#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2011-12-18

Saturday, December 24, 2011

MIxed reaction from American Indian tribe backing Fiji casino venture

Snoqualmie slot machines and tables.

 Snoqualmie Tribe plans to invest in a casino operation in Fiji

December 23, 2011
By Staff
By Lynda Mapes, Seattle Times staff reporter
In its latest business venture the Snoqualmie Tribe is looking all the way to Fiji.

The Fijian government announced Tuesday its decision to grant the nation’s first-ever exclusive gambling license to One Hundred Sands, which has announced plans to build a $290 million, five-star luxury casino resort on Denarau Island, in a partnership with the Snoqualmie Tribe.

“One Hundred Sands has taken care to strategically partner with the Snoqualmie Tribe from Washington State and Seventh Generation LLC, a Native American company with demonstrated excellence establishing new casinos,” said Larry Claunch, chairman of One Hundred Sands, in a news release issued by the prime minister’s office.

In a telephone interview, Claunch said he and the tribe have been talking for about five months, and while the tribe hasn’t yet put any money into the deal, they are negotiating the tribe’s financial stake. The tribe has committed to joining the venture as a partner, Claunch said, and will have ownership in the casino, as well as an active advisory role.

“They are going to be advising us on very aspect of casino management,” said Claunch, a retired developer of retirement homes who moved to Fiji from Salem, Ore., about 10 years ago.

He said the conversations got started with Snoqualmie tribal administrator Matt Mattson first, when Mattson traveled to Fiji and investigated the possibilities.

The new venture is a long way — nearly 6,000 miles — from the tribe’s casino, which opened in 2008 with a $330 million debt. The tribe swung open the doors right at the bottom of the recession and in the middle of one of the worst winters in years. The tribe’s budget, built on rosier expectations, cratered.

The tribe has since restructured its debt, and the casino is doing better, reports by outside analysts show, and its bond rating has improved.

And now the tribe apparently has new business prospects. Fresh from his seaplane, Claunch said Wednesday he would be joining Tribal Chairwoman Shelley Burch and her brother Pat Barker, a hereditary chief for the tribe, for dinner. The two are in Fiji to continue talks about the tribe’s stake in the business, he said. Neither would return calls for comment, and neither did Mattson.

Claunch said he beat out more than 50 other competitors for the sole gambling license granted by the Fijian government, in part he said because of his inclusion of a Native American tribe in the venture. He said that was important to him personally, because he liked the operations tribes run in the United States. Of the Snoqualmies, he said, “I have visited their casino and it’s spectacular, I so admire the work they have done.”

Paxton Myers, chief of staff for the National Indian Gaming Commission, said the federal agency only regulates Indian gambling on U.S. trust land, so the venture is outside of U. S. regulatory purview. The Washington State Gambling Commission has no jurisdiction over the venture, either.

The news, first reported in the Fiji Times, was controversial back in Washington state.

“It’s hurting our tribe; it’s pretty sad,” said Kanium Ventura, elected to the tribal council in September 2007. He was later suspended by the council in an internal dispute, a move later overturned by the tribal court, but then renewed by the tribal council again.

“They are supposed to take this to the membership,” Ventura said. “There is no benefits for us at Fiji; I don’t think it will make much.”

Some Washington state tribal leaders were surprised by the news.

“In Fiji! Wow. That’s interesting,” said W. Ron Allen, chairman of the executive committee of the Washington Indian Gaming Association and chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.

“I’m delighted for them. Extending outside your reservation comfort zone is unique.”

He said he had expected the tribe to invest in a resort at its existing casino, not enter a new venture.

Other tribes have looked at gambling operations in other locations, including the Muckleshoot, which for a time looked into partnering in a tribally owned casino in Las Vegas — before dropping the idea.

But the Snoqualmies are believed to be the first tribe in Washington, and perhaps the country, Allen said, to enter into a gambling operation overseas. “It makes you scratch your head a little bit,” Allen said.

Allen said his tribe has successfully launched businesses outside Washington state, including a health - and medical-supply company in California and a construction corporation that works all over the country. But the tribe has never worked up a partnership or investment outside the United States.

“We’d be pretty conservative about that. When you are so far removed, it can cause you some concern.”

The latest move by the Snoqualmies comes at a time when the tribe is struggling with other issues, including an enrollment audit in response to allegations that many tribal members, including some of its leaders, don’t meet the one-eighth blood-quantum requirement in the tribe’s constitution to be Snoqualmie.

The tribe less than a year ago spent $14 million to buy out the contract of its former casino CEO’s employment contract.
The first phase of the Fiji project will include a luxury resort and casino with 500 slot machines, convention center and banquet facilities.

In a prepared statement, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said the venture “provides a malleable fusion between the Western ideas of casino gaming with the strong cultural values of tribal and community life.”

Groundbreaking is proposed in March, 2012.

International media notes Fiji regime's crass propaganda behaviour

Posted: 12/23/11 09:13 AM ET

'Team Fiji' co-ops the 99% 
The Huffington Post ran a celebratory item last week announcing the Occupy movement's most exotic and far-flung victory yet. In a piece titled and tweeted by HuffPost as "A Win for the 99 Percent," the head of Fiji's military junta and self-appointed Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, wrote that "the '99 percent' have called and we have heard them." 

Bainimarama's inaugural HuffPost blog announced his alignment with the Occupy movement via the promised reduction of taxes on 99% of Fijiian taxpayers, a temporary "Social Responsibility Levy" on the top 1%, as well as a business-friendly climate for foreign investors. He even bothered to respond in the comments section. 

HuffPost readers could be forgiven for not noticing that the piece was written by an unelected dictator under targeted military sanctions by the United States, who has placed Fiji under martial law and outlawed freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association. 

Nothing in the post even hints at Fiji's nightmarish human rights conditions or the writer's status as an international pariah, though his bio does contain his curiously long list of additional titles including also being Fiji's self-appointed Minister for Information and Minister for Finance.

Political dissidents in Fiji are regularly kidnapped by the military and taken to barracks to be beaten or otherwise tortured, where some have died; US Embassy cables released by Wikileaks even detail witness reports that Bainimarama himself beat his critics. Still, the junta leader brazenly declared on HuffPost, "since 2007, my government has enacted critically important political reforms that promote transparency and accountability." 

In reality, Bainimarama has enforced his rule with a sophisticated surveillance and censorship apparatus through which phone calls and the internet are tightly monitored -- I was arrested in Fiji after the police intercepted my emails, and threatened with rape and indefinite detention. As Minister for Information, Bainimarama has placed government censors in all newsrooms and only allows what the junta has called the "journalism of hope" to be published. Fijians have started dozens of protest blogs detailing the junta's abuses while their media remains censored.

The glowing HuffPost World item certainly appears to be a coup for the DC public relations firm Qorvis Communications, which has been under fire this year for its roster of despotic anti-Arab Spring clients from Bahrain to Yemen to Saudi Arabia. HuffPost itself has done excellent investigative pieces exposing Qorvis' odious clients. The Fijian junta hired Qorvis in early October on a $40,000 per month contract -- the same as its rate for Bahrain -- to burnish the regime's fraying reputation. Fiji's censorship and propaganda-running Ministry of Information announced that $1 million Fijian dollars (about $550,000 USD) had been set aside for Qorvis in its 2012 budget. Bainimarama explained in his budget address that Fiji had hired Qorvis "to assist with training and support for our Ministry of Information" on social media and the internet, and that "they will also help coordinate external communications."

Qorvis director Tina Jeon (whose Twitter bio notes that she's a "Yalie") has issued a series of tweets since the firm's contract began about her time in Fiji, noting her excursions to Bainimarama-led events like the big opening of a Chinese bauxite mine. The most stunning such tweet contains a picture of a young woman sitting on a yacht, typing into a smartphone as Bainimarama stands beside her: "No better place to write a press release.. #Fiji," the tweet reads.

Bainimarama's HuffPost debut follows the Fijian junta's exploding internet and social media presence in the weeks since Qorvis began its work: Fiji, Bainimarama, and his draconian decree-drafting Attorney General have since sprouted new websites, Twitter accounts, and YouTube pages, and a steady stream of PR Newswire alerts about the military's excellence have appeared.
Qorvis declined to answer any questions about the work that its "Team Fiji" -- as one Qorvis employee called it -- has done so far. Qorvis partner and former State Department official Matt Lauer told me that "we do not discuss the intricacies of the consulting work we do on behalf of clients," and directed me to the company's Foreign Agent registration for Fiji, which contains no specifics other than boilerplate language about issuing material to the news media. Even though Qorvis was specifically hired to facilitate such news placements and has done so for its other autocratic clients -- such as when the firm placed an article by the President of Sri Lanka in the Philadelphia Inquirer -- HuffPost's blog editor told me that Bainimarama's post came directly from the junta's head office.

"Team Fiji" exemplifies the closed-door work that corporate lobbyists do to promote brutal regimes around the world, at cross-purposes to the State Department's own efforts. Hillary Clinton referred to Bainimarama's government earlier this year as the "dictatorial regime that unfortunately is now in charge of Fiji," while Qorvis works to give it a makeover and outlets like HuffPost provide it with a global platform on which to spread its propaganda. Qorvis itself, as well as a Qorvis "senior strategist" named Pablo Manriquez who is also a HuffPost blogger, promoted Bainimarama's "Win for the 99 Percent" pitch on their own Twitter accounts.

HuffPost Senior Editor Marcus Baram detailed Qorvis' tactics on behalf of other regimes, and explored the firm's unsavory client list, in revealing posts earlier this year. Baram reported that the firm's representation of rogue regimes, especially Middle Eastern autocrats trying to fight off the Arab Spring, was a big reason that more than a third of the firm's partners had quit over a two month period. "I just have trouble working with despotic dictators killing their own people," a former Qorvis insider told HuffPost, adding that "you take a look at the State Department's list of human rights violators and some of our clients were on there."

Harper's contributing editor Ken Silverstein took the Qorvis dissection to the next level earlier this month, when he detailed for Salon what he called this new "meta-lobbying" approach to public relations. Silverstein noted that a Qorvis employee had blogged on HuffPost in defense of the Bahraini regime while his company was retained by it. Qorvis even distributed a statement on the government's behalf blaming Doctors Without Borders for lacking the proper permits after the group was notoriously raided by security forces for treating wounded protesters.
The Fijian junta's cooptation of the 99% meme as it outlaws and brutally punishes any form of protest is a meta-lobbying joke well-played on HuffPost readers.

Rather than champion the 99%, as his post claims, Bainimarama has, since seizing power in his 2006 coup, displayed utter contempt for all of the values that the Occupy movement has been fighting for. He has shunned western democracies while accepting hundreds of millions of dollars as well as military aid from China, where he has said that he'd like to see the United Nations moved. Local Fijian councils who don't support the regime just announced that Bainimarama is threatening to withhold money from their regions if they don't fall into line.

Bainimarama's war on the 99% is perhaps best epitomized by his escalating attacks on Fiji's unions and persecution of the country's union leaders, through draconian decrees, denying permits for meetings, detentions and beatings. Last week he denied increasingly alarmed international union observers entry into the country. (New Zealand press reported this week that police were even present against union wishes at a meeting a few days ago in which Fiji Water laid off a third of its workforce.) Union leaders have begged the international community not to give Bainimarama a microphone for his propaganda. In October, the general secretary of an international information, communication and technology union representing more than 3 million workers wrote a letter of protest requesting an emergency meeting with a Swiss conference that had invited Bainimarama to speak: "We protest that the ITU [International Telecommunication Union] is showcasing the leader of an illegitimate regime. A leader who has no democratic mandate but took power by force. Fiji is a country which is acting in fundamental breach of the UN's Human Rights policy and in contradiction to the ILO [International Labour Organization] Core Labour Standards." The letter concluded by noting that "the invitation to the Commodore brings shame on the ITU by giving a public and global platform which he is now using to legitimate his regime." 

In the comments section of Bainimarama's HuffPost blog, International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow noted that "since Commodore Bainimarama seized power in a 2006 coup, Fiji has been sliding ever closer to absolute dictatorship, and no matter how much the regime invests in public relations, that simple fact remains."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Questions about casino developer's Nukudrau resort plans

NUKUDRAU RESORT: Lots still being sold.

Larry Claunch
One Hundred Sands investor Larry Claunch has won the rights to develop Fiji's first casino but what has happened to his much touted plans for Nukudrau Island?

Claunch revealed in 2008 he was planning a five star hotel on the 19 hectare island in Savusavu Bay but locals say the Nukudrau project still looks like an unfinished kids playground, and it's why there are no photos of the resort.
The American investor was last night awarded the exclusive licence to build a $290 million casino on Denarau Island plus a smaller one in Suva, beating 50-odd other international hopefuls.

The Denarau casino is expected to have 500 slot machines and 54 tables, and generate more than 800 jobs and millions for the economy.

But just three years ago, Claunch revealed detailed plans for Nukudrau: 24 oceanfront villas, a marina, cultural centre, a Fijian village that would involve traditional activities for tourists, a swimming pool, a jetty and an area out at sea for seaplanes to land. (see Utube link below).

There has been little progress and sources say lots are still on sale for about $USD900,000. 

Nearby locals are also still waiting for promised jobs. In a Fiji Times story in 2008 titled $70m Saviour, Claunch said nearby villagers from Viani and Nasinu in the district of Natewa would be considered first for employment. 

Yet this is being said: "If Larry cant deliver a $70million project, how will he deliver a $290 million one?"

There has been some curiosity about who is behind One Hundred Sands with some believing the company is new to these shores. Claunch has, in fact, been here for some time, buying Nukudrau in 2001. 

The Native American Indian connection Frank Bainimarama has been talking up is explained by Claunch as thus: "One Hundred Sands has taken care to strategically partner with the Snoqualmie Tribe from Washington state and Seventh Generation, a Native American company with demonstrated excellence establishing new casinos and affiliate entities around the world while maintaining the integrity of the environment and supplementing - not supplanting - the existing economy."
Claunch's link to the illegal attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, is well-documented and has stood him in good stead. Locals remember him flying Khaiyum in and out of Savusavu regularly in 2008.

Yesterday at the announcement for the casino licence, Claunch urged others to take a chance on Fiji just as he did but noted it's important to know how things are done.

"I think understanding Fiji is very very important and everything that is happening in Fiji is relatively new especially a casino and alot of things and if you dont know how that impacts Fiji, you wont be able to promote your business, so just come and understand. I lived up north for several years before we even got involved in this so it's understanding how it will impact Fiji so come, it's a wonderful place, there's alot of opportunities here and it's a wonderful place to do business." 

$70m saviour: Larry Claunch's 2008 story

Nukudrau resort promo

Bainimarama gambles on Native American casino company

CODE BLUE: Bainimarama gowns up for the country. pic Fiji Live
He's all scrubbed up and ready to do whatever Fiji needs to help it along, it seems.

According to the illegal prime minister the new Denarau casino will take Fiji's tourism industry to another level, generating nearly $300 million alone in the first instance and eventually more than 700 jobs.

Frank Bainimarama last night named the One Hundred Sands Limited company as the successful recipient of the first licence to build and run a casino, saying: “With the investments Government intends to make in providing vocational training to Fijians even out on rural islands, the concurrent developments of casinos and accommodations will introduce Fiji’s tourism sector into a niche market which thus far has only been accessible to developed economies." 

Bainimarama says One Hundred Sands Limited was chosen because of its strong affiliation with Native American culture and it was 'pre-condition' that at least 20 percent of ownership be reserved for Native American interests.

He claimed: “Fiji does not wish to imitate Las Vegas in the Pacific. Fiji already has a unique brand, one defined by its uniquely pristine environment, tranquility and world class hospitality.

“This affiliation provides a malleable fusion between the Western ideals of casino gaming with the strong cultural virtues of tribal and community life." 

The regime has said locals will not be allowed to gamble in the casino. It remains to be seen how real this is. In New Zealand, Australia and even America, it's the indigenous folk who've been the casualties of casinos built in the name of local development.

54 expressions of interest were received, 12 of them Fijian companies, five from Australia and 17 from the United Kingdom, the US and Asia.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dead police officer named alongside 'Hapkido goons'

HAPKIDO GURUS: Tevita Korovou (middle), the head of the RFMF martial arts academy, who has been singled out in connection with Ratuvono's death.

The police officer found dead at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks last Thursday will be buried tomorrow but the matter won't be laid to rest so easily.

Questions continue to be asked about his death despite - and probably because of the police statement there was nothing suspicious about the death.

Police spokesperson Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri has not named the officer but says he was from the Lautoka Police Station and was at the QEB military barracks with about 70 fellow officers for hapkido training.  

Sokomorui made no mention of a post mortem but says the body was later found in the swimming pool but there was no sign of foul play.

But according to the website of the former leader of the 3FIR, Roko Ului Mara, the death was no accident but murder.

QEB sources have apparently named the officer as Police Constable Ratuvono, from Bukuya, Ba and the word is that he was floating in the QEB pool with deep cuts to his head and bruises on his back.

Mara's sources say it's interesting Ratuvono went unnnoticed for five hours (between 1400hrs and 1900hrs) during a normal work day.

"The source says that PC Ratuvono had witnessed “something” in QEB that he wasn't supposed to, murder is evident, but the Fiji Military is keeping quite about it."

Mara's website cited sources as saying Ratuvono was a current member of the Military Hapkido course run by Warrant Officer Class1 Tevita Korovou.

Tevita Korovou (pictured at the top) and his "Hapkido goons" is said to be responsible for the majority of assaults on unarmed civilians "in particular, the bashing of Bhalu Khan and his supporters at the Delainavesi Police Post in Suva."

Readers will remember that Khan was accused of leading a plot to kill Frank Bainimarama and was beaten and tortured by soldiers before he was 'rescued' and returned to New Zealand.

Others accused of the same crime were not so lucky.

Separate information shows that Tevita Korovou was named with several others in the president's report in September 2001 for owing $20,000 in advances. It's not known if and when the money was repaid.

Murder evident

Foul play

Police rule out foul play

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fiji's hanging judge fails to declare conflict of interest

Daniel Goundar
It would not be allowed in other countries yet in Fiji, Justice Daniel Goundar is hearing cases where he clearly has a conflict of interest.

Look at the case below:

It was an appeal from Magistrates Court in Labasa - and  fairly recent. The counsel for the appellant was Keshwan Padayachi - Goundar's real maternal uncle > Keshwan and Goundar's mother are real brother and sister.

Buth there was no declaring of a conflict of interest. No judicial transparency. And no mention of appeal against conviction. Note, too, the lenient sentence.

Goundar should not have heard the case given his connection with Keshwan. He should've withdrawn yet continued to preside making a mockery of justice.

Bano v State [2011] FJHC 227; HAA008.2011 (21 April 2011)




Criminal Case No: HAA 008 of 2011



d/o Rahim Buksh

The Appellant



The Respondent

Counsel: Mr. K. Padayachi for the Appellant

Mr. S. Qica for the State

Date of Hearing: 19 April 2011

Date of Judgment: 21 April 2011


[1] Following a trial in the Magistrates' Court at Labasa, the appellant was convicted of damaging property and was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment. She appeals against conviction and sentence on the following grounds:

    i. That the learned Magistrate erred in failing to promote reconciliation as the offence was a reconcilable offence and one of a personal and private nature and further that the learned Magistrate was obligated under law to promote reconciliation of such offences;

    ii. That the learned Magistrate erred in imposing a custodial sentence when the appellant was a first offender;

    iii. That the learned Magistrate erred in imposing a custodial sentence by incorrectly applying the case authority cited by him and in failing to follow the principles of sentencing; and

    iv. That the learned Magistrate erred in failing to take into consideration the mitigating factors namely the accused was a first offender and had two young children and the fact that the amount of damage was small.


[2] The appellant is the sister in law of the complainant, Abdul Hamid. On 11 February 2009, the complainant visited the appellant at her home with his wife and children. While they were at her home, an argument developed between the appellant and the complainant's wife. The appellant got hold of a timber and smashed the lights, windows and windscreen of the complainant's car. The total damage to the car was $775.00.


[3] Under the first ground of appeal, the appellant contends that the learned Magistrate erred in failing to promote reconciliation between the appellant and the complainant pursuant to section 163 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

[4] Section 163 provides:

    "In the case of any charge or charges brought under any of the provisions of subsection (1) of section 197 or of section 244 or of section 245 or of subsection (1) of section 324 of the Penal Code, the court may, in such cases which are substantially of a person or private nature and which are not aggravated in degree, promote reconciliation and encourage and facilitate the settlement in an amicable way of the proceedings, on terms of payment of compensation or on other terms approved by the court, and may thereupon order the proceedings to be stayed or terminated."

[5] Clearly, section 163, is a discretionary procedure. Before the procedure is invoked the pre-requisites specified in the section must be met. The procedure applied, if the case is substantially of a person or private nature and is not aggravated in degree. If these pre-requisites are not met, then there is no obligation on the court to promote reconciliation.

[6] According to the court record, the appellant appeared in the Magistrates' Court on 5 October 2009, and after waiving her right to counsel, entered a not guilty plea. She was bailed to appear in court on 23 October 2009. On 23 October 2009, the case was adjourned to 10 December 2009 to fix a hearing date. The court record of 10 December 2009 reads:

    "Full disclosures served to accused.

    Reconciliation not possible.

    26/07/10 for hearing".

[7] The trial commenced on 26 July 2010. The complainant gave evidence. He made no reference to the fact that he had reconciled with the complainant. The appellant also gave evidence. She denied damaging the complainant's car.

[8] In my judgment, although the complainant and the appellant were related to each other, the case was not substantially of a private nature. Furthermore, the extensive damage done to the complainant's car aggravated the offence. The appellant showed no remorse for her conduct. She maintained that she had not committed any offence. Without any evidence of contrition and willingness to compensate the complainant for the damage done to his car, there was no legal basis to promote reconciliation. In any event, the learned Magistrate did in fact considered reconciliation and found it was not possible.

[9] In arriving at my conclusion, I disregarded the fresh evidence contained in the affidavits of the appellant and the complainant filed in support of the Petition of Appeal. Fresh evidence can only be led in an appeal with the leave of the court. There was no application made by the appellant to lead fresh evidence, and therefore, the affidavits filed without the leave of the court are disregarded.

[10] The first ground of appeal fails.

    Appeal against sentence

[11] The second, third and fourth grounds concern the appeal against sentence.

[12] The contention of the appellant is that the learned Magistrate erred in imposing a custodial sentence when she was a first time offender with two young children and the amount of damage was small.

[13] The learned Magistrate gave detailed reasons for the sentence he imposed on the appellant. He considered that the maximum sentence for damaging property was 2 years imprisonment. After referring to the High Court cases on damaging property, the learned Magistrate picked 6 months imprisonment as his starting point. He added 2 months to reflect the aggravating factors and deducted 2 months to reflect the mitigating factors.

[14] However, nowhere in his sentencing remarks, the learned Magistrate considered suspending the sentence. I find the failure to consider suspending the sentence was an error of law. The appellant was a first time offender and although the offence was not substantially private in nature, the offence arose from a domestic dispute between two relatives.

[15] These were compelling factors to justify suspending the appellant's sentence.

[16] In all circumstances, I find the custodial sentence to be manifestly excessive.

[17] The appellant has now served nearly two months of her sentence. I think it would be just and appropriate not to impose any further punishment on her. I order that the appellant be released from prison forthwith.

[18] The appeal against sentence is allowed.

Daniel Goundar


At Labasa

Thursday 21 April 2011   





Police moles: unvercover officer beaten for snooping around Khaiyum's aunt

Inside information from police ranks say RFMF goons beat up a police inspector, IP 432 Inowane Raturaga (an undercover Intellegience bureau NIB), three weeks ago.

Moles claim he was beaten and eventually sacked for approaching Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum's aunty, Nur Bano Ali,  about how her accounting firm pays the salaries of government ministers.

Police moles say she called her nephew who dispatched a special task force from operations at 3FIR to arrest the  undercover officer.

According to a source: "IP Inowane was picked up, dragged to the waiting twin cab and taken to QEB.  He was then beaten and officers kept asking him why he was snooping around at BDO."
Officers from CID HQ were called and told to make an  official complaint against the IP.

Informants say the matter was reported to Frank Bainimarama who called the police commissoner, Ioane Naivalurua, and asked him how his NIB officers came to be grilling Nur Bano Ali, and on whose orders.

Naivalurua is said to have told the illegal prime minister he had no idea who issued the orders, after which Bainimarama is said to have sworn and ordered the immediate sacking of IP Inowane.

IP Inowane is believed to come from the same area as Naivalurua and is related to him.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lies in the name of love for Fiji?

THE TWO FACES OF KHAIYUM: As captured by media above and as seen on his official web page below.
The battle between the unions and the illegal government will no doubt continue for some time. It would be fair to say that while the Fiji unions have work to do, the regime manipulator, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, will seek to pull out all the stops to blind us to his own corruption and misdeeds, via so-called convincing arguments and the claim he is acting for the good of Fiji. 'Tis not the case.

Recapping here the FTUC statement defending itself from the regime claims and below it, yesterday's statement by Khaiyum, printed in the Daily Telegraph.

The FTUC rejects the unfounded allegations made by the Attorney General in regardsto the ACTU and NZCTU delegation’s visit to Fiji. The AG has attempted to put a spin on the visit and distract attention from the real issues that have been in contention between the regime and the Trade Union Movement locally and internationally.

He claims that there are no violations of Human and Trade Union rights in Fiji. The ILO and the International Community have condemned Fiji for violations within the decrees manufactured and imposed by the regime and regular violations of people's right to freedom of movement, assembly and speech (to name a few) through the
imposition of the PER. 

The AG seems to not quite understand that if citizens are not free to speak out, or are not allowed to assemble and discuss issues of interest and rights, that workers are not free to belong to a Union of their choosing, these are violations of human rights. The AG is so out of touch with reality that he believes, to oppress people, deny their fundamental rights and to steal their right to be governed by an elected government, is all good. 

A fine example would be the one-sided local media reporting from government’s sources only in the past months. This is simply shameful and unethical by any media standards. The people recognize this fact.
The claim that Unions are out to damage the economy is utter nonsense. The regime is doing a fine job at that and needs no help. Condemnation of the regime by Trade Unions and the International Community the world over is a result of the regime’s
own actions. If such condemnation impacts the economy, then it is time that the AG and the regime takes full responsibility for its own doing and not attempt to pass the blame to others.

It is time that the Regime takes seriously the concerns that are being raised internationally on Fiji and act to get Fiji back on the right track and mend relations with the International Community. This may not be so palatable to the AG as this may mean he would have to give up the power he has amassed and imposes on the people of Fiji with impunity. His claims that the Trade Union leaders are there for their
survival is hollow. The current Trade Union leaders did not grab power from the people. They were elected in a very democratic fashion unlike the AG. 

We challenge the AG to stand for elections and seek the mandate of the people before he has the
audacity to speak like an elected representative of the people. Union leaders posses more mandate of the people than the AG ever did or probably ever will. It is time he remembered this before attempting to lecture to the people of Fiji.

The Fiji Trades Union Congress will continue to fight for freedom and the restoration of democracy. The AG decision not to allow the delegation into the country only further isolates Fiji and further damages our country’s reputation internationally.

Fiji's stand against threats of 'Hardship' 

I LOVE Fiji - as does the president of the Fiji Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Fijian unions, and business houses, all of whom stand united against individuals and organisations that openly and selfishly seek to disrupt our economy and create “hardships” for all Fijians. 

This week, the Republic of Fiji denied a delegation from the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) to visit our country. While deeply regrettable, it was a decision we had to make in the face of threats - including public acknowledgement by the ACTU’s leadership that, “We know what [the delegations] intend to do may create hardships for the Fijian people.”

The irresponsibility of this admission followed weeks of malicious statements, error-laden opinion pieces - such as Paul Howe’s column which occupied this space last week - and even an announcement to move a resolution at the Australian Labour Party Conference to place Fiji on the same blacklist as the violent regimes of Burma and Zimbabwe. Ahead of its “fact-finding mission” the ACTU had already made up its mind - without being to Fiji, and only considering the unfounded claims of a handful of Fijian professional trade unionists with self vested interests.

For a government to deny anyone access to its country is a grave decision. But it was clear that the ACTU’s visit would only serve as a publicity stunt designed to advance their own unapologetically hostile viewpoints, and to promote the group’s stated agenda to damage the livelihoods of ordinary Fijians.

At a time when the Bainimarama Government is working diligently to alleviate poverty and empower Fijians - as exemplified by our recent tax cuts for 99% of all Fijian taxpayers and increased investments in welfare programs, education and healthcare - these unionists seek to undermine our work.

As an example of our efforts, in 2012, a levy will placed on the top 1% of taxpayers to provide additional support for social welfare programs - such as the food voucher, free text book, and subsidized bus fare programmes - which will continue and expand.

In education, we have increased our budget to expand access to the less fortunate, decrease the drop-out rate, improve facilities for all—especially in the outer islands and rural areas—and increase access to technology. In healthcare, we increased the budget to continue to dramatically improve the delivery of health services, while embarking on improvement of preventative healthcare - in particular, addressing the issue of non-communicable diseases - at all levels of society.

At the heart of the matter with the ACTU is Fiji’s Essential National Industries Decree, which was introduced earlier this year, and has resulted in the successful negotiation of fair and just collective agreements in the industries it affects: only government-owned or government-backed enterprises and the banks - those critical to the preservation of the Fijian economy. No other companies are affected.

The Decree has for the first time empowered employers and workers to negotiate terms and conditions of employment, without any interference from disengaged trade unionists - who have over the years enjoyed privileged positions at the expense of the diligent workers, ordinary Fijians and the modernisation of the Fijian economy. Indeed, no agreement arrived under the Decree has been forced upon any employer or worker by the government. Further, more than 70 unions with tens of thousands of members operate completely free.

Yet, this handful of professional unionists is threatened because we have removed their ability to literally shut down Fiji’s entire economy, and exposed the fact that their archaic methods are no longer relevant in a modern economy - all while empowering Fijian workers to effectively redress grievances themselves.

In response, the ACTU has conducted a publicity campaign that reaches the highest levels of the Australian government to humiliate Fijians and to wantonly destroy the heart of our small economy.

We need positive and productive relations with our neighbors, but we also need a balanced and sustainable economy - one that allows us to weather global economic fluctuations, which in recent years have greatly affected countries include small ones like ours.

Through all of this, the people of our countries have a warm relationship with each other. We seek only to continually improve ties with the people and governments of Australia and New Zealand - who are not only our neighbors but make up a part of our family.

Fiji welcomes everyone to visit our country - to enjoy our pristine environment, unique culture, and experience our world-renowned Fijian hospitality - to better understand the numerous reforms and positive initiatives we have been implementing. But to those who wish “hardship” on Fijians to achieve their own selfish ends, or the interests of their mates, we ask you reconsider your intentions.