Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ratu Tevita Mara's Auckland Speech, the FDFM Roadmap and My Comments on Both (with a Commentary)

Speech given at the Rally for Democracy in Fiji, Auckland, Saturday 23 July 2011.

I would like to thank Ratu Mara for providing me with the opportunity to examine his opinions in this way. My observations are shown in red.
I regret, however, that the media were refused admission to the meeting. -- Croz Walsh.   My error.  They were refused access to the  Wellington meeting.

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in Fiji. I thank Allen for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.

A Layman's Look at Rugby
Once again thank you Fiji TV for the live Fiji - All Blacks game.

But here goes. Prior to this game, questions were asked if we were gonna beat the All Blacks or were we gonna loses miserably. Backed with the thought that we lost to Tonga and Japan in the Pacific Nations Cup and then we played an unconvincing game against Nadroga, many fans had very little to “place their bets” on. Even before the game, people were saying that the coach should go and that we lacked what it takes to become a champion side.  Well, who can blame the Fiji fans, we didn’t look like a convincing winner, to say the least. One win, against Samoa, does not spell anything, if we came back from the dead in that game, we would be zombies, I hope we don’t remain that way.

However, our game against the New Zealanders told us that we too can play a good game. Heck, all our boys have international stamped on their resumes. I was gonna say forehead. But why weren’t we convincing in the PNC and with Nadroga. All the boys play overseas because they were plucked out of Fiji or wherever. They convinced the scouts they were good. What happens when we bring all our valuable players home.  We need consistency to be able to map our way towards the world cup. But what about the boys, and what happens after the world cup?  Will they all go back to their respective clubs?

Is this how we are gonna commit to world rugby all the time? Why can't Tonga, Samoa and Fiji play a round robin game with only locally-based players? Raw talent. But what we will need is a world class coaching team to for our Pacific nations to prepare our boys.
Suggestion: Could Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Japan, New Zealand, Australia have a competition where all talent is raw?

Reserve Bank Annual Report for Year Ending 31.12.1010

FRB Governor Barry Whiteside said that while the global economy has recovered from the worst recession in 60 years,downside risks (including high crude oil and food prices, unemployment in advanced countries and possible overheating in emerging economies) still exist.

Domestically, economic growth of 0.6 percent in 2010 was broad-based, while the 2.7 percent growth anticipated for 2011 is expected to be driven largely by the turnaround in the agriculture & forestry,
manufacturing and fishing sectors. “Early indications show that 2011 will be another challenging year as much of Fiji’s performance will depend on developments abroad as well as the success of its own reform programs”.

Friday, July 29, 2011

PM's Poll Path

The PM says absolutely nothing new in this reported statement.  This blog has been repeating the dates he mentions over and over again. For those who may have missed, failed to heed or refused to believe these postings, here it is again: To 2011 infrastructural and institutional reforms; 2011 Constitutional reforms, 2013 electoral reforms (finished before September, one year ahead of the elctions, then the September 2014 elections.  Doubters, make a note in your diary: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.
 PM's Poll Path
Nanise Loanakadavu in the Fiji Sun

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has set the country’s path to a general election in 2014. Commodore Bainimarama, who is also the Minister for Sugar, revealed Fiji’s way forward in his presentation at the 12th Special ACP Ministerial Conference on Sugar at Maputo, Mozambique, earlier this week.

Why Bother Helping the Disabled and Powerless

The Bainimarama government has been active, some might say hyper-active, in several areas of social concern. They have, for example, passed legislation and formulated progressive policies on domestic violence, prostitution, several areas affecting poverty (e.g., the minimum wage, family benefits, fewer school expenses), the elderly. affordable housing, squatters, the empowerment of women, and people with disabilities.

If I were to believe, as his opponents claim, that Bainimarama is a dishonest man who is paying himself  and his cronies excessive salaries and pocketing perks at the taxpayer's expense, and if I also believed he has no intention of holding elections in 2014 but intends to rule Fiji indefinitely, I'd be struggling to understand why his government  bothers to pass so much legislation — there seems to be a new promulgation or decree every second week —and why, in particular, he is giving so much attention to the  least powerful in Fiji society, women, the poor and the disabled.  This posting is about the disabled.

Helping the disabled is part of the Roadmap

In opening a new Fiji National Council for Disabled Persons Centre in Labasa last week, the PM said the Centre is evidence of Government's commitment to address the problems of the most vulnerable and marginalised and create an inclusive society as articulated in the Roadmap. In the course of his address he referred to other Government measures to help the disabled. These included:

  • The 2007 Employment Relations Promulgation that calls on employers to employ two disabled people for every 50 employees, and an ongoing commitment to build employment opportunities for disabled people.
  • The2008-2018 National Policy for Persons Living with Disabilities that proposes 12 critical strategic areas  that will eventually improve the disabled participation in the community.
  • The 2010 signing of the UN Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities
  • The 2010 National Baseline Disability Survey that found 11,402 people lived with disability.*

The PM said he would like to see more public understanding about disability and work undertaken on how disabled people can be included in disaster risk reduction planning and management.

The Centre will provide specialized services and a place for disabled people to meet and, as the PM said, "engage in healthy discussions on shared dreams and how to enjoy life."

* I would be most surprised if the survey did not greatly understate the situation. I worked on the disability questions asked in the 1996 census that showed disabled people totalled 11,950, roughly the same as the 2010 survey. My monograph Disability Counts in Fiji showed 13.9 people per 1000 were disabled, a suspiciously low number compared with NZ's 197. The types of disability reported in the 1996 Census were:  Sight 10.7% of the total, Intelligence 14.9%, Hearing 8.5%, Physical 37.2%, Aged 13.0%, Other 12.6%, Not Stated 3.1%.
     The main causes of under-enumeration were probably inadequate training of interviewers (special training is needed) and the social stigma associated with some forms of disability.

News and Editor's Comments Friday 28.7.11

WEEKEND POSTINGS • Allen Lockington column •  Tevita Mara's Auckland Speech
•Reserve Bank 2010 annual report

Friday 28.7.11

HUGE INCREASE IN VKB REGISTRATIONS.The Vola ni Kawa Bula (VKB) determines itaukei membership into a yavusa (tribe) or mataqali (clan), verifies access to mataqali-owned lands and is also an avenue to justify title holders within iTaukei communities. This year has seen a huge increase in registrations, 4039 compared with 2049 last year. The increase is thought to be due mainly to Government policy changes that will (a) see lease money paid directly to landowners, and (b) compensation paid to resource owners for land leased, directly or through the Land Bank, in development ventures such as commercial farming and mining. People who are not registered by yavusa and mataqali will miss out on distributions.
MINISTER EMPHASISES FIRST LANGUAGE IMPORTANT. Education Minister Filipe Bole is right in stressing the importance of conducted classes in the first language for children's first three to four years at school. “When children are taught in their own mother tongue, they understand concepts better. After they have accumulated enough English vocabulary, they  will be able to communicate these concepts back even in the English language, which is the children’s second language.” -- Based on No.1502/MOE.
 Comment.   Right, but!  What's happened to Government's policy of making children tri-literate (English, Fijian, Hindi)? The younger language skills are acquired, the better, not just for the children but for nation-building.
HELPING MARITIME TRAVELLERS. Inter-island boats arriving at irregular times and the remote location of some outer island jetties has prompted government to build Waiting sheds  at seven locations this year at a cost of $1.7m. Vunisea on Kadavu and Taveuni have already been built and others are either construction or planned for at Koro, Vanua Balavu, Qarani on Gau, Rabi and Savusavu.  -- Based on No.1515/MOI.
THE MINISTRY OF WOMEN is working hard to development women's entrepreneurial skills to improve household incomes and empower rural women. Minister Dr Jiko Luveni says this is being done through business and financial literacy training in cooperation with the cooperatives department and vocational schools. Practical experience is also being encourages, with special attention to poultry farming and sewing.
   So far over 1,600 sewing machines have been distributed and for the first two years the women will develop their skills before venturing into large scale business. The first phase sees them meeting household needs and sewing school uniforms; the second phase will see some of them catering for Fiji’s lucrative tourism and garment industry market. The Ministry intends to establish a Sewing Centre along with a Technical and Vocation Training Centre specifically designed and tailored to prosper Fiji’s potential women entrepreneurs.-- Based on No:1509/MSWWPA.
EDUCATION AND INTERNAL MIGRATION. Secondary schooling — and access to scholarships for further education—  has long been a major reason for the migration of teenagers from the outer islands to Suva, and often their parents have moved with them. Next year Adi Maopa Secondary School on Vanua Balavu will help to defer the process by offering 7th form education for the first time. Minister of Education Filipe Bole said students will now "only leave the island to attend university education. The upgrading of Adi Maopa  to Form Seven ensures students enjoy the same privileges students in Suva and other urban schools access scholarships.” The Minister said he was impressed by the school's examination results, and in speaking to teachers, he urged them to "improve their qualifications. Those holding diplomas need to get degrees and postgraduate degrees. The impact will benefit the students,” he said. -- Based on No:1500/MOE. 
     I have no wish to labour the point but this is yet another example  of the "small" but important incremental infrastructural steps being taken by government to improve conditions for ordinary people in rural areas and the outer islands. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Plot to Lobby (Solomon) PM Against Bainimarama"

Plot to lobby PM against Bainimarama  

Solomon Star 

E-mail Print

FIJIAN political fugitive Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara is planning to lobby Prime Minister Danny Philip to turn against Fiji interim prime minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama, the Pacific Media Watch reported.

It has been reported the Fiji Freedom and Democracy Movement led by Ratu Mara and Fiji's former Land Force Commander Jone Baledrokadroka admitted that in-order for their plan to be successful, they have to gain support from all the MSG leaders.

News and Editor's Comments Thursday 27.7.11

PFC Factory at Levuka
Thursday 27.7.11
LEVY ON FISH EXPORTS HELP LOCAL JOBS. The imposition of the $350 levy per tonne trans-shipped from Fiji imposed by the  2011 Budget will result in more on-shore processing. Currently, some 30% of Fiji's total catch is trans-shipped at the expense of local jobs.
... BUT ELSEWHERE FISHERY WORKERS FACE HARDSHIP. An unknown number of Pacific Fishing Company (PAFCO) workers have been laid off for two months while renovations are made to align standards at the Levuka factory with those set by the US Food and Drugs Administration. No provision has been made to pay the workers for this forced time off work.
IT'S GOOD NEWS that other fish processors will help PAFCO to maintain supply,
... AND NICE that US housewives will not be inconvenienced—  as the Fiji Broadcasting release below shows, 
... BUT who is going to maintain the workers and their families? 

Fiji Broadcasting reports: "Local fish processors have vowed to back PAFCO during its partial closure, ensuring that supply is kept as robust as possible.
Fiji Fish Managing Director Graham Southwick says while six other fish processors have their own markets and buyers, they have made a commitment to support PAFCO.
Southwick says he has been told it’s a temporary - partial closure – while other sections of the factory are operating at various levels.
"It is the cooked loins to the U.S that are the problem and other sections are able to operate to some extent. The cooked loins are their major business so its obviously a situation they’ve got to take care of as soon as possible. PAFCO chairperson Peniasi Kunatuba refuted reports that two containers of their products were recently rejected by US authorities saying they were only ‘put on hold.’
The Head of the Food Unit Samu Bolalailai says a team from the US Food and Drug Administration will be in Fiji soon to certify PAFCO’s operation.

FIRST AGRICULTURAL CENSUS IN 18 YEARS. The 2009 Agricultural Census, the first in 18 years,  is being used by the Agricultural Department to "map the way forward." New policies and programmes are expected to boost production from next year.
METHODIST ELECTIONS. Three key posts in the Methodist Church will be up for election at next month’s annual conference, including the positions of president and general secretary, currently held respectively by Rev.Ame Tugaue and Rev.Tuikilakila Waqairatu.The Church has also confirmed that the annual levy would be collected from all circuits, but there would be no special fundraising this year.
MICRO ENTERPRISES FOR UNEMPLOYED. Plans are underway to develop small micro enterprises for up to 20,000 unemployed people registered by the National Employment Centre.
FIJI EMBASSY IN SOUTH AFRICA. The PM is in South Africa for the opening of the new High Commission which will also serve nearby African countries. The opening, scheduled for the July 29, is another step towards increasing Fiji's international presence beyond its traditional relationships, as mandated in Pillar 11 of the Peoples Charter, enhancing global integration and international relations. -- Based on 1512/MOI. Fiji has also established diplomatic relations with Malawi.

Work Together to Empower Marginalised Women

Government’s commitment to economically empower marginalised women has seen numerous socioeconomic developments around the country, undertaken by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation.
Dr Jiko Luveni

In particular, the Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni’s perseverance to reach out to ordinary women at grassroots level to hear out their plights right at their door step, has been applauded at both national and international level.

The  Catholic Women's League president Mrs Susana Evening, said efforts of the Minister for Women, through the Fiji Women’s Federation (FWF) to strengthen the ties between Government and Non-Government Organizations, has greatly motivated numerous women groups in Fiji to work together for the betterment of disadvantaged women.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

News and Editor's Comments Wednesday 27.7.11

David Burness and lawyer Shaista Shameem

Wednesday 27.7.11 

JUSTICE IS BEING DONE. Government's overseas opponents constantly claim the Fiji judiciary is not independent and the judiciary constantly proves them wrong.
     On Monday the anti-blogs claimed  Radio Fiji had withdrawn an item on David Burness, the 75-year old FNPF pensioner who is challenging proposed cuts to pensions. The MOI assures me they did not censor the item, and yesterday's news gave reason to believe them. The following is based on an —uncensored— report published by Fiji Village.

    Government had asked the court to strike out Burness's application. Justice Pradeep Hettiarachchi refused Government's request, saying the matter was of significant national importance. But he was not convinced pension cuts were a human rights issue, as Burness, who seems likely to lose 64% of his pension, claims.
      The Judge refused Burness's application for an injunction that would have temporarily stopped FNPF action.  At this pointd he could have dismissed the case because of "various procedural errors in relation to his application against the FNPF, the Attorney General and the Republic Of Fiji."
     Instead, he gave he gave the Burness legal team 21 days to file documents relevant to the case. 
DOUBTING TUILAEPA. I'm not sure why the international media so often report the Samoan PM's opinions on Fiji unless it's because they like what he says. It's not that he has any special, or even ordinary, knowledge of the country. His recent comments that trade sanctions would not hurt ordinary Fijians (because they grow food crops or go fishing in the sea) show just how ignorant he is. Unlike Samoa, many people live in urban places and in the interior of its two main islands. Land and fish are short in the former, and fish other than ikadroka in the latter.
    This time he says Bainimarama is lying about elections in 2014 and is 'doing everything he can’ to hold back democracy. He says he can't take the 2014 elections as serious because he can't see any progress towards it and because he has filled civil service positions with military people.
     He appears to be in denial about the impact of travel bans on civil service recruitment, and not to have heard of the Roadmap or the constitutional reforms due next year that will establish parameters for electoral reforms. The Roadmap never scheduled political dialogue before next year.
WOMEN'S CHICKEN FARMS. About 120 women in Naroi Moala village, Lau, now have some financial independent following the establishment of a poultry farm in April. The farm, part of Government's food security policy, was established with help from the of Social Welfare. A further 15 poultry projects costing $200,000 are planned.
THE EXPANSION OF HEALTH SERVICES has put more stress on nurses. The Minister tells nurses what is being done to relieve the situation.
ILTB OWED $24 MILLION IN OVERDUE RENTS and  some accounts go back 20 years!
WHEN TWO ANONS IS BETTER THAN NONE. From one, this question: "Is Roko Ului still on the Vola ni Kawa Bula (register of landowners)? And this by a wit: "Coup 4.5 – better known as Four and a half men."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

News and Editor's Comments Tuesday 26.7.11

The reality of a balanced media
Tuesday 26.7.11
PENSIONERS THREATENING COURT ACTION against FNPF board members. Dr Shaista Shameem, legal counsel for the protesting pensioners, has also written to the PM in his capacity of Minister of Finance. She has pointed out the proposed cuts run counter to Pillar 8 of the People's Charter.  The protesters have challenged the authority of the appointed Board members and requested an independent enquiry.
MARA LASHES OUT at everyone,  except the Great Council of Chiefs, the Methodist church, and the way things were before 2006. Do not be fooled. 
TIMBER THEFT ALLEGED AND CORRUPTION. The alleged theft by one Ba company of 600 cubic metes of pine trees from another Ba company shows all the signs of possible corruption, with a government official, the Assistant Roko Tui, apparently siding with the alleged thieves, threatening the victim, and interfering with police efforts to obtain information from the I-taukei Lands Trust Board and the Department of Forestry. The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC)  says they are aware of the allegations and are addressing the issue.
REFEREE STEREOTYPES TEAMS. An interesting NZ Herald article suggests a subconscious attitude could have given the All Blacks three tries they did not deserve. Think wider than rugby. Such views could influence other inter-ethnic contacts, and bilateral relations between countries.
HALF A BILLION SPENT ON ROADS. Over $500 million has been spent on road  in the last three years. I hear that the now improved Kings Road, that circles east from Suva to Lautoka, has already resulted in new economic ventures in villages along the road. Government's costly investment in infrastructure is starting to pay off.
WORKER COMPENSATION. The Ministry of Labour is progressively whittling down the backlog of claims dating back to 2001. That's eleven years!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mara's Contradictory Appeals: He Can't Have it Both Ways — or Can He?

 Ratu Tevita Mara's appeals to others for action against Fiji seem to be increasingly unreasoned or devious. Take your pick.

Gone are his relatively moderate earlier calls for a regime change by peaceful means.

News and Editor's Comments Monday 25.7.11

NOTICES From today, NEWS and Editor's Comments replace the Daily News feature. My intention is to publish News daily Monday to Friday. The Daily News postings from 17-22 July may be read by scrolling down this page. Earlier Daily News  may be read by using the Archives or Search facilities.  • TO RECEIVE POSTINGS AUTOMATICALLY BY EMAIL use the right sidebar facility. See also links to the People's Charter, the Roadmap for Democracy and the Strategic Framework for Change. • SCROLL DOWN TO WEEKEND READING.

Monday 25 July
FIJI v. ALL BLACKS. It's commendable but ironic that Fiji, with its struggling economy and high levels of unemployment and poverty —  made that much worse by NZ policies —  played a charity match to raise money for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal on Friday. Fiji lost 14 to 60, with the last two NZ tries questionable. A good result from the skilled and gutsy underdog. If Minister McCully was watching, we know which team he would be supporting,  but I wonder whether he also saw the irony.
GOVERNMENT FINGERS MORE UNION DEALINGS. I think Government should address the FCTU concerns about the proposed Employment Relations Decree and buturaki but it is difficult to support Anthony's requests to Australian and NZ unions (who know only what Anthony chose to tell them) for action against Jetstar and Air Pacific. Government's response has been to reveal details of the salaries and perks of some professional union leaders.
     The latest states that unions collect a massive $3.5 million a year in subscription fees from members. The major unions — Fiji Sugar and General Workers, Fiji Public Service Association, National Union of Hotel and Catering Workers, National Transport Workers Union, teachers, nurses and farmers unions —  have a total of about 30,000 members who pay weekly subs averaging $5. No tax is levied on the fees. Many union leaders, on salaries of over $100,000, also enjoy allowances for housing, travel, subsistence, entertainment, and car fuel.
     Veteran unionist Kamlesh Arya is calling for the review of union leadership following the decision by some union leaders to invite international sanctions against Fiji. He said they did not have their members’ mandate. Government's exposure of this situation is overdue but it still needs to address the legitimate concerns of the unionists.
DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN. Women's Ministry director Salote Radrodro said Fiji is on track efforts to comply with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). "Many other Pacific nations still have to report and have constructive dialogue. We have just completed a short-term report on the Constitution and electoral reform process which was one of the three key priorities we were asked to complete by this month," she said.
     Minister Dr Luveni said the CEDAW committee in New York had welcomed  Fiji's new Domestic Violence and Child Welfare decrees,the Women's Plan of Action (which addresses the State's  commitment to the empowerment of women) and the Government's decision to construct women's centres in provinces and semi-urban settlements.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

WEEKEND READINGS. • Allen Lockington column • Fiji Needs Democracy But Not with Democrats Like These by Thakur Ranjit Singh • Surfing Decree   • The Politics of Sabotage by Graham Davis
See also Friday's postings: • The Nation Needs Healing by Hassan Khan  • Bruce Hill's interview with UTW secretary and Qantas CEHO over Qantas and strike action.
NEW ZEALAND READERS. Listen to Radio New Zealand on Sunday.  See details below.

Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in Fiji. I thank Allen for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.

Proud to be a Fijian

A lot of our citizens represent our country in many ways overseas. We have sports people, dignitaries, people working for private companies and we have our soldiers in the British Army serving in the Middle East, Afghanistan and other countries. And of course there are others serving in the military forces of other countries and government organisation. Some are on fact finding expeditions. One such person is my nephew Jason Murray.

The Surfing Decree: Catch a Big Wave

THE State's Regulation of Surfing Areas Decree appears to have had a positive impact on the lives of villagers on Malolo Island.

Fiji Needs Democacy But Not with 'Democrats' Like These

By Thakur Ranjit Singh

As the race for democracy in Fiji intensifies, it has reached new heights of political expediency where hitherto diametrically opposed political animals are seen drinking from the same pail.
In addition, we are witnessing the genesis of a new adage that declares that a foe’s opponent or enemy is actually a political friend.

However, what still remains uncertain is the model of democracy that can be expected from those whose definition of democracy rests in self-interest or their ability to clamber back onto the gravy train from which they were jettisoned by the military takeover in 2006.

The media coup by the military fugitive Ratu Tevita Ului Mara – who arrived in New Zealand this week – has taken the fight for democracy to a higher level.

The Politics of Sabotage

By Graham Davis

Fiji’s tourism industry – a vital pillar of the local economy – could be set for a battering as Fiji-bound flights are targeted by Australian trade unionists acting in support of their Fijian counterparts. Members of the Transport Workers Union are threatening to disrupt flights to Nadi operated by Air Pacific and Jetstar – the two carriers servicing the route associated with the national airline, Qantas. Virgin flights will not be affected.The threatened campaign is clearly designed to cause havoc with schedules and deter Australian holidaymakers from choosing Fiji as their destination. The TWU says it’s in protest at the alleged beating of union officials in Fiji and a series of military decrees that have eroded the rights of workers. But here’s a link to a piece by Crosbie Walsh – the New Zealand academic blogger – that raises some disturbing questions about the premise of that campaign. Have Australian union bosses been deceived by their Fijian counterparts? It sure seems that way. Because as Walsh points out, the TWU’s public statements refer to a decree that is in draft form only and may never be implemented.

Friday, July 22, 2011

ABC'S Bruce Hill Interview Union Head and Qantas CEO on Fiji

Union to challenge Fiji industrial action ban

Updated July 22, 2011 10:52:02  Radio Australia's Pacific Beat 

Australia's transport workers union has vowed to fight a court ruling saying they can't take action against the national carrier, Qantas, over what they see as the suppression of union rights in Fiji.

Nation needs healing: Khan

Avinesh Gopal in the Fiji Times
Friday, July 22, 2011

THE Fiji Council of Social Services is ready to partner with the Government to combat social ills, threat to peace and human security in Fiji.
It says the revelation by the Health permanent secretary Doctor Salanieta Saketa that more than 400,000 people in Fiji are affected by malnutrition and that there are 365 cases of HIV/AIDS were social horror stories that required immediate attention.

Mara bans media from recording community meeting

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 9:20p.m.
By Lloyd Burr NZTV3 News
videoFiji’s runaway military chief Ratu Tevita Mara invited the media to a community function tonight then banned them from asking or recording anything.
Mr Mara organised the function to allow Fijians living in New Zealand to ask him questions about his former boss, Commodore Frank Bainimarama’s regime in Fiji.
But on arrival, members of the media, including 3 News, were informed that a recording ban was in place and they could only sit in on the meeting.

Media were also told they could not ask questions if they stayed for the meeting.
Earlier today, at another meeting, Mr Mara condemned media censorship.
“With the media censorship in Fiji, nothing is getting out and the international community does not know anything about what he is doing,” he said.
Mr Mara’s spokesperson, Pro-Democracy Movement president Sai Lelea, also said that he “would like to acknowledge the role the press plays in a free, democratic society”.
But this evening, the press was banned from playing any role in reporting the voices of those Fijians in New Zealand concerned about the military regime back home.
The reason for the ban was to protect the identities of those who turned up so they wouldn’t be blacklisted by the Fijian Government.
Mr Lelea said Fijian people living in New Zealand were scared of being identified because if what they said got back to Mr Bainimarama, they might not be allowed back into Fiji.
The meeting is just one of many this week for Mr Mara, who met earlier today with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He wouldn’t say what occurred in the meeting or if there was any outcome.
Mr Mara also meets with the Maori Party tomorrow.
He will head back to Tonga before making his way around the Pacific to garner support against Mr Bainimarama’s regime.
3 News

Shocking FNPF directors fees paid to Fiji unionists

 See also my personal comments in today's NEWS "Anthony Urai Took Exorbitant Fees" where I wonder why this information is only now being released.

Fiji Union leaders were paid shockingly high directors fees – as high as $180,000 - when they sat on the board of the Fiji National Provident Fund and its subsidiaries from 2007 to 2009.

Audited documents by KPMG obtained by FBC News show that union leader Felix Anthony received $185,934 over a period of three years – when he sat on the FNPF board and its subsidiaries. 

Other Union leaders like Daniel Urai were paid in excess of $156, 287 while James Raman was paid $150, 576. FPSA general secretary Rajeshwar Singh was paid a total of $47,533.
FBC News understands this was on top of the annual salaries they were paid for doing their normal union jobs. 

They also received other perks such as free mobile calls. 

Government found out about the way the unionists were paying themselves directors fees for being on the FNPF board – while also gathering directors fees from as much as seven other subsidiaries - in 2009. 

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama promptly kicked them off the board after discovering this. 

The FNPF is Fiji’s pension fund that is for the retirement of all workers in the country.
The Fund has faced substantial losses and allegations of mismanagement, and actions are currently being proposed to save the Fund. 

Anthony sat on the board of FNPF and its subsidiaries Home Finance Ltd, Amalgamated Telecom Holdings, FNPF Investments Ltd, Natadola Bay Resort Ltd, Telecom Fiji Ltd, Yatule Beach Resort Ltd, and Vodafone Fiji Ltd – and was paid directors fees for all of these. 

Urai sat on the FNPF Board, Home Finance Company, ATH, FNPF Investments Ltd, Natadola Bay Resorts Ltd, Grand Pacific Hotel Ltd, FNPF Hotel Resorts Ltd, Yatule Beach Resort Ltd, Vodafone Fiji Ltd, and Fiji Directories Ltd and received directors fees for all them. 

Singh received over $47,000 for being on the Home Finance Company Ltd board from 2007 to 2009. 

No comments could be obtained from the three unionists – two of whom are overseas at this stage - calling for sanctions and strike action against the current government for abusing workers rights. 

Report by : Stanley Simpson
Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

CCF Calls For Amicable Solution To Govt/Unions Stand-Off.

MEDIA RELEASE 20th July, 2011

The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum is concerned with the tactics applied through the Trans
Tasman Trade Unions to hijack the Tourism Industry for early Fiji elections.

The threats by the Australian and New Zealand Trade Unions to enforce travel bans and
boycott flights to Fiji, in pursuit of speedy elections are punitive actions that will only derail
the gains made through the processes of dialogue and jeopardize the current stated road map.

CCF however, maintains its stand for speeding up the processes of preparation for election in
September 2014.

This means immediate credible steps must be taken by the Bainimarama Government in
support for its continued public statements that free, fair elections will be held in 2014 after a
constitution is drawn up beginning in 2012.

The CCF believes that a home grown solution is needed and calls on the Prime Minister to
address the nation and tell the people what steps will be implemented to restore democratic
rule. The people need to know what role they will have to play in formulating the constitution
under which the next elections are to be conducted. This should include processes, timelines for constituency boundaries, voter registration, electoral rolls. Such steps would give
credibility to the process and allay fears.

This is essential as any actions which will impact the tourism industry, will inevitably affect
the lives of the struggling Fijian and the trade unions must reconsider any sanctions or bans
which will drag more people into poverty.

The CCF calls on all parties in the current impasse to adopt a pragmatic approach to resolve
the issue with the welfare and future of the ordinary citizens in mind. This can only be
achieved through open and unrestricted dialogue

To facilitate this dialogue, the CCF again urges the authorities to remove the Public
Emergency Regulations and allow people to voice their concerns and fears. This will allow
the State machinery to address issues which are important to the people.


Reverend Akuila Yabaki

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Union Calls for Secretary's Immediate Resignation

CIVIL Servants have called for the immediate resignation of the Fiji Public Service Association (FPSA) general secretary, Rajeshwar Singh .

The FPSA members who are civil servants say Mr Singh has no mandate to speak on behalf of them when there was no consultation done on the issue of  seeking  support from fellow unions in Australia and New Zealand.

“We will also be writing to the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama to express our support for the Government and to also take action against these anti-Fiji union leaders,” the FPSA members said.

Lies Undermine Country: PM and A-G Respond to Anthony Accusations

Certain People are Undermining the Country: PM

The Prime Minister says there are certain individuals that are currently undermining the country however most Fijians are loyal to Fiji’s new vision.

Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama made these comments while officially launching the “Fijian Made and Buy Fijian Campaign” last night in Suva.

He said some people are currently overseas trying to do things that would affect the Fijian economy but he said majority of the Fijians do not support this move.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Two Readers' Suggestions and Qualified Support for (the Interim) Government

Two readers, who like me, support the PM's goals but with reservations about some of the methods have these comments I thought worth elevating to a posting so more readers would see them. Your comments are also invited, and on the original posts.

FIJI: Nation needs support for peaceful return to democracy

Arvind Kumar in Pacific Media Watch
imageAUCKLAND (Indian Weekender/Pacific Media Watch): Two former Fiji academics have called for a better understanding of Fiji politics, saying no efforts should be spared in working towards a smooth, orderly and swift transition to democracy in Fiji.
Democracy and restoration of civil rights are important for Fiji but they should be achieved without any unwarranted violence, according to the former University of the South Pacific academics.
Literature academic Dr Som Prakash and ex head of journalism Shailendra Singh said that with the defection of senior military officer Ratu Tevita Mara, and with the rumoured intention of lowering national pension thresholds, the political situation in Fiji could best be described as delicate and disconcerting.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Felix Anthony and Australia’s Transport Workers Union: Defence of a Basic Right for Some — or the Devil Take the Rest?

The photo that speaks for itself: (L-R), Mara, Urai, Anthony, Rajendra Chaudhry (Coup4.5)
What has  Felix Anthony, national secretary of the Fiji Trade Unions Council, been telling his Australian counterparts? 

Fiji Vows to Continue Infrastructure Developments

Fiji's Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama vowed on Friday to continue infrastructure developments to hit back "international political tactics" that limits Fiji's ability to source funding for the projects.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Daily News July 17 -on

I had wanted to keep the NEWS at the top of the page but the only way to do this was my updating the same post every time I had more news. This resulted in a very long posting, that sometimes resulted in me exceedng the maximum characters allowed on a page, with the result that some older but recent postings could not be read, and it resulted in so many comments that it was hard to know which item they were commenting on.  So,  from Monday items up to July 22 will be archived, and the NEWS (no longer called Daily News) will be dated by the days they are posted.

WEEKEND READINGS. • Allen Lockington column • Fiji Needs Democracy But Not with Democrats Like These by Thakur Ranjit Singh • Surfing Decree   7 The Politics of Sabotage by Graham Davis
NEW ZEALAND READERS. Listen to Radio New Zealand on Sunday.  See details below.

Friday 21.7.11 AUST NZ UNIONS BACK OFF. letter from Air Pacific seems to have caused the unions to think again about action against the Pacific carrier.
ANTONY URAI TOOK EXORBITANT FEES. The PM has accused the two unionists who are now attacking his government of taking large fees when they were members of the FNPF Board.  Possibly, but it would be more credible had the charges been exposed at the time. It was also noted that PSA GenSec Rjeshwar Singh's BMW cost over $150,000. All very well but Government has not addressed the issue that caused these unionists to call for overseas help: the draft Employment Relations Decree, and personal attacks on priminent unionists.  Singh responded by telling RadioNZ International, that if the A-G (and presumably the PM) want "to make claims about the expenses of unionists, he should reveal his own salary first."
RADIO NEW ZEALAND 24th July: Poverty in Fiji. Official figures for Fiji indicate that 360,000 people are living in poverty. But  some social agencies think the real figures maybe even higher. Philippa Tolley travelled to Fiji to find out what is being done to improve the lives of the nation's poorest. The programme is broadcast at 8.12am during "Sunday Morning" with Chris Laidlaw." It repeats on Mondays at  9.06pm  and Wednesdays at 12.30am.  Programmes can also be played off the Insight page of the Radio New Zealand web site at and can be downloaded as a podcast.
Thursday 21.7.11

ANY INDUSTRIAL ACTION WILL AFFECT ALL. Tourism CEO Josefa Tuamoto  says that industrial action against Fij planned  Australian  ann NZ uionists in suppor of Felix Antony' "would be devastating to the country and all its citizens." Some 45,000 people are employed in the tourism industry and "the benefits derived from international visitation go far beyond the workforce." The A-G had earlier said "certain union leaders are painting a false picture of realities on the ground to suit their agenda."
BOLE AGAINST CORPORAL PUNISHMENT.Minister of Education Fiplipe Bole has reiterated that corporal punishement in schools is illegal.
PENSIONERS APPEAL TO PRESIDENT.  Radio Australia reports that pensioners have appealed to the President to establish an independent enquiry into the Fiji National Provident Fund whose Board is considering pension cuts in order to remain viable. In related news, the case against the FNPF by David Burness will be heard next Tuesday.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Vodafone Fiji Exposes Coup4.5 Allegations on Khan and Interceptions

News Release 
Vodafone Clears Air on Blog site Comments

It has come to the attention of the management of Vodafone Fiji Limited that certain blog sites have published information about its Managing Director and Vodafone Fiji which are defamatory, libellous, and false. As a result it has become necessary to issue a statement in
response to these false published statements.

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in Fiji. I thank Allen for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.

Weight Loss

Society is now becoming so health conscious, it's not funny. You see almost everyone holding a little bottle of water and taking walks. Junk food has been banned from schools and soon junk food advertising is going to be banned. Yet, it’s a fact that obesity and non-communicable diseases are still on the rise.

Give Me Land, Lots of Land, Don't Fence Me In: Fijian Laand and the Land Bank

By Crosbie Walsh
When I think of land and land use in Fiji I'm reminded of the old lyric,  
Oh, give me land
Lots of land under starry skies above
Don't fence me in.
Fiji has lots of land but much of it is unsuitable for agriculture with existing technology and a limited inland road system. Close to 85% is owned communally by its i'taukei owners.  They use it for subsistence, part-subsistence root crop and yaqona production,  and the lucky ones who own land in commercially-desired areas, also receive some income from leases.Overall, about 38% of Native land is leased.

Protect Fijian languages: Subramani, with a note on languages and dialects

Sera Whippy in the Fiji Times
subramani ABOUT 85 per cent of the 400-plus students in the Fiji National University's Ethics class are dismissible because of their lack of basic linguistic skills, says FNU academic Professor Subramani.

In his attempt to determine the cause of this shortfall, Prof Subramani said he approached his students and found they were not proficient in their own vernacular.
"Parents tell their children they should disregard their own vernacular because learning and speaking English will get them a good future. This is very wrong. Languages do not contradict each other, they complement each other and due to this sort of attitude the Fijian language is in great danger of loss," he said.
He said the translation industry was a huge industry however this was not so in Fiji. "We need to start this industry to protect and conserve our languages. Changes are needed soon, especially in the educational system," he said.
Fiji’s many languages and dialects 
Crosbie Walsh

Friday, July 15, 2011

Reforms for Elections Office

Elenoa Baselala in the Fiji Times
Friday, July 15, 2011

THE deputy Supervisor of Elections Soro Toutou has been reassigned to the Public Services Commission.
Justice permanent secretary and Solicitor General Christopher Pryde is now overseeing the operations of the Elections Office, confirmed PSC permanent secretary Parmesh Chand. Mr Chand said Mr Toutou has been transferred to assist the commission in the ongoing civil service reforms.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Another Invented and Divisive Story from Coup4.5: Fiji Muslims Aiding Terrorists

Is the man in a hat a Coup4.5 Editor?
The blog writes: "Intelligence sources say the CEO of Vodafone, Aslam Khan, was frisked and detained in a US airport on the suspicion he may be financing terrorist cells." From their first two words they spin deceit. The intelligence sources are their informants, not some state intelligence source as many readers would suppose.

The blog goes on to say they are releasing "this controversial information to warn the US, AUS, NZ and EU that Fiji is a potential carrier of terrorists who might get into their country with the help of the illegal regime and that the above people may well be moving large amounts of monies that might have come from links to world terrorist  cells."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What Happened at the Lau Provincial Council Meeting?

Filipe Bole has replaced Adi Ateca Ganilau as Lau Provincial Chairperson barely one day after she received 17 votes and Bole 15 votes for the position.  Her replacement is being hailed as evidence of government interference by the anti- blogs (and her brother Ratu Tevita in Australia) and so, up a point, it might be, but provincial councils are bodies funded by government to administer itaukei affairs in Fiji's 14 provinces (Rotuma to the north of Fiji proper has its own council.) Their composition,functions and procedures are spelt out by government legislation — any government, not just this one.

The change is reported to have occurred after a statement (that others called an "outburst against the government") in which she denounced the People's Charter and Government leadership. Adi Ateca denies this, saying, “I was in no way [trying] to persuade the Council not to support the government. I was giving my views to the Council and not saying that we do not want to support the government.”  But Commissioner Eastern LtCol. Leweni says this was not what she said.

Following this exchange, Leweni "made it clear that assistance to the province and the people of Lau would continue and not be affected – but they would not be able to work with Adi Ateca after the comments she made."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

GIRC the Way to Go

How many times have we heard democracy is about more than elections; it is also about what Government does, interacting with people, listening, and letting them know what it does?  

For the last several weeks citizens have had a close look at government  in action by attending the almost weekly exhibitions held by different government departments at the Government Information and Referral Centre (GIRC) in downtown Suva.

Last week was the turn of the five divisions in the PM’s Office —Cabinet, Poverty Eradication, Development Cooperation and Facilitation, Policy Analysis, and the Strategic Framework for Change and Coordination Office.  One interesting daily feature was a live talk back show conducted by Fiji Broadcasting  in Fijian, Hindi and English.  

Officers from one division, the SFCC Office, manned their booth and went on air to inform the public and field questions on the the SFC, the People’s Charter and the Roadmap.  – Based on No:1420/PSC.   Fiji is not yet a democracy but I think this democratic initiative shows promise of what is to come.

Promoting Multi-Culturalism: CCF Essay Competition

Extracts from CCF Release.

Electronic Voting to Go Ahead

The Election Office is working on arrangements for the implementation of ‘electronic voter registration’ in time for the 2014 General Elections. Electronic voting is fast becoming a preferred method of voter registration in many countries primarily  because, once initiated, it reduces costs and speeds up the voting processes.

Attorney General and Minister for Elections Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum  said, “The work plan for the establishment of a system of electronic voter registration will be sent to overseas missions and multilateral organizations in Fiji for their assistance in implementing the work plan.”

In Fiji, the system will be based on a centralized voter database that will be used for both national and municipality elections. Registration will use birth certificates or passports as the primary identifier, and voting on each voter’s bio-data and unique finger print. It is expected to greatly reduce voter impersonation.

The Minister said setting up the system will be an enormous task requiring a nationwide registration exercise  inclusive of fingerprints and photographs of all citizens who are now 15  years old and above. In the forthcoming months new positions will be advertised to strengthen the skills of the Election Office. --Based on No:1418 /AG.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Government Invites Public Opinions on 2012 Budget

Government has invited the public, for the first time, to hand in their 2012 Budget submissions for consideration.

This has been done as the 2012 Budget focuses on the formulation of policies that will contribute towards raising investments and growth while ensuring fiscal sustainability. Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Finance Filimone Waqabaca, in a public notice, said that government has commenced preparations for the formulation of the 2012 Budget.

He said that in the spirit of continuing with broad-based consultations, the Ministry of Finance invites industry representatives, employer organizations, private sector associations, and civil societies [to submit] written submissions for consideration in the 2012 Budget.

“Through this consultative platform, the Ministry of Finance seeks to ensure that views of a wider cross section of the community are taken into consideration in the formulation of the 2012 National Budget,” Mr Waqabaca said.

“A key area of focus for the 2012 Budget is the formulation of policies that will contribute towards raising investments and growth while ensuring fiscal  sustainability. In this respect, the stakeholders are invited to provide suggestions on feasible policy options that can be pursued by government to achieve these objectives and contribute towards raising the overall living standards of all people of Fiji.”

Mr Waqabaca said written submissions must be linked to the strategic focus of the Roadmap for Democracy and Sustainable Socio-Economic Development 2009-2014, particularly under the three categories of:

(i) strengthening good and just governance;
(ii) raising economic growth; and
(iii) Improving socio-cultural development.
The deadline for submission is July 29.

Story by Losalini Rasoqosoqo in the Fiji Sun. 11.7.11

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in Fiji. I thank Allen for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.
Miracle Emails

 I usually receive emails that tell me to forward the email to more people and I would get a surprise the next day. The more people I send it to the better my chances of receiving something good.

 I never forward such emails, but I often wonder what if life was like that. What if, when we receive those kind of emails and send them to twenty five people I will receive some good luck the very next day, in reality. And then my vivid mind got working and I said to myself, “What if I could send one hundred emails to FEA or the Water Authority of Fiji and somehow my bills would be paid.” And if I send two hundred emails to MHs, R B Patel or New World Supermarket and they would send me $300 worth of shopping. And if I sent two thousand emails to USP and my daughter's tuition fees would be automatically paid for.

 What if I could send one thousand emails to ANZ or BSP banks and each time I go to the ATM I never run out of money. Oh, if only life were like that. And what if I sent ten thousand emails to myself and each time I went outside a different cab would be waiting for me to drive. 

And, oh, if only the people who keep forwarding email prayers knew that God doesn’t really work with emails. Or does He?   Has anyone's  prayers been answered because they forwarded those emails?

Address by U.S. Ambassador-Designate

Statement by Frankie Reed, Maryland, Ambassador-Designate to the Republic of the Fiji Islands, the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Nauru, the Kingdom of Tonga, and Tuvalu - June 29, 2011 [Sub-headings and emphasis added. Ed.]
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I am deeply honored that the President has nominated me to be United States Ambassador to the Republic of the Fiji Islands, the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Nauru, the Kingdom of Tonga, and Tuvalu. I want to thank the President and the Secretary for nominating me for this position and thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.

Chicken Farming Helps Rural Women

          Reducing Poverty - Boosting Food Security - Empowering Women
For Naroi villagers on the island of Moala in Lau, importing four bags of chicken and 42 dozens of eggs each month isn’t enough to sustain them, especially when the rainy season makes it both difficult and dangerous to go fishing.
That all changed when the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation through their Non-Government Organisation grant decided to assist the Naroi Women’s Group to develop a poultry farm in April.  To date, the poultry farm is not only addressing financial independence but also address the issue of food security among villagers.

Naroi Women’s Group leader Litea Draunidalo said the shortages faced and the isolation of their villages meant that purchasing from nearby shops at a higher price was the only option available.

The Sordid Story of Timoci Lolohea's Meridian Services Agency (Now Phoenix Logistics Corp)

 If two of his Fijian victims who are mentioned in this New Yorker story by Sarah Stillman are to believed, they were falsely recruited, not for Dubai but the Iraq War Zone, where they were abused and one was sexually assaulted, and not for $3,800 a month but $700. That was in 2007. The recruiters, headed by Timoci Lolohea, are still operating in Fiji. Why has this recruitment agency not been investigated, and charges laid for misrepresentation?
timoci lolohea"Timoci Lolohea, had, according to the Fiji Times, extracted more than $1.6 million from his victims over the previous five years; they included not only poor workers but also church congregations, tribal elders, and village community centers seeking overseas employment for their constituents."
I have highlighted the Fijian parts of the story in grey.

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Reader Sent Me This on UK Pensions

Figures show that an average retirement pot for users of its annuity service is £56,000
Monday July 4,2011 Daily Express U.K    By John Chapman

Industrial Sabotage: If it’s Good for the Goose, it’s also Good for the Gander

By Crosbie Walsh

chaosLast Thursday FINTEL, the nation's internet gateway provider, cut telecommunications provider Telecom's access to its services, causing costly disruption to government departments, national and international airlines, banks and other business houses for up to three hours.
The Fiji Times said the action "brought the country almost to a stop [and] crippled critical services." Air Pacific, whose major shareholder is the Fiji government, had its flights to Brisbane, Sydney, Auckland, Melbourne, Honolulu and Korea delayed and its domestic carrier, Pacific Sun, had its flights disrupted.

The FDFM Agenda, the 1997 Constitution, Communal Voting … and the Great Council of Chiefs

  The Australian-based Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement (FDFM) interim president Suliasi Daunitutu has again defended the inclusion of the Great Council of Chiefs in his organization’s solution to the Fiji situation, saying that opposition to the GCC being allowed to ‘reconvene to deliberate on the affairs of the nation because it is unelected or a colonial invention ’ is irrelevant and misplaced.’ 
The FDFM in Australia is sticking to its belief the Bose Levu Vakaturaga (GCC) must play a crucial role in its plan for a return to a fair and free Fiji.

Tea Party? Or Tea Party, Sarah Palin Style?

POLICE SHUTDOWN FIJI WOMEN'S RIGHTS MOVEMENT MEETING. The FWRM is an NGO, largely funded like most Fiji NGOs by overseas aid money. It was formed in the 1980s to help remove discrimination against women.

World Cup Shattered Dreams

This story by TV3. Note also the comments.   Click on the link below.

Jul 3 - Shattered Dreams - Stories - Story Archive - 60 Minutes - Shows - TV3