#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2010-08-15

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sugar loses its econimic sweetness

But who is right, Reserve Bank or National Farmers Union

Two different takes on the ailing industry:

RBF warns on sugar 

August 21, 2010, Fiji Times
SUGAR production does not look promising this year and expectations are that it will decline to levels lower than last year.

Reserve Bank governor Sada Reddy said the problem was because of lower cane production caused by low rainfall. He said the poor performance was also because the mill upgrade works had not "delivered the efficiencies that were expected".

"Sugar production does not look promising," Mr Reddy said. "Sugar production is expected to decline further significantly this year due to continuing milling problems and drop in cane production."

All four of the country's sugar mills have been plagued by frequent breakdowns since the start of the 2010 season in June.

The farmers have complained of huge losses because of disruptions in the harvesting program.

And from the Fiji Labour Party website
(posted August 19)
THE FUTURE of the sugar industry looks grimmer by the day with the first shipment of sugar exports long overdue and sugar extraction rates continuing to deteriorate, says the National Farmers Union.

This year’s crush has been a disaster from the very start. All four sugar mills have been plagued by frequent stoppages owing to mechanical breakdowns. This has, in turn, resulted in serious disruptions to the cane harvesting programme causing huge losses to farmers.

“We have to retain, accommodate and feed cane cutters engaged from far away villages. The disruption to cane harvesting programme as a result of mill breakdowns means cane cutters spend most of their time idling away because harvesting gangs are shut down,” complained a Nadi farmer.

“Most cane cutters earn less than $40 in three weeks because of idle time. Many of them have left because they cannot sustain their families in the villages on an income of around $13 a week.

“When they leave, the farmer loses the advance paid to them at the time of their engagement which can be as high as $1000 per cutter,” he said.

As of today, not even a single shipment of export sugar has left our shores. “We are into the third week of August – never has export shipment been delayed for so long,” according to FSC shipping services.

Meanwhile, poor TCTS ratios at the mills are causing grave concern among farmers. FSC is not releasing official figures for cane crushed and sugar made, but our sources have been able to ascertain the following:

• Rarawai Mill – 21 tonnes of cane to make one tonne sugar

• Penang, Labasa and Lautoka – 14 tonnes cane to one tonne sugar

The sugar recovery rate is extremely poor. The average TCTS should be between 8-9 if the mills were performing optimally.

Based on these figures and making due within-season adjustments, a sugar make of around 120,000 tonnes only is likely from an estimated crop size of 1.9 million tonnes of cane.

However, even this may not be possible because of the effects of the prolonged drought which have gripped the cane belts of western Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.

The most important question a cane farmer will ask in the wake of the current disaster is: How much can I expect to be paid for a tonne of cane this season?

The short answer to that is: around $45 a tonne.

Iron Lady Ro Kepa free to walk around her native Fiji

Dictator's prosecutor fails to have Ro Kepa remanded
Fiji prosecutors yesterday failed to get the courts to restrict the movements of Rewa's paramount chief, Ro Teimumu Kepa.
Ro is accused of trying to organise meetings of the Methodist Church in her home province despite an order from the junta leader, Voreqe Bainimarama.

She has been in and out of court several times this year as prosecutors try to make the charges stick.
The latest application yesterday to the magistrates Court in Suva for her to be remanded was rejected.

State prosecutor Nanise Ratakele also failed to get the court to agree Kepa had violated bail conditions established at an earlier hearing.
-Original story and picture from the Fiji Times

Friday, August 20, 2010

NBF Debtor Tomasi Vakatora Jnr ($72, 992.98) defends poor profit result

FNPF raises concern in drop of profits during ATH AGM
By Ana Naisoro, Fiji Village News

The Fiji National Provident Fund being the largest shareholder in the ATH Group of companies has raised concern about the company's 53 percent drop in profit for the period ending 31st March 2010.

ATH recorded a profit of $15.4 million for the period ending 31st March this year compared to $33.14 million for the same period last year.

At the Annual General Meeting this morning FNPF which holds 58.2 percent of ATH shares through their representative Suliano Romanu said the drop in profit is quite significant and worrying.

However in response ATH CEO Tomasi Vakatora said there were a number of factors which led to the decline in profit, which includes the commissioning of new and advanced telecommunication systems, the international economic environment as well as new competitors in the telecommunications market.

Meanwhile the board also approved a final dividend payout of $8.44 million which will be paid out on the 9th of next month. Posted August 19 at 16:53 

Editor's Note: See our archives for Victor Lal's comprehensive coverage on the Vakatora Holdings and the collapsed NBF

Fiji - Future of the Pacific?

By Balaji Chandramohan for The Diplomat
Is a spat between regional power Australia and Pacific island Fiji an early indication of China’s future island Fiji an early indication of China’s future role in the Pacific?

Fiji has been back in the news, but this time not because of a coup or ethnic violence—problems that have wracked the tiny South Pacific island nation in recent years. Instead, it has been drawing attention for standing up to regional power Australia.

Last month, the island’s self-appointed prime minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, decided to expel acting Australian High Commissioner Sarah Roberts. Indeed, he went as far as to declare her a persona non grata—the toughest form of censure for a foreign diplomat.

The official explanation was that Roberts had been expelled for ‘interfering with the internal affairs of Fiji and conducting unfriendly acts.’ But the real reason was more likely pique at the cancellation, after Australian lobbying, of the five-member Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) over concerns about democracy and governance in the military-run country.

Bainimarama, who took power in a coup in 2006, has rejected such claims, although he also hinted at the possibility of cancelling the island’s planned return to democratic election in 2014 over what he argues is foreign meddling in Fiji’s affairs.

But his defiance hasn’t stopped there. Fiji has begun to act more assertively in other ways, for example proposing holding an ‘Engaging Fiji’ meeting as an alternative to the MSG.

So what has emboldened Bainimarama to turn against Australia? The answer is almost certainly the island’s warming ties with China, a country Fiji has courted since being expelled from the Commonwealth and Pacific Islands Forum, in an effort to legitimize Bainimarama’s rule.

The tack the prime minister is taking was clear during his visit to China earlier this month, during which he said he would distance his island from Australia and New Zealand in favour of a country he said better understands the ‘reforms’ he is trying to introduce.

Fiji has already started to relax immigration rules for Chinese students wishing to come to Fiji to study English, which some see as a more cost-effective destination than Australia or New Zealand (the island has also been working hard to counter any impressions of it being a banana republic or failed state).

Meanwhile, Fiji also appointed former Finance Minister Sir James Ah Koy to head its embassy in Beijing and China is set to reciprocate by sending a government delegation to the island when Fiji observes the 40th anniversary of its independence on October 10.

In return for these efforts, China gains the allegiance of a nation in a region that Australia has itself been wooing. 

Many South Pacific islands receive significant investment and aid from Australia, including Papua New Guinea, which relies on Canberra for 59 percent of its imports and which last year received A$457 million worth of aid. The Solomons, meanwhile, received A$226 million, while Vanuatu got A$66 million.

Such assistance helps Australia wield greater influence over the MSG, whose current chair, Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natapei, echoed Australian and others’ concerns over the legitimacy of Bainimarama continuing in power.

Kubuabola tries to butter up the Aussies and the Bharanians

The interim government is continuing to do the big suck-up to stay in with the international community.

The Herald Sun is reporting that the junta has praised a pledge by Australia's Opposition that, if elected, it would open negotiations with Frank Bainimarama.

The papers says that at last week's foreign policy debate in Canberra, Coalition Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, Julie Bishop, promised to open negotiations with Bainimarama for electoral reform as a way of easing tensions between Australia and Fiji.

Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuaboa is reported as saying  this was a "positive indicator" and that Fiji wants to engage with nations interested in backing its  reforms in the lead up to elections there in 2014.

"Fiji has been sincere, transparent and open about what it has set out to achieve in its roadmap to return to parliamentary democracy and we are fully determined to see this through."

Kubuabola has been equally busy in the Arab states.

He revealed today the Kingdom of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf has agreed to establish formal diplomatic relations with Fiji.

The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation says Kubuabola has received formal communication from Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Peter Thomson, of Bahrain’s wishes to formalize formal recognitions with Fiji.

FBC quotes Kubuabola as saying it is a significant exhibition of trust and respect between the two countries to acknowledge and enhance bilateral relations.
Elenoa Osborne's story says the signing of the Joint Communiqué will be held at the margins of the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in September.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sayed Khaiyum's Final Solution thesis: read it for yourself

Bainimarama’s anti-Fijian policies driven by Khaiyum’s genocidal 'sunset clause' thesis on how to destroy Fijian cultural autonomy.

Many proud and self-respecting i-taukei Fijians have been asking Coupfourpointfive whether we have the interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s thesis, where he advocates the destruction of the very fabric of Fijian institutions, now being implemented by dictator Frank Bainimarama and his predominantly i-taukei Fijian members of the Military Council.
Yes, we do, and here we publish a few excerpts. In his conclusion, Khaiyum writes as follows: 

“As seen from the Fijian experience, cultural autonomy has a place within a nation-state to provide protection to a group at a particular point in time or for a period of time….To maintain one’s self-worth culture needs to be dynamic and vibrant. Capturing it in institutions makes culture parochial, irrelevant, prone to manipulation and servesonly the interest of a few….As seen from the Fijian experience the continuation of separate indigenous Fijian administration has restricted the growth of a coherent national narrative, in politics, myth or ritual...”
In his conclusion, Aiyaz proposed the following, akin to Adolf Hitler’s Final Solution: “Therefore cultural autonomy must have a sunset clause. Its prolonged continuation will place a stranglehold on the very members it seeks to protect and it will concomitantly disallow the critical cultural space in which a just, vibrant and coherent nation-state can flourish while embracing diversity.”
According to highly reliable military sources shortly before the coup, Khaiyum went up to Berkley Crescent with his own version of Mein Kampf. 

The dictator, hungry for power, and inebriated from free alcohol from the Officers Mess, thought it a great idea, and appointed Aiyaz as his new A-G to implement his anti-Fijian laws. He was to be assisted by a Kiwi, Christopher Pryde, the new illegal Solicitor-General in the genocidal crime against the i-taukei, and more specifically, against the Great Council of Chiefs which had stood in Frank's way after the 2006 coup.Click to read Sayed-Khaiyum's full thesis

Group warns Kia landowners to seek advice before surrendering to Fiji Land Bank

Contributed article by Paula Raqeukai, the president of the Pacific Islands Landowners Consultancy Group.
WHILE I commended the initiative by the Mataqali Burewaqa of Kia Island to give their land to the Land Bank of Fiji, I strongly advise the landowners and their local consultants or representative, (including NLTB), to seek  independent professional advice on the development feasibility of this proposed multi-million dollar land project.  

My humble advice to landowners is to seek address on the following areas before surrendering their land interest to the Land Bank of Fiji for an uncertain period of time:

1. What is the estimate residual land value for acquisition or disposal purposes based on the hypothetical development (proposed 12 allotments of 4.16 acres each on the 50 acres site development)?

 2. What is the estimate financially appraised of this property development and at the same time test its viability or feasibility against the value of the total land resources and the people of Kia Island (tangible and intangible values)?
3. What is the best model of joint venture debt/equity arrangements to adopt for the landowners (sideline head lessor) or in this case the government (head lessor) on the proposed development;
4. Has the Fiji land reform unit or it reps evaluate multiple development options on the proposed site to determine its highest and best use?
5. Has the Fiji land reform unit or its reps analyze the possible risks involved in such high magnitude land development using sensitivity testing and probability analysis via the usage of any aided computer software available to land professionals?
The above are some of my concerns that any prudent landowners should be aware of when seeking to invest in land for an optimum return during an unspecific period of investment. 

Land reform elsewhere in the world has both its positive and negative effects and in certain countries like Somalia and Thailand the very people who were supposed to  benefit from the land reforms become much worse off today. 

In my opinion land reforms are not bad if the full consultancy of all stakeholders (including the native land resource owners) is involved and arriving at a consensus.
As a landowner I would not like to see what happened in Somalia (land grabs as a result of non-consultation of the landowners/breakdown of structured government) and Thailand (the priority shift of land reforms from landowners to tenants; land reform controversy; the distribution issue; the implementation problems) to happen in Fiji in the next 30 years. 

Remember a wise land reform decision made today will certainly have an everlasting effect to the next generations to come.

Picture: Land reform in Africa has often failed to address poverty and hardship despite good intentions.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Taukei and the new 'Fijian'

The junta leader, Voreqe Bainimarama, is back from China, and propelling the campaign for citizens to use 'Fijian' to refer to all people. Bainimarama yesterday told the Lau Provincial Council it would help unite the nation and free it from racial discrimination.
Jone Baledrokadroka argues here that there are better ways to help Fiji forge a common identity.
Jone Baledrokadroka
IN DECREEING the new ‘Fijian’ as the national identity in place of the constitutionalized ‘Fiji Islander’, the military regime hopes to engender civic-nationalism and banish ethno-nationalism to the dust bin of history. Will it?

Laisenia Qarase, the ousted Prime Minister, (Fiji Times 16 Aug 2008) led the opposition to what is now law, quote, “This is a highly sensitive proposal to the indigenous population. Ever since the word 'Fijian' was first used it referred to the indigenous population. It is part of their psyche and part of them. Any change must have the approval of the Fijian people after very wide consultations with them”.

Qarase further stated accordingly, “The common name for the citizens of Fiji is 'Fiji Islander'. This is contained in our 1997 Constitution. This common name has not been used publicly. The problem is that the name 'Fiji Islander' has not been promoted and marketed both locally and abroad. If the common names 'Solomon Islander', 'Cook Islander' and 'New Zealander' can stick, there is no reason why 'Fiji Islander' cannot” unquote.

By stripping the indigenous people of its Polynesianized ‘Fijian’ identity, the regime's law replaces the Melanesianized – ‘i Taukei’- when referring to the original settlers of Fiji. Reform done and dusted, end of story. 

There is an issue, however, with i Taukei if the regime intended the name to mean what it represents. Much as the indigenous people are proud of being i Taukei in an anthropological sense, Taukei-ism has taken on a militant indigenous political meaning since the 1987 coups. Father Barr condemned 'Taukei-ism' or extreme Fijian nationalism as a “philosophy of domination and discrimination”. (Barr 1999:15)

Reverend Josateki Koroi, the president of the Methodist church at the time of the 1987 coups, also asserted, “It is the domination of men over women, adult over children, husbands over wives and chiefs over their subjects. In the field of religion Taukei-ism is the domination of Christianity against non-Christian religion of Fijian domination over the others” (Ernst 1994:208).

The name sharpens instrumentalist views such as generated by the ethno nationalist Taukei Movement and will definitely inhibit political moderation. This possible untoward outcome is the exact opposite of the all racial new ‘Fijian’ civic- nationalism call of the regime. For the indigene now branded a Taukei this change plays right into the identity politics arena of ethnic out bidders.

Unwittingly, the Taukei branding will by default also officially assign all other races in Fiji to perpetual Vulagi (guest) status, a living traditional concept as articulated by Professor Ravuvu. (Ravuvu 1988)

In endeavouring to solve a race issue the regime has elevated an even bigger latent issue-a state instituted political ethnic identity ready made to be manipulated by ethnic out bidders.

Such rough shod reforms were similarly carried out at the hands of short sighted leaders of the majority Sinhalese triggering the tragic Sri Lankan civil war.

What is the alternative?

In a speech on new immigrants in 1986 US President Reagan said that an 'American' is based on a proposition of Liberty, Freedom and Democracy not on a race such as English or French.”

Therefore, I suggest similarly basing our common identity on such a proposition as that of the United States of America – the emergence of a national identity fashioned out of democracy, including our shared historic and colonial past- rather than a race.

For to date the word 'Fijian' has been the referred identification embodying the mana of the indigenous race or Kai Viti to his land Viti - ever since the Tongans initially introduced its usage as Fisi to early European Explorers, Traders and Missionaries. 

Basically, an involuntary name change, especially involving a whole race, risks permanent generational and emotional resentment by such a race for what is basically, identity theft.

What then is a common bond, for both the major races, Fijians and Indians and all others?

I suggest a fusion of words to create this new identity. The fusion of the word 'Fijian' and the word 'Indian', symbolizing this new identity, the emergence of a Fidjian.

What’s more, the addition of the alphabet “d” into Fiji signifies and symbolizes the fusion of all races based on the proposition of democracy and a common national identity. To take it further, figuratively speaking the “d” in democracy and the “d” in Indian has fused into the “d” for a truly democratic nation - Fidji. Food for thought in a new democracy?

Jone Baledrokadroka is a PhD in Politics candidate at ANU Canberra.

Fiji Sun sings the praises of another foreign lackey

Under the headline 'Professor Jha’s made his mark' the Sun yesterday (August 17) printed the following story:

Outgoing Indian High Commissioner Professor Prabhakara Jha will be missed. 

Last Sunday, he confirmed that he will be completing his term and leaving the country on September 5.

Professor Jha was one of the diplomats based in Suva who stood by the Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama led-Government despite so-called “smart” sanctions placed by Australia and New Zealand.

India, like other Asian nations, is much more understanding of the challenges Fiji faces and the need for reforms to build a better Fiji.

In one of his speeches at that time, Professor Jha gave an example how India and Pakistan were at war for years but at the same time trade and dialogue continued.

He said that India was going to continue on trade with Fiji and at the same time continue on dialogue with Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama’s government.

Not only that. During his time, the Indian Government offered more scholarships, which enabled more of our people to further their education there.

Plus agriculture assistance, and donations to schools, hospitals and communities.

Professor Jha became a familiar figure in many areas of our country.

The many good works he spearheaded during his time heading the India High Commission made positive impacts in the lives of our people.

We wish Professor Jha and his family well as they prepare to head home.

Editor's Note: We say Jha (pictured above) should have been deported years ago for refusing to disclose why the Indian Government allegedly transferred thousands into Mahendra Chaudhry's Australian bank account in Sydney. Jha had also hosted a Diwali celeberation at his official residence where dictator Frank Bainimarama and one of the judges in the Laisenia Qarase case, Pandit Davendra Pathik, were shamelessly applying Holi power on each other's forehead, raising the question of judicial bias. We say this: We will not miss Jha and his misguided support for Fiji's  illegal junta.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bainimarama returns talking up China policy

Junta leader Voreqe Bainimarama is back from China saying Fiji can no longer rely on importing goods from Australia and New Zealand.

FijiVillage is quoting Bainimarama as saying it's time to also look at the Asian market.

Bainimarama met with members of the Lau Provincial Council in Deuba this afternoon.

FijiVillage quotes him as saying Fiji has to move away from relying on New Zealand and Australia because talks are underway with countries like China and India.

Reporter Vijay Narayan says Bainimarama revealed that increased trade ties are expected to result in a cement factory being set up in Fiji in the near future to help low income earners build affordable houses.

FijiVillage reports Bainimarama as also saying the Chinese businessmen have also shown interest in entering into the Tourism Industry and other business opportunities in Fiji.

Editor's Note: See Victor Lal's earlier piece (two stories down) on the dangers of the Look to China Policy.

Interim govt agrees to re-open USAid office

Fiji's interim government has approved a request by the United States to re-etablish its USAid office in Suva after an absence of 15 years.

The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation says the request came from the US Embassy and it was approved by the interim Foreign Affairs Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola. (pictured right)

FBC says the two USAID positions are that of a Mission Director and a Program Officer and they will be filled next month.

Kubuabola is quoted by FBC as saying the two will have the job of  overseeing all USAID programmes in the Pacific, including working with bilateral projects and existing regional organizations and missions to fund Global Climate Change Programs and overseeing HIV/AIDS programs and disaster management programs.

He says the Ministry appreciates the re-establishment of the USAID Office in view of the benefits that will accrue to Fiji and the rest of the Pacific Island Countries.

Editor's Note: The return of the USAid programmes to Suva was tipped by Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, at this month's Pacific Islands Forum. The head of the US Delegation (pictured left), stated at the 22nd Post Forum Dialogue that the US has "under-performed in the Pacific region and plans to change that dramatically." Campbell informed participants that a USAID office will re-open in Suva, Fiji, in 2010, and another USAID office will open in Port Moresby, PNG, in 2011. He also promised that as a result of the Guam Build-Up, there will be employment opportunities in Guam for citizens of PIF countries.

Ganilau family’s “kana loto” – free loan – from collapsed NBF

Penaia Ganilau and his Korean businessmen partners obtained over $4.5million ‘chicken and egg loan’ on ‘Barge under Construction’

Part Twenty of a Special Report by VICTOR LAL

Qeleni Holdings Limited! Cakaudrove Provincial Council! Iko Vuka Enterprises! Yatu Lau Company Limited. And now, it is Tavenui Woo IL Pacific Company Ltd.  

The Ganilau family’s “kana loto” free meal – loans from the collapsed National Bank of Fiji knew no bounds or restraints.

Further investigation into Tavenui Woo IL has revealed that one of the faceless directors behind the company was none other than Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, the President of Rabuka’s post-coup Fiji who, while scheming and plotting against Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the declaration of Fiji into a republic, was simultaneously cutting deals with Korean businessmen to form the above business venture. 

When the NBF collapsed because of the defaulting bad debtors, Tavenui Woo IL was listed as owing the bank a staggering $5,425,000 (Five Million and Four Hundred Twenty Five Thousand Dollars), raising the question: why were $320millions of dollars worth of bad loans written off, and as former DPP chief and later High Court judge, Justice Nazhat Shameem, had complained “no one was brought to justice”. Was it because it involved the high and mighty in society, including President Ganilau and his Prime Minister Mara, and their siblings? 

We may recall from my earlier investigations that Penaia Ganilau had claimed that recently disenfranchised Indo-Fijians could engage, if they so chose, in business ventures, but political power must reside in i-taukei hands. 

Remember the racist 1990 Constitution which Ganilau-Mara had shoved down the throats of non-Fijians, which had disenfranchised half of the country’s population including urban i-taukei Fijians. 

The apartheid-style regime, backed by Rabuka’s guns, also provided the Ganilau-Mara dynasty the opportunity to form various business ventures on the back of loans obtained from the NBF. 

After all, Ganilau was Rabuka’s paramount chief, and controlled the Cakaudrove Provincial Council through his side-kick, coup conspirator and leader of the dreaded Taukei Movement, Inoke Kubuabola, another debtor to the collapsed NBF.
In the case of Tavenui Woo IL, additional loan was obtained even on a barge that was under construction – ‘chicken and egg loan’ – raising the question: how on earth did the NBF come to the decision that the barge would protect its customers in the event of the company defaulting on its loan? 

Just imagine a businessman walking into a bank and walking out with a million dollars in loan on the basis of a lottery ticket that he had just bought which guaranteed a million dollars in prize money.
But we must not draw a deep gasp. In the post Rabuka coup Fiji, the Mara-Ganilaus were the Kings of Coupcoupland, and they were the LAW. Now their siblings have re-emerged in post 2006 Coupcoupland. 

While Ganilau-Mara duo were conveniently accusing Indo-Fijians for lack of i-taukei participation in business, they themselves were forming business partnerships with foreign businessmen - remember Mara’s Lomaloma Resort (owed thousands in debt to NBF) and his partnership with the Japanese businessman Tsuito Yokota from Osaka, Japan? Not to mention Korean businessmen in the collapsed Vanua Air Fiji Ltd on which I will be writing later on in the series).
Tavenui Woo IL Pacific Company Ltd

According to the Articles of Association, the above company was formed on 15 September 1989, two years into Rabuka’s 1987 coups. 

It was registered as a limited liability company with its registered office at Lovonivonu, Tavenui, in the ‘Republic of Fiji’. 

The 1992 Annual Return to the Registrar of Companies (ROC) listed the following as directors: Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, c/- Government House, Suva, President of Fiji; Ratu Isikeli Turaganivalu Kubuabola, Somosomo, Tavenui, Roko Tui Somosomo; Hang Ho Lie and Hung Chull Kim, Koreans. 

They gave the same address in Korea: 837-12 Yeuksan-Dong Seoul, 135-080, Korea; and Adi Mei Gauna, Alternate to Penaia Ganilau. Isikeli Kubuabola, who passed away about two years ago, was listed as secretary to the Company.
It is worth reminding those, both inside and outside Fiji, who are zealously and blindly supporting the dictator, Frank Bainimarama’s ‘Look China Policy’, to wake up and take note. Shortly after the 1987 coups, Rabuka’s illegal Prime Minister Mara, in response to Australia and New Zealand’s opposition to the coups, had embarked on the so-called ‘Look South East Asia Policy’ with Mara and his team making visits to South Korea.

Now, as we have seen from documents in the companies they were involved in, how they were lining up their own, their families and their business partners pockets under the sulu of the 1987 nationalist and racist coups, resulting in the collapse of the National Bank of Fiji. 

The day Fiji returns to democracy and once again we have a free media (whether Fiji Times is closed down and the coup propagandist Fiji Sun survives), we will, I am convinced, be able to find out what the present illegal lot got out of ‘Look China Policy’, if any, with all those Chinese companies promising to come and invest in post 2006 coup. 

In other words, who will be (or are) these Chinese businessmen’s local Fiji partners, for remember the regime wants the Fiji Times to be 90 per cent locally owned. In the absence of a functioning Parliament, and a repressed media, the present illegal lot has granted themselves license to sell Fiji’s “silvers” to the so-called enthusiastic Chinese investors.
According to Tavenui Woo IL’s Debenture dated 21 September 1989, $800,000 was secured in mortgage, being further advance, making a total of $4,600,000 (Four Million and Six Hundred Thousand Dollars). Particulars of the Property Mortgaged: “The Company’s real and personal property and all its assets and effects whatever and whenever both present and future including its uncalled and unpaid capital.” 

Allotments from the 30 December 1991 Annual Return to the ROC
Number of Ordinary Shares allotted payable in cash $400,000. Nominal Amount of 400,000 shares so allotted. Amount paid in due and payable on each share - $1; Amount paid or due on each share: 150,000. Number of 400,000 shares so allotted.

Name, Address, and Description of Allotees
Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau c/-Govt House, Suva, 200,000 shares; Woo IL Pacific Ltd, Seoul, Korea, 400,000 shares; and Cakaudrove Provincial Council, Waiyevo, Tavenui, 200,000 shares.

Particulars of Indebtedness
The Annual Return of the Company to the ROC for December 1992 revealed the following: “Total amount of indebtedness of the Company in respect of all mortgages and charges which were required to be registered with the ROC under the Companies Act: $4,076,783.”

On 30 December 1991, at an extraordinary general meeting of the Company, it was resolved as follows: “That the share capital of the Company be increased to the amount Two Million Five Hundred Dollars ($2,500,000) by the creation of additional share capital to the amount of One Million Five Hundred Thousand ($1,500,000).” 

And that, “Paragraph 5 of the Memorandum of Association be amended to read as follows: ‘The share capital of the Company shall be $2,500,000 (Two Million Five Hundred Thousand) shares of $1 (One Dollar) each’”. Penaia Ganilau, as director of the Company, signed off the declaration.
On 26 May 1993, the ROC certified the following, stating “Collateral Debenture, securing the sum of $2,300,000 and further advances dated the 21st day of September 1989, given by Tavenui Woo IL Pacific Company Ltd, has this day been registered in accordance with the provisions of Part IV of the Companies Act and has been varied to secure the sum of $4,600,000 and further advances”.

On the same day, the Particulars of Mortgage by Tavenui Woo IL to NBF, a body corporate duly constituted under the National Bank of Fiji Act 1973 and having its principal office in Suva, reveals the following: “Bill of Sale dated 19 April 1993, Collateral to Mortgage dated 21 September 1989; Amount secured by Mortgage: $4,600,000; Short Particular of the Property Mortgaged: Grantor’s Barge approximately 27 metres in length and presently under construction, together with all accessories, equipment and fittings thereto.”

When the NBF went under water because of the bad debtors, Tavenui Woo IL Pacific Company was listed as owing a staggering $5,425,000 to the collapsed bank. 

To recall Shameem’s chilling reminder, what was supposed to be an affirmative action programme to advance soft loans by the NBF to the disadvantaged indigenous population was in fact a slush fund for the privileged – in the case of Tavenui Woo – none other than Rabuka’s high chief and President of Fiji – Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau. 
But Ganilau was pipped to the post by his own private executive secretary and radio announcer, Masimeke Latianara, and his business partner George Kwong, married to Ratu Mara’s first cousin Seni Rosa, when their company Tropikana Ltd was listed as owing over $7million to the collapsed NBF. 

George Kwong was listed as personally owing over $7,000 to the bank. In 1996 Tropikana went into liquidation, and the National Bank of Fiji collapsed with a bad debt of over $372million.

To be continued

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 has paid back the NBF loans, please provide Victor Lal with evidence. He can be reached at vloxford@gmail.com  

Pictures: Top Penaia Ganilua, Middle: betrayed monarchy Queen Elizabeth and Bottom: Rabuka.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Adrift in the Pacific

By Dr Jon Frankel for The Economist

PACIFIC leaders gathered in Port Vila, Vanuatu, earlier this month for their annual summit but missing some of the region’s key players. 

Julia Gillard, Australia’s still-new prime minister, was busy fighting an election scheduled for August 21st, and sent a foreign minister in her stead. The Solomon Islands’ prime minister, Dr Sikua, was detained by another hotly contested election, held August 4th. 

The prime minister of Papua New Guinea, Sir Michael Somare, stayed home too. Though he cited “personal reasons”, he happens to face perfectly public difficulties as well, not least rebels within his government who aim to oust him.

And then Frank Bainimarama, Fiji’s military strongman-turned-prime-minister, was forbidden from attending. The forum has suspended Mr Bainimarama, who seized power in a coup in 2006, ever since he breached his subsequent promise to hold elections by March 2009.

The forum—which is supposed to bring together leaders from Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia as well as Australia and New Zealand—is in trouble. For a start, although Fiji has been suspended and Mr Bainimarama’s military dictatorship shows no signs of changing any time soon, there is the awkward fact that the forum keeps its headquarters in Fiji’s capital, Suva. 

Mr Bainimarama has lambasted its secretary-general, a Samoan, as a “puppet” of Australia and New Zealand. In July, Vanuatu’s prime minister, Edward Natapei, postponed a summit of leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, which had been scheduled to convene in Fiji, because of concerns about “democracy and good governance”. 

A furious Mr Bainimarama responded by expelling Australia’s acting high commissioner: he claimed that the Australians had conspired to deprive him of his turn to play host.

In place of that summit, Mr Bainimarama arranged a hastily reconfigured “Friends of Fiji” meeting, which was attended by both Mr Somare and Dr Sikua. 

Though both of them had endorsed the forum’s suspension of Fiji last year, at the “Friends of Fiji” meeting they nevertheless signed a communiqué which credited Mr Bainimarama’s government for having a 'credible home-grown process for positioning Fiji as a modern nation and to hold a true democractic elections.'

That’s a doublespeak endorsement of Mr Bainimarama’s refusal to hold elections until September 2014—which was exactly the grounds for his being turfed out of the Pacific Islands Forum in the first place.

As a matter of tactics, this is incoherent. By keeping Fiji excluded from the forum, but included in sub-regional gatherings, his Pacific neighbours send Mr Bainimarama a mixed message at best. It might be argued that this half-and-half approach avoids isolating Fiji completely and so leaves the door open to concessions, for instance on the timetable for elections. 

The trouble is that so far Mr Bainimarama has conceded nothing. Until he does, and unless the Fiji problem is resolved some other way, it is unlikely that the Pacific Islands Forum will be able to achieve much else. 

Australia succeeded in persuading the smaller island states to start discussing a free-trade deal at last year’s summit in Cairns, but with Fiji excluded the prospects of success always looked bleak. The hopes for a breakthrough on trade have since faded.

Both Julia Gillard and the leader of Australia’s conservative opposition, Tony Abbott, talk about finding a “regional solution” to Australia’s refugee problem. But for want of a functioning regional forum, the issue is pursued bilaterally. Mr Abbott says he wants to reopen mothballed facilities for keeping refugees on the tiny, bankrupted island of Nauru. 

Once rich in phosphates, Nauru desperately needs Australian cash. But its 18-member parliament has been deadlocked for months, and consequently unable to select a new president. Without a government in place, says Ms Gillard, Nauru cannot sign the UN Convention on Refugees. Mr Abbott disagrees, and so does Nauru’s foreign minister, Kieren Keke. 

Since both factions in the fractious little parliament agree that the UN Convention ought to be signed (though they agree on little else), Messrs Abbot and Keke reason, Nauru should be capable of passing legislation to allow the reopening of a detention centre there.

The region stands badly in need of an effective forum. In times of acute trouble its states need a way to respond to trouble within the region: as they did in 2003 when a mission to the Solomon Islands disarmed and arrested a band of militants who had seized control of the country. 

This vast neighbourhood also needs a collective and coherent voice to be heard on the international stage, where the interests of small and remote island-states seldom command attention on their own. 

If the impasse with Fiji cannot be settled in the near future, the other parties must somehow find a way to circumvent it. Without the forum, Fiji suffers not alone but with all the countries of the Pacific, great and small.

Human rights not for sale

By Sir Ronald Sanders (a consultant and former Caribbean diplomat) for the Jamaican Observer

THE military leader of Fiji, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, recently said that he would like to cut his country's ties with neighbouring Australia and New Zealand and align with China. 

His statement would find little support amongst the people of Fiji who value their long and deep relationship with Australia and New Zealand.

Bainimarama's reason for saying he would sever ties with Australia and New Zealand and align Fiji to China has nothing to do with the interests of his country or his people. It is entirely to do with Bainimarama's perception that China would be tolerant of his Government, which seized power in a coup d'état four years ago.
Both Australia and New Zealand — countries to which many Fijians have emigrated and which are Fiji's biggest trading partners — have seriously objected not only to the military coup, but also to the fact that Bainimarama has failed to hold democratic elections at which a civilian government could be elected. Neither country shows any sign of letting up on their objection to a serious violation of democracy in Fiji.

The Commonwealth — a grouping of 54 nations of which Fiji was a member along with Australia and New Zealand — suspended Fiji from the Councils of the Commonwealth immediately after the coup, and the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) suspended the country fully from the Commonwealth in 2009 after further gross violations of the Constitution by the Bainimarama regime, including the dismissal of judges who ruled that his regime was illegal.

Australia and New Zealand are in the forefront of upholding CMAG's position in Fiji. And they are not alone. Other big Commonwealth nations such as Britain, Canada and India insist that a condition of membership of the Commonwealth must be adherence by governments to the democratic values and principles to which the organisation's member states have declared themselves to be committed.

Fortunately for the people who live in the Fiji Islands, neither Australia nor New Zealand has imposed tough sanctions or bans. Had they done so the Fijian economy — already suffering from the consequences of a military government — would have collapsed, and the people of the islands would have suffered extreme hardship.

A significant amount of their exports and their tourism would have been adversely affected, creating high unemployment and increased poverty. There would also have been a greater exodus of qualified people than there has been.

Australia and New Zealand have chosen instead to join their fellow members of the Commonwealth in keeping up pressure on the Fijian regime to restore democracy in the country. They have also relied on the "good offices" role of the Commonwealth Secretary-General to find ways of opening up an effective dialogue with the Fijian regime to return the country to democracy.

So far, these efforts have failed amid Bainimarama's determination to maintain himself in power. In the meantime, the people of Fiji suffer, and the regime shops around for governments that would give it assistance despite its naked abuse of power.

But Fiji's immediate neighbours in the South Pacific have shown their deep concern about the abrogation of democracy by suspending the country from the 16-member South Pacific Forum last year.

Shopping around for support for an undemocratic regime is hardly the answer to the Fijian Government's unconstitutional status and the pariah status that the country is acquiring. Eventually, pressure will mount both internally and externally to isolate and remove a regime that clings to power without the will of the people.

China has been long in the game of international politics and it is unlikely to extend any great comfort to the Fijian regime for a sustained period, particularly as Fiji has neither an abundance of resources in which China is interested nor any particular strategic interest.

It is in the manner of the Commonwealth's method of operation that it will not surrender the people of Fiji to an unelected government, particularly one that seized power at the point of a gun.

In this connection, the Commonwealth secretary-general, Kamalesh Sharma, repeated the Commonwealth's determination to help Fiji to restore democracy while continuing its suspension from the association.

The point may come, however, when a determination will have to be made about how much longer an unelected regime is allowed by the international community to hold a country hostage to its will. 

The danger of a more prolonged "capture" of the state apparatus by Bainimarama and his military supporters is that it might encourage similar unconstitutional developments, not only in the Pacific but in other regions as well. 

For, if other regimes feel that Bainimarama can get away with flouting democracy they may be tempted to do so themselves, especially if countries such as China give them succour, however temporary.

The Commonwealth will have a unique and special role to play in all this. It is a value-based association of 54 nations drawn from every continent of the world and representing one-third of the world's people. 

Unlike many other multilateral organisations it has declared democracy, freedom, human and civil rights to be its core values, and in the past — particularly on issues such as racism — it was the world's torch-bearer; its moral conscience, even as many governments turned a blind eye to atrocities in Apartheid South Africa and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in the interest of economic gain.

In a world where human and civil rights are increasingly being defiled, many will look to the Commonwealth to raise the banner of democracy and to push for it to be upheld. 

Fiji is one country where unconstitutionality will demand further and stronger action from the Commonwealth. Zimbabwe, where the Robert Mugabe regime has practised the worst form of discrimination and brutalised its own people, is another.
Human rights and democracy should not be for sale.-Jamaican Observer, August 15.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fiji courtship of China 'dismays' Indian community

By Balaji Chandramohan, editor of World Security Network for Asia. 

Fiji's and China's mutual attractions are understandable. Fiji was expelled from the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum after the military ousted the elected government.

Isolated regionally and beyond, it has found an apt ally in China to ward off diplomatic pressure, including from the UN Security Council. Beijing can veto any resolution against Fiji if pressed by the US and Britain.

The Indian community, which accounts for 44 percent of Fiji's population of over 830,000 and has a natural inclination for democracy, is in a fix.

When Fiji observes the 40th anniversary of its independence Oct 10, the high point will be the attendance of a delegation from the Chinese government.

In February 2009, Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Fiji. Fiji has not hosted any high-level delegation from India in the recent past.

The last state visit by an Indian prime minister to Fiji was way back in 1982 -- by Indira Gandhi.

Interestingly, the Indian High Commission in Fiji doesn't have a website. Many from the Indian community feel that the Indian government needs to do more to boost the community's confidence.

Fiji can be a test ground for India's foreign policy with respect to the Diaspora.

With India's stock rising internationally, the Indian community hopes New Delhi would play a more pro-active and assertive role vis-a-vis Fiji.

India could either try to isolate the military regime internationally or engage with the military dictator and thus influence the democratic transition in Fiji.

India should also open embassies or high commissions in the South Pacific region adjoining Fiji. The region in general and Fiji in particular should be an extension of India's 'Look East' Policy. It's the 'Look East' policy that helped India counter China's influence in Southeast Asia.

India can project its democratic ideals, which appeals to both the native Fijians and Indo-Fijians. India can use cultural diplomacy through the Indian Cultural Centre, which was established in capital Suva in 1971 and has since spread to Lautoka city in western Fiji.

Many native Fijians are fascinated by India. India could use its rich culture as an attraction, and so could engage with the Fiji administration to pursue the path of democracy.

India should also promote tourism to Fiji. Tourism is a key sustaining factor in Fijian economy.

The Central Hindi Institute in Agra should take more students from Fiji.

Each year, 25 students from Fiji receive scholarships from India to take up undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Eighteen civil servants from Fiji travel to India to further their studies in various universities and institutes under Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC).

Most feel that the scholarships need to be increased to attract talented Fiji students. Also, there needs to be a Track II dialogue with the Indian community.

Fiji's present ruler and Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, took power in a military sponsored coup in December 2006. The regime has vowed to hold elections in September 2014 under a constitution.

The judiciary in Fiji is pushing hard on ousted Fiji prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry on charges of money laundering and tax evasion, leading to more insecurity among the Indian community.

Chaudhry is still a charismatic Indian leader who became Fiji's first ethnic prime minister in 1999. He was ousted a year later in a coup led by dictator George Speight.

Because of repeated military coups and counter-coups from 1987 to 2006, the Indian population has fallen from 52 percent in 1986 to 44 percent in 2007. Many Indians have left behind property and shifted to Australia and New Zealand.-Source SIFY NEWS

Engaging with Fiji - another opportunity lost?

By Dev Nadkarni for Island Business

Despite the unchanging rigidity of their isolationist approach towards Fiji, the political leaderships in Australia and New Zealand would now have all but realised that trying to keep Fiji out of the South Pacific regional equation was never going to be a tenable strategy.  

This isolationist tack has come a complete cropper—it has achieved next to nothing. Suspension of bilateral ties, suspension from the Commonwealth, suspension from the Pacific Island Forum, travel bans, adverse travel advisories, besides all sorts of other measures have brought little change, if any, in Fiji.

Reams have been published on the lead up to the December 2006 military action, the regime and its style of functioning since then. And nearly all the ideas from politicians, academics and the media especially in New Zealand and Australia on dealing with the Fiji situation have centered on such isolationist strategies that have come up almost solely with punitive measures. 

It is as though engagement can never be an option. That sort of rigidity is hard to explain. Especially so, when the writing was clearly on the wall that the strategy wasn’t working and the situation could not be remedied with that tack. No matter what the situation within Fiji, there ought to have been more efforts from the ANZAC nations to engage with it these past years. 

Several windows of opportunity were lost, the latest one being last month. 

With no recourse to any regional platform now that it has been suspended from the Pacific Island Forum, Fiji pushed hard for regional engagement through the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG)—the sub regional grouping of Melanesian countries that was to have been held in Fiji last month.

Fiji has alleged that the meet was scuttled by the ANZAC nations to predictable denials from both, as well as Vanuatu, which was supposed to have been prevailed upon not to attend the meet. The decidedly isolationist policy hitherto followed by Australia and New Zealand is what could well give credence to that allegation.  

With the MSG meet not happening, Fiji thought up another ploy at engagement and invited regional leaders to the “Engaging with the Pacific” meeting just about a week later. Though several leaders, ministers and government representative attended, Australia, New Zealand – and Samoa – did not. And that was a huge opportunity missed by the Anzac nations.

Among other things, the Fiji regime presented its updated roadmap to the proposed 2014 election. The presence of political leaders from Australia and New Zealand or at least their representatives—no matter how junior—would have been extremely useful in that they would then have had an all new handle to hold the regime to account in the months ahead leading up to the 2014 election and the achievements of the stated milestones.

By not sending representatives and refusing to engage even tentatively at the most tenuous of levels, Australia and New Zealand have chosen to persist with their one pronged, unimaginative isolationist tack of trying to force Fiji into a tight corner with no room to manoeuvre.  

Except that in this rapidly globalising world, there aren’t any corners anymore. If the traditional longstanding South has stonewalled it, a huge front from the rapidly growing, increasingly prosperous North has long opened up not only for Fiji but also for almost all other South Pacific nations. 

Chinese and Korean investment in Fiji has grown tremendously in the past few years and with every passing month the country is further building up its ties with Asian countries. The ANZAC nations know it only too well that the region’s future—including their own—is tied up with Asia. New Zealand is the first western nation to have signed a Free Trade Agreement with China, which is now not only poised to become its largest trading partner but also wants to buy big into its dairy sector.

Australia and New Zealand’s rigid stand notwithstanding there is no denying that Fiji is the hub of the Pacific and is too significant geopolitically for their simplistic, almost childish, isolationist non-strategy. Their persistence in following this tack beggars belief and exposes their leaderships’ paralysis in trying to come up with more sensitive, open minded and communicative approaches. 

The Melanesian brotherhood has realised this. And more than just the warm fraternal ‘wantok’ feeling, it is the hard and practical knowledge that they are sitting on a great deal of mineral wealth both inland and offshore that is at work here.
The potential of that offshore wealth is poised to grow with the redrawing of the continental shelf boundaries following changes to the United Nations Law of the Sea in the coming years.  

The countries know that together they stand much to gain—and that explains why its leaders attended Fiji’s hurriedly called engagement gig with such alacrity. That message seems lost on the leadership of the ANZAC nations that has gone on record saying that there will be no change in their Fiji policy.

Fiji’s efforts to engage with the region despite being suspended from the Forum need to be actually seen as a positive step. The ANZAC nations need to set their hurt false pride aside and engage at whatever level—to begin with even informally, outside the ambit of recognised channels out of which Fiji has been excluded in any case.

Nothing can ever be achieved by non-engagement and isolationism especially in modern day geopolitics. Engagement and communication are key to diplomatic conflict resolution—particularly so when one of the parties sends all the right signals that it is game for it. 

The flawed assumption that any engagement with the present Fijian dispensation would be illegitimate needs to change because inaction based on such assumption will go nowhere and negate any possibility and hope of addressing the situation.

The events that have taken place so far cannot be reversed and despite the ongoing controversial developments in Fiji, the regime has once again presented its plan for elections in 2014—which, according to media reports have been received positively by the leaders who attended the meet.

Attending that meet would have been a great opportunity to restart dialogue and work with Fiji to work towards an outcome that is best for its people and for the region as a whole. 

Fiji should also realise that once it has made an undertaking or promise it must keep its end of the bargain. The writing on the wall is clear. Sticking to their isolationist strategy is not an option and staying rigid will undoubtedly have huge consequences for the geopolitics of the South Pacific region in the years to come.