The Media, Key & Downer on Natadola; Chaudhry & Field

FIJI TIMES REPORTS ON NATADOLA. The Fiji Times came out from under the table today and surprised its readers with news that a meeting involving "one president, three PMs, three ministers and four diplomatic representatives" took place at Natadola yesterday. It was called an "Engaging With The Pacific" meeting hosted by Fiji.  That's it, folks.  Hot off the press. From our very own free, fair and balanced Fiji Times. Could be more tomorrow if they report that the meeting continued yesterday.

OTHER ON-LINE REPORTING.  In contrast, Fiji Live had five items on the Natadola meeting, including one on John Key's reactions (see below) and Fiji Village had three, including a statement by former Australian Foreign Minister, Alex Downer (see below.) Both  on-line sites informed their readers about what was actually happening at Natadola, an 'oversight' in the Fiji Times report.

RIGHT ON KEY. "In the end, unless we’re going to see a group of those leaders come to Vanuatu in a few weeks’ time and argue the case that the Pacific Forum should reverse it’s decision in terms of the exclusion of Fiji from the Forum then ( Bainimarama) really hasn’t gained much and I can’t see that happening.”

He's right, of course, but the significance of Natadola should not be limited to the single issue of Forum membership.  If Bainimarama had no support among Island nations, no one would have turned up at Natadola, and certainly not the Forum's largest members,  PNG and Solomon Islands, whose PMs  had critical domestic issues to face at home.

DOWNER NOT QUITE OUT. With elections looming, former Aussie Foreign Minister has accused the incumbent Labor Government of "doing nothing" about Fiji.It seems to "have run out of policies." Downer said Fiji is important to Australia ...the Pacific is Australia's sphere of influence and they need to make sure it runs as best they can. "Leaving Bainimarama the room we have, is more than embarrassing, it's pretty shameful really."

Downer said if Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard was unable to attend the "Engaging With the Pacific"  Summit, that's understandable but it is really offensive for the region if they don't even send a Foreign Minister.

Meanwhile Fiji's Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said Australia has been embarrassed in the eyes of other Pacific nations over its failure to derail the Pacific meeting being hosted by Fiji from today.Commodore Bainimarama said his "Engagement with the Pacific" summit is a meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group plus other nations, the summit he originally sought.

He said Australia's diplomatic effort to prevent it had backfired and more Pacific nations are gathering under his Chairmanship to express solidarity with Fiji.

With Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare arriving later today and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Doctor Derek Sikua already in the country, Permanent Secretary for Information, Sharon Smith-Johns said Canberra now has "egg on its face" because so many Pacific nations had chosen to defy its appeals not to attend the Fiji summit.Solomon Islands Prime Minister Dr Derek Sikua, Kiribati President Anote Tong, Prime Minister for Tuvalu Apisai Ilemia are already in Natadola.

Other country representatives are from Tonga, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Tokelau, East Timor and Wallis and Futuna.

CHAUDHRY IN-OUT; FIELD BEHIND THE PLAY. Former PM and Fiji Labour Party Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry has been interviewed and released by the Police Criminal Investigations Department. This is based on a tax investigation and more details are expected to be released later. Chaudhry was taken in for questioning yesterday morning.

Meanwhile some overseas media outlets including's Michael Field are reporting that Chaudhry has been seized by the military.

MEDIA CENSORSHIP.  Media censoship seems to have eased recently, witness the local reporting of remarks by Key, Downer and Field, and Chaudhry's detainment.


Anonymous said…
Correcting past wrongs....

It's good they are finally questioning Mahen now on his offshore accounts. Even better if it is a sign this government is finally correcting the many mistakes it made in its first three years. I do fear though the real reason this is happening now is because of Mahen's incresaingly anti-government statements as Labour leader. Lets see if they drop some of the smaller cases like the one against Imrana over her fish and chip shop. Or look into PM's back pay or family member property purchases ?

Everybody knows about Mahens cash but the AG cleared him of any tax issues and closed the book back then because he was finance minister. Everybody also knows the fish and chip charge is because Imrana has stood up agaisnt human rights abuses and opposed the coup.
Anonymous said…
P.E.R staying or going...

Delighted to read PM had given a iron clad commitement about election before Sep 2014 but sad he so far has reneged on another promise made by him and many of his military men. He promised the PER would be dropped when the Media Decree came in. So whats happening.

Croz - how about looking at the PM's track record on promises so you can put some balance back into your site.

Also interested in any insight on what is actually happening at the meeting today/yesterday. Someone must have some insight and I don't think we can rely on the fivilive's white wash of everybody is behind everything frank is doing.
Anonymous said…
Splitting hairs.

Croz perhpas no one mentioned to you that
the police is now run by the military these days.
They even have a blue camo uniform for hiding
well somewhere blue I guess.

Anyway you are nit picking again. Real story
is Mahen finally questioned - real reason
has to be his Labour Party releases.

I'm no defender of the Labour leader as
was first in line to support Frank and the
military but at least he has spoken out since.
What's anyone from the SDL said lately ?
Egg on whose face said…
As reported in the international press most Pacific nations were represented by ambassadors or ministers, not leaders, at the Natadola talkfest.
The Papua New Guinea PM came as he had a planned golf commitment in Fiji, the Solomon Islands PM was coming anyway to open his new chancery, Tuvalu and Kiribati sent heads of government and their presence is understandable.
Where were the other Pacific leaders? This group think and pretence it is 'all happening' by the military junta is not taking Fiji anywhere but backwards. Let's urgently have some REAL progress forward - please!
Anonymous said…
Mahend's detainment and subsequent charge is no doubt a vindication for his courageous stance against the Military Regime. I don't the charges have any substance in them. The worrying thing though is that there is no separation between the Judiciary and the Regime. All judges and magistrates are on contracts that have been made by the Regime. We all know when an employer draws up a contract, an employee naturally will do things not to upset the employer.
Anonymous said…
MC charged - money laundering, tax evasion & providing false information

So, anyone remember the three-member tribunal led by interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum to look into allegations back in 2008

The same allegations that Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama accused the media outlets of trying to destabilise the country and led to the order to deport a foreign-born newspaper publisher.

So, anyone remember Mr Khaiyum saying Commodore Bainimarama had considered the panel's report and "is satisfied there were no breaches of the tax laws" and as “far as this government is concerned, this matter has now ended."

Everyone new the investigation was too narrow. Why the change of heart now ?…gee perhaps because he is no longer a protected member of government.

Now when are the investigations into the holier than holy Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and his back pay ?
Walker Texas Ranger said…
@ Real Progress Forward

Accountability is what is required for some real forward movement. If calling the former PM in and investigating the alleged misuse of his various bank accounts is at last being addressed : so be it. That is what accountability means in practice. No one is above the law and the people's money must be answered for. No matter if the people who provided the money are in India or in Fiji: makes no difference and the Crimes Decree now in force extends jurisdiction across borders. How inconvenient this will be for some?
Anonymous said…
some inconsistencies developing around "anonymous" here. pension time croz?
Red Dragon said…
The case involving former PM Mahendra Chaudhry will be a test case on many counts. It is noteworthy that the prosecution is being handled by the substantive DPP. All charges will have required sufficient evidence. In a perceived hierarchy of cases, a knowledge of the Crimes Decree 44 of 2009 is salutary. Though it only came into effect on 1 February 2010. Ignorance of the law is no excuse and the jurisdiction for trans-national crime is extended in this decree. It is high and nigh time that organised criminals acting within and without Fiji are taken into this widened jurisdictional net. No impunity should continue to prevail for all associated with organised crime. But the greatest crimes have been in the field of diverting public money to private use, surely? And the failure to pay taxes in Fiji? The provenance of that money is hardly relevant. If it is taxpayers'money or donations from the public (any public anywhere)freely given for a particular use, it is 'money in trust'. That is the test that must be applied and its application must be in a fully transparent manner in Open Court. How does one become a 'Frequent Flier' - might well be asked?

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