#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2012-01-22

Saturday, January 28, 2012

PNG power struggle not over and Australia caught out over indigenous rights

Political ructions in Papua New Guinea continue as Fiji ally Sir Michael Somare remains quiet about the failed mutiny to oust Peter O'Neill and Australian PM, Julia Gillard, (Fiji's bete noir) tackles the thorny issue of Aboriginal rights.

The first story is an ABC interview with its PNG correspondent Liam Fox and the second is from MSNBC

ABC: TANYA NOLAN: Now to Papua-New Guinea where the political crisis is deepening, despite claims by prime minister Peter O'Neil that yesterday's attempted mutiny is all over.

The rebel soldiers detained the country's military commander, Brigadier General Francis Agwi, and demanded Sir Michael Somare be reinstated as prime minister.

Today, the soldiers involved are refusing to give up their weapons until they're granted a pardon.

Our PNG correspondent Liam Fox joins us from the capital Port Moresby.

Liam, where are these rebel soldiers now and what exactly are their demands?

LIAM FOX: The rebel soldiers along with their leader Colonel Sasa withdrew to Taurama Barracks which is on the outskirts of Port Moresby yesterday when Brigadier General Francis Agwi was released from house arrest.

A senior figure in the defence forces told the ABC that they are demanding a pardon before they give up their weapons and we understand that demand has been or will be taken to the government for it to consider.

TANYA NOLAN: And what is the likelihood that it will be granted and if it's not what would happen next?

LIAM FOX: Look, I think there is a chance that this could happen. Yesterday the deputy prime minister Belden Namah said we want to solve this the Melanesian way and that is bringing former enemies or opponents back within the fold without any recriminations.

I think that is certainly possible with the soldiers, I'm not sure that's the case for Colonel Sasa. Mr Namah used some pretty strong language yesterday saying that his actions amount to treason and that is punishable by the death penalty so we are waiting to see what if any response the government is going to give.

Also yesterday the Peter O'Neill, the prime minister, said that he believed Sir Michael Somare had taken advantage of long standing gripes about pay and conditions within the defence force to enlist this group of soldiers to perform this attempted mutiny yesterday and that Peter O'Neill understands those complaints and he wants to deal with them as well.

TANYA NOLAN: And Mr O'Neill of course as you alluded to said that Colonel Sasa is being "dealt with". Are you saying that it's likely he would face the death penalty if convicted of treason?

LIAM FOX: Look, just a bit of clarification. PNG has the death penalty but it doesn't have any means to carry out the death penalty so a death penalty here effectively means life imprisonment. We are just waiting to see what happens. There was strong language used yesterday and it depends I guess whether Peter O'Neill and his government want to make an example of Colonel Sasa or as I said whether they want to solve this the Melanesian way and bring former opponents back into the fold and call them brothers once again.

TANYA NOLAN: I've just been reading online that Sir Michael Somare isn't prepared to give up the power struggle just yet according to his daughter Betha Somare. She says reports that the coup was a failure were premature. Can we read that that another attempt could be made to overthrow the O'Neill government with Somare's backing?

LIAM FOX: Oh look I think there will be other attempts to change the situation. What form that will be I can't say or can't predict. I don't know if anyone can predict that. It is hard to see how they can go about that. Last December they tried to order the army to come out onto the street to, as they said, restore law and order. That failed. Now they have tried to forcibly change the hierarchy of the defence force. That appears to have failed. I'm not sure what else they can do except go to court but that is a lengthy solution, one that likely wouldn't be resolved until the elections are called in the middle of the year most likely.

TANYA NOLAN: So how much longer can this go on before the country's economy is seriously affected by the political unrest? It which will scare off much needed international investors. Is there any concern over that?

LIAM FOX: Well, there was certainly concern yesterday. Businesses around Port Moresby closed their doors and sent staff home. Domestic flights, most domestic flights in the country were cancelled. Most of those have resumed today.

There was certainly concern when something like this happens that it can affect business but I think the major investors here all know that PNG is a country where dramatic things like this can happen. They've done their research. It is no surprise that dramatic things happen in Port Moresby and most companies here are in it for the long term but no doubt when something like this happens investors will be sitting back watching with interest to see how things develop.

TANYA NOLAN: Liam Fox, thank you. That is our PNG correspondent Liam Fox in Port Moresby.

Australia PM reunited with shoe she lost during rowdy protest

A blue suede shoe that she lost as she was hustled away by security officers from a Canberra restaurant that was surrounded by aboriginal-rights protesters has been returned.

Gillard lost the size-8 shoe off her right foot on Thursday when she stumbled during the rowdy fray, and it was scooped up by protesters. One protester gleefully raised the footwear above her head and shouted, ''Gingerella, come get your shoe.''

On Friday night, someone returned the shoe to a security guard outside the main entrance at Parliament House, AAP reported.

Meanwhile, the fallout from the fracas has led to the resignation of one of Gillard’s press secretaries, Tony Hodges. He acknowledged tipping off protesters that Oppositionn Leader Tony Abbott was going to be at the Canberra restaurant with the prime minister at an award ceremony to mark Australia Day, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The restaurant where Thursday's clash occurred is close to the so-called Aboriginal Tent Embassy, where the protesters had demonstrated peacefully earlier in the day. That long-standing, ramshackle collection of tents and temporary shelters is a center point of protests against Australia Day, which marks the arrival of the first fleet of British colonists in Sydney on Jan. 26, 1788. Many Aborigines call it Invasion Day because the land was settled without a treaty with the traditional owners.

Abbott was the focus of much of the protesters' rage. The Tent Embassy celebrated its 40th anniversary on Thursday, and Abbott had earlier angered activists by saying it was time the embassy "moved on." Abbott said Friday that his comment had been misinterpreted, and that he never meant to imply the embassy should be torn down.

Meanwhile, the makers of Gillard's now-famous "missing" shoe are hoping to cash in on her Cinderella moment. Melbourne-based Midas plans to release a new version of the shoe dubbed the "Julia," the Herald Sun reported.

Source: MSNBC

Friday, January 27, 2012

House deals and parties while Fiji floods

A state of disaster has finally been declared over the flooding and the hierarchy are out and about as they should be.

But information sent to Coupfourpointfive in the past two days show that it's different strokes for different folks.

One email informs us that while people are losing their lives and their homes, the "illegal attorney general Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum was at 59 Vunakece in Suva trying to negotiate a price for the property with the owner."

Our informant says: "He could have used that money which would run into hundreds of thousands of dollars to help the victims of the floods. It just shows the love of the people that our wanna be leaders have."

The second email is just as condemning of the administration. It says that the military government's chief censor, Sharon Smith Johns, has been planning house party since last week. The grog shop she bought her liquor at in Suva, Victoria Wines, had an order delivered to her house.

The picture above shows just half of the booze purchased and sent to a Princes Road address in Tamavua.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Fiji media have dutifully reported prominently that Frank Bainimarama's flood appeal has raised $10,000. In a bid to look good after fronting late, the appeal only makes this slow-thinker look even worse. While he and Khaiyum have boasted the administration is doing so well, they are looking to the people to help flood victims. These two need to take a salutory lesson from 43 year old, Apisai Nauqe, who won $20,000 in cash and a fully furnished house today in the Courts of Fiji lottery draw. The father of two says he will be donating some of it to the flood victims. As usual, it's the little people setting the example for this unelected regime.

Papua New Guinea military coup fails

The Guardian: A military coup has been averted in Papua New Guinea after government troops regained control of an army barracks, the country's prime minister said.

Analysts warned, however, that peace may not last long, as the failed mutiny risks escalating political tensions in the lead-up to general elections this year.

Soldiers loyal to the former prime minister Sir Michael Somare stormed the Port Moresby barracks early Thursday morning, demanding the resignation of the prime minister, Peter O'Neill, and putting his highest military commander, Francis Agwi, under house arrest.

"The commander is now released. He's not under house arrest," O'Neill told journalists. "As a result, the government has taken full control of the defence headquarters."

The mutiny is the latest development in a longstanding saga involving O'Neill and his political rival Somare, who also claims to be the rightful head of this mineral-rich South Pacific nation.

Somare served as Papua New Guinea's first prime minister after independence from Australia in 1975, and again in 2002 until August 2011, when he was deposed by parliament while receiving medical treatment abroad.

The country's supreme court ruled last month that Somare had been illegally removed and called for his reappointment.

Soldiers working on behalf of Somare told O'Neill on Thursday that he had seven days to fulfil a supreme court order reinstating Somare as prime minister or be forced to suffer "actions … uphold[ing] the integrity of the constitution".

The prime minister rejected calls for his resignation, saying: "This government does not answer to one man calling on us to recall parliament."

He invited those doubting his leadership to introduce a vote of no confidence in parliament, "and if they succeed I will resign".

Elections are due in Papua New Guinea in mid-2012 but could be called earlier, O'Neill said, adding that parliament would resume on 14 February, as scheduled.

While peace has been restored in the nation of 6.8 million, it may be shortlived, said Neil Ashdown, Asia-Pacific analyst at IHS Global Insight.

"The failed military mutiny in Papua New Guinea risks significantly escalating the political standoff in the country," he said. "In the short term, there is the possibility of recriminations against military and political figures seen as linked to the failed mutiny."

The deputy prime minister, Belden Namah, earlier accused Somare of using "rogue soldiers to pursue his own greed and selfishness" and appeared on television to tell the retired colonel Yuara Sasa, who staged the mutiny, that he could be charged with treason – a crime carrying the death sentence.

"Somare has now lost the total respect of the country he fought for independence [for]," Namah told Australian Associated Press.

"I want to say this to Somare: you have lost your mind. You have lost total control of yourself ... You have lost sanity."

Somare has not made any statement regarding the mutiny, but his daughter and media spokeswoman Betha reportedly told journalists that Somare and his 20-odd parliamentary supporters were behind the coup.

Julia Gillard, the Australian prime minister, condemned the mutiny, saying: "The military has no place in PNG politics". She called for the situation to be resolved peacefully and quickly.

Papua New Guinea is home to 800 ethnic groups, and crime and violence are extremely common. In 2002, about 100 people were reportedly killed during election-related skirmishes.

Domestic flights between Port Moresby, the capital, and the cities of Lae, Vanimo, Kiunga and Wewak have been suspended indefinitely, according to the UK Foreign Office, which has advised British nationals in the country to exercise extreme caution in public areas and ahead of the election.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Retired PNG Colonel says he's taken control to resolve impasse

Emerging information confirms a mutiny is taking place in Papua New Guinea and is being led by a retired colonel who says he's taken control of the country's military.

Yaura Sasa is threatening to use "necessary actions" to resolve a stand off between the two would-be prime ministers.

Details surrounding the situation are unclear as both the current government of Peter  O'Neill and supporters of the former prime minister, Sir Michael Somare (left), maintain they have the upper hand.

But it's being widely reported the retired colonel, Yaura Sasa, has revealed himself as the man behind the group of soldiers who stormed the barracks this morning firing  several shots and taking defence force commander Francis Agwi hostage. He's now under house arrest.

Sasa has admitted to media he was appointed by Somare but says today's action is not a military mutiny or takeover.

Sasa says he has given Somare and O'Neill seven days to return to parliament to resolve what he called the country's constitutional impasse.

Somare and O'Neill have been at a stand-off since last August after O'Neill decided to assume the leadership role, claiming ongoing absence by Somare overseas due to illness.
The ABC says PNG's deputy Prime Minister, Belden Namah, has told reporters that 15 of the 30 or so men supporting Sasa have been arrested.

Namah, a former soldier, said the retired Colonel does not have the support of the wider military and that he should give himself up.

He said Colonel Sasa's actions amount to mutiny, which carries the death penalty.



More trouble in PNG?

One of Frank Bainimarama's traditional Melanesian allies, Papua New Guinea, is having a spot of bother according to a report from ABC.

OLD MATES: Bainimarama and Somare in 2008.
There has been a military mutiny in Papua New Guinea, with a group of rebel soldiers taking the commander of the country's defence force captive in Port Moresby.
A senior source in the PNG defence force says a group of between 12 and 20 soldiers overpowered guards at the Taurama barracks around 3:00am this morning.

They took the commanding officer captive, then moved to Murray Barracks and placed the head of the defence force, Commander Francis Agwi, under house arrest.

The source says the former defence attaché to Indonesia, a Colonel Safa, has now declared himself commander.

At this stage it is not clear if the incident is related to the conflict between Peter O'Neill and Sir Michael Somare over the country's prime ministership, or if it is the work of disgruntled soldiers.

When the conflict erupted last month, Commander Agwi recognised Mr O'Neill as the country's legitimate prime minister.

This morning the Reuters news agency reported that the prime minister's office said it was unable to confirm the reports that the defence chief had been seized.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is warning Australians in Port Moresby to avoid travelling in the city this morning.

Sir Michael was ousted as prime minister and replaced by Mr O'Neill in August last year after his seat was declared vacant while he received medical treatment in Singapore.

In December, the Supreme Court ordered his reinstatement as prime minister and as an MP.
But despite that order, Mr O'Neill remained the effective prime minister with the support of the public service, police, defence force and most MPs.

Last week there were rowdy scenes in the parliament when Sir Michael walked in brandishing the court order and demanding his reinstatement.

He was warned by Mr O'Neill that he could be arrested if he shows up again.

First posted January 26, 2012 09:16:32

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fiji under water but no sign of Bainimarama

Flooding has led to the death of two people and about 15-hundred people are now in evacuation centres. Rivers are still rising so more lives are still at risk with fears these floods will be worse than the 2009 ones that killed eleven, if not a dozen people. But there has been no sign of Frank Bainimarama in any of the areas, like the western division and Nadi, which have been worst hit. In times of disasters most good leaders (forget George W Bush and Cyclone Katrina in New Orleans), front as a gesture of solidarity and support. No sign yet of our fearless leader; the person speaking on the floods and updating regional media has been Sharon Smith Johns. The illegal administration has also today said that a state of disaster will not be declared, despite a request from the head of the western division, who says they need help. Pictures: Nadi's main street and back road. Fiji Times

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

One vote, one value - one dictator

Gambia's Yahya Jammeh in 2011. pic The Telegraph
The regime has named CODE Incorporated as the company it is using to conduct electronic voter registration for the 2014 elections, saying it was chosen for "its experience, accuracy and transparency in helping developing nations with logistically challenging terrains - a factor important for Fiji, given that its population is spread over roughly 110 islands."

What it didn't say is that the Ottawa based company's biggest virtue is its experience with  broken nations and economies, countries that have been brought down by coups, corruption and civil war and are trying to reinvent themselves, more often without the will of the people.

The illegal attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, says CODE will help the Fiji regime deliver equity: “For the first time in Fiji’s history, the 2014 elections will feature true universal suffrage—one person, one vote, one value—and it is critical we get it right.” 

The reality is that CODE got the nod ahead of even a local Fiji company that has been working on voter registration for some time and ahead of applicants from Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Spain and the United States because of its track record   helping autocratic governments.

CODE's website details its capacity to reach its target market (it registered 1.2 million people in Gambia using its mobile registrations unit in six weeks) and has seemingly had equal success in Kenya, Haiti, Iraq and Bangladesh etc etc.

But like another company the regime hired recently to help make itself over as it seeks to legitimise itself, CODE's coffers have been built by helping conflict administrations. The only democratic country it has listed as having done work for, is Canada.

One of those to have benefited from CODE's  expertise is the Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh, who came to power in a coup in 1994 at the age of 29.

Jammeh bangs on about anti-terrorism and anti-racist policies and recently promised to crack the whip on 'laziness and corruption' in a bid to turn Africa's smallest mainland country into an economic powerhouse.

In his pre-inauguration address "Gambians United for the Building of Economic Super Power", Jammeh promised to "wipe out almost 82 per cent of those in the work force unless they change their attitudes."

"I will be more dangerous in the next five years than when I was, even in uniform, because people have to change their attitude to work," he said. "You cannot be in your offices everyday doing nothing or leaving the work load on few people. This has to stop. You either do your work or leave or go to jail."

He also says his government will not entertain what media have reported as 'the selfish pursuit of economic gain in an apparent broadside at corrupt officials and perceived foreign enemies'. Sound familiar?

Fiji's very own electronic voter registration programme has been ready for two years. The EVR programme was developed by ITC Services and information leaked to this blog last year showed the Electoral Commission knew the programme was ready to go. 

Yet the project came to a standstill with no response from the Elections Office Sayed Khaiyum.
Why would Khaiyum ignore a cost effective programme that was developed locally and opt instead for CODE, a company whose clients include Afghanistan, Iraq, Malawi, Gambia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen? At a cost of $4million.

The most plausible answer is that just as it hired Qorvis, it has now hired CODE to laminate its credibility; to prove it's delivering the 2014 elections and that they will be democratic. 

But lest we forget, this is a regime that has broken promises and cheated to stay in power; it has no code of honour.

CODE Incorporated

Gambia's Yahya Jammeh threatens 'lazy workers'

Lack of crew keeps hurting Air Pacific

More doom and gloom at our nation’s once proud airline.

Sources within Air Pacific have confirmed to Coupfourpointfive that Pacific Sun’s ATR-42 flew from Nadi to Suva empty on Monday morning due to unavailability of cabin crew.

They say one of Air Pacific’s Boeing 737 aircraft is also stuck in Auckland NZ while a B747 has been stuck in Los Angeles for the past two days due to unavailability of flight crew.

They also say the unelected prime minister Frank Bainimarama paid a surprise visit to Air Pacific CEO, Dave Pflieger, to find out what is going on and that Pflieger was none too pleased at being interrupted from his tax-payer paid holiday dream job.

Monday, January 23, 2012

FNPF Transition Decree - last nail in FNPF coffin for pensioners

by Dr Wadan Narsey

The illegal President has signed the unlawful “Fiji National Provident Fund Transition Decree” which trashes lawful contracts between FNPF and pensioners, takes away their basic human rights to personal property, and removes their basic human right to take their just FNPF grievances to court (while it shamelessly claims that no one’s human rights are adversely affected by this Decree).

The FNPF Transition Decree claims in Part 2, that:
“the principal object of this Part is to ensure that the arrangements for the provision of annuities by the Board are sustainable, non-discriminatory, and do not involve cross subsidy of one group (pensioners and annuitants) by another (FNPF members).”

Such phrases are also in the draft FNPF Act, and the drafters have no idea (or they don’t care) how internally inconsistent all these phrases are even within their Decrees (elaborated below).

The Decree makes a pathetic attempt to justify itself by referring to IMF, World Bank, ILO and “actuarial experts” who we know all recommended reductions of future annuities, but none recommended the breaking of lawful contracts and basic human rights to property nor of denying recourse to justice for existing pensioners. 

These agencies need to be publicly challenged as to whether they lend their support to this unlawful Decree which undermines laws of contracts and fundamental human rights of pensioners in Fiji.

The Decree has five Parts:

Part 2:  Terminates the current pensioners’ claims
Part 3:  Share investment scheme (not commented on here)
Part 4:  Protections  (what a farce).
Part 5:  Regulations (not commented here)

Part 2:  Trashing lawful contracts

Despite the FNPF CEO’s strange claim that pensioners do not have a “contract” but an “agreement”, the facts all suggest that pensioners do have lawful contracts approved by the elected Fiji Parliament:

I remind again, Article 4 of the FNPF Act states that the FNPF Board shall be a body corporate and shall, by the name of "The Fiji National Provident Fund Board", have perpetual succession and a common seal .... The Board may sue and be sued in its corporate name and may enter into contracts.

(a) the contracts were freely offered by a corporate body, FNPF, on the OP-9 form all of which were signed by pensioners and accepted by FNPF.

(b) On Form 9-OP, the FNPF informed the retiree that if he chooses to take the pension options, he will receive exactly this or that annuity (annual sum of money in dollars, and exactly this or that precise percentage of his final balance) payable for his lifetime (single pension) and the lifetime of his last surviving partner (in the case of the lower double pension). 

The FNPF warned pensioners “Once you have made your choice it is final and cannot afterwards be changed or revoked.”    The pensioners had entered a legal contract which could not be changed by them.

But the FNPF and the Military Regime clearly think that they can do whatever they want.

Part 4: Protections: Stealing pensioners’ lawful property

Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) says “Everyone has the right to own property” and “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property”. 

Have a laugh if you thought that Part 4  of the Transitional Decree titled “Protections” was about protecting you, the pensioners and your property.

Do you really believe Subsection 11 (2) of the Transition Decree which brazenly claims “the relevant provisions are not to be taken to provide for a deprivation of property of anyone”.   What a farce. 

By all relevant criteria, the current pensioners’ FNPF annuities are real financial property, guaranteed by a lawful contract guaranteed by elected Fiji parliaments.

Yet for virtually everyone currently receiving more than $300 per month, their entitlements are going to be drastically reduced – by between 30% and 54% of their lawful property. i.e.

The total loss to existing pensioners, in present value terms, will amount to more than $150 to $200 millions in aggregate (I roughly estimate).

Given that Australia and NZ do not recognize the Military Regime or its unlawful decrees, FNPF pensioners who are being adversely harmed might think about suing FNPF in Australia or NZ where FNPF has investments.

Part 4  “Protections”:  Denying Human Rights of Access to Justice

Clause 11 of the Regime’s Transition Decree shamelessly states the following, straight out of Animal Farm: (1) “The relevant provisions are not to be taken to be inconsistent with a human right or a similar right of any person”.  What a farce.

i.e. the Military Decree assures you, in legal gobble-de-gook, that your human rights are not being harmed.  What a farce.

Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states  “Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law”.
Article 10 of the UDHR “Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations...”.
But Subsection (3) of Part 4  of the Regime’s Transition Decree states:  “No court, tribunal, or other adjudicating body has jurisdiction or power to accept, hear, determine or in any other way entertain any challenge by any person, or to grant any remedy or relief to any person in respect of” (a and b) the validity of the Decree and (c) “any loss or damage suffered by any person...” as a result of the provisions in the Decree.

(4) states if there is any relevant claim before any court, “the presiding judicial officer, without hearing or in any way determining the proceeding of the application, shall immediately transfer the application to the Chief Registrar of the High Court for the termination of the proceeding or the application...” and “a certificate to that effect shall be issued by the Chief Registrar of the High Court”.

(5) states if any relevant proceeding has already been started but not determined, that proceeding is also terminated.

(6) in case some brave judge thinks otherwise, the Transition Decree sternly warns that any court that is currently hearing  such a proceeding, “must, on application by the Attorney-General ... issue a certificate to the effect that the proceedings .... have been wholly terminated..”.

And under (7) Such terminating certificates cannot be challenged in court.

Bottom line:  the judiciary will not be allowed to hear your case, even though it involves a lawful legal contract entered into between FNPF and pensioners (backed by elected Fiji Parliaments), your basic human right to personal property, and your human right to go to court with your just grievances.

Tough luck for the Burness/Shameem case, eh?

The very fact that this Military Decree stops all legal challenges is clear evidence that the Regime knows that the FNPF case will not stand up in court.

Why else would they have Part 4 in this Decree, alleging “Protections” – yeah, protection of the Military Regime against legal action.

So much for the separation of the judiciary from the State.
Part 2 of Decree:  False claim Number 1

Part 2 of the FNPF Transition Decree claims that the lumps sums the pensioners left in the Fund and the investment income thereupon (allegedly amounting to $310 million), cannot meet the present value of the future liabilities owed to current pensioners ($565 million). 

This statement totally ignores that:

(a) there was a Pension Buffer Fund specifically set up for this very purpose by the Fiji Parliament;

(b) that Pension Buffer Fund (which had lump sums paid into it and pensions paid out) was not credited with the interest which it was entitled to,

(c) that this Pension Buffer Fund would have accumulated to more than $850 million by now- ie $300 millions more than the $565 million that is admitted (for the first time), to be the present value of liabilities to current pensioners.

Part 2 of Decree:  False Claim 2:  the Board will be non-discriminatory. 

Part 2 of the Transition Decree claims that the FNPF Board will be “non-discriminatory”.

Yet Clause 8 (titled “Top ups”) is all about arbitrarily discriminating between different classes of retirees- whether they are currently receiving less than $100 per month, receiving between $100 ands $300 per month, and more than $300 per month.

Subsection 8 (2) states that for those pensioners currently receiving less than $100 per month, and who wish to convert their lump sum to the new annuities offered which will of course be less than $100 per month,  the Board will arbitrarily offer $100 per month.

i.e the FNPF now will become a welfare organization, (with whose permission?) subsidizing current low annuity pensioners at other pensioners’ expense.  So cross-subsidization will continue, whatever the Decree claims.

I will also bet you, that the over-paid drafters of this Military Decree have never thought about those retirees who might currently have an annuity less than $100 per month, only because they took a partial lump sum upon retirement.

Subsection 8 (3) states that if any pensioners are currently receiving more than $100 (bad drafting- it should really be stating that if a pensioner is receiving between $100 and $300 per month) and they leave all their lump sum entitlement with the Fund and take the new annuities being offered, then they will receive either their current annuity or $300, whichever is the lesser.

i.e. those pensioners currently receiving between $100 per month and $300 per month will be left alone.

Subsection 8 (4) then states amazingly, that if you  are currently receiving more than $300, ands leave all your lump sum entitlement with FNPF and take the new annuity rates that apply to you, then you will arbitrarily have your lump sum increased by $10,000 or 25% of your existing lump sum, whichever is less.

Why are they giving this small “bonus” lump sum option rather than just raising the annuity rates?  Because they want future retirees to receive the lower annuities.

They will give a small lolly to existing pensioners, whose contracts they know they are breaking.

So for any particular retirement age in the past, pensioners will lose a higher proportion of their annuity, the higher was the lump sum they left in the Fund:  i.e. the more you trusted the Fund, the bigger is the percentage you will be losing. 

For a lump sum of $100,000 you will lose 36% if you have just retired, the loss increasing to 50% if you are age 66,  and then decreasing to 46% if you are about 72 years old now.

How astonishing for a Decree that claims that the FNPF will be non-discriminating!

This Transition Decree, contrary to its claims, is discriminating between all kinds of retirees, discriminating by age and by lump sum originally left in the Fund.

The Military Regime and the FNPF Board have set themselves up as redistributing agencies between pensioners or all kinds.

And how do they intend to make sure that future pensioners and future contributors are not discriminated between?

Aaaah. You do not need to be an Albert Einstein to figure this out, do you?  Just as they allegedly eliminated discrimination between past pensioners and current contributors.

What of the future?

Many current and future pensioners are asking what they should do

Should they take the lump sum being offered, or the new annuity rates?

Sorry, but all current and future pensioners have to answer this question themselves.

But there is a quiz in the previous article which current pensioners can rack their delicate or tired brains over, if that’s any help.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why have the talks for the 'new Constitution' been cancelled?

EFFING ALL TALK: My fellow Fijians I am painfully corrupt.

The public relations consultations to form a new constitution that were supposed to start tomorrow have been cancelled.

MINFO has given no reason for recalling the media alert to the talks and has only said news teams will be advised of a new date.

PER lifted but Public Order Act brings new terror
Media were only advised on Friday that the meetings, which were supposed to start tomorrow and finish on Wednesday February the 8th, will not go ahead.
The consultations were supposed to be conducted by the Public Relations & Media Unit of the Strategic Framework for Change Coordinating Office, from the office of the unelected Prime Minister.
The regime's leader, Frank Bainimarama, talked up the 'consultations' in his New Year address when he revealed the public emergency regulations were to be removed.

In that address he said the lifting of the PER "marks an important step toward the public consultations for the formation of a new constitution under which truly democratic elections can be held. I shall give further details in due course of the shape and form of the consultations which will commence in February."
He said: "My fellow Fijians I am painfully aware that for decades, Fiji was mismanaged and hindered by greed and selfishness. Fiji has changed. We must however be vigilant. Corruption and prejudice must not be permitted in our modern nation. You and I must not allow a few to dictate the destiny of our country for their own selfish needs."
He added: "Therefore, when the consultations for the new constitution commences in 2012 your must think responsibly. You must think of and for the future. There are certain features of the new constitution that will be non-negotiable. The constitution must establish a government that is founded on an electoral system that guarantees equal suffrage – a truly democratic system based on the principle of one person, one vote, one value; We will not have a system that will classify Fijians based on ethnicity; and, Our young men and women, those 18 years old must have the right to vote.
"I will in the next few weeks announce the nationwide consultation process which will commence in February 2012. To facilitate this consultation process, the Public Emergency Regulations will cease from 7 January 2012."
From his speech on Friday January the 6th where he claimed "there is nothing I want than a truly democratic government", he turned again to the consultations as the way to move forward.
He said: "Ladies and gentlemen: As I announced in my New Year’s address, the Public Emergency Regulations will be lifted from tomorrow. This marks an important step toward the public consultations for the formation of a new constitution under which truly democratic elections can be held. I shall give further details in due course of the shape and form of the consultations which will commence in February."
We must remain alert to the consultations and if there is cynicism and suspicion, they are justified. This is, after all, the regime that did us over the removal of the public emergency regulations: the PER has indeed gone but we now live under a new reign of terror, the Public Order Act.
The writing is on the wall but the much hyped discussions will keep us in the game with this Machiavellian regime.

EDITOR'S NOTE Monday, Jan 23 11am: Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum has since told Radio New Zealand "economic and social rights should be discussed as part of consultations on the new constitution" and that the "consultations start next month in time for the elections promised for 2014." He also criticised the existing Constitution comparing it with South Africa’s which includes provisions on socio-economic rights. Quote: "If you look at the 1997 constitution, it did not have those provisions it had purely what are generally termed civil and political rights but not the economic rights and the social rights. So these are the sort of things that are up for discussion.”