People'Charter, Military, Rinakama, Koro Apologizes, Foreign Relations, Media, Corruption, Bio-fuel, Environment,

Short Briefs
See Stop Press on Rinakama

(+) RFMF instructors sacked. The Military has sacked ten instructors for having extra-marital affairs with female cadet officers. Chief-of-Staff Brigadier General Mohammed Aziz (photo)  said the officers were removed because the army wanted to lead by example, and moral discipline among the ranks had to be maintained. The female cadet officers who were also discharged were part of a group of 70 recently recruited officer cadets.

(-) Where is Rinakama? I'd be more impressed with BrigGen Aziz's statement if I didn't share the growing concern about Peceli Rinakama's disappearance. There has been no official report on the whereabouts of this twice-jailed former MP since he was arrested by the military a week ago. Rinakama was briefly jailed in 2004 for being part of the failed Speight rebel administration and arrested and discharged in 2007 for being part of the Assassination plot. During the trial one witness claimed Rinakama was "gathering ex-military personnel for the cause." Rinakama was arrested at the home of Naitasiri High Chief Ratu Inoke Takivekata who had earlier the same day been convicted of conspiring to murder Bainimarama. It seems highly likely, in these circumstances, that Rinakama was breaking the Public Emergency Regulations. This would explain his arrest but not what has happened since. The arrest has not been mentioned by the heavily censored Fiji media. This blog reiterates: this is not part of the Roadmap! 

Stop Press: reports that Police Commissioner Esala Teleni said Rinakama is still in custody. No further details were available.  

STOP PRESS (ANOTHER ONE!) Police are now saying Rinakama was charged under the PER regulations in the Suva Magistrates Court on Wednesday and released on bail. Why they couldn't have said this before is anyone's guess and why, if he was released, the SDL party or some others close to him did not say so, is also anyone's guess.

Whatever. Once  again, Government has kicked itself in the foot because of media censorship.  If it established a good PR unit, as suggested several times by this blog, the PR unit would be sufficient to ensure responsible media balance and coverage. We'd all have known about Rinakama several days ago and the anti-goverment blogs would have been unable to further influence  ethnic Fijians and further damage Fiji's international relations. As it was, we had  no news for a week, then at 2pm today Teleni said one thing and at 3pm police spokesman Atunaisa Sokomuri, said another. And the gagged Fiji media and the un-gagged Rinakama said nothing.

(+) The National Charter Advisory Council now has a social, finance and governance sub-committee that will report to the Council before the end of April. One other outcome of the Tuesday meeting was a call to abolish state scholarships on racial grounds.

(+) Koro matanigasau. The 14 villagesin the island of Koro recently presented matanigasau or traditional apology to the Prime Minister seeking his forgiveness for not supporting the People's Charter when it was brought to the island. Former Methodist stewart Maika Ravoka said he had been a key figure who told villagers not to accept the Charter. He then went on to compare the PM to Moses leading his people to the promised land, and said Koro will support all moves by the PM to lead the nation to a better place for all races. It could only happen in Fiji!

(o-) Radio talkback show topics now need a week's notice. This follows several breaches of the Public Emergency Regulations, including on where it was said recent legislation decriminalising homosexuality of gay marriages also made gay marriages legal: a false and politically mischevious comment in Fiji's present circumstances. I wonder whether delayed rather than live broadcasting might have been a better solution. A ten minute delay would be sufficient to cut out objectionable comment while retaining some semblance of a live show -- or a denial by the talkback host, either immediately or at the end of the show.

(o) Fiji-NZ, US, Australia relations. Fiji Sun sees the Thomson and Taulu appointments as a good sign. I'm hopeful also but I'm not sure how independent the NZ position is of Australian influence. I'm told PM Rudd is micro-managing the direction of Australia-Fiji relations and he's not a man to admit he was wrong. Fiji's challenge to Australia's pressure on PI Forum countries over PacerPlus and the Cairns Compact would harden his resolve.

(G) Fiji-Commonwealth relations. The PM has reiterated his position that Fiji's future links to the Commonwealth will be reviewed if the group does not consider issues from Fiji's perspective. The international community, he said, should understand that the government is focusing on implementing policies to bring about sustainable democracy and eradicating race- based policies and politics.

(+) Corruption. Villagers attending corruption awareness workshops in Cakaudrove have been told to take the initiative, break the culture of silence and report corrupt activities by FijiIndependent Commission Against Corruption FICAC) officials currently visiting each of the province's 15 tikina (districts).

(+) Illegal use of government vehicles. The Land Transport Authority has  confirmed that 85 vehicles were seized nationwide on Tuesday, the first day of a month-long operation to eliminate illegal public service vehicle operators.

(+) Bio-fuel. While on Koro the PM announced plans to construct two more bio-fuel mills, probably on Rotuma and one of the Lau islands, as part of the Roadmap to improve rural infrastructure. The Koro mill cost $400,000.

(o) Bio-waste. A three-year pilot project at Nadi and Lautoka managed by the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) aims to recycle bio-degradable waste from other household waste, before they reach the dump site. If successful, the project will be extended to other parts of the country.

(+) Food voucher programme. Up to 21,000 people could ultimately qualify for assistance under the government's food voucher progamme.

A FijiLive poll has 35% of pollsters saying the sugar industry can't be revived.

Memories of Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau. IndianWeekender has an insightful article by Padmini Gaunder.


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