Ratu Sakiusa's Acquittal, the FICAC & Judiciary; Answers to Criticisms of this Blog; Falling Basic Food Prices

WHO SAYS THE JUDICIARY IS NOT INDEPENDENT?  Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum  says the acquittal of former Airports Fiji Ltd CEO Ratu Sakiusa Tuisolia (photo) proves that Fiji’s judiciary remains independent. Tuisolia was acquitted by the Suva High Court on Monday of three counts of fraudulent conversion and three counts of keeping false records brought against him by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption. Law Societies and critics in Australia, New Zealand and Asia had accused the Fiji government of targeting Tuisolia and his wife Imrana Jalal and handpicking judges sympathetic to the state to sit on the bench. But both Jalal and Tuisolia have been acquitted of charges brought against them by FICAC.

The A-G  said Government has no say in charges taken up by the FICAC which also confirmed that their prosecutors — and not Government— make the decision on whether a case should be taken to Court. The A-G hopes critics will now leave Fiji’s judiciary alone to do its work. [There's  no harm in hoping.]

The court decision— and the FICAC's decision to take the case to court— are both welcome. Ratu Sakiusa had a case to answer, and it was answered in his favour in the court.

All may not be over, however. RadioNZI reports that together with his wife  he could still face new charges. Ratu Sakiusa claims the legal moves appear to be have been driven by personal agendas, possibly initiated by "certain disgruntled businessmen who did not have their way with him when he was CEO of AFL.".   He said he did not want to comment at this stage on the independence of the Fiji judiciary except to say that he respects the judge's decision and is happy to be acquitted.

WHEN TO PUBLISH WHAT. Several readers hostile to this blog have chastised me for not immediately publishing news they think should have been published immediately.

There are several reasons for delayed postings but the most important is that on blogs (but not on newspapers) publishing one item pushes all its predecessors further down the page where they are less likely to be read. This is probably a reason why most anti-government blogs publish so little, why I often publish several short items in one posting, and often collapse longer postings with a "read more" follow on. We want what we publish to be read  by as many readers as possible. I keep some longer postings for the Weekend Readings but wonder how many readers without a computer at home check them out from Monday to Friday.

Another problem with blogs (not shared by papers that have their letters to the editor pages) is that comments are hidden at the bottom of posts, and readers have to click on Comments for them to pop up.  I've thought of publishing another companion blog just for comments but with so few readers accessing the existing companion blog Na Sala Cava, I doubt it would attract any more readers.  I'd welcome comments on what can be done about these problems.

I'M TOO EASY ON GOVERNMENT.  Another criticism has come from readers who think I am too easy on Government and have only made the occasional critical comment, mainly on PER.  There are several reasons why this may appear to be so:

First, to achieve some sort of balance, I have to publish the pro-government items never published by the international media and anti-government blogs.  This inevitably gives the impression of bias.

Secondly, I see little point in regurgitating the obvious criticisms on where I think Government has been unwise or ill-advised. All my criticisms are intended to encourage Government to widen dialogue, involve more civilians, bring forward the constitutional and electoral reforms so they overlap the present institutional and infrastructural reforms, and move as quickly as possible to elections.

Finally, I rely heavily on readers' comments, and the discussions they generate, to provide more balance and an intelligent and informed "sounding board" for those close to Fiji's Government (and overseas Governments) who can influence outcomes.

. Prices of eighteen basic food items will be reduced by Saturday. This comes after Government had asked the Commerce Commission to review  the prices of various items after serious concerns were raised on import, wholesale and retail markups.

Chairman Dr Mahendra Reddy said prices that come under the price control order are baby milk of all types, imported butter, imported chicken, corned beef and mutton, all types of local and imported edible oils, imported garlic, locally packed and imported ghee, margarine, milk, noodles, onions, imported potatoes, rice, imported salt, sheep meat, sugar, tea, medicine, unleaded fuel, kerosene and premixed outboard fuel.

The items whose prices will fall are: margarine,imported butter, powdered and liquid milk, garlic (10-12%); potatoes, onions, tinned fish, sardines, corned beef and mutton, split peas,rice, tea, edible oils (13-15%); lamb chops, neck and shanks, salt and noodles (16-20%).

Failure to comply with the new prices could lead to spot fines and failure to pay would result in a court appearance and fines of up to $10,000.  Small retail stores can apply to the Commerce Commission to charge 2% more than the maximum retail price.


On this one you are out of touch Croz said…

If you seriously believe the PM or AG had no hand in chasing Ratu Saki and his wife for the last fours years you really have lost touch with what has been happening in Fiji for the last four year. May I remind you that it was Frank and the military that removed many CEOs and board members within months of the coup including Ratu Saki.

By all means support what the PM and his team on what they say they want to achieve but please don't get sucked into believing they are actually living by some higher principles. The importance of retribution and self preservation is very strong in the PM and AG. Much of the PER is about ensuring they suffer no criticism because they actually believe they deserve everyones respect and homage. They will stop at nothing to silence critics and seek retribution on those who they think have slighted them.

From you time in Fiji you must have seen this retribution cycle as people move into and out of power positions ? It is worse now than ever because of the absolute power the new "leaders" have.

Finally when was the last time FICAC investigated anyone in the military ? The day that happens we might be able to start to believe they are inderpendant....unless it is someone Frank has singles out as a threat.
it is not so said…
The critics will leave FICAC alone when the defacto government and military leave FICAC alone.

Even then it is highly highly unlikely that FICAC would investigate a current minister, the PM, AG or senior military person. Not while we have law by decree and a military dictator - no one that wants to live and work in Fiji is that stupid !
What government said…
Can you remind us who voted for the 'government' you support? I'm a Fijian and the junta is not my government. My right to vote has been removed. Do you think this is a good thing? Us Fijians have not been able to vote for 4 years and the junta tells us we can't vote for at least another four? Although most of us know this will not happen.
Solia vua na tiketi ni waqavuka said…
Could we have a little bit of balance here from Saki Tuisolia's band of adoring supporters? Yes, he was acquitted but the judge made some very critical comments about him from the bench. It certainly wasn't the clean bill of health you guys are portraying it as. The fact remains that Tuisolia had a case to answer over his credit card acquittals and got a fair trial. End of story. To try to portray this as persecution is ridiculous. He headed a government instrumentality and by his own admission, used a taxpayer-funded credit card for expenditure of a purely personal nature. The court determined that there was no intent to defraud. But Tuisolia ought to have known the risk he was taking of such an accusation being made. He had more than ample means to run his own credit card so why use the official one at all except for official business? At the very least, It demonstrates a lack of judgement on the part of someone heading a public instrumentality. But I guess it's the same attitude that saw Tuisolia fail to obtain the necessary council permit for his failed Hook and Chook operation. If Frank Bainimarama really wanted to persecute Saki and his marama, he could have done a lot better job. There's certainly nothing wrong with the PM insisting on the highest possible standards of transparency and accountability from those holding positions of authority and trust on the public payroll. Tuisolia would do well to jump on the first plane to Manila and join his family rather than engage in a protracted debate about the merits or otherwise of the charges against him. The dictator may not be so patient next time.
Keep on keeping on said…
Croz, what's wrong with you being too easy on government anyway, when everyone else is too hard. Isn't it a question of getting some balance here? We keep hearing the same old stuff from the regime's critics and never anything remotely positive. Even if Frank could produce the second coming, he'd be labeled a fraud. You need to keep giving credit where credit is due and criticise where necessary. That's why we come to your site. Because (mostly) it's fair.
Constant exaggeration said…
I love this claim that the regime will "stop at nothing" to get its way. Rape, murder, pillage? That's stopping at nothing. Less than a handful of people were beaten to death during a full blown mutiny in 2000. And one or two have died after being butaraki'd in custody. I'm not excusing those because any killing is against the Lord's will. But the fact is more people have been killed in Fiji in drunken bar brawls than have died at the hands of the regime. No, it's the regime's critics who will "stop at nothing" when it comes to fabrication, exaggeration, distortion, rumour mongering, hypocrisy and being generally tedious.
Denial or deceit said…
Are you in denial or is it deceit? Fiji has a military junta. It is unelected, dictatorial and abusive. Fiji must move forward without this junta, without human rights abuses, without censorship. Enough is enough. If Fiji stays on this path it will take decades to recover. Be honest with yourself at least Croz.
Give it a rest said…
"Denial or deceit", there you go again. I was going to say it's like a broken record but to be more contemporary, it's more like having your Ipod on a constant loop. Yes, yes, we know all this. But be honest with yourself, pal. It's just your side of the story. Why you'd claim Croz is in denial or being deceitful is beyond me. Give me one instance in which he's willfully distorted anything to make a political point? He has his opinions, yes. But unlike the regime's critics, he lays out the facts and invites people to look at the evidence. Honesty as opposed to spin.
Red Dragon said…
@ Denial or Deceit and @ Constant exaggeration...

You need to "Get Real" as the cliche goes. We have just come from a public meeting in downtown Nadi. At that meeting, genuine and long-term investors in Fiji complained that they were being threatened "with deportation" if they did NOT 'kow-tow' to another "out of control" developer. The PER are in place: yet still these oppressive thugs throw their weight about. We are not going to put up with them. If anyone deserves deportation ... it is these developers and their thuggish assistants. Where is the "deceit or denial" in this? Those who complained were video-taped. Let the PM and the A-G and all those in government who profess to be concerned about corruption and criminal intimidation of genuine investors deal with these 'developers'. Deport them! Use the Crimes Decree and throw the book at them: no matter who they are or how long they have lived here.
Son of Fiji said…
Pleath spilleth thy beansth honorable Dragon of Red... yours was the comment that dragged me from my slumber induced by the normal regurgitated junta/roadmap crap the anti-crozarama's have filled this blog with.
Do tell all... name names by golly. We all want to know who the real bastido banditos are hombre.
news? said…
@ give it a rest

Most of the time Croz take the heavily censored media reports and rehashes them here as news
Show us the evidence said…
Red Dragon, you'd have a better case if you provided some evidence for what you're saying. I can understand you not fingering this individual/individuals by name but you don't even begin to lay out the specific circumstances. You say threats have been made to deport people. By these "developers" or by identifiable members of the regime? Is it someone behaving like a viavialevu, seeking to imply they have official sanction, or a specific, credible and quantifiable threat? Surely this is something you could lay out in more detail than you have. Within knowing the full circumstances, this is the trouble with such complaints - vague insinuations, a nod and a wink and that's the end of it. No way to verify the credibility of what the complainants are saying. All smoke and mirrors. Why not leak the whole story to Croz confidentially? You are protected and the story's out. If there's a Mr Big intimidating people, he should be exposed, whether or not he has the official support of the regime.
Joe said…
The price drop on food items is good news, but on the contrary, the savings+ will be spent in the proposed casino.
Moce Tasi Pori said…
Memo to the Tuisolia fan club: heed the words of the presiding judge in his case, Justice Sitmabarampillay Thurairaja.

"Although you have been acquitted, I have found that you acted irresponsibly in a very high position, Mr Tuisolia".

Hardly a ringing endorsement for a guy who had pretensions to lead the country and was being groomed for high office by Laisenia Qarase. And hardy the clean bill of health you've all been crowing about.

While you can rest assured that this line won't appear in Saki's CV, his corporate career in Fiji is over. "Irresponsible" - in the words of a judge - and as we've seen before, unable to make a success of his own small business. All in all, a reputation as battered as one of his fillets at Hook and Chook.

Having escaped a criminal conviction, Saki is at least able to resume his parallel career as handbag to the great self promoter, Adi Dame Imrana Tuisolia-Jalal. Not since the great days of Imelda Marcos has Manila high society experienced such a ripple of excitement at his imminent arrival. Yes, he's cuddly but a cause celebre? Forget it.
Red Dragon said…
@ Apology due to Constant exaggeration...

It was not made sufficiently clear or plain that CE's remarks were, of course, supportive of our assertion that the real culprits need attention. If anyone is going to be deported, it is those who harass and threaten and take bribes from genuine and innocent persons wanting to retire and to invest in Fiji. Some of these people have been known for years to be exploiting their position. Now we have growing evidence and it comes from those they have oppressed for decades: yes, decades!
The Tide is Turning said…
@Moce Tasi
Perhaps like you this so called 'judge' for the reginme needs a lesson in politeness? Personal attacks on a person acquitted are not a smart move given those behind this coup....tik tok...
Croz Walsh said…
@ The Tide is Turning ... You appear to know nothing on the way courts operate. The judge's remark was not personal. This is what judges do, everywhere. Sakiusa was acquitted but advised he had acted unwisely. Please try to be better informed before you make further comment.
Navosavakadua said…
Croz you said "Ratu Sakiusa had a case to answer".

On what basis did you say that?

It took four years to bring to trial, largely because the prosecution kept fiddling with the charges and the evidence they proposed to present to the court.

What among the many facts that have been reported led you to say that he had a case to answer?
Croz Walsh said…
@ Navosavakadua ... The charges laid by the FICAC were widely reported by the Fiji media, including his confessed use of his business credit card for personal purposes. Having a case to answer does not mean a person is guilty. It simple means that a charge has been made and he has to provide an explanation. The judge accepted that he had refunded the money. You may well be correct that Government wanted to pin something on him, but that's another issue. He did have a case to answer.

Some credit for an independent judge is due. On previous occasions when judges have found against Government or the FICAC, anti-government people have claimed this was a "one off" and the judge would soon be deported to Sri Lanka. They weren't, but the accusations by anti-government people were never retracted.

@ The Tide is Turning ... I'm not sure whether it is several people or just you who write "tik tok"(tick tock). Is this some sort of threat?
Cicero said…
@ Navosavakadua.....

You still fail to understand the difference between handling 'PUBLIC MONEY' (taxpayer-derived) and PRIVATE MONEY (shareholders' money and that generated in a privately-owned business). This is a fundamental failure of understanding. You cannot begin to fully understand 'corporate governance' if you do not grasp this. We have several cases in Fiji awaiting trial where those charged have treated publicly-owned enterprises as their own company.

Fiji must get this right. If it fails to do so through sheer laziness of comprehension, we are lost! Apply: When in doubt - ask. A very simple and sound piece of advice.
sara'ssista said…
@croz , yes it is a threat but not a bomb threat, as you may presume. i think that it means that as time ticks by we are getting closer to some mass arrests of the 'coup plotters'and 'illegal oathtakers'. It will come and we will all be back to navel gazing about how we got to this point. Eight years is joke on the people of fiji, and then what??
FICAC said…
Ratu Saki used his company crdit card for out of pocket expenses while travelling and later reimbursed. I agree not a good way to manage money but as a bank inside I can assure you the PM himself does this also.

If Saki had a case to answer (and it looks like he did) then you would think that the Former police commissioner would have FICAC crawling all over him. After all he used millions of dollars for his brother Christian crusade and has not paid back a cent. Nor was he terminated.

So I guess FICAC are doing th ground work and will lay charges any day now ??????
Same old same old said…
Croz, the tik tok (sic) is the sound these people make when like clockwork, they parrot the same old rubbish. About as threatening as a damp wettex.
FICAC my foot said…
Croz, this guy "FICAC" clearly isn't from FICAC and I'm wondering about the wisdom of allowing him to pose as such. It's implying an official status that this person doesn't have to give weight to what appears to be a highly specious argument. He/she claims to be a "bank insider" who knows for a fact that the Prime Minister also uses his official card for personal expenses. In the absence of proof of this person's official status, this is a smear, pure and simple. I personally think this posting should be deleted. And I don't think anyone should be allowed to use a nom de plume of an organisation or brand name on your site. It's a bit like me calling myself QANTAS to try to talk with authority about the Qantas 380 scare out of Singapore. Misleading and mischievous.
FICAC said…
@ FICAC my foot,

Clearly I'm not from FICAC. As to evidence who exactly would I give it to ? We both know the PM as self appointed dictator is untouchable.

By the way I'm not suggesting fraud here but the practice of using a business card for personal use is common and then reimbursing company or in this case government.

As I also said the practice for all should be discouraged.
selective said…
@ FICAC my foot

There is a lot of evidence that the PM had actually taken some leave during his career and was not entitles to claim it all be paid out. Now you and everyone else would have to be kidding if you think anyone in FICAC or Fiji for that matter would consider doing something with it.

Example 1. All the info that is being used to charge Mahen (former finance minister) with was available when he was a minister. No action taken other than him being cleared. Now he is on the outer and no longer government he is being charged.
Put up or shut up said…
Then "FICAC", I agree with the point you make - that no one should use official Fiji Government or public enterprise credit cards to rack up personal expenses, whether they pay back the amounts or not. Had Saki Tuisolia stuck to this principle, perhaps he wouldn't have had the endure the stress of the past four years. I still object to you using the name FICAC because it implies that you are from the organisation when you now concede that you aren't. It's misleading, especially when you are making allegations about the Prime Minister.

"Selective", you say there's a lot of evidence of the PM taking leave that's not owed to him. If true, this is fraud. Would you be so kind as to share that evidence with the rest of us? My problem is that the regime's critics make general allegations of impropriety on a regular basis without producing a shred of evidence. Provide it and we'll be a lot more impressed.
Fawkes said…
aint that the truth!. the exact same allegations as before, with the only difference being that before he was on the inside, and now he's out in the cold.

makes a mockery of all the transparency and accountability talk.

i had hopes that this bunch might really do what they said they'd do but as time has gone by, i and everyone else has seen that, put simply, they're not.

the chinese built roads are crapping out already, a FJ$9 million bridge that was underwater a few weeks after it opened etc etc.

meanwhile they're going after the bus drivers to make sure they give out those tickets so they can track every dollar!. but the millions on the roadworks and FSC?. "leave it baraca!"

selective said...

Example 1. All the info that is being used to charge Mahen (former finance minister) with was available when he was a minister. No action taken other than him being cleared. Now he is on the outer and no longer government he is being charged.

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