#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2010-10-31

Friday, November 5, 2010

Illegal Fiji leader uses Diwali to spout prosperity and equality

The theme of good and evil or light over darkness continued today with self-appointed leader Voreqe Bainimarama saying Diwali was a "celebration that illuminated a path to self-determination, towards prosperity and more importantly, towards sharing."

Earlier this week Bainimarama used a special commemoration for the three soldiers who died in the 2000 mutiny at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks to say it was the end of Fiji's dark days.

Today, he turned to the annual Diwali celebration to suggest Fiji was in good hands under his regime saying the spirit of Diwali was about stability and peace, "which should rise above all cultural, racial and social barriers."

"Diwali is a significant part of our calendar as it displays the cultural and religious diversity that Fiji is known the world over for. This occasion is celebrated by all the communities in Fiji and is a reflection of this diversity."

NFU seeks compensation, cash grant for growers

Mahendra Chaudhry: State should pay cash grant because of drought and FSC should pay compensation for mill inefficiencies in 2009 and 2010

Posted Fiji Labour Party November 1

The National Farmers Union is seeking compensation for the massive losses suffered by the cane farmers as a result of FSC's failure to crush cane efficiently at its four mills.

In a letter to Growers Council chief executive officer, Sundresh Chetty, the NFU has also called for relief to be granted through a cash grant for growers affected by the severe drought as well as a crop rehabilitation programme.

In building a case for compensation, NFU general secretary Mahendra Chaudhry said, "The cane growers have now reached a point where they cannot be expected to increase production unless compensated for the massive losses sustained by them because of the negligence and inefficiency of the FSC".   

The full NFU letter to the Council is published below:

26 October 2010

Mr Sundresh Chetty
Chief Executive Officer
Sugar Cane Growers Council
2nd Floor Sugar Cane Growers Building
75 Drasa Ave

Dear Mr Chetty

re: Drought Relief and Crop Rehabilitation Assistance to Cane Growers

I wish to express our concern at the gravity of problems facing the sugar industry generally and the cane farmers in particular.

As the largest cane growers organization in the country, we have been inundated with questions about the industry. Most of our members believe their future will be bleak should they continue to rely on cane farming for their livelihood. Indeed, they have very good reasons for saying so, as can be measured by the sharp decline of the industry since 2006. The following statistics obtained from the annual reports of the FSC should provide ample evidence of the seriousness of the situation:

   Season       Cane Crushed            Sugar Make           TCTS
                    tonnes (m)                tonnes (000)

   2006            3.23                          310                    10
   2007            2.48                          237                    10
   2008            2.32                          208                    11
   2009            2.25                          168                    13.4
   2010(est)       1.80                          130                    13.5

During the same period, revenue from sugar has continued to decline for three reasons:

• Firstly, lower exports because of reduced crop size and consequently lower sugar make.

• Secondly, reduction of 36% in the export price paid by the EU.

• Thirdly, and connected to the first reason, the high TCTS ratio resulting in wastage of cane in the inefficient milling process.

Season          Revenue             Cane Price                     EU Price
                      ($m)               per tonne ($)                 Reduction

 2006                232                 58.60                              5%
 2007                272                 59.65                              7%
 2008                206                 59.70                            21%
 2009              *204               *56.59                            36%

*would have been 20% less if not for devaluation

The forecast for the 2011 season remains depressed because of the impact of the prolonged drought and the chronic malfunctioning of the mills.

NFU officials have been engaged in the past several weeks in carrying out a survey of the areas impacted by the drought in the Western division. Our survey has convinced us that there is an urgent need to provide assistance to the affected cane growers not only for relief from the effects of the drought but also to provide support for a cane rehabilitation programme.

We believe that farmers should be assisted by way of a cash grant to compensate them for the loss suffered as a result of the reduced crop size. Our assessment points to a crop reduction of around 400,000 tonnes (from 2009) which equates to a net income loss of around $8 million for the farmers.

This is further aggravated by the huge wastage of cane in the milling process because of the high TCTS ratio of around 13.5. The acceptable ratio should be around 8.5, but given that FSC had stated 10.5 at the beginning of the season, we propose to strike an average between the two at 9.5. On that basis, the farmer suffers a loss of 4 tonnes of cane for every tonne of sugar manufactured.

It follows, therefore, that 190,000 tonnes of sugar should be made from a (reduced) crop size of around 1.8 million tonnes. However, with TCTS at 13.5 the current estimate is that the sugar make is unlikely to exceed 130,000 tonnes, but it may even be less given the prevailing adverse conditions in the industry.

The shortfall of some 60,000 tonnes is massive and approximates a loss to industry income of around $50 million at the current export price of which $35 million will have to be borne by the farmers.

You are aware that in the 2009 season farmers incurred a loss of $70 million because of the negligence of the FSC. In the past two seasons (2009/10) the TCTS has been extraordinarily high at 13.5 which is the main contributing factor for the losses.

The cane growers have now reached a point where they cannot be expected to increase production unless compensated for the massive losses sustained by them because of the negligence and inefficiency of the FSC.

If the sugar cane crop size is to be restored to around 4 million tonnes, then it is imperative that the farmers must be paid a cane price that will give them a reasonable return on their investment. For the 2009/2010 seasons they will not receive even the declared forecast price of $61 and $45 per tonne, respectively.

In light of the forgoing we propose that the Sugar Cane Growers Council seek a specific assistance package which should comprise the following:

1. Cash grant for loss of production as a consequence of the prolonged drought (State to pay)

2. Compensation for the losses suffered in the 2009 and 2010 seasons because of gross inefficiencies in the milling process (FSC to pay)

3. A crop rehabilitation programme similar to the one instituted in 1998/1999 following the drought of 1998 (State to pay)

Cash Grant

A formula for the payment of cash grant was devised in 1998 and this could be relooked at by the Council. It is suggested that the formula be appropriately revised to take account of the prevailing conditions and then applied across the board.

Compensation of Losses

The Council will need to take advice on this but we would suggest that the cane growers be compensated on the basis of the wastage of cane in the inefficient milling process.

This works out at 42% ie; 13.5 – 9.5 = 4 which is 42% of 9.5.

Cane farmers should, therefore, be paid an additional 42% of their gross proceeds for each of the years.

Crop Rehabilitation Assistance

Here again, the formula used in 1998/1999 could be relooked at and applied with adjustments where justified.

The above constitute our submission on the subject of assistance to cane farmers for drought relief, compensations for losses sustained in the 2009/2010 seasons, and a crop rehabilitation programme.

We trust the Council will do the needful to assist the cane growers at this most critical juncture in the history of the industry.

Yours sincerely,

Mahendra P Chaudhry
General Secretary

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Junta yet to say how international casino operator will meet 90 per cent local ownership decree

a) given tax incentives involving tax-free imports of building and construction materials and equipment, in accordance with Fiji’s tax laws

b) and be allowed to transfer profits out of the country in accordance with the Reserve Bank of Fiji’s guidelines and laws. 

No doubt, there's more to emerge about the latest efforts by the illegal regime to refill the coffers and present a consolidated front.

Bainimarama continues the sugar blame game

Self-appointed prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama is blaming dirty politics for poisoning the sugar industry and for bringing it to near collapse.

The Fiji Sun quotes Bainimarama as calling on the people of Ra Province at the Nanukoloa meeting to rally behind the efforts to put the sugar industry back on even keel.

The paper quotes him as saying the regime had decided to reclaim control of the FSC and the business of sugar making, claiming the industry "had been crippled and poisoned with dirty politics for a long time."

Passing the buck and making lofty promises he said: "Government has therefore decided to shoulder the responsibility of cleaning the operation of the industry and nurturing itback to good health."

To the Fiji Village, he said the regime was fixing the problems of transportation and harvesting, adding a meeting is currently being held in Lautoka on the Delloitte report. He claimed the report would lead to the recovery of the industry.

The FSC is expected to use up the nearly $5million given by the EU to by the end of the year.

Picture: Bainimarama ducks for cover while farmers suffer.

Nailatikau on a roll

The gambling streak of Fiji's illegally appointed president, Epeli Nailatikau, has surfaced on the rugby field. Nailatikau was snapped by FijiLive taking a Melbourne Cup bet on Tuesday. Two days later he seems to be still in the zone, this morning resorting to gambling puns as the basis of advice to the Flying Fijians, who are off on their Europe tour.

In a Ministry of Information release under the heading 'Keep your cards close', Nailatikau is quoted as urging the team to take a poker face approach by never giving the opposition (France, Italy and Wales) any hint of division from within.

“Don’t discuss in public what you plan to do,” he extolled. “If there are some people who don’t want to perform because of personal reasons it’s ok, no problem, you have to respect that, that’s what you have to do because once it becomes public, it’s going to be debated by your relatives here in Fiji."

Voreqe Bainimarama's hand-picked president had more great advice, telling the team: “It causes a friction, we don’t want that, you should not allow the other side to have a hint that there is division. You know exactly what you are going to do and that is my request on behalf of the people of Fiji. Go there you have a job to do, so concentrate on it.

“You job is to protect this interest and when you do that you protect the interest of the team and the people of Fiji.

“In two Rugby World Cup events we got to the quarter-final and in both of them no one thought we were going to get there. I know in all of them the Fiji team could do it and I have no doubt that we can do it again and even go further. But that is up to you, those of you who are here and those teammates who are still away.” 

We wonder what advice El Presidente would offer under a real crisis.

Picture credit: FijiLive

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tourists want Fiji's natural beauty not casino vices

Opinion piece by Suliasi Daunitutu 

As Voreqe Bainimarama and Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum hastily go about preparing for their money-making “casino”, Fiji - including all parts of its existence - has fallen further into the abyss of social deficiency and extreme indigence.

This view cannot be dismissed as rumour or propaganda, as the world has proven through its human rights watchdog (UNHRC), that Fiji needs to return to democracy for “IT” to get out of its present disastrous position.
The unelected president has issued a plea to the chiefs of Fiji to help the illegal government in stabilising the country (Fiji Times October 27th) and Bainimarama told the Fiji Sun on the same day that the EU should send aid to resurrect the sugar industry.

Nailatikau in his speech to the 21 chiefs of the Ba province said “There are emerging issues affecting the i-taukei such as leadership, which is not new to their lifestyle and is affecting traditional ties." He further added: “We must stop and re-look at our journey and improve our relationship among ourselves.”

The government before this illegal administration always left the Vanua matters to the government arm that manages the indigenous affairs, so it is not seen as an overpowering caretaker. Here, it is the president who is making the statement, an office which shouldn’t be interfering in indigenous affairs on protocol alone before anything else.

That in my view, is a show or cry for help. If the speech he delivered was written and prepared by his office without his input, then it shows a lack of knowledge in proper traditional procedures, but if he (president) has an input than it sounds like a distress call implicating the global economic meltdown as the cause of Fiji’s woes.

In the midst of all these problems and a frenzy of over borrowing, Bainimarama and Khaiyum have decided, that Fiji needs gambling added to its tourism lure repertoire to tease the visitors’ inquisitive palate.

Fiji, to most who don’t know, is a paradise, with pristine clear waters and beaches that stretch for miles, swaying coconut palm trees and enjoy the sounds of nature to relieve the body and mind of metropolitan stress.

I am confident that tourists who come to Fiji have casinos in their country and it would be something that they would be trying to stay clear of, given the documented evidence of gambling addiction and its related problems.

Khaiyum has reassured the Fijian population that in adding gambling to Fiji’s tourist attractions, they will make sure that “its development does not erode the strength of Fiji’s tourism brand” - and what brand would that be Mr. Khaiyum? Everything we have, that tourists want is natural, and it was branded from creation by the creator in all their individuality.

I could go on about this issue for hours, but I would like to summarize in saying this:

The casino is a proven moneymaker for the owners and the government only.

The problems that it brings include escalation in, poverty, domestic violence, addiction, illegal dealings, prostitution, money laundering, family break-ups, further rural to urban migration, which in turn increases the population displacement problems, school dropouts, venereal diseases – I think you know what I am trying to say.

There will be an increase of social and economical problems for the general population, while the government and the casino owners will be gaining from the peoples’ losses.

Guarantee of justice gone with loss of independence at Office of DPP

There is no more independence remaining in the Office of the DPP.

Since Monday, staff from the illegal Attorney-General's office have been auditing all files in the DPP's office.

Sources inform us that on Monday it was serious offences files and that on Tuesday it wasall fraud files. 

This has never been done before and it just goes to show how low the office of the DPP has fallen from its mighty days.  This has never been the way business has taken place in the office of the DPP. 

It just proves how the illegal AG, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, has gotten his flithy hands into that office and taken away all independence. The very independence which guarantees justice to all.

US 'unhappy' with Australia's handling of Pacific

By Campbell Cooney, Radio Australia: The United States is expected to send a message to Australia and New Zealand this week that it wants a change in how they are providing leadership in the Pacific.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives for an official visit to Papua New Guinea on Wednesday, before travelling to New Zealand and Australia for ministerial meetings.

In Hawaii last week, Secretary Clinton announced the US was to spend $21 million to reopen its Pacific Agency for International Development office, to be based in Suva.

Dr Richard Herr, an adjunct professor at Fiji National University, sees that as a message to the big powers of the Pacific: Australia and New Zealand.

Opening of the office was welcomed by Fiji's military backed regime.

Dr Herr sees the decision as recognition that the situation in the Pacific is "getting more interesting. The fraught relationship with Fiji is creating difficulties for traditional friends of the region. It is certainly opening doors to all sorts of new opportunities for non-traditional players."

These include China and Russia - the republic of Georgia recently approved medical aid for Tuvalu, which two days earlier had sided with Georgia in a row with Moscow over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

"In other words, others are seeing opportunities in the Pacific islands that are leading to all sorts of strange alliances.

"I think these are some of the things that have concerned the US government.

"The whole Asia Pacific area is in change; everyone knows that.
"But in the South Pacific, in part because of the unstructured and difficult relationship with Fiji, Australia and New Zealand have not been playing nearly as positive and effective a role as I think some countries would have expected."

Fergus Hanson, a research fellow at the Lowy Institute, sees Mrs Clinton's PNG visit as focusing on a huge planned liquefied natural gas project.

It has the ability to lift PNG out of reliance on development aid, but could also crush other industries and cause a further breakdown of law and order.

Mr Hanson says the US wants to help ensure PNG does not fall victim to what has been called the "resources curse".

Pictures: Bainimarama Graham Davis, The Australian and the Liquid Niugini Gas, picture ex Niugini Gas Ltd.

US rattled by presence of China in the Pacific

Voice of America: During her high profile two-week tour of Asia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the United States will increase its development and security cooperation with countries in the South Pacific. On Wednesday, Clinton will visit Papua New Guinea, and later New Zealand and Australia.

Secretary Clinton's talks with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare will cover a wide range of issues: environmental concerns, women's rights and governance in the resource-wealthy yet economically poor nation.

The top U.S. diplomat's visit to Port Moresby is part of Washington's renewed interest in the region, which in recent years has received increased assistance from China. Most countries in the South Pacific, outside of Australia and New Zealand, are small and poor. A few are politically unstable and several island nations are threatened by rising sea levels.

The Lowy Institute of International Policy in Sydney estimates that in 2008 China pledged $206 million in grants and soft loans to eight small Pacific nations. The U.S. Agency for International Development [USAID] only gave $3.6 million.

Clinton says that is going to change: next year USAID will open an office in Fiji with a $20 million climate change fund. It will be the first USAID presence in the region in 16 years.  Military-ruled Fiji is believed to be the biggest recipient of Chinese aid in the region.

"We are working through the Pacific Island Forum to support the Pacific island nations as they strive to really confront and solve the challenges they face from climate change and freedom of navigation," said Clinton.

It is not too late for the U.S. to engage with the region, says Allan Patience, a professor at Sophia University in Tokyo, and an expert on South Pacific nations.

"There is still a strong sense that America is an important presence, but that America has been neglecting the region," Patience said. "China itself has some problems, in that some [Pacific] states are asking too much, demanding too much and are not prepared to follow through with what China wants them to do. A good case would be Fiji, which has been trying to use China against some of the other countries in the region particularly Australia and New Zealand, in defending the takeover by the military couple of years ago," Patience points out. "Australia and New Zealand have reduced their aid, making it difficult for Fiji. Fiji turned to China."

Australia has been the traditional regional power, giving about $1 billion in aid this year. But relations with its neighbors have sometimes been strained because of Canberra's insistence on political or economic reforms.

Professor Patience cautions that politicians in Port Moresby could use Clinton's visit to bolster their legitimacy despite allegations of widespread corruption and human rights abuses. Transparency International this year ranked Papua New Guinea among the most corrupt countries in the world.

About half of the country's income comes from oil drilling and mining for metals such as copper and gold, activities that environmental watchdogs say damage the country's rich biodiversity. The U.S. oil company Exxon Mobil operates a natural gas project that could pump $30 billion into Papua New Guinea's government over 30 years.

From Port Moresby, Clinton travels to New Zealand.

Kurt Campbell, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, says the U.S. will recommit to ties with New Zealand.  Campbell adds relations have been largely ignored since Wellington banned nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from its waters 25 years ago.

"There, we will issue the so-called Wellington Declaration which will underscore our desire to see U.S.-New Zealand relations return to a significance in terms of coordination on a range of issues - non-proliferation, politics, climate change, how we work together in the Pacific Islands," Campbell said. "And we, of course, are very grateful for the work and support that New Zealand has provided us and other nations in Afghanistan."

From there, Secretary Clinton travels to Australia, a close ally whose forces serve in Afghanistan.

Clinton and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will meet with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Defense Minister Stephen Smith to mark the 25th anniversary of bilateral ministerial talks.

Secretary Clinton earlier said the allies will continue to modernize defense cooperation to respond to "a more complex maritime environment."

Some Australian political analysts say Canberra is caught between Washington and Beijing. Chinese demand for Australian resources have contributed to an economic boom in Australia and relations with Beijing have grown closer in recent years.  An Australian defense ministry report last month warned that increased Chinese military spending is changing the balance of power in Asia as the U.S. experiences military budget pressures.

In recent years, Australian mines have been one of the biggest suppliers to China of iron ore and other raw materials. But even as Sino-Australian economic ties flourished, many Australian officials and foreign affairs analysts remain wary over China's growing regional power.

Clinton wraps up her Asia-Pacific tour in American Samoa, a U.S. territory in the South Pacific devastated by a tsunami in 2009.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nailatikau happily takes a flutter while nation fights regime's casino plans

Some of Fiji's illegally-appointed leaders look quite at home taking a bet. Who knows? They'd probably make good lounge lizards in the regime's proposed casino.

The country's illegally-appointed president, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, (middle in the picture at right) was snapped by FijiLive placing his bet today for the Melbourne Cup, in Australia.

The idiotic, illegally appointed attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, and his leader Voreqe Bainimarama, are moving fast on their casino plans despite widespread opposition.

As with most things they want to foist on the nation, the casino will probably be in place before we can say 'Roll that dice, you snake eyes!" Such is life as we know it today.

We wonder which horse our esteemed president was putting his money on today - So You Think, Shocking, Shootout, Zipping or Maluckyday?

Bainimarama hopes country 'never returns to dark days of 2000'

Sacrifice and forgiveness were talked up today by Fiji's illegal leader when he referred to the deaths of three soldiers in the 2000 mutiny at the Queen Elizabeth barracks.

FijiVillage says Voreqe Bainimarama welcomed a 50-strong male delegation from the District of Lovoni in Ovalau, who presented their "mata-ni-gasau".

The website says the group represented six villages namely - Lovoni, Vuni-ivi-savu, Nasau-matua-i-colo, Nukutocia, Visoto, Nacobo and were led by the Turaga na Tui Wailevu, Ratu Beranaitutu Rogoyawa.
Bainimarama is quoted as saying the people from the district had done a number of things that brought instability in 2000 and he's happy they've realized how wrong their actions were.  

The junta leader, who has been fending off talk of current unrest, says the three soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice to bring peace to Fiji, and he hopes people now understand the country should never go back to the dark days of 2000.

Original story and picture from Fiji Village. Note: See earlier FijiVillage story on the commemoration service and Bainimarama's claim the RFMF is stronger than it was in 2000.

NZ Defence Paper 2010 zeroes in on 'fragility of the South Pacific'

New Zealand's Defence Minister Wayne Mapp has released the paper today saying it sets out the country's assessment of the strategic environment over the next 20 years. He says the prosperity of the Asia Pacific region has been built on stability and security. He also says New Zealand has been actively engaged in dealing with state stability, and with the effects of terrorism.

Excerpts from the report:

New Zealand's strategic outlook to 2035
1.9 The rules-based international order is under pressure. Key international institutions are struggling to forge consensus on a range of trans-boundary issues. Economic weight is shifting. New military technologies are emerging and the threat of proliferation is growing. Terrorism is a continuing challenge to state authority.
1.11 The outlook for the South Pacific is one of fragility. The resilience of Pacific Island states and the effectiveness of regional institutions will remain under pressure. With
Australia, which will remain our most important security partner, we will continue to play in the region.
11 a leadership role in the region, acting as a trusted friend to our South Pacific neighbours.
1.12 The United States (US) is likely to remain the pre-eminent military power for the next 25 years, but its relative technological and military edge will diminish. Tensions related to the Korean Peninsula, Taiwan and the South China Sea will continue, as will pressure points in South and Southeast Asia. Security structures in the Asia-Pacific region will continue to evolve. The Middle East will remain a region of instability.

Tasks for the NZDF

1.14 Tasks in and around New Zealand and the South Pacific will be the starting point for choosing the military capabilities of the NZDF. This means, with Australia, being able to deal with any reasonably foreseeable contingency in the South Pacific.

South Pacific
3.42 Today, many Pacific Island states face chronic social, economic, environmental, andgovern ance stresses. Few countries in the region can claim to have mastered the
difficult challenges of globalisation, and the cumulative nature of these stresses means that the outlook for the South Pacific over the next 25 years is one of fragility.
3.43 The people of the South Pacific will remain open and optimistic but they have few strategic resources to fall back on, and their control over those resources is being tested. It is therefore likely that the resilience of Pacific Island states and the effectiveness of regional institutions will remain under pressure.
3.44 Along with Australia, we will continue to contribute to stability, capacity strengthening and economic development, regional maritime surveillance, search and rescue,
humanitarian aid, and disaster relief when required. In pursuing these objectives, we will work with France in the context of FRANZ; with the countries of the Pacific Islands
Forum (PIF) in the context of the PIF Pacific Plan and the Biketawa Declaration; and with a range of development partners.
3.45 Many more outside countries and non-governmental organisations are now involved in the South Pacific. This trend is likely to continue. Much of this involvement is constructive and co-operative, but it may test our continuing ability, alongside Australia, to remain at the forefront of international efforts to support Pacific Island states. Very little of this external involvement is expected to have a military dimension, other than offers of defence co-operation.
3.46 The fragility of the South Pacific may lead to a more complex operating environment for the NZDF in the future. Our military engagement with the region will be most effective if
it enjoys the consent and support of the receiving state. This places a premium on New Zealand working hard, including through the NZDF, to remain a trusted friend to
Pacific Island states.
3.47 The problems facing Pacific Island states are even more acute in neighbouring Timor-Leste. The Government of Timor-Leste is likely to continue to require substantial
9 The FRANZ Statement, signed by representatives of the Governments of France, Australia and New Zealand in December 1992, commits its signatories to ‘exchange information to ensure the best use of their assets and other resources for relief operations … in the [South Pacific] region’.

Full report available at  http://www.beehive.govt.nz/sites/all/files/Defence_White_Paper%202010.pdf

Bainimarama uses mutiny commemoration to say RFMF more united than 2000

One of the more violent chapters of Fiji's military history was recalled today with a special commemoration for the mutiny at the QE Barracks 10 years ago.

Three soldiers,  Lance Corporal Simione Rawaileba, Private Seru Sirinavosa and Private Jonetani Veilawai, were remembered today.

Fiji Village photographed the widow, Leba Rawaileba, and quoted her as thanking the Military for employing her eldest son after the death of his father. 

The daughter of Vosailagi was also singled out. She acknowlegded her father for his hard work and the Military's help in paying for her education.

The illegal prime minister of Voreqe Bainimarama was quoted as saying the RFMF will ensure its soldiers did not die in vainty. He said RFMF is now united compared to 2000 and that some people had even underestimated its strength from that time.  RFMF's Chief of Staff, Brigadier Mohammed Aziz, who attended today's commemoration and said the ceremony served as a memory for  young soldiers.

Original story and picture FijiVillage: Leba Rawaileba lays a wreath for her husband.

Freed Tuisolia says disgruntled businessmen behind fraud charges laid against him

The former Airports Fiji Ltd CEO, Ratu Sakiusa Tuisolia, says his acquittal has lifted a huge burden off his back. 

Tuisolia was cleared by the Fiji High Court yesterday.

He told FBC News the charges have been held against him for four years but he'd maintained his innocence from day one. 

Tuisolia was charged by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption on three counts of fraudulent conversion and three counts of keeping false records. 

He says he was always confident based he'd be cleared the ruling would go his way saying it should never have made it to the Fiji High Court.

Tuisolia believes the investigation was raised by certain disgruntled businessmen who did not have their way with him when he was CEO of AFL. 

He says he does not want to comment at this stage on the independence of the Fiji judiciary except to say that he respects the judges decision and was happy to be acquitted.

Monday, November 1, 2010

CCF adds its weight to growing concerns over casino plans

SOCIAL PROBLEMS: Moves afoot to tighten laws governing casinos in Honiara.

The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum has joined the growing chorus of concern over plans for a casino in Fiji.

CCF says the illegal regime is forging ahead with its proposal despite widespread opposition expressed last year against the idea.

Its CEO, Rev Akuila Yabaki, says previous elected governments had shelved proposals because of the concerns of individuals, civil society, religious organisations and parliamentarians.

“CCF and several other civil society groups and individuals, had expressed concern last year, against the building of a casino in Fiji because it is known world over that casinos can have collateral damages. 

"CCF is also concerned that the plans to build a casino is going ahead without any process that would be equivalent to parliamentary debate and public consultation."

CCF also says casinos in the Pacific region have failed.

It says a report by Oxfam in 2006 found that the operation of a foreign-owned casino in Vanuatu since the 1980s, had not generated any increase in tourist numbers and neither had it generated any economic growth. 

It says the report also found that all the profits were repatriated overseas and none were reinvested back in Vanuatu. Although initially intended for the wealthy tourists, in recent times, the casino in Vanuatu has been patronised more by the poorer ni-Vanuatu, including women market vendors, hoping to strike it rich. 

It says the casino has created a growing social problem of gambling in Vanuatu.

In June this year, the Solomon Islands Democratic Party had called for a reform of gambling legislation because of the social problems being caused by casinos in the capital Honiara.

Yabaki says if a casino does get built in Fiji, regulations need to be in place to ensure appropriate consideration is given to:

The impact on social welfare and culture;
The casino is restricted to tourists or those with a certain income threshold;
Measures to reduce possibilities of gambling addictions;
Fiji does not become susceptible to new crimes due to the influx of gambling tourists.

Meanwhile, news of a casino is spreading fast. The Fiji casino story is the lead item on InternetPoker.co.uk

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Defence White Paper – Part Eight. ‘Fiji Muslims potential incubator for Bin Laden’

BALI BOMBING: More than 200 people died, many of them Austtalians. BELOW: Osama bin Laden, links in the region.
Nadi Airport vulnerable to Islamic terrorist attacks, warned DWP

Editors Note: As debate on the role of the Fiji military in the affairs of our nation intensifies, we have decided to reproduce excerpts of the highly controversial and secretive Defence White Paper whose contents Victor Lal had exposed shortly before the 2006 coup. Coupfourpointfive argues the Report was one of many factors which prompted the dictator to seize power.

The small Muslim community in Fiji, which has historically proved conspicuously law-abiding and loyal to the country, was a potential incubator for religious zealots in the age of al-Qaeda related global terrorism, said the controversial and secretive Defence White Paper (DWP) 2004 that was prepared for the previous SDL government.

But in order to counter the influence and infiltration of the al-Qaeda in the country the Fiji Muslims, the Defence Paper recommended, should be recruited as an ally for the Fiji authorities in the war on global terrorism. The Nadi international airport was another potential terrorist target from international Islamic terrorists, warns the DWP.

Global terrorism had global reach, and therefore, said the DWP, threatened Fiji. Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network of Islamic extremists had links to organisations in Southeast Asia such as Jemaah Islamiyah and Laskar Jihad. While such groups had more reason and opportunity to mount attacks within Southeast Asia than in the Pacific Islands, the Bali bombings in 2000, the DWP stated, showed the havoc that can be caused by a single attack on an international tourist destination. Australians, who were an increasing proportion of Fiji’s tourists, may have been a specific target in the Bali bombing. This was because of Australia’s close alliance with the United Sates of America, the DWP noted.

As regards the potential terrorist attack on international airports, especially the Nadi international airport, the DWP pointed out that such an attack could take the form of a bombing within or close to the airport terminal, the placement of a bomb on an aircraft, the hijacking of an aircraft bound either to or from Fiji, or the launching of a short-range missile by a terrorist near the perimeter of the airport against an aircraft landing or taking off.

Moreover, according to the DWP, Fiji was vulnerable not only as a target for international terrorism, but also as a transit point for terrorists organising an attack elsewhere in the region. A terrorist attack targeted against the transport our tourism industry anywhere in the region, and especially in Fiji, would have a devastating impact on the national economy of the country.

Although the DWP did not directly impute any terrorist intention to the Muslim community of Fiji, it did highlight the danger of al-Qaeda inspired infiltration of the community: ‘The small Muslim community in Fiji, mainly Sunni but with a minority of Shia adherents has historically proved to be conspicuously law-abiding and loyal to Fiji. The community is unlikely to harbour or tolerate Muslim extremists. The Muslim community should be recruited as an allay for the authorities in the war on terrorism, but the conjunction of anti-Americanism, Fijian participation in Iraq’s transition-despite being on private contract-and perceptions of discrimination at home is a potential incubator for zealots.”
In a separate but related analysis of Fiji’s participation in the Iraq conflict, the DWP however discounted any potential threat to the country’s internal security from the former soldiers and police recruited by the Global Risks Strategies (GRS) to act as guards and escorts in Iraq. The three-member Committee had also consulted the GRS in the preparation of the DWP.

There was some concern, noted the DWP, that returning GRS employees who failed to find other employment may become a security risk themselves. This may be so but the people employed have previous military or police training so this ‘industry is not adding to he potential problem of unemployed miscreants with military skills’.

Moreover, the DWP concluded, ‘they have witnessed the political power of the gun at home so will not be exposed to anything new there either’.

On 21 February 2003, the Sudanese-born Sheikh Majid was expelled from Fiji, despite being resident here for 18 years, when his work permit expired. The Fiji immigration authorities, acting on US and Australian ‘intelligence’ reports, claimed that Sheik Majid represented a security threat, despite non-disclosure of the alleged evidence. Sheik Majid was the director of the Islamic Institute of the South Pacific, based in Suva, and had worked closely with Fiji’s Muslim community.

The president of the Fiji Muslim League and former Government senator Hafiz Khan, while denying that the expulsion was a part of the anti-Muslim phenomena sweeping around the world, had however expressed regret at the manner and haste in which Sheik Majid was expelled from Fiji.

The immigration officials had found $30,000 cash in the Sheik’s home, the money said to be a gift from a wealthy Saudi benefactor to the Fiji Muslims to celebrate Ramadan. The Muslim community had claimed that it was aware of the large funds and that no money had been spent without the approval of the Fiji Muslim Council.

The former Director of Immigration, Joseph Browne, went out of his way to reassure the Fiji Muslims that they were not being specifically targeted as a special religious group. Following Sheik Majid’s expulsion, on March 3, Fiji signed an “anti-terrorism” pact with the Australian government. A year later, in 2004, the DWP once again focused on the Fiji Muslims.

Although the DWP had been with the SDL government since 2004, it was only in 2006, during the election campaign, and following the dangerous standoff between the Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, that the former admitted its existence. Prime Minister Qarase however had refused to divulge the contents or recommendations contained in the DWP.

Editor’s sub note: While the DWP had focused on the Shia and Sunni elements in the Fiji community, it had completely overlooked the non-mainstream Ahmadiyya Muslims – who after the 2006 coup provided the bulk of support to the dictator – the Tablibanistic illegal Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, Brigadier-General Aziz Mohammed, the Shameem Sisters, Dr Sahu Khan other Ahmadiyyas who joined various Boards and Commissions and the membership of the Peoples Charter.