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 POLL. Q: 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.
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.