PM Addresses the Nation on PER Lift


Ladies and gentlemen: As I announced in my New Year’s address, the Public Emergency Regulations will be lifted from tomorrow. 

This marks an important step toward the public consultations for the formation of a new constitution under which truly democratic elections can be held. I shall give  further details in due course of the shape and form of the consultations which will commence in February.
No modern state wishes anarchy upon itself. The acts of terrorism, racial riots, religious and ethnic vilification and other disturbances have given rise to legal safeguards in even the metropolitan countries such as Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and India—to name a few.   

In Fiji, we too have experienced terrorism such as the events of 2000, during which government members were held captive by terrorists for close to two months. They held the country to ransom while being aided and abetted by political elites, religious groupings and self interested individuals. Suva and other centres including Muaniweni was systematically ransacked, looted and terrorised.

We must never allow this to happen again. Nor must we allow those who will create such a situation to act with impunity.

Many countries have placed limitations on rights where warranted and deemed necessary to safeguard society, to ensure stability and indeed to ensure continued liberties. 

For example, in UK, a person can be detained on the grounds of suspicion of terrorism for 14 days and the period of detention can be extended with the consent of the court. In Singapore, a person can be detained  for up to 2 years without trial if national security is concerned. In Australia, a person's movement can be restricted for preventative measures or tracking devices can be installed on the person to monitor his or her movements. In USA, the President and Attorney General can authorise the detention of  persons for undefined periods for suspicion of terrorism. 

In Australia and other countries, racial and religious vilification in public gatherings and even on the internet has been criminalised. 

We in Fiji have not had such safeguards in law and enforceable in a transparent manner. However, now the Public Order Act, which has been in force in Fiji since independence, has been modernised through the Public Order (Amendment) Decree 2012. This modernization is necessary to effectively address terrorism, offenses against public order and safety, racial and religious vilification, hate speech, and economic sabotage. 

We in Fiji will not go to such extreme as some of the countries I have mentioned. For example, for any breach of the offences under the Public Order Act, a person can only be detained for a maximum of 48 hours and if need be for a further 14 days but only if the Commissioner of Police deems it necessary and with the consent of the Minister. No person can be detained for more than 14 days without being brought before the court. In Fiji, we will also not allow tracking devices being installed on individuals. 

Over the past few years, my Government has brought about a number of structural and institutional changes to break from the past and to position Fiji for the future. 

We have sought to empower Fijians, modernize our country, and strengthen our economy. We have sought to rid our society and institutions of behaviour and practices that discriminate, that spread prejudice and misinformation. 

It has resulted in an overall decrease in the crime rate, the creation of a stable society—one that is safe for everyone including individuals, communities and businesses to succeed.

Under our past governments, corruption prevailed, our economy was mismanaged, and society was rife with political uncertainty—which fostered racial, ethnic and religious bigotry.
Although these governments were condoned either directly or implicitly by many, including our neighbours Australia and New Zealand, they were not just, not fair and not truly democratic. They led to intolerance, uncertainty and potential upheaval.

No society, no country—and indeed not Fiji—can ever be free if we do not remove or at the very least address directly these societal and political ills. 

Over the past few years, this is what my Government has done.
The imposition of the PER provided stability during this time of reform and change.
These reforms and changes—which have been for the clear betterment of society—include, among others:
  • ·         Implementation of a common and equal citizenry
  • ·         Outlaw of institutionalized racism and other discriminatory practices
  • ·         Codifying equal rights for women
  • ·         Creation of FICAC
  • ·         Creation of the Independent Legal Services Commission
  • ·         Instituting a Child Welfare Decree
  • ·         Putting in place a new Crimes Decree
  • ·         Creating a transparent and sustainable provident fund
  • ·         Equal distribution of land lease monies
  • ·         And Restructured Fiji Sugar Corporation and the Sugar industry
  • ·         Getting better returns for landowners and providing security for tenants
All of this has made for a better society—one that is more fair, just and transparent meeting international standards. And in the last few years, Fiji has been able to do great things, some of which include:

  • ·         We have been able to make unprecedented investments in education, healthcare, technology and communications.
  • ·         We have invested greatly in rural, remote and maritime areas—including electrification, roads and bridges and internet access.
  • ·         We have provided free text books, subsidized bus fares, food vouchers for the poor and those who live on the margins of society.
  • ·         We have seen record-high numbers of visitors enjoying our country.
  • ·         We have expanded our diplomatic ties to more nations than ever before.
  • ·         We have brokered many successful partnerships to create jobs and diversify our economy.
  • ·         we have given the impetus for private sector, both local and international, growth and investment
  • ·         And we have even been able to cut taxes for 99 percent of taxpayers.
But none of this could have been done successfully if politicians, religious organizations, and self-interested individuals had been allowed to fan the flames of prejudice and intoleran
We would not have been able to move forward, if they kept us in the past. As we have seen of late and even through the so called freedom blogs there are still some who are clinging on to the past, some who seek to advance themselves even though it is through racial or religious vilification, defamation, encouraging  terror and violence or simply lying about Fiji. 

Negativity would have been further exacerbated by the media bias in particular of the Fiji Times and Fiji TV. Media is undoubtedly powerful and critical for a well informed public. However, personal, political and racial agendas cannot be allowed to take precedence and continue behind the fa├žade of a free press. 

Like with all societies, the safeguard and well-being of the nation must come first. Without stability, without the right to exercise our own sovereignty, no nation can progress, no nation can prosper.

I urge all Fijians not to be influenced by those self-interested individuals, politicians, religious organizations, and others who may seek to disrupt the stability we have enjoyed in the past three years. 

There is nothing more I want than a Fiji with a truly democratic government, one representative of all Fijians. For the first time in our history, we are on the path to making this a reality. We must get there.

But know that elections cannot be held in an environment devoid of social cohesion and economic stability. 

Know that those who seek to destabilize society only do so to serve their own interests. They do not serve you.

Also know that we will not tolerate an iota of disruption to the peace, safety, stability and common and equal citizenry we now enjoy. 

We cannot claim to be truly free and maintain a liberal society if we are beholden to self-interest and prejudice and seek to advance ourselves at the expense of our fellow citizens and the well being of our country.

We are all Fijians. Let us continue on our path to a new constitution and elections—for all of Fiji and for a better Fiji.


Ha ha said…
He (our PM) is of course right. We can't let elected governments be overthrown by anyone. We should not have let it happen in 2000 and we certianly should not have let it happen in 2006. How he can stand and lecture everyone again and again about what is right when he must know that what he did was illegle and also about his own self interest i do not know.
Anonymous said…
I think what he is saying is that the PER will be lifted but government/military will still not tolerate any opposition, alternate view or meeting that might resolve to take action (legal or not).

He is saying - "I am the ultimate law in Fiji and you need to remember it. Forget about the fact i came to power by force and illegally. I'm here and you will comply"
Anonymous said…
Clearly one of his better speaches. The new PR firm are earning their money.

It does however worry me that anyone with a alternate view is labelled racist, self interest or eleite.

No one is more slef interested than the PM. His biggest self interest is staying in power to stay out of jail. His second big interest is to accumulate a reasonable amount of wealth. His third is to treat his family and friends to benefits of power.
elizin said…
Frank doesn't want democracy - he wants utopia. Where everyone loves and recognises his vision and actions as being the only truth and light in the country.

Debate, political parties, rallys, alternate views. These are all part of democracy yet he does not want them.
Anonymous said…
Well I think we have answered the good reverends question..

"real test if the current regime can shoulder the
diverse opinion some of which will be negative and critical"

Failed. Military government will not tolerate any of this.
dookin said…
Frank clearly hates many people in Fiji. Top of the list are those than nearly caused his death post 2000 coup. Also up there are those who sought to have him charged, investigated and those who would have him removed from office (then and now).

Yet he seems to constantly get upset that those thrown out by him, those investigated by him and those removed by office by him. He lables them self interested and elite when really maybe they are just upset with his actions like he was of theirs.
Yea yea said…
Lets take a look at Frnaks listed achievement more closely.

Implementation of a common and equal citizenry - Agreed.

Outlaw of institutionalized racism and other discriminatory practices - Agreed except in the Military where racisim is alive and well.

Codifying equal rights for women agreed.

Creation of FICAC - agreed but this was done 5 years ago. It has also been misdirected by government to "get at and to" opponents.

Creation of the Independent Legal Services Commission - agreed.

Instituting a Child Welfare Decree

Putting in place a new Crimes Decree

Creating a transparent and sustainable provident fund - sustainable yes but it has never been more non transparent.

Equal distribution of land lease monies - yes, well done.

And Restructured Fiji Sugar Corporation and the Sugar industry - yes but to no effect or benefit.

Getting better returns for landowners and providing security for tenants - questionable.
Anonymous said…
No wonder the rest of the world does not trust him ... no difference at all between this and PER
Makes me mad said… mention in the speach about the sugar industry still struggling. No mentionof the economy yet to recover to GDP of 2005/2006. No mention of the hundreds of peoples lives they have destroyed. No mention of the hollow and broken promises. No mention of the huge salaries they pay themselves. No mention of letting Francis Kean of because he supported coup and was brother in law.
sara'ssista said…
Harrah, so will people still be arbitrarily picked up by troops and interogated/abused like they do is Aus and NZ? Again he moans about be hard done by. Fiji Times still getting blamed even after murdoch ...well now that he has his own flunkies to self-censor TV and Radio, and his own handpicked owners for FijiTimes, is he going to be happy with the coverage? I am just so thrilled he feels that after all he has put the country through, we are well on the way to prosperity and racial harmony. Military Council still in charge is it?
haften said…
Bainimarama: "There is nothing I want more than a truly democratic governmet".

A big statement. I don't beleive him but lets hold him accountable to it.
lied to again said…
So now we are told the PER was required so government could carry out reforms ? So they lied to us every month for the last 2+ years. There was no Public Emergency ?
Anonymous said…
Bottom line is overall this government has not been successful at growing the economy. It has some traction in the last 12 months after 4 years of going nowhere. None of the original promises given have been actioned and all early commitments forgotton. How many SDL minister have been found guilty of corruption - NON. How many RFMF people have benefited form the coup - almost all of them. Will the PM and his team step aside and declare themselves not valid for 2014 election - highly unlikely.

No better or worse than previous governments.
Anonymous said…
Have I missed something. Did a new decree come into place today taking alot of the PER decree bits and putting it somewhere else ?
More info please as promised said…
I was expecting details on the consultation on the contitution today. Not another political speach about how good this government is and how bad every other government before them was.

Note the PM talks about public consultation only. I doubt it will be inclusive - he will not inlove political parties (labour/SDL) or unions. I'm also not sure what will be up for consultation considering he has made it very clear the constitution must have X,Y,Z. Maybe it will be more of a lecture like the FNPF 'consultations'.

The big question is how to make a constitution valid - you can't just decree it in or have the military gather signaures like they did for the charter.
Spin doctor said…
Bainimarama is leturing us on the evils of overthrowing an elected government when that is exactly what he has done?
Croz - the commodore needs to get some new advisers and a decent PR organisation ASAP.
laughable said…
Looks like a PER stunt to me.

1. transfer most of PER to different law/decree

2. ban the major unions

3. charge or chase out of country all political opponents

4. control media through new decree

Anonymous said…
@ Ha Ha

In this case the ends justifies the means.

Sleep well
cycle harder said…
The PM singles out Fiji Times and Fiji TV. There biggest crimes...reporting the coup as a coup. Not bowing down to the great dictator !
cut and paste said…
While Michael Field has breaking news and very sound analytical comment on the Fiji situation all you do is cut and paste the spam from MINFO or that first class media organisation the Fiji Sun. Has the bursitis gone to your brain old boy? What about some original thought or even a mild attempt at analysis?
Je Geniko said…
@Ha ha, so the 1987 coups were good in your view?
Anonymous said…
Fiji Today post reveals the tendency to mislead.
PER by another name said…
So we now have the PER by another name. This junta is increasingly jumping at shadows. Seems that history is repeating itself as in other parts of the world?
Middle Way said…
Dear Croz,

In the past you have done some very useful analysis of events in Fiji. For example you wrote a very complete piece about Rau Mara’s defection.

Could you do an analysis of what freedoms have been given back with the removal of PER but what freedoms are still tightly controlled under the Crimes, Media and Public Order decrees.

Thanks in advance
No to Dictator said…
Croz - If you do support Bainimarama, then you are supporting murder, rape, robbery, adultery, bugglary, assault, kidnapping, thugery etc.
You are supporting a dictator.
Anonymous said…
Since frank and aiyaz and his gang took over we have added another 50,000 souls to our population. by the time he removes himself it will be over 80k.

How many jobs have they added to the economy in that period?

Bottom line this is the main function of government.

Judged on this basis, we see that frank and aiyaz's gang have failed beyond measure.

From the gulag, good day to you Sir.

...and remember, be happy, humanity has the great capacity to manufacture happinnnes.
Happiest Country in the WORLD.

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