#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2011-06-12

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Roadblocks in Suva suggest increased security alert for Bainimarama's return

Lots of reports are coming in tonight of roadblocks everywhere in Suva and in the western division, as well. The roadblocks were noticed early in the evening with one resident saying he had to pass six alone in Suva.

In the last couple of hours, reports have also come in of roadblocks in the western division. No explanation from the regime, including the official mouth piece Sharon Smith Johns who recently accused blogs of lying about there being roadblocks being seen in Fiji.

The most probable explanation for the increased security alert is the return of the illegal leader, Frank Bainimarama, from Lau where he has been for the past week. Readers will recall the illegal PM was travelling with a huge entourage.

Lessons to learn from malicious case against Fiji lawyer

BY HOOK OR BY CROOK: Regime determined to get Jalal. Below: Jalal and Tuisolia at court in July and bottom and Mohammed Aziz. (Photo: Lunch in Suva)

The illegal regime's case against human rights lawyer Imrana Jalal and her husband, Sakiusa Tuisolia, has been dismissed but a number of questions remain including this one: Who was the military officer who threatened to rape her if she didn't 'shut her mouth'?

Jalal herself said in her affidavit that after her published opposition to the military takeover in 2006, she was threatened with rape, in graphic detail, via an anonymous call to her mobile.

"I was warned to shut my mouth or "they" would shut it for me. That call was traced to a phone booth just outside the gates of the Queen Elizabeth Barracks, home of the Fiji Military Forces. Twenty minutes prior to the call, Colonel (now Brigadier) Mohammed Aziz had asked Major Davina Chan to call my office to get my mobile number. I made a police complaint about that threat of rape including this information. Brig. Aziz has a close relationship with the FICAC lawyer, also a  military officer, prosecuting me."

With eyes of the world watching the continuing abuse of human rights in Fiji - finding out who Jalal's abuser was will help put more of the jigsaw together about the regime's bashing team. 

We have been getting answers but there is still a lot that needs to come, especially as the military goons are still threatening people and taking them to the barracks without good cause.

As we already know, Jalal and and her husband Tuisolia were charged by FICAC for operating a takeaway restaurant business, Hook and Chook, without a licence. As Jalal says, the case hould have been handled by the Suva City Council, not the High Court.

"In normal circumstance, there would be no request by the prosecutor to take this matter like this to a High Court, because it is actually a civil misdemeanour. So what happened was my husband had a restaurant, I was a silent director and he was asked to apply for a licence which he did. The Suva City Council took a long time to process the licence. When we finally got it, FICAC is prosecuting us for the period in which we did not have the licence while we were waiting for the restaurant licence. So it really is a civil misdemeanour."

Lawyers estimated that all up, the malicious prosecutions cost the Fijian taxpayer millions of dollars in transport, perdiums, research, charges, court appearances, public relations, trials and hearings.

Below: some of the ways the regime wasted money dogging Jalal and Tuisolia:

Several Judges and Magistrates adjudicated over four years of appearances, mentions, bail applications, hearings and trials
Countless trips were made to Nadi by FICAC and the military to investigate at AFL
c) Several days of investigation had to be done at FIRCA to establish tax irregularities in Saki and Imrana’s tax files
d) Capt. Aca Rayawa himself conducted a personal investigation at SCC
e) Transport costs to get to Nadi and accommodation of four FICAC officers plus Rayawa at expensive Denarau to serve documents on Imrana on New Year’s Day 2010 at 8am, conveniently allowing FICAC officers and Aca to party on New Year’s Eve at Denarau at tax payers’ expense
f) Several full, some opposed, hearings for bail for Imrana and Saki (12), some with state and private witnesses, including two full hearings for Saki to travel abroad for work in the High Court
The special night court hearing in February 2008 to specially arraign Saki for the AFL matter, with full media attendance
h)Three hearings on the SCC charges in the High Court on legal matters and the validity of the charges, two which required Imrana to travel back from Manila for hearings
i) One full 5 week trial with witnesses in the High Court  on the AFL matter, with the judicial and courts costs accruing; and
j) The specific courts costs of the hearings and trial and the taxpayer employed Judges, Magistrates, court officers, lawyers etc amounting to hundreds and thousands of dollars.

With the regime's coffers already empty and with poverty the highest it has ever been in Fiji, the money spent on the case could have gone on 293 basic wooden kit homes for poor people (@ $8,000 each), or water supply projects for 117 villages and settlements (@ $20,000 each), 156 new classrooms for rural schools (@ $15,000 each), the replacement of obsolete essential medical equipment in our national hospitals or even two kilometres of tar sealed road. 

Coming up: Amnesty International says the key to stopping the abuse of human rights in Fiji is to report and document them, so the culprits can be made accountable.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Insiders: Bainimarama's daughter nails 'sweet deal' for her and dad

LET THERE BE LIGHT: But first we need $3.4 million dollars.

The spotlight has gone on the tender process to upgrade the light stands at the National Stadium in Suva, approved last week at a hugely inflated price of $3.4 million dollars.

Insiders say the tender was signed off  behind closed doors by none other than the CEO of the Fiji Sports Council - the daughter of Frank Bainimarama, Litiana Bereso, who critics say got the job thanks to his influence.

The contract was won by Sigatoka Electrical but those in the know say local contractors valued the work at a market rate of just over $1 million dollars.

So why was the contract so high and where is the money going? Insiders claim Sigatoka is making a grand profit of half a million and Bainimarama's daughter a sweet $2 million for herself and her Dad.

Building industry sources say the cost of importing material from China would be about $20,000 per light; with installation costs and miscellaneous at $30,000, it would push it to $50,000. Removing the old posts, which would require a crane and digger and preparation etc would add another $10,000 per post, hiking it to $60,000. Add another $60,000 for labour and any other hidden costs (including a reasonable 'profit' at $10,000) would still only put the upgrade at $130,000 maximum. With four lights, the total should still be well under $1million at F$520,000.

Critics say while it looks like a case of 'like father like daughter', the irony is that the illegal prime minister was only last weekend lecturing people about corruption at the Fiji Institute of Accountants (FIA) conference saying a Commission of Inquiry is needed to look after the FIA complaints.

Sources say the push to drive auditors into a corner was mooted by the illegal attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum but had to have to come from his accountant aunt, Nur Bano Ali. The illegal AG's connections to Sigatoka is also believed to have helped Sigatoka Electrical win the competitive tender.

The four light stands at the stadium were supposed to have been upgraded late last year but the Sports Council is only just getting to them now. The multi-purpose National Stadium, which is also known as the TFL Stadium, is mostly being used for rugby, league and football matches and can hold about 10,000 spectators.

Question: Who are the people who can help build a new, free and fair Fiji?

IRB says Fiji will be at the World Cup

Fiji will take part in this year's World Cup in spite of a New Zealand visa ban on anyone associated with the military junta, according to Mike Miller, the secretary general of the International Rugby Board.
"Fiji will be at the Rugby World Cup and will have a competitive team," Miller told a press conference in Paris. "Discussions are taking place and we hope to resolve the issue as best as we can. Fiji will take part but what the (New Zealand) government has clearly said is that any players with connection with the military will not be given visas".

Since the 2006 coup, the New Zealand government has barred entry to anyone linked with the leadership of Frank Bainimarama, notably the military. New Zealand has refused to remove the ban and last month there was talk of Fiji staying away from RWC and boycotting next year's Wellington Sevens. The problem for the Fijian rugby team is that five or six of their likely squad for the World Cup are in the army. However, Miller brushed the issue aside. "If there is any concern on how good the Fijian team will be, just look at the number of their players based in Europe (playing professionally) or elsewhere and how many come from Fiji itself. Those with military connections will be domestic players."

The Fiji Rugby Union has had a number of upheavals - the latest yesterday when chief executive Keni Dakuidreketi resigned. The FRU is chaired by Land Force Commander, Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga. The IRB has not placed a time limit on Fiji's participation although president Bernard Lapasset said that if Fiji ultimately did not take part then Uruguay, who were knocked out in the final qualifier, would take their place. Fiji have been drawn in pool D with defending champions South Africa, Wales, Samoa and Namibia. The World Cup kicks off on September 9 with the final on October 23. (AFP)

NZ Herald: Colonel's visit a chance to crack regime

Many question-marks hover over the visit to New Zealand this week of former Fijian army officer Ratu Tevita Mara. These, however, were never a reason to refuse him entry.

The Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, has acted correctly in granting Lieutenant-Colonel Mara a two-day exemption to the travel ban imposed on him and others linked to Fiji's military regime.

What he says to the media and pro-democracy groups here will be of much interest given that he was until recently a central figure in the dictatorship headed by Frank Bainimarama.

And the information he provides Foreign Affairs officials on the current state of affairs within the regime should be even more enlightening.

Those opposed to Colonel Mara's entry provided two broad reasons. The first was that his participation in the 2006 coup and former status as the regime's third-ranked military officer disqualified him from coming to this country.  That view rejected any possibility that, after being at the very heart of a dictatorship, he could now be genuinely espousing democratic ideals.

The second was that his vision for his country was, in fact, a return to the past when Indo-Fijians were denied a full part in the democratic process.

Those of this view tend to still believe that, a welter of evidence notwithstanding, Commodore Bainimarama still represents the best option for Fiji.

Only Colonel Mara knows how committed he is to a fully democratic country. Allegations that he was associated with human rights abuses, including maltreatment of detainees, will have to be confronted at some stage. To Colonel Mara's credit, he has acknowledged this.

He has also chosen to leave his sanctuary in Tonga for Australia and New Zealand to voice his concerns about the Bainimarama regime, most notably the increasingly dim prospects of the promised democratic elections in 2014. This suggests not only fortitude but a belief in the views he is sharing with pro-democracy groups.

Indeed, much of what Colonel Mara has been saying has the ring of truth. The Fijian army, he has said, "had a strict plan, which was to remove corruption and corrupt politicians and return to barracks within a year".

But power had corrupted the key players in the regime and they had forgotten their original objectives as they desperately clung to power.  In the process, dissent has been progressively squashed, the constitution has been abrogated, the judiciary dismissed, the media suppressed, and the concerns of the international community rejected.

Such, of course, is often the way with military dictatorships. Even those that begin with the best of intentions tend to fall victim to the trappings of power.

As often as not, the catalyst for their demise is discord at the highest level. A split between the key members of the dictatorship broadens irretrievably until the regime collapses.

Colonel Mara, the son of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, Fiji's founding Prime Minister and later President, was very much part of the inner sanctum. It is not known how much his criticism of Commodore Bainimarama was shared by his fellow officers.

But it seems inconceivable that someone of his stature would not have his supporters. Or that resentment about the loss of rights and freedoms and the country's economic stagnation is not gathering pace.

Colonel Mara has driven a wedge into the Fijian dictatorship. In the interests of the restoration of democracy at the earliest opportunity, New Zealand should take every opportunity to force it deeper.

Colonel Mara's visit is a chance not only to do that but to learn much about Commodore Bainimarama's increasingly shaky regime.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Samoan PM's latest take on Fiji

The blunt speaking Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has got people thinking again with his latest comments on Fiji. We've picked the best of them from his Pacific Beat interview with Geraldine Coutts.

COUTTS: Would you welcome Mara in Samoa?
TUILAEPA: I don't see any problem there. I have been talking a lot about the situation in Fiji and I believe and still believe that the Fijians will eventually solve the problem and I think this is one of the processes towards that solution and I sincerely hope that when it comes, that it comes peacefully.

What I hear from Tevita seem to suggest that as it happens in dictatorships, eventually common sense will prevail and people be keen to realise that they have to solve their own problems themselves. It has happened in many, many country. It happened in Vietnam. It happened in Indonesia way back in 1967 with much instability brought up by the Communists in Indonesia. And, of course, Indonesia has solved its own internal political problems and I believe that that will happen also in Fiji. Eventually people will come to realise that the dictatorship was wrong and I do hope that they will solve it peacefully one way or another.

COUTTS: Some are saying, and I wonder what your attitude is, that they feel that Ratu Tevita should go home and face the charges?
TUILAEPA: I think he has already made his decision that he will. One must remember also that when you talk about justice in Fiji, the only kind of justice that can be taken very seriously is justice where the rule of law prevails under democratic system. There is no democracy in Fiji and I cannot believe that justice as we know it can be metered out so when we talk about Tevita going back and face justice that means justice when the proper political system of democracy exists in Fiji. Therefore, I don't think he will get a fair hearing now and I tend to agree that Tevita is proposing to do it at the right time.

It is a situation that is extremely funny, funny in the sense that we have a country that a dictator seized and set aside its Constitution which is the highest law of the land and therefore it is ridiculous for a dictator who does not recognise the need for a Constitution who breaks all the laws of the country should be keen to talk about justice. And therefore if anybody were to talk about bringing Tevita into face justice the Commodore should be the last person to push for that.

COUTTS: Well, what steps do you think should be taken now? Others are calling for Australia and New Zealand to do away with the sanctions that they've got in place at the moment, because they say it's not working, mainly because of the duration, the continuing situation?
TUILAEPA: All those people who called for that, including the academics in Lowy Institute are ignorant of the political reality in the Pacific. They're also ignorant of the social aspects of life in the Pacific. You see that kind of view of looking at the Pacific in those terms is being dominated by the situations in Africa, where you'll find hooligans roaming, killers, murderers, roaming the countryside and killing people who go out. The villagers who try to make a living out of the land. There is no such thing in the Pacific. In the Pacific, we grow our own food. There is no hooliganism and we have plenty of bread fruits, plenty of taro, plenty of food from the sea to eat. So what goes in the government may not be affecting the people in their ordinary lives. They still have plenty to eat, except of course the odd one who gets a job who may be deprived of cash revenue, regular wage to buy such necessities such as bread, an occasional one, but you can of course grow your own food and that is when the ordinary people may take a long time to realise that things are impacting on their lives and to me, the sanctions are not enough to shake the people, to realise that the kind of government that is ruling their lives is not the right one. It is causing havoc, the treasury is empty and the government is extending its illegal activities into the use of national provident fund and that is why the Commodore has been trying to travel overseas to try and see if there are governments that may extend credit to pay for the military. Because so far as he has money to pay for the military, he's OK. But the reality of the situation is dawning on the Commodore that the business of running a country is not as simple as he thought it to be. So to me the sanctions should be increased.

COUTTS: Do you think there should be additional sanctions?
TUILAEPA: There should be additional sanctions. The reason is so that once the people realise that the sanctions are making their lives difficult, then it will motivate them to take the necessary action. We must always remember that in the islands, almost everybody is related to everybody else. There are ordinary people whose sons are serving in the army and those sons are not oblivious to the deprivation that may come and in cases where cash is required. But in as far as food is concerned, there's no problem on that.

There has been much talk about the international organisations to become more and more involved as well as Great Britain. I am thinking of the situation where some kind of international action can be made to give a compulsory holiday to Fijians serving in the United Nations army. So as a kind of hit back to the Commodore that if you do not see your way clear, then there are many, many other different kinds that can be invoked.

Question: Is Tuilaepa the sort of leader we want for Fiji?

Sharon the Hyphen runs it up the flag pole

Fiji's illegal chief censor has copped it again for attempting to defend the indefensible.

The MINFO mistress has today tried to correct what she says is gross misinformation about Fiji's national anthem being banned. 

Sharon Smith Johns says the 'blatant lie' was put about by some pro-democracy people at the forum in Canberra and repeated by Radio Australia.

She says if truth be known, the Education Ministry made the flag raising ceremony and the singing of the national anthem compulsory in schools in 2007!

But what of other truths, Sharon?

Here's a wish from a truth-seeker.

"When the day comes, don’t forget the role of the middle-aged would-be redheaded former advertising space saleswoman, Sharon the Hyphen.  Her daily conspiracy with the Fiji Sun is aimed at wiping out The Fiji Times. Here’s how it works: the Government pays for 3000 pages of advertising a year in the Fiji Sun. In return, the Sun gifts 1500 pages of so-called editorial space into which is vomited the Hyphen’s daily rants.

"The Fiji Times gets no advertising - even from the few decent government departments who know the Times circulation is almost double its competitors. The Times has the decency to sub-edit the Hyphen’s rants but on-site censors make sure there is no criticism of the dictatorship.

"This censorship is uneven. There are many examples of the Times not being able to print material the Sun has printed, including the infamous Fiji Water announcement. These will be written by a handful of historians who can emerge when the Fiji nation calls in the criminals who have cast their shroud over all of Fiji.

"Let’s hope we include the people who over-powered justice with the hilarious charge of “abuse of office” against the Times chairman, Mahendra Patel.  If “abuse of office” is such a dastardly crime, then Baini and A2Z should get life when retribution comes. Or worse."

On a chatroom a day ago, the indiscreet Smith Johns the Hyphen said with glee: "... I'm sure more will come out of the woodwork and it takes some pressure of my team, he is getting getting it from Lau also, they have made a traditional apology to the PM today for his behavior. Tomorrows papers will be full of bad news for him."

She can only be referring, of course, to her number one enemy at the moment, Roko Ului Mara, who might yet have the last laugh. 

Click here to read Mara's The True Story from Lau

Sources: Driti still in Fiji but Anthony Fullman is reported to have left the country

It appears the excitement over the decommissioned former land force commander, Pita Driti, supposedly going missing has been misplaced.

Driti is still very much in Fiji and has not fled the country as thought by some locals in Suva in the past few days.

Intelligence operatives say the person who has left Viti is the New Zealander and the former head of the Fiji Water Authority, Anthony Fullman.

Readers will remember that Fullman was one of those questioned by Fiji police last month in connection with the escape of the former commander of the 3FIR, Roko Ului Mara, to Tonga.

Fullman was interviewed because phone records showed he spoke to Mara just before the former military officer was picked up in Kadavu by a Tongan navy vessel.

Regional media reported there was concern for Fullman who is believed to have diabetes; and information made available to us a short time ago says the Kiwi has left Fiji with the help of the New Zealand embassy.

Driti is meanwhile said to have reported to authorities last Friday at Valelevulevu police station, as required. Driti is remanded at large and is to appear in court again soon on a charge of sedition and inciting mutiny.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Driti reported to have done a runnner as well

People on the ground in Fiji are claiming Pita Driti has gone missing but the illegal regime is keeping it quiet because it's got egg on its face for a second time.

Roko Ului Mara escaped to Tonga about a month ago, heading out on a fishing boat in Kadavu where he was picked up by a Tonga naval boat and whisked to the Royal Palace in Nukualofa.

Reports from Suva say Driti has been AWOL since Friday, when he was supposed to have reported to police as part of his bail conditions just like Mara failed to do. We haven't been able to verify for ourselves the information yet. 

But, intelligence sources reckon Driti, formerly third in rank in the RFMF before he was decommissioned along with Mara, was supposed to have fled with Mara but he couldn't shake off his spies. 

Coupfourpointfive has been told Driti called Mara and told him to go ahead without him.

Intelligence operatives are said to have met with Driti two weeks ago but are keeping quiet about his whereabouts. We have heard talk, though, of getting the former land force commander to Samoa.

We have also been told that in October last year when Driti and Mara were exposed for turning against Frank Bainimarama, the pair were called to the dictator's house where they were sworn at by Bainimarama for betraying him and the illegal attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum.

A source says the senior military officers were made to sit right in front of him on the floor while Bainimarama sat on his chair, while to his right was the Police Commissioner, Ioane Naivaurua.

The source says Bainimarama's bodyguards stood around the room with loaded M16 rifles and that after telling them off Bainimarama said to both men "You are  finished from the army from today."

Both Driti and Mara were charged with uttering a seditious comment with Driti being charged additionally with inciting a mutiny.

Moving Fiji forward: Toso Viti Toso!

The fight for democracy for Fiji took the wrong turn this week, thanks to a few people pushing their own agendas and looking for a piece of the pie.

The catalyst was Nik Naidu of the Fiji Coalition of Democracy, revealing publicly the Coalition was lobbying the New Zealand government not to grant  Roko Ului Mara an exemption to visit to meet with the pro-democracy movement.

Within a few days, Naidu (and then Coupfourpointfive) were being aggressively lobbied and attacked by the former SDL MP, Rajesh Singh, and Shailendra Raju, the former media officer and trusted man of the Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry.

In the space of just a few days and  via comments on the blog and widely-circulated emails (we will reveal these if need be) Rajesh and Raju  set out to 'expose' Naidu as a 'hoax bomber', confronted him at a face-to-face meeting, formed a new group (using the name an internal group in Fiji had been using for some time to fight the cause) and started a campaign of character assassinations.

We say this is not the time for this rubbish and we are not going to play their game. Instead, we say  it's time we started looking seriously at who Fiji's leaders are and the people we need to support as we  prepare for a return to democracy.

So Coupfourpointfive tonight launches a campaign to find and name the people and their affiliations who can take Fiji forward. We would like to hear your nominations and we will publish a list after five days.

Meanwhile, we bring you the following story to remind people that Fiji can do without the bullshit that made it so easy for Bainimarama to take Fiji hostage.

Ratu Ului’s visit to New Zealand used by new democracy group to settle personal feud with Nick Naidu over $5million compensation claim  
A special Coupfourpointfive investigation reveals that Indo-Fijian democracy campaigners in Auckland have sinister motives against democracy campaigner Nick Naidu, who opposes the pending visit to New Zealand of the fugitive, Colonel Ratu Uluilakeba Mara.

The feud between Rajesh Singh, Shailendra Raju and Nick Naidu revolves around the Narayan/ YP Reddy Estate in Fiji. 
It seems the former SDL assistant Cabinet Minister Singh has been unwittingly sucked into the feud by Raju, who has a long running legal wrangle with Nick Naidu’s first cousin and human rights campaigner and lawyer, Richard Naidu, of Munro Leys in Fiji. Richard Naidu’s firm had acted on behalf of Y P Reddy.
Raju is the principal complainant and personal representative of the Narayan Estate, acting on behalf of Narayan’s widow Rosa Reddy, who resides in Mount Roskill in Auckland.
Coupfourpointive can reveal Raju had sought the assistance of the dictator Frank Bainimarama as contained in a letter dated September 15, 2010, and addressed by Raju to “Bula Vinaka Turaga Prime Minister - Re: Breach of Companies Act – Oppressive Conduct Estate of Narayan Reddy’s complaint of $5,000,000 Fraud of its Reddy Group of Companies Shares and Dividends by YP Reddy and Other Directors of Reddy Group.”
In his letter Raju writes as follows: “It was your promise to the nation that you would endeavour to protect and promote the interest of the weak and vulnerable in the society from rich and powerful vultures like YP Reddy.

"It is time now to make good that promise in the interest of those who look for justice from your government. Prima Facie; the evidence of fraud has been established and therefore he must be subjected to the same law regardless of his prominence and wealth. The Office of the DPP is considering the evidence and I envisage that this independent process would result in charges against the directors for the $5m fraud and money laundering.”
Coupfourpointfive decided to conduct an investigation of its own when it received the following chain e-mail sent by Rajesh Singh to New Zealand TV 3, and stating the following:

The criminal case is against the following:

YP Reddy (New Zealand Resident)
Rohit Reddy (NZ Citizen)
Kalpana Reddy (NZ Citizen)
YP Reddy owns 3 hotels in NZ, 1 each in Samoa and Vanuatu plus 6 in Fiji. He is in the inner cycle of the regime and often takes trips with Frank Bainimarama.

We have documents and letters including a letter from Solicitor General of Fiji which confirms that they also lodged a complaint with police but subsequently the prime minister directed police to stop the criminal investigations against the businessman.

Nick Naidu is closely associated with the businessmen and thus the strange opposition to Mara to please Frank Bainimarama.

Please see letters attached in confidence to qualify our claim that YP Reddy is facing fraud charges but there are moves to stop the prosecution.

The question is why is the prime minister interfering in the case? where is the independence of the police and the judiciary?

Please call us for discussion.

Rajesh Singh

Coupfourpointfive understands that while Y P Reddy wants to settle the claim with the Narayan Estate, he has set a condition to exclude Raju from any talks resulting in an amicable settlement.

Raju stands to lose financially, for he strongly believes that it was he who forced Y P Reddy and the family to the negotiating table. Ratu Ului’s impending visit is now being used as a “dhoti” or “sulu” in which the democracy campaigners are wrapping themselves to settle financial scores. 

Commerce Commission letter shows Aziz tried to manipulate cement price

Evidence has surfaced on the questionable business antics of Brigadier General Mohammed Aziz while the deputy chair of the Fijian Holdings Ltd. A letter sent to Coupfourpointfive shows Aziz trying to gain personally from his appointed position as early as 2008.

The letter was written by the then chair of the Commerce Commission, Charles Sweeney, and paper trails Aziz's attempts to use his military and FHL position to bully the Commission into putting the price of cement up.

Sweeney, who was dismissed in 2009 but who had tried to keep the work of the Commission independent of the regime, described Aziz's visit in the letter reprimanding him as 'a threat to the Commission.'

"The unannounced visit of an extremely senior member of the military council and sometime commander of the RFMF give rise to the perception that the Commission is expected to act in accordance with the wishes of that person. 

"It also communicates to the staff that the military council and therefore the Government do not respect the obligation of the Commission to act independently of government."

Sweeney also wrote: "I have given written instructions that the concrete price application is to be dealt with strictly in accordance with the Commission's established procedures. 

"No favour will be given to it, nor will it be disadvantaged by your visit. On present figures, however, I think it unlikely that the application will be successful.

"I request that, if in future you or any member of the Military Council or the government has any issue that you wish to discuss with the Commission, or if you wish to have the Commission's  position or any matter explained, you make contact directly with me and not with the staff.

"I also request that any representations made to either body in future about the Commission are made available to me to enable the Commission's position to be available to the government or the Military Council....

"Otherwise, you encourage intrigue and destabilisation of an independent statutory body the continued independence of which is important to the Fijian economy."

Aziz resigned from Fijian Holdings Ltd earlier this year citing 'personal reasons' but word on the ground was he had fallen out of favour with Frank Bainimarama and Co because of his dodgy business dealings. He was allowed to 'resign' to avoid another public shaming for the regime, who had appointed him and others in the flush of its so-called 'clean up campaign.'

The cement price rise is not the first revelation about Aziz's questionable business ethics. We've also revealed he borrowed $2.5 million from Merchant Finance while he was chairman of the company and still on the Fiji Holdings Ltd board. The money was used to build his wife's medical centre in Rewa Street.

Bainimarama being urged to be more assertive over Minerva

The heat is apparently being put on the illegal leader of Fiji to take strong action against Tonga over Minerva Reef. Information sighted suggests political advisors want Frank Bainimarama to be more assertive and act to protect Fiji's interest. It appears the current feeling in Suva is that if Bainimarama can't protect Fiji's EEZ, how can he protect Fiji and her people?

The regime has been exploring its options under the Marine Space Act, which allows it to flex its navy muscle but the general opinion is that national interest and security is at risk and Bainimarama needs to step up. Sources say no one wants Fiji to go to war but Bainimarama needs to make it clear to Tonga that Fiji will not hesitate to use force if its EEZ is breached.

They say Tonga needs to be told not to erect the second beacon but wait for dialogue to settle the issue. Sources also say it's believed Tonga is taking advantage of the recent situation with Roko Ului Mara where it got away with whisking him off to Nukualofa, where he also escaped extradition orders. They say there was no reaction from Tonga when Fiji destroyed the beacon last year but it now seems to be going to particular lengths to prove its claim over Minerva.

Read the document that urges Bainimarama to step up

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New group urges members of Fiji's last elected government to reclaim their authority

A new democracy group has been formed and is already urging citizens to defy the military regime.

The Free Fiji Movement is calling on the illegal government of Frank Bainimarama to step down and to let the elected SDL government of Laisenia Qarase rule Fiji.

One of its founders, Rajesh Singh, is also urging people to reclaim their ministerial status as he has done and to resume using government letterheads, also as he has done.

Singh describes himself as the elected member of Cunningham Open and former Minister of Youth and Sports in all of his correspondence.

The Auckland-based group plans to hold its first meeting in Panmure on Thursday to elect officers and to agree to the what it says is the shortest possible way for return to democracy in Fiji. 

Editor's Note: A range of questions have been sent to Singh, including how he came to form the new group instead of working with existing ones and using the name,  Free Fiji Movement. That name has been used by an internal group who've been working for some time behind the scenes for democracy in Fiji. The movement has been responsible for getting crucial information to the people via C4.5. Singh and supporter Shailendra Raju, the former spin doctor for Laisenia Qarase, have yet to reply to our questions.

Postscript Wednesday 9am: Singh and Raju have been in touch and we will be bringing bloggers a story asap.

Mara heading to New Zealand next week

The former commander of the 3FIR, Roko Ului Mara, will not be in New Zealand until next week.

It was thought he would arrive in Auckland this week after the New Zealand government approved his application to enter the country for a two-day visit.

Mara is still on New Zealand's travel ban list but Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, revealed on Sunday the former military officer has been granted an exemption.

Mara's team told Coupfourpointfive he's staying on in Australia for a few days but should be travelling to New Zealand next week. 

Travel dates and meeting times have yet to be announced.

Another meeting is, meanwhile, being organised for Mara to meet with the Fiji community in Australia, this time Melbourne. Details for that meeting are still being finalised as well.

The regime has, meanwhile, sent extradition papers for Mara to Australia. Mara told Coupfourpointfive: "I will be very happy for his case to be heard in the Australian courts. It will be a chance for me to put my side of the story under oath and under cross examination.  I have faith in the Australian legal system whereas we all know I will not get a fair hearing in Fiji."

Former MP says he wasn't George Speight's Right Hand Man

By Simione Kaitani
KAITANI: At right.
I wish to respond to Graham Davis' article (Unholy Alliance on Fiji, Fiji Sun, 13/6/06).  His attempt to re-crucify me afresh for my alleged involvement in the 2000 coup not only cast doubts, but very much confirms my suspicions regarding his vested interest and personal agenda, unbecoming of his journalistic profession.

Mr Davis' sweeping statements and diatribes, peppered with hasty generalisations, are a public admission of his continued personal support for the illegal regime of Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum and Frank Bainimarama.

It is very obvious that Mr Davis is desperately seeking to find some scapegoats as a means to sustaining and distracting attention away from the Regime’s current illegal activities. You’ve got it all wrong, Mr Davis. All very wrong!

The supposed 'smoking gun' pic
Let me remind him that I was an Independent Member of Parliament and also a victim of George Speight’s coup of 2000. 

So despite all the allegations levelled against me, I wish to categorically state that I was never party to any of the meetings or planned takeover of our Parliament of Fiji prior to the Speight coup. I had just embarked on my political career.

Why should I, therefore, have been interested in deposing our Parliament when that would have meant the termination of my own political life and aspirations?

Mr Davis' allegations and subtle choice of words, that I was Mr Speight’s Right Hand Man, is grossly erroneous. He has jumped to the wrong conclusion by making a false connection. The truth is I was never Speight’s 'Right Hand Man', for I only met and came to know of Speight in that mayhem on the morning of 19th May, 2000.

For Mr Davis’ information, it was out of our own concerns for the negative impressions being generated by the extreme nationalist elements in Parliament, that some of us - Members of the Opposition in the deposed Parliament - got together to embark on a damage control exercise.

With great hesitation and after continual pressure from others, I was compelled to take over as spokesperson for the coup from the nationalist leader Mr Duvuloco. That was done without George Speight’s knowledge but very much at Mr Duvuloco’s anger.

He publicly and repeatedly swore at me in front of the crowd when I took over the microphone from him upon instruction from my colleagues. We later approached Speight and explained our action, which he accepted.

I was spokesperson for only one day and for the purpose of calming the crowd. I recall being personally threatened with a pistol by one of the nationalist militants when I took over the microphone from Mr Duvuloco.

It was during my one-day role as spokesperson that I opened up the Parliamentary complex to the International Media who had been denied entry during the first day. I did this, recognising the need to keep the world informed of the mayhem inside the complex itself and the need to have dialogue with George Speight and his team.

Mr Davis’ unsubstantiated statement that I fled to Australia is also a fabrication and total misinformation. I never fled from Fiji. His unsubstantiated statement casts doubt of his professionalism and integrity. It is obvious that his blind support for Messrs Khaiyum and Bainimarama has resulted in a highly distorted and fabricated diatribe against me in the Fiji Sun.

The truth is that on the very morning of the coup in 2006,  I had left Fiji on an official Parliamentary assignment as Leader of the House, representing our Fiji Parliament in a two-day Conference organised by the Democratic Parliamentary Union [DPU] held in Taiwan on the 8th  –10th of December, 2006.

I only learnt of the military takeover of our Parliament on arrival at Sydney Airport. It was for an official Parliamentary engagement that I had left Fiji. I never “fled”.

Moreover, his comments regarding my support for the Truth and Reconciliation Bill as a means of preventing members of our Government from imprisonment, is another misinformation.

It is public knowledge that I was the last of the Ministers in Qarase’s Government to be charged but subsequently cleared by the Fijian court on August 15th, 2005.

It is also public knowledge that had the proposed Reconciliation Bill been passed by Parliament, the only person who would have directly benefited from the Bill would have been Bainimarama himself, for reasons which I do not wish to make public at this stage.

It seems, however, the birds have finally come home to roost. Recent public revelations point to Bainimarama’s personal/official involvement not only in the execution of the 2000 coup but also the military involvement in its planning.

For those, like myself, who had been made scapegoats and considered the fall guys for these sad events, we are waiting anxiously for these truths to surface. I am thankful to God for allowing someone like Roko Ului Mara to be exposing these truths for the world to see!

I consider Mr Davis’s decision to berate and question the sovereign rights of the Government of Australia in granting of the Permanent Residency Status for me, and my family, malicious and mischievous. Australia is honouring its obligation to protect me under international convention for my political beliefs. We are ever thankful to the Government of Australia for their help to us as a family in these very hard times we are going through.

Mr Davis should know that “All that are necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. I have publicly forgiven Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara in Canberra last Saturday. I have expressed my forgiveness for all that he did in 2006 against myself, and his action in deposing our Parliament and our elected SDL Government.

I publicly pardoned Roko Ului and have called for our joint efforts in pursuing nothing but the truth. I have also reminded him of the Mordecai's counsel comment to Queen Esther: “Who knows, that you have become our Queen as such a time as these?”

Finally, we are all at a loss, that whilst we are focusing on the current status of political offences and atrocities committed against the State and people of Fiji, we have journalists like Mr Davis hell bent on  flogging a dead horse in a failed attempt at defending the indefensible. May God bless Fiji!

Read the original story by Graham Davis "Renegade Fiji Officer farce questions of credibility of anti-regime moves" at:  http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/2011/06/renegade-fiji-officer-farce-questions-credibility-over-anti-regime-moves/

Photos: Top Drum Pasifika and bottom Sunday/Channel Nine

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fiji sources: Fiji naval boats have assembled in Lau waters

The Tongan government says it's fixed one of the navigational beacons at Minerva lagoon and is standing firm on its claim of ownership ahead of Fiji.

The information comes as Fiji intelligence sources confirm the three naval boats that left Suva for Minerva over the weekend are now all assembled at Kabara in Lau.

Sources say Fiji maintains it has more rights to the lagoon than Tonga and is looking at the Marine Space Act to reinforce its claim and is prepared to take 'necessary action to defend its position'. 

They also say the dispatched naval boats are on standby in Lau waters, waiting for a directive from the illegal prime minister, Frank Bainimara, who also left the capital yesterday for a week-long visit to the Lau group with what is reported to be a huge entourage.

But Tonga has this morning repeated its position, with Chief Secretary and Secretary to Cabinet, Busby Kautoke, saying it has fulfilled its maritime duties by fixing one of the navgational beacons destroyed by Fiji "in order that persons traversing Teleki Tokelau may travel safely and without impediment".

“The Government of Tonga’s immediate concern is motivated by the real danger to international shipping by the destruction of navigational beacons, albeit by an act of vandalism, placed there by the Tongan authorities and duly marked on the charts.”

A Fiji source told Coupfourpointfive the latest skirmish between Tonga and Fiji is more hostile than when a Tongan naval boat breached Fiji waters to pick up Roko Ului Mara last month. 

He says the mood in Suva changes daily and it's hard to sometimes know what's going on but it's clear that Tonga's invasion of Fiji's EEZ over Minerva violates national security and Fiji is taking it seriously.

The illegal attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum and his family, is meanwhile said to be ccurrently accomodated at the barracks while Bainimarama is in Lau.

Fiji Coalition spokesperson stands by anti-Mara decision but says group will meet with him

COALITION MARCH: Unions, students and politicians in Auckland in 2000. Below: Nik Naidu.

The spokesperson for the Auckland-based Coalition for Democracy in Fiji, Nik Naidu, says the group still want to meet with Roko Ukui Mara despite it lobbying the New Zealand government not to allow the former military officer into the country.

New Zealand announced yesterday it had decided on Saturday night (after Mara's meeting with the Fiji community in Canberra) to grant an exemption to allow Mara to make a similar two-day visit to Auckland.

Naidu told Coupfourpointfive Mara has not been in touch with them as of yet but the Coalition will meet with him when he visits as expected this week, and will put its concerns and questions directly to the former commander of the 3FIR.

"Of course we would want to.  And we would put the same questions to him on his involvement, our concerns, and how genuine is he?  However, we still feel it is inappropriate to let him into New Zealand in view of the level of involvement he has had and the damage this has done to Fiji."

Naidu has been heavily criticised for revealing the Coalition has lobbied the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, and the Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, to reject Mara's travel application.

A number of people have since questioned the credentials of the Coalition and Naidu's motives, accusing him of working against democracy for Fiji, claiming he has insidious links with regime members like Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum and John Prasad.

Naidu told Coupfourpointfive it is good to see people so passionate about Fiji in spite of the criticisms, saying generously "that's democracy in action and we should respect everyone's right to speak, and their points of view."

But Naidu says it's a pity more people can't stand up and be counted, where it can count the most - in public.  He also says people should be encouraged to use their real names and be staunch about their views and suggestions when talking about Fiji, turning to the quote "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

He says that's why the Fiji Coalition for Democracy has spoken out as it has about Mara and his not-too-distant-past with the military government of Frank Banimarama, even though the former Number Four has insisted he is prepared to face the people of Fiji and never laid a hand on any Fiji citizen.

"Our thinking is around positive engagement and dialogue with everyone.  However, at the same time, we will not compromise on the basic principles of following the rule of law. He (Mara) is responsible for the mess Fiji is in and has committed treason, and the respect for human rights. He was directly responsible for a lot of detentions, torture and abuse.

"This is the man who only a few months ago, who was torturing people.  How come suddenly, just because he says he has changed, are we so quickly forgetting what he did?

"Is politics and the need to bring down the regime in Fiji that important that we compromise our values and principles?  What about the feelings of those families of people killed by Lt Colonel Mara's  soldiers?  We are no better than that illegal lot in Fiji if we do so.  If Mara had not been removed, would he have left on his own accord?  Then why trust or support him?"

A letter being sent by the Coalition to the New Zealand government this week includes the affidavit of a Fiji citizen who was tortured by QEB Goons in 2007. The victim statement (you can read it at the end of this story) details how the man was hunted by Mara, who led the 3FIR hit squad, and was brutally abused by the decommissioned land force commander, Pita Driti. 

The statement says the victim was told Mara was looking for him because they believed he had blogged on Raw Fiji News and that Mara had threatened to kill him once they got him.

It goes on to say that when he was in custody, as well as beating him, Driti ordered him to lick his boots and to perform oral sex on two guards and to later jog around the QEB grounds in his underwear.

The statement says the QEB goons and Driti, under Mara's watch, had tortured him mercilessly because they thought he had blogged about the former director of the Human Rights Commission, Shaista Shameem.

Naidu spoke openly to Coupfourpointfive about earlier connections with key and hugely unpopular members of the illegal government.

"I'd like to think I am friends with everyone, and respect all humans.  Yes, John Prasad and Aiyaz were my best friends, well before the 1987 coup. Not sure if they consider me friends now - but I still do! We have not spoken since 2006.  So are John Samy, Jone Dakuvula, Akuila Yabaki, and many many others who are not so popular with your website. Remember, in 1987 and 2000, we were on the 'same side' and were all part of the Movement for Democracy!

"But as for me supporting Rabuka? That suggestion is sacrilegious!  In 1990, we had one of the largest protests in our history against Rabuka's visit to New Zealand, and I helped organise it!"

Naidu says the Coalition has been around since 1987 and has not swerved from its commitment to the adherence to the rule of law, respect for human rights and wanting a peaceful and democratic Fiji.

He admits, though, the Coalition is not what it was in its heyday but says all things considering it has, officially, a membership of about a hundred people (most people are too scared to be associated with us!), with a core committee of about 20. 

"We used to do a lot of protest actions through marches, rallies, pickets and also media events, media releases, newsletters and newspapers, seminars, international lobbying and meetings. Now, it is mainly about occasional meetings, seminars, media statements. We are all getting older, and not enough commitment from younger people.

"There have been many spokespeople before me - Maire Leadbeater, Richard Naidu, Jone Dakuvula, Dia Uluiviti, Ahmed Bhamji and now me. We stood up in 1987, 2000 and 2006, and will do so again (hopefully not!) in the future against all coups."

Editor's Note: Some bloggers were concerned today missing democracy fighter Vilisi Nadaku, had been detained. C4.5 has since been advised that is not the case.  He is home and well!

Read Coalition letter to the New Zealand Government

Read the accompanying victim statement