News and Editor's Comments Friday 19.8.11

Weekend Reading • Allen Lockington column • Forum Futures  by Rowan Callick • Bill Ralston on Rupert Murdoch • And possibly more

Friday 19.8.11 
Having not written anything for the blog for the past few days, I have to play catch-up.  Hence the number of items in today's News.

BILL RALSTON writes mainly "manly" and sometimes funny feature articles in the NZ Listener. This week, after a  jaunt in Vanuatu, he wrote this, comparing Vanuatu to Fiji, "It was nice to holiday in a place, where instead of thuggish men in uniform toying with the safety catch on their automatic weapons, you encounter only pleasant, shy, smiling people ..." And this from an intelligent and generally well informed man writing in the country's foremost weekly magazine!

WISE FORUM ADVICE NEEDED. The SecGeneral of the Pacific Islands Forum, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, says Fiji is not "taking sufficient steps to enable a return to parliamentary democracy." The steps, Mr Slade, are spelt out in the Roadmap: first institutional and infrastructural reforms; next year Constitutional reform, then Electoral reform and then Elections in September 2014. In making recommendations to the Forum that meets in Auckland next month, he should call for helping hands, not more brickbats.

ILO AND THE UNIONS. I doubt much was gained from the recent ILO visit but Government should heed their advice:"start talking again to unions and employer organisations." Unfortunately, this is especially difficult in a "small society"like Fiji, where everyone knows everyone.

MINISTRY ADMIN REFORMS SAVE MILLIONS. Government stands to save close to $41million when it implements the findings and recommendations of Phase 1 of the Functional Review of government ministries and departments.

.Having dodged a credit rating downgrade in May, New Zealand is still at risk if it doesn't sort out its ballooning deficits and mounting government debt, Moody's Investors Service says.

A KEAN MAN.  "Convicted killer takes top Fiji job" is a recent Stuff Headline. It refers to Cdr Francis Kean's appointment as acting permanent secretary for the Ministry of  Works, Transport and Public Utilities. Two years ago he was convicted of manslaughter following a drunken fight at the Suva Yacht Club. I have no way of knowing exactly what happened, and it is no excuse that alcohol was involved, but manslaughter, unlike murder, is unintentional and he should not be labelled for life as a "convicted killer." No doubt he has to live with his own demons.

WILL NAKARAWA MAKE THE WORLD CUP? Fiji is apparently pursuing diplomatic channels to allow them to include soldier and rugby lock Leone Nakarawa in their 30 member World Cup squad to compete in New Zealand next month. Fiji is worried about a high injury toll. It would be nice gesture for New Zealand to make this one exception to its travel ban. See also this AFP story.

FORMER FNPF MANAGER NOT IN COURT. The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FIAC), the police and immigration are trying to locate former FNPF deputy GenManager Foana Nemani who failed to appear in Court today to face charges of fraud by authorizing payment of responsibility allowance totalling nearly $70,000. High Court Judge, Justice Priyantha Fernando, asked who is Nemani’s surety. The answer? Her husband who is also abroad.

FICAC: BOTH SIDES OF A STORY. Sri Lankan lawyer Madhawa Tenakoon who served on the FICAC says he has documentary proof of political interference in Fiji's judicial system. He claims government interfered in prosecutions by directing the Commission to launch certain investigations, while also directing some cases be ignored. A-G  Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, however, says Tenakoon was sacked for poor performance and suggests he is trying to raise his profile in a bid to boost his career.There could be truth in both stories. Trying to advance (or delay) the hearing of case is interference but it is the court's judgments that ultimately matter.  And the Courts have rejected as many or more FICAC (and Government) prosecutions as they have approved. 

AS FOR TENAKOON, it is considered unethical in legal circles for a lawyer acting for one party to use information given to him in trust, and pass this information on for use by another party.  He prosecuted Jalal and her husband and now says he will tell all the information he acquired as their prosecutor! I hope he also tells the world that he was the person trying to get them convicted, and that the Judge dismissed his argument and the case against Jalal and her husband.

MORE VOCATIONAL EDUCATION. The Ministry of Education is pushing for more vocational education is secondary schools where the curricula still largely reflects the colonial era when those graduating from  secondary filled lesser jobs in the civil service or, if they were lucky, went on to university.

VILLAGE BY-LAWS that will give greater autonomy to village leaders are still under review by the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs that will ensure the by-laws do not contravene national laws.-- No.1582/MOI.

THE MURDOCH LEGACY. "Over the past week or so people have asked me if the same tricks used by News of the World (and other British tabloids) are used by journalists here. The short answer is no. Some unscrupulous New Zealand reporters are quite capable of making up stories, inventing quotes, lying like flatfish to get access and stalking news makers, but to the best of my knowledge they either lack the expertise or the cojones to hack  mobile-phone messages." -- Bill Ralston in the NZ Listener. Bill reflects further on the the work of the previous owner of the Fiji Times in an article headed "Hoist with his own petard."


TexandAse Tamanikaiwaimaro 10:33am Aug 19
Is there really a freedom March happening tomorrow?? to coincide with the hibiscus march??
 Just like earlier claims —some also hiding behind festivities— of other marches that never took place? The lengths to which some anti-Bainimarama people are prepared to go in creating and disseminating rumour reminds me of the question, "How long is a piece of string?"


Not convinced said…
I wonder if the Sri Lankan lawyer is confusing things a bit for his own purposes. He states that there "was government interference in pursuing some cases and ignoring others". However, government ministers have a right, and a duty, to put forward cases where they think corruption has occurred. Doing this is not interference. It is then up to the prosecutors in FICAC to determine if a case should proceed to prosecution. He gives the Imrana Jalal case as an example. However, he stated that after HE reviewed the breaches of the Public Health charges against her he decided that they were not under FICAC jurisdiction and transferred them to the DPP. The court later found there was no case. It was only the charges against her husband that were prosecuted by FICAC in the end. It appears to me that the correct processes were followed and this example does not suggest government interference. Government only brought the case to the attention of FICAC, which they are allowed to do.
Alter ego said…
Did you get permission from the author of that Facebook post before exposing their name and post to a public audience?

Posts on Facebook are not public domain.
No Fiji military at RWC said…
You need to update yourself? Nakarawa has been granted a visa to the RWC. Leone smartly has resigned from the military. An excellent career decision on his part given where things are going. He is no longer a soldier. Therefore he is welcome.
sara'ssista said…
@not convinced...the imrana jalal case is an excellent example among many others where in particular this was Avery very minor matter brought before a senior judge pushed by this regime. This self appointed regime that made it very clear at the time that the resignations of the Sri lankans was due to their contract expiring and Persian reasons!! Just because a matter is brought before the courts and fails does not discount interference. Interference is the hallmark of this regime. Do you forget the sackings and illegal appointment of regime candidates in the first place? Ian yet to hear of the actual trial and conviction of the former PM, apparently the cause of the coup in the first
place. This regime uses legal action to intimidate time and time again.
Gutter Press said…

Some time ago you wrote with regard to Francis Kean:
“Convicted killer takes top Fiji job" is a recent Stuff Headline…. I have no way of knowing exactly what happened…but manslaughter, unlike murder, is unintentional and he should not be labelled for life as a "convicted killer."

I’m surprised that you should have taken issue with that headline.

Justice Winters' final words were:
“Mr. Kean, John Whippy’s life was precious and its value should not be underestimated. There must be exceptional circumstances before the court can suspend a term of imprisonment. I have searched for those circumstances in your case but can find none. An immediate prison sentence must be imposed”.

You can find full details of the case in

You can assess for yourself whether or not Francis Kean’s actions were deserving of him being labelled for life as a convicted killer.
Croz said…
@ Gutter Press... You misread my comment. I agree with you totally. Mansluaghter is not murder and Kean should not be labelled for life. Thanks for the link.

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