NEWS REGULARLY UPDATED
▼Scroll down to the main postings ▼ WEEKEND READING. ♦ Allen Lockington Column ♦ Graham Davis on Ratu Tevita and much more ♦ Fr Barr reflects on the Fiji National Provident Fund Symposium
No change for charity trial or World Cup.USE BIKETAWA DECLARATION. This is CCF's Rev Akuila Yabaki's suggestion to resolve the Tonga-Fiji standoff. The Declaration provides Forum leaders with several options to resolve or contain conflict. The Forum Economic Action Plan Eight Principles of Good Governance and the 1997 Aitutaki Declaration obliges Forum Leaders, including Tonga, to respect the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of another member state.
HAS NZTV1 BREACHED Broadcasting Standards Authority requirements with its constant use of old film footage showing armed soldiers in the streets (some from the 2000 Speight coup) as backdrops to current news items on Fiji, and presenting hearsay (Barbara Dreaver says that Ratu Tevita says that he has been told that...) as evidence of reliable news? Does the news provide us with a balanced account of events in Fiji?
FIJI POLITICAL PARTY OFFICIALS AT ANU. The Centre for Democratic Institutions is currently hosting its 6th annual Party Development course, funded by AusAid. The only Fiji participant noted in the programme is Mrs Priscilla Singh of the National Federation Party but I understand FLP and SDL are also represented. Thank you, Australia, for your detached interest but my guess is none of these parties will contest the 2014 election unless they re-invent themselves as genuine multi-racial parties with multi-racial policies and agendas.
COUNTER-TERRORISM. Fiji will soon implement a security framework to counter terrorist activities and also highlight border security for Melanesian Spearhead Group countrie, says Police Director Operations SSP Erami Raibe.
BREAKING NEWS FROM NZTV1. "Mara has told One News Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver that his wife and niece are being pressured by Fijian police to say his leaving Fiji was planned." (My emphasis).
RATU TEVITA INTERVIEW by Bruce Hill. Ratu Tevita calls for tougher sanctions and for AustNZ to go see for themselves. Hill says Bainimarama not welcome them. [Bruce, they've been invited several times.]
SITIVENI RABUKA INTERVIEWED by Bruce Hill. Former military head, 1987 coup maker and later PM, Sitiveni Rabuka says Ratu Tevita went about things the wrong way, and that it will take a long time to depoliticise the military [ officers believe] "they have a political duty ...to make sure that politicians are straight and not corrupt."
BEQA ISLAND, visible from southern Viti Levu and home of the famous firewalkers, supports Government.
OTAGO DAILY TIMES EDITORIAL. A good summary of the Ratu Tevita saga. Only one factual error: electoral reforms are not delayed and now promised for next year. Two years ago the Roadmap scheduled constitutional and electoral reform for 2012-2013.
Thurs 19.5.11.The FIJIAN version of Roko Ului's first statements are very racially divisive. While it's projected to be essentially a translation of the ENGLISH version everyone has seen and understood, it is however very racially polarising - he is attempting to woo the KAIVITI by yet again, making the KAIDIA the scapegoat - what a freaking shame. -- Lobustus Hindustani on Facebook.
TODAY IS THE ELEVEN ANNIVERSARY OF THE SPEIGHT COUP that overthrew the elected government led by Mahendra Chaudhry's Labour Party, most of whom were kept hostage for over a month until Commodore Voqere Bainimarama brokered their release and subsequently supported Qarase as interim PM on condition the coup-plotters were brought to justice and he would not stand in the 2001 election. That was when their relationship started to turn sour. Five years later Bainimarama reversed the tables on the Qarase government with a coup unlike earlier coups: it was against racial privilege.
PLOTTERS IN FOUR PLACES AT THE SAME TIME. CoupFourPointFive's latest "reliable" rumour is that Bainimarama is in Suva preparing to dismiss the President when he was actually in Kadavu, and the President is also in Suva, meeting with military and police leaders, in preparation for making a media release dismissing Bainimara and his government, calling for elections with all political parties, and seeking asylum in the US Embassy, when in fact he on the way back from Rotuma where he told the people that developments there are due to the personal interest of Bainimarma.
MORE ON THE DISTRESSED FISHERMAN. The NZ Navy did not hear the Ratu Tevita's distress signal. The pick up was off Kadavu, not Ono-i-Lau as Rt Tevita and Tonga maintain. Very fishy.
FISHY STORY, Ratu Tevita still insists he got into trouble when fishing when saved by the Tongan navy. Credible, but only just, as is the Tongan statement that their vessel was not in Fiji territorial waters. It's true, as they said, that some parts of the sea boundary are unclear, but not in the vicinity of Kadavu — or Ono-i-Lau!
RATU TEVITA. Why did he leave his friend Pita Driti behind? Not the thing for a kai viti dina to do, one would have thought, given that Driti will have to face the consequences alone. And that's not to mention his wife and children. He tells us, and seemed surprised, that she has been questioned at the barracks. And why was he taking documents with him if he was only fishing?
A LAUGH FOR A CHANGE from Samoa on Ratu Tevita. Vinaka, Fiji Today.
ATTACKED COMMENTATORS SLAM 'OUTLANDISH' FIJI BLOG SMEAR
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION chairman Josefa Serulagilagi and members Udai Prasad and Claire Aull have been re-appointed for an additional two years. The appointments were in accordance with the State Services Decree 2009.Tuesday 17.5.11
FALL OUT ON INTERVIEW. Auckland University Radio Station 95bjn interview me yesterday about the Ratu Tevita incident. Here's the link to the podcast http://95bfm.com/assets/sm/199584/3/crosbiewalshonfijiandtongastoush.mp3
One anonymous reader said it was full of suppositions and innuendo while another reader, Graham Davis, wrote: "Croz, sitting in my hotel room in Perth listening to your splendid interview on the MP3 through your site. Well informed, well reasoned and well argued. Terrific analysis. Cheers, GD."
MONEY LAUNDERING CRACK DOWN. Fiji is making progressive strides in combating the occurrence of money laundering and financial crimes in the country, having conducted 267 investigations into alleged offences over the course of 2010.
$40M FROM BUA BAUXITE WITHIN TWO YEARS. The mine is expected to be operational within six months. PM predicts mining of equal importance to sugar and tourism.
HOW MANY TIMES DOES IT NEED TO BE SAID? Foreign Minister Kubuabola has again re-stated that political dialogue on new consitution will begin in Fiji next year ahead of elections in 2014. He was speaking to the Political Committee of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly in Budapest. Meanwhile Government is focusing on institutional and socio-economic reforms, which include work towards a race-free sustainable democratic system, the removal of references to ethnicity in public institutions and the removal of what he calls institutionalised racial biases in government tendering processes.-- RNZI.
McCULLY MADE A REASONABLE STATEMENT on TV1 tonight saying that NZ wanted to contain the bilateral dispute to Fji and Tonga and not add to tensions. Only one slip. It's not Ratu Tevita's sister-in-law who is the President's wife, but his sister. Slip of the tongue or didn't his advisers know?
BAINIMARAMA NO PUPPET: Khan.
TAILEVU VANUA PLEDGE SUPPORT. Nabulebulewa has finally pledged support for the Bainimarama government.
ELECTIONS OFFICE recommends electronic one-day voting. Acting Supervisor for Elections, Soro Toutou, says individual voters will go to a designated polling station on polling day.
INFORMING THE PUBLIC. For the second year running, there will be exhibitions of services provided by Government Ministries and Departments at the PSC Information and Referral Centre in downtown Suva this week. This is in line with transforming the civil service to make it more efficient and client responsive. PSC Permanent Secretary Parmesh Chand has warned civil servants they are not to drink grog, play cards or board games during the exhibitions.
FNPF PENSIONS UNFAIR. The Symposium last week on the FNPF was told that "extremely generous payments" made to a handful of Fund pensioners. These amounts paid to about 10,800 pensioners are being subsidised by the other 280,000 members.
OLD FNPF BOARD COST members $800m.
(REVISED). FNPF PENSIONS and contributions will be reviewed and made fairer and more transparent. Click on the two statements. Australian consultants say the FNPF needs to focus three major areas to put the fund on a firm financial footing: refocus on retirements, and improve its legal and governance framework. One proposal, to make he Fund sustainable, is to pay out 9% of member's retirement balances a year, instead of the present 15%. Members currently pay 8% into their Fund account and their employers a further 8%.
ROTUMA DAY celebrations. See also Weekend Readings.
GIRMITIYA."On May 15 (some claim it to be 14th), 1879, the first batch of 497 Girmitiyas (indentured labourers) were brought to Fiji by the British on board the vessel Leonidas. This cargo of labour continued till 1920 and by then an estimated 60,357 Girmitiyas had been brought to Fiji. This weekend marks 132 years of the first arrival of Indians." Read more...from Thakur Ranjit Singh.
FIELD,NOT FOR THE FIRST TIME. The sorry saga of a self-satisfied scammer.
PAKISTAN: ANY LESSONS FOR FIJI?
"Isolating Pakistan would simply harden the border and heighten the tension that complicates these two men's lives. And the lives of all of us who live here. Yes, we must uncover the terror links, the facilitation, but no, we must not sharpen the paranoia or confuse the state with the people, the great majority of the people. And we must not give up on dialogue by other means".
TYPHOID IN BUA PROVINCE. A two-week public health emergency has been declared in Bua where they have been nearly 150 cases of typhoid since the start of the year. All mass gatherings are cancelled.
LOTTERY TICKET LOSSES.The FRU spent $536,000 and earned $315,000 on the lottery than contributed to the its old Board being held to account, and the withholding of $3m from Government to support Fiji's World Cup participation.
FIJI PASSED OR AMENDED 55 LAWS last year as part of ongoing reforms. Line Ministers initiate the laws; work consultations follow, then the draft is presented to Cabinet for approval and gazetting by the President.
FIELD IN TROUBLE AGAIN. The NZ Press Council has ruled against the Michael Field and the Sunday Star-Times newspaper for an article on Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama which was deemed "grossly inflated". The complainant was Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.
NZ SANCTIONS MAY PREVENT FULL STRENGTH FIJI TEAM at the World Cup.
SUGAR MILL PARTS USELESS. The PM says the $86m mill upgrade work by the Sugar Technology Mission of India last year was no different than "dumping money in the ocean."
AUSTRALIA-FIJI BUSINESS COUNCIL
The AFBC is a non-profit organisation established in 1986 for the promotion of business between Australia and Fiji. It also provides members with an all important network into business and government in both countries to help further their business goals in Fiji. PACIFIC ISLANDS BUSINESS CONFERENCE ON REGIONAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION, NADI, FIJI, MONDAY 20 JUNE 2011. Australian investment in Fiji exceeds a billion dollars and its exports over three times more than it imports. NOTICE: VISITOR FLAG COUNTER. With more Brazilian visitors than Fijian, I have removed this feature as no longer reliable or useful. AIR PACIFIC DOWNSIZES to remain competitive. TRIO JAILED FOR THEFT OF $1,000,000 FIJIAN. Remember the theft of the Reserve Bank money from a ship container last year? The Singapore Straits Times reports jail sentences for the three Arab dockworkers responsible. How much will be recovered is still not known.Monday 9.5.11
WHY ARE PUBLIC SERVANTS EXEMPT? News that they are no longer covered by the Employment Relations Promulation 2007 is a matter that will concern many, not just the CCF. Government should be setting an example in employer-employee relations, not using its authority to let itself off the hook. GROWTH RATE REVISED UPWARDS. The FRB April Economic Review predicts the economy will grow by 2.7% compared to the earlier anticipated recovery of 1.3%. A Job Advertisement survey shows an annual 3.6% driven by finance, insurance, real estate and the business services sector. Consumer spending has been supported by rising incomes, as indicated by an increase of 19.3% PAYE collections, but real household incomes have been eroding due to higher price. The trade deficit has decreased due to a strong 13.3% growth in exports and slower imports growth of 4.1%. The Review report says for 2011, exports are projected to grow strongly by 10.3%, following a 21.0% rise in 2010, while imports are expected to rebound by 11.4% this year following relatively low growth of 3.2% in 2010. To download and read the full report, see Resources tab under the blog description. NEXT PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM. The 42nd Forum and related meetings will be held in Auckland 6–9 September 2011. Smaller Islands States Leaders’ and Pacific ACP Leaders’ will meet on the Tuesday 6th; the Official Opening and Formal Session on the 7th; Forum Leaders’ Retreat on the 8th, and the 23rd Post-Forum Dialogue Partners’ Plenary Session on Friday 9th. Pre-Forum meetings for officials (Smaller States, Pacific Plan Action Committee, the Pre-Forum Forum Officials Committee) will be held at the Forum Sectretariat in Suva on from 16-19 August. For media enquiries contact Mr Johnson Honimae, the Forum Secretariat’s Media Officer on phone 679 331 2600, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Ms Mue Bentley Fisher, the Forum Secretariat’s Communications Officer on phone 679 331 2600 or email: email@example.com
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MORE NEW ROADS. A Chinese Exim loan of nearly $200m is funding four new roads: the Hibiscus Highway in Savusavu, 19 km from Vunidawa to Sawani, the 15km Valley Road from Sigatoka, all under construction, and the the Ba–Moto Road planned for April next year.
NEW NAVUA HOSPITAL CONSTRUCTION, also funded by the Chinese, to start in June.