News and Comments Tuesday 7 May 2012

TAUKEI DID NOT STEAL COWS. Some time back I published a feature with a video in Hindi that claimed during the floods Taukei villagers has stolen their Indo-Fijian neighbours' cows.  My apologies.  I do not speak Hindi but a reader who does wrote, "This video seems rather mischievous. The Interviewer is asking leading questions but none of those interviewed said their cows were slaughtered. What they said was that the cows washed away by the floods were picked from rivers, slaughtered and taken away by I Taukei, its not the same thing as cows being stolen and killed. We have to be cautious that we don’t feed into those interested in creating further divides any opportunity that arises." My further apologies for unintentionally adding to the division.

UN PEACKEEPERS TO SYRIA. Fiji will send eight senior military officers to support the United Nations supervision mission in Syria.

.Church assistant general secretary Reverend Tevita Nawadra Banivanua said last year's agenda was submitted to the police, in its application for a meeting this year.The only changes were the names and dates. He confirmed that the  names of church president Reverend Ame Tugaue and church secretary Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu, who are the main casues of police complaints, would remain, explaining they could not be changed until the conference was held. It is significant that they have not offered to resign, although almost certainly they will not stand again for election after the Conference.Rev.Banivanua said most of the annual meetings in the 55 divisions had already been held and others would be held this week, depending on their permits.

POLICE COMMITMENT. Police officers will renew their commitment to their code of ethics this month following a directive from Commissioner Naivalurua. The Commissioner said some officers have forgotten the meaning of the ethics that guide their work and "that is why I’m directing all officers to re-look and renew their oath and sign a declaration of their commitment." He accepts seriously the increased complaints against police and complaints against service.

. Questions about police beatings were raised at the Kadavu Provincial Council last week following complaints that 30 men interrogated during a recent drug operation suffered injuries. Villagers had been told the "new decree" permitted the assaults. Deputy Police Commander South Tuapati Volau informed the meeting  police had no authority to beat up anyone, and  under Section 10 of the Criminal Procedure Decree they could only arrest a person with the use of ‘reasonable force’ if those arrested were resisting. The allegations are being investigated.
Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said they were looking into these allegations

NEW DIALYSIS CENTRE OPENED. The new Centre in Nadi will help save money and time for patients in the West. A reasonable fee will be charged for treatment and it hoped to establish a trust fund for patients who can’t pay for dialysis. The Centre has four dialysis machines that cost nearly half a million dollars.

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH REPORT. The Pacific Media Watch freedom report and video are now live.  Feel free to point to it.

THE BLOG AIMS. A reader, dissatisfied with my response to a comment, asked what the blog aims are — and then told me!  For such readers, read the title and sub-title to the blog, and check out the page "Blog Aims,Publisher." And then hold me to account on my aims —not your aims.

THE GUINNESS BOOK OF RECORDS FISHING TRIP. Ratu Tevita Mara's account of how he went fishing off Kadavu (armed with "documents that would prove all" and which he has still to produce) and finished up being picked up the same day by a Tongan naval vessel off southern Lau should be submitted in the biggest lie category for Guinness.  But what he's done since is almost as remarkable.

He seems to be the sole spokesman and official for The Council for a Democratic Fiji that was formed in Auckland when he visited from Tonga. The Council claims to speak for the SDL and FLP but neither Qarase nor Chaudhary have backed this claim. But its "way forward" is identical to that of the two parties. Mara has written, on behalf of the Council, to the Melanesian Spearhead Group, Professor Yash Ghai and Ministers Carr and McCully, telling them not to trust Bainimarama.

He has decried the abolition of the Great Council of Chiefs and accused Government of not providing sufficient flood relief. In short, he has opposed everything Government is doing. Which is to be expected.

But I have two two questions for Ratu Tevita: 1. Have the SDL and FLP formally endorsed your Council, and the press releases you claim to make on their behalf?  2. What is the source of the Council funding —and yours? Or did you stuff a wad of dollars into the carry-all you took on the "fishing trip", together with those special and as yet unseen documents?

FIJI AT ADB. The PM, who is also Minister of Finance,  attended the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank in Manila, Philippines last week. He was accompanied by Reserve Bank Governor Barry Whiteside, Finance Permanent Secretary Filimone Waqabaca, and Pita Wise from Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics.

NEW MEDIA WELFARE ASSOCIATION. A taskforce has been appointed to look into the establishment of an association that will represent the welfare of journalists and media personnel in Fiji.It followed the call from the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) secretariat for an informal get-together of journalists in the Central Division to celebrate World Press Freedom Day last Thursday.


Walker Texas Ranger said…
Much more is required of the Police than a renewal of their Code of Ethics. They need to make a firm commitment to the Police Regulations. They need above all to pay full attention to this:

Trading, 'aiding and abetting' the trafficking of cocaine is now considered an Act of Terrorism by changes to the laws of a number of countries. These countries are determined to confront the Cocaine Cartels 'head on'. The cartels have become stronger than many states. These states have compromised sovereignty due to this fact.

The consequences of these changes to the law now make trafficking in cocaine an International Crime. Fiji is not a special case: to be excluded from this determination.

The Officers of the Fiji Police Force are required at all times to be part of a solution to the trafficking of 'hard' drugs. Not part of the problem. That follows for all related government agencies and their employees. If you 'aid and abet' trafficking in hard drugs, you will be held to full account. The matter is now of regional and international jurisdiction. The best advice is this: turn yourselves in and do it now. If you do not, you face the rest of your life in a prison cell. Not necessarily here.
Gutter Press said…

Whilst you’ve twice apologised for your unintended error, I’m curious to know why you persist in making a distinction between iTaukei and Indo Fijian in this sort of context.

When questioned in the past you’ve argued that since Fiji has a multi ethnic society it’s legitimate to highlight cultural differences between the various ethnic groups, but not to do so in a way which might inadvertently forment racism. This is an arguable, but nevertheless understandable, point of view.

Since (like most people) you're strongly in favour of a multi cultural society free of racism what I can’t understand is why you chose, and still choose, to write about ‘iTaukei’ villagers and ‘Indo-Fijian’ neighbours when in this, or almost any other circumstance, it’s surely sufficient to refer merely to villagers and their neighbours.
Colombian drug lord turns himself in said…
Colombian Drug Lord, Javier Osana turns himself in on the island of Aruba! (BBC World Service - 2100hrs 7 May 2012)
Correcting Croz's Assumptions said…

You are repeating youself see news on March 26 2012. So I hope you don’t mind if I repeat my comment.

Interesting you should try and belittle the support of CFDF and make no comment on the broken promises and failed targets that litter Bainimarama’s time as a dictator highlighted in the letter to Yash Ghai from the CFDF.

Don’t you think the 2 most senior politicians would distance themselves from the CFDF if they felt they were being incorrectly portrayed. We have seen statements in the past few days from both Chaudhry and Qarase correcting misleading statements from others, notably Bainimarama, Tikoitoga, Khaiyum and Davis. They would be just as capable of correcting the CFDF.

As for the main parties consulting their members. How do you suggest they do that? They have only been allowed to conduct 1 small meeting each. I am sure the leaders would love to consult their members on many issues but it has been a little difficult trying to operate a political party in a dictatorship.

Chaudhry, Qarase and the Methodist Church have kept silent so I assume Tevita Mara is correct and CFDF has their support. If we take the 2006 voting figures that is between 70-80% of the adult population of Fiji.
Lesley said…
Re "THE GUINNESS BOOK OF RECORDS FISHING TRIP" If I was the AG I would be a bit agitated too. I mean - Bob Carr and Murray McCully come all that way to Suva and as I understand it - spend at the maximum 25 minutes with the AG? They would not learn much about what the Fijian Govt is doing in that amount of time. They should have stayed an extra day and visited key Govt Departments to see whether what they are being told is true. To only spend 25 minutes seems pointless really.
Anonymous said…
Gutter Press makes a very important and valid point. Isolating people on the basis of race, or any other similar characteristic when it is not called for, especially in connection with anti-social behavior is what leads to false stereotyping.
Anonymous said…
the guiness book of world records has been in touch as they think there is a winner in the 'longest period of backpay' and the winner is VB. They also noted that he appears to have paid himself (we just love reminding everyone of his 'clean hands' approach to his continual lectures on curruption in the new fiji. Are you satisfied with anll the explanations you get from the regime about their activities?? What about the 'people beat themselves up', 'we are fully audited', 'meet whoever you like whe you come to vist', 'no we really do need to be paid throught the AG aunt', claims
yea yea said…
Dear Croz,

I note today that Colonel Tikoitoga has been speaking again. In the Fijisun he is quoted as saying "The new constitution will spell out clearly the role of the RFMF”.

I agree that it should but it is very worrying that this is one of the topics the PM seems to think does not need discussing. I do hope they haven't already decided that part (but suspect they have) which is why they do not want discussion on it.

Every time Tikoitoga speaks I wonder if he is poorly equipped or what he says is the raw way Frank and the military think and it is closer to the truth than the spin from AG.

My view is we should discuss the the role of the military in all 4 coups and have to accept the negative and positive roles the military have played in our history. This is going to be very hard as long as we have a military PM and so many military poeple running government. Obviously they don't want to admit they got anything wrong.
Beatings said…
POLICE BEATINGS ILLEGAL ?...but we assume Military beating are considerd completely normal and OK ? Sure there may not have been many recently but lets lot forget the same leadership that runs the country (mostly military) where brutal following the coup. the targets where very clear - any one who disagreed with them and anyone associated with former government.

We will know the police are serious when they start investigating some of those beating and we see some soldiers charged and face the courts. Further if they are charged will they do time like any Fijian or would they be given special treatment Kean style ?
I don't believe this government said…
I will beleive this government when they start doing as they say rather than doing as they like.

There is no way the PM can justify his backpay.

1. Why would it be paid out if he is still Commander of the RFMF

2. I suspect he has taken lots of the leave over the years but did not record it. Fraud.

3. Perhaps he used his many many trips overseas as "work" when they had elements of leave.

4. If he had never taken leave then he should be dismissed for poor management. Not taking leave creates a contingent risk and excess leave liability. Its also poor form of a leader.

5. Who approved the payout. Was proper process followed.

6. What's his new salary ?

7. Does he still recive a salary from the RFMF

8. Why is he paid throught a third party accounting firm.
Finance minister please ? said…
Why do we pretend to beleive that the PM is anything other than Finance Minister in name ? I remember clearly trying to discuss a certain Rugby clubs finances with him (when he was chair). He had no idea and that is why today he never takes a single question on Finance. All he does is read prepared statements.

The idea of him representing Fiji at the ADB in any meaningful way is a joke. It's just another junket, like the hundreds he has taken since taking power and before....
Croz Walsh said…
@ Walker ... I agree.
@ Gutter Press and Anon1 ...
I think you are both making a mountain out of a molehill. This blog is read by over a thousand people daily. Not all of them know that in Fiji's rural geography, Taukei live in nucleated villages and Indo-Fijians in dispersed settlements on lease land. Besides, what is wrong with referring to people by their ethnic identity? Racial equality does not require us to be all the same. We should all be proudly different and equal.

@ Police beatings... Deplored, and it must stop, but for a long time it's been part of the Fiji landscape.

@ yea yea ... I see Fiji Today thinks the new constitution is already written because of Tikoitoga's comments. I don't know why Tikoitoga makes these statements. One would have thought Cabinet should be the source of general comments, and individuual departments on what concerns them. But whatever Bainimarama or Tikoitoga say, the role of the RFMF must be addressed — and hopefully resolved — by the Constitution Commission and Assembly.

@ I don't believe the government ... I agree Bainimarama should account for the backpay but I don't understand why some people go on and on about this. Do you think they would believe the governnment if the backpay issue was resolved? There is no reason why he should reveal his salary but I agree it would be a good idea. But again, would you belive him more if he did?
Realist said…
I don't beleive the PM is paying himself a massively inflated or inappropriate salary. If he is he certianly dosn't spend it - nor does he live a lavish lifestyle.

It is highly likley however that he is earning a lot more now than he was as only RFMF boss.

Probably the main reason he does not disclose this is because he knows he promised no one in the military would benefit from the coup. Clear he has and anti coup folk will have a field day with that. Likewise for his many military men in government roles.

I remember this blog was flooded with calls to disclose the road map...finally they did. Maybe one day his salary will be disclosed...I hope so to put the issue to bed.
Anonymous said…
Actually Croz I beleive it would help greatly if the PM could clear up the issue of his back pay and publish all salaries of all ministers. That would also set a good standard for future governments.

Current situation makes us think he is hiding something. As does the reversal of the view on Mahen - all OK when he was in the team, pursued now he is out.

While we are on transparency why not hold military accountable for budgets for the first time and audit their accounts ?
Croz Walsh said…
@ Realist and last Anonymous (pleeese use a pseudonym)..... I totally agree with both of you. Why not write a short article that I can publish on this and other areas in which the PM could increase his, and his government's, credibility?
Credibility matters said…
it is wonderful that you have finally realised the importance of credibility for the military junta. Perhaps the first step would be for the so called self appointed PM and his 'government' to be elected by the people rather than take power by the gun? And by elections I mean free and fair without intimidation and absence of the rule of law?
Gutter Press said…

Contrary to your assertion, you are the one making a mountain out of a molehill.

When commenting about relations between Fijians – whether they be iTaukei, Indo Fijian, Kailoma, European or Chinese - you consistently refer to ethnic origin when there is often no need to do so.

If a truly racism-free Fijian society is to be attained, commentators (journalists, bloggers and the like) should consciously check their writing to ensure that they haven’t gratuitously referred to the ethnic origin of the people about which they are writing.

Reference to ethnic origin might have a place in commentary on select (ie cultural) events, but certainly not in a piece which refers to iTaukei villagers stealing from their Indo Fijian neighbours.

Since you’re apparently unable to understand the gist of my argument consider this:
‘In Auckland a mugger accosted a businessman’ and compare it with this:
‘In Auckland a Maori mugger accosted a European businessman’.

If you can’t see the difference, or if you still want to try and assert that nothing is wrong by gratuitously referring to people by their ethnic identity, then you really just don’t understand.

I don’t believe that you’re deliberately obtuse, but I’m at a loss to understand your apparent ignorance in this matter.

The fact is that, in the context of your earlier story, you were trying to indicate the abhorrent nature of iTaukei nationalism by referring to it by thievery from Indo Fijians. This use of ethnicity is unacceptable and you cannot glibly explain away your use of it by writing “Racial equality does not require us to be all the same. We should all be proudly different and equal”

I would be grateful if you would explain your position more fully since you appear to be inadvertently undermining one of the central tenets of this coup – that of building Fijian national pride in the context of a racism-free Fiji
Croz Walsh said…
@ Gutter Press ... The mountain molehill comment referred to my story not to the general position in Fiji or Government's commendable aims. But, your point it taken and I will exercise special care from now in. I do, however, have some doubts about the extent to which the policy may be carried. Race is an important socio-economic variable and to remove all mention of it, for esample, on arrival and departure cards, census and survey questions, and hospital and other records, would be to conceal information helpful to government and others intent on analysing causes and on monitoring and finding answers on a whole range of societal issues. The concealment may also work the detriment of sections of the population that need special attention or care.

Do you know whether race is still recorded on arrival and departure cards and on census schedules? My earlier attempts to obtain information from the Bureau of Stats produced no race information.
Gutter Press said…
Crosbie, the race classifications were removed from Fiji’s immigration forms a couple of years ago. In the context of Fijian nationals leaving the country or immigrants arriving, their level of education is infinitely more important than their race.

I understand your concern about the extent to which this policy is carried but I feel your anxiety is unwarranted and is largely a product of the society which Fiji had and, to a certain extent, still has.

At the risk of labouring my earlier point, which I know you’ve accepted in principle, why is race per se an important socio economic variable in the context of Fiji? Surely people’s education level, place of residence, employment opportunity etc are far more important in determining socio economic variables?

Fiji hasn’t suffered from decades of the same type apartheid system as South Africa did which made ‘positive discrimination’ a necessary part of the ANC governments’ policy of upliftment. I believe that in Fiji’s case if ‘positive discrimination’ were to be applied to selected races for perceived historic reasons we would merely be completing the cycle that would take us to another coup. After all, it was the perceived ‘positive discrimination’ policies of the SDL that were purportedly responsible for the 2006 coup.

You mention the need for racial classification in hospital records. Whilst I accept that iTaukei might suffer proportionally more of some diseases than other races and Indo Fijians might suffer more diabetes, this isn’t a result of racial differences. It’s a result of diet, poverty and other reasons which are blind to race.

Of course I would agree that older people need access to certain types of health care, that middle aged people need access to job security, young people need access to education and we all need the right to be able to practice religion, cultural events etc with freedom from intimidation. However this is not predicated by race, it’s predicated by being human at a certain stage of life.
Police gone AWOL said…

It might well be a good idea for the Police Regulations to be enforced but it might be a better idea if Police Officers were around in the first place? Last night, a Crime Prevention Committee meeting was held in the West with plenty of prior advice, lots of local input and not a single police officer turned up. How about that for 'Crime Prevention'? Topics discussed with some seriousness were:

Breaking & entering
Aggravated breaking and entering
Trafficking in drugs
Border Control issues
Children not attending school
Serious organised crime leading to murder

The continued non-use of bicycles donated to the Police Force

Failure to be at the Community Police Post with a reasonable explanation

Indiferent and delayed response to trespass after dark and aggravated burglary

We are in the month of May again. We shall have to conclude that Law & Order is OUR affair, our business alone? Jettison an integrated approach. The Police have gone AWOL.
Suggestions said…
@ Croz,

I took up your challange. See posting under "suggestions 1" and "suggestions 2" - sorry posted them on your newest post - should put them here.
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