News and Comments Friday 23 February 2013

WEEKEND READING.  I've posted two major articles in the past few days on the old political parties, the military and the draft constitution.   If you have not already read and commented on them,  please read them. They took far longer to write than it will take you to read them.
Coming Up. I intend to publish a full article on the dilemma of the media in the next few days, and the final article on the Political Parties and the Military once the new draft constitution is available. 

PARTY REGISTRATIONS. Government's amendment to the Political Parties Decree within days of promulgation, and its further clarifications about the SDL acronym and its warning to the press not to refer to un-registered political parties as political parties,  leaves some people thinking the goalposts are constantly moving, which does not help confidence.
Comment. Knee-jerk reactions to events rarely reflect sound tactics. Government needs to re-examine the political scene to see who it can work with in the old and yet to be registered political parties.  The NFP perhaps, the Fiji Workers Party, or the less extreme and less abrasive people in the old SDL and FLP?   It cannot go it alone.

FIJI TRUTH MOVEMENT ON TWITTER.  This tweet from Twittter,  "@crosbiew is wrong its Fijians being robbed of their identity. Who cares about power if its  corrupt. Fijians want their voices & their Chiefs."
Comment. Now, what should true democrats make of that?

McCULLY SAYS ITS WORRYING under a heading in the international news that reads "Opposition parties banned from campaigning in Fiji". The article by Brian Soper goes on to say only one of Fiji's 17 political parties re-registered.  True, but what he does not say is that most of these parties won under one percent of the vote in the last election, and that of the two big parties, Qarase's SDL wants the Great Council of Chiefs to have powers that would control Parliament and Fiji to be declared a Christian State, and both parties, the SDL and Chaudhry's FLP,  want to retain race-based electorates.Not the sort of thing I would expect the NZ Minister to support.

NZ Foreign Minister Murray McCully says the crackdown is worrying. "I think most people would regard that (the ability of opposition parties to canvass) as a key element of a free and fair election. Obviously the political party decree passed recently has caused a good deal of concern, not just for Fiji but also amongst those who are watching developments there. Certainly, we've moved past the point of debating whether there is likely to be an election in 2014, that's good news. Whether it's going to be free and fair is still very much in the balance, and that's something we're watching carefully."

Comment. I suggest Soper and McCully read the submissions of these parties to the Constitution Commission,  or my summary of their positions, and re-think what is really at stake in Fiji.  The Bainimarama Government will not retract their non-negotiable principles, nor should they. To do so would be to unwrite history and Fiji would be back to the old  racially divided country it was. Going forward, as McCully says, may be bumpy and Fiji will not immediately become the full liberal democracy he wants, but it will be forward and, if the military keeps to its promise to stay out of politics if the new Constitution to be decided by the Constituent Assembly  is upheld,  it will be more democratic than it was.

BAINIMARAMA OVERPAID. The Public Accounts Committee  reports the Army Commander, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has completely paid off the overpayment of his leave compensation. After analyzing the Auditor General’s Special Investigation Report of 2009, the committee said seven other senior officers have either paid off the leave compensation  overpayment or have made arrangements through fortnightly salary deductions. Four officers who had underpaid leave have been
compensated accordingly. The Public Accounts Committee said the problem originated in 1988 when a the major change in entitlement occurred.  Those previously enjoying 10 days leave got 24 and 29 working days.

FURTHER PROTECTION FOR NATIVE LAND. Government has further strengthened the protection of iTaukei land by closing a loophole that allowed some of it to be converted into freehold land, to the benefit of some at the expense of  the iTaukei landowners.  Under the new Decree any iTaukei land which is exchanged for portions of State land can no longer be exchanged for private freehold land.  The Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said that despite having provisions in previous Constitutions that entrenched iTaukei land laws, this practice was still allowed to happen. “This demonstrates that having entrenched provisions did not safeguard iTaukei land ownership,” the Attorney-General said. “The law must always be practical and effective in ensuring the protection rights – including property rights.” The Government’s policy is absolute. No native land can be permanently alienated from its owners.

ROADS ON TRACK The Fiji Roads Authority has commended road maintenance works that have taken place around the country since January despite the teething problems faced. Various contractors working in each division have undertaken repair works on hundreds of kilometers of road in urban areas and on main rural highways. In addition some 1,500 tons of asphalt has been used to fill in excess of 20,000 potholes, enough to fill a large swimming pool. Close to 1,500km of road have been graded, while drainage works are progressing and in some cases roads that have been closed for years have finally been reopened.  FRA chief says, “It will take time, but we are working hard to make sure the priorities are right in everything we are doing”.

GETTING OUR HOUSE IN ORDER.  An article in Grubsheet by Graham Davis that was commended by Fiji Today, the only  reasonable anti-Bainimarama blog.

HELP THE FIJIAN LANGUAGE. Dr Apolonia Tamata from iTaukei Trust Fund says, while Government is trying its best to promote the language, its people are losing track because of lack of resources. There is not enough learning materials in Fiji for the iTaukei people to promote their mother language She said iTaukei institutions should come together and try put something for their future generation .The iTaukei Ministry has urged more indigenous people to write books in their mother language.
Comment. This is the sort of initiative one might have expected from the GCC over the years, not just for Bauan, the "official" iTaukei language, but for the other dialects that are even more threatened.  They wrote  about the preservation of the language in their Constitution Commission Assembly but it's hard to see what they have actually done about it.

FLP SUBMISSION. I can't find the FLP submission to the Constitution Commission on their website The FLP manifesto is prominently shown but the submission is hidden or absent. I wonder why.

THE CASE OF RATU TEVITA MARA is still before the courts because he fails to turn up.. The Suva Magistrates court again adjourned the case, this time until the 29th of May. Uluilakeba Mara is charged on a count of uttering seditious comments.

CCF WANTS ELECTION TRANSPARENCY. The Citizens' Constitution Forum , a non-government organization that educates and advocates for good governance, human rights and multiculturalism in Fiji that is not aligned with any political party, wants government to appoint an Independent Supervisor of Elections outside the control of the Attorney General's Office that it claims  "has a tight leash on the Elections Office and current and prospective political parties through their continuous interventionist decrees."  CEO Rev Akuila Yabaki warns people will lose faith in the constitution process if this is not done.
Comment.  Forget the old political parties that failed to register.  Concentrate on the new ones.  A fair democracy will never be achieved under the SDL or FLP.

STUDENT LOANS. A loan package totalling $2million is now available to students from low-income families who are accepted into universities but are not able to pay their fees. The PM says that no Fijian  student accepted into university should be denied an opportunity to attend because they cannot afford it.


Roady said…
The roads have been neglected for a long time!! Corruption, nepotism, no accountability and siphoning of millions of loan dollars by the elite clans! Even the top level execs all had their hands in the kitty bank by forming side companies in partnership with clan relatives!! These corrupt officials are still around and will continue to damage the country in the long term. Tough new laws would make such practice difficult! WAF has problems of a different type - may need people change at the top. As for the the media, the new laws are strict but are needed to stop unnecessary incitement of the local sensitive natives! As for NZ FM's - McCully's comment, it does not matter now because things are way much advanced with regards to the election and it is highly unlikely that the government will move back! It will be rocky but the technical areas are in the process of being fixed. Need a new constitution, new flag and some new inclusive political parties! We need to dump the past and move towards the future! The Ozzies will be cooler now since they also have an election coming very soon.. very likely that labour may not return to power! Future probable PM- Abbott may just need to wait for a short time before dealing with a new Fiji Government.. so dont expect any harsh sanctions to be in place come early 2014.
Cin Cin said…
'.....FIJI TRUTH MOVEMENT ON TWITTER. This tweet from Twittter, "@crosbiew is wrong its Fijians being robbed of their identity. Who cares about power if its corrupt. Fijians want their voices & their Chiefs."
Comment. Now, what should true democrats make of that?...'

I'm not sure, what should one make of it? Someone has expressed an opinion and chosen to post it on a blog site. Is there something about the statement that you object to, hence your question?

For better or worse, and despite the best efforts of the regime and its apologists, some Fijians actually do want the chiefly system retained. I'm not sure that expressing that view is an offence, though of course there may well be a decree in the pipeline to that effect.

Junta Watch said…
Croz Walsh lives in a world of double standards and hypocrisy. He squeals like a stuck pig when anyone makes a comment against the illegal human rights abusing junta he supports - on the other hand he encourages and applauds the type of racist and disgusting attack on Fijians, their culture, their religion and their resepcted Chiefs as shown below in his regime apologist blog. Read his sick endorsement of this racist diatribe at the end. It says it all.

"" Joe Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 6:19:00 PM GMT+13:00

1)"Social" means handing out spades, knives, forks, outboard engines, boats etc to buy votes and drinking kava under mango trees.

2)"Democratic" has many meanings. It is a word used:
a)to disguise ones undemocratic behaviour
b)to cry foul when the shoe is on the other foot
c)to mislead the international community
d)to describe a "foreign flower"
e)to buy shares that was meant for the poor and disadvantaged......and the list is endless.

3)"Liberal" means:
a)Christian State
b)Unelected and uneducated chiefs as legislators
c)Exclusive rights to natural resources, qoliqoli
d)Methodists.....and the list goes on and on.

Crosbie WalshWednesday, February 20, 2013 at 7:15:00 PM GMT+13:00

@ Joe... Brilliant. I couldn't have put it any better.""

Cin Cin said…
Yes, I was wondering about that......
Crosbie Walsh said…
@ Junta Watch and Cin Cin ... Do you really believe, having read the SDL submission, that they are either democratic or Liberal?
Cin Cin said…
Actually Croz my comments weren't about the SDL, they were about someone posting a comment about the chiefly system and questioning wether you had an issue with it. The failure of the SDL to adapt to realities on the ground are neither here not there. Junta Watchs' comments appear to be about your apparent endorsement of Joe Wednesdays posting.

If one wanted to play the game you could take a few words out, replace them with 'Military', 'Muslims', 'dictatorship' and you would be describing the present situation in Fiji.
wati s said…
@ Croz do you believe an undemocratic militray junta is best placed to make that decision??
Punsh treason by hanging said…
Do you believe taking over a legitimately elected government using thugs with guns is a good thing? Do you think committing treason is a good thing? Do you think human rights abusing repressive dictatorships are either democratic or liberal?
Joe said…
I think deposing a racist govt by any means available is an honourable thing to do, regardless of legitimacy. Isnt qoliqoli a human rights abuse?
Anonymous said…
a fijian government by fijians isn't racist. Lets just remember who the visitors are.
The Real Racists said…
@ Joe
Are you saying there will never be an indo-Fijian government? Unless it has i-taukei military minders?
Joe said…
There will never be an indo-fijian govt or an iTaukei govt. There certainly will be a Fijian Govt which the whole country will be proud of.
Joe said…
Everything in relation to Fiji Govt. seems to be a worry for McCully. Is it NZ foreign policy to ignore the racist and divisive policies and submissions of political parties, potentially a future govt. How come Bob Carr can see that but McCully cannot. Is asking for 0.8% membership a big deal, Mr McCully? Is restoring a democracy in Fiji a worry? Isnt that what we all want? Perhaps the difference is that, this time around, it will be a true democracy. Why dont you admit that your smart sanctions DID NOT WORK, instead of uttering rubbish like this. In all fairness Mr McCully, your performance as FM is highly questionable.
Ram Sami said…
Anonymous @11:42 am

Ultimately we are all vulagis, and having lived our threescore and ten years on this earth will go to the happy hunting grounds !!
Korvis Kaos said…
@ Joe Korvis
It would appear the Fiji taxpayers money (without their permission) spent on Korvis spin trying to market the illegal human rights junta as something decent has achieved nothing? The very effective sanctions against the military junta and their families remain (excellent). The EU sugar money stays in the bank. Fiji remains out of the Commonwealth and the thug military go on no new peacekeeping missions? How sad that this wasted taxpayers money has not been spent on the education of Fijian children and the sick of Fiji? Instead it has been wasted on amateurish spindoctors.
Joe said…
Ha ha, what about taxpayers money spent on spades, forks, knives, boats etc. Education of children is the best under Frank govt as compared to previous govts. Why dont you morons get your facts right before posting on this blog? You have the option to go to C4.5 if you dont have facts and just want to bitch about stuff that no one bothers about.
Joe said…
"FIJI TRUTH MOVEMENT ON TWITTER. This tweet from Twittter, "@crosbiew is wrong its Fijians being robbed of their identity. Who cares about power if its corrupt. Fijians want their voices & their Chiefs."
Comment. Now, what should true democrats make of that?"

I think "Fijian" means iTaukei in the above posting. No one has intefered with their voices and chiefs. In fact, it is the opposite. The chiefs have been assigned their duties in line with culture to look after the welfare of the people of their respective villages. They have been relieved of the burden of appointing a Prez and VP, however, if they want to be in parliament, no one is stopping them from contesting the elections in 2014. The "voices" are actually stronger now that land owners dont have to put up with the middle men, and not only that, a recent decree has strengthened indigenous land rights. Get your facts right mate.
desmond said…
it will be a military government run by the i-taukei thugs and goons.
Anonymous said…
The sanctions are constant reminder to the regime and it's apologists that they are not the legitimate governtment of fiji and so do not deserve that recognition. Anything we can do to humilitate and embarrass the regime.
Anonymous said…
Hello? No one seems humiliated or embarassed and the vision for a democratic Fiji remains the same. So how have they succeeded?
Harebrain said…
I am happy that you are firmly on PM Bainimarama's side. All the bad things we read in the international media are tiresome and disgusting, Can you please post more positive stories for us! We would like to hear more about the progress the sugar industry is making and the Chinese mining operations that bring so much needed money to Fiji. Also we would like to hear more about the good things the party decree is doing and also about the good move to ask for submissions from the public about this decree. It is very democratic of our government to ask for these submissions and I am sure they will consider all submissions in due course.
Anonymous said…
The fact that it comes up as an issue for people who otherwise claim it doesn't matter or bother them, speaks volumes. Lets keep them in place for ever, especially for individuals linked to the regime.
rusi said…
what sort of scum support the repression of their country by an unrepresentative military regime and then have the audacity to equate it with pork barrelling with shovels and engines by the Qarase government (appointed by the same military)?

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