#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2009-09-27

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Telecom terminates Johns and Lyons

Connect Fiji Limited boss Sharon Smith Johns has been terminated by Telecom Fiji Ltd.

Connect, an internet provider, is a subsidiary of Telecom Fiji Ltd (TFL).

Coupfourpointfive has been told that along with Johns, TFL's General Manager Marketing Ian Lyons has also been terminated.

According to sources, both positions are to be filled by locals as Johns and Lyons are expatriates.

Sources say that five days ago Sharon Johns went to Queen Elizabeth Barracks to meet with senior military officers to get her termination rescinded.

When Frank Bainimarama's return to the country from New York last week, TFL management visited and briefed him on the reason to remove expatriates and appoint locals.

Johns has been an active supporter of Frank Bainimarama's interim government since the December 2006 coup.

She was also appointed Chairman of Fiji Audio Visual Commission.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

SCC Administrator given the boot

Coupfourpointfive can confirm that the Administrator of Suva City Council, Vijendra Prakash, has been terminated from his position by the recently appointed interim minister for Local Government, Colonel Samuela Saumatua.

SCC's Director Human Resources, Joe Turagasau Hewson, is also to be sacked. Hewson was hired at the insistence of Prakash in June despite his full knowledge that Hewson faced fraud charges.

Hewson was yesterday convicted of fraudulently converting more than $24,000 earmarked as a grant to a Northern Division School, for his personal use as Divisional Education Officer Northern in 2001.

He was given a suspended jail sentence by the Labasa Magistrates Court.

In May, Coupfourpointfive published reports of nepotism and cronysim being promoted by Prakash at SCC. In June, we showed documented evidence of Prakash recommending the appointment of Hewson based on a character reference from Permanent Secretary for Local Government, Ram Chandar.

Chandar and Prakash are cousins.

Before being appointed Administrator of Suva City and Lami Town Councils in January, following the dissolution of the Councils, Prakash was a Head of Department at the Fiji College of Advanced Education - a tertiatary institution.

Sources have confirmed that a SCC meeting scheduled at the Council at 3pm yesterday to be chaired by Prakash, had to be cancelled.

Prakash is the general secretary of Sanatan Dharam Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, the largest Hindu religious organisation in the country.

The organisation actively supported the coup of December 2006 and apart from Prakash, its President Dewan Maharaj was a member of National Council for Building a Better Fiji, the group that drew up the Peoples Charter.

Fiji TV operations uninterrupted

Contrary to a report on Raw Fiji News, the premises of Fiji Television have not been raided by either the military or police in the past two days.

It was reported that soldiers had raided the premises to confiscate a documentleaked to Fiji TV on Tuesday.

Our sources have confirmed that no such raid ever took place. Operations at Fiji TV have been normal the last few days.

Bainimarama points fingers at power brokers

In his address to the 64th General Assembly of the United Nations last weekend, coup leader and military dictator Frank Bainimarama claimed that during Fiji's post colonial period (ie since 1970), the old elite attached to previous government destablized the new government to replace the old government.

Bainmarama claimed the old elite benefited financially from the previous establishment government that had lost.

Coupfourpointfive has been told that Bainimarama has pointed the finger at parties who lost power or elections for fully backing military coups.

We have been told that those who support Bainimarama should accept that according to the dictator:

a) Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and his Alliance Party, which ruled Fiji for 17 years until 1987, destabilized Dr Timoci Bavadra's NFP/FLP Coalition Government in May 1987 after losing the general elections tha year.
b) Sitiveni Rabuka and his successor as SVT leader Ratu Inoke Kubuabola Iwho is part of the current regime), backed George Speight's coup. It also means Bainimarama supported the coup when he abrogated the Constitution and failed to return Mahendra Chaudhry and Labour Party to power after his government as toppled by George Speight.
c) In December 2006, Mahendra Chaudhry who had lost the elections to Laisenia Qarase and SDL, as well as Ratu Epeli Ganilau - who were backed by the military, destabilized Qarase's government by using Bainimarama to carry out the coup.

Sources say this interpretation is logical and factual, based on Bainimarama's claims to the UN. They say it is for those linked to the leaders implicated by Bainimarama to challewnge the validity of his statement.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

FDFM reacts to Bainimarama speech

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Fiji’s illegal interim prime minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, has once again demonstrated his lack of understanding of what is acceptable or unacceptable to normal, law abiding, civilised societies of the Free World.

Commodore Bainimarama should understand that the Free World totally abhor the actions of aspiring dictators like him that go and overthrow democratically elected governments. He must therefore not expect the Free World to cosy up to him after what he has done.

Bainimarama sounds like a desperate man when he has to resort to the outrageous claims that he had to overthrew the SDL Party-Fiji Labour Party Coalition Government because politicians with links to terrorists were threatening the people of Fiji. The only people threatening the people of Fiji with terror techniques are his very own soldiers who come in the night and take people up to the barracks to torture and beat or even kill like Verebasaga and 19 year old Rabaka.

His constant use of the words “mismanagement”, “corruption” and “nepotism” are beginning to bore us when he says something and does exactly the opposite. If Bainimarama wants to talk mismanagement, he should look no further than his record as Commander of the Fiji Military Forces. A record littered with mismanagement, overblown budget, wastage and corruption as highlighted by the Auditor General’s Report of 2000-2005.

He must also come clean with Epeli Ganilau on their mismanagement of the Regimental Fund that so absurdly led to his appointment as Military Commander in the first place.

Then there is the controversy about the back paid salary paid to him and calculated based on a back date going back thirty years. If it is correct, then Bainimarama should come clean and publicly release the Auditor General’s investigation and report on the case.

Bainimarama dares talk about nepotism when he should put his house in order first. He just need to look at the continued employment of his elder brother Meli Bainimarama, as a senior public servant when he is almost seventy.

Then there is Timoci Bainimarama, over fifty five but still employed as head of the Bureau of Statistics, contravening his government’s policy of the 55 years retirement age in the Fiji Public Service.

Then there are the many senior military officers that supported his 2006 coup and now occupy well paid senior public service positions they are not qualified for or the re-employment of his brother in law Francis Kean as Fiji Naval Commander after serving prison time for manslaughter?

Bainimarama claims that “The basis for the new constitution will be the ideals and principles formulated by the People’s Charter for Change and Progress, a document prepared following widespread consultation with, and input from, the people of Fiji.” The whole world knows that this document was already drafted in New Zealand before the coup and came through the interim government via former interim finance minister and Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudry.

The “widespread consultation and input of the people of Fiji” he claims has again demonstrated Bainimarama’s tendency to make wild claims and lies. How can there be widespread acceptance when major Fijian institutions such as the provincial councils, the Methodist Church and the SDL Party were not involved in the consultation. It is also a well known fact that many people were coerced into signing papers accepting the proposed Charter, especially public servants who faced the threats of being sacked if they refused to sign. There was also no independent audit of those consultation results.

Bainimarama’s claim of Fiji’s peculiar history is utter nonsense. Fiji is about as peculiar as many other multiracial society. The only peculiar thing about Fiji’s history is the Military’s involvement in one form or another in all coups that have taken place, including George Speight’s Coup.

Bainimarama must understand that the only way to resolve Fiji’s ongoing crisis is to return to the barracks, allow a civilian caretaker government to conduct the consultation needed to see whether reforms are needed and ensure these are implemented into the constitution under the ambit of the 1997 Constitution before organising a general election.

People should not take seriously, his repeated claims of Fiji being bullied by Australia and New Zealand. These two countries, if their actions can be interpreted as bullying, are taking actions against Bainimarama’s illegal government, not the Fijian State or the people of Fiji. Bainimarama and his
troops, on the other hand, have demonstrated in the last three years that they do not blink an eye whenever they bully and brutalise any Fijians that dare questions or challenge their actions.

The Australian and New Zealand stand of returning all Fijian soldiers serving in United Nations Mission has been the stand of the Movement from the date of its establishment. After all, the current situation is hypocrisy that borders on the absurd, when you have the very same military personnel that brutalises and bullies the citizens they were armed to protect and then be flown off to some other troubled spots of the world to maintain the peace there!

If Bainimarama is indeed a man of principle and righteousness as he so often likes to portray himself to be, then he should be man enough to return to the barracks and let an independent judiciary legally examine his actions and claims of the last three years. There will only be two outcome from it, jail or legitimisation!

If he does not have the integrity and principles to do that, then he should retreat to the barracks and continue his lectures and wild claims within the confines of his family and soldiers rather than embarrass us all at important places like the UN General Assembly.
Usaia P. Waqatairewa
President, Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sada Reddy defends himself

Fiji's Reserve Bank Governor Sada Reddy has defended himself against criticisms he had a hidden agenda when he devalued Fiji's currency by 30 percent in April.

In an unusual move the normally tightlipped Reddy gave a series of interviews with the local and overseas media in response to criticisms, including from bloggers, of his handling of RBF policies since he moved into the new position.

“There is nothing hidden in our figures. We publicise everything. Every cent is accounted for. We are audited. We’ve got nothing to hide,” he said in an interview with Fijilive.

“I had no option. If we would have gone any further, we would have suspended all foreign currency transactions; that means we would not be able to buy anything from overseas. Nothing, zero. We would have suspended everything for a few weeks. That means no fuel imports and the airplanes would be parked. A lot of people say there was no need to devalue the currency and we could have applied exchange controls – forget it. We would not have gone anywhere.”

Last week Reddy said in a statement that foreign reserve levels had hit the $1 billion mark, equating it 3.5 to 4 months of cover.

Reddy also explained to Fijilive why the devaluation was by 20 percent and not lower, saying it was a calculated judgment call aimed at quelling all speculation about the future of the Fijian currency and therefore stabilising all outflows of reserves.

“If for instance I had devalued the currency by 5 or 10 percent, the speculation about another devaluation would have continued and people would have continued to move funds out of the country. I have worked in the previous crises and I know how to stop this psychology. I know from experience that even 10 percent would not have killed it. I needed to do a pretty hefty one and see how things settled down.”

“When we devalued there was a $100 million increase in reserves and the chart continued to go up. It is important that people understand that if, after devaluation the chart had gone up and started coming down, it would have been a very difficult situation. But fortunately the policies worked and let me say I was myself surprised at the speed with which it turned around. A lot of it was speculative. You have no idea how much money leaks out of the system," he told Fijilive.

Reddy has ruled out the possibility of a further devaluation or a revaluation of the Fiji dollar.

Dual citizenship comes with voting rights

The interim regime has decided to allow former Fiji residents voting rights in future general elections if they obtain dual citizenship.

Under the regime's Citizenship Decree, former Fiji residents who have migrated overseas can now obtain dual citizenship with blue Fiji passports.

Previous constitutions and even the abrogated 1997 Constitution disallowed dual citizenship.

Coupfourpointfive has been told some sections of Fiji's society are not happy saying this is unfair and discriminatory as these former citizens have no interest in Fiji other than to visit relatives or in the case of a few, establish businesses.

A dual citizenship application costs $3500 and currently the interim regime claims about 50 former residents are applying every month for Fiji passports.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bainimarama staged coup 'to stop terrorists'

Commodore Frank Bainimarama says terrorists were threatening Fiji's safety.

Fiji's military backed leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama has told the United Nations Fiji's 2006 coup was staged to stop terrorists taking control of his country.

Commodore Bainimarama has addressed the United Nations' General Assembly three times since he staged the military takeover in late 2006.

This year he has told the UN the coup was necessary, because the country's politicians had links to terrorists.

"Politicians, in league with those who employ terror as a tactic, to push their racial supremacy and corrupt agenda, had become a threat to the safety and security of our people," he said.

Commodore Bainiamarama also used the address to ask for understanding about why he cannot allow a return to democratic rule until 2014 - Radio Australia

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bainimarama: the UN speech

Mr President, I extend to you, and this Assembly, our warm greetings: Ni sa Bula vinaka. I congratulate you, Mr. President, on your election to the Presidency of this, the 64th session of the General Assembly.

I pay tribute to your predecessor, His Excellency Father Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann for presiding over the 63rd Session with great sensitivity and also bringing a human face to our work.

Mr. President,the 64th Session of the General Assembly will be addressing important contemporary issues of interest to all member nations. These issues include seeking out effective responses to global crises, strengthening multilateralism and dialogue on international peace, security and development. These issues are indeed of critical importance to my own country, a small island developing state, which has been enriched by its membership and participation in the United Nations.

Mr. President, Fiji and its people, like all small developing island states, are among the first victims of contemporary global crises such as the financial and economic crisis, the swine flu pandemic, and most dramatic of all, the phenomenon of climate change. In small economies such as ours, these global events have a very real effect on the daily livelihoods of our people.

For our part, we have attempted to respond to some of these crises by making policy changes and adjustments, encouraging our people to grow their own food, and discouraging food imports wherever possible. Over the last two years the size of the public service has been rationalized.

We have maintained a very streamlined Cabinet structure and significantly controlled
government operational costs. Mr. President, there have been critics of the events in Fiji since December 2006, when the military, with great reluctance was forced to remove the then government of Fiji. I believe that these critics are largely unaware of the extent to which politicians, in league with those who employ terror as a tactic to push a racial supremacy and corrupt agenda, had become a threat to the safety and security of our people.

Terrorism has become a global issue and it impacts Fiji as well. We are fully cooperating in the international effort to control and contain this scourge.
Mr. President, next year on October the 10th, Fiji will celebrate the 40th year of its independence and the 40th anniversary of our membership of the United Nations. We embraced our independence full of enthusiasm, excited by the prospect of deciding our own future and believing that our community as a whole would work together in order to achieve a better life for all our people. Our path has not been smooth or easy.

His Excellency the President of Fiji abrogated the Constitution on 10 April of this year. He took this step when the Court of Appeal ruling created a legal vacuum, a constitutional anomaly which would have also prevented the implementation of the reforms which were mandated by him, to achieve a truly democratic state.
On 1st July, of this year I announced a road map intended to lead Fiji to a new Constitution, and elections based on equality, equal suffrage, human rights, justice, transparency, modernity and true democratic ideals.

Mr. President, I and my Government were mandated to carry out and continue the reforms which will ensure that true, democratic, non-communal, and equal suffrage based elections for parliamentary representation are held by September 2014. A roadmap to implement this mandate was announced on 1st July of this year.
Together with stringent steps to protect our economy from the effects of the world economic crisis, work will commence on a new Constitution by September 2012. The basis for the new Constitution will be the ideals and principles formulated by the People's Charter for Change and Progress, a document prepared following widespread consultations with, and input from, the people of Fiji.

The People's Charter was adopted by His Excellency the President after the endorsement of the majority of the People of Fiji. Mr. President, work on the new Constitution will involve consultations with all the ordinary citizens of our country as well as civil society groups. Consultations will focus on issues such as the size of the new parliament, the sustainability of a bi-cameral system, the term of office of a government and systems of accountability of government to the people.

Mr. President, the new Constitution, implementing the reforms and the result of extensive consultations, will be in place by September 2013. This will give the people of Fiji, a year to become familiar with its provisions before elections in September 2014.

There have been critics of this time line. These critics ask why work on the new constitution will not commence before September 2012. The answer is very simple, at least to those who know and understand Fiji's history. Fiji has had a colonial history which created many anomalies and inequalities, the legacy of which resonates today. Consequently and of the making of the politicians, our post-colonial period has been punctuated with political instability.

On each occasion that a new government is voted into power, the old elite which benefited financially from the previous established government has been able to successfully destabilize the government and to replace it with its own supporters and representatives. This was only possible because those institutions of the State which were supposed to protect democracy and democratic values, instead colluded with the elite, to destabilize and replace the new government. That is not all.

Fiji has suffered more than 20 years of mismanagement, corruption, and nepotism. Our
infrastructure, our judicial system, and our systems of accountability have all remained underdeveloped and unproductive. Many of our finest brains have left the country to migrate, because they could see no future in a country governed by ethno-nationalism, corruption and greed. In order to ensure that democracy has a real chance of survival in Fiji's future, serious, and principled reforms must be implemented to build roads, institutions and values.

Together with infrastructure, the hearts and minds of our people must adopt and cherish true democracy. The way of the old elite must never triumph again.
There must be reforms before elections, to ensure that democracy is sustainable for Fiji's long term future. The people of Fiji, deserve better than the short term band-aid solutions we have experienced over the past decades.

Mr. President, I ask for patience and understanding particularly from our neighbours who have shown a surprising lack of understanding and disregard of the peculiar situation which our country has experienced since independence. Put another way, Mr. President, there is an almost blind faith that once independence has been granted to those who were under colonial rule, and the machinery of democracy begins to work, that the country concerned would have plain sailing. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I invite the international community to engage with us, visit our country to see the situation for themselves and to provide practical support and assistance to enable us to implement the reforms. Mr. President, history is replete with the struggles of people the world over for self determination, to be free from subjugation and foreign domination. Our own experience should have provided some indication if one is needed, how difficult it has been for us to achieve true, genuine and sustainable democracy.

Read full speech here - http://www.mediafire.com/?mzdyw1nlozj

Bainimarama tells critics to be patient

Fijian leader Voreqe Bainimarama has told the UN General Assembly that international critics of his regime need to show patience as political and constitutional reforms are introduced to overcome years of "mismanagement, corruption and nepotism".

Mr Bainimarama said that the abrogation of the Fijian constitution in May this year had been a necessary step to fill a legal vacuum created by an earlier court ruling.

Without naming New Zealand and Australia, he said that Fiji's neighbours had shown a "surprising lack of understanding and disregard" of his country's situation and that the big powers of the South Pacific needed to stop trying to dictate its future.

They had the right to disagree, he said, but "that does not give them the right to interfere with our efforts to build a better country for our people" - Radio NZ

Commonwealth wants Fiji out of Games

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group today confirmed it will extend penalties against Fiji and try to have it excluded from next year's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

A spokesperson for the group told Coupfourpointfive the Commonwealth Games Federation will be asked to review Fiji's participation as a result of the interim government refusing to engage in democratic dialogue and elections.

Eduardo del Buey says the decision was made yesterday at the CMAG meeting in New York, where other efforts to bring the Fiji government around were also discussed. These included the action group's deadline for Fiji to commit to elections by 2010 and the recent visit of its special envoy to Suva.

He says the CMAG was disappointed with the decision by Commodore Bainimarama to stick to his deadline of 2014 for elections and his government's refusal to allow Sir Paul Reeves to meet other political leaders when he visited two weeks ago.

Mr Buey says because of Fiji's suspension from the Commonwealth, it should by rights be excluded from the 2010 Commonwealth Games, just as Nigeria was excluded from all Commonwealth activity after it was suspended.

He says if there was a change of heart by the interim government, then it was possible Fiji could avoid being boycotted at next year's Games.

But he says the way things were going at the moment, that appeared unlikely.

Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth on 1 September. It was also suspended from the Pacific Leaders Forum on 1 May.

Commonwealth Ministerial Group on Fiji

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group on the Harare Declaration (CMAG) held its thirty-second regular meeting in New York on 26 September 2009

The Meeting was chaired by Hon Datuk Anifah Aman, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia. It was also attended by Hon Marco Hausiku, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Namibia; Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand; Hon Rohitha Bogollagama, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka; Hon Rufus George Bousquet, Minister of External Affairs of St Lucia; Hon Sam Kutesa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uganda (Vice-Chair); Mr Ivan Lewis, Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of United Kingdom; Mr Gabriel Pepson, Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Papua New Guinea, and Ms Beatrice Rosa Brobbey, Director Multilateral Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ghana.

2. CMAG also received a briefing from the Secretary-General on the visit of his Special Representative, Sir Paul Reeves, to Fiji from 8-11 September 2009, and on his own meeting with Interim Prime Minister Bainimarama in New York on 25 September 2009.

3. At the request of the Interim Government of Fiji, CMAG received a briefing from Fiji’s Interim Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.

4. CMAG recalled that, at its previous meeting on 31 July 2009, it had urged the Fiji regime to immediately reactivate the President’s Political Dialogue Forum (PPDF) process, facilitated by the Commonwealth and the United Nations. CMAG had stressed that such a Dialogue must be independent, inclusive, time-bound and without any pre-determined outcome, and lead to credible elections in the country no later than October 2010. CMAG had urged Fiji to state in writing to the Secretary-General its firm commitment to reactivating the PPDF in those terms by no later than 1 September 2009, and decided that in the absence of such confirmation, Fiji would be fully suspended on that date.

5. The Group noted that although the Secretary-General received a letter from Interim Prime Minister Bainimarama on 21 August reaffirming his commitment to the principles of the Commonwealth, his response did not meet the terms set out by CMAG on 31 July. Accordingly Fiji had been fully suspended from the Commonwealth on 1 September 2009.

6. CMAG expressed regret that such a course of action had become necessary in order to protect the fundamental political values of the Commonwealth as set out in the Harare Declaration, including respect for constitutional democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. The Group hoped that Fiji would take the necessary steps to restore its full participation in the Commonwealth without delay.

7. In relation to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India, consistent with the precedent of the earlier decision of CMAG, the Group requested the Commonwealth Games Federation to take into serious consideration CMAG’s decision in relation to the suspension of the Fiji Islands, in determining Fiji’s participation in the Games.

8. CMAG recommended that Commonwealth Heads of Government give further consideration to ensuring that all organisations in the Commonwealth family respect and support fundamental Commonwealth values as endorsed by Commonwealth Heads of Government, including the decisions taken by CMAG in that context.

9. CMAG welcomed the visit to Fiji by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Fiji, Sir Paul Reeves, from 8-11 September 2009. CMAG noted the importance Fiji attaches to its relationship with the Commonwealth, and welcomed the willingness of the Interim Prime Minister and his government to hold discussions with the Special Representative. CMAG expressed disappointment and concern, however, that Sir Paul had been constrained from meeting with other political leaders while in Fiji, and emphasised that in order for the Commonwealth’s engagement with Fiji to be meaningful and to continue, it must be inclusive of the participation and viewpoints of all sectors of Fiji’s political leadership.

10. CMAG also reiterated its strong concern about ongoing violations of human rights, including freedom of speech and assembly, occurring under the Public Emergency Regulation (PER) in Fiji, and urged the Interim Government to rescind the PER immediately.

11. CMAG regretted that neither the Interim Government’s discussions with Sir Paul, nor the Interim Prime Minister’s meeting with the Secretary-General, nor the Foreign Minister’s presentation to the Group at its meeting, had indicated willingness on the part of the regime to address the concerns of the Commonwealth regarding the long delay in restoring democracy in Fiji. In response to the Strategic Framework for Change proposed by the Interim Government the Group emphasised that the commencement of an inclusive national dialogue without further delay is fundamental to the restoration of sustainable constitutional democracy.

12. CMAG reiterated that the Commonwealth was willing to remain engaged with Fiji in support of any good faith efforts toward the restoration of democracy, including the facilitation of a credible political dialogue process towards that end, in accordance with fundamental Commonwealth principles. CMAG called on the Interim Government to urgently confirm its readiness to resume such a dialogue process, as well as electoral preparations, as a basis upon which Commonwealth engagement could move forward.

13. CMAG reaffirmed its support for the Secretary-General’s good offices role in Fiji. It requested the Secretary-General to continue monitoring the situation in order to keep CMAG informed as appropriate while Fiji remained under full suspension, and with a view to assessing whether and when further direct engagement between the Commonwealth and the Interim Government might be warranted.