#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Lawmakers owed NBF $908,416

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lawmakers owed NBF $908,416

Part Eight of a Special Report by VICTOR LAL

Kelemedi Bulewa

Two prominent nationalist lawmakers were among hundreds listed as defaulted borrowers from the National Bank of Fiji in 1996. The late Kelemedi Bulewa, the Minister for Justice and Attorney-General in Sitiveni Rabuka’s Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei, owed $352,416 to the collapsed bank.

Bulewa had replaced Apitaia Seru after the latter, in 1992, had settled out of court for $10million with the controversial local businessman Tony Stephens who had demanded compensation for wrongful arrest and detention. The deal with Stephens could have seen him part with $98,000 in cash, his mortgage with the Home Finance Company and the NBF paid off, and the Soqulu Plantation in Tavenui which the NBF had taken over, revert back to him.

The Deed of Settlement was to be exempt from income, land sales and VAT. But the NBF refused to honour the deed settlement which Seru had allegedly signed without parliamentary approval. There was strong suspicion that Seru was not acting alone, with Fiji Times editorializing that, ‘the sorry mess suggests powerful forces, answerable to no one but themselves, are at work to undermine constitutional authority.

Bulewa was no guardian angel of the rule of law and constitutionalism. He was one of a few handfuls of Fijian lawyers who were either publicly or secretly drafting a new republication Constitution for Rabuka to consolidate his racist vision of Fiji, all in the name of the upliftment of i-taukei, and from the economic clutches of the Indo-Fijians. Like others before him, when the NBF Debtors List was lifted open for public consumption, Bulewa was right up there with other defaulters, owing $352,416 to the NBF.

Qoriniasi Bale  

Like Bulewa, Bale was suspected of having been part of the inner circle around Rabuka during the 1987 coups. He, after all, had lost his job as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice when Ratu Mara’s Alliance Party had lost the April 1987 election to Timoci Bavadra’s FLP-NFP coalition. In 1984 the Governor-General Ratu Penaia Ganilau had appointed Bale to the Senate as Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara’s nominee to the then Upper House.

Shortly after the Alliance Party’s defeat, its most powerful arm, the Fijian Association, convened a meeting and passed a vote of no confidence in the FLP/NFP Coalition. Among those who attended this meeting which was chaired by Tanieta Veitata (another NBF loans defaulter), were Ratu Finau Mara (who was in Parliament on 14 May 1987 directing soldiers through the parliamentary chamber), Bale, Filipe Bole (now a Cabinet Minister in Bainimarama’s illegal government) and Jone Veisamasama, general secretary of the Alliance Party.

Veisamasama told the meeting that the Coalition government contained more Indo-Fijians at the decision-making level. The Fijian Associaiton meeting, as had Apisa Tora and Inoke Kubuabola’s (another illegal Minister in Bainimarama’s regime), resolved that the 1970 Constitution should be changed to guarantee that Fijians always led Fiji, and agreed to organize protest marches through the capital, Suva, and other centres, and to submit a petition to the Governor-General Penaia Ganilau against the Bavadra government. In complicity with the Great Council of Chiefs, this group subsequently set out to manipulate and mobilize the Fijians to destabilize the Bavadra government.

After the 1987 coups, Bale went into private practice as a lawyer but following the failed Speight coup and with the election of Laisenia Qarase as Prime Minister, he once again found himself holding the A-G and Minister of Justice posts. In December 2006 he was deposed in another coup, with history repeating itself. Ironically, Filipe Bole, one of those who attended that Fijian Association meeting in 1987 against the Bavadra government is now part of another illegal regime, talking about education to the nation. There is no honour among coupists.

We wonder if the nation’s former lawmaker Bale repaid his $556,000 loan to the collapsed National Bank of Fiji.
Editor’s Note: We will continue to reveal debtors names, which includes those of high chiefs, politicians, Indo-Fijians, business houses, including individual supporters of the present illegal junta in Fiji. If you or your family have paid back the NBF loans, please provide Victor Lal with evidence. He can be reached at vloxford@gmail.com

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