#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2010-04-25

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Driti calls Samoan PM a parrot and puppet

The Fiji Military's Land Force commander Lieutenant Colonel Pita Driti, has called the Samoan Prime Minister a parrot and a puppet, following Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi's comment the Pacific Islands Forum headquarters should be moved from Fiji.

Tuilaepa told New Zealand media yesterday that it does not make sense for the Forum headquarters to be in a country, which is not ruled by a democratic government.

Pita Driti told Auckland based Hindi station, Radio Tarana, the Tuilaepa is saying that because he wants the headquarters to be moved to Samoa.

"That's what he has been lobbying for all along, he wants it to be moved there. But the problem is the rest of the South Pacific members of the Forum don't want it to be moved to Samoa because it's a backward country.

"Now, he's trying to bullshit to say it should be moved to New Zealand or Australia," Driti told Tarana.

Driti says Tuilaepa is a puppet of New Zealand and Australia and talks on the two countries behalf.

"He's a parrot and a puppet that's all. He should be ashamed of himself because he's not a strong man, he cannot stand alone and is relying on those two countries. He's trying to please them."

Driti says Tuilaepa (pictured right) is trying to incite instability in Fiji by saying elections won't be held as promised in 2014.

Disgraced South Australian Speaker Peter Lewis new Fiji coup apologist

Another dubious and shady Australian character was recently heard praising the illegal regime’s coup when he delivered a public lecture at the Fiji National University, in which he claimed that the pre-2006 elections were outside the perimeters of democratic ideals. He is another Peter, not the conman Peter Foster but Peter Lewis, former speaker and member of the South Australian Parliament.

In his lecture he added that pre-2006 elections were more likely to establish disproportionate privileges for ethnic groups. “Fiji’s recent experiences in regards to law and order itself show that those who exercised such power were ignorant of the consequences,” he said. Lewis said Fiji’s then constitutional structure provided some people with more than one vote electing representatives to the same Chamber and who were provided with more weight to their vote than others.

Lewis believes it is too simplistic to assume that Fiji’s Parliament and its government at the time of the coup was democratic just because people voted in elections. “To be democratic in the real sense, the electoral process needs to be based on one vote to each citizen and roughly equally populated electorate’s process regardless of their ethnicity,” he added.

He also questioned why Australia and New Zealand had taken a tough stand against Fiji. Lewis said it was for the people to decide on. “I cannot understand why the relationship between Fiji, Australia and New Zealand differs when compared to other countries that are worse off,” Mr Lewis said. He said there was no bloodshed taking place here compared to other countries, yet Australia and New Zealand had better relationships with these countries.

Who is this latest cheerleader of the regime? How did he end up delivering a public lecture on ‘Coups and Constructive Commitment’ at the Fiji National University? Ivan Peter Lewis was a member of the South Australian House of Assembly between 1979 and 2006. Between 1979 and 2000 he was in the HA as a Liberal MP. From 2000 until 2006 he served as an Independent. His decision in 2002 to support the Australian Labor Party resulted in a Labor State Government led by Mike Rann.

It was not long after his election in 1979 that he quickly gained a reputation as a maverick, defying his party bosses. In 2000, the Liberals had enough of him, and in July of the same year, expelled him from the Liberal Party. In 2002, he was re-elected when he contested his seat under the banner of the CLIC, the Community Leadership Independence Coalition. After the 2002 election, he gave his support to Labor, enabling it to form government. In return, he extracted a promise for the holding of a Constitutional Convention, and also that he be made Speaker, which he became, earning widespread attention for his colourful style of regulating parliamentary debate.

In 2002, he also came under the scrutiny of Australian media over his links to businessman and former criminal Terry Stephens. The two were alleged to have been involved in questionable business dealings regarding the sale of Lewis’s mining company Goldus to Stephen’s company Arrowlea. The Australian newspapers also revealed that Lewis’s nephew Gary Lewis, was an executive director of Arrowlea, which had its assets frozen after an Australian Securities and Investment Commission investigation found Stephens was a director of a company six months early after being convicted of fraud charges. Creditors of the failed venture later attempted to recoup losses through the sale of remaining assets.

Peter Lewis accused one local MP, Ivan Venning, of conducting a ‘smear campaign’ against him. Lewis was exonerated of any wrongdoing despite submitting himself to extensive police investigations. Stephens was later convicted of lying to smear Lewis.

In 2005, Peter Lewis faced a potential no-confidence motion after he and two of his volunteer staffers, Barry Standfield and Wendy Utting, alleged a sitting MP was a paedophile. Before a vote could be taken Peter Lewis resigned on 4 April 2005. In 2008 Standfield and Utting, were found not guilty of defamation over the claims. The next year Lewis did not stand for his seat of Hammond but instead stood as an independent for election to the Legislative Council. The voters rejected him. He received only 0.6% of the votes.

He owns eight mining leases, as well as interests in Goldus Operations and Mintech Resources.

What is his motive for praising the present regime? Is he planning to make a bid for Fiji’s goldmines?

It is worth pointing out that his two staffers, the child abuse activists, were acquitted because of the confusion in the law of defamation in South Australia. Besides naming two high-profile South Australian political identities, they had also named two senior police officers as alleged paedophiles. Just imagine Lewis’ two staffers fate if they happened to be speaking out against Esala Teleni, Fiji’s illegal police commissioner. They would have been marched straight to the army camps to do that favourite ‘punishment exercise’ or worse, like Peceli Rinakama, would have disappeared without trace for weeks in gestapo Fiji.

The two staffers, who performed volunteer work for Lewis, claimed that they were exercising their moral right and free speech – which is sorely lacking in Peter Lewis’s new found friends – in the illegal regime in Fiji, who have clamped down on the media and are going further to kill free speech with their media decree.

It is time the likes of Lewis stopped singing the praise of ‘coup paedophiles’ and the Fiji National University should stop providing a platform to a failed Australian politician, whose unsubstantiated paedophilia allegations against politicians and police officers was described as ‘the darkest in South Australia’s political history’. His allegations were described as ‘a shameful abuse of power’.

Peter Lewis, while bowing out of the Speaker’s chair, was unapologetic about his actions. An investigation into the claims found there was no evidence to support his allegations of paedophilia, that a then serving MP had preyed on boys at a gay meeting place in Adelaide.

We do not need a lecture from such a politician, and delivered under the auspices of Fiji National Univeristy in Suva.

Editor's Note:

Cabinet has approved the Fiji National University Decree 2009.

The Decree will establish the Fiji National University (FNU), which will be formed with the merger of six state-owned institutions namely the Fiji Institute of Technology (FIT), the Fiji School of Medicine (FSM), the Fiji School of Nursing (FSN), the Lautoka Teachers College (LTC), the Fiji College of Advanced Education (FCAE), and the Fiji College of Agriculture (FCA).

The University will commence operations in 2010.

Cabinet based its decision on a submission by the Minister for Education, National Heritage, Culture and Arts, Youth and Sports, Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment, Mr Filipe Bole.

Mr Bole said that an Interim Council for the FNU was formed earlier this year to carry out the necessary preparatory work in order for the University to commence operations from January 2010.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Indo and indigenous Fijians prove they can work together in NZ

The Waikato region's previously divided Fijian community has united in a landmark event with Indo-Fijians and indigenous Fijians agreeing to work together in future.

The two groups have long been divided – a hangover from political and cultural divisions in their homeland.

But representatives from the Waikato Fiji Association (Indo-Fijians) and Fiji Waikato Community (indigenous Fijians) put aside historical differences last week and signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on projects to celebrate their culture.

The deal was done under the supervision of Internal Affairs Department community development and funding adviser Jenny Nand, who said the deal was a milestone for New Zealand's Fijian community but relatively simple to negotiate.

"It's about promoting the Fijian culture," she said. "It wasn't that hard to come to a common agreement outlining the key boundaries and the roles each organisation will play."

Waikato Fiji Association secretary Alvin Chand said it took only three or four meetings before they had hammered out a deal.

"The thing is we both want to make the community aware here that there's a Fijian community present and we want to integrate ourselves," he said.

In the past the two groups have put on separate Fiji Day festivals but this year on October 9, they will celebrate together for the first time.

Fiji Waikato Community president Jalesi Nakarawa said the Fiji Day partnership was just the first step.

"The long-term objective is working together and merging the groups," he said. It was something he had never heard of happening in New Zealand.

Mr Chand said he would talk to Waikato Museum about having an area to display traditional arts and crafts during October as a way to make the Fijian culture more visible.-By Rob Kidd, Waikato Times

Umaria thanks illegal government for special administrator job

 Chandu Umaria has been appointed the special administrator for Suva and Lami as tipped by Coupfourpointfive yesterday.

Umaria (above) takes over from Maria Hallacy and has told Fijilive that having been in the council for 16 years and having served as Suva mayor from 2000 to 2003, he's comfortable in the role.

“I am pretty well versed with the operations of the municipality in Suva and I will be having meetings with the directors and all the executives of the Suva City Council and Lami Town council to discuss issues." 

He also said he would make improvements immediately: “A lot of people have been complaining that the SCC and a lot of other municipalities are operating like civil servants and service is not delivered properly but I assure that in a short time, you will see changes.”

Umaria thanked Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, the inter-military council and the Attorney General’s office for having faith in him.-Source for quotes, Fijilive

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Vunibobo recalled because of the United Nations stand on Driti

Fiji's former Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Berenado Vunibobo, was ordered home after the UN blocked Brigadier Pita Driti from leading a peacekeeping mission to Iraq.

We have been told that stiff opposition from NGOs and Civil Society, led to Driti's rejection. 

Driti is the Land Force Commander of the Fiji Military Forces and played a leading role during and after the 2006 military coup.

According to sources, Frank Bainimarama's regime was unhappy that a seasoned diplomat like Vunibobo was unable to convince the UN to endorse Driti.

Vunibobo has been succeeded by a regime apologist and former Secretary to the Governor General at the time of the 1987 coup, Peter Thomson.

His axing  is being seen as a warning to those who accept positions in the regime, that they can be discarded at any time.

SCC for Suva and Lami resigns

The Special Administrator for Suva City and Lami Town Councils, Marica Hallacy, has resigned.

Hallacy has tendered her resignation to the military regime's local government minister, former Deputy Army Commander Samuela Saumatua.

Late last year Hallacy succeeded Vijendra Prakash, who was terminated after several cases of nepotism, cronyism and favouritism of personnel and businessmen well-known to Prakash surfaced. Coupfourpointfive had highlighted several of these malpractices.

It's believed Hallacy could be appointed the Chief Executive Officer of SCC after the retirement of the incumbent Ilitomasi Verenakadavu.

It's also being suggested former SCC Lord Mayor Chandu Umaria is eyeing the Administrator's position for the Capital City's Council.

Monday, April 26, 2010

High Chief of Rewa defers plea

One of the junta's favourite targets - the High Chief of Rewa, Ro Teimumu Kepa - has reappeared in the Suva Magistrates Court but has deferred making a plea.

Kepa is now charged with conspiracy to effect an unlawful purpose namely the disobedience of lawful orders, after the original charge she had breached the public emeregency regulations was amended.

It's believed the Director of Public Prosecution was unable to justify the claim, hence the change of heart.
Supporters say the prosecution has struggled to pin the PER breach charge on Kepa.

The high chief was taken in last year by the junta, as its campaign to shut down the Methodist Church kicked into high gear. And she wasn't the only one to have been rounded up in the wee hours.

Coupfourpointfive revealed on July 22 last year, that Kepa was arrested around midnight and that it followed that of seven Methodist Church ministers, including the president of the Church, Reverend Ame Tugaue.

We reported just days later that former Methodist leaders, Reverends Manasa Lasaro and Tomasi Kanailagi, were also taken in and appeared in court after Kepa, Tugaue and general secretary, Tuikikila Waqatairua, were released on bail.

The court maintains Kepa conspired with Church ministers to host the annual Methodist conference in Lomanikoro in Rewa between July 12 and 29, despite a directive from Bainimarama the church not meet.

The same ministers taken in that same week last year, appeared in court again recently with five of them (including Tugaue) being given an additional charge.

Kepa's case is now set down for next month on the 4th, when a plea is expected to be taken. 

A political perspective on why Indo-Fijians were absent from Fiji army during the wars

Pacific Scoop:
Opinion – By Thakur Ranjit Singh

Every now and then Fijian leaders, academics, politicians and general public have levelled accusation at Indo Fijians for being disloyal to Fiji by not joining the army during the world wars. This misunderstood, misplaced and false accusation has been hurled by successive Fijian leaders at the Indo Fijian community for their political gain and ulterior motives. Therefore, while we are marking the 2010 ANZAC Day, it is best to clarify these lies here.

Among others, a Fijian nationalist academic who was behind the race-based 1990 constitution, late Dr Asesela Ravuvu had accused Indo Fijians of not being interested to fight for the maintenance of democratic rule in the world and was only interested in their own individual enhancement while Fijians gave their lives for this cause. He accused Indo Fijians of demanding more pay and special protection for their families and property. It was such non-cooperation, according to him, that partly contributed to difficulties in acquiring trust and acceptance of the Fijians as good neighbours and countrymen. It is a pity that such finger-pointing has failed to be challenged widely and corrected.

Dr Brij Lal, an Indo Fijian academic and one of the Commissioners behind the 1997
 constitution wrote about some of the reasons and I take liberty to quote him, and also from
my own sources, to inform what the wider community deserved to know a long time ago.

It is agreed that while to some extent, government’s refusal to grant Indo Fijians the same conditions of service provided to European soldiers is one of the reasons for Indians not being in the military, there are other reasons that need to be clarified to counteract the accusations of racists who castigate a whole race for something they are not guilty of. The reasons why Indians did not join in the world wars in the Fiji army are many. It is hoped some clarifications will set free the lies that blinkered and jaundiced people, that were spread to capitalise on Fiji’s divisive race-based politics that has been a hallmark for Fiji election victories in the past.

One needs to appreciate that the recruitment for Fijians was well-organised and even supported by the other chiefs and even the respected and renowned Fijian chief, Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna in his military uniform, solicited support from indigenous Fijians. His support and efforts for this to some extent was a payback to show his gratitude to the British. He was a beneficiary of the things that came from Britain, hence he needed to protect them. Furthermore, by recruiting a greater number of Fijians, there was an intention to display Fijian loyalty to the British to win their support for the Fijian community. This occurred as the Indian community exerted pressure for more say in the Fijian government.

In addition to that there was easier access to Fijian villagers to recruit, as they lived in stratified structures collectively and were more easily accessible than scattered Indo Fijians. While the Indians said they would fight if Fiji was attacked, they refused to fight for the empire in other parts of the world unless government acknowledged the principle of equality between European and non-European soldiers. What they said was that an Indian life should be valued the same as a European life.

The government was also reluctant to recruit Indians because of objections from Fijians and Europeans, as they did not wish Indians to be equipped with this skill. There have been instances where Indians were requesting their sons to be recruited, but were refused. Europeans, especially the British, were fearful of Indians because of Gandhi’s ‘Quit- India’ campaign and Subhash Chandra Bose’s reported collaboration with the Japanese. They realised that unlike Fijians, Indians were more independent in their thoughts and actions and hence they would have difficulty in keeping them subdued and subjugated.

One of the more important reasons not acknowledged is that Indians were brought to Fiji as ‘beasts of burden’ for cane plantations and this conflicted with their military role. Hence there was a reluctance by CSR to grant leave for the farmers to fight the war, as they needed to meet their contractual arrangements on the cane farms. Indians were not unemployed and “free’ like most of the villagers who were not fully utilised and were available for military service without any constraints elsewhere. Indians had a difficult choice of selecting between enlisting for war and keeping their farms. Fijians on the other hand did not have the difficulty of such a choice, as they had no farming obligations and their families were well-catered for by the collective village type of dwellings.

The government proclaimed that the most important contributions the Indians could make were to increase the production of foodstuffs and maintenance of essential agricultural interests. This had been the Indian contribution to the war, as soldiers cannot fight wars on hungry and empty stomachs. While Fijians fought a military war, Indians were fighting the agricultural and economic war for Fiji.

Historians need to realise that membership in the British Empire was never considered a badge of honour by the Indians, this was realised on seeing the looting and atrocities in India and their treatment in Fiji. Local Europeans owed their power and prestige to British colonialism, and Fijian chiefs were grateful for the security and privilege they and their people enjoyed as a result of British policies. On the other hand, Indians had been subjected to most inhuman racial humiliations and denigrations on a daily basis during indenture (girmit), and fighting a war for the British would have meant a fight for preservation of a system that was oppressive and humiliating.

A very effective tool of the British, and successive Fijian regimes, to exclude Indo Fijians from the disciplined services was imposing the restriction of physical size which worked for the more heavily built indigenous Fijians. Having restrictions of height, chest-breadth and other physical attributes that excluded Indian characteristics was a good ploy to deny Indo Fijians such roles. Little did they realise that like with Ghurkhas and other smaller built soldiers, prowess in military is not handicapped by size because of which Indo Fijians were denied places in the Fiji military and the police force.

The conclusion by Dr Brij Lal in analysis of the above reasons is that the Indo Fijians were neither seditious nor disloyal. It was the European propaganda and the high-spirited war efforts of the Fijians that made them appear so. It was concluded that there was no evidence of any opposition to the wars by Indo Fijians who had displayed full loyalty for the government with a fervent hope for the victory of the Allied Nations. It is obvious that a vacuum of the true historical facts has clouded this issue of Indo Fijian reluctance in the war. This was compounded by a lack of collective rebuttal by Indo Fijians that has led to writers like Dr Ravuvu and other political opportunist to openly humiliate a race for something they were not guilty of.

The question that I pose here is would Fiji’s history have been different if the British had encouraged racial balance in the Fijian Military during the wars?

They say that we become wiser after the event and the benefit of hindsight makes us good philosophers. The question that we raise relates to the reluctance of Fijians and the British colonials in allowing Indians in the military. What may be the history of Fiji if the Indians were encouraged and even forced to join the army during the two world wars?

The answer perhaps lies in the next question and answer.

Question: Why is it that Papua New Guinea and India, despite being so divided on regional, provincial, language, cultural or ethnic lines have little chance of suffering a racially-instituted military coup – as Fiji has?

Answer: This is because their military do not have the type of racial, ethnic, traditional, regional or religious polarisation that Fiji military has. In those countries the diverse make up of the soldiers would thwart, discourage and even prevent uprising based on racial, religious or regional superiority and bigotry grounds.

For argument sake, assume if the Fiji military in 1987 had, say 30 to 50 percent Indo Fijian soldiers distributed equally in all ranks, would Rabuka still have been able to topple the then Commander and institute a racially-based coup?

The chances would have been slim, and may even have resulted in a mutiny as comradeship in the military transcends race and reason may have come out of such a treasonous suggestion.

Fiji’s history, which has been told from a British perspective, failed to tell the full truth about the lack of Indians in Fiji’s army. I hope this, in a little way, helps fill up that vacuum and compels the ill-informed to shut up rather than attempt to tarnish a race, based on lies and incomplete information.- Thakur Ranjit Singh is a post graduate student in Communication Studies at Auckland University of Technology.

Pictures: Rabuka (top), Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna and one of Ravuvu's book.s

Wellington paper slams Bainimarama as a 'tinpot dictator' in media decree

 The Wellington paper, the Dominion Post, is the latest to criticise Fiji's planned media decree.

In an editorial in today's paper, under  the heading Media Restrictions Will Hit Fiji's People, the paper says Voreqe Bainimarama is under the misapprehension that he is a big man in the Pacific when he's not and says that if the New Zealand government was thinking of relaxing its sanctions, the planned media decree thas persuaded it not to:

The primary function of Fiji's proposed new media regulator is "to encourage, promote and facilitate the development of media organisations and services". It sounds reasonable.

There is just one problem. In order to perform its duties the Media Industry Development Authority is being given the power to fine and lock up journalists, editors and publishers, censor news reports, search premises, seize documents, and shut down news organisations.

Coating a dictator's iron fist with a veneer of legality does not soften the blow.

If the New Zealand government was minded to relax the restrictions it has put on Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama's regime, the new media restrictions unveiled earlier this month are reason not to.

Every attempt at encouraging Fiji to return to the democratic fold has been met with truculence and obstruction.

New Zealand's high commissioner to Fiji has been expelled, its deputy high commissioner has been expelled, its head of mission has been expelled.

When the government tried to promote dialogue by proposing the reappointment of deputy heads of missions in Wellington and Suva, the commodore killed the idea stone dead by nominating military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Neumi Leweni for the position of counsellor at its high commission.

A central figure in the coup that installed the commodore in power, the lieutenant colonel is banned from New Zealand because he is a member of the Fijian military.

The commodore is labouring under a misapprehension. The misapprehension is that he is the big man in the Pacific.

He is not. He is a tinpot dictator who has gained power at the point of a gun and is destroying his country's economy and prospects and the institutions, already weakened by three previous coups, that underpin good government.

The news media is one of them. Journalists, editors and publishers will bear the immediate brunt of the latest restrictions, but the real losers are the Fijian people, who have already lost the right to learn what is happening because of "emergency" regulations put in place last year.

Now the restrictions are being made permanent and the penalties for breaching them more severe. Individuals face prison terms of up to five years and fines of up to NZ$73,000; news organisations fines of up to NZ$364,000.

Journalists, unable to protect their sources and liable to detention for publishing anything an authority appointed by the regime considers to be against the public or national interest, to breach the bounds of good taste or to be likely to create communal discord, cannot do their jobs.

Free speech is a fundamental pillar of democracy. "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter," said Thomas Jefferson, the author of the American Declaration of Independence.

Fijians, regrettably, have been denied the choice by their self-appointed president.-Pacific Media Watch/Dominion Post.

Picture: Dominion Post photo of Bainimarama last year after New Zealand condemned then president Ratu Josefa Iloilo's decision to abolish the constitution and sack appeal court judges.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fiji's new Acting Permanent Secretary of Information has a 'big mouth'

Sharon Smith-Johns' first day at work has been a memorable one for her staff. It appears MInistry of Information workers were less than impressed with the Australian expat, judging by this picture.

The photo was taken on Smith-Johns' debut at the Government buildings in Suva earlier this week and was sent to Coupfourpointfive - it's been making the rounds with the heading Our New PS First Day At Work. 

We understand there was a backlash at the Ministry when staff were told she was Permanent Secretary of Information, last week. Staff have apparently decided she has a big mouth.

The flame haired Smith-Johns was ushered into the role with the departure of Neumi Leweni to the Department of Lands.

The illegal government's choice of replacement (she says it's in the acting capacity only and that the job will be advertised) has not been a popular one, with snide remarks suggesting qualifications had nothing to do with the appointment.

Smith-John's new role (she was chair of the Fiji Audio Visual Commssion) will be a highly visible one, especially with the advent of the controversial media decree and people are sceptical of her management, PR and media skills.

She is considered to be a coup supporter but it didn't save her from being dumped by the military regime last year from Connect Fiji, an internet provider and a subsidiary of Telecom Fiji Ltd.

Coupfourpointfive reported last October that she was bumbed off because the junta was bringing in locals and asks what's happened now for the expat to be elevated by the illegal government, when it was supposedly giving locals the opportunity to rise in the good jobs.

Other blogs made a meal of her departure, saying she was a '"leech" who was out of her depth at Connect Fiji.

Comments sent to this blog since the news broke, that she'd nailed the plum role of Acting Permanent Secretary have been in the same vein. Many had to be binned because they were unprintable.