What Happened at the Lau Provincial Council Meeting?

Filipe Bole has replaced Adi Ateca Ganilau as Lau Provincial Chairperson barely one day after she received 17 votes and Bole 15 votes for the position.  Her replacement is being hailed as evidence of government interference by the anti- blogs (and her brother Ratu Tevita in Australia) and so, up a point, it might be, but provincial councils are bodies funded by government to administer itaukei affairs in Fiji's 14 provinces (Rotuma to the north of Fiji proper has its own council.) Their composition,functions and procedures are spelt out by government legislation — any government, not just this one.

The change is reported to have occurred after a statement (that others called an "outburst against the government") in which she denounced the People's Charter and Government leadership. Adi Ateca denies this, saying, “I was in no way [trying] to persuade the Council not to support the government. I was giving my views to the Council and not saying that we do not want to support the government.”  But Commissioner Eastern LtCol. Leweni says this was not what she said.

Following this exchange, Leweni "made it clear that assistance to the province and the people of Lau would continue and not be affected – but they would not be able to work with Adi Ateca after the comments she made."



“The delegates were asked to deliberate further on the stance of the chairperson – due to her outburst yesterday – in which she clearly showed her intention that she is not willing to work with government. That’s the gist of government’s message this morning – that if this is the stance of the chairperson, it is unfortunate, and government will not be able to work with someone who does not see eye to eye with government’s development plans.” He said  Government had no problem with Adi Ateca’s election as chair until she made the outburst, and asked them "to meet amongst themselves for an hour... to deliberate what is best for the province." An hour later, at least two members must have changed their position, and Bole was elected chairperson.

A reader questions this position, asking when is it was against the law not to support the People's Charter? A quick answer is that it is not, but it would be extremely difficult to work with senior civil servants who opposed government's central policies, and the Provincial Council, for better or worse, is an arm of Government.

The anti- blogs said pressure had been applied even before the meeting for members to vote for Bole, and so again it might have been. Elsewhere, this would be considered lobbying and quite acceptable.  In the Fiji context it should also be noted that there is always unstated pressure to vote for the chief over the commoner.  Listen to audios on FijiVillage.

We ignore Ratu Tevita's statement about the supposed ultimatum, vote "regime stooge" Bole or an immediate meeting closure, and no funding for Lau. And his remark that the "people of Lau cannot be bought...  [they] see through the dictator’s lies and broken promises. It shows when the people are allowed to vote they do not vote for Bainimarama or his lackeys."

A word for Ratu Tevita:  It was  not the people who voted but Council members, and had the election been held under the old electoral system 17 over 15 would not have won. With less than 50% of the vote, preference votes would have come into play. Do you know how they may have been cast? Your first-past-the-post elections, supposedly representing the people of Lau,  hinged on two votes.

No doubt there will be more to say, from both sides, once the dust settles.

Comments

Rigged Elections said…
Adi Ateca is quoted as saying “On the day before the meeting Leweni was lobbying the members of the council to vote for Bole or the province would not receive any government funds.” So someone who was at the meeting is making a statement. Not some unknown blogger. So let us assume it is true.

You say “The anti- blogs said pressure had been applied even before the meeting for members to vote for Bole, and so again it might have been. Elsewhere, this would be considered lobbying and quite acceptable.”

You are saying that it is perfectly acceptable for a government to threaten to stop all funding for a province if their man is not elected. That is not lobbying that is blackmail. You talk about Qarase and the agricultural scam and how corrupt that is. I agree that was quite wrong to go around the provinces and say vote for me and here is a shovel, a tractor a fishing boat. This is even worse if you do not vote for my man I will stop Government funding.

At some point even you will stop defending the regime. Perhaps it will be after the 2014 elections have been rigged in the same way.
Free and fair elections said…
The bigger question is how on earth will the current PM, his ministers and the RFMF ever accept a new government in 2014.

A new governemtn is going to have different views and different approaches. If all a new government did was follw the exact path of the current one, checking in with the former PM and RFMF it would be little more than a extension of this government.

It is not looking good for free and fair elections in 2014.
Yea yea said…
It certainly looks like a dummy spit to me and we know government has withheld fund before to get its way. Sorry but this government does not do compromise but it is very good at retribution.
read all about it said…
You go to new lows defending this decision Croz. If the council can't appoint a chairperson without government directing the outcome why bother having a election at all ? And if you consider it perfectly OK for government through a military person to tell them what to do (because it is funded by government) then are you OK with same outcome everywhere else - including the 2014 elections.
Man of Principle said…
Croz
I had reasoned that although you seem single minded in your support of this military regime and its many very undemocratic actions that perhaps you were at least a man of principle? I was wrong.
Our Money in fact! said…
@ read all about it

You are quite wrong on one major point: governments have no money. It is in fact OUR money, the Fijian Taxpayers'.
So , it makes little difference who administers it so long as it is well done. It would go down better though if just occasionally we, the taxpayers, were gratefully acknowledged as the source of largesse.
Croz Walsh said…
Wot Censorship has left a new comment on your post "Daily News":

Croz,

You will find that news of Adi Ateca's election did not appear in print in the Wednesday papers. The Sun had other stories about the Lau Provinicial Meeting but none on the election of the Chairman.

If you make inquiries you will find out the censor removed these stories.

So sometime between the morning and the evening the government decided it was against the national interest for this story to run.

They must have made that decision before the closing speeches on day 1 of the meeting. Which means they made their decsion before Adi Ateca's remarks.

It was those remarks which Leweni claimed was the reason she could not be chairman of the provincial council.

The Interim Government must have made up its mind without any help from Adi Ateca.

[Reposted from Daily News - Croz]
Croz Walsh said…
@ Wot Censorship ... I've copied your Daily News commdent where it is more relevant. To reply:

The news of Adi Ateca's election was published on FijiLive (12:52pm) and Fiji Village (3:57pm),and on Fiji Broadcasting, on Tuesday, the first day of the meeting. Her remarks were made at the end of the day, too late to publish. My report, which published comments from both Adi Ateca and Leweni, was based on the Tuesday and Wednesday releases.
sara'ssista said…
again...i say if this is the standard that you apply to fiji then so be it. I look forward to the next democratically elected government refusing to deal with anyone that does not agree with it and mass sackings will follow. presumably the same applies to the police commissioner and military chief who doesn't toe the line ad every government funded organisation. What a disgusting defense of this regime. Presumably this is consultation process we all look forward to on the a new constitution. Do really think that after all of tis , that there will be a better chance of any reconciliation or people just biding their time to take revenge?? My way or the highway eh. Again if this is the standard you apply i will happily remind you of all your feeble explanations and excuses for this regime when the tide turns...and it will.
Conflicted Interests - AGAIN? said…
@ OUR MONEY In Fact......

How can it be that what is essentially the Fijian Taxpayers' money will now be overseen by someone who is also paid from taxpayers' funds, the Public Purse, call it what you will? This is NOT a matter of personalities, their standing in the hierarchy or the one-upmanship of a particular tribe or clan. This is a matter of corporate and proper governance: PERIOD. If we care about Conflicts of Interest, declared and undeclared, and all the venalities they lead to, then we should be having something to say, surely? It is our money and governments have none.
Wot Censorship said…
Croz,
You claimed the news of Adi Ateca’s appointment as chairman appeared in print on Wednesday. It did not.

Despite being the first order of business of the Lau Provincial Council, it never appeared in the Fiji Sun. Other matters discussed at the meeting later in the day did appear.

The story was written by both papers but was not printed.

As you say her comments were made too late to be published. However, the censors still removed the story of her appointment, a decision made before her comments. That does not quite fit with Leweni’s claims that the only reason for her removal was her comments.
Navosavakadua said…
For Croz Walsh

Surely this episode must raise doubts about the integrity of this regime.

The Provincial Councils have always been under the influence of whoever is the Minister for Fijian Affairs (Na Talai of old). I'm not sure how many people could be appointed by this Talai. It could be by regulation, but what is done by regulation when the law is changed by Decree, even if it conflicts with the Constitution?

But even all this power was not enough for Frank. He had to resort to the naked fist and he entrusted the delivery of the message to Neumi Leweni, of all people. In the early days of the coup, when he was the "Official Spokesman", he liked the expression "read between the lines". This numbskull couldn't read the lines themselves. If there are slightly differing versions of what he said, just remember that what he said may not have been coherent, let alone logical.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Wot censorship... Please re-read my comment. I made no such claim. I wrote "publish" not "print", and why on earth would the censors allow this news on the two line sites and on Fiji Broadcasting and not in the print media? Adi Ateca did not step down until Wednesday morning, too late for the daily print media. The last news we heard before this is that the Council were deciding what to do after Leweni's statement. Deadlines not censors prevented publication.
Kaikula said…
Bottom line,Croz, is you don't take on the responsibility of Chairman and then turn that appointment into a political agenda. Such a shame but if she cant work with government then it's the people of Lau that suffer. I can't be bothered with her at all, I know them all too well and let them vent their anger, after all they see themselves as 'THE MARA'S' and feel they should be treated differently to the lower classes. Most in Fiji are delighted she stepped down.
Imprimatur said…
@ kaikula


'the lower classes'? The 'kaisi'?

Now we are all Fijians, are we not leaving this hierarchy stuff behind?

Is this not the Once and Future Plan?

But wait awhile........Who foots the bill? And what do they have to say? Ask Rupert Murdoch........he sure knows now!
Jon said…
Isn't it funny that when her husband was in the government she seemed to support the charter and government. But when he has leave the governemnt due to shady dealings with Fiji Water, she now does not support the charter or the government.
Just like her brother, she only has support if there is something in it for her. Do not be fooled that her opinions are in anyway for the benifit of Fiji, but just for her own standing and profit.
Jon said…
It is funny that when her husband was part of the government Adi then seemed to support both the governement and the charter. Then her husband was removed from the government due to shady dealings trying to keep the tax haven for Fiji Water. And now she is totally against the government and the charter
Just like her brother she was happy to support both government and charter when there was something in it for her. Now she does not get anything directly, but instead is losing power and money due to the changes in the laws that the governement is making.

Do not be fooled that her current ipinion is in any way for the benifit of Fiji. It is for personal and family gain only, nothing else!
Catch Up or Die said…
Jon said.....

..."shady dealings"? Are you sure you do not mean 'criminal'? Because it is time we called a spade a Bloody Shovel! If criminal conduct took place, then the standing of any individual is unimportant. That is the Law. Apply the Law. It is high time we fully understood that taxpayers' money will not be misused, abused and turned to "shady purposes". Public Money is just that: in the purview of the Great Fijian Public and their interests are to be served ahead of any individual, ahead of any tribe or clan, ahead of any ethnic or cultural group.

Until this happens, Fiji will remain a stagnant backwater, unable to compete or find a niche for itself in the Global Community, forgotten and feudal. So, a completely different way of looking at the role of the individual is now required. The individual must be brought to the Front Row and energised, not co-erced but encouraged by education and the application of smart ways of doing things.

It is self-evident that this cannot come about if those who feel they must be served are not equally encouraged to "Peel Off" and give-way. Done with grace and some considerable ingenuity, this should be possible for the Greater Good?

The Strain of Civilization is considerable. The late, great Sir Karl Popper wrote of this in Christchurch, NZ in the mid 1940s. He was inspired by his coming face to face with Maoridom. So many, many decades later we must catch up - or die.
Delusion of Grandeur said…
Bula Croz, for the record all provinicial councils are administered by Government until the people of the province take on that role it is the pleasure, authority and responsibility of the Government. Why does one make a mountain out of a molehill? Vinaka.

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