News and Comments Monday 4 February 2013

"A rose by any other name..."?
THE "NEW" SDL, RO TEIMUMU  AND MICK BEDDOES.  The acronym stays the same but the old SDL is now the Social Democratic Liberal Party and its patron is still Ro Teimumu Kepa whose Constitution Commission submission wanted the 1997 Constitution, Senate and the Great Council of Chiefs reinstated,  Fiji to reaffirm itself as Christian, no immunity for Bainimarama, and further protection for the "indigenous way of life."  Mick Beddoes, having dissolved the UPP, is now applying for membership. He thinks his experience in politics will help the SDL should they choose him as a candidate in the 2014 election.

CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY.  With Government's release of its changes to the Ghai draft constitution already  late, people are asking whether invitations  to participate in the Assembly will also be late, and, more importantly, whether the deadline for the acceptance of the constitution will provide sufficient time for full and proper discussion.

The draft is reported to be in its final stages and is expected to be presented the Constituent Assembly when it meets.  The PM told the Fiji Sun, “The Constituent Assembly is to have its first sitting in February 2013. We expect, as announced last year, that a new Constitution should be in place by March of this year.”  But when in February, the 14th as earlier stated, and when in March? And who will be invited to be members of the Assembly?

WORLD INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN 2014 ELECTIONS. Government has invited the global community to participate in preparations for the 2014 general election.  A letter has been sent to the heads of all diplomatic missions in Fiji by the Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, laying out a timetable for election preparations and inviting them to take part. The letter has also been sent to a range of multilateral agencies such as the United Nations Development Program, the Asian Development Bank, the International Labour Organisation and the Pacific Forum.

Government has allocated $11.4 million dollars in the 2013 Budget for election preparations, including voter registration within Fiji and abroad, the recruitment of key personnel and the purchase of election materials such as ballot boxes.

Areas in which the global community can immediately participate include:  planning the administration and logistics for the election, assessing the technical requirements of holding the poll and funding such things as the printing of ballot papers and voter lists.  In the second quarter (April-June)  Fiji invites participation to draft the rules and regulations for the election and also begin a programme of civil education and awareness to educate Fijians on the new electoral system. In the third quarter (July-September) the supply of election materials will commence. Expressions of Interest have been advertised for qualified companies to supply a range of items and advertisements are also being commissioned by Fiji’s diplomatic missions abroad.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said, "These preparations are for the first parliamentary elections ever conducted on the basis of one person, one vote, one value. We have a lot of ground to cover and we need the best possible preparations now to ensure a transparent process and state of preparedness. We need proper systems to guard against fraud and protect the integrity of the new parliament.”

EU WEIGHING OPTIONS. While France has supported Fiji's dialogue process, a Cook Island opposition MP says sanctions should be increased, and Charge d'affaires for the EU delegation in the Pacific, Johnny Engell-Hansen, has told Radio Australia the EU is weighing its options regarding financial support to Fiji for election-related purposes.

"I'm not sure that I'd say we've lost faith, but we are a little bit confused by what's actually going on right now," he said. "We see various developments and we hear various statements, and what we would really like to be reassured of is that the process is on track, and that there is an irreversible process that will lead to those free and fair elections by 2014."

Fr BARR: THE PM RECONSIDERS. "Following representations made to me, I have reviewed and reversed the decision made by the Minister of Immigration to cancel the work permit for Kevin Barr. Father Barr is free to remain in the country until his work permit has expired which at that time will still be subject to assessment for renewal following the necessary protocols." -- JV Bainimarama, Prime Minister.

MICHAEL FIELD GETS IT WRONG AGAIN.  Does he do this on purpose or is he just a sloppy journalist? He reported that Fr Barr sought refuge in the Australian High Commission and, that when he rung him, Fr Barr said he could not talk just now, inferring some sort of duress.

Fr Barr, however, has informed me that  he had merely gone to the HighCom to inform them about what was happening,  and he "could not talk" just then because he had just got home and Field had caught him unprepared.

HUMAN TRAFFICKERS JAILED.  High Court judge Justice Paul Madigan. sentenced four foreigners to between five and ten years imprisonment for human trafficking. The four facilitated the travel of three Thai women into Fiji in early September last year on the pretext that they were to work as masseurs but after arrival they were forced into prostitution.

Justice Madigan said: “If a robust prison sentence is needed in order to send a clear warning message to would be offenders then so be it.” He said invading an overseas country with drugs and criminal activity was a breach of international protocol and relationships.

Meanwhile, the Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde said that the sentence given sent a strong message to would-be offenders.“This is Fiji’s second successful prosecution of a human trafficking ring since the Fijian Government brought in the Crimes Decree in 2009 which created specific offences of human trafficking,” he said. “The sentence handed down today sends a very strong message to people who would engage in this type of offending.”

ALLEN LOCKINGTON WRITES. Latin and French were two languages taught in schools back in the old days. I don’t know how it benefited those who studied it, but just imagine if Hindi and the iTaukei languages had been taught back then. I’m pretty sure we would have benefited so much culturally and we would have better understanding of each others ways of life.

Comments

Fijian on the ground said…
Dear Croz,

You are quick to ridicule those who wanted to keep the 1997 constitution but how quickly you forget that 1) The current military government wanted to retain it – it was only when their actions where declared illegal under that same constitution that they changed their minds. 2) The peoples charter also fully supported the 1997 constitution recognising it as the ultimate law.

Yet I never hear you ridicule the current military government for their flip/flop policy and promises, their pure self interest or their complete lack of transparency. I would like to see a bit more balance in your otherwise very good blog.

Thanks
Fijian on the ground.
Crosbie Walsh said…
Both supported the 1997 constitution, yes. But Ro Teimumu wishes to substantially retain the old race-based voting system, and the powers of Senate and the GCC. Government and the People's Charter did not
Anonymous said…
Actually the SDL where happy to accept the new Ghai constition that removed race based voting, adopted much of the peoples charter and relegated the GCC to a non political and fairly limited role. But thats history and I suspect any opposition to the existing government will be to. If any party emerges with a hint of beating Frank & Co watch the rules change very very quickly. The beauty of decrees !
Crosbie Walsh said…
Dear Fijian on the ground. Apologies. I only answered your point about the 1997 Constitution. On your other points, the question of balance and criticism of government, a public reply is more difficult. My overriding objective is to help Fiji move forward to the best possible outcome in and after 2014. I do not see that constant criticisms of government actions will help this process. I confine my criticism, therefore, to major matters and publicise the many things they do right. This may seem to be a lack of balance but it is far more balanced than the anti-government blogs. I strive for relative balance within the blog, in postings and criticisms and suggestions on a number of government actions. Viewed, however, from outside the blog and compared with the numerous anti-blogs, the blog could seem to be excessively pro-government. How the blog is judged depended on where you're sitting. Best wishes, Croz
Joe said…
"Social Democratic Liberal Party"
There is absolutely nothing democratic/liberal about this party. The same old horses and the same old ideas. What has changed apart from the name?
Anonymous said…
The old politics has to change.. it requires a change in the way things threats are perceived. It seems the forced removal of racial based parties will move the parties to compromise. I guess things can only happen if someone is holding a big stick! It is ironic that micky wants to hug the SDL, if all the earlier politicians had worked together, we would not be stuck in this situation in the first place. Sorry but Fiji needs to move forward and things needs to be done on the ground to make it come true. So far we on the ground are happy, yes there are problems but at least someone is trying to solve them!
Anonymous said…
SDL (old or new) is no better then the current military government - that is why many continue to support Banimarama
Parliamentary integrity said…
Parliamentary integrity under the control of thugs with guns? No wonder khaiyum can't sleep at night? Other than amongst the junta groupthink facists and fools this illegal regime will never achieve what it desperately wants - recognition and credibility.
Dennis Rounds said…
Walsh..admittedly, as you say, how you and your blog are judged depends on where one sits. I would like to ask, however, who gave you the mandate to "help Fiji move forward"? As you yourself admit, your blog might be seen by some to be "excessively pro-government". I don't consider that an issue as long as your views are confined to your blog. However, when you're given wide newspaper publicity on the ground here in Fiji while others, more attuned to the domestic situation are denied the right to express themselves, then the issue of whether your blog is "excessively pro-government" becomes a major issue for debate, given what appears to be your self-granted mandate to help Fiji move forward. Shouldn't that right be accorded, first and foremost to those directly affected - we, the people of Fiji?
Anonymous said…
despite all the new hurdles and decrees from the regime to obstuct the old parties, what is the bet they will still have the same faces, even if not actual members, still reflect their own constituencies and polices even, if now only implied. So what was the point?? All this will do is encourage one specch for public consumption and one for your own membership that pretty much contradicts what you just said.It will also only encourage 'coalitions of convenience' as all the current parties are still anti regime. How does this assist anything??
Joe said…
Croz does not need any mandate to help move Fiji forward. It comes naturally to good samaritans. Did you pull up the Aussies and Kiwis for pouring aid money in LQ govt coffers? You must have been a beneficiary of that, missing out on the gravy train now, eh !!!!!
" while others, more attuned to the domestic situation are denied the right to express themselves" What a load of crap. Everyone was given the opportunity to voice their opinion at the Ghai Commission. Learn to co-exist with your fellow compatriots or frustration will have the better of you. If you are of the opinion that the RFMF did this only to grab power, you are completely out of touch with reality. Previous coups were power grabs by the elite, not this one mate. The sooner you wake up, the better it will be for you. "Jai Fiji."
Fiji Man said…
It is silly to ask Croz, 'who gave you the mandate...?' Neither Croz nor anyone else needs a mandate to express their views about Fiji. They can themselves freely. You can choose freely to listen or not, or visit his blog.

Croz's views are unofficial, and offered free of charge, like the air you breath. His view is considered 'expert view' because he has studied Fiji, but I do not see Croz pushing himself forward as any kind of expert. It's his record. It speaks for itself. But its that's up to the receiver to judge.

If you unhappy about wide newspaper publicity Croz receives, you barking up the wrong tree. You should be complaining to the newspaper. but be reminded it is the paper's prerogative who they give publicity to. you have the right to complaint though. If others more attuned to the domestic situation are denied the right to express themselves, again you barking up the wrong tree. Go to to the media.

Yes, freedom of expression should be accorded first and foremost to people of Fiji, but that doesn't have to be at the expense of Croz and others. There is room for all kinds of views.

Croz may not be from from Fiji but he has the freedom to speak on Fiji. You and others don't have to listen to him. But you can't stop him from expressing his thoughts about Fiji.

BTW, 'mandate' used to be Mahen Chaudhry's favourite word when he was PM!
Crosbie Walsh said…
Anonymous... Please use your name or pseudonym. I think you are probably right about the old parties. The changes they make are likely to be cosmetic. You ask what therefore is the point. My guess is that if the old parties form part of the new government in 2014, they will not have a free hand to return to their old ways. They will be bound by the new Constitution. They will be free to legislate on everything so long as it does not violate the constitution. and the military will be waiting in the wings to ensure they do not. See next Saturday's postings for an article by political strategist and analyst Dr Paul Buchanan on Fiji as a "guided" democracy.
Anonymous said…
Give the military the veto in passing any legislation; this solves all problems
So its the same old thugs is it? said…
Croz
You are assuming the same poor leadership in the military will continue? Perhaps the current poor leaders will be replaced with professional servicemen and women? If not Fiji is in serious trouble for sometime to come.
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Dennis Rounds said…
@ Joe and Fiji Man ... the people of Fiji have the mandate to choose for themselves. Crosbie Walsh can express his opinion as much as he wants. But until there is freedom of expression in Fiji, the people of Fiji are being denied their right to voice themselves and while complaints might best be directed at the relevant media, the fact of the matter is everyone who can think for themselves can see the bias which exists. Others, of course, choose to let Crosbie do their talking for them. He may have spent some time in Fiji but that does not give him the mandate to assume a role that should be conferred upon the people of Fiji themselves. I don't need to be told why the RFMF did what they did. I know why they did it. And I've been awake to that fact from day one. So I don't need a lecture from anyone about what's good for me, I already know what's good for me and that's thinking for myself.
Invictus said…
Malala Yousoufzai spoke this morning. She is nominated already for the Nobel Peace prize. She is from Pakistan - she is a role model to us all and to the World. No amount of repression of her rights (and she is fully informed about her rights: I have the right to speak; I have the right to think; I have the right to an education...). She has had a titanium plate inserted in a five hour operation to cover the Taliban perpetrated wound in her skull. Her hearing will be assisted by an in-plant deep inside her Left Ear. What a wonder she is! How dare we let her down? Are we to become as inoperative as our HSBC Wellington 7s Team: disorganised, fearful to speak out or to join up? Who made us this way? 7,000 of us submitted to the Constitution Commission: to what end? Who dares to toy with the Fijian People in this Way? Latin and French were once taught in our schools. France is a Pacific Power - still. France is freeing Mali in the face of Islamist agressors. Have we lost our ability to think for ourselves? Latin is on the sleeve of every Fijian Police Officer: "SALUS POPULI". The Roman Senator Marcus Tullius Cicero goes on to say: "SUPREMA EST LEX". Yes, the Well Being of the people is the Supreme Law! And who are we to doubt him?
Fiji Man said…
In defending Croz's right to express his views about Fiji doesn't mean I agree with his stance on Fiji or the coups. I just believe he has an unequivocal right to express his views. We need all perpectives, and outsider views have their benefits.

It is true that LQ government were acting like a bunch of ethno nationalist goons cynically using democracy to oppress Indos, but LQ did right thing in the end, there was no need for coup, even if LQ govt brought coup on themselves, just as mahen did.

coup may not have seemed been like a power grab in the beginning, and maybe it wasn't. But certainly looks like one now. regime ended up staying has been in power for 5 years! Too damn long. Now it wants to stay in power indefinately by rigging elections. Coup has become power grab, no doubt about it.

AS they say, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Look no further than this regime, and Bainimarana and RSK. Their clean-up campaign has developed a decidedly foul stench.




Anonymous said…
Well, there sure ain't no surprises when Serious Organised Crime is involved. They 'just getting on with Bizness as Usual' and .... they're taking over. How come not ONE political party nor its Officer-Bearers addressed this issue in the past ten years? Were they "all in it too"? Or just too self-indulgent to notice? But now, as the Honourable Judge has stated, this organised crime has become an invasion. Outsiders are entrenched, they are mortgaging our future: raping our small babies by proxy with their drugs and abusing our daughters to closet Cyber-Watchers here and overseas. Can you afford any longer to remain 'Off Guard?. The Barbarians are At the Gate and a host are now inside: like the Greeks embedded within the Trojan Horse? Yes, that was a surprise but it was all too late. The Trojan War was already lost. 'A March of Folly - from Troy to Mali'. A State within a State is our reality. The 'Madams' run the show and the loot's stashed "Over the hills and faraway". Too fearful to join a political party? Far too late for that. Somalia, Somaliland, Djibouti, Mali, Niger, the Three Guineas are in the middle of this fray. Coups-Galore-Lands centred on the trafficking of cocaine. Now the drones are moving in to secure the Niger uranium mines - fanning out far and wide. No surprises now - the patterns are likely to be the same. Any uranium mine near Darwin? Or Perth?
Crosbie Walsh said…
Not at all. My argument (and Buchanan's) does not assume any direct involvement by the military after 2014. We expect them to stay out of the political arena unless the politicians contravene the constitution. I think the military will see their role (as, in fact, they have done since Independence) as the ultimate guardians of the constitution. You will recall this was their argument in 2006 and again in 2009 in the Qarase Appeal case. They only abrogated the 1997 Constitution when the case went against them, the judges arguing that they had no such role.
Crosbie Walsh said…
Most definitely not. Legislation after 2014 will be the work of parliament unless, as I commented above, the politicians try to legislate major changes to the constitution that are not in accord with its spirit and intentions.
Thugs in the ditch said…
Croz
You mean the constitution written by the military junta? The military controlling the government (and not vice versa) is neither democratic nor sustainable. Whether you and the junta you support like it or not international pressure and sanctions of one form or another will remain on these coup perpetrators. Like all dictatorships it will eventually be 'removed' and certainly never recognised or respected by people that matter.
Joe said…
Actually, it means the new constitution in accordance with the people's charter. Dont worry, the military wont be controlling the govt or vice-a-versa, but the military will make sure the govt of the day is accountable and transparent and operates within the framework of the new constitution. It will definitely not tolerate rubbish like qoliqoli and RTU. The sanctions that you mention are being relaxed as of now, are you in dreamland? What you call "dictatorship" is actually a govt at the present time and I strongly believe that the 2014 election will return them to power by the ballot box, with an unprecedented majority.

"People that matter" ?????? You mean the corrupt politicians that were removed from office?
The people that really matter to this govt are each and every citizen of this diverse nation including illinformed people like yourself.
Are you confused croz? said…
Croz
Isn't it Bainimarama's military (that you drool over) that destroyed the last constitution? Even you should be able to work out that this contradicts the role you indicate of the military as 'guardians of the constitution'?
desmond said…
so who will make the military accountable and transparent given their refusal to accept ANY civilian oversight or scrutiny?? what a joke.
Poorly led military said…
The unaccountable and (currently) poorly led military is the biggest problem facing Fiji as a nation. Unless the current deranged and power hungry leaders are purged and replaced with professional leaders og integrity and courage Fiji faces a bleak future indeed. And the racial imbalance of the Fiji military needs to be urgently addressed.
Free to speak said…
I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to express your views. Crosbie Walsh has that right. So does Dennis Rounds at AUSAID. The media has that right too. So in Netani Rika's day at the Fiji Times, letters which supported 2006 were never published, and he only published anti government articles. Good for him. But why complain now the Sun is doing it when you were so silent when the Times did it? Could it be that you deny Crosbie' right to free speech while celebrating Rika's right to free speech? That sound perilously like censorship!

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