FHL Pay Back, FNPF Pay Out, Echo Before Sound, PINA Split, CCF Wants Transparency Registrar Appointment

ANNIVERSARY. One year ago today I started the Flag counter.  Since then the blog has had  over 37,000  "unique visitors" from 131 countries some of whom visited the site 85,000 times.
(-) FIJI LIVE POLLQ: Is the Media Industry Development Decree good for Fiji's media industry? A: Yes  41%; No  59%. I've no idea how many people voted but the question surely should have been, "Is it good for Fiji?"  The media and Fiji are not synonymous, although sometimes one has to wonder. And, hey! I thought all negative reporting was censored.

(o) FAB AND FHL PAY BACK. Twenty-one years ago Government loaned the Fijian Affairs Board   $20 million at no interest to broaden the participation of indigenous Fijians in commerce and business. The FAB put it all in Fijian Holdings Ltd which, n turn, invested the money in a diverse collection of businesses. In 2001 the Qarase government converted the FAB loan to a grant.No money needed to be repaid.

Qarase's family trust have a significant shareholding in FHL, the questionable ownership of which is currently before the courts.  This week  the Bainimarama government reversed the Qarase government grant, turning it back again into an interest-free loan that must be repaid by the FAB and thus FHL. Fortunately, FHL profits increased dramatically during 2009, only partly due to its sale of it Forster interests, and high dividends were paid to shareholders. The holding company should have no difficulty progressively repaying the loan.

(+) FNPF. The Fiji National Provident Fund Board yesterday paid out about US$60 million to its members after declaring a 5% interest payment for the year ending June the 30th.

(-+) R's BEFORE FACE. ABC reports that "criticism of Fiji's new media laws by Australian and New Zealand governments has been echoed by journalist and rights groups in the region." This is a world first: an echo before the sound, something like thunder before lightning. The PMs were reacting to media releases. But the echo bounced off one media outlet after another in an amazing endless procession. News Limited, sole owner of the Fiji Times, unsurprisingly  called the move "an appalling assault on free speech and a terrible blow for the fragile economy of  Fiji".

(-+) DISAPPOINTED WITH SUVA-BASED PINA (Pacific Islands News Association), the editor of the Cook Islands News John Woods is setting up a new media organization to "promote media rights and represent all media in the region." He claims PINA is not standing by its core values of defending and standing up for media rights, giving PINA's failure to condemn the Fiji Media Decree as an example."All [they] seem to do is compromise and amend our ways and talk to the Fiji regime as if it’s recoverable and as if they are trainable. Well, that is not going to happen.”

PINA president Moses Stevens dismissed the criticism and  said  they’ll continue to work alongside the Fiji regime. “Apparently some people don’t agree to how this Board is carrying out its duty in terms of the media freedom situation in Fiji. And we have said many times that the government in Fiji is not a normal democratic government that’s in place. It’s a military regime and we cannot deal with the situation as we would deal with a normal democratically elected government, and we’ve responded to that.” Seems sensible to me.  You do what you can, and don't do what you can't, thus leaving your options open to influence government when Fiji comes out of the "woods.

Stop Press "Surprise." The Prime Minister of Samoa says he will give his full support to a new media organisation being established in his country.

(o) CCF: NEW CHIEF REGISTRAR'S APPOINTMENT MUST BE TRANSPARENT. The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum says that government needs to be transparent about the appointment and also the termination of the Chief Registrar’s position, as this is essential for an independent judiciary.

“For the public and the international community to have confidence in the independence of Fiji’s judiciary, it is essential that appointment and terminations for key judicial positions are conducted in an open and transparent manner by the government,” CEO Rev.Akuila Yabaki said.

The the position should be gazetted within the Civil Service and if a suitable person cannot be found, the position should be advertised.  CCF also wants to see a civilian appointment as this would "depict a more independent judiciary," ensuring that the appointment is in line with the recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to the Fiji government on the judiciary.


Joe said…
Can we have a time frame of the FAB/FHL $20M payback. As reported, "THE LOAN" was approved in 1989, and some 12yrs later, in 2001, it was transformed into a "GRANT". It is common knowledge that Qarase milked this system for personal gains for himself, his family and his cronies. 9yrs later, it is back to a "LOAN". Is there any guarantee that the incoming govt in 2014 will not convert it to a "GRANT" again? Why not call it a full interest bearing loan cast in stone?
Red Dragon said…
While wishing to see that an able, competent and above all honest Chief Registrar is appointed, it is incumbent upon us all to say thank you profoundly to Major Ana Rokomokoti. Her dedication and professionalism should be recognised at a time of profound change amid the necessity for confronting much that was wrong within the Judicial System in Fiji. Indeed, the administration of justice for the people was being subverted on a number of levels. The principal area of malfeasance and collusion was within the Court registries and this had been on-going for years. Nothing had been done to fix the processes which were completely non-transparent and were successfully disallowing access to justice to Fiji's women, children and many vulnerable groups to say nothing of the ordinary citizen and corporate petitioner. In fact, prior to 2007, Fiji might be said to have scarcely had the capacity to provide justice untrammeled by corrupt conduct of one kind or another for anyone. Who outside Fiji took notice? What serious efforts were made to address this fundamental rot within a pillar of governance upon which all else depends? Very little. Did the Fiji Media in its various manifestations demonstrate a determination to have the Justice System fixed through intelligent, regular and systematic Court reporting? No, it did not. It ignored the rot within the Courts and in some instances was a party to it: viz some astounding and telling judgements which were handed down prior to the abrogation of the constitution by overseas as well as local judges. The new Chief Registrar has most important responsibilities and a duty towards all the people of Fiji to be upstanding, courageous, impartial and professional at all times and in all situations. Yes, we are watching and waiting for a broken justice system to be restored to this nation. Without it we can move nowhere of benefit.
SOE said…
@R's before face:

You know what? The Fiji Times, their owners and publishers instead of posting huge headlines "I'm Sorry" on the front page of 30 June 2010 edition from Serevi ought to be saying 'Sorry' to the Nation of Fiji, its military forces and its people for what it has colluded in over the past fifteen years. Actually, it might be preferable if they were to apologise in full (a far more aposite word) and recall the more than 11,000 disabled women in Fiji who have been denied an education. They ought to have the spine to ask themselves why this has been allowed? Did their position, their journalistic ethos in any way assist in such gross injustice? They need, including their Chairman and their entire board of directors, to ask some very searching questions. An apology is due to us all: it is overdue. It should be couched in all the vernacular languages of Fiji. And the 11,000 disabled and never educated women should be immediately enabled to access what is their birthright with the assistance of News Limited International. This is what a corrupt and busted moral compass delivers to fragile nation states and their people.
PINA wars said…
The trouble with John Woods is that he lives in sleepy Rarotonga and has the backwater man's luxury of sticking to his principles without having to confront the consequences. The notion that the editor of the Cook Islands News has his finger on the Pacific media pulse is absurd. So, John, imagine PINA does what you've demanded - castigate the Fiji regime and pull its headquarters out of Suva. What happens then? It'll be a one or two day story, your Kiwi and Aussie media mates will give a brief cheer and that'll be the end of it. You'll have pulled out of a major Pacific market to give yourself a warm inner glow and feather bash Bainimarama with high minded statements from some other backwater like Apia. As if that would do anything to restore media freedom in Fiji? Moses Stevens is right and you are wrong. PINA should stay in Fiji , offer day to day solidarity with the local media and try to influence events from within. The organisation exists to promote Pacific journalism and at the very least, should stand shoulder to shoulder with working journalists in challenging circumstances. So John, you go back to Rarotonga where you belong and leave the heavy lifting to those who appreciate that grand gestures are empty gestures if they don't produce results. You can wage your own war against PINA and the Fiji regime in the columns of the Cook Islands News. I see you've got a paid circulation of 2,350. So I'm sure they're all waiting with baited breath.
sara'ssista said…
Can some one please tell excatly me what 'influence' has anyone, i mean anyboy had on this regime.

For all the excuses for this regime there are some that continually hold out for this regime to adapt or change or be influenced as areason for staying engaged. What garbage. This regime is sitting it out hoping for this whole freedom and democracy thing to blow over and expecting all other parties to agree with them.
Anonymous said…
@ Joe

Excellent suggestion. All 'diverted' public monies are now to be deemed 'loans' again and they bear full interest, accrued over the period of time elapsed since their diversion took place. Those who manipulated this will also face charges of abuse of office and some, in this way the State will recover what was rightfull its own and development may take place once more. The prosecution must be steadfast and acute in its pressing of all relevant charges. It is now time for credible witnesses to stand up for Fiji and come forward with evidence in Open Court. No moe sitting on fences. Many of us know who took what and how.

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