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

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.

The photo shows two of the coup leader's closest acolytes with the quip: "Frank’s at the rugby, time for another coup? I know how to do them.”

Banned: Brij and Padma Lal
Some Fiji folk have also called on TVNZ journalist Barbara Dreaver, to have a go at Bainimarama since he’s now on her turf. Dreaver was also banned some years ago.

The National Federation Party says the ban on citizens needs to be removed immediately, to allow Fiji citizens to return to the land of their birth, otherwise it’s just tokenism.

“The name of academics Professor Brij Lal and his wife, Dr Padma Lal, as well as other individuals who have been placed on this list for frivolous, undemocratic reasons, must be removed if the Prime Minister really wants to show the world Fiji is a robust democracy,” says leader Tupou Draunidalo.

Draunidalo has also questioned how much was spent on Bainimarama’s trip to Australia and New Zealand and those in the entourage.

Draunidalo: asking questions
“…. why was the Commissioner of Police accompanying the Prime Minister to a Fiji Day function at the same time when the DPP’s Office has confirmed the inefficiencies of his office in detaining members of the Opposition, including the NFP Leader, Professor Biman Prasad…?”

She says the Commissioner of Police should be at home attending to the “spiraling crime cases, police brutality" instead of resorting to  "the all too easy, draconian solution of arming the Police Force.”

Dradunidalo says an NFP Government will remove the blacklist and repeal the excessive powers given to the Immigration Minister, Prime Minister or any other minister, public official or organisation that is not fair or just.

The party says it will also reduce the allowances and emoluments of Ministers and Assistant Ministers.

Daily travel allowances for Parliamentarians got a massive 300 percent increase on the old rate originally decreed in October 2014.

Editor’s Note: In New Zealand, Bainimarama has
Bainimarama in Australia. pic Bob Barker News Corp Australia
downplayed differences with Prime Minister John Key blaming media for ‘unrelentingly negative and unbalanced reporting’, saying away from the media gaze the atmosphere between them was ‘very cordial and we got on famously.’ In Australia he made light of the fact the Malcolm Turnbull government did not have a senior minister meet him, saying Turnbull and co was ‘having Parliament at the moment.’ Bainimarama's visit coincided with the Australian Rugby Union announcement that Fiji will join the National Rugby Championship next year.

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. 

Fiji hierarchy at the funeral included president Jioji Konrote, PM Frank
Ratu Joni given 'state' recognition
Bainimarama, Members of Parliament, King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau'u of Tonga, the Samoan Head of State, the President of Nauru, diplomatic corp, the Commander of RFMF and senior officers of the military.

Ratu Joni was vice president for two years but was removed by Frank Bainimarama in his 2006 coup.

Bau clan prepare to bury Ratu Joni 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Roko Tui Bau to get 'state honours' at funeral

The details for Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi's funeral are still being finalised but key leaders from the Pacific, including the King and Queen of Tonga, have confirmed they will be attending.

Fiji's former vice president from 2004-2006 died last Thursday on his birthday and will be buried on the island of Bau this Friday.

Frank Bainimarama has said Roko Tui Bau, or kingmaker, will be afforded 'state honours' and that the government's i-reguregu will be done on Thursday morning.

Just what the 'state honours' will be are yet to be revealed but Bainimarama has described Ratu Joni as a great learned man "who tried to work between me as Commander and then prime minister Laisenia Qarase in the impasse that was in place then."

NFP leader Biman Prasad has also paid tribute saying Ratu Joni was the embodiment of chiefly authority and wisdom "whose humility and care and concern for all our ordinary people and adherence to the rule of law, fundamental rights and freedoms was paramount."

The Labor Party president Lavinia Padrath says Ratu Joni was a high chief with an open mind that led him to readily embrace modern day perspectives outside of traditional construct.

Ratu Joni was Chief Justice of Nauru at the time of his death, a position he had held for two yeas, and that country has said he established integrity and honour to the court.

More coverage of Ratu Joni's passing to follow.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ratu Isoa Tokoca referred to Privileges Committee after Bainimarama complaint

Opposition Whip Ratu Isoa Tikoca has  today been referred
to the Privileges Committee for his comments during the debate on the 2016-2017 Budget.

The Speaker has left it to the Committee to decide whether he breached parliamentary privilege. 

The complaint was made by Frank Bainimarama yesterday.

Tikoca's referral to the Privileges Committee is despite a letter from the Speaker on August 9 saying the matter was dealt with by the
Deputy Speaker, who was presiding over the debate at that time. 

It is likely that Ratu Isoa faces suspension from Parliament, just like Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu and NFP President Tupou Draunidalo. 

The Committee is expected to meet this evening.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Fiji’s democracy cracks again

Leaders arrest 'nothing but a government-sponsored assault on democracy'

Last weekend, Fiji's police force arrested six prominent opponents of the ruling party. Their alleged crime was breaching the Public Order Act by making remarks about the constitution at a conference convened by Pacific Dialogue, an NGO, on Fiji's Constitution Day. 

The arrests were nothing short of a government-sponsored assault on its own democracy, and yet another worrying sign that the Fijian Government is uncommitted to the full restoration of democracy.

The six arrested were the leader of the National Federation Party, Biman Prasad; the party (but not parliamentary) leader of the Social Democratic Liberal Party and former prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka; the general secretary of the Fiji Council of Trade Unions, Attar Singh; academic and former politician, Tupeni Baba; Jone Dakuvula, from Pacific Dialogue; and Labour Party leader and former prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry. 

They were not charged while in police custody for 48 hours but their cases have been referred to the director of public prosecutions, so their eventual fate is not yet clear.

The arrests were made under a 2012 decree that amended the Public Order Act to allow charges to be laid against anyone who takes part in a public meeting for which a government permit has not been obtained. Pacific Dialogue had not applied for a government permit to convene the conference but that's not unusual for a civil society event.

The arrests have exposed a key flaw of the constitution, and ironically one that Prasad (one of the arrested) has previously identified. In an opinion piece for the Fiji Times in June, Prasad wrote that the Fiji had a 'parliamentary democracy established under a Constitution that basically plays the role of bridesmaid to decrees and promulgations'. 

While the 2013 constitution (meant to be the supreme law of the nation) enshrines human rights such as the right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, it also provides for those rights to be restricted using laws that were decreed by an unelected dictatorship rather than passed by a parliament. 

Just what threat was posed to public order by remarks made about the constitution at a NGO conference held on Constitution Day is not clear to anyone.

Like President Erdogan in Turkey, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama appears to believe that the only way to govern successfully in a democracy is to eliminate all opposition (including by jailing dissenting voices).