NEWS WORTHY COMMENTS BY YOU!
Few weeks ago Coup 4.5 reported the saga between Fiji One's Satish Narayan and Bainimarama's daughter. Yesterday June 17, 2013 Satish Narayan received his walking papers from Fiji One.
It is understood that Bainimarama called a board member of Fiji One, Padam Lala and told him if Fiji One wants their License in tact, they will have to sack Satish Narayan.
Padam Lala instructed Tarun Patel to sack Satish Narayan immediately, If Patel wanted to keep his job.
The employees of FBC were told of the firing of Narayan way before the employees of Fiji One were made aware of.
Lets hope that Fiji One will not find themselves as part of the FBC in near future. on Burrow: ITUC will push for Commission of Inquiry on Fiji
@2:36 what illegal AG go underground sorry!!! too late.Mr Illegal AG your file is within the military Intel not with Rokoura(PM's office) whom you paid to hide and destroyed files against you that went straight to PM.
Anything against you that son of Neel sharma in HR RFMF rings the bell to Aziz, then you meant to let the complaint follow the channel where you intercept all files against you at PM's office thru Rokoura who hide and destroyed them and you know what he forges PM's singnature on some files and put a [FA]File Away notice on it.
These meant all complaints against you gather dust at Rokoura's residence or he destroyed it completely.
Your private deals with Ports,AFL,TFL,IF etc all filed and kept not there in Fiji its overseas mate !!!
Khaiyum you are comfortable becoz all complaints against you had been filed away by this man Rokoura,not now Mr illegal want to be smart you are exposed to the root!!!
he too one of those used taukei(bought)by you so you can loot as much as you on Burrow: ITUC will push for Commission of Inquiry on Fiji
Editor, we learn from a Fiji Times report that Minister for Housing, Environment, Local Government and Urban Development Colonel Samuela Saumatua has resigned "for personal reasons" according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Information yesterday (FT 18/6).
Be that as it may, my question is why should the Attorney-general Aiyaz Saiyad-Khaiyum "assume the position om an acting basis until a successor was appointed"?
Is Mr Khaiyum the only capable man in the illegal military regime in Fiji? Doesn't he have enough portfolios already?
What would this new addition take the total number of portfolio being handled by this Fiji superman? sincerely, rajend naidu sydney on Burrow: ITUC will push for Commission of Inquiry on Fiji
Saturday, May 22, 2010
The new country report says increased liquidity in the banking system poses risks of inflation and loss of competitiveness while high government debt and contingent liabilities (together 70 percent of GDP) raise concerns about fiscal sustainability.
“The growth outlook remains highly uncertain due to political developments, volatility of commodity prices, the risk of natural disasters, and the complex structural reform agenda,” the report said.
It said the IMF recommended tighter fiscal policy to safeguard macroeconomic stability and ensure sustainability.
A visiting IMF delegation advised a reduction in the budget deficit to about 2 percent of GDP in 2010 – excluding the cost of civil service reform – with further consolidation over the medium-term.
The authorities agreed on the need for medium-term consolidation but at a gradual pace, the report said.
The 2010 budget targets a small increase in the deficit to 3½ percent of GDP with consolidation planned for 2011 and beyond.
The report said the IMF and local authorities agreed that monetary policy should be tightened to ensure inflation returns to low levels and protect foreign exchange reserves.
“The Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) recently increased banks’ required reserves and removed ceilings on banks’ lending rates and spreads. The RBF is considering further steps to tighten liquidity, but did not see the need for a substantial increase in interest rates given the fragile economic outlook.”
The report also said that preliminary data on financing shows that as bank lending to government “reached sovereign exposure limits”, the Fiji National Provident Fund provided most of the funding of the fiscal deficit which increased to about 3 percent of GDP in 2009 from near balance in 2008.
Central government debt was expected to rise to 53 percent of GDP by end 2009.
Contingent liabilities arising from “poor performance” of public enterprises were also noted as sizable.
“Net losses of the Fiji Sugar Corporation, Fiji Electricity Authority and Air Pacific amounted to 1 percent of GDP in 2008/09 and entail fiscal risks while central government guarantees of public enterprise debt amount to 15 percent of GDP at end 2008.”-Fiji Live
The Fiji Village reported yesterday that Tuidravu and Kolinio both pleaded not guilty to the charges and have been remanded in custody.
Yesterday's proceedings focused on whether there was evidence to keep the men in custody and refuse them bail.
Director Police Operations SSP Waisea Tabakau said the police were concerned that the matter is still under investigation and “there’s a likelihood they will interfere with other police witnesses”.
Kolinio's lawyer Mehboob Raza said there was no tangible evidence at this point in time and his client was entitled to bail. “If lacking evidence, why lay charges now?” asked Raza.
According to Tabakau, the police taskforce team has interviewed 80 witnesses and 30 suspects apart from the two accused.
Magistrate Kaweendra Nayankara adjourned the case saying a decision will be made next week.
He also suppressed information relating to parts of the case from being made public.-Fiji Village, Fiji Live.
Footnote: Radio New Zealand is quoting police spokeswoman, Ema Dimila, as saying police are still investigating whether any other officers were involved. “We have reasons to believe that other people, some other people would be involved in this. We don’t think that only two would be enough to carry out what’s been alleged against the two men. So we suppose there are other people involved or could have colluded with the two and so investigations are continuing until that time comes or the charges are laid on other people that we can mention names."
GARRETT: Every worker in Fiji is required to save for their retirement by making contributions to the National Provident Fund.
Jon Fraenkel, a Research Fellow with the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program at the Australian National University says the writedown is a staggering amount of money and far more than was lost in the infamous National Bank of Fiji scandal 15 years ago.
FRAENKEL: Reported losses then were about 220 million, so this is far larger and these are peoples savings, their retirement pensions that have been put away over years and years and years and it's a major hit for the economy and it's a major hit for the living standards of people in Fiji.
GARRETT: When he announced the writedown, the Provident Fund Chief Executive, Aisake Taito, was quick to assure members their remaining savings are safe.
But economists from Fiji and elsewhere say it is very likely that there are more writedowns to come.
International Ratings Agency Standard and Poors says its concerns are related to the important role the Provident Fund plays in funding government deficits and in making loans to government entities.
The Agency's analyst, Kyran Curry, says Fiji's credit rating could be affected.
CURRY: We see the problems of the providence fund as being something that generally weighs on the institutional transparency and independence in Fiji and that's more of a direct issue relating to the sovereign ratings. It's a concern for us that we're not seeing the levels of transparency and governance in Fiji that we have seen in the past and that potentially has a significant impact on the rating in the medium term.
GARRETT: So what sort of impact could it have on Fiji's rating?
CURRY: Potentially if there are significant losses in the fund, given the fund is actually a significant sponsor of government debt, to the extent that the level of assets may not be there when in future years the population is increasing. People are reliant on it to fund their retirement incomes. That is something that may impact on the ratings, because it will impact on the government's fiscal flexibility and its fiscal standing more generally.
GARRETT: Economists in Fiji are deeply concerned about the Provident Fund and the web of connections it has with government, struggling companies and with the Reserve Bank.
Professors Biman Prasad and Wadan Narsey from the University of the South Pacific have each called for a public inquiry.
And Professor Narsey has published a detailed analysis of the Provident Fund's predicament.
Jon Fraenkel from the ANU says the issues are complex.
FRAENKEL: The blame does not solely lie with this government. There have been errors made also on the Qarase Government and some the investment decisions, for example, the Natadola resort and the Momi Bay resort were made back then. However, it is certainly the case that three years of economic crisis and downturn in the tourism industry have not helped at all and they have made it much more difficult for new resorts like Natadola to survive. And, of course, the Fijian Inland Revenue and Customs Authority's interpretation of tax rules pretty much ruined the Momi resort straight after the coup. So although there's got to be some acknowledgment of former governments, this government has certainly played its part.
GARRETT: Professor Narsey has highlighted a number of structural problems for the Fiji National Provident Fund. It's been used as a source of government loan money. The Reserve Bank is using it as a tool of monetary policy forcing it to bring its assets back onshore, where they then suffered from the devaluation of the Fiji dollar. Do you share Professor Narsey's concerns about that sort of problem?
FRAENKEL: Yes, I do and that's not only my view, it was also a concern raised by the visiting international monetary fund delegation I think in November last year where they expressed deep concern about the level of government borrowing from the Fiji National Provident Fund. This also has been a problem going back over years, because since the government borrowed so heavily from the Fiji National Provident Fund, it also protects the monopoly rights of various assets that the provident fund holds, so there is a kind of circular difficulty that arises in Fiji's economy as a result of this.
GARRETT: Professor Narsey says that the only solution is sustained economic growth and that the only way to get that is that Fiji needs to have early elections and to restore the independence of the judiciary. What's your view on that?
FRAENKEL: Yes, well I think he also points out that there is a collapse in investor confidence as a result of arbitrary decisions, expropriation of assets, decrees that change the rules of the game constantly and that limiting economic growth. Absolutely, I think the recovery in Fiji depends on some economic growth. The economy is in major difficulties and the government needs to do something to engineer economic growth and going back to elected democracy would be a major boost to investor confidence.
Although Frank Bainimarama is now singing a different racial tune, we must not forget that it was him, with the power of the gun behind him, who had refused to re-install the ousted Mahendra Chaudhry as Prime Minister following George Speight's failed coup of 2000.
The Pacific Islands Forum announced yesterday it will be holding its 41st Forum from August the 3rd to the 6th in Port Vila.
Fiji's interim government also announced that it would be hosting the Melanesian Spearhead Group Summit in Suva, on July 22 and the 23rd.
Pacific Scoop reported the Secretariat chair, Johnson Honimae, as saying the agenda for the meeting will be finalised by the Officials Committee meeting at the Forum Secretariat in Suva, Fiji, from July the 15th and the 16th - without Fiji.
“All members of the Forum with the exception of Fiji, which has been suspended from the forum, are expected to attend the meeting,” Honimae told Pacific Scoop.
“We have already sent out invitations to all Pacific Island countries who are non-members of the Melanesia Spearhead Group and it is up to them whether they wish to attend,” he said.
Bainimarama said he was not worried if Samoa, whose Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, has continually criticised the military government doesn't attend.
Fiji's meeting is expected to include it's strongest supporters, the Melanesian trio - Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Its spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Neumi Leweni, is having to 'correct' misleading media reports about the proposed new village bylaws and how much they will try to control village life.
He told the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation today that people who are saying that's the case are deliberately misleading the public.
“There has been some misinterpretation or people have been sending some wrong messages across in relation to females in villages being disallowed to wear shorts or long pants or other issues relating to young women.
Leweni told FBC those who are promoting the misconceptions are working against the government.
"I’d like to state here there is nothing of that sort - it's only people who are trying to discredit government or discredit the Fijian community and are trying to create these type of issues to bring about divisions in the villages or settlements.”
Another government official was also forced to clarify another misconception about the controversial village by-laws.
It was also originally suggested that flogging would be introduced but the The Indigenous Affairs Ministry has now told Fiji Village that there will be no flogging or public whipping of villagers.
Deputy Permanent Secretary, Colonel Apakuki Kurusiga, is quoted as asying the Ministry is concerned about the misinformation that has been publicised by one of the dailies, which also headlined the village by-laws as Jungle Laws.
Colonel Kurusiga conceded the by-laws had proposed caning but says the idea had since been dropped.
Scope of the new bylaws
The new by-laws are aimed at controlling social order in the villages and consultations - spearheaded by the Indigenous Affairs Ministry - are being held with provincial councils.
The new bylaws are not intended to cover serious crimes; it's believed these will still be handled by police. According to some reports tresspass, drug use, drunk and disorderly behaviour and larceny are the sort of offences that'll be dealt with at village level.
Reports have suggested that under the bylaws a villager found harbouring a prisoner for example will be dealt with accordingly. Dress codes will also result in women no longer being able to wear long and short pants or short dresses. Men will not be allowed to wear headgear unless approved by the turanga ni koro.
Men who plan to marry will also first have to build a house and maintain a plantation to avoid relying on relatives. Students will be required to be home by 6pm and parents will be responsible for supervising their studies from 7 to 8 pm.
The village headman will enforce the laws and have powers to appoint assistants to monitor criminal activities. Offenders will answer to the bose vakoro which will be chaired by respected elders.
According to the Fiji Times, the new bylaws are expected to come under the umbrella of the Constitution and will be introduced at the end of next month.
Footnote: The attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, told Radio New Zealand the proposals have not come to his office, but it was unlikely that public flogging would be acceptable. He said: "Village by laws were introduced way back in 1870 when we were colonised. So the colonial government put in place bylaws. And some of those bylaws in those days were actually quite oppressive. Obviously any suggestions of any bylaws would not be oppressive and we can only comment once we see what has been proposed.”
Picture: Proposed by-laws to take the fun out of village life?
Filipo Seavula was on duty when he was shot dead by George Speight's gunmen the night of Sunday May the 28th.
Akeneta Seavula told FBC that her husband’s loss was unbearable, and the last 10 years has been a time of sadness, struggles but also joy. "I thank the Lord for giving me strenghth, courage and hope to carry on as a mother and fathr to bring up my children. My family's sad that he has gone from our side. These ten years we have had a lot of struggles along with my children, money-wise and the discipline of my children."
A cheque for $FJ1,0548,878 was handed today to Fiji's Ministry of Education to help rebuild 147 pimary and secondary schools destroyed or damaged by Cyclon Tomas in March.
The cheque was presented by the head of the EU for the Pacific, Wipke van der Goot, to the deputy secretary for education, Josefa Sania, in Suva today.
Today's contribution takes to $FJ2,054878 the EU's total contribution to the Education Ministry's disaster relief funds.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
FBC says five experts will conduct the investigation over the next 6 weeks, and that their findings will be submitted to the FNPF Board for further action.
The FNPF board reently wrote off $327million from its 2009 financial accounts, much of which was money invested in Natadola.
FBC quotes Fund Board Chairman, Ajith Kodagod, as saying the investigation will begin immediately in the interest of transparency and accountability.
He adds that the Board needs to ensure that members’ funds are protected, and those found to have acted in bad faith are held accountable.
Excerpts from Fiji: Coups in Paradise – Race, Politics and Military Intervention by Victor Lal
According to Victor Lal, ‘A vice-president of the Fiji Labour Party, Simione Durutalo, said Ratu Mara ‘has kidnapped democracy and destroyed his own creation, the 1970 Constitution’. He told Radio New Zealand in an interview from Hawaii (where he had fled with his wife and children on the day of the coup), that ‘Rabuka is just a pawn. The real man behind the coup is Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and others in the Alliance Party’. Durutalo, a Fijian, and former University lecturer, said Ratu Mara during his 17 years in power had ‘pretended to the world that he was a multi-racial man and that he was for democracy.’
The leader of the breakaway Taukei faction, Ratu Vesikula, said, ‘It’s more and more the Alliance team back in place. This is the old system being rammed down our throats again in a roundabout way-the backdoor. I would like the indigenous Fijian people to stand united and say, ‘No, enough is enough.’
He asserted. ‘I see no chance at all of my two ratus (chiefs) here changing their outlook and their life and the running of the country in general…They were responsible for the 1970 Constitution and putting them back there is tempting fate. What has the old system achieved for the Fijian people? It has achieved the erosion of traditional leadership…a lack of patriotism…disparity between the races in Fiji. It has culminated in two military coups and the possibility of another or some other form of violence…The Great Council of Chiefs had clearly stated that it will nominate the President, and the Prime Minister would be elected by secret ballot after the general elections. I’m sorry to say this but I feel Rabuka handed power back to a dictator on five December.’
According to Victor Lal, ‘It could be argued that Rabuka simply handed over to the two high chiefs, Ratu Mara and Ratu Penaia, the power which had temporarily slipped out of their hands following the surprise victory of the NFP/FLP Coalition, led by two prominent Fijians, Dr Bavadra and Dr Baba. By the end of 1987 the two high chiefs, representing largely the eastern chiefs class, thus, as they had in 1970, found themselves back in the seats of power.’
‘When the first coup occurred, in May, Ratu Mara was co-chairing the meeting of the PDU at The Fijian Hotel. Although maintaining that he had no prior knowledge of the coup, he told a veteran Fiji journalist Robert Keith-Reid, while on his way to meet Rabuka on 15 May, that he first heard of the military takeover at 9 a.m. on Thursday (the coup occurred at 10 a.m.), and was shocked and saddened. But after Rabuka called on him at The Fijian for help he had agreed to serve on the Council of Ministers as Minister for Foreign Affairs, an action he later justified in the following terms: ‘I had to do it, because if my house was on fire with my family inside…why should I wait? I must try and rescue them…When Col Rabuka’s constitutional council decide[s] on something, it will be good for you, and the nation as a whole.’
Ratu Mara’s acceptance of a post in Rabuka’s interim government, instead of condemning the racial motivation that lay behind it, cast doubts upon the sincerity of his professed belief in the concept of muliracialism. While the Australian Prime Minister Hawke condemned the coup, his acting Foreign Minister, Senator Gareth Evans, questioned Ratu Mara’s role as a member of the new government.
The New Zealand Prime Minister David Lange (above) accused Ratu Mara of treachery under Fiji’s Constitution suggesting that Ratu Mara allegedly fomented the rebellion against the Queen. He said Ratu Mara’s earlier statements about how shocked he was by the coup appeared to be at variance with his new position. Lange added: ‘I believe a word three or four weeks ago from Ratu Mara in support of the constitutional process would have averted all this.’
Victor Lal examines Ratu Mara’s role at length and states: ‘It becomes quite apparent that the only way to keep power in chiefly hands is to embark on undemocratic methods to curb the challenge from the Fijian commoners rather than to compete politically against the Fiji Indians…In Bavadra’s opionion [the 1987 coups] was to silence such true apostles of multi-racialism as himself, who believed that the Indians and the Fijians are ‘one people, one nation’. After being freed from custody he accused Ratu Mara of being behind the coup; he said that in his four weeks in office, he had only just begun to uncover the corruption in the previous administration, making charges that Ratu Mara has consistently denied.’
Lal continues: ‘A fortnight after the first coup Ratu Mara had declared publicly that he would resign from politics and not run for election again; Fiji had rejected his leadership and the future of the Alliance Party was for the party members to decide. He was, he said, responsible for the first Constitution, but would have nothing further to do with the new one; even if the Great Council of Chiefs approached him to seek re-election, he would tell them ‘please don’t try and flog a dead horse, I will not run’.
‘Eight months later, after making those historical statements, Ratu Mara and his defeated Alliance members joined Rabuka’s military bandwagon, without contesting elections, to lead the country. In his address to the nation as the new, unelected, Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, Ratu Mara said: ‘Fellow citizens, let me assure you that I am not an opportunist.’
What did Ratu Mara know about the first coup? When did he know? What about his son-in-law, the then commander of the armed forces and now President of Fiji in Bainimarama’s coup coup land – Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, whose appointment as commander of the army in June 1982 had heightened speculation about a possible military intervention in Fijian politics.
To be continued
The loan is intended to finance wholesale reforms within the Civil Service, Public Enterprises, Fiji National Provident Fund, Land and Agriculture.
In its letter, the president of the movement reminds the IMF that the government that claims to be negotiating with it was declared illegal by the Fiji Court of Appeal on the 9th of April, 2009.
Usaia Waqatairewa says Bainimarama and his cronies’ illegal power grab in a military coup in 2006 were based on unproven claims of wide scale corruption and mismanagement of the economy by the Lasenia Qarase led Coalition Government. The Coalition elected in May 2006 was in fact the first real opportunity to give the minority Indian Community a genuine opportunity in governing as required under Fiji’s Constitution.
The letter is as follows:
"More than three years on, the Bainimarama led Dictatorship are the ones that have totally mismanaged the economy and caused social havoc among Fiji’s suffering population. There has been wholesale sacking in the Public Service while military spending now makes up the largest expenditure n the Annual Budget. This year the Military’s budgeted allocation is again set to increase by 40%. Of this increase, 42% is allocated as salary for military personnel.4 This is in contrast to the salary cut imposed on the civil service straight after the 2006 coup and no wage increase since.
Figures don’t lie and the government itself has admitted that for the first time in Fiji’s modern history that Fiji’s poverty level is well on the way to exceed 50% of the population if it continues with current trend. 5 Ill thought out decisions such as the sacking of the entire judiciary and magistrates and the appointment of cronies while not following Judicial Service Commission procedures, decrees to control the media and a proposed decree to permanently block future judicial redress by previous overseas parties to the money loosing Natadole Integrated Tourism Project are examples that have contributed to the continued drop in investment level and investor confidence.
The number of overseas investments approved from 2006-08 dropped from 441, to 398 to 245.6 The value of the investments approved dropped from $1,015 millions to $495 millions to $405 millions. There is no data on actual investment implemented.7 At the same time, the Fiji economy continues on a steady decline. Following a huge drop of 6.6% in 2007 and the barely zero growth in 2008, GDP is again predicted for a huge decline of 2.5% in 2009.
In dollar terms, the people of Fiji have lost $800 million in national income because of the above failures with an equivalent loss of $200 million of tax revenue and potential expenditure to the Government.9 I am highlighting these major points and red flags to highlight that it would be irresponsible and absurd on your part to allow this illegal government the loan they are requesting. The state of Fiji’s economy since the illegal regime forced themselves into government speaks volume of the people managing it and we the people of Fiji have not given any of them our endorsement, in a general election, to manage our national economy nor negotiate this huge loan on our behalf.
I have no doubt at all that the IMF and the World Bank are well equipped to identify a bad deal when presented with one. While not trying to lecture, I would like to highlight that a basic loan assessment would take into consideration the level of expertise and background of those proposing the loan. I do not think that people of questionable background such as the illegal Finance Minister/Prime Minister (failed to matriculate and a high school dropout), an Attorney General with limited practical court time and a Finance Permanent Secretary with a shady background qualifies as a group of expertise who could be entrusted with $500 million US Dollars.
Therefore, we demand that the proposed widespread reform be put on hold and be left to an elected government because the whole reform process currently underway seriously lack our input as the silent majority.
As a citizen of Fiji and the head of a Movement that represents the Citizens of Fiji who want the restoration of democracy and freedom, I demand to know what kind of collateral is being proposed as security for this loan? We are very concerned because it will be the people of Fiji and their children and grand children who will end up paying in the years to come.
Finally, I wish to firstly, appeal that you please refrain from dealing with this tin pot dictatorship as it does not represent our people. Secondly, to refrain from accepting arguably the biggest national debt ever to be proposed in Fiji’s modern history because it is being proposed by an illegal government that does not represent those who will be paying back this loan if approved?
Please note that the silent uninformed majority of the people of Fiji have not been consulted nor are they aware of this proposed loan."
The letter is signed Usaia P. Waqatairewa ASA, BBus(CSturt), PGD(Macq)
National President - Australia
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Today is the 10th anniversary of the George Speight coup when the government of Mahendra Chaudhry was overthrown.
At 10.45am that Friday morning, George Speight entered Parliament with six gunmen and took the Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, and some of his cabinet hostage.
George Speight, Fiji's second coup leader, is now in jail in Suva, the only coup leader to have been brought to justice.
His original sentence of death for treason was reduced to life imprisonment.
Excerpts from Fiji: Coups in Paradise – Race, Politics and Military Intervention by Victor Lal
Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau was Governor-General and later President of Fiji under the overtly racist 1990 Constitution, which disenfranchised the Indo-Fijians and other non-Fijian communities. Ratu Penaia was representing Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, from 12 February 1983 to 15 October 1987.
His son, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, is now Frank Bainimarama’s Minister for Defence, National Security and Immigration following the 2006 coup.
‘The management of Fiji’s protracted political crisis was thrust into the hands of the Governor-General, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, the Queen’s representative on the island. A former Minister for Fijian Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister in Ratu Mara’s Alliance government, on 12 February 1983, Ratu Penaia had been officially sworn in by the Chief Justice, Sir Timoci Tuivaqa, as Fiji’s third Governor-General, the second high chief to such a position. In his acceptance speech Ratu Penaia stressed that ‘Fiji’s link with the British Crown is a long and treasured one, and I feel deeply honoured to have been chosen to perpetuate that link into the future.
He declared that he would practice political neutrality in discharging the heavy responsibility in discharging the heavy responsibility laid upon him...On 14 May 1987, however, in his capacity as the Governor-General Ratu Penaia suddenly found himself in an awkard position trying to reconcile three conflicting forces: loyalty to the Queen; protection of Fiji Indian interests; and his duty as a chief to safeguard the interests of his Fijian population.
Ratu Penaia’s initial reaction to the coup was one of ‘shock’ and surprise, until Rabuka called upon him at Government House to explain his actions. The following exchanges between Ratu Penaia and Rabuka shortly afterwards is worth recalling here as we examine the Governor-General’s role in the whole crisis. According to Rabuka, the conversation began in English:
Rabuka: Sir, I have just taken over the Government. I have detained all Dr Bavadra’s team. They have been taken up to camp, where they will be detained until we find suitable accommodation for them.
Ratu Penaia: What have you done?
R: I have suspended the Constitution, or abrogated the Constitution, and that means, Sir, that your appointment as Governor-General now ceases to exist.
RP: You mean that I have no job?
R: (Now speaking in Fijian): Yes, Sir, but I would ask that you stay here with full pay and all your privileges and honours that go with your office, until we ask you to come back as President.
RP: Couldn’t you have given them (the Coalition) time to carry out their policies?
R: Sir, it would be very dangerous to let them run the Government for a few more months?
RP: Have you thought about what are you going to do next? What about the Tui Nayau (Ratu Mara)?
Rabuka disclosed that his next steps were: the formation of a Council of Ministers comprising former Alliance ministers to run an interim government, prior to holding another election; and that he wanted Ratu Mara on the Council because he would be a ‘trump card’, a ‘must’ as Minister for Foreign Affairs. Ratu Penaia was sympathetic to Rabuka’s essential aims, but, according to Rabuka, told him what he had done was unconstitutional, and he (Ratu Penaia) would go along with it.
But in light of the Governor-General’s role later it remains possible that he endorsed Rabuka’s overall aims if not the causes. That the Governor-Genereal had initially accepted his dismissal in another example of apparent indifference to the coup. Had it not been for the intervention of the Chief Justice, Sir Timoci Tuivaqa, events at the time might have taken a different turn. Sir Timoci has disclosed that he was in his chamber when his Chief Registrar notified him of the coup. He awaited for a call from the Governor-General, which never came. Sir Timoci eventually telephoned the Governor-General, and said: ‘Sir, there’s a political crisis on our hands. What are we doing about it?’
According to Victor Lal, who has quoted the Chief Justice’s conversation extenso, it was after that phone call that spurred Ratu Penaia into action.
Lal continues: ‘In a recorded radio message broadcast on a private Suva radio system FM96, before it was seized by the military, Ratu Penaia expressed his deep shock and regret at the usurpation of power by the military. While deploring the coup he called on the mutineering troops to end their rebellion, declared a state of emergency, and said that he personally, was taking charge of the government in the absence of his Cabinet. Unabased, Rabuka announced shortly afterwards that he had appointed his own Council of Ministers, with prominent among them, Ratu Mara and many of his former Alliance ministers. The ex-Minister of education, Ratu Mara and many of his former Finance Minister, Peter Stinson, in fact, sat on either side of Rabuka when he gave his press conference declaring that he was firmly in control.’
‘The Governor-General, to whom Rabuka had disclosed his post-coup plans, surprisingly, was allowed to remain at Government House, half a mile from Government Buildings in Suva and it was from there that he would persistently assert that he was the sole repository of legal authority in the islands, although he wavered as Rabuka, fully supported by the Great Council of Chiefs, moved gradually to fulfil the objectives of his coup. Moreover, Rabuka’s apparent reluctance to act against the Governor-General, his own paramount chief, and latter’s ‘secret’ swearing in of Rabuka’s Council of Ministers on 17 May, naturally began to raise doubts about Ratu Penaia’s integrity.’
Victor Lal has written in detail the activities and controversial decisions of Ratu Penaia leading to his resignation on 15 October 1987 as Governor-General and Queen’s representative on Fiji Islands. The role Ratu Penaia, states Lal, emerges as the most complex and contentious issue during the 1987 coups. The Governor-General had three possible courses of action: (1) he could have used the prestige of high office to lead a fight for the restoration of democracy and of the ousted government; (2) he could have acted within the conventions of British constitutional monarchy, finding therein guidance for his actions; or (3) as he, in fact, did confirm to political pressures, precepts and expectations of party and race, use his position to contain excesses of military rule without disavowing the coups’ aims.
According to Lal: ‘It does seem that the Governor-General was aware of the imminence of Rabuka’s first coup. As a former Deputy Prime Minister he was also aware that Fijian rights were fully protected in the 1970 Constitution, and yet he remained silent on the issue. Instead, he threw in his lot with the Great Council of Chiefs and Rabuka to reduce Indians to ‘second-class’ citizens. Most importantly, his repeated claims that he was the sole legitimate authority on the islands may have been the factor that prevented the Queen (and possibly, too many others countries) form acting firmly and promptly against Rabuka. Above all, could the Governor-General have presented the coup?
‘The first major sign of Fijian revolt against the Bavadra government took the form of street demonstrations on 23 April 1987. Afterwards, the anti-Bavadra demonstrators handed a petition to the Governor-General in which they declared a vote of no confidence in the NFP/FLP government. The deposed commander of the army, Brigadier Nailatikau, has disclosed that a day before the demonstrations he called together available officers and told them that since the Taukei march was to go ahead, they must perform their duty ‘if things got out of hand and were called in’. Earlier, Bavadra, Ratu Penaia and Nailatikau had held a crisis security meeting, as most of the demonstrators were Fijians. As pointed out in the last chapter, the demonstration was noisy but ended peacefully.
‘What did the Governor-General know about the coup? When did he know? Firstly, it could be argued that although the Governor-General had constitutional authority, he would be powerless to prevent a coup taking place or to effectively oppose one when it happened. If, however, he had prior knowledge of the imminence of a coup he could at least have alerted the government, or the commander of the army – unless the Governor-General himself was party to the plot. What is not known is whether that he had alerted the then army commander, Brigadier Nailatikau, before he (Nailatikau) left Australia in April, shortly after the street demonstrations. The then Prime Minister, Bavadra, was definitely not warned of a possible military coup against his government. In November 1987 Rabuka disclosed that he had warned the Governor-General that if he ‘did not stage a political coup, I would stage a military coup’.
According to Rabuka: ‘The Taukei Movement emerged-with all its plans for violence, demonstrations and arson. It was at that point that I went to the Governor-General, Ratu Penaia, and asked him if there was something we could do. This particularly after the Taukei had submitted their petition to him expressing displeasure at an Indian-dominated government and urging him to intervene and seek an immediate review of the Constitution. I told him that if he did not stage a political coup, I would stage a military coup, I then left.’
Clearly, then, Victor Lal argues, the Governor-General was aware that Rabuka might launch a military. ‘Yet, as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, it seems that ne neither made any move to alert Rabuka’s immediately superiors nor did he dissuade Brigadier-Nailatikau form leaving the country. Brigadier Nailatikau claims that he knew nothing of the 14 May coup, but if this was so why did the Governor-General not inform Brigadier Nailatikau so that he could keep Rabuka and other possible coup plotters under surveillance? Or was it simply a lapse of memory on the Governor-General’s part? If we are to believe Rabuka, or Brigadier Nailatikau, the Governor-General knew of a possible coup, if he was not actually a co-conspirator. In sum, both the Governor-General and Brigadier Nailatikau’s explanations need further qualifications, and the two questions regarding what the Governor-General knew about the first coup, and when he knew it, remain unanswered.’
And what of the role of another prominent figure – Ratu Mara?
To be continued
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Excerpts from Fiji: Coups in Paradise by Victor Lal
Filipe Bole (right), now Bainimarama’s Minister for Education, National Heritage, Culture and Arts, Youth and Sports, Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment, was another conspirator from 1987 coups:
According to Ritova and Dean Rabuka (his words in italics) went to, ‘…what he understood was an ordinary ‘grog’ party at the Rev. Rakivi’s home, in suburban Suva. It was early evening, and he just walked in, as he normally would, throwing his ‘sevusevu’ [gift] of yagona towards the bowl where the ‘grog’ was being mixed. ‘I saw all these people sitting down, and realised it was some kind of a meeting. Some of the people greeted me, although I could not see everyone clearly, because it was fairly dark in the lounge room. Nobody asked me to leave.’ When his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he discovered the gathering was ‘quite a formidable group’ He says it included Ratu Finau Mara, the son of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara; Ratu George Kadavulevu, son of the Paramount of Chief of Fiji, Ratu George Cakobau; Ratu Inoke Kubuabola; Ratu Keni Viuyasawa, the brother of Brigadier Nailatikau; Mr Filipe Bole, formerly a Minister in the Mara government; Ratu Jo Ritova, of Labasa; Ratu Jale Ratu; ‘Big Dan’ Veitata and the host Tomasi Rakivi…Another leading light at this meeting was Apisai Tora.’
Bole, along with Finau Mara and others in the Fijian Association meetings resolved that the 1970 Constitution of Fiji should be changed to guarantee that Fijians always led Fiji, and agreed to organise protest marches through the capital, Suva, and other centres, and to submit a petition to the Governor-General [Ratu 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 Coalition government.
When the coup occurred, Ratu Finau Mara was in the corridor of the Parliament, making sure the passage was clear for a back-up team of soldiers with combat gear and assault rifles to join Rabuka and his other treasonist soldiers. Ratu Finau, a lawyer in the Crown Law Office was not alone; another lawyer colleague of his was to emerge from the shadows; yes Isikeli Mataitoga.
The Role of Isikeli Mataitoga, now Bainimarama’s diplomat in Moscow
During the 1987 coups, Mataitoga was Rabuka’s chief press officer, appearing on television in full military regalia, justifying the racist coups. He forgot that he was a State prosecutor in the DPP’s office at the time. No, he chose to become, by association, persecutor of Indo-Fijians, whom Rabuka described as pagans who should be converted to Christianity, and that Indo-Fijians will never ever rule Fiji. A former British High Commissioner at the time of the coup claimed that Rabuka had placed Mataitoga into the staff at Government House, and used him to listen on Ratu Penaia’s meetings and conversations with the British and other foreign diplomats.
Editor’s Note: Rabuka , and his team of 10 soldiers, led by one Captain X, entered Parliament on 14 May 1987. Who was Captain X? He was Isireli Dugu of Ono Island in Lau, and his second in command was Savenaca Draunidalo, the ex-husband of Adi Kuini Bavadra. Draunidalo died in a fishing accident in December 2007, when his outboard boat capsized and hit him.
Editor's note: Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, the Foreign Minister, was named in part one of Victor Lal's excerpt one on Coups on Paradise for Coupfourpointfive, which ran on Sunday.
Part Three coming up
Monday, May 17, 2010
Last week, United Nations child protection experts met with Fiji’s police forces for a two-day training session on preventing and combating child and human trafficking in the country. The Fiji Police Human Trafficking Working Group found that children under ten years old have been abducted or recruited into the commercial sex industry; these revelations came from the research done by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and its partners, who interviewed 104 child sex workers in Fiji.
So far, said Fiji’s police commissioner Esala Teleni, the criminalization of human trafficking alone has been insufficient. More creative and comprehensive measures are needed.
Poverty, unemployment and a lack of opportunities for both men and women are the main causes of child trafficking. These are the conditions that enable and perpetuate “practices that commodify women and children and make their sale acceptable,” said Teleni.
The commercial sex industry in particular has been a main factor in the rise in “demand” for trafficked girls and women. For many women, prostitution is the only way they are able to feed their families; others sell children they cannot afford to take care of; many children are abducted or lured into the industry by middlemen. Also important is gender equality and improving the status of girls in women will also be necessary. Today 80% of women in Fiji have suffered from some form of domestic violence, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) reports. Dangerously, similar attitudes make the commodification and objectification of women acceptable, adversely affecting the welfare of the girl-child and women.
At the local and national levels, legislation is not enough. Better guardianship and protection of children is in order, as is safer and more consistent reporting of who is selling or buying children and why. Fiji has made inroads into trying to stop trafficking at the village level where it often originates by writing the rights of women and children into local regulations.
Country officials hope to educate the public on how to recognize human trafficking, for the social stigma against women engaged in prostitution is often suffered by women who have been forced into the commercial sex industry. Thus, even when rescued, life remains difficult and isolated for these women. Such an example of a rights-based approach to human trafficking is admirable and will help to bring about a clearer, rules-based environment.
Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery, Fijian officials have concluded—and they have not been the first to do so. It is with the same perseverance and commitment to human dignity with which slavery was abolished just shy of 200 years ago that child trafficking must be eradicated today.-SOS Children's Villages Canada
Sunday, May 16, 2010
The Fateful May 1987
‘The Fiji Indians awoke to mark the day on which exactly 108 years ago the first Indian ‘coolies’ arrived in Fijian waters aboard the Leonidas. The former Prime Minister Ratu Mara, who had celebrated his 67th birthday the previous day, was still struggling to come to terms with his new role as Leader of the Opposition. It was exactly three years since his predecessor and arch-rival, Jai Ram Reddy, had resigned both as leader of the NFP and as Member of Parliament…In short, democracy died in Fiji on 14 May 1987.’
The role of Sitiveni Rabuka, now stripped of his prime minister’s pension, car, power and glory:
‘I had had a gutful. I wanted to leave the Army because I knew deep inside me that I could not support a Coalition Government,’ Rabuka now admits. It has also been disclosed that the RFMF had booked airline tickets in his name to arrive in Sydney, on 11 May, three days before the coup, but Rabuka had not collected the ticket. Fiji’s army had been invited to participate in a ‘skill at arms’ competition organized by the Australian Army.'
Various armies throughout the world were involved and Rabuka was to have attended the events as observer. Rabuka and others, backed by a racist faction of the influential Methodist Church of Fiji, however, had already secretly planned to overthrow the Coalition government. Two of them, the Reverend Tomasi Rakivi, a cousin of Rabuka’s, and General Secretary of the Fiji Council of Churches, and Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, President of the Fiji Council of Churches and secretary of the Bible Society of the South pacific, were to play a key role in the future course of events.’
‘It was Kubuabola, a cousin of Ratu Penaia [Ganilau], who first termed the extreme Fijian nationalist organization as the Taukei Movement, and he was the direct link with Rabuka.
While contradicting Rabuka’s assertion that ‘there was no complicity beyond the essential military personnel who were involved in the pre-coup organisation’, Kubuabola (right) told Islands Business (May 1988), that for more than six hours on April 19 he and Rabuka, later joined by Jone Veisamasama, ‘talked about different options’.
It was one 19 April that the groundwork for the coup was laid and according to Kubuabola, 11 May was the day his co-conspirators decided to proceed with its execution. He also claims that when it was learnt that Parliament would not sit on Friday they had to bring forward the coup to Thursday.'
According to Kubuabola: ‘By four [p.m. 19 April] we spent some time in prayer and option and we asked Rabuka to prepare his side of things, you know, the military option. And all the things we were doing were the lead up. We asked Rabuka to prepare that side and when the time, when we reach a stage when he must step in, he must be ready to step in. We changed it [the coup] to Thursday on Wednesday night in my office at the Bible Society with Rabuka.’
To be continued.
Editor’s Note: If the 2006 coup was executed to make Fiji ‘race free’, can Frank Bainimarama explain to us why he has in his Government one of the key racists from 1987 in Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, now running around the world as Fiji’s unelected Minister of Foreign Affairs?
In the following audio, USP journalism students takes us back to that fateful day of May 14, with some familiar voices including those of Dr Tupeni Baba, who was of course Education Minister in the deposed Timoci Bavadra government.
In 1997 Patrick Craddock, a former radio New Zealand producer was on staff of the USP in Suva and worked with François Turmel, a former BBC journalist who established the USP journalism training program with French support. As part of an exercise in documentary making, the students collected audio interviews with people who had experienced the 1987 coup in Suva. Pat helped to produce the program at the Media
Interviewees included Sam Thompson, a radio journalist at Radio Fiji, Dr Baba, the police chief appointed by Rabuka, students, staff of the USP and people attending an NGO workshop.
At the time, none of the participants wanted to be identified by name with this documentary and no names were included in the production details. The documentary was seen as an exercise for students and was never broadcast. Most audio interviews were done on location. The program is now a small part of the history of the time.
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