News and Comments Monday 27 May 3013

NOTICE. THE CITIZENS' CONSTITUTIONAL FORUM will be holding workshops for women's NGOs on Good Governance, Citizenship and Human Rights Education, Countering Racism and Promoting Multiculturalism. Tuesday 28th – Wednesday 29th May at Tavualevu Community Hall (Tavua) and Thursday 30th – Friday 31st May at the Nadi Town Council Chambers.

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.


Anonymous said…
Croz, let's wait and see if the Judge will overrule the assessors and find Pratap and Mua guilty?
Anonymous said…
MONEY LAUNDERING - does this include what ASK and FB are siphoning out if Fiji personally? If it is then the numbers look very low.
Anonymous said…
Where is Fiji Times director that was involved in Post Fiji matter?
Joe said…
Absconding in Australia, the dumping ground of criminals in the colonial days.
Joe said…
Mr Key will work with anyone regardless, even if there is 100%+ voter turnout in a given constituency. It is a Kiwi mindset as displayed by madam Helen.

On the land issue, granted that no one will take land away, but if a person like chaudhary is in a power of influence, the resources that exist on these lands, eg mahogany, will certainly disappear in the blink of an eye, and qarase is no better with the momigate.

Money laundering happens everywhere in the world, and nothing will stop that. In the Fiji context, what happens is that a prospective visitor spends thousands of dollars on a visit to Fiji, funded by a trusted business entity(in Fiji), and an equivalent amount is deposited into a foreign bank account of that business man/woman. This usually happens before departure. Another example is that if I have to send money to a relative in Fiji, an agent abroad will take the money and deposit it in the foreign account of a launderer and the recipient will get paid an equivalent amount at the other end. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

As for SODELPA, they are probably changing their tune in the hope of forming a coalition govt with Frank. This is very unlikely with the likes of Kepa in the forefront of SODELPA.

Paula said…
There is no doubt that Fiji's elections will be free and fair. No longer can the media outlets distort the truth as in previous elections, now it is fair and unbiased reporting by the Fiji Sun which emphasises achievements of the Bainimarama government and clearly states when prominent chiefs instruct their constituents to vote for the PM. For the first time Fiji will have election observers who do not push an agenda like the EU's and for the first time we will have total transparency with regard to the assets of politicians and their children and other close relatives. I hope that PM Key comes to the party and co-finances the first free and fair elections in Fiji. It will be NZ tax money well spend!
Anonymous said…
Croz, the year is 2013.
Anonymous said…
Good to hear that Key will work with Banimarama if he wins the election which is looking likely at the moment given his popularity; I hope our friends in Australia and US can also start a less confrontational approach for mutual benefit..
Anonymous said…
Year of Change
Paula said…
It is actually incredible how idiotic the Australian and New Zealand leaders are with regard to their engagement with Fiji government. Right under their nose, the German government has in the meantime fully engaged with Fiji government and supports the development of a critical new energy sector policy and legislation. Surely this pragmatic approach will pay off and leave Australia and New Zealand out in the cold.
Go north bleaters said…
I thought all the bleating geese had gone north? Now they have come back south pleading again? Apart from subsidised cheap holidays in the sun what does Fiji offer Australia or NZ? Immigrants? No more thanks. The only good thing about the coup is that our holidays are now much cheaper as the workers and economy are screwed by the military junta. Keep up the good work bhaini - we love the cheap holidays. What about further discounts?
Crosbie Walsh said…
@ Money laundering... It's so easy to hide behind anonymity and make accusations that could be libelous if published over your name, I say 'could' and not 'would' because you'd be found innocent if your accusation were shown to be truthful, and guilty only if the accusation were found to be unfounded. If you can't provide some evidence to support the accusation, and are merely repeating other orchestrated accusations, I think your behaviour unprincipled.
Vir Mati Chaudhary said…
Well said Croz. Let me introduce the above writer. He is my eldest son Rajend Chaudhary who loves the subject.
Anonymous said…
@ Joe
All our most unlovely citizens (Ballu, Rajesh, and Alice Tabete) are able to find refuge in Australia and New Zealand. Can we also export Ro Mumu, Chaudhary senior (they already shelter junior)and Qarase?

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