News and comments for Wednesday 8 October 2014

LAW SOCIETY CONCERNS. The Fiji Law Society is up and running again and among its plans for the future are taking concerns about certain decrees to the government. The Society was weakened in 2009 when the previous government took away its role issuing law practising certificates and dealing with disciplinary matters meaning a vital loss of funds.

The society’s new President Peter Knight says it will try to boost membership, improve relations with the government and get it to look at some important decrees.

There were a number of pieces of legislation that were passed during the interim period which were of some concern to the legal profession which denied the right to challenge in the court the decisions that were made by the executive.

Mr Knight says it is unlikely the Law Society will be given back its role as the issuer of practising certificates at this point in time but he is hopeful  it will get a voice on the Judicial Services Commission which is responsible for the efficient functioning of the judiciary and administration of justice as required under Section 104(1) of the Constitution that states a legal practitioner must be a member of the JSC.

The FLS has already had talks with the Chief Justice and with the chief registrar of the High Court.  "They were good meetings and I think a better relationship has been established as a result of that," Mr Knight said, adding "I think we need to try and improve the profile of the legal profession by instilling in its members the proper principles and proper ethics."

TRADE UNION CONCERNS. An ILO team is in Suva to review the status of  the country's trade unions.  The team will investigate TU complaints about the lack of free of association, and other claims that some trade unionists are using the ILO and their position for personal advantage.

THE PACIFIC'S FIRST WOMAN SPEAKER.  In his welcome speech at Parliament yesterday, President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau congratulated Dr Luveni on her election as the Speaker. "To become the first woman Speaker of a Parliament in Fiji, or in any other Pacific island country, is a singular achievement and an inspiration to women everywhere."

RO TEIMUMU SAYS she is ready for the challenging role as Leader of the Opposition. “Well", she said,  "with the leader of the opposition it is a very important role because it is serving a purpose there in parliament and we have to look at the workings of the government in particular in terms of good governance, transparency, accountability and those are some of the areas we need to look at in terms of the performance of the government.” -- Fiji Today.

SODELPA USED CHURCH TO DISTRIBUTE ELECTION MATERIAL. The Social Democratic Liberal Party and the Christian Mission Fellowship are not commenting on why the party was allowed to distribute the SODELPA election campaign DVDs through some church ministers to the members of the congregation.are not commenting on why the party was allowed to distribute the SODELPA election campaign DVDs through some church ministers to the members of the congregation.

ECONOMY SET TO GROW AT 3.8% this year, the fifth year of consecutive growth. This and a little more from FRB Governor Barry Whiteside speaking at the Budget Forum meeting last week. As previously reported, Ro Teimumu and Dr Biman Prasad missed the meeting. Ro Teimumu did not even acknowledge the invitation and now says she had a "previous engagement."

WORTH READING. The magazine Republika.

JOSEFA BILITAKI.  Reports on the alleged beating of this 60-year old songwriter are still confusing but the Police Commissioner submitted  a full report to  to the Minister for Defence Captain Timoci Natuva  on  Monday.

All that seems clear to me is that Josefa was arrested, probably beaten, and that someone in the military exceeded his authority in what was essentially  a police matter. Section 17(c) of the Public Order Act allows a member of the RFMF to perform all or any of the duties and functions of a prisons officer or police officer at the request of or with the concurrence of the Commissioner of Police.  No request had been made.

Family members are said to have said  there was no political intent in Josefa's text exchange with the PM.

In a signed statement sent to the Fiji Times  Bilitaki confirmed the night visit of a group of officers and wrote of the events  leading up to his hospitalisation at the CWM Hospital in Suva. He was taken to Totogo Police Station over text messages to the PM. He could not recall what he did or said and regrets his actions.He claimed he was later assaulted and  never interviewed by police or asked to give a statement. His hospital admittance was due to concerns about his high blood pressure.  He confirmed the visit of the Commissioner of Police Ben Groenewald and his assurance of police protection, if necessary.

TAUKEI CULTURE.  The SODELPA leadership made much of the claim that the past Bainimarama Government was undermining Taukei culture (which they equated with the dismissal of  the Great Council of Chiefs, making its own appointments to the iLTB , giving all land rent money directly to its owners, the mataqali, and bypassing chiefs who had previously taken large slices of the rental money,  and the Land Bank legislation that allegedly forced owners to rent their land.)  I don't know what, therefore, they will make of the iTaukei Trust Fund Board's latest research project,  a study of Somate,  the traditional funeral ceremony.

The research, to be undertaken by the Board and the accounting firm  Price Waterhouse Coopers, will survey  funeral ceremony customs and ceremonies, their cultural significance, and their impact on family, mataqali and yavusa finances,  before making recommendations  to the the community that they hope will benefit future generations. The iTaukei Trust Fund is mandated to foster advancement of the indigenous Fijians.

UPDATE OF THIS BLOG'S COMMENTS. I have been most impressed by the quality and detail of comments  1-3 on the possible "New Roles" for Government, SODELPA, NFP. "Taxi driver" for one is in top gear.  Responses to 4,  the NGOs produced worthwhile comments on the Methodist Church but nothing else on NGOs, and responses to 5, New Roles for this blog are still welcome.  I shall try to summarise the comments soon.

Comments

Cin Cin said…
Re Josefa Bilitaki , perhaps a more appropriate headline would have been ' The more things change, the more they stay the same'...
Rajat Singh said…
I just hope and wish the new Law Society under the new leadership will behave in a more ethical way and contributes for the betterment of it's members as well as the general public of Fiji. Behave in a ethical manner means Law Society should not play politics to show down Fijian Judiciary like they did before.
Ratu Naita said…
@Cin Cin-The glass must be half-empty rather than half-full today my friend.
Cin Cin said…
@Ratu Netia

No, its full full now....
Disgusted said…
Your claim that nothing has changed in Fiji is simply disgusting. You know as well as everybody else that hard nosed regime opponents do not understand sophisticated reasoning. They require the good old buturaki to understand that our leaders cannot be challenged in a rude and critical manner.
Anonymous said…
The Fiji Law Society is a joke.

What the new Fiji needs is a circus with a place reserved for the Fiji Law Society.
Anonymous said…
With deep regret we have just heard that Croz Walsh, long a missionary trying to save Fiji from itself, died suddenly in Wellington, New Zealand today. Mr. Walsh was trying to cross a busy street, didn't look where he was going, and got hit by a 10 ton delivery truck. The police are investigating. Meanwhile it is reported by informed sources that forensic experts, working with the coroner's office, are facing difficulty finding Mr. Walsh's brain. Other parts of his body were badly mangled in the accident and they are being slowly reassembled. News of the victim's missing brain has been received ithe little surprise.It has long been suspected that Mr. Walsh was brainless.
desmondra said…
I must confess I was driving - i feel most awkward, but i am over it now. I am still 'optimistic' about my driving capabilities.
%$#@! said…
let's hope they stay compliant and remeber whio is in charge. Coz u know what happens if you step out of line in Fiji!!

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