PER Again, Fiji Times News, International Peace Day, Takiveikata & Chaudhry Cases, Tele Stats

The Public Emergency Regulation, in place since April last year, has again been extended for another 30 days with effect from today. Many observers were hoping that with the Fiji Times sale, and progress on other fronts, some wise person in Government would have said 'Enough is enough.'

  If there are good reasons to continue these never-ending renewals (and the Media and Public Order Decrees are insufficient to contain them), and well there may be, Government needs to spell them out, and tell  us why they are needed now when they were not needed before April last year?

How on earth can intelligent people be expected to trust and support a government when they are kept in the dark about the reasons for its actions?

. Australian Dallas Swinstead, the publisher of the Fiji Times from 1976 to 1980, has been appointed the new publisher as the Motibhai Group officially took over ownership of the newspaper today.

Motibhai chairman and new Fiji Times Board chairperson Mahendra Patel  said: that the “Fiji Times will operate as an independent separate unit. Dallas Swinstead and his staff are the people that will fashion the editorial content of the paper. We will not interfere with that. The staff are empowered to operate and run independently – of course we will be there to guide, but we will not interfere. “

Swinstead has an extensive and distinguished record in the publishing field and has been a journalist, editor and managing director of many major Australian newspapers including the Herald Weekly, The Age, the Sunday Press and Qantas In-flight magazine.

On whether the Fiji Times would now recognize the the new government and refer to Bainimarama as the Prime Minister, Patel said: “You will find out in due course. Let any changes that happen, happen slowly. We will embrace and change in the fullness of time.”

PEACE INTERNATIONAL PEACE DAY. The Citizens Constitutional Forum celebrated International Peace Day in style yesterday with music, songs, a fashion show and the screening of a short film titled “Enduring Hope.” CEO Reverend Akuila Yabaki says peace issues never go out of fashion because even when there is no war the world is not at peace. However he says Fiji has a way forward.

Reverend Yabaki says despite coups, conflicts and instability, the way forward is through dialogue and the rebuilding of relationships in the search for resolution through peaceful means. This year’s theme is “One Nation Diverse People.”

TAKIVEIKATA'S CASE ADJOURNED until October 5.The Naitasiri High Chief is being retried on a charge of inciting the 2000 mutiny which aimed to kill the military commander, Cde Bainimarama. Both  defence and prosecution lawyers asked for the adjournment. Takiveikata had been given a life sentence for the mutiny but in early 2007 the appeal court quashed the ruling and he was released from prison after serving 31 months. Last March, Takiveikata was jailed again when he was given a seven year prison for plotting to kill Bainimarama in late 2007.

seems a popular defence lawyer with the anti-government establishment. Ballu Khan George Speight was an early client.*   He wants a non-resident judge to try the Chaudhry case because of his client’s high political profile. He could have a point, though the insinuation is a slap in the face to the Fiji judiciary. But his argument is intriguing: Due to the publicity surrounding a case such as Chaudhry’s, he says, there would be a lot of discussion among the media and communities which could therefore influence the judge’s decisions in the trial. Really! I thought the media were restricted in what they can report until cases are concluded. And if we believe what we hear about PERS and media censorship, they probably won't be able to publish anything anyway. I wonder if the QC has an overseas judge in mind, someone who's been able to close his eyes and ears to the publicity Fiji and the Chaudhry saga has received in the overseas media?  [* A reader writes that Williams did not defend Speight.  I think it was Ballu Khan he defended, but I'll stand correction if wrong again.]

TELECOMMUNICATIONS STATISTICS 2009. Telephones, 14% of the population; mobile phone connections 81%, internet use 10.9%. Internet bandwidth capacity 620Mbps. Internet Providers=3, Mobile Network Operators=2, Mobile Virtual Network Operator=1, Fixed Line Operators=1, International Operators=1, IP Licenced Providers=5.


What do you expect? said…
Croz, I don't know why you're so surprised by the extension of emergency rule when the PM is about to leave for the UN in New York, the AG is in Geneva, the President is also in New York and the country is about the be headed by Chief Justice Anthony Gates. With so many senior personages absent from the country, it's hardly the most sensible time to lift the PER from a purely practical point of view. Added to that is the renewed agitation by anti regime forces on several fronts. We had prominent stories on Solivakasama and other blogs this week saying the PM and the AG had been "arrested", the country had been taken over by rival officers in the FMF and Christmas had come early for the regime's opponents. Then we had a supposed SDL supporter jump off the roof of the Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney and the disclosure of a letter supporting his claim for refugee status in Australia from deposed PM Laisenia Qarase. As for the Fiji Times, new owner Mac Patel hasn't exactly given the regime the encouragement it was seeking that the paper's current stance will change. The regime's bete noir, Netani Rika, continues as editor in chief, with any change to that in the hands of Dallas Swinstead, the new publisher Patel announced today. For you to expect any lifting of the PER under such circumstances is simply unrealistic and I'm surprised you've adopted such an indignant tone. The truth is stability has simply not been restored when such a climate exists and if I was the PM, I wouldn't have behaved any differently.
Changing times said…
At face value, Mahendra Patel's choice of Dallas Swinstead as publisher of the Fiji Times seems a good one. Swinstead has been a working journalist and is said to have been the only reporter inside the Munich Olympic Village when Palestinian terrorists kidnapped members of the Israeli team in 1972. He survived that to enjoy a long and high level career in management in Australia at places like the Herald and Weekly Times and The Age. He's also had his own company, Swinstead Publishing, in Melbourne. And, of course, he was publisher of the Fiji Times when the Herald and Weekly Times owned it back in the late 1970s. The interesting thing about this is that Swinstead is no rookie and will remember an era of relative stability in Fiji during the Mara years, which many desperately want to recreate. He was also fortunate to escape the trauma of the coups in 1987, 2000 and 2006 and comes with none of the emotional and political baggage that's plagued successive Fiji Times publishers in recent years. The late 70s were also years when the quality of journalism at the Fiji Times was relatively high for such a small country, with daily offerings from the likes of Sir Leonard Usher and Robert Keith Reid. One look at the FT now will be enough to convince Swinstead of the need to improve the current woeful standards of journalism on the paper. Netani Rika survives - as Mac Patel tells it today - but to say that there's a question mark over his future would be an understatement. Never mind the editorial problems with the Fiji Times. Mac Patel knows that keeping Rika on will infuriate the regime. Will he be the first Gujarati businessman in Fiji to ignore the wishes of government, make a stand for editorial independence and thereby place his overall businesses at risk? I wouldn't put money on it and no other businessman in Fiji would, I'm sure. Rika's days are numbered and you can be certain the Fiji Times will be soon be reporting the activities of "Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama", as it should have all along.
Global Citizen said…
Check your facts: Williams never acted for Speight. Like the way you try to loosely tar people in a way you always criticise others of.
Why support said…
Sadly I think you are spot on Croz - no intelligent person could be expected to support this government at present. Those that do support them do so for necessity (to protect family, friends or existing jobs or business), for opportunity (to win new jobs or new business) or for hope (that something positive might still come of all this).

For all the talk of moving forward I feel things are moving backward.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Global Citizen ... Thank you. I've made the correction. Croz
Croz Walsh said…
@ What do you expect? ... My point was not that PER must be lifted if there's good reason not to lift it, but that Government should provide reasons for its actions. I think you are probably right that the timing is wrong, but I sincerely hope it will be lifted soon.
Not the right time said…
Croz, we all want the PER lifted but we want stability and civil order more. I think Bainimarama is right to hold off until things quieten down a lot more. It's pretty clear that the anti regime gang tried to take advantage of FB's imminent absence from Fiji to rev up their campaign. The coconut radio went berserk on Monday when the story of Frank's arrest went up on the blogs. I don't know about you but I got quite a few emails and phone calls asking me, " is it true?" This is causing public mischief whichever way you look at it. These guys don't seem to realise that the more trouble they cause, the more the screws will be applied.
No reasons needed said…
Bainimarama does not have to give reasons for any decisions. He has made it quite clear that this regime is NOT a government that has to answer to the people. He runs the show and at the moment he has the guns. The PER stays as long as he wants it to. Hope this helps?
Mind made up said…
Croz, I don't think Frank is going to take your advice and come out and explain anything. The PER continues and that's that.

He'll be very angry about the rumors of a coup and very angry about Qarase appearing in the Australian media. Oti vakadua.
Joe said…
Looks like PER will stay for a little longer. This govt is scared of its own people. 2 very influential men in their respective communities, MC and Ratu Inoke are more than capable of amassing a considerably large no. of peaceful protesters against this govt. PER will stay till MC is taken care of, and we know that Ratu Inoke is already locked up, but there is a retrial against him at the moment which will extend his imprisonment to beyond 2014.

These recent events have a resemblance of "The Caroll Report" of 1982, in which Butadroka was to be bought out, Ratu Osea jailed, and Koya and Reddy were to be split on south indian vs muslim rhetoric. To top it all off, Mac Patel bought FT.

This is what Frank means when he says "preparing for 2014 elections". He now has solid backing of fijisun, FT, FBCL and may be more to come. All eyes will be on FT now, whether he is addressed as PM or not. Interesting times ahead.
White Frangipani said…
Peter Williams QC has had many clients over the years and has a very successful track record. He is most remembered for his defence skill during the 1970's Mr Asia (Terry Clark)drug trial years starting with defending Mr Asia's Terry Clark's when he was arrested for heroin importing:
Sex, drugs and murder - The truth about Mr Asia:
".........In June 1978 he was arrested in Brisbane and two weeks later extradited to New Zealand to face charges of heroin importing. It could well have been the end, but Clark's lawyer, Peter Williams, got him acquitted.

Mr Williams and colleague Eb Leary did well out of The Organisation. They were regularly called upon to defend members of the syndicate.

Mr Williams told The Dominion Post that Clark had been "just another client".

"I acted for him, as you do. I think he could be reasonably affable but obviously he was drawn to what you might call the dark side, and that was his undoing of course.

"At the time, anything to do with drugs, particularly heroin, was very emotional in New Zealand. And there was always the fact that certain people make a lot of money out of drugs.

"That aggravated the situation - people don't like criminals making a lot of money. These were unusual, heady times. It was so overt......"
Radiolucas said…
RE: the Lifting of the PER

I wouldn't hold my breath for this. The regime has never been held accountable for any of its decisions and I don't see why they would be amenable to lifting the PER now - they don't want anyone to say 'boo' about anything and the PER combined with the rest of their made-up decrees effectively silence any form of opposition, public criticism or query. Sad.
Don Quijote said…
@ Not the right time....

Quite right. The time to lift the PER is not now. Anyone with an ounce of common sense and with the merest insight and a little insider knowledge may deduce this? Why did someone call me at 2100 hrs on Sunday? To enquire about another idiotic rumour. When rumours abound and they are swallowed untested and therefore willy-nilly, it is because there are people wasting everyone's time and patience spreading them. Even quite intelligent people get hooked up on this. We have all been here before. This time around, a measure of control is required. Surely, this is common sense and people want to get on with their lives, run their businesses, employ and pay people. Is that too much to ask? Without the PER this simply would not happen. Some quiet, stable and predictable time is required. No jousting: no tilting at windmills. Ensure the sleeping dogs lie down and stay down.

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