year was made at the 11th hour.

There is no doubt that the IIAG’s presentation tomorrow in PNG will sing the same tune but with minor edits in place justifying the courts legimitization of the coup and the so-calledacceptance” of 90-something percent of the populace of the Charter.

In other words, more Lies to the PIF Leaders.

Nonetheless we’ve given it the Intelligentsiya Seal at the end:

Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama,
(Interim) Prime Minister and Minister for Public Service, Peoples Charter for Change, Information, Provincial Development and Multi-ethnic Affairs and Indigenous Affairs
Statement by Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, Fiji - PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM - NIUE
Alofi, NIUE

18th August, 2008

Your Excellency, the Chairman of the Pacific Forum of Leaders;
Excellency Prime Minister of our Host Nation, Niue
Leaders of the Forum Countries;
Your Excellency Mr Kamalesh Sharma,
Secretary General of the Commonwealth;
Ministers, Officials, Observers;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am honoured once again to lead my delegation to the Forum Heads of Government Meeting as the Interim Prime Minister of Fiji. I am also very pleased at the opportunity to visit this beautiful island State of Niue as host of this meeting. I bring greetings, and good wishes to the people of Niue from my island country of Fiji.

Mr. Chairman, you have received from the Forum Foreign Ministers Contact Group its Report on the situation in Fiji and my Governments response to that Report. You have also received from me, the draft Peoples Charter and an Executive Summary of the State of the Nation and the Economy Report on Fiji. These are the products of the extensive, consultative work of most of our leaders and our own people in Fiji, facilitated through the National Council for Building a Better Fiji (NCBBF).

The NCBBF, through its 3 National Task Teams and the 9 Working Groups involving over 200 people namely from the non-government sectors, together with feedback obtained from consultations with over 1000 villages and settlements across the country, made a comprehensive assessment of our situation in Fiji, in terms of the deep-seated problems we are facing, and how we propose to resolve them in the short and long term. This huge nation-wide effort represents our own way forward in Fiji, to restore as well as to ensure the endurance of Constitutional democracy. We believe this alternative way forward will serve our country better over the long term.

These Way Forward documents are being subjected to further dialogue and consultation across the country at the grassroots level, so that, in the final form in which these will be presented to the President in October and also the Presidents Dialogue Forum, it is anticipated that they will reflect the will of the great majority of our people.

Mr. Chairman, the last Meeting of the Pacific Forum, in Nukualofa in 2007, had noted the importance of this initiative so you know that we had not initiated the work of the NCBBF merely to evade an election in March, 2009. This comprehensive road map for rebuilding the economic, social and democratic foundation of our country will be owned by the great majority of Fijis people. They will be asked to indicate their support or their opposition to the Peoples Charter in the national consultation process that has been launched. This activity is real grassroots democracy at work in Fiji.

Mr. Chairman, Fijis relationship with the Pacific Forum is now at an impasse, if not a cross-roads. The Forum is inflexibly insistent in its demand that a General Election be held in Fiji in March 2009, come what may. The commitment to the March 09 date was the position that I was compelled, against my will, to agree to at the last Forum Meeting in Tonga. This commitment has now acquired a life of its own.

We believe the General Election must be held as soon as practicably possible but only after we have achieved broad consensus in Fiji for a non-racial and truly democratic electoral system and agreed on a Constitutional and legal way to introduce it. It is being proposed that we need to change our electoral system, that there is a compelling case for us in Fiji to do this, in order to have democracy in Fiji. We have proposed the Presidents Dialogue Forum and invited the Commonwealth and United Nations joint assistance to independently facilitate this dialogue.

With reference to their discussions with the Commonwealth Envoy, Sir. Paul Reeves, the Report of the Forum Foreign Ministers Contact Group doubts that there can be agreement to a truly independent and inclusive political dialogue. I must ask why there is this doubt! We proposed to include all registered political parties in the Presidents Dialogue Forum; we would even favour a much broader Dialogue Forum to include the members of the NCBBF and other stakeholders that have not yet been included in that proposed independent consultation process.

The ball is now in the court of the Commonwealth Envoy, Sir. Paul Reeves who recently visited Fiji, to give us his proposed draft terms of reference, so that we can make the Presidents Dialogue Forum as nationally representative and get it underway as soon as possible. After all, we will be discussing the future of Fiji as a nation, not just the short- term desire of a number of politicians who are only interested in their short political careers which are not in the national interest.

Mr. Chairman, the Interim Government is in firm and effective control of Fiji. The issue of legality of the removal of the Qarase Government is still before the Courts. We have done our best to have a true basis for sincere and objective dialogue with the other political parties in Fiji that the Pacific Forum has decided to support through the proposed resolutions in the MCG Report.

The political parties and others in Fiji who are opposed to the interim Government, with the kind of support they have been getting from Australia and New Zealand, have on the basis of that rejected the draft Peoples Charter and have even called for the postponement of the Presidents Dialogue Forum to after March 2009. So I ask how sincere were they when they told the Foreign Ministers Contact Group that they were willing to come to the dialogue table, to discuss electoral and other reforms in the proposed Presidents Dialogue Forum?

Those who are behind the hard line stance taken against Fiji, who insist that an Election be held in March 09, are not really interested in helping the people of Fiji to deal with the problems that were exacerbated by the very politicians that the metropolitan countries in our Forum hope will regain power in Fiji should an election be held in March 09. These parties including Qarases SDL Party had rejected the 1997 Constitution when they were unconstitutionally and corruptly elected in September 2001.

Mr. Chairman, and Honourable Members of the Pacific Forum, forgive me that I now go back into some forgotten aspects of our recent history in Fiji because they are relevant to the relationship between Fiji and the Pacific Forum and the attitude that some members of the Forum have taken in regard to the situation in Fiji. New Zealand and Australia, against the judgment of their own senior judges who sat on the Fiji Court of Appeal in the Chandrika Prasad case, helped organise an illegal election that put in power the very people who are now hypocritically posing as supporters and defenders of the 1997 Constitution.

Those politicians, who come into power illegally, corruptly spent about $20 million of public funds to fund their Election campaign in 2001. On that occasion too, Laisenia Qarase had lied to the Court of Appeal that his Interim government would implement its judgement. It meant they should have resigned in March, 2001. They also promised their extreme ethno-nationalist supporters to introduce a new Constitution after the 2001 Election.

Between 2001 and 2006, the Qarase government defied the 1997 Constitution and refused to form a government with the Fiji Labour Party, as required by Section 99 of the Constitution. It chose, as its partner in Government, George Speights Party, the CAMV. After a Court decision, Laisenia Qarase made a mockery of the concept of multi-party government by proposing a Cabinet of 36 members and allocating ministerial positions with no responsibilities to the main opposition party, the Fiji Labour Party. That was his way of again, cynically, to evade the Judgement of the Court because the FLP declined such a humiliating offer.

After the 2006 Election, the SDL leader Qarase formed a multi-party government only because I was insisting that he must in compliance with our Constitution. But then, he refused to draw up an agreement on rules for how the multi-party government would run. Inevitably that Coalition government was headed for ultimate break-up, this not withstanding Mr, Winston Peters belief that he could have saved it with NZAID good governance programmes.

Some in our Forum family, unfortunately, support people who pursue extremist ethno-nationalist policies that will take Fiji down the road to destruction. I had, reluctantly, removed those extreme elements before they did more damage to the national interest of Fiji. Now, in the wake of all this, one of our opponents in Fiji has labeled me and the RFMF as hard line pro-Indian. Such racism, and this type of leaders, have no place in our vision for a better Fiji.

This MCG Report is not concerned with the problems we are trying to grapple with in Fiji, that stem from the 1987, and 2000 coups and the illegal Election in 2001 that Australia and New Zealand supported.

We regret the fact that the MCG, and some of its members in particular, had not come to Fiji to actively listen to those who are genuinely concerned with long term solutions to Fijis problems. Instead, some in the MCG such as Minister Winston Peters in particular, engaged in selective listening i.e. giving undue credence to politicians in Fiji with short term interest to get back into Parliament, and power. For those of you have who read the draft Peoples Charter, can you tell me what is wrong with it? What is wrong with having this as the basis of dialogue at the Presidents Dialogue Forum?

Mr. Chairman, Foreign Minister Winston Peters of New Zealand is one who has been willfully engaging in selective rather than active listening. After two days in Suva, he said that 85% of the people of Fiji want an Election in March 2009. On what legitimate basis could he made such a claim? He has, last week, further claimed on Radio Australia that the Peoples Charter will not stop future coups and that it will marginalize the indigenous Fijians. These ethnically prejudiced and parochial statements, we believe undermine the serious and genuine efforts we are making to take Fiji forward. We wonder why Minister Peters has continued to take such a dogmatic, hostile and uncooperative attitude towards Fiji.

Should this Forum, without reservation, endorse the MCG Report, then I am sorry to say we have reached the end of the road for Fiji to get genuine understanding of its situation and support for what we are trying to do to take Fiji forward. If, at the end of this meeting in Niue, the Forum will continue to insist on the Election being held in March 2009, then I will be compelled to return to Fiji to tell the people of my country that they must now be prepared to suffer more sanctions, and international isolation, as we pursue our own way in Fiji to return to a better, and durable democracy based on genuine national consensus and reconciliation.

We will decide what is in our national interest at this juncture in our history as an independent and a sovereign nation. If we have to, we will seek assistance from outside the Pacific Forum and the Commonwealth. It is imperative that we now rebuild our nation on a firmer foundation. We urge you, our Forum family, to assist us if you possibly can but we insist that you do not undermine our efforts, dominated by the stance taken by our metropolitan members.

I reiterate, again at the risk of being trivialised by people in this Forum such as the NZ PM that we are committed to having a General Election in Fiji under a fair electoral system based on equality, ethnic integration, tolerance and co-operation between our communities. We need an electoral system based on a common roll and equal value for all voters. Such a system had never been advocated, and is unlikely to be supported, by those who want to be empowered to continue to be elected under a racial and unfair electoral system. This Forum can ill afford to mollycoddle continued extremism and racism in Fiji.

We will not any longer tolerate the racist, divisive, undemocratic and unfair electoral system under which Qarase and his group want to be re-elected. We will hold the Election as soon as possible, and we need the Pacific Forum to support the process we are following. However, should you not be able to extend your support, we will carry on with the road map to which we are committed.

I wish to thank the Government and the people of Niue for your generous hospitality. I know it is a challenge to host such a large gathering of Leaders, Ministers, Senior Officials of relevant international organisations. You have met this challenge admirably.

A warm thank you and Vinaka Vakalevu.


Michael Kidd: Fiji Legal System Breaking Down

Wednesday, 21 January 2009, 12:51 pm
By Dr Michael Kidd

“The difference between murder and manslaughter is in the element of intent.”
- reference link

But a recent decision by the Fiji Government to reinstate Francis Kean to the post of Commander of the Navy illustrates just how far the rule of law has fallen in Fiji, and highlights the deficiency of two other decisions of the Fiji High Court.

In the State v Kean [2007] FJHC 69; HAC 037.2007 (26 October 2007) the Court sentenced Mr. Kean to just 18 months for manslaughter of a man whom he had kicked in the head on the ground, after advancing on and pulling that person out of a taxi and repeatedly punching - after that person had made some drunken offensive comments which most people would ignore.

The Fiji DPP only charged Mr. Kean with manslaughter when in fact the above factual situation fully fits a murder charge. The Judge in sentencing held that kicking the victim in the head was only an aggravating feature of manslaughter, but did not comment on the inappropriateness of the charge of manslaughter instead of murder.

Mr. Kean is the brother in law of Frank Bainmarama.

In January 2007 a law practitioner, who was also a military officer, marched the then Chief Justice out of the CJ’s chambers at the point of a gun. No impropriety has ever been established against Daniel Fatiaki and he recently resigned after reaching an out of court settlement of $250,000.00 with the Fiji Government. The Fiji Law Society quite properly suspended that practitioner’s law practice certificate and after some deliberation reinstated it. The High Court allowed a human rights complaint, by the Fiji Human Rights Commission on behalf of that practitioner, to proceed against the Fiji Law Society even though, according to Australian judicial authority, such action was clearly an abuse of process: Gunns Ltd & Ors v Marr & Ors (No. 2) [2006] VSC 329 (28 August 2006) Supreme Court of Victoria. The court made no attempt to address the submissions by a senior Australian lawyer (myself) brought into Fiji to argue the case.

The Judge sitting on that case was Mr. Justice Gates who was the Acting Chief Justice replacing the unfortunate Fatiaki.

Finally, the recent three judge panel (9 October 2008) that decided the December 06 coup was lawful was headed by the same Justice Gates, and it held that the President had authorized the coup even though Mr. Bainmarama had appointed himself acting President during the early part of the coup, and a press announcement from the President’s office on the day of the coup “did not condone” the over throw of the elected Government.

The reasoning given in this judgment was both at variance with the publically known facts and intellectually dishonest as it used British colonial cases whereby various Governor Generals had dismissed colonial governments, and even drew some comfort from the infamous Whitlam dismissal and the use of so called reserve powers. Of course the Whitlam dismissal was given some propriety as elections were called promptly which has not been the case in Fiji.

There is a decided murkiness and lack of transparency in these decisions and their associated administrative outcomes which inevitably lead one to question the direction and independence of the judicial process in Fiji.


Dr. Michael Kidd is an Auckland barrister who taught law at the University of South Pacific, Suva, 1998 - 2002


January 23, 2009

Excerpt of Joint Media Conference with Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully

STEPHEN SMITH: I am very pleased to officially welcome the New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully to Australia and very pleased to welcome him to Perth and Western Australia.

This is our first formal bilateral meeting since the election of the new New Zealand Government in November last year. It's not the first occasion Murray and I have met. We met when Murray was in Opposition and since Murray became Foreign Minister we've met in the margins of APEC in Lima; and of course we're both also members of the Pacific Island Forum, Foreign Ministers Ministerial Contact Group on Fiji. But this is the first formal bilateral that we've had Foreign Minister to Foreign Minister either in Australia or New Zealand.

Can I say, we started the day very enjoyably by watching the Western Force train out at Guildford. The Western Force are playing a game against Canterbury on Friday night and of course some of the Western Force Wallabies are back; Nathan Sharpe and Matt Giteau. So Mr McCully and I watched training. For me it was enjoyable, for Murray it was work, because Mr McCully is also the Minister for Sport and Minister for the World Cup, an important event occurring in 2011.

We've just had a formal bilateral meeting today going through a range of issues and interests to Australia and New Zealand. We'll adjourn to the war memorial and lay a wreath at the war memorial in King's Park reflecting obviously the ANZAC relationship, and we'll continue our bilateral discussions over lunch.

Can I say that the relationship between Australia and New Zealand is one of the most important that Australia has. We're firm friends, we're great partners, and that relationship has been forged on the battleground and also on the sporting field. And there are very many trappings of our first-class relationship.

Of course Australia and New Zealand have the longest standing, and one of the best free trade agreements, the CER. And that's worked very well for the economies and for the people of both our nations for over 20 years. We share important defence and security and police cooperation as well, including in East Timor, in the Solomons and also whilst we are in different locations in Afghanistan.

So the relationship that we have is a first-class one, touching, people to people contact, defence, security and important economic relationships. I'll throw to Murray to enable Murray to make some...

[audio missing - break in tape]

MURRAY MCCULLY: ...values the free trade agreement that it has with Australia, it's the oldest, it's the most comprehensive as Stephen Smith has said to you. And we look forward to the opportunities as an incoming Government in New Zealand to try and do, as new Governments can, to look to enlarge that relationship.

The security relationship between our two countries is close as well. We've got people working together in places like Timor-Leste, Solomon Islands, Afghanistan, where I see that servicemen from both of our countries now have won Victoria Crosses for bravery in that theatre.

We all share a great sense of responsibility for the Pacific region, which we are a part. We have a number of issues on our plates in that respect, which are sent to test us, but we have a very close sense of cooperation in the way in which we deal with those challenges.

So, from my point of view as an incoming Minister it's been great pleasure to come to Perth to have a look at the Western Force training this morning and to be able to transmit important messages back to the Crusaders prior to Friday.

I thought I was very clever reporting to Nathan Sharpe and his colleagues that Richie McCaw appeared at training earlier this week, and was looking in great shape, but I missed the news while I was travelling that he's not playing in the team apparently.

So I really appreciate the special effort that you've gone to, Stephen, to give me the opportunity, not just as Foreign Minister but as the Minister for Sport and the Rugby World Cup, to see those dimensions to the relationship here. So I'll leave it there and happy to deal with any questions that come up.

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, thanks very much, Murray.

Murray and I are happy to take questions about the bilateral relationship and any matters of mutual interest. I am also happy at the conclusion of that to take any Australian based questions. So we're happy to respond to your questions.

QUESTION: Can I just start with a couple on Fiji?


QUESTION: Commodore Frank Bainimarama has decided obviously not to go to the Special Pacific Forum Leaders meeting on Fiji. From both countries perspective, do you think the Forum leaders will agree to the Commodore's request to defer the special leaders meeting?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, I might go first and then invite Murray to make some remarks.

The Australian Government very much believes that the Special Pacific Island Forum Leaders meeting should go ahead. We understand of course the difficulties caused by the floods in Fiji; and our understanding of that has been reflected by an initial $3 million contribution to humanitarian systems and recovery. So we understand the importance of a response to the floods. But this Special Pacific Island Forum Leaders meeting goes to Fiji's long-term future and Fiji returning to democracy. So the Australian Government view is we believe the forum should continue.

Obviously we'll be in discussion with our Pacific Island Forum partners about that issue. We think it's important, very important that Commodore Bainimarama, the interim Prime Minister attend. And our officials have made it clear to Fiji officials that if for the sake of convenience Commodore Bainimarama wants to or needs to transit through Australia for the purposes of getting to PNG in quick order, then I would respond very favourably in terms of an approval for that.

So we think it's important the Forum go ahead. We think it's important that Commodore Bainimarama attend and we will view favourably the facilitation of his attendance.

We think it's very important that Commodore Bainimarama explain to the leaders why he's not proposing to meet his faithful and unconditional undertaking to the Pacific Island Leaders Forum in Tonga in October 2007, why he's not proposing to hold an election before the end of March this year.


MURRAY MCCULLY: Well, I broadly share those views and the New Zealand's Government's position is this - pretty much identical I think here, to that which you've heard outlined on behalf of the Australian Government. We think it is important that the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting does take place. And to see why I think you simply have to look at the historical context here. The Commodore gave a clear and unequivocal commitment to forum leaders that elections would be held by March 2009. That commitment will not be kept.

The Ministerial Contact Group - that Minister Smith and I are both members of - met in Suva, identified with the Commodore that those elections would not be held in due time, that the commitment would not be kept, and reported to forum leaders a range of decisions that it now falls to them to make.

The reality is that busy prime ministers, leaders of nations, have diaries that simply do not make it possible for meetings to be arranged at short notice. And the reality is that a deferral would very likely mean that the accounting which is due by the Commodore to the Pacific Forum Leaders will not occur in a timely fashion, if the request for a deferral is accepted.

Like the Australian Government, the New Zealand Government's been saddened to see the devastation by the flooding in Fiji. We too have made now two contributions, and we'll obviously look at that situation as things proceed.

So we have every desire to see the flooding dealt with in the most effective manner possible, and we'll contribute to that process; but we do not believe that that should stand in the way of a process that is very important to the Forum and to the Forum leadership.

QUESTION: Would it be acceptable - again, this question for both countries - for him to send an envoy, I guess, considering the fact that, I mean, there's been tens of millions of dollars damage, and 11 dead? Isn't it pretty reasonable for the leader of a country to want to be at home at a time like that to help with the clean-up?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, Australia's view is that we very much want Commodore Bainimarama to attend. As I say, we understand the difficulties caused by the terrible floods, and we've responded with humanitarian and other assistance.

The problem for Commodore Bainimarama is this: it was he who gave a faithful and unconditional commitment to his fellow leaders in Tonga in October 2007. And I think his fellow leaders very much want a personal explanation from him as to why he's not proposing to meet the election timetable that he outlined for them in Tonga in 2007.

Whilst of course a representative, either his Deputy or an acting Foreign Minister would be preferable to no presence, Australia's very strong view is that it is much more preferable, and desirable, for Commodore Bainimarama to attend. And as I say, Australia would facilitate any travel arrangements which made it easier for him to attend PNG by transiting through Australia, if that's required or necessary.


MURRAY MCCULLY: Well, can I just say very briefly to that, that I think it is very desirable that the Commodore should attend the meeting.

The commitment that was made to forum leaders was in the nature of a personal commitment that he made. In the context of the way in which Pacific people interact, I think it is very important that he should make himself available to account to the Pacific leaders as a consequence. However, we can't make him go. He's due the opportunity to provide an explanation, and if he chooses to exercise that by way of sending a representative, then I guess that's what the Forum should accept.

QUESTION: If [indistinct] returned with those [indistinct] from that meeting when would be the next opportunity you'd have to talk to him about the election?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, that'll be a matter for the leaders themselves at the Pacific Island Forum. We're dealing here with nearly a dozen and a half Pacific countries. And as you'd expect all those leaders have very busy itineraries; so one of the reasons, the very sensible, practical reasons why Australia doesn't want a postponement or a deferment is of course the difficulty in getting the leaders together again at short notice.

So we very much, strongly believe the meeting should go ahead in Commodore Bainimarama's presence. I put it, as Mr McCully has, no higher than if Commodore Bainimarama chooses not to attend, then obviously it's preferable there be some Fiji representation rather than none.

QUESTION: Is there any inclination, sorry, amongst the Pacific nations, though? I mean Sir Michael Somare's sort of said that there needs to be understanding on both sides.

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, we're in consultation, as is New Zealand, with the other Pacific Island Forum countries. We've all been asked by the Secretary General of the Forum, Pacific Island Forum, for our views as to postponement or otherwise.

And the view that officials are relaying to the Secretary General of the Pacific Island Forum is as I've indicated it to you: our view is it should proceed in Commodore Bainimarama's presence. That's the view we've put forward to the Secretariat of the Pacific Island Forum; that's the view we're indicating to our partners in the Pacific.

MURRAY MCCULLY: Can I just make the additional point that the Ministerial Contact Group report that is to go to the Forum leadership is not a report by the Foreign Ministers of New Zealand and Australia. It's a report from a number of foreign ministers, from a range of Pacific Nations. And it was a report that was reached by consensus.

So, there's I think a risk here of seeing New Zealand and Australia as being in a slightly different place to some of the Pacific nations. I think that's implied by your question.

What I'd say to you is that the spirit that I saw around the table of the Ministerial Contact Group when trying to share the problem, and share the path towards a solution, is still the sort of sentiment that I hear from Pacific leaders that I'm talking to about the way in which they want to see the next step of this process played out as well.

The Media Muzzling Strategy

The IIG after getting one of their own to launch a fizzled media freedom and independence analysis (and we note that the author has not re-surfaced since) has been working fastidiously to muzzle the media.

Yesterday’s verdict by Thomas Hickie has already gotten the IIAG doing a celebratory jig . Khaiyum's jig is followed by his lackey, the IISG's, meke.

Ironically the IIAG’s had some interesting words in his war dance speech.

“The rule of law does not sit somewhere out there in vacuum while inequalities exist else where. The rule of law is a living, breathing ideal inside each of us to do what we note to be right,”.


The supposedly learned judge in his summation also used the opportunity to offer the following:

"As to what should be the outcome, that is a matter for the judges hearing the case to decide, not to be pressured by the parties, lawyers, the media, politicians, academics or "ravings of a ratbag" byway of an opinion column, letters to the editor, on talkback radio, on television or on websites."

Lest we forget this is from an individual who was whining to other lawyers about being shut out of the cocktail circuit.

While the victim in this latest tactical move is conceding graciously, next on the chopping block is the Daily Post.

The global journalists federation however is not as conciliatory and inevitably the IIG will now be in the cross-hairs of fourth estaters at the global level. Something perhaps they did not envision in their plan.

While many in this country respect the rule of law and acknowledge that it is what keeps anarchy at bay, right from the word GO the judiciary has failed to bolster the respect of the public in its independence and impartiaity.

But here we have, in the IISG’s own words, a classic Freudian slip:

"What the court confirms today is that the Attorney-General has a public role and that is to bring these matters before the court.

"It's not prosecution by the Attorney-General, but it's the Attorney-General bringing the matter before the court in the public interest and that is very important.

"It is very important because contempt of this nature is a crime against the public of Fiji and we're satisfied with the result."

And there we have it. The grand plan. No more promulgations with the shelving of the first idea (which racks up their crime rates rapidly), but sharing the burden with the friendly courts and letting the judges make laws.

The last time we checked only elected representatives of Parliament have the constitutional mandate to make the laws that the taxpaying public want and need for a functioning society. Not the courts. No, No, No and Hell No.

But this is not a law you may surmise and you would be correct. The effect of this judgment and possibly the Daily Post one, will in essence serve as a hefty financial deterrent to voices (especially now Letters to the Editor) against the junta. Just like a law.

In case the IIG and friends, need reminding in Fiji today the 3 arms of Government (the Executive was taken by force, the Legislature is long dead and gone, and the Judiciary is not perceived as impartial or independent) are all on the same page leaving the taxpayers without a voice. It is only right that these voices be heard as they pay for the running of this country.

The pressing question that needs to be put out there is whether the bench is untouchable or perhaps more precisely Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

With the IIG now targetting yet again all outward communications, they have forgotten the simple fact that when the taxpaying public chooses to spend their disposable income and put their purchasing power towards trustworthy, objective views they are demonstrating the democratic right to choose who they want to hear from.

This simple act of democratic choice on a daily-weekly or monthly basis no judiciary or junta can ever overturn, overrule or deny.

As for Intelligentsiya we will gladly take up a "raving ratbag" tag as long as people are ensured their right to receive an alternative view, form an opinion and consequently make them known.

What's more we will maintain our growing contempt for the injustices that are emanating from the courts.

Stand Up and take a bow Fiji Times, Daily Post and Vili Navukitu for being our voice on that issue and the media houses especially for defending it. We will continue to be a thorn in the IIG's side until we can freely and fairly elect a government that is worthy of our taxes.

Freedom is the right to raise your voice.