#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Deportation of landowner exposes 'Chinese bias' in land sales

Fiji's decision to deport Karen Seaton has exposed the military government's plan to push through changes to the Land Sales Act that favour Chinese buyers.

Seaton was deported last week purportedly for swearing at the President - after appearing before a parliamentary select committee to speak against the incoming changes.

Just hours later, immigration officials removed her from her hotel and forced her on to a plane to Los Angeles, saying only that the orders had come from the top.
Koro Island

Seaton has admitted swearing but denies it was directed at the President. She said she was frustrated and had dropped her groceries in the rain and had used the F word to vent.

Question: if she didn't swear directly at the the President, how did officials know about it?

Seaton's deportation has shone a mega light on Aiyaz Sayed Khayium's questionable plans for Fiji land.

Under the Land Sales Act, all non-resident land owners now have to build a $US120,000 dwelling by the end of the year or pay a fine (10 per cent of the value of the land) every six months.

Land owners like Dave Rand, of the Fiji Land Association, say this is a ploy for them to sell their land below market value.
Karen Seaton

Rand has told media the plan is aimed at 'artificially crashing the real estate market and getting people to conduct a fire sale.'

"Places are being sold for a fraction of the value they were 10 years ago and lo and behold the people that are scooping up the properties in this fire sale are mostly Chinese and local Fijians, or Chinese going through local Fijians to avoid any circumstances going forward."

The claim is credible given that Bainimarama and Khaiyum are no longer enamoured by Americans, Australians and New Zealanders, hankering these days after the Chinese yen.

Fiji is in debt to China and has given China V.I.P status in Fiji.

In the process, 'kaivalagis' like Karen Seaton and Dave Rand no longer carry weight in Fiji; their dollar is still wanted but they've been replaced by the Chinese and Russians.

Seaton has appealed to the United Nations Special Rapporteur but her future in Fiji remains uncertain.

The Fiji Land Association organisation, based in the US, put out a media release in October, raising concerns about the land sales ACT, which then led to Karen Seaton addressing Parliament in Fiji.

Idyllic Fiji Transforms Into Nightmarish Trap for Investor Dave Rand and Fiji Land Owners Association Members

International investment risk escalates in Fiji: Piracy is alive and well in the South Pacific

For Immediate Release

LOS ANGELES/EWORLDWIRE/Oct. 26, 2016 --- Idyllic Fiji transforms into a nightmarish quagmire for 5,000 people, mostly Americans, New Zealanders, and Australians who've purchased land in the Fiji Islands with large portions of their retirement savings looking to finish out their lives in their own little piece of paradise.

After commercial property values appreciated towards hundreds of millions of dollars in metropolitan areas, the new Fiji government, in an effort headed by Fiji's Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, rushed through parliament a piece of legislation in December 2014 known as Act 16 of the Land Sales Act with little debate and no public scrutiny. The law is being applied retrospectively upon non-citizen free-hold landowners by attaching new legal consequences (FJ $50,000 fines and even imprisonment) to events already completed (sales contracts executed under previously existing laws) if they do not build homes at a minimum cost of FJ $250,000 on their lots by the end of this year. The law will disproportionately punish small lot owners - many who wish only to retire in Fiji - by drawing no distinctions between them and speculative commercial real estate investors.

As the 31 December deadline approaches the islands are still reeling from the after effects of Cyclone Winston that struck Fiji this past February - the worst storm in recorded history to hit the Southern hemisphere. Materials and labor remain in short supply as the country struggles to rebuild, much less accommodate the needs of new construction.

For the past 21 months, these very same individual property owners have petitioned the Fiji government for redress by every form of communication - letters, emails, phone calls - even appearing in person at the offices of government officials, only to be turned away and have their concerns fall on deaf ears. Finally, within just the past few days and mere weeks to go did the Fiji government make it known they would hear hardship cases upon payment of a $1,000 application fee plus 9 percent VAT and further require the filing of personal financial information, with no promise of granting any extensions or waivers. In addition to its capricious and threatening tone, this action is too little too late, and most land owners feel it's merely an attempt to increase the bounty, size up the prize and gather information to be used later for prosecutorial reasons.

Confidence and hope are shattered. The law's real intent seems obvious - an act of piracy with one of the largest bounties in recorded history. A massive land grab, unprecedented by any of the surrounding nations in these modern times. International investors of all types have already taken notice and the tarnished reputation of Fiji's instability after years of government upheaval will be back on trial.

This type of government overreach undermines Fiji's standing among the international community and sullies the recent election of its U.N. diplomat Peter Thomson as president of the U.N. General Assembly. Thomson recently tweeted, "A world where every person's ‪#humanrights‬ are respected is one that is inherently safer more just and more stable." This statement is inherently contradictory to the unethical and immoral application of Act 16 and the threat it poses to individual property rights. Having recently regained membership in The Commonwealth (http://www.thecommonwealth.org/) after years of being banned for their undemocratic behavior, Fiji must resist once again becoming bad actors when it comes to basic human rights.

International land owners have formed groups online to fight this in unison rather than "walk the plank" and lose their hopes and dreams for Fiji.

One such group, The Fiji Land Owners Association, has united to bring this story to the world on behalf of all international landowners in hopes it can gain some leverage to negotiate a better solution that will strengthen, rather than weaken, a democratic culture for all stakeholders in Fiji.

Numerous landowners are willing to go on the record to share their stories, struggles, ups and downs along with their unshakable dreams of living and assimilating into the amazing culture, land and seascapes - that is the island nation of Fiji.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

International report endorses blog revelations of Fiji torture practices

Revelations by blogs such as Coupfourpointfive re the torture of Fiji citizens have culminated in a report on the 'darker side of Fiji' by Amnesty International.

The report cites the torture cases revealed by us in recent years, saying under the military’s dominance, 'Fiji has seen an ingrained culture of torture take root among its security forces.'

The Amnesty International report says a decade after the 2006 coup, the military remains in control of key institutions, including the police, 'with a militarization of the justice system that allows torture and other ill-treatment to go unpunished.'

Beating Justice: How Fiji’s Security Forces Get Away with Torture details how uniformed officials have inflicted severe beatings, rape and other sexual violence, attacks by police dogs, shootings and other forms of torture and ill-treatment or punishment in violation international law.

The report endorses ongoing revelations by Fiji's blogs and helps keeps the pressure on the military government and former coup leader Frank Bainimarama and police commissioners who have continued to mouth platitudes about bringing an end to the brutality meted out on Fiji citizens.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Saneem ticked off by Court of Appeal for closing list early

Mohammed Saneem: Fiji Court of Appeal says he erred
Two years too late and it would not have a difference to the election result.

The Fiji Court of Appeal has ruled against Elections Supervisor Mohammed Saneem saying he was wrong to close off the national candidates list for the 2014 general election when he did.

Saneem also overruled the objections to Fiji First candidate Parveen Kumar, but eliminated the Fiji Labour Party candidate Steven Singh, despite the Electoral Commission calling for him to be reinstated. 

Bloggers will remember Saneem shut the list down at 4pm instead of midnight, hiding behind the Solicitor General when challenged, instead of taking direction from the Electoral Commission.

The Commission took the matter to the Fiji Court of Appeal, which yesterday released its finding, saying Saneem should’ve complied with the decisions and direction of the Commission.

The decision is an acknowledgement of the irregularities during the elections, capped off, of course, by Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum being General Secretary of Frank Bainimarama’s Fiji First Party as well as Minister of Elections!

2014 was just two years ago and Fiji remains a quasi-democracy.

As the NFP party says, “The fact that the Minister for Elections and the General Secretary of Fiji First was publicly commenting on the case, supporting the decision of the Supervisor and even suggesting that the Electoral Commission take legal advice from his own chief legal advisor, the Solicitor-General, was extraordinary and totally inappropriate.” 

With the elections looming in 2018, it's time to start bedding down transparent electoral practices.

Semi Radradra on outer with Eels. pic News Corp Australia
Vuniwaqa: Ironic message
Editor’s Note: The Minister of Women, Mereseini Vuniwaqa, says 72% of women face some form of violence from their partner. Given the violence perpetrated against citizens by her government, her call to youths to show leadership is hollow. So, too, it seems are the antics of Eels star Semi Radradra,
who was accused of doing a runner to Fiji to avoid appearing in court this week on a charge of domestic violence. Parramatta are reportedly 'sick and tired' of him and are glad he's been signed by French club, Toulon.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bainimarama told 'lift travel bans' or it's just talk

The pressure is on for Frank Bainimarama to lift the travel bans on citizens and New Zealand journalists who’ve been blacklisted for speaking out against the military regime.

It follows Bainimarama’s visit to Australia and New Zealand, where he announced that any journalist would be free to visit and report without restriction, once they’ve been accredited by the Department of Information.

Field has a poke at Bainimarama and co.
Bainimarama has also urged Fijians in Australia to take advantage of dual citizenship to return and ‘build a house or start a business’ and 'come and go as they please' as global travellers.

Reaction to Bainimarama’s ‘generous’ invitation have ranged from amusement to scorn.

Fairfax journalist Michael Field, who was banned years ago, is keeping mum but has today posted on his Facebook a piss take of Bainimarama’s fear of leaving Fiji in case of a revolt, except for when it comes to rugby.

Ratu Joni laid to rest

RFMF pall bearers carry Ratu Joni's casket to Methodist Church before handing it to  Matakibau clan.

Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi has been laid to rest but the debate about his contribution to moving Fiji forward will no doubt continue.
Last respects

The late Roko Tui Bau Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi was buried on the island of Bau on October 7.

His casket was carried by RFMF pall bearers to the Ratu Cakobau Memorial Church where the service was conducted by General Secretary, Reverend Dr Epineri Vakadewavosa.

He was then taken to Sau Tabu for burial and the casket handed over to Matakibau clan. 

Some 3,000 people were at the burial site where Ratu Joni was interred in the same chamber as his late father.