Happy and Not So Happy New Year: Bad, Sad, Good and Very Good News (with Reservations)

UPDATE ON MERE SAMISONI DETENTION AT END OF THIS POST.

The bad news is that trade unionist Rajeshwar Singh has been removed as a director of Air Terminal Services which, whatever the reason and despite government denials, indicates  government continues in its efforts to reduce union influence. It is true Singh associated with Australian trade unions in an unwise attempt to  win their support.  But it is equally true that the attempt would have been unnecessary had government not passed the unnecessary Essential Industries Decree — with no prior consultation with the union movement. The removal is another example of how government loses friends who could make important contributions to Fiji's future.  I would welcome informed comment from readers on this development, particularly with respect to the union shareholding in ATS.




The sad news is that former SDL politician, business woman (and my old student) Mere Samisoni has been taken into detention, as was predicted and feared by her daughter months ago.  No reason was given but Mere has been very vocal in Fiji and overseas in her opposition to the Bainimarama government, and has probably provided financial support to anti-Bainimarama groups. It's very likely she broke PER more than once but government would have been better advised to ignore her.

 


The good news, announced by Public Service Permanent Secretary Parmesh Chandis that all public servants are to get a pay increase, effective from today.

In addition, former civil servants, their spouses, former members of the disciplined forces, war veterans, retired judges, former Prime Ministers and Ministers and former members of parliament will all receive a 20% increase on their existing entitlements.



And the very good news is that the Public Emergency Regulations (PER) will be lifted next Saturday.

The irony is that had PER been lifted three months ago the Fiji trade union movement would have been able to voice its concerns about the Essential Industries Decree and would not have had to involve their Australian counterparts, and Mere Samisoni would not have been detained.

I'm sure all readers will join with me in welcoming the decision to lift PER. One hopes that Australia and New Zealand will recognize this as a positive step forward, and reciprocate with some easement of their sanctions.

One expects that this will mean the media will now publish responsible contrary news and ideas on a range of issues, not just those relating to the constitutional dialogue; and that people and organizations will be able to freely meet and associate. Anything less than this will be seen as tokenism..

PER to be lifted next Saturday!

(Sunday 01st  January, 2012 No:01/MOI) Fiji’s Public Emergency Regulations To Cease In January (2012)

Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama today announced that the Public Emergency Regulations will cease by January 7th, 2012.

In his New Year’s Message, the Prime Minister said that he would ‘in the next few weeks’ announce a nationwide consultation process for a new constitution for the country.

“The constitution must establish a government that is founded on an electoral system that guarantees equal suffrage – a truly democratic system based on the principle of one person, one vote, one value; We will not have a system that will classify Fijians based on ethnicity; and, Our young men and women, those 18 years old must have the right to vote”, Prime Minister Bainimarama said.

He said that in order to facilitate this process, the Public Emergency Regulations commonly known as the PER would cease by the 7th of January, this year.

“We must all remember that public order, protecting the vulnerable and safeguarding the economy will always be paramount. We must also as a nation, be intolerant of those that seek refuge and political power in religious, ethnic and communal divisions”, the Prime Minister said.

A full version of the Prime Minister’s message can be accessed at www.fiji.gov.fj
-ends- 
UPDATE
(Monday 02nd  January, 2012 No:02/MOI) Update On Mere Samisoni And Others
These persons Mere Samisoni , Mataiasi Ragigia , Apete Vereti and  Semisi  Lasike will be charged later this afternoon with the offence --- Urging Political Violence – Contrary to Section 65 (1) (b) of the Crime Decree No. 44 of 2009.
The four, between the months of September and December 201, in Suva in the Central Division intentionally conspired to overthrow by force of violence the Government of Fiji.
They are to appear at the Suva Magistrate Court tomorrow morning.

Comments

Increase the sanctions said…
Croz
Why should the sanctions be lifted when they are working so well? Fiji is still a military dictatorship and a long, long way from returning to democracy and freedom. We still cannot even find out how much the self appointed PM paying himself. Where is the opneness and transparency? If anything the sanctions should be increased.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Increase the sanctions ... It's pointless to reply to this old line of argument. If you can't write something which shows thought and goodwill, you'd sleep better if you did not read this blog. For you every dream is a nighmare.
Romeo said…
@ Increase the sanctions

Here we go again.....that broken record on the PM's salary is being played again, and again, and again ad nauseum.

Here is my two bob's worth.

Rajeshwar Singh appears to be loyal only unto himself. By engaging overseas unions to crush Fiji he has engaged in a hostile act against Fiji's people. There is no exploitation of ATS workers - that is the moot point here. Rajesh is miffed that government has changed the rules of the game resulting in him and other professional trade unionists being sidelined. If he does not like the 'new Fiji' he should be encouraged to migrate to Australia and NZ where his union mates there will be able to look after him.

Mere Samisoni. I have no issue with her. She is a successful business women and was elected by people of Lami as their reprsentative. If only she could avoid all the goobledegook and anger in her writings and statements. In 2012 she should simplify her message as well as take anger management classes. (By the way, the Hot Bread Kitchen is not included in the Essential Industries Decree).

As for ANZ lifting sanctions in response to lifting of PER, even if they did, the damage has already been done to their relationship with Fiji. Even if they chose to re-engage with Fiji, it will be on Fiji's terms, and indications are that the relaationship will never be the same. The Australian influenced Pacific Islands Forum is of little relevance to Fiji now. There has been geo-political shifts in the region over the years. Under Rudd and Gillard, Australia in particular has taken its eyes off the ball. Other players have come in to fill the vacuum caused by their failed 'isolationist' policy towards Fiji.

Lifting the PER is a good thing. We shall now see how politics in Fiji will pay itself out. Will we return to the old days of ethnic politics where we were all held captive by the personal power interests of a few in the Methodist Church and the feudal GCC ?
Proud Fijian said…
I am quite surprised that Unions hold shares in ATS (is this true for other Public Enterprises?) as you mentioned Croz.

I suppose that if you were shareholders in a company and a director who represents your interests in the company sabotaged your goals which is to make a profit than that director should be removed by the shareholders.

In this case under its legal obligations and rights the Chairman has removed this director.

Mr Singh has a conflict of interest here and as a Director his foremost priority was his shareholder representation.

As his function as Union rep he may have seen otherwise.

It is now quite apparent that Union reps in Fiji have quite a lot of power and can be exploited by Politicians (as they usually are Labour inclined) to sabotage profitable businesses owned by the employees they represent.

As we understand Rajesh Singh had taken the step of attempting to derail the ATS services without consulting his members. He would understand that actions he's taking are extraordinary and could affect interest of the employees by both loss of profits in its shareholding investments and directly by loss of income through job losses.

Such actions could certainly see Decrees to curtail their influence eg. reducing shareholding or have their director choice declaring no political involvement during tenure of office
Ganna Kataiya said…
To have a job, we need employers and NOT unions. It is that simple.
Just deserts said…
Good for you, Croz, in hitting back at the naysayers. Some of these people wouldn't be happy no matter what concessions the regime makes.

Frankly, Mere Samisoni deserves everything she gets. She's a dreadful racist with a history of anti Indo-Fijian comments. I say lock her up or deport her to Australia. She's a menace and always has been.
Rebuilding the military said…
It is now time to address the serious under representation of non i-taukei in the military. This will help in improving the professionalism, capability and independence of the military. The days of its i-taukei domination must end. the sooner the commander is an Indo-fijian the better it will be. This is the most one sided racial organisation in Fiji in bad need of rebuilding.
Anonymous said…
Rajeshwar Singh's sacking is actually good news. He as a self-serving trade unionist. All talk and very little action.
Ram Sami said…
Mere Samisoni has been asking for trouble for a long long time.

Hope she gets it ( trouble I mean) !!
Anonymous said…
Mere & others should be remanded in custody. This is serious stuff, and a wealthy person like Mere is more than capable of wreaking havoc of unimaginable magnitude.
Anonymous said…
Rebuilding the military - what is wrong with you? This race based talk is rubbish - how would it be any better if there was an 'Indo-Fijian' commander of the Fiji military? All you have done is expose the limitations of your own shallow argument.
Anonymous said…
Rebuilding the military - what is wrong with you? This race based talk is rubbish - how would it be any better if there was an 'Indo-Fijian' commander of the Fiji military? All you have done is expose the limitations of your own shallow argument.
Anonymous said…
Rebuilding the military - what is wrong with you? This race based talk is rubbish - how would it be any better if there was an 'Indo-Fijian' commander of the Fiji military? All you have done is expose the limitations of your own shallow argument.
Rester said…
The jailing of Mere Samisoni almost looks like an anti-government conspiracy. Instead of the government dealing constructively with a critical voice, she and a few 'co-conspirators are dragged in, held without legal counsel or representation. If this is the start of an inclusive consultation process leading towards a new constitution and free and fair elections, well I consider it as a rather poor start. Imagine some harm comes to the 74 old women while in detention! Elected by a large majority in her constitution, the harsh treatment dished out to her may very well become the rallying point for serious anti-government activity. Having lived in Fiji for a long time, I have seen the other side of that friendly smile. Somewhere deep down lurks a proud warrior who when pushed too far wants to eat the liver of his enemies.
sara'ssista said…
Why should sanctions be removed when this regime dismisses and minimises their affects. Why remove sanctions and give any recognition to a regime that doesn't deserve recognition. It is as if a kidnapper deserves a reward for freeing hostages, isn't it? BTW isn't this illegitimate regime and this illegitimate PM guilty of the same offence allegedly committed by Mere?? How galling is that.
Anonymous said…
@ Rester

How do you deal 'constructively' with people who are intent on bringing about your own destruction? Could we have dealt 'constructively' with the ethno-nationalist thugs who raped and looted after the 1987 and 2000 coups?
Mere is being represented by a kiwi QC. Others also have legal representation. Why ignore the facts?

I would suggest that the best place for a 74 year old grandmother is out in the rose garden with her grandkids, not playing a high stakes political game with those of the same ilk as the ethno-nationalists thugs of 1987 and 2000.
Anonymous said…
pro-Democracy group leadership

If anyone has doubts about the quality of the leadership of these overseas based 'democrats', one need look no further than John Baledrokadroka's radio interview with Melanie Arnost of the ABC's 'Pacific Beat' program on 3 Jan 2012.

His responses were shallow and contorted. He sounded more like a bitter and twisted SDL politician than the diappasionate academic he wants us all to believe. I am astounded that the ANU have accepted him as a doctoral candidate - says a lot about the ANU
Oh please Mere said…
Samisoni is alleged to have plotted to burn down Suva. How many lives did she risk, if she was involved in this plan? I don't feel sorry at all for terror suspects who have scant regard for the rights and freedoms of others. If she had done this in another country she would be locked up for a very long time.
sara'ssista said…
I am still amazed to see the criticism of previous politicians and governments then in the same breath those same people, defend the arrogance, lack of probity and scrutiny, nepotism, abuse of human rights and failure of due process in the surrent militray regime. There still appears to be the expectation that opposition should just fold like a tent and let this regime have it's way. Did they follow this example when they were opposing the government of the day? No they didn't. More do as we say not as we do.
Anonymous said…
mere samisoni aint no saint and daunitutu would have no problems if the 2006 coup had deposed a fijian pm of indian decent. "Racism" theres no place for it in the new Fiji
trabili said…
It is easy to be a critic of overseas based democracy groups and opposition to current government. But lets be fair here. No resistance or alternative is alloud in Fiji. I know of dozens of reasoned people in Fiji who would speak out if not for the very dire consequences of doing so. Loss of jobs, business, visits by the military in the night...

We hear only of the fringe because any local main stream opposition has been crushed by the military. They are lifting the PER now because everyone know the rule...speak out against the military government and you are finished.

It is as simple as that.
Anonymous said…
Mere plotting to overthrow government ? Thats sounds a lot like exactly what Frank actually did and i don't see him presenting himself before the courts ?
Anonymous said…
It is Mere's time to 'meke' behind bars! She is downright racist like Kepa and both should be disabled from doing further harm. PER was most effective in making these fiery women to take stock of their stock in trade and hopefully, this jolt would make them think for a change. PER separated the doves from the vultures and PER restrained the racists who now wear the garb of democracy. They want to get back into power one way or the other and they think that getting on to the canoe of democracy will take them to the Promised Land.
sara'ssista said…
@ Anon
, yes and PER also coincindentally stopped any scrutiny or criticism of this regime or genuine protest given the trampling or EVERYONES rights and the blatant 'jobs for the boys', nepotism and the searing hypocracy of this regime to standards they hold all previous regimes and polticians to but don't hold themsleves to, by any measure. The party is nearly over boys. For some reason there is a call to congratulate a military regime for returning human rights standards and freedoms to what they should have been. How perverse. Lets see how they react when people chose to exercise them given their veiled threats of going back to PER is we don't behave and cooperate.
Delusion of Grandeur said…
Bula Cros, @ Romeo well said!

Hooray! PER is over, we now move onto elections in 2014. I am so grateful to everyone who used their common sense and behaved maturely throughout this tough period in our lives. To the so called people like Mere & those like her - my grandmother use to say "lei vuli mani ta skool". Our beautiful country Fiji & her people continue to shine and we will despite what leadership is in place because "Fiji is the way the world should be" May the good Lord continue to bless Fiji and her people. Vinaka.
Anonymous said…
@Croz(Update)

If it's a offence to over throw the government of Fiji then why is Rabuk and Frank both walking free today ?

Or is it OK for military folk to over throw government just not anyone else.

Would appreciate if the courts or AG could clear this up for us ?

Will future military leaders also be able to over throw government ?

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