#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2009-09-20

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bainimarama meets Commonwealth head in New York

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma met with Fiji's Interim Prime Minister Bainimarama in New York today.

The meeting took place in the margins of the 64th session of the UN General Assembly, and in advance of the meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group to be held in New York tommorrow.

The Secretary-General stressed that the Interim Government’s plans to wait another three years before re-starting a national dialogue on Fiji’s future, and five years before the holding of elections, could not be supported by the Commonwealth.

Kamalesh Sharma said such a timeframe carried no credibility with the international community.

He urged Bainimarama to demonstrate his willingness to resume a fully inclusive political dialogue process.

Sharma reiterated that the Commonwealth stood ready to support such a process.

He also raised the concern of Commonwealth members about the human rights situation in Fiji, and urged the Interim Government to rescind the Public Emergency Regulation presently in force.

The Secretary-General said that the Commonwealth remained open to re-engaging with the Interim Government of Fiji on the basis of Commonwealth principles.

The Commonwealth's Special Representative for Fiji, Sir Paul Reeves, visited Fiji from 8-11 September.

Fiji was fully suspended from the Commonwealth on September 1, 2009.

Dorsami Naidu defeats Chaudhry and Vuataki

Suva based lawyer Rajendra Pal Chaudhry and Kitione Vuataki have suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of veteran lawyer Dorsami Naidu for the Presidency of the Fiji Law Society.

The Society had 375 members before its powers and functions of being a regulatory authority was stripped by the dictatorship regime in May following the abrogation of the Constitution.

Sources have confirmed that Rajendra Chaudhy received only 22 votes while Vuataki fared only slightly better with 27 votes.

R P Chaudhry had launched a vigorous campaign to snatch the leadership of the Society and had given media interviews, circulated his manifesto to lawyers via e-mail and also personally campaigned amongst lawyers.

He was banking on majority support after his nomination was signed by senior lawyers Hemendra Nagin and Subhash Parshottam of Suva.

Kitione Vuataki had hoped for support amongst Fijian lawyers who make up more than half of the Law Society's membership.

Regime sympathisers, Ba based lawyer Adish Narayan and former Society President Chen Bunn Young had vigorously campaigned for support for Vuataki, according to sources.

But Dorsami Naidu received considerable support from Fijian lawyers and he attributed this to his principled stand against the interim regime.

The Annual General Meeting of the Society had to be called off after police cancelled a permit that it had issued to the Society.

But voting went ahead for electing office bearers for the ensuing year.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fiji UN peacekeepers to get the chop

The New Zealand Herald has reported that United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has told NZ Prime Minister John Key that some reduction will occur in numbers of Fiji troops engaged as peacekeepers.

Key met Ban Ki Moon in New York during the 64th General Assembly of the UN that finished today.

Frank Bainimarama has also traveled to New York to deliver his 3rd address before the UN General Assembly.

According to the NZ Herald, Key raised the issue of the UN using Fiji troops as peacekeepers saying New Zealand was opposed to this UN policy.

In the past few weeks Bainimarama has been frustrated when asked to comment on Australia and New Zealand's move to lobby the UN to cut Fiji troops serving on peacekeeping duties.

He has told both Fiji and overseas journalists that John Key and Australian PM Kevin Rudd should first think if reducing Fiji troops would help the Maoris and Aborigines.

Further suffering ahead for cane farmers

The extension of the European Union's sanctions on Fiji is a death knell for cane farmers and the sugar industry.

The EU has extended its sanctions for another six months to March 2010.

Cane farmers have already lost $172 million in direct financial assistance to boost their cane crop.

The EU had earmarked $350 million for assistance to farmers to boost their crop so that the effects of EU preferential price reduction is minimal.

But the farmers are now missing a golden opportunity to cultivate more cane because the price of sugar on the world market is the highest ever, fetching as much as US$2000 a tonne.

Unstable island

Military rulers, by definition, are a law unto themselves. Some political nuances may, however, come into play in some cases and on some occasions. Josaia Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama, Fiji’s coup master of several years’ standing, sought to prove this in early September when his country was “fully suspended” from the Commonwealth.

The severe action, announced on September 1, followed his refusal to heed the multilateral forum’s ultimatum for democracy-restoring general elections. Within days of the Commonwealth slamming the door on Bainimarama’s face, he played host to a special envoy from the very same organisation. Not only that. On September 10, the two sides even agreed to keep a dialogue going.

The political nuances of a coup master’s wilful governance cannot be missed in this high drama. Yet, the possibility of a continued engagement between him and the Commonwealth does not cast the organisation in some negative light. The bottom line is that Fiji remains on the Commonwealth’s roll, however estranged as of now.

Commodore Bainimarama seized power in December 2006. Reinforcing the international condemnation of his coup, the Commonwealth and the United Nations facilitated a process of “political dialogue” inside Fiji for elections there by October 2010 to restore civilian rule.

However, the denouement of Fiji ’s “full suspension” from just the Commonwealth, not to be confused with an earlier form of suspension, occurred as Bainimarama would have nothing to do with such a timeline for restoring democracy in his country. His current political tune is a stated intention to restore parliamentary democracy by and not before 2014.

Announcing the “full suspension”, Kamalesh Sharma, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, emphasised the need for “credible elections” in Fiji by October 2010. For that to happen, he said, the Commonwealth had already sought to facilitate a process within Fiji “in a manner that was independent, inclusive, time-bound and without any predetermined outcome”. Although unstated, the Commonwealth’s objective ab initio was Fiji ’s return to democracy without any predetermined outcome as to who the new civilian leader should be.

Bainimarama hosted the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Special Representative for talks even after Fiji ’s “full suspension”. As this is written, the visit of Sir Paul Reeves, the Special Representative, to the Fijian capital, Suva , on September 10 and 11, did not alter the fundamental ground realities. Nonetheless, both sides agreed to “remain in discussions” on the path towards restoration of democracy in the South Pacific state.

Such political nuances may, on occasions, seem like the silver lining of self-willed military rule. On a different plane, juntas are also known to try and sustain themselves in power through a “strategic” engagement with external powers. International critics of the Myanmar junta have often accused it of capitalising on the individual “strategic” interests of China and India . This does not, of course, imply a coordinated or competitive agenda on the part of India and China to sustain the Myanmar junta in power. The relevant issue is one of the junta itself seeking to “exploit” the regional interests of these two external powers.

Unlike in the case of Myanmar , ethnic Indians remain a critical factor in the politics and economy in Fiji . As a result, a military ruler of the native Fijian stock, as Bainimarama is, cannot easily play the so-called India card of “exploiting” such “strategic” or other interests as New Delhi might have in the South Pacific region. Unsurprisingly, therefore, China is on his radar screen as a friend of Fiji .

Bainimarama’s critics, including some international human rights groups, have already sought to blame Beijing for extending to him a lifeline, as it were. Such criticism became particularly shrill after the Commonwealth announced Fiji ’s “full suspension”. Some other observers, however, see China as doing no more than keeping its presence felt as a “rising economic and political power” in its extended neighbourhood – the South Pacific region.

Welcoming a Chinese business delegation in August, Bainimarama said: “ Fiji was the first Pacific island country to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China , in 1975. Since then our relationship has been nurtured not only through diplomacy but also through our growing ties in the areas of military training, trade, finance, infrastructure development and [other] economic initiatives.”

Bainimarama’s moves to play the China and Commonwealth cards of different complexions on two different fronts do not alter the basics in Fiji ’s politics. Fiji is no stranger to “governments” by coup masters; and the country’s ethnic divide, itself a cause of some military interventions, remains unbridged.

After toppling the elected government of Laisenia Qarase in December 2006, Bainimarama declared that the primary purpose of his coup d’etat was to bridge Fiji ’s ethnic divide. The country was promptly suspended from the “Councils of the Commonwealth”. It was not a “full suspension” as now imposed; but the 2006 move was no less linked to the Commonwealth’s general principle of civilian rule in member-states.

However, Bainimarama’s defence of his 2006 coup, in reality his second decisive intervention as a military leader, was seen by Fiji ’s ethnic Indian leaders in a somewhat different light. Mahendra Chaudhry , Fiji ’s first-ever elected Prime Minister from the ethnic Indian stream, decided to cast his political lot with Bainimarama and assumed office as Interim Finance Minister in January 2007.

Chaudhry stayed in that position until August 2008, when he resigned on the stated grounds of preparing himself for the democracy-restoring elections that the commodore had promised.

As widely seen within and outside Fiji , Chaudhry was guided by some realpolitik considerations when he sided with Bainimarama following his 2006 coup.

For the Fijian Indian leader, the coup master’s promise of a fair deal for ethnic Indians was something that could not just be trashed as an altogether vacuous pledge. The relevant reasoning was complex. Chaudhry knew that his own election as Prime Minister in 1999 produced a virulent backlash. Hardly a year later, George Speight took Chaudhry hostage in a move that came to be seen as a civilian coup of sorts in the name of “protecting the interests of the native Fijian majority”. The hostage drama ended only after Bainimarama flexed his military muscle in a manner that stopped Speight in his tracks as a political adventurist.

Against that background, Chaudhry chose Bainimarama for company in 2006. There was another reason too. Qarase, who came on the scene as the civilian ruler after the Speight-Bainimarama interlude at the turn of the 21st century, was reckoned to have left the ethnic divide largely unbridged. Finally, when Chaudhry parted ways with Bainimarama in August 2008, their versions about the cause varied. But, their competing political ambitions could hardly guarantee a long-term handshake across the civilian-military divide.

The politics of personality apart, Bainimarama is widely seen to have played a classical coup master in April this year by abrogating the Constitution, as it existed. Now, with Fiji ’s civilian leaders having failed to unseat the military ruler, by political or legal means, the focus has shifted to the role of external powers, in particular Australia , as a big neighbour, and the wider Commonwealth.

And the mounting allegations of human rights abuses in Fiji , not just its lack of democratic governance, are coming increasingly into focus - P.S. SURYANARAYANA Frontline magazine India

EU extends sanctions

The European Union has extended sanctions against Fiji for another six months, in order to press its military leadership to address human rights abuses and restore democracy.

A decision by Fiji's military-led government to delay elections and "further regressive developments" are violations of "key commitments" the country made to the European Union two years ago, the 27-nation bloc said.

The decision means about NZ$62.48 million in development aid will remain frozen as well as commitments of NZ$235 million in EU funds to restructure Fiji's ailing sugar industry. The measures were introduced in 2007.

Fiji has been under military rule since self-appointed Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, the country's armed forces chief, seized power in a 2006 coup. His government had promised elections earlier this year - Stuff

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mill produces only 300kg of sugar

The Penang Sugar Mill in Rakiraki has produced only 300 kilograms of sugar from a minimum of 640 tonnes of cane on a single day last week, it has been revealed.

Sources say this was the amount of sugar extracted from 80 loads of cane delivered by lorries to the mill. They say if each lorry was carting a minimum average of 8 tonnes of cane , then the total amount of cane delivered and crushed by the mill would be 640 tonnes.

According to sources, even if the mill used 10 tonnes of cane to make one tonne of sugar, it should have produced 64 tonnes of sugar.

But sources have established only 6 bags of sugar totaling 300kg were produced. Each bag's weight is 50 kg.

Meanwhile the Penang Mill's forecast total crop for 2009 has been reduced from 228,000 tonnes to a meagre 174,000 tonnes, the lowest crop in recent memory.

Sources say this is a further sign of the state of decline and decay of Fiji's sugar industry since the military backed regime came into power following the December 2006 coup.

Reserves balloon to $1 billion

Fiji's foreign eserves have ballooned to $1 billion and this is being hailed as a milestone by the Reserve Bank Governor Sada Reddy.

Reddy says $1 billion is sufficient to cover 3-4 months of imports.

He says the reserves have escalated to $1 billion because of devaluation and declining imports.

The interim regime's acting Finance Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says this announcement will bring confidence into the financial sector and the saving is a result of what he terms as the regime's prudent financial management and discipline.

Censors suppress corruption news against regime appointee

Censors from Fiji's Ministry of Information have ordered the media to not report details of a Fiji Islands Revenue & Customs Authority manager facing corruption charges.

This is despite the fact that the FIRCA manager was charged by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC).

Vimal Krishna was charged by FICAC for allegedly conspiring with another officer to defraud FIRCA of $10,000. He was charged with conspiracy to commit felony and abuse of office.

A press release posted on FIRCA website stated the details of the case and Krishna's appearance in the Suva Magistrates Court on Monday.

But the local media had no mention of the story and sources have told us just like the arrest of Nasinu Town Council Administrator Meli Bogileka for drink driving was not reported upon the directive of the censors, this alleged fraud news was censored also by the interim regime.

Coupfourpointfive has been told the Information Ministry headed by Permanent Secretary Neumi Leweni forgets that the FIRCA website contains press releases containing details about those facing alleged corruption charges.

Sources say the action by the censors is a clear signal that any alleged corruption unearthed by the regime's own organisation FICAC - widely hailed as the regime's pride - against any officer of the regime will be suppressed under censorship as a result of Public Emergency Regulations.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

'It's not paradise anymore'

Watering the tree of military dictatorship in Fiji: It's not paradise anymore

By Margaret Smith

(Buzz Flash Blog/Pacific Media Watch): Close your eyes for a moment and imagine yourself in a tropical paradise. You're in the middle of the rainforest and everything is the perfect shade of green, the kind of color that you can't find in a crayon box.

Ferns plants and leaves completely surround you, dotted with the occasional bright pinks and purples of exotic flowers. And through the forest bubbles a clear blue river, weaving itself in and out of the trees.

Fiji Water Now take that image, put it in a rectangular bottle and think again. What do you get?

For the past 14 years Fiji Water has been banking off the image that their product is the cleanest and healthiest water you can find, made in the middle of paradise.

"Far from pollution. Far from acid rain. Far from industrial waste. There's no question about it: Fiji is far away," their website boasts.

As of late, however, this same image seems to be falling down all around them. Earlier this month, Fiji's military-led government was suspended from the Commonwealth, an intergovernmental organization made up of fifty-three independent member-states, most of them former colonies of the British Empire. The organisation said it was forced to act after Fiji continually refused to meet their demands to restore democracy within the country and resume dialogue with opposition groups.

"This is an announcement I make with deep regret -- it is a step the Commonwealth is now obliged to take, and one that it takes in sorrow," Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said in a statement.

Their move gets to the heart of the country's current governmental crisis, one that has been grossly under-reported by the American media and easily obscured by branding from companies such as Fiji Water.

Fiji has been on a downward spiral for a while, now. The country has been under military rule since December of 2006, when Fiji's armed forces chief Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, also known as Frank Bainimarama, seized power in a military coup and placed former President Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu Uluivudu, also known as Josefa Iloilo, in power.

Shortly afterwards, President Iloilo named Bainimarama the Prime Minister of Fiji. Early this April however, Fiji's Court of Appeals declared Bainimarama's takeover -- as well as the current interim government -- illegal, and asked the government to appoint a "distinguished person" to act as caretaker prime minister and help with the country's parliamentary elections. They also stated that this person should not be Bainimarama.

The response? President Iloilo suspended the country's constitution, abolished all constitutional positions and dismissed all of the judges on the Court of Appeals. He also reinstated Bainimarama as Fiji's Prime Minister and effectively delayed democratic elections until 2014 in order to give the country enough time to put in place the necessary reforms. Bainimarama has said he hopes to have a new constitution by 2013.

"I have decided that we must once and for all and in a decisive manner, map out a smooth path to hold parliamentary elections based on the electoral reforms as set out under the Charter," Iloilo said in a presidential address on April 10.

"You will agree that this is the best way forward for our beloved Fiji. It not only gives certainty but provides stability and the opportunity to carry out reforms that are crucial before true democratic elections can be held."

Iloilo stepped down from office in late July, and his Vice President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, is now acting president of Fiji.

Fiji's recent suspension from the Commonwealth, as well as being expelled from the Pacific Islands Forum in July, has once again brought these issues back into the public eye.

For some, at least.

The American media, by contrast, isn't anywhere to be found. No significant reporting has been done on Fiji on any of the major news outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, Fox News or The New York Times, even as cries of human rights violations are heard around the globe.

An Amnesty International report recently chronicled the country's human rights record since Fiji abrogated their constitution in April. The report, titled Fiji: Paradise Lost, found that so far the government has arrested 40 people, including lawyers, opposition politicians, Methodist Church leaders and 20 journalists. While all of them have been subsequently released, these short-term arrests are seen as intimidation tactics used to suppress freedom of speech within the country.

"Security forces in Fiji have become increasingly menacing towards people who oppose the regime, including journalists and human rights defenders," said Apolosi Bose, Amnesty International's Pacific researcher and the report's author and main researcher.

"Fiji is now caught in a downward spiral of human rights violations and repression. Only concerted international pressure can break this cycle."

The government doesn't seem to have any intention of backing down anytime soon, however.

"These [international responses] are sacrifices that have to be faced, in order to achieve what we've set out to do," Defense Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau told Radio New Zealand International about two weeks ago, when he was acting as Prime Minister while Commodore Bainimarama was on a state visit abroad.

The government has received some support within the country, as well. Some Fiji-born bloggers say that these steps are necessary in order to get the country to stand on its own, while others say the situation needs to be put in historical context, and that the Amnesty International report does not offer a fair and balanced viewpoint.

Fiji and its fragile government are falling apart, while in the meantime most Americans remain out of the loop, sipping the water of paradise.

Bainimarama to address UN

Pacific Beat, Radio Australia

Fiji's military leader and interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, is preparing to address the United Nation's general assembly on future democratic elections in his country. He says it is his country's one chance to get it right, and says Fiji is being bullied by Australia and New Zealand


IBA Comments 'Disappointing'

SUVA (Radio Fiji/Pacific Media Watch): The Fiji government has expressed disappointment with the International Bar Association and labelled its latest media comment as blinkered and one dimensional.

The attorney-general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, made the comment in response to a comment from the IBA president that the international community should continue to put pressure on Fiji to return to democratic rule.

Sayed-Khaiyum says such remarks from the IBA president were paradoxical because on the one hand while he was claiming to be adhering to basic principle of justice, he had already prejudged Fiji’s situation without genuinely making an effort to hear from all parties in a transparent and unprejudiced manner.

The Attorney-General added that the IBA continued to misunderstand Fiji’s situation and said its report was deeply biased, lacking in depth, riddled with half truths and spin obtained from a few disgruntled lawyers locally and abroad.

He said it was wrong for the IBA to compare Fiji to Zimbabwe and urged it to take its cue from LawAsia.


Australian lawyers criticise lack of rule of law in Fiji

The President of the Australian Bar Association, Tom Bathurst, says the rule of law is under threat in Fiji because the government is ignoring legal rulings. The coup-installed interim government of commodore Frank Bainimarama recently issued a certificate terminating a Court of Appeal ruling that the regime is illegal. Mr Bathurst tells me the Australian Bar Association decided to criticise the Fiji government publicly because without an independent judiciary, the country risks a breakdown in the concept of rule of law, and this could lead to human rights abuses.

Radio Australia's Bruce Hill interviews the president of the Australian Bar Association, Tom Bathurst.

BATHURST: What triggered the press release was the information that we heard that the government was taking on itself to unilaterally overturn appeal decisions and other judicial decisions regularly made. The danger in that is of course that one of the balances on both the executive and the legislature is the judiciary upholding the law as it stands.
HILL: Well what was it that the government did in particular that you regard as being an indicator that the rule of law is under threat in Fiji?
BATHURST: Well the recent Court of Appeals decisions as to the constitutionality of the present administration.
HILL: The Fiji government, in particular the Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khayum, has criticised the Australian Bar Association for saying that, they're saying that you pre-judged the situation and didn't even consult with the government?
BATHURST: We didn't consult with the government; the government's shown that it hasn't really been consulting anybody in relation to its own decisions. But when this question of pre-judgement, on the fact of it we don't see any justification for overruling decisions of this nature, and certainly none's been proffered.
HILL: Is this a technical legal question or is this something a bit broader and deeper?
BATHURST: No we don't regard it as a technical legal matter. Take for example this country there is a constitution and the legislature and the executive are obliged to act within its constraints. If they don't the court is there to declare acts invalid. One can only imagine the outcry if the court having done so the legislature or the executive simply, well the executive more accurately simply say well we're going to just repeal that decision. And it's exactly the same position as in Fiji. It's not just a question of passing amending legislation to overcome a problem in the future, it's ignoring the constitutional constraints and ignoring past acts which wouldn't have been lawful under the existing constitution.
HILL: What could the potential consequences for Fiji be if this continues to be the path they go down?
BATHURST: Well the potential consequences that the government feels that it's unable to act with any of the existing legislative and constitutional restraints. It means in effect that the government doesn't act under what's generally called the rule of law, which people are entitled to namely that the government will act in accordance with the law of the country today as interpreted by the courts. I'm not suggesting for the moment there's been a total breakdown in law and order in Fiji, let me make that clear, but what I'm saying is this type of conduct can have the tendency in the long term will lead to that. The first thing dictators have often done is to abolish or take control of the legal system, and we've seen that consequence in a number of countries.
HILL: There are several lawyers from Australia and New Zealand practicing in Fiji and even taking up positions with the government. Do you think that they should think again before being involved in the Fiji government's legal activities?
BATHURST: Before the recent events I urged caution against people taking up judicial posts in Fiji, that's by and large now become academic. I don't suggest Australian lawyers shouldn't be involved there if only because to keep the legal system or to assist in the maintenance of the legal system. But I think they should be very careful taking judicial appointments in these circumstances.

Pacific Beat, Radio Australia

Bainimarama lectures businessmen

The interim regime's prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, lectured business tycoons attending the post 2010 Budget private and public sector consultative forum last week.

Bainimarama told the businessmen they should support the regime at all times. Radio Legend reports the army commander accused some businessmen of being at the forum to lobby for concessions.

He said after failing to secure concessions, businessmen went to support political parties like SDL, NFP and FLP.

Bainimarama was not specific on whether the tycoons should be loyal to Fiji or to the regime.

Sources say following last year's High Court of Fiji ruling in October, that stated the December 2006 coup was legitimate, business tycoons organised a celebratory function for Bainimarama and other senior military and regime bigwigs.

According to sources, before Bainimarama and his puppets arrived at the function, businessmen were concerned the judgment was bad for Fiji.

But sources say as soon as they saw Bainimarama arrive, they proclaimed they were just talking about the High Court decision describing it as a great judgment and Bainimarama responded, "Lets celebrate".

Sources say the behaviour of certain business tycoons in Fiji is similar to those in Uganda who were backing rhe Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin. It's well documented the businessmen were forced to flee Uganda after Amin and his troops turned against them.

EU firm on Fiji

The European Union has not decided to extend its consultations with Fiji's interim regime for another six months until March 2010 as reported by Fiji Television last week and hailed as the regime's acceptance by the Information Permanent Secretary Neumi Leweni.

Under the EU's previous decisions, the regime must by the end of October this year, adhere to most commitments made to the EU in April 2007, as well as agree to the Forum and Commonwealth timetable for elections by October 2010.

The October 2010 timetable has been flatly rejected by the regime with leader Frank Bainimarama insisting that financial and economic reforms will be pursued by his regime in the next three years with work on a new Constitution starting in September 2012.

Sources have confirmed to Coupfourpointfive the contents of the letter reported on Fiji TV last week was a draft letter sent to EU Member States on what the EU should do about Fiji.

The letter contains two proposals, including whether to extend the deadline beyond October or remain steadfast to the deadline, which would mean Fiji forfeiting the entire $350 million assistance earmarked for the ailing sugar industry.

According to the sources, a decision on the matter will only be made by the EU after the expiry of the October deadline. They say as it stands, and in accordance with the official EU position, Fiji stands to lose the entire package. So far $172 million in financial assistance has not been released by the EU.

Sources say the regime is succeeding in spreading mis-information because of is stranglehold on the media through censorship.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Police crusade ropes in civil service

The Public Service Commission is unaware that civil servants from various departments will be part of a nationwide Police Christian Crusade next month.

Both PSC Chairman Josefa Serulagilagi and Permanent Secretary Parmesh Chand say they have not been informed of the above plan by Police.

Police Deputy Director of Operations Irami Raibe says The Navy, Education Ministry, Youth & Sports Ministry and the Prisons Service will join the Police Force next month to target youth involved in criminal activities.

Sources say this is further proof of the New Methodist Church, which is behind the Crusade, infiltrating the civil service.

The Church is headed by Atu Vulaono whose elder brother Esala Teleni is Police Commissioner.

Bainimarama in New York for UN meet

Fiji's dictator Frank Bainimarama has left the country to attend the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, says Radio Fiji.

According to the state owned station, Bainimarama will address the world leaders on the roadmap to democracy announced in his Strategic Framework for Change in July.

Sources say it will be interesting to see what Bainimarama tells the UN this time,
as circumstances in Fiji have changed compared to an year ago when he addressed the Assembly on 27th September 2008.

In his address last September Bainimarama said his regime was adhering to the Constitution because they recognized it was the supreme law of Fiji. He told the UN about the People's Charter, President's Political Dialogue Forum and requested for assistance from he international community to help Fiji move quickly towards what "genuine democracy".

He told the Assembly proposals in the Peoples Charter like electoral reform would be adopted after achieving broad consensus and the reforms adopted in accordance with the Constitution legally.

He had stated that as a result of adopting reforms, elections could not be held in March 2009 but the regime still believed it must be held as soon as practicably possible.

He is expected to tell world leaders at the UN elections will now be held in September 2014 with work on a new Constitution starting in September 2012 and expected to be completed in an year.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

NFU pleads for support from farmers

Sources say the National Farmers Union, the political arm of the Fiji Labour Party has been visiting cane farming areas pleading to farmers for support.

They say that former Labour Members of Parliament are telling farmers that it is very important to save the Sugar Cane Growers Council.

The Growers Council, which has been the umbrella body of farmers for the last 24 years, has been scrapped by the interim regime.

But sources say most farmers are not convinced by NFU's tactics and blame the NFU
for the demise of the Council that was under their control since the 2006 coup.

Cane farmers have been the backbone of Chaudhry's support for the last 10 years but sources say this is now fast waning.

We have been reliably informed that Mahendra Chaudhry is sending his men to gauge support before he decides to orchestrate a sugarcane harvest boycott next year.

80 percent of taxpayer money for salaries

Fiji's Permanent Secretary for Finance John Prasad has told a pre-2010 Budget private and public sector consultative forum that up until August 2009, the interim regime used $872 million in revenue that it collected this year.

Of this amount, $750 million was used for operational expenditure like salaries and wages and $122 million on capital works like improving infrastructure.

This means that a massive 86% of taxpayer dollars were used to pay salaries and wages of public servants including the interim regime's leaders and to meet other operational needs of a State.

Only 14% has been used for capital works to benefit the taxpayers.

The increase in operational expenditure comes despite the regime saying it had saved millions of dollars after the forcible retirement of 4000 civil servants since April.

Meanwhile sources say the roads continue to deteriorate, water cuts have become more frequent and inflation continues to rise.

Regime replies to Fiji Times letter to the editor

An official of Fiji's interim regime has reacted to a letter to the editor that appeared in the Fiji Times on Thursday by issuing a statement.

It was in response to a letter written by a Nileshni Devi of Nasinu.

In her letter, Devi expressed concern about the un-harvested crop in Olosara Sector in Sigatoka from where cane farmers have been supplying cane to the Lautoka sugar mill for decades.

Titled "Cane idle in the fields", Devi lamented the fact that farmers were destroying their crop after being left to fend for themselves after the Fiji Sugar Corporation shut down the tram line claiming poor cane production and the Sugar Industry Tribunal ruled that the farmers deliver their crop to the mill by lorry transport.

Fiji Television reported last month that some farmers had started destroying their crop by burning entire fields because most of their farms are inaccessible to lorries.

The Permanent Secretary for Sugar, Parmesh Chand, responded to the letter by sending a statement through the Department of Information.

In the statement he blamed the destruction of the old Sigatoka bridge that carried the tramline for the Tribunal's ruling that farmers are to cart cane on lorries.

He advised farmers to get ready to harvest their crop this season and diversify to non-cane from next year.

Meanwhile the Fiji Cane Growers Association has revealed that it wrote to Parmesh Chand in July outlining the predicament facing farmers.

Association general secretary Bala Dass has issued a statement in response to a comment from the FSC that Olosara farmers stand to lose $1.4 million due to non-harvesting of their crop.

In his statement, Dass enclosed the submission that he delivered to Chand outlining FSC's conractual obligations as the miller to receive all cane and submitted solutions including fairly compensating farmers in the event the crop is not harvested.

Read full submission from the Fiji Cane Growers Association - http://www.mediafire.com/?nimr21jgijj