News and Comments Tuesday 15 July

Ro Teimumu is flanked by Tuqiri and Korosau
QUOTE OF THE WEEK. "An immediate general election or a return to the pre-5 December 2006 Fiji will simply recreate the problems and the flawed system of democracy that prevailed under the Qarase government with its injustices, rampant corruption and disdain for the rule of law and the constitution" -- Mahendra Chaudhry 2007.

LARGE SODELPA RALLY IN LAUTOKA. Supporters dressed in party  t-shirts came from as far away at Sigatoka and Ra, and even two from Australia, to march down Vitoga Parade in Lautoka on Saturday.  The Fiji Australians were well-known rugby league players Lote Tuqiri and Apisai Koroisau. 


As the Fiji Times commented, " It was a rare opportunity for many people in the Western Division to catch a glimpse of rugby league superstars and former Fiji Bati reps Lote Tuqiri and Apisai Koroisau." Party leader Ro Teimumu welcomed the players and claimed party support in the West was "overwhelming." She spoke of the party being a "stabilising force" against coups, and offered a "remade Fiji ... of freedom and prosperity." 

SODELPA estimates it will need $750,000 for the election campaign of which they have raised about $350,000. The party is selling clothes items with party logos to help fund-raising.  Tuqiri's sulu and t-shirt cost $60,  or more, presumably, if autographed.
The PM with Nuku schoolchildren

FUEL PRICES DROP. The price of petrol dropped by 3 cents to F$2.53, kerosene by 5 cents to $1.82, and diesel 4 cents to $2.31 on Tuesday.

KINGS ROAD ELECTRIFICATION
. A number of settlements from Tavua to Korovou will  soon have electricity as a result of a $9.4 million FEA work.

PM VISITS MASI. WHERE?
  Even the journalists had to be given direction on how to get to Masi village in Nuku, Serua, which is  a two-hour journey by road and later by boat up river from the Galoa junction on Queens Road. 

It was the first visit ever to the area by a prime minister. He was there at the  invitation by the Nuku people who wanted to thank him for the development his Government has brought to them, the most significant of which is the new Nuku Secondary School.

In the talanoa session, 67-year-old Kaliova Senikavika asked the PM about promises by some politicians and parties to change the Constitution when elected. The PM said the politicians and their parties were cowards because their message was based on distortion and lies. The Constitution, he said, was inclusive. He said it protected indigenous Fijian land, church and chiefs. Masi chief Ratu Manueli Roseru said they suported the PM and the Constitution.

FIJIFIRST MORE THAN A PARTY. "It is a political movement with a vision for the next 10 to 20 years", according to general secretary Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. This was his message on the weekend whirlwind tour of rural areas in the West. Speaking only briefly at each venue he left most time for questions. Among the issues raised were roads and water whose defects he put down to poor engineering decisions be previous governments.  "The Fiji Roads Authority built cheap roads and bridges, but in six months time, it would be washed away. He said the Bainimarama-Government was after a more permanent and long term solution to issues such as water and roads."

DENARAU PEOPLE WANT THEIR LAND BACK
. Villagers who once owned Denarau Island asked Sayed-Khaiyum if they could  get back their land that had been turned into freehold title with no consultation with the owners  in the 1980s under the Rabuka Government. The answer, unfortunately, was no, but the 2013 Constitution prevented this sort of thing from ever happening again.

LAND WAS ALSO AN ISSUE IN COLO-I-SUVA
. Land use was again the topic of discussion at the Colo-i-Suva Village hall last night where the FijiFirst Party held its campaign meeting.

Party president Dr Jiko Luveni explained that iTaukei land would need 60 per cent approval by the mataqali in order to be released. She also emphasized that under the 2013 Constitution, it was illegal for Government to take back iTaukei land or have it sold or given as a gift to another party.

Dr Luveni was responding to concerns raised by Colo-i-Suva villager Sikeli Naitale who is also the chairman of the Lomanikoro Trust whose mataqali land had been leased by a tenant who then subleased it to another person five years before the land lease expired in 2002.The request by the mataqali for the return of the land was not supported by the then Native (now Tuakei)  Land Trust Board, and it was not until last year that the tenant was evicted and four acres out of the five acres returned. The TLTB told him that the other acre near the road would be subdivided and sold.

THE PDP MANIFESTO, launched on Saturday, is committed to the protection of the rights and dignity of workers, including the right to decent work and gender equality, and the . This is part of the party’s manifesto launched last Saturday at Saraswati College, Nausori, where PDP promised to oppose any current and future laws that curtailed individual freedoms.

PDP AND EDUCATION.  If elected, the  People’s Democratic Party promises free meals for poor students on top of the free education and bus fare concessions provided by the current Government. PDP would also appoint an independent commission to examine and make recommendations on all aspects of the education system, including school curricula appropriate to students and work opportunities in Fiji.

 CHAUDHRY NOT YET OUT.
The Court of Appeal has dismissed his appeal for a stay of sentence  but Justice William Calanchini has however granted an urgent hearing on the legal appeal of conviction which gives Chaudhry some hope to be nominated as a party candidate in the upcoming September election.


TAX OFFICER ABUSE OF OFFICE  AND CHAUDHRY. Two former employees of the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority, Vimal Krishna and Agesh Prakash, have been charged with abuse of office by the Criminal Investigations Department in relation to a $31,600 allegedly illegal payout to Mahendra Pal Chaudhry in 2009. The two have been released on bail by the Suva Magistrates Court on strict bail conditions.

FOUR NGO's HELP VOTER EDUCATION
. Four organisations have been given the go-ahead to carry out voter education related activities under Section 115 of the Electoral Decree. Approval has been given to the Fiji Women's Rights Movement (FWRM), femLINKpacific: Media Initiatives for Women, Pacific Dialogue and Citizens Constitutional Forum (CCF)

YASAWAS SAFE WATER. Villages in the tikina of Waya and Nacula in the Yasawa Group will soon access safe drinking water as works on a new water reticulation system, incuding a dam for catchmnent and 3,000 metres of piping to the villages, begin next week.


NEW CANDIDATES. FijiFirst’s first batch of candidates,and SODELPA's remaining six candidates, will be announced this week.

Comments

Anonymous said…
In the 1980's, Denarau - which was hardly a single island at the time, but consisted of numerous highpoints in what was largely mangrove swamp, was earmarked for development. The nature of the topography meant that all title designations (freehold, native lease, crown lease) were represented in hundreds of tiny tracts of land. Harrison Grierson were the land surveyors that undertook an amalgamation of the various small parcels into contiguous tracts.

As a result crown was combined to sit under the golf course and native lease was combined to sit under the hotels. Your readers will be able to determine which would be the most profitable for the native landowners.

Aside from this, the Denarau landowners profited from the development receiving fill material (which enabled the development to take place) from other landowning units around Nadi. The contractor at the time negotiated directly with the landowning units for the removal of the fill material to Denarau. However that was not the correct procedure so, when NLTB became aware of the arrangement, they stepped in to ensure the correct legal agreement for removing the fill was put in place - which entailed NLTB receiving its percentage of the agreed monetary amount.

The Fiji Sun's article concentrates more on the AG's (ill informed) response and ignores the fact that without the transfer of land, which was carried out with landowner agreement at the time, the development could not have taken place.

The landowners have benefitted greatly both in financial payments and employment from the development. Therefore Sun article and AG's response would have been better had they concentrated on the historical reasons why the transfer of land took place and the benefits it has bought, rather than implying that there was illegality in the transfer of Denarau land.

Such ignorant reporting on the part of the Sun and obfuscation on the part of the AG over the sensitive issue of land is not edifying.
Anonymous said…
At the risk of stating the obvious, I neglected to mention that the small parcels of freehold land existing in the Denarau delta were combined to sit under the residential lots.
Anonymous said…
The transfer was made by the SVT government of Rabuka and not in the initial construction of Denarau under the Alliance government.
Anonymous said…
Thanks Croz for informing us what the reason for the good participation in the SODELPA rally in Lautoka was: the presence of two rugby players!
Anonymous said…
Walsh doesn't want SODELPA to win was he and his missus might not get another bludgers free trip to Fiji at human rights abusing illegal regime expense. Parasites.
Anonymous said…
Sounds like you have something more personal against croz. Always flogging the same crap this us becoming a stale news come with something interesting.
Anonymous said…
Land Claims Cause Uproar
July 21, 2014 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by: newsroom
VARANISESE NASILASILA
NADI
Concerns have been raised from the chiefly household of Tui Nadi about the campaign tactics employed by SODELPA.
Asinate Dawai of Tui Nadi’s household claimed SODELPA member Isikeli Komaisavai held a meeting at Narewa Village on July 15 where he informed people that if SODELPA formed the next Government, they would convert the freehold land on Denarau Island to native lease.
“SODELPA representative who was speaking at the meeting in our village answered a question raised by one of the villagers about the Denarau land being reverted to them if SODELPA came in power,” she said.
“They were told that all the lands in Denarau were controlled by the Department of Lands and that the Government was trying to take everything.”
She said that this was not the first time a party had come about to mislead the villagers with information especially with land that was very sensitive.
A flyer sent around prior to the meeting claimed that Mr Komaisavai was a lawyer. . He is not.
Mr Komaisavai maintains that he was not misinforming people.
“We mentioned everything as stated in the Constitution and yes I did say that we were going to revert lands in Denarau back to the landowners if we come into power,” he said.
He said that, however, when he was saying fair he was referring to all Fijians to be treated fairly.
Mr Komaisavai is making arrangements to clear these issues from the villagers in another meeting that will be conducted soon. He said he wanted the media to be present to avoid confusions.
Mr Komaisavai made references to the Denarau (Nadi River) Decree 2011 and said that under this, land could be reverted.
FACT CHECK:
q Land on Denarau Island on which residential lots have been built was converted from native lease to crown lease and from crown to freehold by the Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei Government led by Sitiveni Rabuka.
q Similar deal was struck by Laisenia Qarase led Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Party in Momi.
q Bainimarama-Government has put provisions in 2013 Constitution that has put an end to native lease being converted to crown land and from there to freehold.
q The Denarau (Nadi River) Decree 2011 deals only with 26.8883 hectres of soil under the waters at the entrance of the Nadi River and upstream in the vicinity of Denarau Island and does not give anyone rights to revert land.
varanisese.nasilasila@fijisun.com.fj

Anonymous said…
Let us get all the facts straight. The DENARAU PLOTS OF SMALL ISLANDs, DENARAU ISLAND herself and all the surrounding mangroves never ever in the beginning of the history of Land Ownerships in Fiji plus the earlier records of the Land Commission that it ever did belong to the people of Narewa NO NO NOWAY… Those islands and that parcel of Lands belonged to my Family the Tokatoka Betobalavu the Mataqali Vita and the Yavusa Nasaunivalu of SIKITURU NADI.

We are the rightful owner of those Islands including Denarau… I myself lived on one of those small island tending to my small farm and village hut. I was bulldozed off the land by the bloody bullies who paid corrupt officials for the developments of that island. I lived on the reasonable side island called WADIGI

During the time of the late Ratu Napolioni Dawai the Tui Nadi then I sent him a letter asking him to do the right thing and return Denarau to my family or else there will be consequences in the form of disarray in the process of selecting the Tui Nadi. I promised him that Narewa village will continue to slip into the river, the Narewa village will turn into an animal cage and most the men will end up in prison and living a subsistence lifestyle. The stae of the Tui Nadi process, the state of the village the continuous landslip is evident that i spoke the truth. Ratu Napolioni died in a Non dignified way

There were unrest in the selection of the next chief after Ratu Napolioni. They ordained NAVAQEI his brother. I sent him the same letter. He went berserk and had hallucination and all soughts of mental fatigue. He lived in an undignified way during his reign as the Tui Nadi. You ask me why??? because they have never admitted to the truth that the Denarau Land never belong to them

They ordained a younger NAULIA as Tui Nadi and he also died much and much younger. And i will continue to promise that the status of the Tui Nadi will continue to bring troubles to all concerned. Oh Well it is happening right now. Even government official and all of you who are interested in any slight piece of this land. I know for sure that the land has its own way of dealing with its issues and I know that they are no negotiations.

We Fijians have been fooled by Ratu Sukuna re the NLTB. Ratu Sukuna was the puppet of the colonisation government our forefathers had and lived through. The protection of the Land by the NLTB was done so to provide a continuous source of income for the government of the day. That is evident in the miniscule part of the lease money the Landowners get. The current dictatorial government is doing it in the worse possible by having the land under their total control. Fijians need to wake up and open our eyes… The icing on the cake continues to be taken by someone else and we are left with the crumps. We need to protect what is rightfully ours and help assist and share our wealth with our Fijian Indian brothers and sisters before we look anywhere else for financial gain.

All previous Government officials were corrupt and were self serving. The Fijians whom regarded themselves as Scholars were too DUMB to see through some of the simple issues that has been dormant for a very long time and they continue to sit on them. For example the 99 year lease, Guess who got the benefit of that, No not the land owners, but the Business owners and the government, you go figure. In my view politicians were onlythere for the salary and free transport. No body ever did a thing except the Late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. He was the only Fijian scholar I know, and I an not from Lau and not biased either.

The fact of the matter is, With issues like this there should a Panel of discussions and proper dialog with the people concerned, feasible studies completed and dissected, local and environmental factors added to the list and concerns raised are addressed through the proper Channel.

I still wish to know How the hell did our parcel of land of Denarau ever changed title and suddenly belonged to the Narewa village. .

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