#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2011-01-02

Saturday, January 8, 2011

FDM challenges Bainimarama's New Year speech


The Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement would like to condemn and rebut illegal Prime Minister and Military Dictators New Year’s Message as silly and nonsensical. In essence, Bainimarama’s New Year’s message is just a lot of hot air.

Bainimarama is simply singing his own tune and continues to sound like a broken record while trying once again to brainwash the people of Fiji with lies and nonsense.

The Commodore again attempts to make the people believe that his way is the right way and the only way – which totally violates the principle of the rule of law and in fact denies any democratic and fair processes to be implemented and actioned.

Commodore Bainimarama starts off by commending how innovative his illegal government is. If increasing the hand out of food vouchers is his idea of innovation, then God have mercy on Fiji because we are going to need it.

Creating a welfare system (such as food vouchers) can be of advantage to those in need, but it can lead to people relying on handouts rather than being provided with resources (equipment, advice, education) to be able to have sustainable work and business opportunities. To have a good welfare mechanism in a county, the rights, and voice, of the people must be heard and not be denied.

The key issue is in fact, why have the Fijian people become so poor that an increase in the welfare budget is needed? It is because there is a low level of confidence from the people, the economy is barely surviving and young people, in particularly are struggling to see a successful future for them in Fiji.

To address this fundamental issue a democratically elected government is needed in order to give confidence to the people and to potential foreign investors so that economic growth can be stimulated and to restore and grow national institutions and control mechanisms like an independent judiciary and a thriving legislature and National Human Rights Institution.

In regards to Bainimarama’s comments on Fiji’s National Superannuation Fund FNPF and that ‘it pays to be honest’, this is an irony in itself when in fact every time he speaks he is just trying to cover up for his own illegal actions of treason and gaining power through the barrel of a gun.

The truth is FNPF contributors have been disadvantaged because of the coup and in Bainimarama illegally taking over the FNPF operations. How can he say ‘honesty’ has brought FNPF an increase in its net surplus when he does not act honestly in his own dealings? For example, nepotism in who he is appointing to key government and organisational positions and that he paid himself a sizeable amount with money that the nation could ill afford to use for such purposes in the difficult economic conditions.

The Chiefly system is an integral part of the social fabric of Fijian society. The Dictatorship’s decree that all lease monies shall now be distributed equally amongst all the members of the respective landowning unit brings disrespect to the chiefly unity that has long been understood and acknowledged by those owning the land.

A chief gains their status through hard work and the process of time. As it is now with the new system, basically anyone can just step up and have part of the money distributed to them – isn’t this like saying a Class 1 student is at the same level of experience and understanding as a Class 8 student.

This supposed ‘modernising’ strategy by Bainimarama is simply an attempt to destabilise the Fijian societal system – first it was the Great Council of Chiefs that was dismissed and now this New Year decree to further break down the Chiefly system.

It is also an act of revenge on his two biggest critics Ro Teimumu Kepa and Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu who are chiefs that benefit from huge lease monies as paramount chiefs of confederacies and Turaga i Taukei to a large swath of land. 

In allowing equal access to lease monies Bainimarama is arguably appealing to young Fijians in an effort to ‘buy back’ their loyalty, but in years to come Bainimarama will see the repercussions of this ill-timed decision.

Many young Fijians want to complete their studies and get good jobs so they can contribute to their families, but lack of money to complete studies and then a very slow employment market makes it difficult for young people to become active and contributing members of their communities.

Bainimarama shouldn’t be talking about such things as increasing public expenditure (welfare, education etc) or decreeing how lease monies should now be distributed, but instead focus on when the elections are going to be held. How is he going to create jobs and when are he and his soldiers returning to the barracks and restoring freedom and democracy in Fiji?

The date of the removal of the PER (Public Emergency Regulation) is always being extended – how is this democratic if people cannot speak out against the government and the nation’s news is continually censored?

In conclusion, Bainimarama is still the illegal Prime Minister. Fiji is not a democratic nation – the majority still have no voice and are being silenced. Therefore his recent criticism of indigenous Fijians living overseas as not knowing what is going on is fallacious and wrong.

Fijians living overseas are actively criticising his government because they are not subjected to the propaganda and censored media the people living in Fiji and subjected to and get first hand news of what is happening because they live in a world of free media, freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

They can see clearly what is really going on and a large proportion of them left Fiji after the 2006 coup in utter disgust at the suppressive life Bainimarama has illegally brought upon the Country. (FDM statement)

A reader's view of the FNPF losses

Blogger Manuqalo has raised some points about FNPF that deserve to be taken seriously, even if they are clearly wrong.

The investments at Natadola and Momi were started by the FNPF when it was governed by the Board and senior management appointed by the Qarase Government. That's quite true.

But that doesn't mean that the investments decisions were bad. At the time, by global standards, investment in real estate in Fiji didn't look to be a great investment. Global markets were achieving huge returns at the time. Come the Global Financial Crisis, however, and real estate in Fiji didn't look so bad, but that's not really what

There are two reasons why Natadola investment was written down. First, the cost of construction blew out badly. The suspicion that this was due to coup-appointed FNPF board member, Felix Anthony, and his close relationship with the builder is confirmed by the fact that Anthony was booted out by Frank when the truth about cost explosion came to light within the regime, if not publicly, on top of the table.

Secondly, the damage done to the tourism industry by the coup could not help but wipe money off the value of tourism real estate in Fiji. Since then, this has been made much worse by the shabby treatment of foreign investors such as News Limited and Fiji Water.

The abrogation of the constitution and the sacking of the judiciary have made it clear to investors that property rights, like all legal rights, are worthless if there is no independent judiciary. All of the decrees which state that the laws cannot be contested in a court make it clear that the judiciary is just there to do the bidding of the executive, which is also the legislature.

The problems of the FNPF are the problems of the economy and the society. We are in the hands of a dictatorship which has delivered four straight years of economic disaster. And the self-appointed PM can't blame the Global Financial Crisis for the problems. 

The bottom dropped out of our tourism industry in 2007, not late 2008 when the GFC struck. Nor should we forget that most of our tourists still come from Australia, which did not suffer under the GFC, but did have their High Commissioner booted out accompanied by a tirade of abuse.- (By Corruption Fighter)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Empty slogans and promises never work for long: And the Truth always emerges

HANGED: The Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein.

The Righteous Judge                                                                                                                 
"Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech." ( Judges 9:56 NASB)

DECEITFUL: Bainimarama
In many ways, Abimelech resembles a modern politician or an ambitious business tycoon.To fulfill his ambition of becoming the leader of Shechem, he campaigned by making promises, reminding its people that Gideon was his father. When the people responded positively, he hired "reckless adventurers" to murder his 70 brothers. Having ruthlessly eliminated the opposition, Abimelech was crowned king.
But his youngest brother, Jotham, escaped these adventurers and challenged the people to think carefully about Abimelech's promises and character. Then a man named Gaal began spreading discontent and campaigning to get rid of Abimelech.To silence this threat, Abimelech sent troops who defeated Gaal. They also destroyed Shechem itself, killing many people. They even set fire to those who had gathered in "the stronghold of the temple of El-Berith."
Abimelech and his men then turned their rampage against the town of Thebez. There, as he approached a tower where people had fled, he was hit on the head by a millstone, dropped by a woman. Abimelech had a servant kill him with a sword, so "they can't say, 'A woman killed him.' "Many people in the world act just like Abimelech. They crave power and are willing to do anything to achieve their goals. Such people may appear to succeed, but they always reap what they sow. Empty slogans and promises never work for long. And the Truth always emerges.
Think about this when you look at people in the world, for example,  Saddam Hussein, and Voreqe Bainimarama who may seem able to fool others or gain short-term gains. But they cannot fool God, the "righteous judge" (Psalm 7:11)! He sees their hearts and their real motives.

Saddam Hussein  
Saddam Hussein was the President of Iraq from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003. A leading member of the revolutionary Ba'ath Party, which espoused secular pan-Arabism, economic modernization, and Arab socialism, Saddam played a key role in the 1968 coup that brought the party to long-term power.

As president, Saddam maintained power during the Iran–Iraq War of 1980 through 1988, and throughout the Persian Gulf War of 1991. During these conflicts, Saddam suppressed several movements, particularly Shi'a and Kurdish movements seeking to overthrow the government or gain independence, where an estimated 65,0000 people were murdered.

On 13 December 2003, Saddam Hussein was captured by US forces at a farmhouse in ad-Dawr near Tikrit in a hole in Operation Red Dawn and was transported to a U.S. base Baghdad. On 30 June 2004, Saddam Hussein, was handed over legally (though not physically) to the interim Iraqi government to stand trial for crimes against humanity and other offences. On 5 November 2006, Saddam Hussein was tried and found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death by hanging.

Saddam was hanged on 30 December 2006, despite his wish to be shot (which he felt would be more dignified). The execution was carried out at Camp Justice, an Iraqi army base in Kadhimiya, a neighborhood of northeast Baghdad.

The execution was videotaped on a mobile phone and his captors could be heard insulting Saddam. The video was leaked to electronic media and posted on the Internet within hours, becoming the subject of global controversy. It was later claimed by the head guard at the tomb where his body remains that Saddam's body was stabbed six times after the execution. He reaped exactly what he sowed.

Voreqe Bainimarama
On 22 September 2006, Commodore Bainimarama attacked government policies in a speech at Ratu Latianara Secondary School claiming that government leniency towards perpetrators of the 2000 coup had created a culture of disrespect for the law, to which he attributed the increasing incidents of rape, homicide, and desecration of pagan Hindu temples. He also criticized the Methodist Church (the body of Christ) of Fiji and Rotuma, for supporting the legally elected government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

On 16 October 2006, Bainimarama issued a three week ultimatum for the government to meet nine demands, or resign.

The nine demands mainly center around: the 2000 coup proponents being brought to justice; withdrawing any political machinations which would potentially further economic inequality based on racial grounds; denying intervention by foreign authority (mentioning by name Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes, an Australian national); dropping the court proceedings regarding the military's statements from earlier in the year and formally addressing concerns about government spending and internal governance.

The crisis came to a head when, on 26 November, during a private trip to New Zealand, Bainimarama called up 1,000 reserve troops to the Fiji Military Force, and reiterated his intention to topple the Fiji government. This came shortly after police revealed that he would soon be charged with sedition.Bainimarama announced on 6 December that the military had taken control of the government as executive authority in the running of the country. In a speech to the media, he explained the rationale for his coup, accusing Prime Minister Qarase of corruption and of having inflamed tensions between ethnic communities through "divisive" and "controversial" policies.

After four years of illegally ruling our country through the barrel of the gun, the whole world have witnessed the real motives and true colour of  Voreqe Bainimarama.

"The Lord has prepared His throne in heaven and His Kingdom rule over all." (Psalm 103:19) "Righteousness and justice is the foundation of your throne." (Psalm 89:14)  "..You love righteousness and hate lawlessness.." (Heb 1:9) "The Lord brings the plan of the nations to nothing. He makes the counsel of the people of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stand forever." (Psalm 32:10-11) The writing is on the wall for you, and all your cohorts Voreqe Bainimarama. A house divided by itself cannot stand.You will reap exactly what you sow, more than you sow. It's just a matter of time from now. It is inevitable! You must repent and return everything you took illegally and forcefully, immediately. I say again! IMMEDIATELY!!

"....I have made you a watchman..therefore hear the word at My mouth, and give them warning from Me." " When I say to the wicked, you shall surely die and you give him no warning, nor speak to warned the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 

"Yet, If you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul."(Ezekiel 33:7-9) 

The Bible, though written more than 2000 years ago, is still relevant in today's complex and confused world. I have settled my case. Your day of reckoning is coming Voreqe Bainimarama, the ball is in your court. (The Watchman) (Contributed Article)

Bainimarama 'apologises' for reforms to free Fiji of 'dirty politicians'

BAINIMARAMA'S DREAM TEAM: Fiji free of 'dirty politicians' ... Vore's justification for 'reforms.'

The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation is reporting Frank Bainimarama as apologising to people who don't support or agree to the government reforms.

FBC quotes Bainimarama as saying the reforms are "solely for the betterment of the country and its people."

It has the illegal leader as saying the Public Emergency Regulations are still in place "to stop anyone, especially dirty politicians who seek to jeopardise the work of government."

Bainimarama is cited as saying all reforms are implemented to "move Fiji away from where dirty politicians left off and strive towards building a better Fiji." (Original source, FB)

International Labour Office backs sacked teachers' representative

Fijian Teachers’ Association President, Tevita Koroi, was dismissed in May 2009 from his position as principal of Nasinu Secondary School. Koroi was suspended from his school in December 2008, after his comments at the launch of Movement for Democracy in Fiji (MD Fiji). He was officiating at the launch as master of ceremonies in his capacity as FTA president, which is affiliated to the Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions, and made a comment that angered the regime.
In his comments he said it was two years since the December coup and it was time that Fiji returned to democracy and parliamentary rule. He also said that the interim government must take the country to free and fair elections as soon as possible.

GENEVA (ILO News) – The November 2010 session of the Governing Body of the International Labour Office (ILO) took a number of decisions regarding fundamental rights at work.

The Committee on Freedom of Association drew the special attention of the Governing Body to the cases of Argentina, Cambodia, Fiji, Panama and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

The case of Argentina concerns allegations of a smear campaign against the Argentinean Building Workers’ Union (UOCRA) initiated by the authorities in the Province of Chubut, including the violent occupation of the UOCRA headquarters by armed groups, the destruction of property and computers, the stealing of documents, attempts to criminalize union activities, death threats and violent actions against its leaders.

The Committee urged the Government to ensure that investigations are carried out into all of these serious allegations and to ensure that the UOCRA can once again use its headquarters. It requested the Government to send its comments with respect to the proposal made by the complainant for a possible direct contacts mission that should focus its cooperation efforts on freedom of association in the Province.

In the longstanding case of Cambodia, the Committee reiterated its call upon the Government to carry out rapidly a thorough and independent investigation into the murders of trade union leaders Chea Vichea, Ros Sovannareth and Hy Vuthy. As for Thach Saveth who is currently serving a prison sentence which was imposed in a trial that was characterized by the absence of due process of law, the Committee urged the Government to ensure that he may exercise his right to a full appeal before an impartial and independent judicial authority. 

The case of
Fiji concerns the dismissal of a trade union leader in the public service education sector and allegations of ongoing anti-union harassment and interference with internal trade union affairs. 

The Committee observed that the allegations that Mr. Koroi was dismissed on the basis of a public statement he made concerning the organization of a campaign to return the country to parliamentary rule were uncontested. The Committee requested Mr. Koroi’s immediate reinstatement without loss of pay or benefits and urged the Government to refrain from any interference which would hinder the exercise of his representation functions in the relevant state forums.

The Committee took note of further extremely serious allegations of detention, torture and attacks on trade union leaders and requested the Government to respond in detail to the most recent allegations of restrictions placed on union meetings, freedom of movement and freedom of expression.

The case of Panama concerns serious allegations of murder, assault, acts of violence against trade union leaders and members, mass detentions of protesters, as well as violations of the right to collective bargaining, the establishment of a trade union by an enterprise and anti-union dismissals. The Committee, while taking note of the efforts made to arrest and convict those responsible for the murder of one official of the trade union SUNTRACS, deeply regretted that the relevant investigations into the other murders had yet to be concluded. 

The Committee firmly expected that these allegations would be concluded without delay and that those responsible would be punished. The Committee further urged the Government to send its observations without delay in respect of the allegations of injuries incurred to trade union officials, detention of SUNTRACS officers and the police attack on peacefully striking workers.

The case of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela concerns the murder of five trade union leaders and delegates in the construction industry and the alleged contract killings of more than 200 workers and union officials in the same sector, the criminalization of protest action and the persistent refusal on the part of the public authorities to bargain collectively. The Committee highlighted the importance of stepping up the criminal investigations in order to identify and punish the perpetrators and instigators of these murders so that trade unionists might be able to carry out their activities in a climate free from violence and fear.

As regards the detention of and criminal charges filed against workers for exercising a boycott, the Committee emphasized that the peaceful exercise of trade union rights should not be the subject of criminal proceedings. The Committee requested the Government to drop the charges against these union leaders and to ensure their release without delay and to amend the relevant legislative provision.

In the case of the Republic of Korea, the Committee once again urged the Government to proceed with the registration of the Migrants' Trade Union (MTU) without delay and to ensure that national decisions concerning the MTU’s application for registration recognize the principle that all workers may be guaranteed the full exercise of their freedom of association rights.

It also requested the Government to ensure that the Committee’s conclusions, particularly those concerning the freedom of association rights of migrant workers, are submitted for the Supreme Court’s consideration and to provide a copy of the Supreme Court’s decision once it is handed down. The registration of the MTU is pending before the Republic of Korea's Supreme Court, as the government appealed against an earlier court decision in favour of the MTU.

The Committee noted with satisfaction developments in a number of cases, including the reinstatement of over 200 dismissed trade union leaders in Peru and the agreements reached in a number of the Colombian cases following the Government’s recourse to ILO contacts missions. (International Labour Office statement)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Letter: dark days in rugby .... 'a war declared against Fijians'

THE FACE OF FIJI SEVENS: Rugby maestro, Serevi.

The raid by the Commerce Commission on the Fiji Rugby Union has prompted plenty of debate and lots of controversial opinion, including this letter from a former Fiji Senator (1999-2000) 

The raid by the CC on the rugby house yesterday is a full declaration of war against Fijians by Dr Mahendra Reddy (pictured right), Senior lecturer at FNU, and his Indian cohorts, like Premila Kumar CEO CC and AG.

Everybody knows rugby is Fijian culture and tradition. Fijians worship rugby like God. They sleep rugby, they work rugby, they run rugby, they meditate rugby. Look at Serevi, he is King of sevens. From Qarani in Gau in Lomaiviti. Serevi is not academically qualified like Dr  Reddy, but he makes Fiji known. 

Has Dr Mahendra Reddy made Fiji known? Serevi is still famous today. What is Reddy and Premila and Aiyaz famous for? They are famous for provoking Fijians to go war against Indians on this matter. They have done the most dishonorable and the most disgraceful acts against the Fijian people by running down their heart and soul by bringing disrepute to rugby. When you attack rugby, you are attacking the Fijians. 

Rugby has made Fiji the most revered team in the sevens code in the world. Why ruin rugby's image? The lottery is just a simple money gathering exercise to fund our boys in the build up to the world cup in NZ. The illegal govt is not supporting rugby in the 2011 budget. It is better to give to Rugby, than to the Military. 

Moving the value of the ticket to $10 is just a way to get the profit. This is doing the same thing as to other products being sold in stores. So what is the fuss all about? Can Reddy, Premila and Aiyaz tell us why didn’t they raid and report the Fiji Football for breaches of selling tickets, under fraud during the battle of the giant tournament last year? 

Why didn’t they raid FFA for game fixing, using price tags for referees and provincial draws? We know why;  they cannot do this because a Muslim Doctor, Sahu Khan, is a lawyer and adviser to the illegal regime. Has soccer placed Fiji in the world map? Never. Remember Reddy and your cohorts, there are many illegal activities happening in the soccer house right under your nose - why can’t you act on them? Are you afraid of the Muslim? 

The entire province in Fiji, you name it, all play rugby. From primary school up to secondary schools, rugby is worship. Dr Reddy and his cohorts must build some sense of nationhood in their illegal activity. 

How can Dr Reddy prove to us he is genuine and honest in teaching our students at FNU with the principals of true economics while he is engaged in politics in trying to correct the wrong of an illegal regime, who is ruling Fiji by Decree? We must be careful sending our children to FNU. If we are not careful our children will suffer post decree trauma thanks to fly-by-night lecturers like Dr Reddy.(Edited Opinion Piece)

Bainimarama tries to quell i-taukei opinion outside of Fiji

The illegal leader, Frank Bainimarama, says i-taukei living in New Zealand, Australia and the United States are working against the military regime because they don't know what Fiji is going through. 

In an interview with FBC, Bainimarama says his critics are people who want to return Fiji to where it was before. 

The self-appointed leader claims the i-taukei has coped well with reforms initiated by the regime and that he's happy with the commitment shown by the i-taukei toward his leadership.-FBC

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mohammed Aziz 'resigns' but Naivalurua still hanging in there

Mohammed Aziz is reported to have resigned from the RFMF this week. It is believed he was asked to go by the illegal leader, Frank Bainimarama, but it's not known why. Aziz was made brigadier in 2009, the same time as another who is in purgatory, Colonel Pita Driti.  

Coupfourpointfive reported in November that Aziz would be manoeuvred out, after the fall-out over Roko Lui and Driti. We have been told today by sources that Aziz has, indeed, now resigned and that it was well-known his was one of the heads Bainimarama wanted to roll. 

Another was Parmesh Chand, the dictator's former permanent secretary, who he had moved in April 2009 to the Public Service Commission to keep an eye in particular on the sugar industry. But Chand (pictured here with the dictator in 2008) lost favour and  Bainimarama soon took over sugar.

We reported in November that Chand had resigned and intended to leave at the end of December. Sources have told us that he has, as we tipped earlier, vacated the post.

A third the illegal leader wants to rein in, is Ioane Naivalurua, who heads both the Police and the Prison service. It is widely believed Bainimarama doesn't want Naivalurua presiding over both because he wields too much power and is therefore a threat.
Naivalurua (pictured below) today signed a three-year contract as police commissioner with the Public Service Commission chairman, Josefa Serulagilagi, saying the regime is grateful to have a highly motivated, experienced and dedicated officer.

“This is a very critical position in the public service, which not only demands exceptional leadership qualities and skills but also someone who is prepared to go that ‘extra mile’ in our quest for changes and reforms to build public institutions that are strong, professional, accountable and most of all entirely committed to bringing about improved efficiencies in their operations and service deliveries,” according to Serulagilagi.

“I am pleased that Brigadier General Naivalurua perfectly meets these requirements given his 31 years of service in the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and in the last four years the excellent work he did in the Fiji Prisons and Correctional Services.”

Rank and file officers have fed Coupfourpointfive with material they say proves Naivalurua is corrupt but the illegal police commissioner insists he has settled in the job and has received tremendous support from within the force as well as stakeholders. 

There has been no mention of Naivalurua's role as head of prisons. 

Editor's Note (January 6): We have since been informed that Parmesh Chand is still with the PSC. We're seeking further clarification.

Bainimarama uses New Year speech to boast of illegal regime's success

"... It pays to be honest. It pays to be upfront. It pays to have unity as a nation and focus on the future."

"We need to be constantly vigilant about those who are interested only about themselves, their pockets, their positions in organizations or their political survival. 

"These individuals will corrupt, these individuals will undermine the developmental process, these individuals will undermine Fiji."
Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama
CF(Mil), OStJ, MSD, jssc, psc Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics, Public Service, Strategic Framework for Change and Progress, Information, i-Taukei Affairs, Provincial Development and Sugar Industry

New Year’s Message 2011

Ni sa bula vinaka and a good evening.
Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year to all who call Fiji home and those visiting our shores.

2010 was the first full year after the appointment of my Government by His Excellency the former President, Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu Uluivuda, on April 10, 2009.

The Mandate that was given to Government which is premised on the principles set out in the Peoples Charter and detailed in the Strategic Framework for Change continues to be, and, shall be, the driving force of my Government.

As I said in my 2010 New Year’s message, modernizing, reforming and being innovative must be carried out to empower all Fijians – the poor, the marginalized, the land owners, the farmers, the businessmen and women, the small traders, potential investors, employees, rural dwellers, city dwellers, those in the islands, women, the homeless, the disabled and our youth.

It is this national approach to empowerment that will help us all as individual citizens and as a country to become stronger and become part of the modern global world. It will lead to long term sustainability of livelihoods and build a strong economy.

Empowerment by its very definition requires sensitivity and it requires the Government to care and for all of us to share. It means no discrimination. It means a recognition that policies for the sake of announcing them mean nothing, unless there is a practical application, there is implementation and there are tangible benefits. It means sustainability of policies.

You would have noticed and as we have been commended, the policies of my Government have been and will continue to be consistent.

Through the 2011 Budget, in the New Year, 10,000 more Fijians will receive food vouchers, in addition to the approximately 23,000 already on the program. The increase in the welfare budget and the focus on providing opportunities to potential investors, existing businesses both local and foreign, equal access to all Fijians to resources and governmental services, rectifying anomalies in the treatment of employees and a national approach to infrastructure development, will also result in the creation of employment opportunities and economic growth.

The vision as I have stated before my fellow Fijians, is to have you all participate in the building of Fiji into a modern state which capitalizes on our different strengths and richness.

In this process we all must combine forces. We cannot simply do things with the view to today or only tomorrow - it must be for the long term and it must be for all.

This will require taking steps together, difficult or unsettling as they maybe, to tackle the ills and mitigate the risks brought about by the mismanagement of the past and even the current practices of some. It will require an appreciation and understanding by all citizens in whichever capacity they serve.

It will also require prudent financial management and accurate accounting not only of Government finances but of all public institutions and Government entities. It will also require full disclosure, transparency and adherence to the law by the private sector.

Transparency and accurate accounting will always be beneficial in the long run. As we have seen in the past, Governments and Boards of various institutions were driven by political imperatives or narrow economic interests. This created economic distortions, social disparities and corruption.

Only last year when Government ensured that the new FNPF Board write down to record the true position of its assets, many berated this honest and essential move. There were many doomsday merchants.

Yet within a year of the write down, FNPF, given the confidence shown by the market and the general public because of the honest move, has now a net surplus of $209.4 million compared to a net loss of $181.5 million in the previous year. The balance of the member’s funds, your funds increased to $2.85 billion.

There is a message in this, it pays to be honest. It pays to be upfront. It pays to have unity as a nation and focus on the future.

Over the past year Government has effected a number of legal changes that have not only modernized our laws, brought about gender and social parity but has ensured that Fiji will become more compliant with international conventions. These changes include, but are not limited to the Crimes Decree, which for example similar to the laws of enlightened countries, removes archaic rules of corroboration and the ability to introduce sexual history in respect of rape trials.

We have implemented for the first time a law against domestic violence which women and children are overwhelmingly the victims of. We now have child welfare laws which compel the reporting of violence against children or suspicion of abuse of minors. 

We have and will through the 2011 Budget implement a number of upgrades to the public health system including the purchase of new and much needed technology. A modern health system means empowerment.

Education is the key to developing any country. Education is empowerment. Through knowledge enhancement, through critical thinking and questioning, we not only grow as individuals but we contribute to our society, to our country.

Through education, innovation and acceptance of change and adapting to change becomes the norm.

Many a times however, education is only the privilege of a few. This is an untenable situation.

It is also precisely for these reasons that we will continue in 2011 to provide direct assistance through subsidized bus fares and free text books. The expansion of the food voucher program will ensure that our children will have increased opportunities to attend school without financial constraints.

In addition, I am happy to announce this evening that as part of Government’s focus on education, educational items of erasers, text books, exercise books, pencils, sharpeners, rulers, ball point pens, highlighters, felt tip and markers, crayons, slates and boards and modeling paste will be zero rated from 4th January to 28th February, 2011. In other words you will not have to pay VAT on these items during this period. I urge all parents and guardians to purchase these school items in this period.

For many decades in Fiji in particular from World War II and into our post-Independence period, the valuation, availability, the use, and the distribution of lease monies pertaining to native titled land has been politicized.

This has meant that both native titled landowners and the lessees or tenants have lost out and overall the Fijian economy has stagnated or not realized its true potential. It has meant that disparities and differences have been created amongst members of respective land owning units. It has meant that the chiefly system has become tainted by monetary considerations.

Through the Land Use Decree and the reforms to be carried out at NLTB some of these issues will be addressed. However, a more fundamental measure is required to bring about economic empowerment.

Therefore, from 1st January 2011, all lease monies collected through the leasing of native titled land by the NLTB and through the Land Use Decree shall be distributed equally amongst all the members of the respective landowning unit.

In other words, there will be no distinction made between chiefs and commoners. If you are a member of the land owning unit you will then get an equal share as all the other members of your Yavusa, Mataqali or iTokatoka as the case maybe.

My fellow citizens, my message to you tonight is that the building blocks have started. These blocks will continue to be built. We must all work together, work harder, think harder and not shy away from taking tough decisions. If we have a national approach to empowerment we will all benefit – Fiji will become a better prosperous nation. 

We at the same time need to be constantly vigilant about those who are interested only about themselves, their pockets, their positions in organizations or their political survival. These individuals will corrupt, these individuals will undermine the developmental process, these individuals will undermine Fiji.

Fiji has now embraced reform and modernization. The clock cannot and should not be wound back. As a modern nation-state in which all Fijians are equal and are empowered, our future, our children’s and their children’s future is promising and bright.

Ladies and Gentlemen, my fellow Fijians, visitors to our shores, I know you are all celebrating the coming of the New Year with zest and vigor, in particular our youth. Please look after yourselves during the celebrations.

I wish all of you, the families, our elderly, those in the islands, the rural areas, the towns and cities, our soldiers and our people abroad and those visiting our shores a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Vinaka Vakalevu.

Source: Ministry of Information