News and Comments Wednesday 16 November 2011

 16.11.11
A-G TO TAKE FIJI TIMES TO COURT.  
Explanatory note: One can disagree with a court judgement but questioning the integrity of a judge, the judgment, or the judiciary, is unacceptable and liable to prosecution in Fiji as it is in all Western democracies.

Government has announced that the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has been granted leave to initiate proceedings for contempt of court against the Fiji Times Limited, the Fiji Times Editor Fred Wesley, and the Fiji Times Publisher Brian O’Flaherty.

The offending article, “FIFA probes Doc,” appeared in the Monday, 07 November, 2011 edition of the Fiji Times. Statements in the article questioned the existence of a judiciary in Fiji, potentially undermining the public’s confidence in the administration of justice, and potentially damaging the integrity of the enforcement of justice.

The Attorney-General commented, “It is my responsibility to protect the independence of the courts, as the Fijian Government adheres to the separation of powers, and promotes – in principle and in practice – the independence of the judiciary. This ensures inter alia that the law is applied to all persons equally.”

The case will be called next in the High Court on 28 November, 2011.

JENNY HAYWARD-JONES  clarifies some points on the Lowy/Tebbutt Poll criticised by Bainimarama's opponents because they did not like the poll results.

INFLATION DOWN A LITTLE. The Reserve Bank  says inflation dropped from 9.7% in September to  to 9.1% in October. Further falls are expected in line with the global economy. Read the Fijilive link for details of other economic changes.

E-TICKETING. The PM  launched the new electronic bus fare ticketing system this morning.
Government sees the e-ticketing system as a way of helping capture the $5 million, as per a review of the Fiji bus industry in 2009, which leaks out of the revenue of bus operators. The technology, which is already being used overseas, will see the installation of the machine on local buses. E-ticketing will also enable Government to keep track of bus company incomes.After its introduction in the Central and Eastern divisions,e-ticketing will be introduced in the Western and Northern divisions. 

EUROPEAN TRAVEL AGENTS VISIT FIJI FOR FIRST TIME. Some 125 Europe-based tour operators, media and Matai specialist travel agents from 14 countries, including Russia, have been in Five over the past few days, as part of a Tourism Fiji ‘Europe Bula Academy’.The objective of the academy is to educate the operators and agents on increasing travel opportunities the destination represents to their different client bases. The operators will visit Nadi, Denarau, Coral Coast, Mamanuca, Yasawa, and the North, and participate in sightseeing tours, soft adventure activities, spa treatments and experience firsthand Fiji’s unique living culture. A one-day workshop for the whole group was held at the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa on Saturday -- Based on No:2027/TF.
 
FIJI 'ACCEPTABLE' IN 2013
. Fiji will host the 8th Conference of the Pacific Community in 2013,that will bring together the widest range of countries and territories to meet in the region.The decision to hold the conference in Fiji was reached at the 7th Conference held at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia. Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola  said this was a forum "where issues affecting the Pacific community are discussed and debated responsively between SPC members in a genuine spirit of co-operation and without any biased conditionality on any political status."

ONE IN THREE TAXIS STILL ILLEGAL. More than 5000 taxi's  have yet to have their meters sealed by the LTA since the new taxi fares became effective at the beginning of last week. Taxi operators are required under the LTA Regulation to have their meters sealed by the Authority after calibration - however according to the Fiji Taxi Union - only one third of the 7600 taxi's in Fiji have done so.


Comments

Croz Walsh said…
@ Saras'sista... I published one of your comments today but not the one in which you questioned the integrity of the Fiji judiciary. Such comment, as I spelt out in my explanation to the post item, is unacceptable in Fiji and all Western democracies. I suggest to write to Coup4.5 if you wish this view published. Their standards are different from mine.
yea yea said…
Croz,

Does it seem a little unbalance that the government/AG can use the courts to pursue the Fiji Times but no one is aloud to use the courts to pursue any issue against government. Their decisions (decrees and others) are absolute and above the law.

Regards
Yea yea
independant yes but... said…
The courts may be independant but what use is that to anyone when the new law does not allow anyone the ability to question the law itself. Speciifically any law made by the self appointed government or decision made by the self appointed government can not be questione before a court.

So the courts can find for the government but never against them.
Gutter Press said…
The Fiji Times would seem to have a reasonable defence in the fact that government appointed censors are still in the newsrooms and evidently felt the original story was fit to print.

Perhaps confusion on the part of government, its censors and the Fiji Times about what is fit to print and what isn’t stemmed from the fact that the article was reporting what someone else, not the Times or its reporter, is purported to have said.

However if the government persists, at taxpayer expense, in its action, the Times could very well plead entrapment.

I look forward to the day when the left and right hands of government know what each other is doing
Kahukiwa said…
Surely you jest Croz? - '...is unacceptable in Fiji and all Western democracies...'.

Its been a while since Fiji could be included in the club of Western Democracies. Good to see you haven't lost your sense of humour.
Anonymous said…
Sorry, Mr Walsh, but you've lost me as a regular reader. Have you actually read what you hyperbolically refer to as a democracy-destroying attack on Fiji's judiciary? The Fiji Times ran an article from New Zealand's Sunday Star Times. The 'offending' quote is attributed to the general secretary of the Oceania Football Confederation. THIS would be a prosecuting offense in a Western democracy? I'm a US citizen who lives in Australia and has spent many months in Fiji and can assure you judges face constant scrutiny in countries where speech is protected and not subject to paranoid, fearful regulation. Perhaps it's different in New Zealand, but I can assure you judges are not considered infallible in the US and Australia. The public's perception of their 'integrity' is not considered an issue of national security and is not enforced via legal action. In the US two members of the Supreme Court are currently under pressure to explain their ties to the healthcare industry. No one -- no one -- is facing legal action for pointing out their possible less-than-impeccable integrity.

I credit you for staking a difficult piece of ground, Mr Walsh, but I've made 7 trips to Fiji in the past 3 years and have seen the deterioration of everyday life. The current military regime promised change but have shown zero inclination to return power to the Fijian people. To believe that in 2014 they will merrily let democracy take its course is counter-intuitive to history and human nature. I respect your desire to provide an objective viewpoint but to defend such a blatant hissy fit on the part of a megalomaniac A-G is beyond the pale. I suggest a rethink, or at least a casual glance at online editions of newspapers published in Western democracies where free speech isn't yanked around like a dog on a chain.

I'm posting anonymously because I wish to return to Fiji soon but know the opinions expressed in this comment would jeopardise my ability to travel freely to a country I have come to love and wish to see prosper, regardless of who's calling the shots in Suva. Doesn't that reality ALONE cause you any pause?
Croz Walsh said…
@ yea yea, Gutterpress and independent yes but... I agree, and have criticised this sitution in earlier posts. There should alway be a right to appeal to the court. My explanatory comment was limited to saying the judiciary as such, not its decisions, cannot be undermined. No country would stand back and allow such an accusation to remain unanswered.
@ Kahukiwa ...I was not saying Fiji is a democracy. I should have written
'...is unacceptable in Fiji AS IT IS IN all Western democracies...'. This would have removed the ambiguity.

@ Anonymous ... I made no comment on the issue one way or the other. I certainly did not say it was 'a democracy-destroying attack on Fiji's judiciary'. Not did I 'defend' the A-G.

Your US references are complaints against inidividual judges. The complainants are not questioning the integrity of the US Court system, which allegedly is the case in Fiji. Newspapers are responsible for what they publish. The A-G is the senior legal officer in the Government. It is his job to protect the integrity of the judiciary. Whether or not this particular case warranted his intervention is not up to me to say. I am simply reporting normal practice.

Other than the brief explanatory comment, I merely published the official release,also published by several Fiji online media. My normal practice is not to comment until I have had an opportunity to study an issue more fully, and I do not comment on any particular case that is before the court. This also is a NZ practice honoured by the NZ media.

I will be sorry to lose you as a reader. If you change your mind, I would be pleased to anonymously publish your firsthand accounts of your trips to Fiji. Best wishes, Croz
Entrapped up a Greasy Pole? said…
@ CW and "Sorry, Mr Walsh...but you've lost me....."

We are all feeling increasingly lost - entrapped maybe on a grubby and evermore greasy pole? Reminiscent rather of the SEPPtic, Swiss Mr Blatter who believes, we are condescendingly told, that racism in Soccer may be neutralized by simply "shaking hands after the game"(sic). This is the 'coup de grace' for Monsieur Blatter. The ultimate, sick indiscretion of unbelievable dimensions. As revealing as the vulgarity of his hideous 18K gold and malachite World Cup trophy. An enduring legacy for closet racists and their corrupt cronies the world over!
Kai Gau said…
The Attorney-General commented, “It is my responsibility to protect the independence of the courts, as the Fijian Government adheres to the separation of powers, and promotes – in principle and in practice – the independence of the judiciary. This ensures inter alia that the law is applied to all persons equally.”

Hmmmmmmm.....separation of powers..in principle and in practice, huh? Well, if Voreqe Bainimarama had an inkling of this understanding in 2006, I'm sure we wouldn't be in this AWFUL, STINKING mess today, exacerbated by the support of the likes of Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Go figure!
Cabal of Creeps said…
"I am not going'....Sepp Blatter to the World 0800 BBC World Service

We have our own version of Mr SEPPtic Blatter in Fiji. He hung on and on for years beyond measure, blighting Fiji Football for the young and believing himself to be irreplaceable. Surrounded by sycophants and cronies, who believed likewise of themselves, we permitted the young people of Fiji to be slavishly directed: not for sport or the enhancement of their own self-esteem but to serve the arrogant, manipulative and greedy focus of a Cabal of Creeps. How many more such cabals endure? We think we are bound for Freedom? We need to think again!
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