#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2009-05-17

Friday, May 22, 2009

Chaudhry's Labasa meeting cancelled

The annual general meeting of the Labasa branch of the National Farmers Union has been cancelled, after the interim government cancelled its permit it had issued earlier.

A permit was issued on 12 May allowing the meeting to go ahead at the Labasa Civic Centre tommorrow but it was revoked today without any reason given.

NFU general secretary Mahendra Chaudhry, who had travelled to Labasa for the meeting, says he's disappointed.

"There is a growing sense of frustration among farmers that their genuine concerns are not being addressed. The high cost of fertilizer, the escalating costs of harvesting and transporting cane to the mills this season are among serious issues that need to be addressed before the onset of harvesting."

The police stopped Chaudhry's meeting in Lautoka last week.

NZ won't lift sanctions on Fiji

New Zealand's stanch on Fiji will not change, according to the New Zealand Foreign Affairs office.

Yesterday the man who spearheaded and helped write the People's Charter, John Samy, tried to convince NZ government officials to lift its sanctions on Fiji.

Samy said one third of Fiji's economy live below the poverty line and the economy was in tatters, and he was worried about the grassroot people of Fiji.

But the New Zealand Foreign Affairs office says NZ has given enough changes to Fiji to come to the table.

Background of appointed judges

Anthony Gates: Gates replaced Daniel Fatiaki as Chief Justice after the 2006 coup. Together with Davendra Pathik and John Byrne, he ruled in October last year that the overthrow of the Laisenia Qarase led multi-party government was lawful under the Constitution as the President used his prerogative powers derived from the British monarchy. That judgment was overturned by the Appeals Court on 9th April and a day later the Constitution was abrogated.

In the judgment, Gates and the other two judges emphasised that the Constitution had not been abrogated by Frank Bainimarama on 5th December 2006 and as such all other laws were intact. In November 2000, as a High Court judge, Gates ruled that the abrogation of the Constitution by Bainimarama two weeks after the 3rd coup of 19th May 2000 was unlawful, and Mahendra Chaudhry was still the legal Prime Minister.

According to legal sources, the act that Gates has accepted appointed under the New Legal Order, is in total contrast to his judgments and views of the Constitution being the supreme law of the country and that decrees and promulgations are unlawful because only Parliament is the sole legal body empowered to make and amend laws as per the provisions of the Constitution.

Davendra Pathik: Pathik’s acceptance of a position does not surprise our legal sources. According to them, the 79 year old was impatiently waiting to be re-appointed and commented to close friends that he was disappointed at not receiving the re-appointment letter immediately after the abrogation of the Constitution. During the Qarase versus Bainimarama trial in March 2008, Pathik commented to Qarase’s lawyer that what else was President Iloilo expected to do when he endorsed Qarase’s dismissal.

Davendra Pathik is also a tutor of the law faculty based in Suva, run by University of Fiji based in Saweni, Lautoka. The University was established almost five years ago by the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji. Pathik is the Sabha’s Patron while his wife Sushila replaced Kamlesh Arya as its President when Arya, a former Fiji Labour Party MP, was appointed as Acting High Commissioner to Australia last year. Arya was a member of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji and replaced by Sushila Pathik upon is departure for Australia.

Daniel Gounder:
Gounder was appointed a judge in 2007. He is the youngest member of the Bench and previously was a State prosecutor with the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions. The last trial that he presided over was the case involving 8 soldiers and a police officer charged with the brutal killing of Nadi teenager Sakiusa Rabaka. Gounder jailed all of them for 4 years for manslaughter. But less than a month later after the abrogation of the Constitution, all 9 were released from Prison under Compulsory Supervision Order.

Sosefo Inoke
: According to our legal sources, Inoke was running a failed law practice that is originally registered as operating out of Nadi but most of the time Inoke has been Suva. Our sources say after the National Bank of Fiji's $220 million dollar scam was un-earthed in 1995, Sosefo Inoke was amongst a group of four lawyers who were owing the NBF a massive $400,000 they had overdrawn from their overdraft facility.

Sources say following the revelation, Sosefo fled to Australia to escape the clutches of the Bank and also avoid disciplinary proceedings that were about to be instituted by the Fiji Law Society. He re-surfaced at the turn of the century but has struggled to maintain a viable law practice. According to our sources Inoke’s main motive for accepting appointment is financial.

Mary Muir (magistrate): We can confirm that Mary Muir was a citizen of the United States when she arrived in Fiji almost 6 years ago. She was looking after the Ba branch of the law firm Mishra Prakash & Associates, owned by well known lawyer Vipul Mishra.

Gates and 3 others accept re-appointment

Anthony Gates has been re-appointed as Chief Justice under the New Legal Order.

Gates took his oath before self-appointed President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, at Government House today.

Other judges who were re-appointed as judges of the High Court are 79 year old Davendra Pathik, Daniel Gounder and Sosefo Inoke.

Their appointments along with that of Gates and other judges were revoked when the 1997 Constitution was abrogated on 10th April.

American citizen and Ba based lawyer, Mary Muir, was appointed as a resident magistrate.

According to the regime, the appointments were made under the Judicial Service Commission from which the Fiji Law Society has been removed as a member under the Administration of Justice Decree.

While the Commission has not been constituted, the appointments were made seemingly by the President and are likely to be ratified by the Commission once it is appointed.

We have been reliably told that even Nazhat Shameem, who until now has refused to be appointed to the bench as a judge, is being convinced by the Attorney-General to accept re-appointment.

Judges who will not accept re-appointment are Filimoni Jitoko, Jiten Singh, Gwen Philips, Thomas Hickie and Jocelyn Scutt who have returned to Australia.

Samy attacks Fiji and NZ media

An advisor of Fiji's interim prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, has accused the media of being "vehemently hostile" towards the Bainimarama regime.

In a speech given at the Victoria University of Wellington yesterday, John Samy said the mainstream media has often not reported truthfully and responsibly.

"Under normal democratic governance, with the freedom of the media must come the responsibility on the part of media to report truthfully," Samy said.

He said it was regrettable that the mainstream media in Fiji and New Zealand, has failed on these accounts.

"The New Zealand Herald for example, has projected the same tendency towards being 'wooden-headed' as the Government of New Zealand," he said.

John Samy's speech in Wellington

Coupfourpointfive has been handed a copy of the speech given by John Samy, at Victoria University in Wellington.

Samy and Jone Dakuvula's talk was attended by New Zealand government officials, former New Zealand diplomates to Fiji and Fijians living in Wellington.

The basis of Samy's 25 page speech was to try to convince the New Zealand government to change its stanch on Fiji.

Because of the length of the speech, we will only publish excerpts, we think would be of interest to you.

Let us start our conversation this morning by reflecting upon Fiji's overall situation. What is clearly evident is that Fiji has been in a deep rut, for several decades, in regard to its political, social and economic governance.

It is to be regretted that we suffer the failure of not learning from the experience of the past, and that the exercise of both wisdom and sound judgement has clearly not been evident in the case of Fiji, on the part of some leaders within Fiji, and also in our governments in New Zealand and Australia.

Following the coups of 1087 and 2000, which were all motivated by an enthno-nationalist "Fiji for the indigeneous Fijians" agenda, race-based politics became more pronounced. Many of the country's key institutions were politicised and ethnocised, and these have continued to suffer rupture and a severe weakening over time. Between May, 1987 and early December, 2006, Fiji's overall situation continued to persistently deteriorate.

There are some who believe that the 1997 Constitution as a whole was perfect, even when certain parts of it in fact helped to entrench, perpetuate and legitimise, race-based, divisive politics. A major impediment to Fiji's return to parliamentary democracy is that the current electoral and voting system, as embedded in the 1997 Constitution, is undemocratic.

For over two decades, Fiji's economy has been stagnating. Over one-third of the country's population now live under conditions of poverty and deprivation.

Given the complexity of Fiji's overall situation, characterised by several decades of poor governance, instability, economic stagnation, social rupture and the politicisation and weakening of key institutions, the Peoples Charter initiative, when first launched in April 2007, presented a strategic window of opportunity.

The Peoples Charter represented Fiji's own way of addressing its problems, with the people of Fiji at large, including the opponents of Bainimarama and the IG, all being extended the opportunity to participate and contribute in mapping a considered way forward for Fiji.

The credible and sustainable way forward for Fiji is through national unity and broad-based political consensus.

The question arises: whereto now, for Fiji and its people; and also for its international development partners in regard to how they manage the "Fiji issue"?

It is still not too late.

John Samy

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lawyers put pressure on Naidu

Information has surfaced tonight that the President of the Fiji Law Society, Dorsami Naidu, is being pressured by some of his members, sympathetic to the interim regime, to allow lawyers to be appointed as judges.

Coupfourpointfive has been told that some of the lawyers trying to change the Society's rules are Ba lawyers Dr Samshu Din Sahu Khan and Adish Narayan and Lautoka based lawyers Haroon Ali Shah and Ikbal Khan.

Narayan was hired by the interim regime to defend it in the case brought about by the late chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Ovini Bokini.

Sources says these lawyers have told Dorsami Naidu to allow them to accept positions under the regime, because the courts have been closed since April 10.

But Naidu is refusing to buckle, saying they must make a principled stand.

The Fiji Law Society has been excluded as a member of the Judicial Service Commission constituted under the Administration of Justice Decree.

The Commission is responsible for appointing judges, magistrates, justices of the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court and the Chief Justice.

Meanwhile, sources have told us that work on finalising a Decree to amend the Legal Practitioners Act and make the interim Attorney-General as the licensing authority of all lawyers, instead of the Law Society is almost complete and could be promulgated soon.

Penang mill fails to start crushing

As predicted by Coupfourpointfive yesterday, the Penang sugar mill failed to start crushing today.

This is despite a promise by the Fiji Sugar Corporation that the mill would begin the 2009 crushing season this morning.

Last night we reported that cane farmers in the mill area were showing a lack of interest in signing their Memorandum of Gang Agreement (MOGA) forms.

The MOGA indicates to the mill that a farmer is ready to start harvesting.

Until last night only 67 percent of harvesting gangs in the mill area had submitted their MOGA to FSC, instead of the 80 percent needed.

The lack of interest has been due to the dissatisfaction by farmers and cane lorry owners over the imposition of a road user levy by the Land Transport Authority.

From 1st January the road user levy is $75 for a tonne of load per annum and cane lorries will have to pay between $750 to $900 per annum for carrying 10 to 12 tonnes of cane depending on the size and capacity of the lorry.

Sources say the Lorry Operators Association today met and agreed on a proposal offered by the interim Transport Minister.

COupfourpointfive has been told that now an agreement has been reached, cane crushing at Penang could start in the next 48 hours.

Samy appeals to NZ and Aust

The man behind the People's Charter today made a fervent appeal to New Zealand and Australia to soften its stance on Fiji.

John Samy urged the two regional powers to engage with Fiji, rather than isolate it.

Samy said Fiji's economy was in tatters and that it needed the support, rather than the condemnation, of New Zealand and Australia.

"Both New Zealand and Australia have been relentlessly single-minded in vigorously pushing for a general election pushing for it to be held at the earliest so as to restore parlimentary democracy.

"In doing so, the leaders in our governments in both New Zealand and Australia have failed to realise, or they have wilfully refused to recognise, that in the specific context of Fiji, the mere convening of early general elections will not necessarily resolve the country's deep rooted fundamental problems, nor will it break the cycle of coups or rid Fiji of its coup culture."

Samy is a New Zealand citizen but has been living and working in Fiji for the interim government for the past two years.

He heads the National Council for Building a Better Fiji - and has been leading the campaign to win support for the controversial Peoples Charter.

About 40 people were at the meeting this afternoon at Victoria University in Wellington, to hear Samy and Jone Dakuvula.

Both stressed they had not been sent by the interim government of Frank Bainimarama saying they initiated the meeting themselves because of their concerns for Fiji.

Many at the meeting were New Zealand government officials, including the former high commissioner, Michael Green, who was expelled from Fiji by the interim government.

A number of concerned Fijians from the Wellington area were also at the meeting.

Several of them told Coupfourpointfive they wanted to hear what Samy and Dakuvula had to say but felt New Zealand and Australia were justified in setting limits with Fiji.

Some said the two regional powers had given Fiji several opportunities to talk while others wanted to see New Zealand engage with political parties, NGO's and pro-democracy groups rather than just the immediate military hierarchy.

Last week John Samy and Jone Dakuvula, also spoke in Australia.

Sources say there was a large protest outside the venue they spoke at, and so they deliberately gave a two day notice about their Wellington seminar, to avoid any protests.

Samy and Dakuvula speaking in Wellington

Jone Dakuvula and John Samy are speaking today at Victoria University in Wellington, about their "hands-on" experience working on issues in Fiji.

Dakuvula is currently responsible for managing the Fiji Political Parties Initiative and the President's Dialogue Forum.

Samy, a consultant who lives in Auckland, is the man behind the People's Charter, and has been working in Fiji for the last two years, putting the charter into place.

Sources say the basis of their talk is to promote the work of the interim government.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cane crushing delayed

The start of the 2009 crushing season at Fiji's smallest and oldest sugar mill, Penang in Rakiraki, has been delayed, supposedly because of low cane supply.

The mill was supposed to start crushing on Tuesday, with harvesting starting a day earlier.

But on Monday the Fiji Sugar Corporation Chief Executive Deo Saran released a statement saying crushing would be delayed until tommorrow, because of flash flooding.

However, sources say there's no way crushing will even start tommorrow and the heavy downpour is not the only reason.

Coupfourpointfive has been told that a very low cane supply is the main cause of the delay.

The mill needs a supply of 800 tones of cane to kick off crushing.

But until this afternoon only eight cane lorries had delivered their load to the mill, which at best is about 80-100 tonnes.

Sources say the other reason for the delay is because not all harvesting gangs have signed the Memorandum of Gang Agreements(MOGA).

Eighty percent of MOGA's in a mill area should be signed by harvesting gangs but on Monday only 48 percent had signed up.

This morning the number of gangs who had submitted their MOGA increased to 107(63%) and late this afternoon it rose slightly to 113(67%), but still well below the 80 percent needed by tommorrow.

Sources say the lack of interest is because cane lorry owners (truck)are unhappy about the imposition of the road user levy and conditions set by the interim regime.

They have to pay the government an average of $750 a year, if they carry 10 tonnes of cane, at $75 a tonne.

A few weeks ago, the interim Minister for Transport ordered lorry operators to pay 6 months wheel tax and 6 months road user levy but surrender their lorry number plates to the Land Transport Agency after the end of crushing season.

Sources say another alternative given by the interim minister today was for lorry owners to pay 6 months road user levy and 9 months of wheel tax, if they wanted to use their lorries as transport throughout the year.

But the lorry owners want the levy quashed because of rising costs and a declining price of cane.

Lawyers released

Munroy Leys lawyers Richard Naidu and Jon Apted have now been released.

They were taken in for questioning this afternoon for their alleged involvement in a blog site.

Sources say they were released at 5.45pm after being interviewed about allegations on the blogsite Real Fiji News.

Real Fiji News is a pro-regime website, which has been naming people like the lawyers, as those behind the blogsite Raw Fiji News.

BREAKING - Lawyers hauled in

Munroy Leys lawyers Richard Naidu and Jon Apted have been taken in for questioning on allegations they're bloggers.

The pro-military regime blogsite, Real Fiji News, accused Naidu and Apted of being bloggers on Raw Fiji News, and this week warned they were about to be outed by the military.

The detainment of Naidu and Apted was reported by the blogsite Intelligensiya at 1.49pm.

Another lawyer claimed by Real Fiji News to be a blogger, Tevita Fa, has also been detained.

Police have told Legend FM news, the lawyers computers are being checked for suspicious activity.

Real Fiji News has been warning that bloggers in Fiji will be exposed. Below is what they've posted on their blogsite.

"...It is worth the wait, and for those bloggers who have openly said ‘F*%& the Military we are not scared of them’ you will also be exposed and for those who have hidden behind the blog and laughed at your tough words, then you wait also, we have your names, we know who you are and when we are good and ready we will EXPOSE you.

NZ lifts ban on Fiji sports teams

The New Zealand government has quietly lifted sanctions on Fijian sports teams visiting New Zealand.

According to the Dominion Post, Prime Minister John Key made the admission during a press conference with visiting Tongan Prime Minister, Feleti Sevele, yesterday.

Sanctions were placed on Fiji after the military takeover by interim prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, in December 2006.

The former Labour government banned all visiting sports sides from Fiji, except the rugby sevens team.

The Dom Post reports that John Key said New Zealand had softened its stance on visiting sports teams since National took power last November.

"New Zealand has been effectively softening its sanctions in relation to sporting ties and the travel of sports teams."

"To all intents and purposes, since we've been signing off on sports teams either transiting to New Zealand or coming to engage in sports activities here," Mr Key said.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

9th anniversary of 2000 coup - what they said last year

The ninth anniversary of the 2000 coup, went by mostly unnoticed today. Unlike last year, where statements were made, all was quite this year, because of the PER in Fiji.

These statements were made last year, to mark the eighth anniversary of the George Speight coup.

“We are not scared of this because we cannot surrender our values. We cannot surrender democracy to terrorist elements, to thugs. Now we go to the people in general elections with a very clear platform. And we were elected as we were in 1987 and 2000 and therefore we are entitled to a term of 5 years in government. It is for the people of this country to elect or to remove governments through the ballot box, not through the bullet."
Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Pal Chaudhry – 22nd May 2005 (Fiji Television Close-Up marking 5th anniversary of 19th May 2000 coup)

- “Coups do not pay. Anyone who’s thinking of doing it should seriously think about the consequences. Also, they have a massive drain on the economy and also there is a flight of intellectual property, very well qualified people also leave and the country suffers. No one really wants coups.”
Rajendra Pal Chaudhry – 19th May 2008 (Fiji TV One National News marking the 8th anniversary of 19th May 2000 coup)

“I explained to the Council (Great Council of Chiefs) that we are expected to be seen to be upholding the rule of law, that no one, least of all chiefs, should be seen to be above the law. The law is meant for everyone and everyone is equal under the law. With that in mind the Council (GCC) made its own decision, that no, the rule of law must take its course despite the fact that we have some chiefs and others who are in positions of influence implicated."
Ratu Epeli Ganilau (Interview in Islands Business Magazine of April 2004 in his capacity as the then GCC Chairman supporting police probe into the May 2000 coup)

9th anniversary of 2000 coup - the turncoats

In a surprising twist of political ideology, Mahendra Chaudhry, Finance Minister in NFP-FLP Coalition government of Dr Timoci Bavadra in 1987, and victim of three coups, became a turn-coat when he supported Frank Bainimarama's overthrowing of the Laisenia Qarase government on 5th December 2006.

Chaudhry - together with his deposed MPs Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi, Tom Ricketts and Poseci Bune - accepted key portfolios in Bainimarama’s interim Cabinet in January 2007.

Chaudhry was the interim Finance and Sugar Minister for 18 months, up until mid-August 2008.

Bune did not retain his position in a reshuffle in January 2008 but the other three were re-appointed.

Vayeshnoi and Ricketts also quit the interim Cabinet with their leader last August after having trumpeted Bainimarama and the regime’s policies for 18 months.

Chaudhry is on public record as having supported media censorship, especially after revelations of his $2 million secret stash in Australia, which resulted in the deportation of Fiji Sun and Fiji Times newspaper publishers in February and May of 2008.

He also condoned the human rights violations. Chaudhry publicly stated he approved Bainimarama’s $184,000 leave payout and the $45.5 million over-expenditure of army in 2007 respectively because they were necessary expenses.

Chaudhry and his son, Rajendra, publicly supported the Peoples Charter and the activities of FICAC.

He also told the people of Fiji in February last year to learn to live with high food prices.

Ratu Epeli Ganilau also accepted a Home Affairs and Immigration portfolio in the interim regime in January 2007. He authorised the deportation of the publishers who were apprehended by immigration officers in the middle of the night and taken to Nadi. He is currently the interim Defence Minister.

Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi described Bainimarama as “God-sent” and the coup as a revolution in November 2007.

9th anniversary of 2000 coup - fate of plotters

In February 2002, coup leader George Speight was sentenced to death for treason by the Suva High Court.

His death penalty was immediately rescinded to a life sentence by President Josefa Iloilo, upon the recommendation of the Prerogative of Mercy Commission, constituted under Section 115 of the Constitution.

A week later, Parliament changed the Penal Code to replace death penalty with life sentence for treason. The move wasinitiated by Laisenia Qarase’s SDL government.

Speight’s accomplices, Timoci Silatolu and Josefa Nata, were later imprisoned or given life for treason. All three are still in prison.

Also jailed was CRW founder Ilisoni Ligairi and Iliesa Duvuloco. Both are free men today.

Former Vice President Ratu Jope Seniloli and former Deputy Speaker, Ratu Tevita Vakalalabure, were also jailed for administering and taking an illegal oath, respectively. Both are also out of prison today.

Tui Cakau Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu was jailed for a year and released two weeks later.

9th anniversary of 2000 coup - mayhem in Suva

Fiji's 3rd coup on May 19, 2000, witnessed a complete breakdown of law and order.

Many shops in Suva were looted and burnt down, mostly by nationalist elements who staged a march just before the takeover of Parliament.

The police - led by the then Commissioner Isikia Savua - only mobilised into action several hours after the mayhem.

Savua’s inaction is till today being viewed suspiciously. More so, when his brother Josefa Savua later marched into Parliament with more than 20 territorial soldiers and Isikia Savua condoned his brother’s act by saying he was an adult and could think for himself.

Apart from the looting and burning in Suva city, farmers of Muaniweni and Dawasamu were terrorized, their crops and livestock destroyed or stolen to be taken to Parliament to feed a few thousand coup supporters gathered there.

Muaniweni residents fond themselves as refugees at Girmit Centre in Lautoka for more than a year after being promised overseas resettlement by supporters of the Fiji Human Rights Commission boss Shaista Shameem.

A refugee camp was also created at Valelawa on the outskirts of Labasa for cane farmers by the Fiji Labour Party and National Farmers Union. They were also promised overseas resettlement.

No one (except farmer Chandrika Prasad who successfully took legal action against the abrogation of the Constitution by army commander Frank Bainimarama) was re-settled abroad by those who lured them into refugee camps with such promises.

9th anniversary of 2000 coup - the hostages

At 10.45am on the morning of Friday, 19 May 2000, after one year in government, the democratically elected government was taken hostage in a coup d’├ętat led by a bald-headed man known as George Speight and six gunmen.

On that day Chaudhry and his supporters were celebrating their one year in office at Parliament. As Chaudhry cut the black forest cake, a protest march he allowed, started in the centre of Suva city.

Forty-six Members of Parliament including Chaudhry (plus his bodyguard Krishna Naidu and private secretary/son Rajendra Chaudhry)were held hostage at Parliament House by Speight, with the help of members of the elite but now disbanded Counter Revolutionary Warfare (CRW) Unit of the military.

Eighteen hostages, including Chaudhry, and his then co-deputy PM, Dr Tupeni Baba, were released after 56 days in captivity.

Nine of them, including the then Attorney-General, Anand Singh, were freed after 55 days.

Four hostages, all of them women, including Adi Koila Nailatikau, were released after 36 days. Adi Ema Tagicakibau was released after 14 days.

Two MPs were released after 4 days on medical grounds.

Nine MPs -including Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi - and Gaffar Ahmed plus bodyguard, Krishna Naidu, found freedom after only 36-40 hours in captivity.

Dass warns sugar industry will die

The general secretary of the Fiji Cane Growers Association has warned the sugar industry will collapse and die, unless alternative sources of funding is secured.

Bala Dass's comments follows the decision by the European Unin to cancel its 2009 allocation of $24 million Euro, or $70 million Fiji dollars, earmarked to assist cane farmers.

Dass blamed the interim regime, and Mahendra Chaudhry, the leader of the Fiji Labour Party, who is also the general secretary of the National Farmers Union, for the demise of cane farmers and the sugar industry.

"The EU decision is not a surprise because the 2008 allocation of more than $100 million was also cancelled. So far the cane farmers of Fiji have lost more than $170 million worth of assistance from the $350 million grant allocated by the EU to rehabilitate the sugar industry by improving sugarcane crop production ad increasing the yield to 4 million tonnes of cane."

"This valuable assistance for farmers was allocated to sustain their livelihood due to withdrawal of EU preferential price of sugar or subsidies from 2010," he said.

The EU has made it clear that the grant will not be re-instated unless and until those ruling Fiji fulfill the commitments made to EU in April 2007.

Dass said his Association fears that the cane farmers could be denied the entire $350 million grant as it could be taken up by another ACP sugar producing nation, given the fact that general elections will be held after more than 5 years.

"Whether or not the EU grant is available after the elections remains to be seen but it is a certainty that the sugar industry will collapse and die in 5 year’s time unless and until alternative sources of funding is secured by those in control."

"And this painful reality cannot be ignored by anyone, including those who have been in control of the Sugar Cane Growers Council since January 2007 and have been insisting that the EU grant was secure and there was no need to rush into elections."

Shameem's replacement to be announced soon

Fiji's Attorney General says a new chairperson for the Fiji Human Rights Commission and Ombusman will be appointed soon.

Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum says the appointments will be made when interim Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, returns next month from a three-week trip overseas.

Dr Shaista Shameem previously held both positions, but was sacked on April 10.

Commodroe Bainimarama is in Georgetown, Guyana, this week for the 11th Special African Caribbean Pacific ministerial conference on sugar.

Human rights commission stripped of powers

Fiji's interim regime has further reduced human rights in coup coup land.

In addition to the military and police being given powers to use force on anyone it deems is disturbing the peace, the President has now issued a Human Rights Commission Decree.

Under the Decree, the HR commission is not allowed to table any complaints relating to abrogation of the 1997 Constitution or investigate any decision by a court of law.

Under the Decree, the functions, powers and duties of the commission do not extend to receiving complaints against, or investigating, questioning or challenging, the legality or validity of the revocation of the 1997 constitution or other decrees made or as may be made by the President.

"Any proceedings of any form whatsoever, as well as any application of any form whatsoever in a proceeding, seeking to challenge the validity or legality of the Fiji Constitution Amendment Act 1997 Revocation Decree 2009 (Decree No.1) or any other Decrees made by the President from 10 April 2009 or as may be made by the President, shall wholly terminate immediately upon the commencement of this Decree, and a Certificate to that effect shall be issued by the Chief Registrar to all parties to the proceeding."

The decree also states that the functions of the Human Rights Commission is to educate the public about the nature and content of human rights, to promote and protect human rights and to make recommendations to the government about matters affecting compliance with human rights in Fiji.

Tongan PM says fresh approach needed for Fiji

The Prime Minister of Tonga says the Fiji interim regime will have to listen to the international community sooner or later if they are to move their country forward.

Feleti Sevele has told RNZI a fresh approach is needed by the region to engage with Fiji’s military government, following Fiji's suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum.

“Fiji needs the international community. Fiji needs the Forum... perhaps more than the Forum needs Fiji. But the Forum still needs Fiji. So let’s perhaps give it a pause, stand back... in time of course Fiji has got to listen to the international community. It’s a two-way affair.”

Fiji's 12 failed commitments to EU

In April 2007, a three member delegation of interim Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, the then Interim Foreign Affairs Minister, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, and the then Interim Finance and Sugar Industry Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, went to the EU headquarters in Brussels.

The interim regime, in consultation with the three senior interim ministers, agreed to the following commitments:

- Free and fair elections to be held within 24 months from March 2007, meaning elections are to be held by March 2009 subject to the findings of the assessment to be carried out by the independent auditors appointed by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

- Interim Regime to have consultations with the civil society and relevant stakeholders when adopting major legislative, fiscal and other policy initiatives.

- Interim Regime to use best endeavours to prevent statements by security agencies designed to intimidate.

- Interim Regime to uphold the Constitution and guarantee normal and independent functioning of Constitutional institutions such as the Fiji Human Rights Commission, Public Service Commission, Constitutional Offices Commission, as well as preserve the substantial independence and functioning of the Great Council of Chiefs.

- Interim Regime to fully respect the independence of the judiciary, appoint a Tribunal by 15th July 2007 to preside over the hearing of suspended Chief Justice Daniel Fatiaki, appointment and dismissal of judges to conform to Constitution, and no interference whatsoever by the military, police or the regime with the judicial process including full respect for the legal profession

- All criminal proceedings linked to corruption to be dealt with through appropriate judicial channels and that any other set up to investigate alleged cases of corruption should operate within constitutional boundaries.

- Interim Regime to ensure all cases of alleged human rights infringements are investigated and dealt with in accordance with the various procedures and forums under laws of Fiji.

- Interim Regime to lift the Public Emergency Regulations in May 2007 subject to any threats to national security, public order and safety.

- Freedom of expression and freedom of the media in all its forms are fully respected as provided in the Constitution.

- Interim Regime to maintain regular dialogue to allow verification of progress made and to give EU/EC authorities full access to information on all matters linked to human rights, peaceful restoration of democracy and the rule of law in Fiji.

- Interim Regime to cooperate fully with eventual missions from the EU and EC for assessment and monitoring progress.

- Interim Regime to send progress reports every three months starting 30th June 2007 regarding the essential elements of the Cotonou Agreement and the commitments.

Fiji media blocked from reporting on EU aid

Fiji TV, the Fiji Times and the Indian newspaper, Shanti Dut, were banned from reporting the cancellation of more than 70 million dollars of European Union aid to cane farmers.

The aid money was the allocation earmarked for 2009 to help cane farmers overcome declining sugar prices.

Many who subscribe to Fiji Television news headlines received a notification on their mobile phones saying the 6pm news would feature the EU story.

But the story failed to appear - the bulletin instead went with the appointment of Pita Wise as permanent secretary in the interim Prime Minister’s office as its lead.

We have been told the EU aid money story, was removed at the order of the Ministry of Information censors.

The Daily Post, Fijivillage and the government-owned Fiji Broadcasting Corporation were able to evade censors and run the story.

Multi-million dollars in EU aid lost overall

Apart from releasing $9 million dollars in 2007 for Sugar Adaptation Strategy, the EU has held back allocations for 2008 worth over $100 million and the $70 million for 2009.

In 2007, the then Head of Delegation of EU for Fiji and the Pacific, Dr Roberto Ridolfi, told a media conference that Fiji risked losing the entire $350 million aid to farmers to another other ACP nation, if elections were not held by March 2009.

The cane farmers have been the biggest losers as a result of the EU decision.

Cane farmers biggest losers of cancelled aid

Authorities in Fiji are playing down the loss of over $70 million dollars of aid money from the European Union. Fiji Sugar Cane Growers Council CEO Surendra Sharma has told RNZI that some of the money can still be salvaged and that interim prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, has told him that he will meet with the EU to try and get some of this aid money.

Coupfourpointfive has researched and found below excerpts of an article written last year, by Fiji Times columnist Kamal Iyer, which is a good backgrounder to the promises made to the European Union by Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry, who was then Sugar minister. Chaudhry had told media then, that the sugar industry would continue, with or without aid from the EU and alternative sources of aid would be sought.

Rapists of Democracy - by Kamal Iyer

Under Mr Chaudhry’s stewardship as sugar minister and as custodian of the State’s finances, the nation started plummeting towards the point of no return.

The debilitating sickness in the sugar industry is the most painful example of Mr Chaudhry’s treachery. Three months before the 4th coup, the European Union had allocated a grant of $350 million to rehabilitate the sugar industry on the face of a 36 percent reduction in the price of EU preferential price of sugar over a period of four years from 2006 to 2010. Mr Chaudhry knew too well that any political upheaval, be it a coup or unconstitutional act, would be catastrophic for the cane farmers. Despite this he supported those who raped democracy and continues to sympathise with them through his utterances.

The FLP leader is reported as saying the interim regime should either fulfill the demands of the EU (that is to hold elections by March 2009) or foot the bill of the industry’s reform process. “If funding is not provided and elections are delayed further, the sugar industry would definitely be under threat”, Mr Chaudhry is quoted as saying in The Fiji Times.

On October 4, 2007, Fiji Television’s One National News reported Mr Chaudhry as saying that the restructure of the sugar industry would go ahead with or without funding from the EU.

“We are not going to wait for assistance to come. If it comes fine, if it doesn’t come we have to move on and get it done ourselves”, he said.

On page 38 of his 2008 Budget address delivered on November 23, 2007, Mr Chaudhry, while allocating a paltry sum of $5 million to the sugar industry (the EU would had allocated more than $100 million for 2008), said, “In the event that the funding from the European Union is delayed, government will seek alternative sources”.

Does Mr Chaudhry think that all farmers are fools and do not realise that he too has been a barricade against returning Fiji to democracy and release of the EU funds vital to resuscitate the industry and improve farmers’ livelihood?

Link to full article - http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=108181

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fiji loses $70 million aid from EU

The European Commission has released a statement saying it's decided to cancel the 2009 sugar allocation for Fiji, in the absence of any indication that a legitimate government will be in place in 2009.

Fiji's allocation for sugar reform accompanying measures for 2009 totalled 70 million Fijian dollars.

The Commission would have made this financing available to Fiji subject to a legitimate government being in place in accordance with EU Council decision of 1 October 2007.

European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, says Fiji will be entitled the money when a democratic government is elected.

"I encourage the Government of Fiji to fulfil its commitments to the EU so that we are able to reinstate sugar reform payments in the future."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Suva council administrator to be investigated

Suva City Council's special administrator, Vijendra Prakash, is being investigated for malpractice and abuse of office.

This follows a letter of complaint from the advertising agnecy, GO Advertising, to the current acting interim Prime Minister, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, on Wednesday May the 13th about certain dealings by Prakash.

Prakash, a school teacher by profession, was appointed Administrator for Suva City and Lami Town Councils three months ago, after all 12 municipal councils were dissolved by interim Local Government Minister, Filipe Bole.

Prakash is the general secretary of Sanatan Dharam Sabha of Fiji, which has actively supported the interim regime since the December 2006 coup. Sabha President Dewan Chand Maharaj was a member of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji (NCBF) that compiled the People’s Charter.

We have obtained a copy of the letters from GO Advertising and from Ratu Epeli as well to Filipe Bole.

The letter to Bole states:

13th May, 2009

Mr Filipe Bole
(interim) Minister for Education & Local Government

Dear Filipe,


I am forwarding to you a letter from “GO ADVERTISING” on an issue that they came to see us about early this year.

I gather from the letter that the matter has remained “unresolved” and one of the reasons stated therein is that the special Administrator Suva has vested interest in the issue.

There are some very serious allegation made in the letter which in my view warrants immediate investigation. However, as it would be premature at this stage to involve the Police or FICAC, it would be appreciated if your Ministry could conduct preliminary investigations to ascertain facts pertaining to these allegations and the results forwarded to my office at the earliest for further action.

Furthermore, I think we need to resolve this issue once and for all, and it may be prudent to appoint an independent person, to facilitate discussion between “GO ADVERTISING” and Suva City Council and ensure that all statutory requirements are complete with and issue resolved amicably between the two parties at the earliest.

With warm personal regards,

[E G Ganilau]

See Go Advertising letter of complaint under leaked documents on right side of this blog