News and Comments Monday 27 May 3013
COURT REJECTS GOVERNMENT CHARGE. Former Post Fiji Managing Director Tevita Peni Mau and former General Manager Dhirendra Pratap were found not guilty in the Suva high Court. yesterday The three assessors in the trial delivered a not guilty verdict on the charge of abuse of office against Mau and a charge of extortion by public office against Pratap. FICAC alleged that in 2006, Mau approved the payment of $5,000 to Pratap without the authority of the Post Fiji board. Pratap is alleged to have accepted the payment as reward for his performance of his duty as general manager finance. Judge, Justice Prabaharan Kumararatnam will deliver a ruling at 10am tomorrow. Who says the judiciary is not independent!
A FIRST FOR FIJI: CANEGROWER PENSIONS. More than 300 cane growers over the age of 70 years who have no other form of pension will now be receiving $100 monthly through the Rarawai Penang Cane Producers Association. This is a first for Fiji. The money comes from a fund set up under the Fair trade initiative which was allowed by the government and in conjunction with Fiji Sugar Corporation and Tate and Lyle. Meanwhile, the PM announced that Government and the Fiji Sugar Corporation have agreed to sell 60,000 tonnes of fair trade sugar to Tate and Lyle to ensure that the farmers still receive fair trade premium price of $110 a tonne.
KEY WILL WORK WITH BAINIMARAMA, says NZ PM John Key, if he wins the 2014 election fairly. Of course he will. He has no other choice, and this is true even if the elections are not fair. The prime minister of NZ has no say in the Fiji election outcome, and he already works with foreign governments far less reputable than Fiji.
BAINIMARAMA REMINDS KEY. Bainimarama has reminded his New Zealand counterpart, John Key, that Fiji will indeed have free and fair elections in 2014. “Fiji will surely have fair and free elections in September 2014 and it is them that have to change their perception of Fiji’s Roadmap to democracy.” He told his NZ counterpart that Government was currently working on the new constitution that would see Fiji have fair and free elections. The legal team responsible was going through the 1093 submissions and "there were quite a few ideas to consider"
NO ONE TAKES LAND FROM ITS OWNERS. In the same interview to Radio Tarana, the PM again denied the constant claims of his political opponents that Government will take land from iTaukei. “iTaukei lands and freehold lands owned by Fijians will be safeguarded in the new constitution. No one can take away land from the iTaukei people and this also applies to freehold lands owned by Fijians.” He said they would take their time in completing the new constitution and there was no rush as they wanted to make the constitution the best ever for Fiji. However, he confirmed that elections in 2014 will not be affected.
MONEY LAUNDERING. The country's Financial Intelligence Unit has calculated that at least $100 million is laundered annually through financial institutions in Fiji.
Reports from financial institutions last year revealed a total of 579 suspicious transactions that were not consistent with a customer's known or legitimate business, personal activity, profession or occupation did not match the normal business or background for that type of account and was unusual to a customer..
WHAT DOES SODELPA REALLY MEAN? In their submission to the Ghai Commission, the SDL (now SODELPA) wanted to retain the race-based communal electoral seats but now SODELPA Senior official Dr Tupeni Baba says the scrapping of the race-based electoral system is a healthy development for Fiji. I have difficulty reconciling these statements.
FEAR OR JUST LACK OF SUPPORT? SODELPA's Pio Tabaiwalu wants all restrictions on political parties to be lifted. He said, "We think that people are still scared to come up and speak to us so we need to sense of insecurity to be removed and for people to know that they are free to choose any party they wish to choose.” A-G Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum replied saying that everyone knows that there are no restrictions in place, witness the recent public gatherings that have been held by political parties around the country.
THE NEW TUI MACUATA. Ratu Wiliame Maivalili Katonivere, the younger brother of the late Ratu Aisea Katonivere was traditionally handed the title last week in the chiefly village of Naduri but his election has been contested by a faction that said the process was too rapid.
FIJI FOCUS. Click here for Issue No. 10.
STILL NO INFO ON 'TORTURE' VIDEO. Police Chief of operations, Rusiate Tudravu, has admitted that the police investigating the Torture Video, showing prisoners being beaten in March, have interviewed no-one and have no suspects. Given that some of the people involved have already been named, a police vehicle has been identified and the victim is well known, I find the Police Chief's comment totally inadequate.