Showing posts from January 31, 2010

Wellington Sevens

Fiji wins! An exciting game.  Samoa was so very close. Congratulations to both teams.

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in I thank Allen and Connect for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.
Water Issues
Most parts of Lautoka get water from around 5 to 9 am then it comes on again around 4 pm and is turned off again at 8 pm. In a day we get 8 hours of water. In a day we get only 8 hours of water. We store water for cooking, drinking, and sanitary purposes. Our home looks like a water bottling factory. If we have a family function we either request the water authority to bring a tank of water or just made do with what is available and the garden. Yuck.
Many people have said that with the new water authority things will get better. But where will they get the water from if there is no rain? And with the increase in city population resources will b…

(o) Assassination Plot Trial

The most dramatic news from Suva this week is the start of the High Court trial of Naitasiri High Chief Qaranivalu Ratu Inoke Takiveikata (photo) and seven others charged with plotting the assassination of PM Bainimarama, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum Khaiyum and former PM and at the time Minister of Finance Mahendra Chaudhry in 2007.

The other accused are Feoko Gadekibau, Barbados  Mills, Sivaniolo Naulago, Metuisela Mua, Eparama Waqatairewa, Kaminieli Vosavere and Pauliasi Ramulo. Fiji-born NZ businessman Ballu Khan who was arrested, beaten and deported a year ago, is implicated but not charged.

State Counsel, David Toganivalu, asked the then head of Military Intelligence Unit, Major Isireli Narawa, about his first meeting with Ratu Inoke.  He said he met the first accused, Ratu Inoke, at the Sofitel Resort in Nadi in 2007 where the plans to assassinate the commander were made known to him. The Major told the Qaranivalu he did not want Ballu Khan at the meeting, and this was …

(-) Fiji and the The Epoch

Military Ruler Tests the BoundariesI'm forever amazed at where news on Fiji turns up, and what it too often says. Reporter Julia Huang in NY-based The Epoch made at least eight errors or unsupportable statements in her recent report.
1. The military is planning to oversee any newly elected government. Could be, but only by keeping government to the Constitution.
2. Bainimarama has exiled many of his critics. A small number of foreigners and Fiji-born critics who have renounced their Fiji citizenship have been deported or refused entry. But exiled and not many.
3. He intends to draft a new constitution. Along with many others!
4. Regions opposed to Bainimarama have been forced to apology. Fijian custom, no force, and one or two tikina (districts) not the four main regions.
5. He has cancelled the pensions of those opposing his government, including form PM Rabuka. These are parliamentary pensions funded entirely by government, not the general contributory p…

One Small Step? Australia Lifts Travel Ban

Three Wise Men? Several readers have expressed the opinion that the lifting of the travel ban by Australia signals a breakthrough in its relations with Fiji. I would like to think so also, because there can be no improvement in relations without dialogue and if the ban remains lifted, more capable people will apply for senior government positions -- and this can only be good for dialogue and democracy.

There are four reasons why I am less optimistic:
First, the ban had to be lifted to allow Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola to meet with his Australian and NZ counterparts, Stephen Smith and Murray McCully  in Canberra; Secondly, it is a qualified "case by case" lift, that can be revoked at any time, but this is probably the best that can be expected in the circumstances. It is a pity family exemptions were not explicitly mentioned but this may the next call.
Thirdly, ABC interviewer Linda Mottram in the report seen by some readers says Ratu Inoke Kubuabola carries little w…

Reflections on the Naidu-Walsh Debate

Between Politics and Poetryby Sudarsan Kant
Your recent debate with Nick Naidu on the political situation in Fiji unwittingly exposed a fundamental divide between the different interlocutors around the Fiji question and the proper course of action to pursue in solving the crisis. You have for sometime now insisted that substantive solutions must be congruent with the reality on the ground, and to pretend otherwise will not alter what has happened, and is happening in Fiji.

Neither you nor I suggest that we ought to elide over the hash that people have made of politics and society in Fiji for a very long time, but trying to wind the clock back to 1987, or 2000 or 2006 is certainly not moving forward.

(B) Electoral Reform for Fiji

 Electoral Reform for Fiji: the Importance of Speedily Ending Malapportionment by Scott MacWilliam
The current regime in Fiji has correctly identified one vote one value as an important democratic principle which should underpin electoral reform in Fiji. The system used under the 1997 Constitution for the 1999, 2001 and 2006 elections grossly distorted the weight given to votes as between different constituencies, which is malapportionment, but not gerrymandering. (The latter involves the specific drawing of electorate boundaries to benefit a particular party or individual candidate, and was not a major feature of the Fiji electoral system.)
Malapportionment is usually initiated when conservative parties, with their bases in rural areas have most influence. In federations, where there is an elected upper house or Senate, there is often constitution derived, deliberate malapportionment which favours states or provinces with small populations. In the US, each state has two Senators, whe…

(+) Impressions of Fiji

Fiji Now: February 2010 By Subhash Appana*
I’ve just come back, much weakened through over-recharging, after a much-anticipated three week stint in Fiji. The very first thing that struck me was the fact that so many things had changed, yet so little had really changed. I’ll tell you about this as we go along. The main issue that I wish to address is a recurrent question that virtually everyone asks: "So how is Fiji?"  Read more...

Nik Naidu and Croz Walsh on Radio Australia

This is the link to Radio Australia's Pacific Beat programme when Bruce Hill hosted an off-the-cuff  "debate" between  Nick Naidu, spokesperson for Auckland-based Coalition for Democracy in Fiji, and myself.The programme was recorded on Friday 29 Jan. 2010. To listen, you will need Windows Media or a similar programme.

(o) Coupfourpointfive Continues to Mislead

Coupfourpointfive is an Auckland-based anti-government blog published by anonymous journalists.  Other than publishing the occasional rumours that later proved false, it used to be generally well informed and reasonably balanced. Lately, the number and quality of its postings have sharply declined, suggesting a change of editors.

Cafe Pacific,commented on my earlier post under the heading:

Fiji Blog Cops a Blast Over 'Treason' Law Makeover Misrepresentation
This is what it  wrote: Blog Coupfourpointfive has had its credibility challenged over a report claiming any "Negativity against regime treated as treason". The shallow item was attributed in the first paragraph to "sources". Former University of the South Pacific Development Studies academic Crosbie Walsh, whose own Fiji blog is increasingly looked to for informed and accurate analysis, has condemned the website, run by journalists, for misrepresentation. The original "treason" blog posting has…

(o) Negativity is Treason: Blog Misunderstands or Deliberately Distorts New Crime Decrees

Cartoon: Goofy Green Monster with Spots, Six Legs and One Eye. Clip Art.
The story  posted by the anti-government blogger Coupfourpointfiveunder the heading "Any Negativity Against Regime Treated as Treason" is factually incorrect and, one must assume, deliberately misleading. I consider this the most blatantly biased, damaging -- but most easily refutable -- release so far by Coup4.5. Their general credibility is now in serious doubt.

If the mainstream print and radio media report this blog story without first checking the facts against Fiji's old and new laws, they are a party to the blogger's action, whether intended or not. Sloppy journalism becomes a weapon in politically delicate situations.

Coup 4.5 reports that "  one part of the decree limits what the Fiji media can report on a criminal case."   The inference is that this is a new provision, limiting freedom of the press. This is not so.The provision of the Criminal Procedure Decree prohibits report…

Insider's View from the Outside

New Weekly Feature.
Insider's View from the Outside will be published every Sunday at 9:00am NZ time for the next several weeks.

Nesian is a pseudonym for a moderate, Fiji-born, part-Fijian, Hindi-speaking, sky-blue passport-carrying, former Fiji-resident.  Insider's View From the Outside is the result of years spent thinking about all that has happened since the 2000 coup.
Photo: Earth from Space.
The Forces CoalesceThis post is predominantly about post-1999 Fiji. It is my attempt to understand why the 2000 coup took place and how, years later, Fiji is still feeling the effects of that event. Some readers will argue that we will need to go back to May 14, 1987 for the source of the country’s coup culture. I won’t dispute that but I was just a kid when Sitiveni Rabuka overthrew the Bavadra Government. I wasn’t even on the mainland and was thus mostly immune to its effects.

But I was very aware of events in Fiji leading up to and since the introduction of the 199…