#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Sitiveni Rabuka's pension cancelled

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sitiveni Rabuka's pension cancelled

Former Fiji prime minister and coup leader, Sitiveni Rabuka, has had his government pension cancelled by the interim government. In early January the interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, unveiled a decree stating that Fiji pensioners who criticise his government may have their pensions stopped.

It appears Mr Rabuka, who staged Fiji's first coup in 1987, is the first to be affected by the move. He has had been striped of all benefits, including a government-supplied four-wheel-drive vehicle, which was confiscated from him when he was out picking coconuts an hour from his village.

Presenter: Bruce Hill, Radio Australia
Speaker: Sitiveni Rabuka, Former Prime Minister, Fiji

RABUKA: I was on my farm when a military vehicle came in with four soldiers and I called out to them to come have some coconuts. They took some time getting out of the vehicle. Both came out and saluted one by one and I said 'well, take a break, you must be tired'. They said: 'Sir, we have a letter from the Prime Minister's office', and I said 'Okay. Is it for me?', and they said yes. I took it and read it and 'do I need to acknowledge it?'. They said: 'No sir, we just want you to read it'. It informed me that all my pension and the entitlements and the benefits had been terminated with affect from 18 January, so I acknowledged receipt, handed over the vehicle, the spare tyre and the tool box. Unfortunately, I didn't receive my mobile charger and my post office box key that my driver left it in the glove compartment.

HILL: So they actually took your vehicle back there on the spot?

RABUKA: On the spot, yeah. When they came to me I was surprised, because I knew I had not done anything detrimental to the progress of the government. So I was taken aback but being someone who has been in authority and understanding the chain of command, there is no need, no use arguing with the soldiers. So they were just carrying out orders and so I said 'okay, if you can drop me by the bridge and I will walk back to the village'. So I walked back about an hour.

HILL: Why do you think the government has done this to you and do you know of any others they have done this to?

RABUKA: I do not know of any others. I have heard that there might be some others who were in the immediate past government of Qarase's cabinet, but I have not had any confirmation of anyone else who has had their pensions terminated.

HILL: What are you going to do financially? Do you have your own source of income?

RABUKA: No. I have a small Fiji National Provident Fund pension. When I say small, I mean small, because I drew much of it when it was due to me on my 55th birthday in 2003, and only left a very small portion because I was relying on the office pension as being a lifetime benefit and unfortunately that has been terminated by the power of a decree.

HILL: What do you think of this tactic by the government of cancelling pensions of people whose opinions it does not share?

RABUKA: Well, they have published a decree and they have been ruling by decree. It is up to those that drafted the decree to just make sure that it is not going going against any international conventions, particularly the ILO [International Labour Organisation] convention that we are signatories to and we had ratified the rights of the workplace and I believe the pension would come under the rights of workers.

HILL: Is it going to affect your speaking out about what the government does? Is it actually going to intimidate you into silence?

RABUKA: I am freer now because I am not getting anything from them. But I do not intend to speak out against government. I have my own little projects to cover and I shouldn't really waste my time speaking out against government. At the moment, I am more interested in just looking after my family, my granddaughter is going to university for the first year this year and I would rather concentrate on that - Radio Australia

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