NZ-Fiji Need Drug Co-operation, Travel Bans, the Media, Natapei Decision Unpopular
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DRUG CONTROL REQUIRES UNIMPEDED NZ-FIJI CO-OPERATION. The seizure in Suva last week of a huge supply of the precursor drug needed to make methamphetamine (also known as 'ice' and 'p') had an estimated processed street value of F$28m. The consignment of powder arrived from China, via Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand, and was finally intercepted at Suva Wharf.
In an earlier seizure in 2000 drugs were thought to have originated in Myanmar, for stockpiling in Fiji before shipment to the US, Canada, Australia and NZ.
In 2004, overseas and local police arrested half a dozen Asian nationals and found the biggest methamphetamine manufacturing plant in the Southern Hemisphere. Over one billion dollars worth of methamphetamine was seized.
Last year Asian drug smugglers were caught using kava from Fiji to smuggle methamphetamine ingredients into New Zealand. These operations were uncovered by a 14-month joint operation by the New Zealand and Fiji police and a specialised team from New Zealand was called in clean up the factory as volatile chemicals littered the site.
A US diplomat, Richard Pruett, thinks the series of drug busts and immigration arrests in Fiji over the past decade indicate that a network of people from organised crime syndicates are operating in the country.
A NZ reader wrote: "Croz – this is a worry. Fiji needs expert help now about how to deal with this crystal methamphetamine/P drug problem, before it is too late. Politics shouldn’t come into the methamphetamine equation. Look what has happened here in NZ because a few years ago the powers that be and the government of the day ignored the problem – until it was too late. Now the streets here in NZ are awash with methamphetamine. Check out this link to find out about the facts about crystal methamphetamine and how dangerous and addictive this drug is."
THE TRAVEL BANS. A reader 'Alter Ego' commenting on an earlier post wrote : "The only people to whom Australia and New Zealand are not open for general travel are a select group of junta members and appointees ... and both Australia and NZ say they will consider humanitarian cases. For everyone else, travel to AU and NZ is as normal, including medical evacuations."
I am afraid this is not true. The ban applies to anyone, including career public servants in senior positions, and their families. See my interview with Pramesh Chand #6). To my knowledge, at least three civilians who would have applied for senior governnment positions, did not do so because of the travel ban that would have prevented visits to their transnational family.
The ban is depriving Fiji of capable civil administrators who have adopted no political position. Many people seeking visas are interrogated and kept in suspense for several days, even those seeking medical care. I reported the case of Judge Anjala Wati who was eventually allowed to accompany her child who needed an urgent operation, but was not allowed to "go shopping," for G-d's sake. I have not reported the case of someone known to me whose only "crime" was being part of the People's Charter process. After one such interrogation she was eventually allowed to visit her seriously ill father. Humanitarian cases need to be treated humanely, and this has not always been the case.
And this comment from 'Cornileus': "Alter Ego, Have you seen the 5 (7?) page supplement to the NZ visa application that only Fiji-born citizens are expected to fill? It's an insult and and as a Kiwi, I'm disgusted by it, and disgusted that the uninformed and misinformed ordinary Kiwi bloke has allowed it to continue.
If the ordinary Kiwi bloke had access to a few facts, and acted on them, there would be a radical change in NZ's policy towards Fiji. However, while you have a lying, manipulative media ruling the roost, it will never happen and the same old tired response to Fiji's woes will doddle on."
AUSTRALIA'S MEDIA DUOPOLY. Media ownership in Australia is distributed between commercial, national public broadcasters and not-for-profit community broadcasters. Australian media ownership has been described as one of the most concentrated in the world. For example, 11 of the 12 capital city daily papers are owned by either Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation or by John Fairfax Holdings. -- Wikipedia.
FIJI TIMES ORDERED TO PAY $50,000. The Fiji Court of Appeal has ordered the Fiji Times newspaper to pay $50,000 in damages to former Fiji Labour Party Minister Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi for defaming him in 2001.The Appeals Court ruled that the Fiji Times defamed Vayeshnoi by publishing a letter to the editor titled "The mouth returns" where he was described as a coward and other insensitive comments were made about his personality.
NATAPEI'S DECISION ON MSG UNPOPULAR. Vanuatu freelance journalist Godwin Ligo
has told Radio New Zealand that Prime Minister Edward Natapei’s decision to defer the MSG meeting has not gone down well with the public there. Ligo says Natapei’s move caused an outcry among opposition politicians and the public, with the Opposition saying Natapei has tarnished Vanuatu’s previously solid relationship with Fiji. FBC News also understands that Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare has written to Natapei informing him that Fiji’s chairmanship is not an issue to him. [a similar Letter from Moses Stevens which draws parallels between Vanuatu and Fiji will be published at the wekend.]
SUGAR EXPORT ASSURED. The new owner of Tate & Lyle's European Union Sugars division, American Sugar Refining, will not just honour existing T&L contracts to buy 300,000 tonnes annually from Fiji until 2015, but wants to buy more.
The NZ Law Society made very serious allegations against the Fiji judiciary over the weekend. With enquiries now complete, I expect to be able to report my findings later today or tomorrow.