News and Comments Saturday 16 February 2013

ANONYMITY. "Although anonymous commentators and bloggers defend their practice as a 'healthy expression of democracy', it is a 'democracy of the gutless whose commonest weapon is abuse hurled from behind the ramparts of their anonymity." -- Brian Edwards.

Two political parties had applied for registration when the deadline passed  on Thursday but there seems to this writer every probability  neither will be accepted.

The National Federation Party obtained the required 5,000 members but its newly elected executive is entirely Indo-Fijian and male and it has not yet established offices in the four divisions. If any party has had a bad deal in recent years, it is the NFP. It was punished by the electorate for "compromising" with Rabuka SVT and supporting the 1997 Constitution.  As a result, its share of the Indo-Fijian vote dropped by half to 15% in the 2006 elections. This is still a significant percentage but it was not enough to win even one seat thanks to the undemocratic nature of Fiji elections. Given more time, it might have been able to meet all the requirements for registration but it is still hard to see it as anything other than an Indo-Fijian party.  Its best option might be to dissolve, reform and merge with conservative elements from the other ethnic groups. 

The Fiji Labour Party application for registration was predictably made at the last minute accompanied by a statement asking for a quick decision on its application. At the same time party secretary Mahendra Chaudhry filed a legal action in the High Court challenging the Political Parties Decree.  I assume his main concern —other than his ongoing attempts to disrupt the constitution and electoral processes— was that the decree required intending politicians to give up leadership positions in a trade union,  Chaudhry has refused to do so and is still the General Secretary of the National Farmers Union which he is an "industrial association", not a trade union.

The former governing party, the SDL (Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua), as previously reported, has dissolved and re-emerged as the Social Democratic Liberal party. The move is a clever one in two ways: it enables the party  to retain much of its old identity and the acronym SDL and, as a new intending party, avoid last Thursday's deadline for existing parties.  What may not be so smart, for the SDL and the two parties that have applied for registration, is that invitations to participate in the Constituent Assembly will be sent to political parties and other groupings.  If they are neither, they probably won't be invited.  But who knows, this could also be a smart move. They could  claim persecution and criticise the Assembly from the outside.  The new SDL met in Suva yesterday to discuss important issues regarding the new party and its Constitution but spokesman  Pio Tabaiwalu said there wouldn’t be any comments from the meeting.

Not to be outdone, the Australian media has once again got things wrong.  It reports that all parties intending to stand in the 2014 election had to register by Thursday while it has been abundantly clear for weeks now that the deadline only applies to existing parties.

REGISTRATION ALLEGATIONS. The General Secretary of the small Justice and Freedom Party Dildar Shah has alleged that larger political parties applying for re-registration were paying people to sign their application. "Our agents were working very hard and we received news that some parties were paying people off to sign their application," he said. The complainants claim that they only showed their voter ID cards and signed the forms thinking that it was a check by the Elections Office only to realize later that they were being signed up as members of a proposed political party.  

"We have no solid proof but we did get the idea that there was a lot of dirty work going on in order to secure the signatures. Even I saw firsthand in Nausori, there was a page without a political party letterhead circulating and there were people signing it. So some of these people did not even know what was happening."

Mahendra Chaudhry has denied any FLP involvement in the JFP allegations.  Police are also investigating.

* The Justice and Freedom Party (JFP) was one of the smaller 16 registered parties that contested the 2001 and 2006 elections. Its manifesto promised to petition the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations to press the UK and Australia to accept responsibility for bringing Indians to Fiji during the colonial era; promised a F$10 million scholarship for Indo-Fijian students; to push for dual citizenship, and for British passports to be restored to Indo-Fijians living in Fiji,

Some 13,000 families should benefit under the Government’s new Poverty Benefit Scheme (PBS) according to the Minister of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation.  Dr Jiko Luveni said, “Under the previous Family Assistance Programme we were targeting the elderly, chronically ill, and disabled persons. The new programme will assist 13,000 families and ensure that deserving cases don’t miss out on this assistance. The programme will also provide an effective way of monitoring the progress.”

Dr Luveni reiterated that the scheme has been introduced following a review by a World Bank team to streamline social welfare programmes in Fiji.

ISOLATING FIJI WON'T HELP. The  Australian's Foreign Editor Greg Sheridan
 argues that Carr's "softer" approach to Fiji is realistic.

MASI COPYRIGHT UPDATE. The Air Pacific/Fiji Airways  application remains open
for objections for a further two months.

WHO IS ITAUKEI? If your father is iTaukei, you can be registered on the Native Land Register (Vola Ni Kawa Bula): you are a "genuine" iTaukei.  But if your mother and not your father is iTaukei (or if your father is not known) you cannot be registered and you are not iTaukei.   Former lawyer and USP lecturer on Legal Advocacy, Lynda Tabuya recently raised this issue, saying the matter needs to be addressed under the issue of equality under the law. The Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said under the legal concept, the issue deals with the issue of group rights versus individual rights, and suggested it is "something that can be added in the new constitution."  One hope he remembers.

ELECTIONS WEBSITE. People registered to vote in the 2014 election will now be able to  check their personal information online and those yet to register can download the relevant form. The website – www. – also contains a range of information about the election, including who is entitled to vote and the rules covering the eligibility of political parties.  Anyone with a computer OR smart phone can now access the latest information they need. 

This is unprecedented in Fiji and a hopeful indication of the Government’s commitment to a free, fair, transparent and credible election next year.


Mahen 'the millioniare' chaudhry said…
In his latest statement Mahendra Chaudhry says he is saddened by the plight of the people after six years of misrule by the Bainimarama regime. He says poverty has escalated and unemployment is high.

Clearly a man without a conscience or morals, Chaudhry has conveniently developed a case of selective amensia and forgotten he aided and abetted this regime, and gave it a foothold, by quickly accepting post of interim finance minister, from which he also profited handsomely. As interim finance minister, chaudhry approved Bainimarama's 150k backpay. So what is he talking about?

As a blogger on FijiToday asked, 'aren't you ashamed (Chaudhry? ashamed?!!) of you two faced opportunistic behavior to Fiji and Bainimarama? jumped into bed with the dictator, becoming a trusted inner circle member... you mentioned to the Public that your boss and the coup were God given.'

Another said, 'I am at a loss why people still bilieve in you'.

Yet another had some food advice about how chaudhry could do something tangible about the plight of the poor people earing his heart apart.

He said: 'Well Chaudhary can at least do something about this poverty. He has a couple of million dollars sitting in his bank account overseas. This money, he claims, was given to him by overseas supporters to resettle in Australia. He’s still in Fiji and is not going to resettle in Australia.'

So Chaudhry is not only a treasonist, he is also a fraud who obtained money under false pretences, and should be charged as such.
Joe said…
NFP and FLP are both racist parties and neither will be registered. Chaudhary is the General Secretary of NFU, and will automatically disqualify. Who cares if NFU comes under industrial association, it is still a union, as the name suggests (national farmers UNION). SDL has certainly outsmarted everyone. My take is that the SDL and Felix/Dan's new party will emerge as major parties. FLP and NFP supporters will go to Felix/Dan,UPP to SDL, and we will end up with the same old racially polarised parties.
mahen chaudhry's noble Diwali message said…
In his 2002 Diwali message, mahen chaudhry extolled the virtues of being a good ruler, sensitive to the needs of his people, including unfortunate people, whom we should not forget in the 'enjoyment of our own riches'.

in the spirit of his message, mahen might want share some of the $2m he raised in the name of coup victims but diverted to his secret bank account. But one can expect to see pigs flying first because mahen is utterly greedy, hypocritical and dishonest. He likes to preach but never practices what he preaches. What a blessing if he exits the political scene because we are sick of seeing his sly face.
Revolution said…
The elections website is impressive. Checked the details and it looks good. Election or not, this government has delivered more than all the previous governments combined. For me as long as there is security and food on the table,I really dont care who will be in power, as long as the military guarantees that this time everything will be kept in order by whipping those trouble causing criminals!! The elites, previous politicians and chiefs can cry all they want because they did nothing to help the common people. I am a commoner and i have rights like anyone else. I can take any individual , be it government official, a police-person, any chief, any CEO or any elitist ...and make them accountable. Tell me when was the last time i had these rights!! Right to speak is useless if there is no-one to hear you. At least people are listening now and I am safe in my own house. Now NOBODY is going to forcefully enter my house at night because the military and police are very effective now! My family is safe, see if I care if we truly need the old racist democratic parties. My vote to the current PM - Dictator or Not.. I really dont care because the work done so far is impressive!
Disingenuous, meanly artful, political poseurs! said…
It is suggested we should all consult a good dictionary and find the many meanings of the term 'disingenuous'. Because something does not ring quite right here. On all levels: political party, historical view, current situation, not one commentator has considered the role of organised crime and the persons pulling the strings. Neither has any politician or political party: registered, unregistered or planning to register. Are they all blind, deaf or dumb? Because their blindness suggests sheer ignorance (which is inexcusable). Their apparent deafness and dumbness is far worse. It suggests collusion, incompetence and sheer dishonesty. Is this a case for FICAC? Is this a case for the Serious Crimes Squad? Is this a case for Interpol? Is this a Case for the Courts? Whichever may prove to be the case, it requires immediate, focused and concerted attention. No wonder not one woman featured in the governance line-up of one aged political party! Do they remotely see how ridiculous they now appear-13 years into the 21st century- a coterie of antediluvian fossils. This is why Fiji has come to such a 'Pretty Pass'. In the meantime, the Crime Syndicates tighten the noose, day by day. Our children are being abducted - for what purpose? To whose gain? Using which drugs? This is not mere speculation. We cuss and carry on and the future, our future, is being carried off, violated and abused: right under our very noses.
Whats in a name? said…
I will be very surprised if the SDL are allowed to register under the acronym SDL even if they meet all other requirements. The old SDL was disbanded and this is supposed to be a totally new party. This is how they are justifying being able to register at a later date to the deadline. Well, they can't have it both ways. Either they are related to the previous party and should have met the deadline, or they are a totally new party. If they are a new party they should not be allowed to register with a name or acronym that would be related to a previous "unrelated party" or confuse people that they are related to another party rather than the new party they are claiming.

I will not be surprised if the acronym is rejected, which means they will need to come up with a new name also.
Crosbie Walsh said…
@ Joe.. Just because almost all of its members in recent years have been Indo-Fijian does not make the NFP racist. They had a number of prominent iTaukei members as MPs (Apisai Tora was one) until the 1987 Coup drove a decisive racial wedge between parties, and they worked hard to get the power-sharing provisions of the 1997 Constitution, derailed alternately by Qarase and Chaudhry, to work. The same could be claimed for the SDL, because of its iTaukei membership, except for its many actions as Government that were based entirely on race. Affirmative Action for iTaukei, for example, not AA for the disadvantaged, irrespective of race. It is not race as such but policies and actions that mark parties as racist or not.
Ram Sami said…
The old SDL ( reserving verdict on the new SDL) was a racist party. Even its name was not in English language.
Prison Officer said…
Come on all of you - including Croz. It is time the regime showed its own hands by declaring its salaries to PM etc. As far as SDL is concerned, it makes sense - it is being economical - it doesnt have to change its logo etc...anyway, at the end of the day lets give credit to sdl and other parties - they had two options - to register at the point of the gun (that is it is all about) or create mayhem, violence and chaos - they have so far gone through the peaceful means - it all depends on how honest Frank and his lot are - or are they scheming to remain in power, which is most likely! All these changes since 2006 has come out because of the guns - imagine if an elected Govt had raided the FNFP of members $400million to buy airbus for Air Pacific - there would have been strikes and even violence and sanctions etc..We must never forget all the changes are being made because Frank has he guns - unless all of you are saying that the only way to bring changes to Fiji at the slightest hint of things not working out is to fall on the army - Indo-Fijians especially believe that guns will protect them, but it is a wrong belief - its like saying I fancy breaking into your bedroom and take your wife for six years for if not I will slash your throat - oh, look, what a wonderful children she has given the nation - one a top rugby player, one scientist, one development professor - if I had not taken this woman of yours, she would have still been chained to this hopeless drunkard and childless - grow up, please! coups are not the way to go about making changes.
Wife Grabber said…
Guns don't protect stupid... they give you power!! Ask the nationalist chiefs..did they get the indigenous wife and a dream family from the 1987 coup! They created the current wife grabber! Funny thing is that once you know how tasty this wife grabbing is then you realize you are willing to kill anyone! Want power.. do a coup! What happened.. the wise chiefs are on the losing side..coup still done by indigenous person! Do you want democracy for chiefs? The commoner is subservient so is irrelevant for any discussion!! How will it be restored? Anyone.. answer is another coup or military intervention!!Coups are not the solution but it is fastest way to get the wife you want!
Anonymous said…
so what what about the muslim league?? Ther are plenty more exclusive instituitons in fiji, apparently 'bad and racist' if fijian but just great for indians.Lol
Ram Sami said…
Muslim League is a religious body, not a political organisation.

"Bad and racist" comment was based squarely on their track record, not merely because it was fijian party. Qarase was a prime minister of a select group of fijians, not whole of Fiji if you get what I mean.
Joe said…
I was wrong about SDL outsmarting everyone. The decree has been amended. RIP SDL.
desmond said…
@Whats in a name... it is not the problem of the SDL that they are working within the rules set down by this regime. If the rules are developed by iditos who can't keep up then it is their own fault. But you are right , given this regime has no guts to face their own people,in an election and have no confidence to actually win on a level playing field, then i wouldn't at all be surprised they roll out another decree.
%$#@! said…
Perhaps the SDL will become the 'pot smakers associaton for all i care, we will still know who they are and what we want. We will just use colours or songs to indentify parties like SDL lets ee them try to ban that. So following your thinking we can expect the regime to have a indian woman as president, given they are all so open minded and representative?? You must be joking.

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