News and Comments Wednesday 2 July
|The 11th centre, at Lomary, Pacific Harbour, a year ago.|
PM WAXES LOUD AND CLEAR AT LAMI TELECENTRE LAUNCH. The PM opened the country's 24th telecentre, at Lami High School, on Tuesday, and didn't lose the opportunity to make an appeal for votes:
"As I travel around the country speaking with ordinary people", he said, "one of the things that I hear most often is the complaint that in the past politicians would make all sorts of promises but would fail to keep them.
"Breaking this shameful practice has been one of my proudest accomplishments as your Prime Minister. Since day one, my Government has always been more interested in delivering results than making promises. This Telecentre is proof of that commitment."
"The bottom line is that Fijians know when they are being empowered, when they are finally getting the services they deserve - real benefits like free education, better housing, better roads, better access to electricity and water. And as in today, the opportunity to be connected to the wider world."
Calling the UFDF a "coalition of hypocrites", he said their petty squabbling and division in the past had brought Fiji to its knees, "yet now they are trying to convince you that they can work together... The only thing these parties have in common is opposition to my Government's reforms. They are united only by their determination to wind back the clock, to reject the advances of the past seven years and restore their own privileged positions at the expense of ordinary Fijians."
Most telecentres are located in maritime and rural areas, and presently give some 77,000 people in schools and the wider community access to computers and the internet. The Lami centre will give 225 students and 5,000 others computer access.
FIJIFIRST DECLARES ASSETS. As required by law, declarations of assets and liabilities by the party's executive and the party were submitted to the Elections Office on Monday, and are expected to be made public within seven days.
ITAUKEI COMMONER DISAGREES WITH RO TEIMUMU. "When these 'chameleons'”, he wrote in the Fiji Sun, "were in government, some native land got converted to freehold. We iTaukei had no rights to minerals extracted under our land. The bulk of lease money was taken by the few elites while the whole mataqali struggled with school fees and bus fares.
"In their “good old days” they all sat quietly in their ministerial and parliamentary seats fattening their wallets and saw nothing wrong.
"Today, Native Land can never be converted to Freehold again. We iTaukei now have the rights to claim benefits from minerals extracted under our land. The lease money is now equally distributed to benefit the whole mataqali and their children do not have to pay schools fees or bus fares again.
"Now, SODELPA and Labour are each willing to sleep with the devil just to get their hands back on those fat wallets. Don’t we see how “fishy” and “weird” it is for Chaudhry to hold hands with Ro Teimumu when they have absolutely opposing political platforms? Any politician, who sells his or her political platform, can also sell their voters and supporters as a package, even at a discounted price."
THE FIJI TIMES AND THE PM. The Times defends itself against the PM's accusation of bias, and then, more positively, the PM talks about FijiFirst policy. Click here for detail.
NZ TRAVEL ADVISORY. New Zealander Director of Public Prosecutions, Chris Pryde, says it is difficult to restore good relations with New Zealand when its Foreign Affairs travel advisories question the independence of the judiciary by claiming the Fijian government “has a degree of influence over the judiciary”. This, he said, "simply untrue."
His full statement, that includes his account of the Chaudhry and Driti cases, to the the Fiji-NZ Business Council will be published on Saturday.
FNPF PAYOUT. $179 million have been credited to 300,000 accounts of . Fiji National Provident Fund members this week. National Provident Fund. FNPF chief executive Aisake Taito said this represents 5.75%er cent interest rate for the institution’s financial year ending June 30, 2014. The results was a sign of the positive outcomes of the Pension Reforms implemented two years ago.
CHAUDHRY PAYS FINE. FLP Leader Mahendra Chaudhry, who was convicted of three counts of breaching the Exchange Control Act, paid his $2 million fine on Friday.
SHADES OF BALLU KHAN: FORMER NLTB MANAGER GUILTY. Former general manager of the iTaukei Land Trust Board admitted, was found guilty and convicted on five counts of abuse of office by the High Court. Kalivati Bakani admitted to using extinct mataqali funds without the board's approval to finance Pacific Connex, an IT company belonging to Ballu Khan through Vanua Development Corporation Limited.
He admitted to transferring government grants for VDCL to banking institutions to help Pacific Connex with loans. He will be sentenced after the trial of co-accused Keni Dakuidreketis concludes.
MILITARY AND THE CONSTITUTION. Further clarification should not be needed but with some people writing different meanings into what Brig.Gen. Mosese Tikoitoga has said, he has said it again. "The RFMF is here to protect and defend the 2013 Constitution ... one political party says they will throw away the constitution and bring in a new constitution, or re-write the constitution as some party are saying,
I hope that it can be understood that the RFMF will not allow the total rewriting of the constitution without the processes of the constitution being followed ... Changes to the constitution must follow the process stipulated in the Constitution. As long as people don’t break the law – as stipulated in the Constitution, there will be no issues with changing the Constitution. Click here for detail.
MILITARY AND THE ELECTIONS. Brig.Gen. Tikoitonga also said the military will not be involved in any way in the election process, but it it will assist the police to maintain a secure environment if requested. They will also continue with normal intelligence gathering which may involve officers attending political gatherings. This is because "we need also to be informed of political parties manifestos ...The military has repeatedly affirmed its stand – it will respect the elections result and support the elected government."
BEGGARS FIND JOBS. Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Jiko Luveni says 40 Suva street beggars, most of whom receive welfare assistance, will soon find employment thanks to the Inter-agency Taskforce. The beggars will undergo job training and, if needed, be provided with start-up capital. The Ministry has already been successful in assisting welfare recipients to run their own small businesses in such areas as canteens, bread baking, handicrafts, tailoring, vegetable stalls, poultry, bee keeping and catering.
RUSSIA TO JOIN ELECTION OBSERVERS. Russia's decision to join the International Observer Monitoring Group led by Australia and Indonesia was confirmed during a meeting between Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and his Russian counterpart in Moscow last week.
MORE (AND NO MORE) ON THE USP LECTURERS. I am not concerned Pat Craddock recorded the private meeting he had with the Deputy VC. USP also recorded the meeting. But I am concerned his recording was given, or leaked, to the blog FijiLeaks which then published a small part of the tape for their own political purposes. Even Pat's predecessor Dr Marc Edge condemned the tape recording.
NFP leader, former USP professor Dr Biman Prasad, however, is supporting the rights of the two overseas lecturers to speak out on Fijian political issues. I doubt their work permits give them such rights but if they do, their comments must not exaggerate or distort the known facts, which Dr Thompson most certainly did. Whatever rights they claim must be balanced with responsibilities.
Unfortunately, Pat Craddock's later letter, accusing the University of intimidation, can only inflame the situation, play into the hands of Government opponents (who include Dr Prasad), and make it even more difficult for the University not to take stronger action.
My view is that the matter should now be allowed to rest.