#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2010-09-26

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Chaudhry interview over but no charges have been laid

The son of Mahendra Chaudhry says the police have finished interviewing his father but he hasn't been released yet.

Rajendra Chaudhry is legal counsel to the former prime minister and Fiji Labour Party leader.

He says his father is still at the Rakiraki police station after being taken into custody with five others yesterday afternoon, but no charges have been laid.

Chaudhry has told Fiji media his father was taken to hospital yesterday afternoon because he was sick and was brought back to the station after receiving medical attention.

Honest mistake or another case of manufactured cosiness?

It seems that "We Need to Talk" was really "We Did Not Even Talk".

Australia's Foregn Minister, Kevin Rudd, has been quick to kill the Fiji Sun story that yesterday said he sought the illegal regime's Inoke Kubuabola ought in New York and that there was a thawing of relations.

The myth was promoted by the Fiji Sun under the headline "We Need to talk" in a story that claimed Rudd had approached Kubuabola and they had shook hands.

Rudd has dismissed the story - and the claim he said "we need to talk."

A statement from his office says Kubuabola introduced himself as the Foreign Minister of Fiji AFTER shaking hands and there was no substantive discussion.

Rudd's statement said Australia, along with New Zealand and the rest of the international community, remains resolute in calling for a prompt return to democracy and the rule of law in Fiji.

The pro-regime paper either had a base case of wishful thinking, got it wrong or Kubuabola tried to pull a fast one but got caught. A day before, the FijiVillage had run a story with a photo of him with US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, also in New York, and the unlikely line that the US was ready to engage.

Revisit that photo, folks, and you will see that it looks too chummy to be true.  Meanwhile, here is what the Sun wrote. By the way, the story was revisited by Islands Business who ran the Rudd and Clinton stories together.

THE SUN STORY: 'There are signs that Fiji's icy relations with Australia could be thawing. The positive development came at the United Nations Assembly in New York when Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd approached his Fiji counterpart Inoke Kubuabola for a chat. Ratu Inoke told the Fiji Sun this was a positive sign for Fiji. Mr Rudd approached Ratu Inoke following his remarks at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He was congratulated with a handshake by Ratu Inoke. Ratu Inoke said he had a meeting yesterday morning with Mr Rudd following his presentation. He said in the course of their brief meeting Mr Rudd told him "We Need to Talk."

Part Two of the Letter to RBF: Governor Sada Reddy accused of ethnic cleansing of i-taukei Fijian staff

Editor's Note: Names withheld as in the first part of letter
Another major change in the Bank was the promotion of a woman from the position of Manager to the position of Acting Chief Manager but there were other capable people in the Bank and who had worked much longer than this particular woman, the anonymous bank staffer told the RBF chief Sada Reddy.

He wrote: “Do you remember promoting Mrs (name withheld) from being an Accountant to the post of Acting Chief Manager Currency & Corporate Service Group and burdened the Manager Human Resources (name withheld) with the post of Deputy Acting Chief Manager Currency & Corporate Service Group?  The post of Chief Manager was previously held by Mr______, a Fijian and well capable of running the Group and was doing better than the now Acting Chief Manager.” 

Abuse of Bank’s Travel Budget and Corruption

The letter continues: “For the record, Mr. Reddy, ever since you placed Mrs. (name withheld) as the Acting Chief Manager CCS, many wrong things has happened but in your eyes they are “Alright”.  I see differently! I know that your travel budget has been over-spent (busted/Kaput) and your going to New Zealand once a month is to keep up your NZ Visa process paid for by the Bank is really the root of your corruption.

“Oh! And what about your refusing to use the Bank’s Official residence so you can stay in your own residence-you remind me of Mr. Chaudhary when he was in Government and did the same thing.  You arrogant and selfish men think alike - but the end of it is destruction in your life.  If there was to be an audit tomorrow in the Bank, how can the Accounts people explain all these accounting anomalies?  Only god knows how deceitful your heart is in manipulating the accounts to keep up your bull-shit leadership,” the letter writer tells Reddy.

The Missing Millions from the Container

He then gives a few examples: “Take, for example, the recent One Million Dollar Heist that no one knows who took it so far. I believe procedures were not followed especially by the Acting Chief Manager CCS, Mrs. (name withheld) and the Manager Currency, Mr (name withheld).  I read a memo in the Bank that said the procedures were not followed starting from your Acting Chief Manager Mrs. (name withheld) and the current Manager Currency, Mr. (name withheld).  To me this warrants a laying-off (sacking) of these two but you cannot do that because they are “Indian” and of your kind.”

The aggrieved employee remonstrates Reddy about the above remark: “For the record-please keep a record Mr. Reddy, it’s important!  I may sound racial here but the truth is being revealed here and you instead stopped the contract of Mrs. Y even though she did not do anything wrong in the Bank-why was she not given another Contract?   I beg to ask the question-Why?  Can you answer me that?  I guess you would say-SHUT UP! BE GONE! SILENCE! THAT IS NOT TRUE!  But I want to understand and I beg you to make me understand Mr. Reddy.”
He also reminds the bank chief of another unrelated episode: “Oh! Mr. Reddy I nearly forgot and this was a subject of discussion and laughter today when I went to work.  I opened the Staff Notice that was posted on the electronic notice board and noticed some new postings.  The Manager IT, Ms. (name withheld) has relinquished the position of Manager IT and given a post titled:  Advisor Information Technology-wow!  I really laughed at this one because I have heard of this post ever created in the Bank.  And then the notice said,(name withheld), the new IT guy has posted to Manager Information Technology.” 

Appointment of Indo-Fijians at Fijian Expense 

“You can imagine the discussions in the corridors today, when those kinds of posts are created and money wasted.  So I think this is what you tried to do-do not renew Y’s contract and create another post of Manager and direct that salary to another useless Manager's post.  Another Fijian out of the Bank and another less qualified Indian given a post that I believe in time he will not keep for long.  Mark my words-yes he might migrate again just like the previous IT guys and of course the Bank keeps on wasting money on these staff that do not spend time and loyalty in the Bank.  Who knows, may be next week you will move a Chief Manager to a post where he/she cannot perform and in the end ruin what good work that has been by the staff in the Bank.  You seem to be not following the structure in the Bank. It's really pathetic!
“To be honest,” he informed Reddy: “I am not a racist nor am I an arrogant person.  I love to see all races working together in peace and harmony but the one leading the organization is showing signs of biased and racial decisions.  In truth, all races need to work together so this country can move forward but if there exists in society men or women with racist ideas and decisions, then society as a whole is in chaos. I would love to see a new “Heart” in the Bank so the “Body” can function well again.  I believe there are capable people in the Bank. “
The aggrieved letter writer also informed Reddy that he was sending the copy of his letter to Prime Minister’s Office , so that the dictator, who has been preaching a race-free Fiji, “can read and know what is happening in the Reserve Bank. But if he already knows it then I plead with him to please help this Organization-the Reserve Bank of Fiji”. 

Reddy accused of creating racial apartheid in RBF

“I have noticed that the staff in the Bank is afraid to speak out openly, because of the consequence of being sacked for speaking your mind or being demoted. My heart truly goes out to the staff where once everyone mingled freely and never heard or feared the word “Racial Segregation” came into their mind-we were truly one in everything we did.  In truth, we worked as a “Team”, but this all changed when Mr. Reddy became the Governor.
“I am pleading for those in authority to see the problem that now exists in the Bank or the core functions of the Bank will not be realized. I would like to conclude this letter Mr. Reddy so that may be you can think about all the bad decisions you have made since coming into leadership.  A man who does not reflect on his actions is a sad man because for every action and decision made there is always an outcome or consequence to that action.
“I am sure that after everyone reads then you will be running around trying to figure out who in the Bank has sent this letter.  But to tell you the truth, only God knows because no one else in the bank will know.  But I will be a silent worker and diligently pursing my Missions and visions for the bank.  You can even blame you close co-workers but remember, the staff you degrade in the Bank are the very ones that will never respect you if you carry on as you are.  Take it from me as a friend-it’s good to take criticisms from friends because they help you-what say you?”
“I could have come to your office but you are always out of the country or busy to see anyone below you but tonight I will sleep well because I have told you what is in my heart and it’s always good to keep the heart pumping well so I can perform better tomorrow.  

I believe it’s time for a Change-and I hope it will happen soon.
Thank you for reading my letter Mr. Reddy and I hope God touches your heart to cleanse it of the evil that men do.”
(PS: I would love to put my name but I will be victimized as usual)

Chaudhry still in custody over claims of PER breaches

The Fiji Labour Party Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, is still in police custody at the Rakiraki Police Station after being detained yesterday afternoon for meeting with farmers.

The police are claiming the meeting breached Fiji's Public Emergency Regulations.

As reported last night by Coupfourpointfive, Chaudhry was one of six to be locked up at Rakiraki after meeting with more than a dozen cane farmers in Vunikavikaloa.

A police spokesperson, Atunaisa Sokomuri, has told Fiji media today that Chaudhry is still in custody and that questioning and investigations are continuing.

What the Fiji Times failed to tell the nation about Ioane Naivalurua

Ioane Naivalurua’s CRW Unit stormed Parliament in 2000 and later mutinied at the QEB Barracks to kill dictator Frank Bainimarama who escaped dressed up as a ‘marama’ – woman!

If anyone has blood on his hands, it is the new police commissioner Ioane Naivalurua, a deeply malleable character. He had set up the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit with Major Ilisoni Ligairi for the father of the coup culture, Sitiveni Rabuka and was “a Rabuka Man” once.

The CRWU, shorthand for the First Meridian Squadron, the unit's formal name, was disbanded in 2000, and was the brainchild of Rabuka. The Unit was involved in George Speight’s 2000 coup, the munity at the QEH Barracks, and was accused for attempting to assassinate the dictator Bainimarama in the failed mutiny.

Although Rabuka was credited with the establishment of the CRWU, Major Ilisoni Ligairi, the former SAS officer, was the founding father. Naivalurua was part of the team which had a hand in the formation of the CRWU, a fact hardly known outside the QEH barracks.

We are not surprised with Rabuka heaping praise on Naivalurua in the Fiji Times yesterday, in the 'Top man a born leader' story: “He was good at all levels of command he was in. He was destined to be commander.”

Coupfourpointifve can reveal that one of the reasons Naivalurua asked to become Prisons Commissioner after the 2006 coup was to ensure that George Speight, Jo Nata and others convicted for the failed coup kept their mouths shut! After all, it was CRWU, a handmaiden of Naivalurua, which brought so much death and destruction to Fiji.

He is now policing the police, instead of sharing a cell with other CRWU mutineers, who attempted to kill the dictator in that failed mutiny at the QEH barracks.

BROTHERS IN ARMS: Jo Nata meeting illegal Finance Minister Mahendra Chauhdry, with Naivalurua on hand as Prisoners Commissioner in December 2007 

Sada Reddy accused of ethnic cleansing of i-taukei Fijian staff from RBF

In an emotionally charged letter dated 1 October 2010 to Sada Reddy, the illegal Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji, a staff member, presumably, an i-taukei, has expressed his disappointment at the way a fellow i-taukei staff member of seniority and long service was summarily removed from her job. The disgruntled RBF employee claims two Indo-Fijian women staff members were instrumental in the removal of the i-taukei lady from her job.

We have withheld names and referred to key people as X,Y and Z but the disgruntled bank staffer, who signed his name off as ZXXXXXZ (for fear of reprisal), started his letter with: “Dear Governor Reddy; Today marks the beginning of another new month (OCTOBER) for this year 2010. Yesterday was a sad day for the Reserve Bank of Fiji staff and most of those who have worked here for a long time to see another staff leave the Bank not on her own accord. I have seen the changes that are rapidly taking place in this professional Organization. For your information, my heart cried out on Thursday to my friend because she has left the Bank in an unprofessional manner - that situation was created by you and your two henchwomen (names withheld) who do your bidding-Evil women that they are!”

He informed Reddy: “I take to this form of communication to air my disappointment or grievances because you would not take the time to listen to staff or anyone else for that matter -to listen to reason or anyone else’s voice on any matter in the Bank. That is a sign of an arrogant leader or a person, selfish to the core and prejudiced in every decision he makes not taking into account the consequences of the decision you have taken which has affected the people or staff that work in this Bank.”

He continued: “We now live in a society where opinions and “voices of reason” are stifled and suppressed because they are not in line with opinions or ‘heartless’ decisions that harden people’s hearts and lower morale to a level that it motivates a person to “kill” or rather commit a crime (in thought or in deed) not right in the eyes of God.”

When the letter writer started in the RBF, he said, he was impressed with the bank’s Visions and Statements: “I took pride in following those Vision and Missions because it gave me and motivated me to move further then where I started and to be a useful tool for the Nation of Fiji in moving the nation forward to Economic Success. Back then my morale was as high as the peaks of “Himalaya” because “leadership in the Bank” was gentle, reasonable, and kind to all (no race differences) that worked in the Bank. I saw, that when leadership was of this manner, everyone produced excellent outputs and morale all around was marvellous and it was an exciting place to work in.”

The letter writer then turned his attention to the dismissed colleague: “Now, yesterday was a sad day for one of our staff in the bank who has worked for more than 10 years and she was working longer than I. Y was told that her contract is no longer renewed and she has to leave the Bank today - JUST LIKE THAT! I was flabbergasted. And just to refresh your memory, that is the second Fijian Manager to be put out of work in this Bank since you started. Do you remember X? He was the first Fijian you refused to renew his contract and I am beginning to see a trend here. I hope you are keeping a record because the “Professional” staff in the Bank has a memory that stores all these events-sad or happy it may be.”

The letter continues: “X worked longer than I and the work he used to do was given to someone else, which in turn increased that particular Manager’s work-load… I heard stories why X was released from his contract - was it because you did things in the Bank that was unprofessional and unethical? Only God knows and you know and also X knows. One of those unprofessional things you did was having an affair with the woman who is now your Executive Secretary - Z. You promoted her to Executive Secretary and demoted the previous one to Senior Secretary (name withheld) and she is a Fijian. Are you keeping a record so far? If this allegation is not right, then I do apologize but like I said, only you and God knows, so don’t be disheartened but strive for integrity like everyone else in the Bank is doing - I am really trying.”

Editor's Note: More to come on this hugely revealing letter.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Coupfourpointfive has been told Mahendra Chaudhry has been arrested and is to be locked up overnight at Rakiraki police station after meeting with more than a dozen farmers today in Vunikavikaloa, in Ra.

It's believed six people are being interviewed separately at the Ra police station tonight.

Included in the group is the former National Farmers Union president, Sanjeet Maharaj, and the NFU branch and owner of the home where the meeting was believed to have been held, plus his son.

Chaudhry's driver is also one of those believed to be detained tonight.


Sappy write-up on police commissioner - is this where Motibhai and Swinstead are taking us?

A curious story in the Fiji Times today - the sort of copy that makes you wonder "Is this the shape of things to come from the new team behind the former News Ltd paper?"

Under the heading 'Top man a born leader', right on the front page, the Fiji Times today ran an aimless, promotional piece on police commissioner, Ioane Naivalurua.

There was no hard news value in the story, which didn't even carry a direct quote from Naivalurua himself - the talking or should we say the 'praising' was left to his sister, Talei, and former army commanders - Sitiveni Rabuka and Epeli Ganilau.

Here's how the story started: "Ioane Naivalurua is a man who was destined to reign. Schooled in acclaimed Sandhurst, England, the career soldier had all the right training. He was groomed for leadership. And as he sits at the helm of both the Fiji Police Force and the Fiji Prisons and Correctional Services, his sister Talei remembers that his name was exalted long before he joined the military."

The Fiji Times then roped in Rabuka and Ganilau to shower the new police commissioner with compliments. Quote: "Former army commanders, Ratu Epeli Ganilau and Sitiveni Rabuka, also loaded praises when asked about the calibre of the man who was thrown onto the national stage after his appointment to the Prisons Department.

"He is a very professional soldier, very capable, dedicated and disciplined," said Ratu Epeli. "He leads by example and is a source of inspiration to those under his leadership and I would not hesitate to add that he would excel if he was placed in any leadership role within the RFMF." Adding to that, Mr Rabuka said: "He was good at all levels of command he was in. He was destined to be commander."

The story ends with a look at Navalurua's "pedigree as a soldier" and how he was named by a father, who had fought in two overseas war campaigns.

If the Naivalurua story is how new publisher, Dallas Swinstead (pictured), and the owner of the Fiji Times, Mahendra Patel of the Motibhai group intend to do business with the regime, then readers are about to be shortchanged.

Patel has made it clear he intends to work with the regime and Swinstead has said he is a strategist. Both obviously intend to survive the regime and beyond, and if today's story is anything to go by, than we are in for more 'favourable' coverage of this very corrupt regime from what was once a proud and questioning Fiji Times.

Dictator in Sinai as third sugar executive bails

The self-appointed leader, Voreqe Bainimarama, is still in Sinai, today paying a call on Force Commander Major General Whiting from New Zealand of the Multinational Forces and Observers.

Bainimarama has been visiting Fiji troops stationed with the 2nd Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment, which has been  in the Sinai since 1982.

Meanwhile, back home the Fiji Sugar Corporation has lost another senior executive - the general manager of operations, Annamale Naicker, who resigned yesterday.

Naicker is the third executive to bow out. Board chairman, Gautum Ramswarup, was first, followed last week by the CEO, Deo Saran, allowing the former Permanent Secretary for Finance, John Prasad, to come in as acting CEO.

Eyes are on the sugar industry as the regime moves to  implement the Deloitte report, aimed at improving mill performance, reducing operational costs and getting the industry back on its feet.

It is being suggested the Deloitte Report reveals what  Dictator Bainimarama should have known: that the FSC was heading for disaster and that Saran covered up the problem so he could hang on as long as he could.

Picture: Bainimarama in Sinai with New Zealand MFO

Motibhai's new broom brushes off the 'dumb questions'

Cafe Pacific: Dallas Swinstead, Motibhai’s new broom as publisher of the 141-year-old Fiji Times, didn’t waste any time setting the benchmark this week at his old paper. He has returned to Fiji with an open mind. He says he remains committed to good journalism and wants to rebuild the newspaper into the fine publication it has been. But he will also be “pragmatic” about the military-backed regime.

Swinstead believes there are more subtle and strategic ways of achieving success at the newspaper than pointless confrontation that killed the paper off for News Ltd: "What’s the point in having a newspaper shut down?” he asked Geraldine Coutts in an interview with Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat this week.

Thankfully, Fiji’s oldest and most influential newspaper survived the doomsday predictions with the enforced sale. Some journalists seem to think that it is a badge of honour to be kicked out of a country or for their title to be closed down. The ultimate censure. And the price then is enforced silence or rumour mongering for the citizens. Everybody loses.

After such an important contribution to the country from humble beginnings in Levuka in 1869 and to the building of a society both before and post-independence, it would have been “unthinkable” for the Times not to continue, as Motibhai’s board chairman Mahendra “Mac” Patel put it. Patel knew Swinstead from his first term as Fiji Times publisher (when he was very innovative) for four years until 1980, long before Sitiveni Rabuka’s twin coups threw Fiji into a downward spiral. Swinstead has a diplomatic streak and he may prove to be more adept at negotiating an “open space” with the regime than his predecessors.

It is early days yet, and for the moment Swinstead is saddled with the same editor-in-chief, Netani Rika, who is very unpopular with the regime. Will he remain for the long haul? Unlikely.
The handover at The Fiji Times in Suva this week was fairly upbeat with optimistic rhetoric from both the outgoing owner, News Ltd’s chairman and chief executive John Hartigan, and the new owner, Motibhai's “Mac” Patel. Hartigan said: “Today is a very emotional day for me, for a lot of people in our country and elsewhere; we didn't want to sell the paper.” Patel said: "Fiji without the Fiji Times is unthinkable. Motibhai's acquisition is for the people of Fiji."

Swinstead gave some hints on his editorial philosophy for the challenging times ahead in the Pacific Beat interview - and he brushed off what he branded as a “dumb question” or two from Coutts.

Explaining his views, Swinstead told Coutts: “I understand the values and the responsibility enjoying the right to free speech and the cost of putting my foot in my mouth. So there are two ways to go here. One is to demand free speech and you can ask News Ltd about that. And the other is to try to work with the local ownership, with the people and with the government to get this country to where it wants to be. Now it sounds a bit precious, but that's the reality and I am a pragmatist."

Coutts responded that she wasn’t “quite sure what that actually says” and asked again whether he supported a status quo approach or a free press:
SWINSTEAD: No, what I said is that I understand free speech better than most and I understand its value, but here it is not possible under some circumstances. What you have to understand is that 95 percent of our paper - whether it is Fijians, Indians and whatever - is happening here. It's sport results, it's commerce … the whole thing. And inevitably there are going to be stories that will cause the government embarrassment and I hope to be able to find a way to negotiate with good people down there and people here who are somehow or other able to keep some conversation going. I make no promises, and if we have to close our mouths or be shut down, I have no option but to walk around it. Now that's pretty simple.

COUTTS: So if you get a directive not to do a certain story, you will abide by that?
SWINSTEAD: I beg your pardon?

COUTTS: If you get a directive from the government or the censors not to do a story that you think is important and in the public interest, you'll sit it on it yourself? You'll choose to do that? You'll censor yourself?

SWINSTEAD: Well, with respect to you, that is a pretty dumb question. Of course, I will. What's the point in having a newspaper shut down?

COUTTS: Well then going back to the original question, what is freedom of speech?

SWINSTEAD: Freedom of speech - my original answer was my parents gave me a pretty fair idea of what you can say and get away with, and when you stepped out of line and they ran the show they knocked you over. So, I mean, I don't like that happening. I am tenacious, but I am a good mediator and a facilitator, and I will be trying to talk to people in government to lead them to understand how valuable a free and open press is. But look, it is a developing country with lots of problems and I am sympathetic to them and I am not angry about censorship or anything else. That's life.

Fiji Village.com picked up on this interview and presented it as Swinstead “clearing the air” on Fiji. The radio station’s website said he would “keep the channels of communication open” with the regime. Fiji Village is part of the Communications Fiji group, which is another key media group with a powerful Gujerati business stake (Hari Punja) along with The Fiji Times (Motibhai) and the Fiji Sun (C. J. Patel).
Good luck to the new team at The Fiji Times. They’ll need it. At least Fiji will still be blessed with a choice of daily newspapers. The third daily – the Daily Post, with a substantial indigenous Fijian shareholding, is already a casualty of the censorship climate and struggling economy.

The end of press freedom in Fiji

By Savea Sano Malifa
VIENNA (International Press Institute/Pacific Media Watch): Today in Fiji press freedom no longer exists. It is effectively being silenced by military leader and interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama. It started on 28 June 2010 when Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum formally announced that the Fiji government's Media Decree had become law.

The new law dictates, in part, that "the content of any media service must not include material which is against public interest or order, against national interest, offends good taste or decency, or creates communal discord."

It also requires that every article published in a newspaper must have a byline. The law says journalists convicted of breaching the decree are liable to a fine not in excess of $F500,000, and their editors and publishers are liable to fines not in excess of $F100,000, or imprisonment for five years, or both.

In addition, the new law limits the foreign ownership of media companies in Fiji to no more than 10 per cent, and allows majority shareholding to be held by either Fijian citizens or permanent residents. It also gives three months for foreign-owned companies to comply or cease to operate.

As a result, the Fiji Times, the country's oldest newspaper owned by News Ltd of Australia [PMW editor: Now wholly owned by the Motibhai Group in Fiji since this article was written], is understood to be looking for a buyer. It is not clear what the country's third biggest newspaper, the Fiji Daily Post, also owned by an Australian, who holds 51%, is planning to do.

But the media law is part of the government's multiracial, multicultural reform programme apparently aimed at streamlining the distribution of wealth in the country.

Although the programme is designed to help indigenous Fijians improve their earning power, it fails miserably to bridge the widening gap already existing between them and their now much wealthier counterparts, who are mainly immigrants.

In fact this gap has been a worrying one. It is seen as the major cause of the series of political coups that have been plaguing society - especially the indigenous part of it - since the mid-eighties.

And now Frank Bainimarama comes along, thinks he can solve the problem by chasing away foreign business owners, give opportunities to local people so that they can help enrich themselves, and he's finding himself running smack into more tenacious problems than he had envisioned.

The point is that you just can't solve problems of this nature with dictatorial decrees using military muscle. Which means the Fijian military strongman is obviously blinded by power. We say this because many have tried before him, and many have failed.

Now the idea that the Fiji Times is likely to close down is said to be causing much worry to the company's employees numbering close to 300 - the majority of whom are indigenous Fijians - and their families.

That is just the opposite of what Bainimarama has been trying to do; he is seen to have been putting the pressure on foreign investors so that they pack up and leave, and then allow the locals to take over.

However, he has apparently misjudged those he has wanted to help, because instead of showing any interest at all in Bainimarama's plans, many of them are understood to have started looking at emigrating to either New Zealand or Australia in the hope of finding jobs and a better life there.

Meanwhile, Bainimarama's unchallenged media law - which deprives the people of his country of their freedom of expression and right to know - has created another problem. It has caused frustration among members and supporters of the regional media body, the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA), based in Fiji.

Since (PINA) has been keeping quiet about the Fiji government's repulsive media law, its disappointed supporters and critics decided they could not remain silent any longer.

The first to speak up was the vice-president of PINA John Woods, who is also the managing editor of the Cook Islands News.

During an interview with Radio Australia, he was asked: ".... the base of it is that you're protesting against the Fiji media decree. Can I just ask you what in particular you are most upset about that this decree introduces?"
Woods answered: "Well the obvious strictures of insisting that foreign investment be reduced to a tiny percentage, that journalists are subject to imprisonment and horrendous fines if they contravene the decree's restrictions. These things are oppressive, barbaric, and in themselves are enough reason to pull PINA out of Fiji, which should have been done long ago, and for at least the organisation to speak up and challenge the military puppets who have invented this ridiculous, barbaric 19th century set of rules."

That was on 1 July 2010. Woods then resigned as PINA vice-president in "disgust". PINA's general manager, incidentally, is a Fijian.

It was then that during online discussions a group of media owners including the writer, senior journalists and concerned media personnel, decided they no longer wanted to have anything to do with PINA.

They agreed that PINA was no longer effective in what it had been entrusted to do - which was to promote and defend press freedom in the region, ensure the free flow of information was encouraged, and that the public was not deprived of its right to know.

They decided then it was time for an alternative media association in the South Pacific apart from PINA - and not in opposition to it - to be established.

On 10 August a meeting was held in Apia, capital of Samoa, attended by media representatives from Hawaii, Cooks Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Australia, with internet linkup to others in Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

On 12 August they duly formed a new regional media association and named it Pasifika Media Association (PasiMA). In Samoa, Pasima means "concrete fortress".

"It is where we intend to house press freedom so that we can promote, protect and defend it in there against dictatorial governments that are likely to emerge from around the South Pacific," the group said.

The writer was elected chairman of the board, publisher Kalafi Moala of Tonga was elected vice-chairman, and John Woods was elected chairman/treasurer. PasiMA has since been legally registered and is located in the premises of the Samoa Observer in Apia.

And just before we left for Vienna, we received word that the US Embassy's donation of US$10,000 for PasiMA's website has been received.

I repeat that there is no press freedom in Fiji today. However there is still press freedom in Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

I also want to say that Fiji's problem cannot be solved by Bainimarama's media law and his racial and cultural reforms. Those problems can only be solved with democracy in place, and freedom of the press respected.

And lastly, I want to say that PasiMA will work hard to make sure press freedom is returned to the people of Fiji where it belongs. I say this knowing that tyrants come and go but press freedom remains.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

US ready to engage but on its terms

WASHINGTON, AFP — The United States says it is ready for dialogue with Fiji's military ruler Voreqe Bainimarama but that it would only ease sanctions in return for progress on democracy.

Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia, said that the United States wanted the Pacific island again to be a close US partner as it was before Bainimarama's 2006 coup.

"We now hope, in close coordination with regional players, to seek more direct engagement with Prime Minister Bainimarama to encourage his government to take steps to restore democracy and freedom," Campbell said.

Testifying before Congress, Campbell said such engagement would offer Fiji a chance for international acceptance "while reinforcing the message that any easing of US sanctions is tied to the restoral of democratic processes."

"Our objective is to put Fiji back on track for reintegration into international institutions and for holding free and fair elections no later than 2014," Campbell said.

Bainimarama recently suggested the 2014 election date after expelling Australia's ambassador. The military leader had faced wide criticism after calling off elections he promised for 2009.

US law imposes sanctions on any nation where the military ousts an elected government, including restrictions on assistance, military sales and visas for coup leaders.
But Campbell said that the United States maintained limited assistance, including in disaster preparedness and on inter-ethnic dialogue, and found that the engagement was "yielding positive results."

President Barack Obama's administration has made engagement a hallmark of its foreign policy. The United States has pursued a similar line in Myanmar, also known as Burma, where Campbell has initiated dialogue but called for greater process on democracy.

Campbell was questioned by Congressman Eni Faleomavaega, a member of Obama's Democratic Party representing American Samoa, who said that Fiji's problems were "multidimensional" due to the island's colonial history and ethnic mix.

"US engagement is absolutely essential," Faleomavaega said. "Clearly, the Australian and New Zealand policy of sanctions and isolating and punishing Fiji have not only failed but totally been counterproductive."

US: 'our goal is to put Fiji back on track for reintegration into international institutions and for holding free and fair elections no later than 2014'

In a speech to Washington, the assistant secretary for the Pacific for the United States, Kurt Campbell, says there is ongoing concern about Fiji.
In a paper that covered a range of issues, from climate change and education, Campbell singled out two countries in particular - Papua New Guinea and Fiji.
Corruption was highlighted in PNG and the coup leader's failure to restore democracy was noted about Fiji.

Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is by far the largest, wealthiest and most populous Pacific Island country; its influence is felt throughout the region. The United States sees the growth of the economy in Papua New Guinea (PNG) as beneficial to the region. PNG is on the verge of exploiting hydrocarbon resources that could enable it to become one of the world’s largest exporters of natural gas, fundamentally transforming PNG’s economy and society. We have a strong interest in the success of PNG’s energy sector and related public financial management reforms.

However, the government has moved slowly on public financial management reforms and recently attempted to dilute the powers of the national ombudsman. Corruption, misuse of resources, and lack of capacity have led to declining social services and increasing poverty. In PNG, gender discrimination also threatens to derail progress in civil society and economic development. 

Beatings and rape are common; women are ignored in the workplace; and female education and literacy rates are far below those of men. Reform-minded government leaders in PNG are looking for U.S. support and guidance. We are examining ways to assist PNG in natural resource governance and in educating and empowering women with the hope of supporting PNG to reach the full promise of its development.

Inextricably linked with regional economic development is the vital issue of good governance. In this arena, the current state of affairs in Fiji is a matter of on-going concern. Traditionally, Fiji has been a close and valued friend and partner in the region, as well as a leading voice for Pacific Island democracy. Fiji also has a long history of contributing troops to multilateral peacekeeping missions, was quick to condemn the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, and has been a staunch supporter of our efforts to build an international coalition against global terrorism.

However, since the 2006 coup in Fiji, and the ascendance of the military regime led by Prime Minister Bainimarama, there has been an unfortunate reversal of Fiji’s leadership role. Fiji’s exclusion from the Pacific Island Forum since 2009 has detracted from progress on important regional issues.

Fiji’s coup leaders have not taken any credible steps to restore democratic institutions. After breaking a promise to hold elections in 2009, they now promise to begin work in 2012 to craft a new constitution and hold elections in 2014. They also promised to lift public emergency regulations, but the regulations remain in place, the press remains heavily censored, and the right to assembly is severely restricted. Fiji has failed to restore democracy or institute structural reforms. The entrenchment of authoritarian rule indifferent to criticism has become a dangerous model for the region and the global community.

The United States maintains sanctions pursuant to Section 7008 of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act and other policy restrictions, including limitations on military and other assistance to the Government of Fiji. This includes visa bans against coup leaders, suspension of certain military sales, and restrictions on certain bilateral engagement. The United States calls for an open, inclusive, and transparent process for free and fair elections, the re-establishment of an independent judiciary, and an end to media crackdowns and other limits on civil liberties.

To date, we have focused our efforts on areas where our engagement is yielding positive results and serves to illustrate the advantages of a more positive bilateral partnership. We continue to provide assistance in ways that support the Fijian people and promote our interests, for example, for disaster preparedness and combating transnational crime. Despite the difficult political environment, the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, through the Human Rights and Democracy Fund, is now supporting multi-year programs in Fiji on media training and on ethnic dialogue and tolerance.

We now hope, in close coordination with regional players, to seek more direct engagement with Prime Minister Bainimarama to encourage his government to take steps to restore democracy and freedom that would allow movement toward normalization of Fiji’s relations with other countries in the region. This engagement would spotlight the potential benefits of positive political steps, while reinforcing the message that any easing of U.S. sanctions is tied to the restoral of democratic processes.

Our objective is to put Fiji back on track for reintegration into international institutions and for holding free and fair elections no later than 2014. By taking credible steps towards an increased civilian role in government and other democratic reforms, the regime could build confidence, in accordance with agreed upon benchmarks and timelines, that would lead towards the restoration of Fiji’s former international role and stature.

Working with Regional Players
As we strengthen our engagement in the Pacific, we will actively cooperate with other important players in the region to advance the stability, prosperity, and freedom of the people and nations of the Pacific Islands.

We have long collaborated closely with Australia and New Zealand, who have deep historical, economic, and strategic ties with their Pacific Island neighbors. The United States recognizes the very real leadership role Australia and New Zealand play in the South Pacific region. Both nations’ vigorous leadership and foreign assistance to countries in the region play a key role in promoting the welfare of people throughout the Pacific. Close cooperation and coordination with Australia and New Zealand will continue to be a hallmark of our Pacific strategy. 

Working closely with our key allies, Australia and New Zealand, we will continue to pursue strategies to promote shared interests in peace and stability in this important and dynamic region.

We also welcome the increasingly prominent role of newer players, particularly Japan’s leadership in renewable energy and climate change issues. We are also pleased to consult regularly with the European Union, which is increasingly engaged in the region, on developments and policies in the Pacific.

And just as we welcome the increased role for our allies, we also note the efforts of other countries who seek to play a constructive role in the region. The United States shares a common interest with China and Russia in the development and welfare of the Pacific Islands. There is no zero-sum competition between the United States and China or Russia in the Pacific. Rather, we seek to identify areas of potential cooperation that can ensure regional stability, security, and prosperity. 

It was in that spirit that I raised possible cooperation in the Pacific Islands with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai during his visit to Washington last month. We welcome engagement by other countries desiring to enhance the prosperity, stability, and democratic governance of the Pacific Islands through transparent interactions and engagements. We also seek to continue our work through multilateral assistance programs. On-going substantive discussions in Washington and in-country with the Asian Development Bank and World Bank aim to ensure that we are working in a coordinated fashion and our activities have successful outcomes.

The United States is enhancing our engagement in the Pacific, now and for the long term. I am encouraged by the progress this Administration has made thus far and by the positive reception our efforts have received in the region. Undoubtedly, we must continue to identify new and better ways to engage with the Pacific, we appreciate the interest and leadership of this Committee and the support you have given to our efforts. I look forward to on-going cooperation with the Congress to advance U.S. interests in the Pacific and contribute to a secure, prosperous and democratic future for the nations and people of the Pacific.  

Editor's note: Full speech available from the US State Department's website.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dictator and illegal AG on 'tours of duty'

From a dribbly speech and PR handshakes to a 50-man guard from troops in Sinai ... such is the noble work of self-appointed prime minister, Voreqe Bainimarama.

Dictator Bainimarama is visiting the 2nd battalion of the Fiji Infantry regiment, which has been deployed with Multinational Forces and Observers since 1982 and which is funded by the US government.
The illegal attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, has returned from his equally selfless work in Geneva, and this week said landlords will be restricted from increasing rent for any premises that falls under residential tenancy for the next six months. He has also announced that a new pricing model should protect basic food items.

Genuine cordial relations or manufactured cosiness?

The illegal foreign affairs minister, Inoke Kubuabola, appears to have cornered the US States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, into not only having a cheesy picture with him, but to dialogue with Fiji.

Kubuabola and Senior Pacific Island leaders met with Clinton for 75 minutes in New York earlier today according to the illegal government's website. The website says Clinton has assured Pacific Islands' Leaders the US wants to work closely with Fiji and the Pacific Islands. One suspects the promise for talks came as part of that bigger group meeting.

The US recently re-opened its US AID office in Suva. It's hoped Mrs Clinton sees through the lies Kubuabola is feeding her about the progress Fiji is making. We also hope US government officials are informing Mrs Clinton of the desperate need for democratic elections and the removal of this corrupt regime.

Fresh revelations about the treachery of Dictator Bainimarama

Dictator had agreed to retire at 55 when he signed his military contract in 2004
Now he is culling 55 plus Civil Servants except himself to cling to power, accept kick-backs and bank bogus back pay of $185,000

Chinese Tai Chi instructors have been brought into the country to relax those he has thrown out of their jobs through Section 15 of the “State Services Decree”, pushed through at the point of a treasonous gun. He has instructed his Poverty Alleviation Minister to build a park for the retirees who have become victims of his overnight decree, drafted by his illegal Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum and illegal Solicitor-General Christopher Pryde.

Documents made available to me from Frank Bainimarama’s own inner military circle shortly after his treasonous coup of 5 December 2006 tell a very different story about the man who, along with Khaiyum, his Indo-Fijian Goebbels, is devouring our beautiful country, with i-taukei taking their own lives instead of living under his dictatorial rule. 

The picture that emerges of the former midshipman – now a corrupt, power-hungry and globe trotting dictator – reeks of treachery, both against his friends and foes.

The Fatal Mistake: His Appointment as Commander
On 22 February 1999, Paul Manueli, Minister for Justice and Home Affairs (an ill-wind blast from Rabuka’s coups) informed another coupist and President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara that he had the honour to inform Mara officially of Brigadier-General E G Ganilau’s resignation as Commander of Fiji Military Forces effective from Sunday 28th February, 1999. “Brigadier-General Ganilau wishes to pursue a political career and has announced his intention to stand as a candidate in the General Election to be held in May,” Manueli told Mara. 

As we know, Mara’s son-in-law, the NBF debtor and illegal Minister for Defence and current illegal acting Prime Minister failed to democratically enter Cabinet, except through the dictator’s barrel of the gun after 2006 coup. 

Manueli recommended that Mara approve the appointment of “Captain [Navy] Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama as Commander Republic of Fiji Military Forces from 1st March 1999”. Manueli continued in his letter (Ref C8/9/12-1): “Captain Bainimarama has had continuous service in the RFMF since 26th July 1975. He is highly qualified as a Naval Officer, but knowledge and experience gained at the Armed Forces Staff College in Malaysia and the Joint Service College in Australia have prepared him for Joint Services Command (Bainimarama’s attached CV reveals that he was between October-November 1992 with the Maritime Surveillance Cs, warfare College, Newcastle, and from 21 December 1990-21December 1991 with the Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College).”

Manueli reminded Mara: “As you are aware, the republic of Fiji Military Forces is an integrated Army/Navy organisation, and captain Bainimarama has performed extremely well as Chief of Staff since November, 1997.” Loyalty was his strong point. “He is a loyal and dedicated officer, and I am confident he will acquit himself with dignity and honour in the high office to which he is being recommended,” Manueli assured Mara.

On 24 February 1999, Mara’s Official Secretary, replied to Manueli: “His Excellency the President of the Republic of Fiji, the Rt.Hon. Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara has approved your recommendation that Captain (Navy) Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama be appointed Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces from 1 March 1999.” A year later, Mara was forced to surrender executive power to Bainimarama following the George Speight coup. Mara never returned to Government House.

Bainimarama betrays President Ratu Mara

When Mara passed away, Browne revealed that ten days after the coup Mara was moved to a navy patrol boat because of what Browne said were orchestrated threats from Speight's people. On the boat, Bainimarama, former police chief Isikia Savua and former coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka presented Mara with a tabua or whales tooth, a traditional offering, “and asked him to step aside”. 

When Mara complied Bainimarama declared martial law, dismissed Mahendra Chaudhry’s government and appointed a caretaker one.
“The reason why he (Mara) reluctantly agreed was because the two institutions entrusted with the protection (police and military) of the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief were no longer in a position to provide it”. 

Mara had been forced to step down so that the military and others could abrogate the constitution and remove the Chaudhry government even while Speight was still holding it hostage. “He stood as an obstacle to the objectives and agendas of those who wished to abrogate the constitution and remove Chaudhry's Government”. Mara was also a member of the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) but they acted without asking Mara. “

“The military and police usurped his authority,” Browne claimed.
Browne said that the senior officials involved could not escape justice.
“Justice will come sooner or later. No one can escape justice. It would come in one form or another.” 

Susan Boyd, who was Australia's High Commissioner in Suva during the 2000 coup, told Radio Australia that she spoke later to Mara about being made to step down: “As he said quite bitterly ... you know that those who were supposed to advise him and look after his interests were actually advising him to step down and he wasn't too sure in whose interests they were speaking. He was quite sad and disappointed, I think, at the ambiguity if you like of the advisers who were around him.” 

Epeli Ganilau, then chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, said during the last days of the presidency Mara was alone at Government House with not a single chief or friend to visit him. “He called me to keep him company because he was lonely”. After the 2006 coup, Chaudhry and Ganilau jumped in bed with Bainimarama, in the so-called Clean Up Campaign”. To Chaudhry’s bitter disappointment, he was not only thrown out of Cabinet but is now facing a string of tax and money-laundering charges while Bainimarama is globe-trotting around the world.

In 2004, Bainimarama’s term as commander came up for review. Joketani Cokanasiga, then Minister for Home Affairs, wrote to Mara’s successor Ratu Josefa Iloivatu Uluivuda, informing the President: “Your Excellency is aware that Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama’s term as the Commander Republic of Fiji Military Forces, will expire at the end of next month, 29th February 2004. This will have completed his five year term from 1st March, 1999.” 

Cokanasiga recommended Bainimarama to command the military: “Pursuant to Sub-Section 112(2) of the Constitution of the republic of Fiji Islands, it is my honoured duty as the Minister responsible for the Military, to recommend to Your Excellency a suitably qualified military officer, capable of commanding the Republic of Fiji Military Forces with diligence, integrity and honour and exercise military executive command of the Forces, subject to the control of the Minister. In this regards, it is with utmost respect that I recommend the current incumbent, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, to continue as the Commander RFMF for the next THREE 93) years, with effect from 01st March 2004.”

Cokanasiga informed Iloilo that the National Security Council under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase had endorsed this recommendation. Looking back, Qarase must be ruing his decision, given the treacherous events of 2006. Evidence has also emerged (which I hope to write one day) that the present Land Forces Commander Brigadier-General Pita Driti was talked of as possible appointment and a few other senior military officers were considered, in order to wrest control of the military from navy personnel running the military. Bainimarama and his secret backers arm-twisted his appointment.

On 28 January 2004, S. Turagabeci, the acting Official Secretary to the President informed Cokanasiga that Iloilo had approved the recommendation that Bainimarama be re-appointed Commander RFMF for the next three years.

In one of the secret Cabinet Memos, there was also discussion to advertise the post of commander, for it was felt that it was not the personal property of Bainimarama, and other officers should be considered but in the end, for the sake of national interest and security, the job went to Bainimarama.

One of these days, I will be writing about the Terms and Conditions for the Post of Commander, Republic of Fiji Military Forces, and why the obscene back pay that Bainimarama gave to himself, signed off by his then illegal Finance Minister Chaudhry, does not add up – in other words, they payment is not justified.

On 5 February 2004, the Government wrote to Bainimarama, congratulating him on his re-appointment and looked forward to his co-operation in the “important responsibilities entrusted to the RFMF for the maintenance of internal security and order”. 

He was, however, reminded in no uncertain terms: “You are aware that in accordance with the Constitution and the RFMF Act, the Commander RFMF is responsible to the Minister in exercising executive command of the RFMF and in the proper management of public funds approved for the RFMF by Parliament.”   

On 11 March 2004 Bainimarama acknowledged the letter but asked for the consideration made in regards to pay and allowances and other associated conditions for the position of Commander Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

Among other issues (which I will write on one of these days) he touched on the issue of a payment of gratuity and the required age to retire at fifty-five. “A common provision that has been provided to the Chief Executive Officers of Government Departments and Constitutional Office holders is a payment of gratuity, recognising the services of the office holder,” he wrote.

“The position of Commander is much different in that, whilst other Constitutional Office holders or Chief Executive Officers are permitted to work until they reach the age of sixty, the Commander is required to retire at the age of five-five. We are of the opinion that it is only appropriate that the Commander be paid a gratuity at the end of his service the sum of two times his annual gross salary,” he stated in his letter.

In other words, he agreed to the terms and conditions regarding the retirement age as well placing himself under the control of the Minister and to properly manage public funds approved for the RFMF by Parliament.

However, when he thought that the job was not his for life, and that police might be called in to investigate fraud and abuse of military funds running into millions, he brainwashed his senior officers and others, including Driti, to oust the very Qarase government which had re-appointed him in 2004. Cokanasiga went on to become Bainimarama’s illegal Ministry for Primary Industries after the 2006 coup.

After the coup, Bainimarama also introduced the illegal “State Services Decree”, which has begun culling those who are 55 and plus. To qualify for exemption, his illegal dictatorial regime says, civil servants “must have displayed high work standards and must also have an untarnished record”.

If we apply the criteria to him; he would not qualify under any circumstances, especially when he committed the crime of treason against a democratically elected government. Treacherously, those exempted from this decree are the Military Commander, the Commissioner of Police and the Commissioner of Prisons. 

Sooner, rather than later, Driti and other officers, on turning 55, will be doing Tai Chi with other ‘senior citizens and military officers’ while the dictator will be running around the globe, while retaining the position of Commander, RFMF. 

And Kahiyum would have long gone to Dubai, Pryde to New Zealand and Anthony Gates to Sri Lanka. 

Cry, Our Beloved Country!

Editor's Note: Stay reading Coupfourfointfive for more revelations against this treacherous and illegal military dictator, Khaiyum and others in the regime

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Everyone at the Delhi Games but Fiji

Days out from the opening ceremony in Delhi, Fiji's suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations has been reaffirmed in New York.  The Ministerial Action Group of the former British Commonwealth has reaffirmed the suspension because of Voreqe Bainimarama's refusal to hold democratic elections.

Australian-based Fiji academic Dr Brij Lal, of the Australian National University, says the Commonwealth is right to stick to its guns. He told Radio Australia the regime continues to break the principles of good government: "The rule of law, parliamentary democracy, good governance, protection of property, sanctity of the ballot box, free and fair speech . . .These are the cornerstones of the principles that inform the Commonwealth. And their breach in any member of the Commonwealth is cause for concern."

Fiji's weightlifting golden boy, Manueli Tulo (pictured), was one of the atheletes who could've competed in India after winning four gold medals at the Oceania Weightlifting Championship in Suva earlier this year. The 19-year-old was a medal prospect but has been forced to look elsewhere for a shot at the big time.

Dictator's speech in full: read and send us your views on his mutterings!

Mr. President,
Bula Vinaka and a good morning.
I extend to you and this august Assembly, warm greetings from the Government and people of Fiji.
May I take this opportunity Mr. President, to congratulate you on your election to the Presidency of the General Assembly’s 65th Session, and pay tribute to your predecessor, His Excellency Dr. Treki.
Mr. President, as I highlighted last year in my address, Fiji and her people, through the Strategic Framework for Change have embarked on a path of structural reform to modernize and liberalize our economy to today’s global environment.
As part of this agenda, the Fiji government has revamped its foreign policy. Our new foreign policy direction stems from the philosophical basis that while determining our own destinies as sovereign states, we must work in collaboration with all Member States with the aim of sustainable world peace, substantive justice, dignity and respect for all.

However, Mr. President we cannot achieve these objectives, nor have actual implementation of these noble principles, if we simply fall into predetermined political spheres of influence or have predetermined alignments.
We must be prepared to expand the range of our international relationships. We must not simply subscribe to bloc voting. We must assess and decide on each issue on its merit. We must decide each matter based on equality, substantive justice and international law. We must keep an open mind.
This approach will result in the manifestation of a fairer and more just system for all its citizens.
Mr. President, this significant shift in foreign policy direction heralds the globalization and maturity of Fiji. It demonstrates Fiji’s intention to become a good and engaged global citizen. Accordingly, over the past year Fiji has formalised diplomatic relations with many countries with which no ties previously existed. In addition, Fiji has sought membership of the Non-Aligned Movement.
The broadening of our engagement with the rest of the world was given further impetus in June of this year in Abu Dhabi when a summit was held between the Pacific Islands Developing States (PSIDS) and the Arab League member countries at the invitation of the Arab League and hosted by the United Arab Emirates.
This commitment to being a good global citizen is further expressed through Fiji’s ongoing engagement with the United Nations and its associated agencies and secretariats. There is no better example of this engagement than Fiji’s long contribution to the cause of UN peacekeeping and peace-building. Fijian servicemen and women currently serve in peacekeeping missions in Iraq, Southern Sudan, Liberia, Darfur and Timor Leste.
Mr. President, I offer my country’s tribute to the selfless service given by UN peacekeepers and peace builders, past and present, in the troubled regions of our world. We pay special tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peacekeeping.
On the subject of peace and security, Fiji is proud to have been among the Member States in 2006 that voted in favour of preparations for a robust and legally-binding Arms Trade Treaty in 2012. We also remain committed to the work of the United Nations in curbing illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
Fiji has also ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions and regards this instrument as a welcome development in humanitarianism and international disarmament. Fiji also remains fully committed to international efforts against terrorism.
In the resolution of the world’s territorial and sovereignty disputes, Fiji stands firm with all international efforts aimed at peaceful resolution through genuine dialogue processes. Fiji welcomes the recent resumption of direct negotiations between the leaders of Israel and Palestine and hopes for a successful outcome.
Fiji is also an active member of the UN’s Special Political and Decolonisation Committee. Following our participation in the Ministerial Mission of the Melanesian Spearhead Group to New Caledonia this year, Fiji subsequently sponsored the UN Special Committee’s 2010 resolution on New Caledonia. We urge all concerned parties to accelerate the progress of the provisions of the Noumea Accord.
Over the past year, the Fiji government has effected a number of legal changes that have not only modernized our laws and brought about gender and social parity, but has also ensured compliance with international conventions. These changes include but are not limited to the Crimes Decree, which removes archaic rules in respect of rape trials.

We have implemented for the first time a comprehensive law against domestic violence to be consistent with our international obligations and protect the welfare of women and children. We now have child welfare laws which compel the reporting of violence against children or suspicion of abuse of minors. These and other new laws assist in the compliance of the Rome Statue by recognizing and incorporating crimes against humanity in our domestic laws.

Fiji was also present at the June review conference of the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court held in Uganda and is of course supportive of the work of the ICC.

Reforms taking place in our laws and in our outlook help us to comply with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). They also support our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Mr. President, I would like to reaffirm the critical points made at last week’s MDG Summit, and at the high-level review of the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation (MSI). I make these points in the context of being one of the UN Members classified as Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
In spite of the considerable domestic efforts in cooperation with the international community, the SIDS have had very mixed results in achieving the MDG goals. Going forward, we and our development partners have to examine where success has been achieved, where efforts have been unsuccessful and identify country-specific priorities to achieve the MDGs.

Mr. President, the threat of climate change, particularly sea level rise, continues to hang over us all. While some of us are more vulnerable than others, we must work in concert as a responsible international family to mitigate the adverse effects of this global phenomenon.

In this context, I reiterate the common call of the SIDS that the promised fast-track funding from the international community for the finance of climate change adaptation and mitigation measures, be delivered without delay.

Mr. President, through the Pacific Small Island Developing States, Fiji pledges itself to assist in increased representation of the Pacific Island countries in the UN system. The aim is to also increase employment of Pacific Island nationals within the UN Secretariat and its affiliated bodies.
To this end, I must also state that Fiji has taken a prominent role in the International Telecommunications Union. I note that only a few days ago the Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon accepted an ITU report on digitalization including accessibility to broadband.
Mr. President, in this area Fiji has also embarked on its own initiatives for accessibility to, and improvement in, telecommunications and information technology.
These include the process of finalizing a national policy on broadband and spectrum management. We therefore appreciate the Secretary General’s initiative in this respect, and urge him to carefully consider the report and provide that impetus on a global level through the United Nations (UN). Mr. President, improved technology and e–access will provide that trajectory in meeting the MDG’s and improving the lives of all our peoples.
Mr. President, as one of the founding signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Fiji has kept its oceanic obligations at the core of its foreign policy. Fiji therefore follows, and expects fellow member states to also adhere to, the legal regime of the exclusive economic zone which encompasses sovereign rights.
Since it is the Year of Biodiversity, we call upon the International Seabed Authority to be vigilant in safeguarding the environmental integrity of the world’s seabed. Within this context one of the great challenges of Pacific Small Island Developing States is to be effective in conserving the fish stocks of the Pacific Ocean. These fish stocks are critical to our livelihoods, to our economies. Those countries which over-exploit these fish stocks must be informed that this practice is unsustainable. As owners, investors and harvesters, we should follow and adhere to international law and chart a path to sustain stocks for the benefit of all.
Mr. President, what I say today is that we must recognize that meaningful dialogue is essential – within our respective countries, within our respective regions and in the world as a whole. Seeking to achieve resolutions and solutions through dialogue is the way forward.
In the true spirit of international cooperation, we must at all times as sovereign states in our community of nations develop and maintain relationships based on respect, dignity and equality. We must also decide on issues and matters before this august assembly based on merit, justice and international law.
Mr. President, once again my congratulations on your election and best wishes for a productive 65th Session of the General Assembly.