#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2009-11-08

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Army still wants Khaiyum out

Coupfourpointfive has been told the Military Council still wants Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum removed from his position as interim Attorney General.

The Military Council's attempts since July to have Sayed-Khaiyum sacked have been in vain because of resistance from interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who was not satisfied with the candidates proposed by top military officers as his replacement.

One of them was the Attorney-General in Mahendra Chaudhry's Labour Government, Anand Singh, who lost his job in June as a legal consultant for Fiji National Provident Fund.

But sources have confirmed the Council has once again renewed its efforts to have Sayed-Khaiyum removed.

Our sources have established that RFMF's Land Force Commander, Colonel Pita Driti, has been personally contacting prominent businessmen and other personalities in the private sector, asking them to give him evidence of any business deals or any other activity that can be classified as corrupt, that have been conducted by Sayed-Khaiyum.

Coupfourpointfive has been told Driti has been the strongest critic of Sayed-Khaiyum and his determiknation to have the interim AG sacked is a major reason why Bainimarama is sending him away from Fiji, by nominating him to lead a 200 men peacekeeping mission to the Middle East.

Daylight saving to be re-introduced

Fiji's interim regime has approved the re-introduction of daylight saving.

It will take effect from Nov 29th until April 25th 2010.

Cabinet based its decision on a submission by interim Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Sayed-Khaiyum said in 1999, the Ministry of Labour reported there was an overall increase in economic activity and productive work as a result of daylight saving.

He said it would also be good for the tourists as they will have more daylight time for activities and shopping.

But critics say daylight saving will not improve Fiji's deteriorating economy and that a tropical nation like Fiji does not need daylight saving.

Gates had role in expulsions

Fresh details are emerging about the role of Fiji's Chief Justice in the recent explusions of Australia's High Commissioner from Suva and Fiji's representative from Canberra.

A memorandum from the Chief Justice Anthony Gates, who is also an Australian citizen, all but urges Fiji's military ruler to take action over the travel bans that he says stopped Sri Lankan judges taking up positions on the Fiji judiciary.

Presenter: Shane McLeod Radio Australia
Speakers: Peter Ridgway, former deputy Director, Department of the Public Prosecutions in Fiji and Anthony Gates, Chief Justice, Fiji

SHANE MCLEOD: Relations between Australia and New Zealand and Fiji's regime are at a new low after the Government of military ruler Frank Bainimarama last week booted out the diplomatic representatives of Canberra and Wellington.

That was precipitated by a dispute over the extent of travel bans Australia and New Zealand have imposed on the Fiji Government and officials. Those measures had prompted a rare media conference from the nation's Australian chief justice, Anthony Gates.

ANTHONY GATES: As head of the judiciary in Fiji, I must stand up against such interference. Fiji must have a judiciary and it is not for Australia and New Zealand to tell us we cannot have one or to tell us who we are to appoint.

SHANE MCLEOD: Chief Justice Gates was upset at moves by Australia to make it clear to seven Sri Lankan judges they wouldn't be allowed to travel through Australia once they'd taken up their posts in the Fijian judiciary.

ANTHONY GATES: Each one of the judicial officers was telephoned by a visa officer from the Australian High Commission counselling them against taking up the appointments in Fiji. They were each warned that if they took up the appointments, they would not be allowed to travel to Australia during their time in Fiji and that they would not be allowed into Australia for medical treatment for themselves or their families either.

SHANE MCLEOD: In response, Australia accused the chief justice of misrepresenting its approach to the visas for the Sri Lankan judges. By Wednesday, Frank Bainimarama had moved to expel the high commissioners.

Now there's more detail of the role that the chief justice played in that response from the Fijian Government. The Australian newspaper has published a memorandum sent by Justice Gates to Frank Bainimarama two days after his original media conference.

In it, he describes the Australian response to the question of visas for the judges as 'damage control'. He
refers to an audio recording of a phone call from the high commission to one of the judges, in which the chief justice says, the officer says the judge's visa has been denied.

A copy of that recording has been made available to Fiji's media but it does not appear to include confirmation a visa was not issued.

EXTRACT FROM TELEPHONE RECORDING: Individuals appointed to the Fiji judiciary, regardless of citizenship, became subject to these travel sanctions and that will obviously include yourself and individuals affected by travel sanctions are not allowed to travel to or through Australia although the travel sanctions policy is applied flexibly.

SHANE MCLEOD: The memo from Chief Justice Gates concludes with him pressing for action from Commodore Bainimarama.

EXTRACT FROM MEMO FROM ANTHONY GATES: I have already said the judiciary cannot expect help from any quarter, that is the nature of our independent role. However, from a political point of view, can the executive allow such interference to continue?

SHANE MCLEOD: And the next day, the Fijian Government moved to expel the Australian and New Zealand high commissioners.

Australia's Foreign Affairs Department has no comment to make on the memorandum, but it has highlighted its response to the original claims by the chief justice, in which it described him as having misrepresented Australia's handling of the visas. The World Today contacted the chief justice's office in Suva seeking a response, but was told he would not be available.

The central role that he's playing in the dispute has come as a surprise to those who've known the approach he's taken to his legal career over a number of years. Peter Ridgway served as deputy director in Fiji's Department of Public Prosecutions. He playing a key role in dealing with the perpetrators of the 2000 coup led by George Speight.

PETER RIDGWAY: His role in recent events particularly in the post-Bainimarama coup and things that have followed, it is very difficult to reconcile with the highly principled staunch defender of the judiciary and the constitution that I worked with in 2001-2005 period. So I find it very hard to recognise the same individual - Radio Australia

EU regrets explulsion of envoys

The European Union expressed regret on Tuesday at a decision by Fiji's military leader to expel top envoys from Australia and New Zealand, and urged the Pacific Island nation not to isolate itself.

"This development signals a further deterioration of the relations of Fiji with the international community, undermining progress towards re-engagement and dialogue,"current EU president Fredrik Reinfeldt said in a statement.

"By isolating itself, Fiji puts at risk the concerted efforts to bring about the return of rule of law and democracy," he said.

"The EU appeals to Fiji and all its partners to work together to engage in meaningful dialogue and thus prevent further negative developments."

The 27-nation bloc also reiterated concern about continued military rule in Fiji - the military ousted the elected government in a coup in December 2006 - and urged the interim administration to move quickly to restore democracy.

On November 3, self-appointed Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama announced that the heads of the Australian and New Zealand missions in Fiji would be expelled, triggering tit-for-tat expulsions from Wellington and Canberra.

Fiji was suspended from the 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum in May and from the Commonwealth in September over broken promises to hold elections by March this year.

Australia and New Zealand have been at the forefront of international condemnation of Bainimarama's regime and their travel sanctions on people associated with the regime prompted the expulsion of their envoys from Suva - AFP

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Solution for blocked blogs

Thanks to Raw Fiji News, here is a way to get around blocked blogsites.

Enter this address into a browser - http://unblockandsurf.com

Then copy and paste the name of the blog - http://coupfourpointfive.blogspot.com

Bainimarama wants to engage

Fiji's Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has offered the Australian and New Zealand governments 'engagement at all levels'.

This engagement including trade and investment, among others, is offered on a level playing field in which Fiji's sovereignty and dignity is respected and maintained.

Bainimarama made the comment while delivering the keynote address at the Telecom Fiji Limited Prime Minister's Exporter of the Year Award on Saturday.

This award is the premier event to salute the achievement of Fiji's exporter's in the global trade arena and their contribution to the Fiji economy.

While the three governments recently had a diplomatic row, Bainimarama assured all Fijian businesses, Australians and New Zealanders that such issues will not affect trade, tourism, business co-operation, collaboration and investment.

"On the contrary we encourage more trade, investment and tourism between our traditional partners of Australia and New Zealand.

"I find it most encouraging that notwithstanding the recent events, tourism, trade and business associations and collaboration between our people have not been affected," he told those present Saturday night.

As well, Bainimarama urged participants, particularly businesses houses to expand their trade with all of Fiji's neighbors and seek constructive engagement with them.

"You all have the chance and ability to do so. Indeed you must do so - not just for your businesses but for Fiji and all Fijians," he said (AHN)

Citizens could end up going hungry

Fiji's coup culture is costing it billions of dollars and unless democracy is restored the country risks hunger and further impoverishment, a leading Fiji economist and former shadow finance minister warned yesterday.

Days after Fiji-born Australian academic Brij Lal was arrested and deported from Fiji amid a diplomatic row, fellow academic Wadan Narsey told The Australian dwindling foreign investment in the Pacific nation was undermining its food production chain.

In speaking to The Australian yesterday, Professor Narsey, an economist at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji's capital Suva, risks arrest and detention for criticising the regime of military-installed prime minister Frank Bainimarama.

"Fiji's GDP fell almost 7 percent in 2007, the year following the coup that brought Commodore Bainimarama to power," Professor Narsey said.

"The biggest threat to Fiji's food security is the lack of investor confidence in Fiji, and that's a direct result of the coups."

Every indication was that poverty -- especially in rural areas -- was increasing, worsened by the rapid rise in the cost of living following the recent 20 per cent devaluation of the Fiji dollar, he said.

"The urban poor particularly are at severe risk of deteriorating nutrition because the costs of basic foods such as rice and flour had risen sharply, while their incomes had either stagnated or been reduced," Professor Narsey said.

A fellow USP academic -- who would not be named -- told The Australian yesterday that a pall of censorship had fallen over the country, and a handful of academics critical of the regime had been verbally "silenced".

"People are risking their safety if they speak out. Under emergency decrees, the military have arrest and detention powers. People are scared," the academic said.

Those making even well-meaning comments against the regime's policies were likely to be taken to a military camp and subjected to abuse like (Australian National University professor) Brij Lal, the academic said.

"While Australian citizens may be generally safe, Fiji citizens face a real risk of physical violence," the academic said.

Fiji's four coups since 1987 will have cost $10 billion in GDP by 2014, according to a research paper by Professor Narsey on rural development, obtained by The Australian. After the economy stagnated last year, early indications were there would be a further decline of 1-2 per cent in GDP again this year, he said.

Professor Narsey, an MP and shadow minister from 1996 until 1999, said he had presented his findings to the government and the media, but had suffered a media blackout.

The urban working class -- who don't have access to food gardens -- faced "sheer hardship" in obtaining nutritious and adequate food, unless local and foreign investment in business partnerships increased, he said.

Professor Narsey called on the military government to convene "a genuine political dialogue" with all political and social leaders.

The tragedy in Fiji was that total censorship of the media meant that the military government could not even be given public opinions that might help them and the country, Professor Narsey said - By Guy Healy The Australian/Pacific Media Watch)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Blogs say they're being blocked

Some anti-government blogs in Fiji are reporting that their readers are finding it impossible to read them.

Several of the websites are reportedly blocked in such a way that people using Fiji-based internet service providers cannot access them.

Radio Australia has been contacted by internet users in Fiji who report their attempts to read those blogs result in their computer constantly trying to connect and finally giving an error message.

The operator of one of the anti-government blogs, Coup Four Point Five, says it's clear that something or someone is interfering with internet access in Fiji.

Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speakers: Fijian blogger Coup Four Point Five, Australian IT consultant on computer security, Patrick Gray

BLOGGER: I think we have had some evidence when we look at the number of hits that have taken place on our blog on the last four, five days, compared to where we were in the last three may be for four weeks. Coup Four Point Five suddenly took off with a huge surge recently, but in the last four or five days, our hits have been very minimal and I have also been told by contacts in Fiji and in New Zealand that the military is actually watching the blog sites very carefully. So I think that gives us something to really think about.

HILL: Why do you think the military are doing this, if indeed it's true that they are in fact blocking access to these blogs?

BLOGGER: They have shown previously Bruce, that they are very sensitive to publicity. That can't be challenged and I think the media are quite right in saying that they are paranoid about the coverage about Fiji and in particular of late the attorney-general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has been receiving and some of the others who are quite high up in the hierarchy there too, the interim prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, so a lot of sensitivity I would think regarding some of the issues and some of the programs and the initiatives that they have been trying to push through without success, but I think recently to we had the drama over the expulsion of the senior diplomatic staff from New Zealand and Australia being given the boot again. So I would say that the radar has gone up again and the paranoia has returned.

HILL: There is a way around the apparent blocking of access to certain internet sites within Fiji, but it involves people downloading and installing what's called an anonymizer program. This fools the internet into thinking a request to see a web page is coming from outside Fiji. Australian IT consultant on computer security, Patrick Gray, says it's quite feasible technically to have access to certain web sites blocked, especially by governments.

GRAY: Absolutely, I mean anyone sitting upstream from you where you are getting your access from, whether that's your internet service provider or their upstream provider which provides the access to them that they on sell to you. If they wish to do so, they can block access to specific sites. In fact, that's very similar to what the Australian Government wants to introduce here in Australia.

HILL: Now you can use what's called an anonymizer program, can't you, to get around that so that it looks to the ISP that you're actually coming from outside Fiji?

GRAY: Yeah, it's a project called Tor, which is a very interesting piece of software. Believe it or not it was originally developed the US navy to allow servicemen who were in other countries to not divulge their location that they were visiting, that was the purpose that it was originally developed. But now it is open to the public, and anyone can use it. If you go to torproject.and that's Torproject.org. There is a fairly good explanation how it works there. It is a little bit geeky, but if you read it you will be able to wrap your head around it and essentially Tor is something that you install on your computer and it allows you to access a whole bunch of other. It basically routs your connection to a whole bunch of other computers.

HILL: They can do that, but it is a bit of an extra impediment to access isn't it, It's a bit of a speed bump on the way to actually reading these blogs?

GRAY: Yeah, look it's a speed bump, but thankfully it's not a stop sign. It means that if people really want to be able to access that information, they still can. Sure there is a little bit of a hurdle there, which is going to make life a little bit tougher for people if they want to read those sites, but they still can. I mean filtering the internet is pretty difficult. It is not really feasible to be able to stop people from being able to access information that's available on the worldwide web. But as you said they can introduce some speed bumps and just try to make it a little bit more difficult.

We stand by our story on Brij Lal's abuse

Coupfourpointfive stands by its story that Brij Lal was punched on the chin by senior military officer, Sitiveni Qiliho, when he was taken in for questioning by the military.

We note that Professor Lal has denied any physical abuse in the Australian media and we conclude this is because his wife still works and lives in Fiji and anything he says could have an effect on her.

We have reported stories in the past that others have found unbelievable but which later turned out to be true. We also trust our well-placed sources.

On another issue, we've been informed by our loyal followers in Fiji that access to this blog has become difficult.

Some people can still access the site while others who previously could, have been cut off for some reason.

Any explanation from our readers in Fiji on why this is happening will be greatly appreciated.

Baledrokadroka seeks ayslum in Australia

The former head of Fiji's land forces has applied for a protection visa to stay in Australia, and says he would not be welcome back in his own country.

Colonel Jone Baledrokadroka's application is being considered by the Australian Government.

He is a visiting fellow at the Australian National University in Canberra, where expelled Fiji-born academic Professor Brij Lal also works.

The colonel says Professor Lal, a colleague, is "quite well known to be a critic of Bainimarama and a critic of all coups back to Rabuka".

Colonel Baledrokadroka says Commodore Frank Bainimarama is sending a message to Australia that he does not want anyone butting in on what is happening in Fiji.

The Colonel says he had a political argument with Commodore Bainimarama in 2006 over his belief that Fiji's military should be apolitical.

"He wanted obviously to politicise the military as it is at the moment," he said.

Colonel Baledrokadroka says on present indications he would not be allowed back by the military-backed regime.

"Obviously no. It seems he is hell-bent on this tit-for-tat sort of childish response," Colonel Baledrokadroka said.

"He sees anyone who speaks out as an enemy.

"At the moment he is just hell-bent on retaliating against Australia and New Zealand.

"Any people - I suppose myself - speaking out ... there is a heavy news media censorship in Fiji, so obviously he can use that to throw anyone out of the country."

Asked if he considered himself a refugee, he said: "Basically, I have put in for a protection visa here."

Colonel Baledrokadroka expects to learn of his status in the coming weeks - ABC

Fiji immigration denies Lal expulsion

The director of Fiji's immigration has denied that Brij Lal was deported.

Major Nemani Vuniwaqa told Radio New Zealand that Lal was not expelled.

“Dr Brij Lal was in Fiji on a visitor’s permit and according to our records he had left the country on a flight to Australia. He was not expelled from the country as claimed by him.”