Political Round Up for the First Week in May

STOP PRESS. Click on this link for the full court judgment on Mahendra Chaudhry

Thank goodness. There's some new news this week.  But first the old news:

Party symbols
FLP, NFP, PDP, SODELPA
The unending demands by the four old registered parties to the Electoral Commission for the inclusion of their party symbols on the ballot papers continue, despite the unending replies by Commission Chairman Chen Bunn that their demands should go to Government (not the Commission) asking it to change the 2103 Elections Decree that allows only candidate numbers on the ballot paper. The Commission does not make the law.
 
Other complaints
In addition, SODELPA continues to object to the Fiji First's choice of blue as its party colour, Radio NZ (taking its lead mainly from the anti-Bainimarama blogs. Impartiality, where art thou?,) claims Fiji First has stolen the name of an old political party and the A-G  prematurely registered the Fji First internet name; the NFP is consulting its lawyers about the ballot paper; complaints about the Supervisor of Elections appointment persist, and  the police are still to comment on their complaint that the PM is campaigning before his party is registered. Not much has been said about party policies.


Pre-voting
I've no doubt there will soon be complaints about the announcement of "pre-voting" by voters in remote areas. It was originally announced that voting would be a one day affair. The difficulty of collecting ballot papers from islands that can only be accessed at high tide seems to have been overlooked.

Some guilty forever; others not guilty at all
We reported SODELPA's "sacking" of former PM Sitiveni Rabuka during the week, purportedly after complaints about his role in the 1987 Coup from the party's women's and youth divisions, and Mike Beddoes's justification for the sacking.  Beddoes now says Rabuka's endorsement as Prime Minister and his very public apology for the 1987 Coup are not enough.

I would have thought Beddoes and the SODELPA leaders would have asked themselves what they were doing during the coups of 1987 and 2000. I cannot recall any ONE of them condemning these coups, and Rabuka's coup in particular  was all but officially endorsed by the Great Council of Chiefs and the leaders of the Methodist Church. How come they can be forgiven when Rabuka is not? Mistaken, Rabuka might have been, but at least he had the guts to stand up and act on what he then believed in, and the courage later to admit he was wrong.


PIDF in; PIF still outThe Pacific Islands Development Forum headquarters was opened in Suva during the week. The PM used the opportunity to highlight how it differs from the Pacific Islands Forum from which Fiji was suspended on the initiative of Australia and NZ. The PIDF comprises a mix of government, civil society and business leaders. The PIF comprises governments and is dominated by Australia and NZ. The PM said Fiji will be in "no hurry" to re-join PIF unless it is "reconstituted".

Minister McCully, Michael Field and Barbara Dreaver
NZ Foreign Minister Murray McCully says he is asking the Fiji government to readmit NZ journalists Michael Field and Barbara Dreaver who were blacklisted in in 2007 and 2008 for their biased and inaccurate reporting.

"We've made it clear," says McCully, "that the New Zealand public will be deeply interested in these (election) issues. It's not going to be particularly helpful to have an election campaign take place with New Zealand journalists banned from being present. The Attorney-General and I had quite a constructive dialogue on that topic and I made it clear that if I need to I'll make representations on behalf of New Zealand journalists."

I wish the Minister was correct in describing the NZ public's level of interest in Fiji politics. Unfortunately, Fiji is rarely mentioned and when it is, it is by reporters as biased as Field. My own excursion into broadcasting, on RNZ's Nights with Bryan Crump, was cut short on the grounds that it did not fit the programme format.

Readers will recall that Michael Field's distortions were a major reason for starting this blog, and that earlier postings identified some of them. The reporting of a so-called "cholera epidemic" as if it threatened Fiji's major tourism areas is a case in point.This was not a mistake. Field certainly knew where the places were. He chose to submit an inaccurate report, and in my book that constitutes bias.  Dreaver used a one year old report of an outbreak in Vanua Levu, claiming it was current.

Minister McCully may have forgotten that the NZ Broadcasting Authority found Field guilty of inaccurate reporting on Fiji. It did not find what he has written as lacking "balance" (his use of terms such as dragooning, kangaroo court and Star Chamber is apparently acceptable) but his reporting then and since has only reported negatively on the Bainimarama government.  Bias is evident not just in what one writes and the choice of words, but also in what one chooses not to write.

My advice to Minister McCully would be to ask that NZ journalists other than Field and Dreaver be admitted. Field and Dreaver are much too discredited.

Anthony resigns. Stakes his future to PDP
 

 The first item of breaking news today was that unionist Felix Anthony had stood down as General Secretary of the FTUC and the Fiji Sugar and General Workers Union because he wants to be elected as the leader of the People's Democratic Party at Saturday's conference in Lautoka. The Razor poll indicates that the PDP is the preferred political party of about 9% of those polled.






Mahendra Chaudhry
Chaudhry could still have breathing space
Far more important, because it may yet have a bearing on Mahendra Chaudhry's chance to stand in the elections, was the High Court ruling announced by Justice Paul Madigan mid afternoon on Friday. Chaudhry was ordered to pay $2 million by June 30 or face a sentence of 15 months imprisonment, with no parole for 12 months and ordered to comply with the Exchange Control Act by repatriate his funds to a local dealer by July 31. He is also barred from travelling overseas until his fine is paid or sentence is served.

Chaudhry was convicted early last month on three counts of violating the Exchange Control Act with respect to $A1.5 million he had invested offshore without the knowledge and approval of local authorities. Reacting after the decision, Chaudhry told FijiLive he was feeling relieved as the case had been ongoing for four years. "I am relieved but I cannot say that this is the end of my political career."

He said his lawyers will need to study the sentencing. More to follow........  Fijilive

Fiji Broadcasting reports that Justice Madigan "ruled that Chaudhry’s conviction will remain which rules him out of contesting the general election."

NEW GOVERNMENT PUBLICATIONS
 Fiji Focus newspaper publication (Issue 7) published on Sunday April 27th, 2014 is now online and can be accessed on the following link: http://www.fiji.gov.fj/Media-Center/Fiji-Focus.aspx

Also, the latest NODA VITI (Issue 4) is now online as well and can be accessed on the following link: http://www.fiji.gov.fj/Media-Center/NODA-VITI.asp

Comments

Parasite on the poor said…
Chaudhry is a real blood sucker - taking out millions of dollars from a poor, starving country like India. Everyone donates money to india. Mahen takes money out of India. That's what a 'genius' he is!
Lesley said…
Message to Murray McCully: - just a dumb request - you are asking the impossible. No way would Michael Field or Barbara Dreaver be welcome back to Fiji especially pre the 2014 Fiji elections. Note - most likely Michael Field wrote this RNZ story as he is Radio New Zealand's Pacific reporter. Your request will tell Fiji that you really haven't a clue about Fiji and how it works over there. All Michael Field and Barbara Dreaver have done since they were banned is to take the negative glass half or rather totally empty stance against Fiji to the point where stories have been exaggerated and are not whole truth or the truth at all. Even since your last trip to Fiji a couple of weeks ago Radio NZ have chosen stories to suit themselves. You know what it is like with media - think about the latest media fest on Judith Collins and Maurice Williamson. Suggest you drop this request.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/242891/nz-foreign-minister-pushes-fiji-to-lift-media-bans
Sad little dictator said…
The sad little dictator has been rebuffed again. His piddling PIDF will be like khaiyum's 100 sands kasino - 100 specks of dust!! The dumb dictator and his slurpers really are great members of the chin dribblers club of morons.
"AUSTRALIA has no intention of leaving the Pacific Islands Forum despite demands by Fiji.
Fiji was suspended from the forum in 2009 after Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama broke a promise to return the country to democracy after his 2006 military coup.
Before it considers rejoining, Fiji wants a fundamental realignment of the forum that excludes Australia and New Zealand.
The Abbott government has rejected the call.
Parliamentary Secretary Brett Mason discussed the issue with Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola during a visit to Fiji this week.
"We intend to remain a full member of the Pacific Islands Forum and have the support of forum countries," he told ABC Radio on Wednesday.
He warned that the Fiji-initiated Pacific Islands Development Forum - which excludes Australian and NZ - could duplicate the work of the Pacific Island Forum.
Meanwhile, Fiji has asked Australia to head up a group of international observers during its September 17 election."
Anonymous said…
Chaudhary after being sentenced said that he can now go back and work for the country he loved! Loved? or Robbed? Is their a limit to hypocrisy? Chaudhary cannot change and will not change. He will now round up his chamchas and roam the villages, eat and drink at the expense of the poor while his chamchas would whine around him. He should have been given a room next to Speight at Naboro to cool his heels and ponder over his life of crime. If ever there was someone who could publicly lie and get away - it is Chaudhary. Conscience and shame do not belong to him. Honestly, he should not pay the fine and opt for jail, as he cannot earn that kind of money in his lifetime. After twelve months when he comes out, he can do some charitable work, as penance and leave finally with some dignity.

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