Police Thought to Have Acted Wrongly; MIDA Appointments; PM Warns Military, Sanctions

If you can, tune in to Radio NZ National tonight (Monday) from about 7:30-7:55  to listen to a panel discussion on Fiji.  Panelists are Nik Naidu, Richard Pamatatau, Peni Moore and myself.  You may ber able to listen to it on http://www.radionz.co.nz/  
See also the new Quote for the Week in the right side bar.

Richard Naidu
POLICE ACTION ON FIJI LIVE CONFUSING. As reported on Saturday, Online FijiLive publisher Richard Naidu was taken in for questioning by the police  on Thursday and released the next day for an article that erroneously claimed Police Commissioner Commodore Esala Teleni had been suspended. I think the action taken was excessive, and I am further disturbed by the following statement:

"Police spokesperson  Ema Dimila, in a Radio Five item titled 'Fiji Police Warm Media Outlets,' is reported to have said the police will not hesitate to take action against those that don’t abide by the Media Decree. She said:

“It is a Decree to safeguard everybody – the media and other parties as well. And I think it should be followed precisely and exactly as it is. What happened to Mr Naidu is unfortunate. We will not highlight what happened to him but we will highlight that a Media Decree is in place and everybody who is concerned with writing, printing, broadcasting or televising news or even on the web – those using electronic media should be mindful of the Decree.”

My understanding is that while the police could detain Richard under PER, they had no authority to detain him under the Media Decree.  It is the job of the MIDA Tribunal to take action on complaints, not the police, unless complaints are referred to them by the Tribunal.  

If I am wrong on this, I stand correction, but it is the job of Government to make sure its decrees are clearly understood by the publc and those they affect.  Decrees that are variously interpreted and acted on independently by different state authorities do not make for confidence in Government.  It may take a while before decrees are fully understood and correctly acted upon, but the longer it takes, the more ammunition to Government's opponents.

A reader writes that Fiji Live is back on line but I could not access it on Sunday night.

MIDA MEMBERS APPOINTED. Members of the  Media Industry Development Authority are Prof.Subramani (chair) who replaces Prof. Satendra Nandan who withdrew due to health reasons; Asilika Uluilakeba,representing children's interests, Jimaima Schultz, representing the interests of consumers, especially regarding nutrition, Peni Moore, representing women's interests, and Matai Akaoula, representing the media industry.-- based on 2010 No:1143 / MOI). I think the Solitor-General, Christopher Pryde, will head the Tribunal.

ELEVEN MEDIA OUTLETS HAVE REGISTERED with the Media Industry Development Authority when registrations closed on Friday. They are the  Fiji TV, Communications Fiji Ltd, the Fiji Times, Mai TV Group, Fiji Sun, Active Media (the Turaga, Marama Magazine), Sporting Pulse Magazine, Half Time Magazine, Bula Namaste, Islands Business International Ltd and Fiji Broadcasting Corporation. Fiji Live, an important online paper, appears not to have registered and its site was no longer available on the web at the time of writing. -- based on 2010 No:1143 / MOI. 

PM WARNS OF ANOTHER COUP IF ...Did the PM Bainimarama tell the Australian there could be another another coup if next election is rushed?  Not quite.  He actually said if the election is rushed under the current race-based electoral system, then Fiji will go back to extremist and ethno-nationalist policies that would divide the nation.

BAINIMARAMA WARNS MILITARY OFFICERS. Acting on  complaints about isolated incidents of military officers abusing their powers, Bainimarama has warned they will be severely punished if this proves to be the case. Land Force Commander Brig.Gen. Pita Driti said the Fiji Military Forces will not tolerate its people abusing their power.“Suchpractices should not be happening in the military at all.” Driti said that time and again the Commander had stressed good governance, transparency and accountability.“They should show the way for others to follow.”

LETTER IN THE AUSTRALIAN. 31 July.  Nothwithstanding the censorship of free expression in Fiji, there is also no question that Frank Bainimarama's efforts to build a better and more democratic Fiji have been hampered by travel sanctions placed by Australia and NZ against members of the Bainimarama regime ("Hurricane Frank an ill wind that we should help quell", 24/7, and "Getting to know the neighbours", 30/7).

For the good of the whole of the South Pacific, the sooner Australia and NZ throw away their big stick, drop their sanctions and enter into meaningful and helpful dialogue with Fiji the better.  

Bob Rankin, Apia, Samoa
MANUBHAI WAY TOO HIGH. Hardware company, R.C. Manubhai, has denied all allegations made by the Commerce Commission on the trade practices of hardware companies in the country. Managing Director, Dinesh Patel, said it is surprising and grossly unfair that the Commerce Commission would choose to air allegations to the media before even putting it to them. According to Patel,  allegations were made against them, particularly profit shifting and exorbitant markups - as much as 34,000% (sic!) on certain items. But the Commerce Commission has not put any of these allegations directly to them. But 34,000%?  3-4,000% is just just credible:34,000% would have a one cent nail sell at $340. Unbelievable. 



Scrooge said…
Hi Cros
Arithmetic isn't my strong point but it seems it isn't yours either.

I believe a 1c item, if marked up 34,000%, would be $3.40. Of course 34,000% is the most extreme example given on what was probably a one off item. However if even 1000% is used, it would see items being marked up from $20 to $200 and given the price of power tools, I’m sure that is regularly the case.

On that basis it would seem that the allegations against RCM (plus, no doubt Vinod Patel and Suncourt) might have some substance behind them.

It's been an ongoing curiosity to me for 20 years that construction rates in Fiji are so close to those in Australia and New Zealand, when the average hourly rate of labourers to skilled trades is about one tenth that of ANZ. Presently building costs are about 40 – 45% labour rates. If material costs were to drop to reflect a reasonable profit margin by hardware suppliers, construction rates in Fiji would generally be more akin to those of Indonesia and the Philippines.
Liu Muri said…
Scrooge, you are right about the price of hardware materials being too high in Fiji. How come these small tin shacks of hardware companies, within a span of a generation have become multi-millionaires? Remember what Chaudhry had said in one address to the business community when he was the PM: "THE POVERTY IN THE COUNTRY WAS INVERSELY RELATED TO THE PROSPERITY OF THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY"
No wonder he got kicked out by Speight who was a tool of the rich and the mighty, who also controlled Fiji media, to remove a socialist Prime Minister and a party with orientation towards the poorer working class people.
What Mahendra Reddy revealed is only the tip of the ice berg. Wait till you see how these business people have been selling adulterated food products. One trick is to mix cheaper-costing vegetable oil (vanaspati ghee) in so called NZ ghee and sell it for greater profit. Similarly, mixing salad oil in peanut oil and so on. Wait till you hear about the trash saris costing 100 rupees in India being sold for $100 in Fiji sari shops. You work out the profit margin.

There are so many examples, but nobody had guts so far to stand against the rich and the mighty. That is the advantage a military dictator has. Who said benevolent dictatorship was bad or dead?
Anonymous said…
The Police cannot act even after a complaint from MIDA Tribunal. The decree states the tribunal must get a court order before legal action. The police are not the investigating force under the decree. This is the job of the MIDA Tribunal

sara'ssista said…
It has been reported previously that Bainimarama and others explain travel bans as 'understandable for the military but judges and public servants should not be penalised', Can we please explore this thinking? I would love to hear why they think it understandable. Perhaps the argument can be likened to overall criminal activity in that if people just keep committing crimes we should just scrap any criminal sanctions and negtotiate with them , if they feel they had good reason.But this is the same regime that has a zero tolerance policy in relation to current and previous misdeeds and expect now that governments in the region, EU and US should have a less robust repsonse to thoswe that purport to making reforms at the point of a gun. This regime cannot act in good faith and does not negotiate with anyone , ever. Why on earth would they expect any better treatement than they currently recieve? it obviously does have an impact on their pride if nothing else but the fact is that it is continual sore point due to lack of access to the trappings of office which they have no entitlement. this was issue of their own creation.

Popular posts from this blog

Lessons from Africa

Fijian Holdings Scandal: Betrayal by their trusted sons