#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2012-03-04

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Former PMs: Consultation ignores stakeholders and issue of military

Deposed prime ministers Mahendra Chaudhry and Laisenia Qarase say the regime is trying to impose its own road map on the consultation process for its Constitution. 

Both say appointments to the Constitution Commission and the Constituent Assembly should have been made after the consultations, and left to key stakeholders.
Frank Bainimarama yesterday named a former deputy prime minister, Taufa Vakatale, and academics Satendra Nandan and Yash Ghai as Commission members with Ghai chair.
Qarase, who was removed by Bainimarama in the 2006 coup, says a Constitutional Forum made up of political parties, church leaders and NGOs should've been formed first and the group allowed to make the decisions.
He says the 1997 Constitution still exists and elections could easily be held before the year is out and consultations take place after that.
Chaudhry, who was deposed in the George Speight coup in 2000, agrees the process is too long adding the regime's plan replicates that of the Reeves Commission for the 1997 Constitution.
He says there's no need to scrap the Constitution just because previous governments ignored it, especially the provisions for Code of Conduct and Freedom of Information legislation. 
Chaudhry questioned how many of the fundamental values Bainimarama is insisting on for the Constitution are being upheld by the regime and asked why the role of military has been left off the list of essential issues.

Aust and NZ reject claims of a u-turn on Fiji

The 'upbeat' pic Fiji Sun was using over the 'talks' report
Australia's new Foreign Affairs Minister has poured cold water on regime supporters claims he intends to ease up on Fiji.

Bob Carr says he is still gathering information on Fiji and is talking to a number of people, including the Australian Council of Trade Union, especially about the unlawful treatment of trade unionists.

"Certainly one of the tests we'd consider in the future is the right of organisation in the workplace. That's a fundamental human right."

Carr rejected talk of Australia backing down after informal discussions yesterday in Auckland with New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Murray McCully.

“All I can say at this stage is that I am talking to colleagues about Fiji but at this stage, the statement from the Fiji government is something we will look at. It’s interesting, but we wouldn’t go beyond that at this time.”

Regime supporters, made up of a small group of academics like Richard Herr and Anthony Bergin from the Australian Strategic Policies Institute (they wrote the report Our New Abroad, Australia and Pacific Islands Regionalism) and coup apologist reporter Graham Davis, have been egging the Australian government to engage with Fiji, claiming isolating it has failed and Australia is the only one persisting with such an unworkable policy.

On Thursday, several Australian newspapers (Adelaide Now, the Herald Sun and the Australian) claimed Carr was dumping the former Kevin Rudd hard line stance on Fiji and planned to offer an olive branch and soften some of the 'sticks' currently being used against Bainimarama.

One report also claimed Carr was making an unexpected visit to New Zealand to ambush  McCully about a u-turn.

The misleading newspaper reports were fuelled by Davis' claims his interview with Bainimarama (see earlier story) for Sky News, where the coup meister said Australia is now alone among its ANZUS partners in refusing to engage with Fiji and 'revealed fresh details' of his plans to return to democracy in 2014, had prompted a Gillard u-turn. 

The reports were subsequently 'followed up' by FBC and the Fiji Sun who claimed Carr had released a statement and it had been welcomed by Bainimarama who was open to talks.

Both Carr and McCully yesterday rejected the reports with McCully saying New Zealand would not be lifting the sanctions just because Bainimarama had announced his plans for consultations on a new Constitution.

Carr and McCully's clarification is welcome but the people of Fiji who want a true return to democracy must keep the pressure on Australia and New Zealand. Nothing can be taken for granted so we include here some useful email addresses and contact details for people to make their views known.

Bob Carr's team
Murray McCully
Australia department of foreign affairs
Carr rejects claims he is softening stance
McCully: sanctions are not being lifted

Friday, March 9, 2012

FTUC and Mara: Constitutional process a propaganda exercise

Yash Ghai (left) supervised Sayed Khaiyum's controversial thesis.

Taufa Vakatale
The regime's consultation plans for a replacement Constitution have taken a clobbering from the Fiji Trades Union Congress and Roko Ului Mara.

FTUC and Mara have both gone for the jugular saying the regime has no mandate and that at least two of the three people named for the Constituional Commission should resign.

FTUC's national secretary, Felix Anthony, says Fiji is writing a new constitution for the fourth time when there is no need to reinvent the wheel. He says while there were imperfections in previous Constitutions, they were dealt with in a lawful manner.

Satendra Nandan (left)
"The 1997 current Constitution which was adopted by an elected Parliament need amendments that could include the values and principles outlined by the Prime Minister, none of which is objectionable."

Anthony says the process is too long at one year.  "We believe that the phrase "non-negotiable" is inappropriate in the circumstances as there really should not be any negotiations, the values and principles stated need to be put in practice by the regime and now is the time to do it."

He says it is not the people who need civic education: he says education must start with the military and the "disciplined forces" who are charged to uphold the Constitution and protect all citizens of Fiji.

"After all, their oath when taking up office is to uphold the Constitution and not thrash it when it does not suit them. The common people of Fiji have had enough education on Constitutions and are probably most educated in the region in that area.

"We note that the Prime Minister has omitted the most crucial issue that should be on his "non negotiable" list and that is the role of the military and it should have no powers to usurp the powers of an elected Government. This is also a "universally recognised and aspired to" principle.

The FTUC says it's also concerned at the gaps in the review in today's announcement. 

"We believe that the Prime Minister needs to spell out clearly the make up of the "Constituent Assembly" the process and procedure to be adopted by such an Assembly. This is critical to ensure that the process is going to be credible."

In a statement via the Council for Fiji Democracy, Roko Ului Mara says the consultation process announced today will not pass any international test of credibility and independence.

He says the consultation is stacked in Bainimarama's favour and is a massive propaganda exercise.

Mara says two of the three people appointed initially to his Constitutional Commission to engage in a "civic education process", should resign immediately.

"Professor Nandan is a prominent Bainimarama disciple who has publicly and lavishly praised his 2006 coup. Taufa Vakatale is widely-regarded as a Bainimarama supporter who has willingly accepted appointments by the regime. Their sympathies will obviously come into play during the consultations.

"The Chairperson, Professor Yash Ghai, is certainly experienced in constitution-making and is familiar with Fiji. However, his role as academic supervisor to Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Bainimarama's chief collaborator, when Sayed-Khaiyum prepared a controversial thesis on indigenous Fijian culture, raises questions about his appointment. The same applies to his earlier role as a constitutional consultant to certain Fiji political parties."

Mara says the evidence for the 'planned national brain-washing' is contained in Bainimarama's reference to government collating and printing material for "civic education".

"He is intent on forcing the People's Charter for Change down people's throats. This has been adopted by the government as its own manifesto. But it does not have a valid mandate from the people. If the Bainimarama manifesto is to be the ideological reference point for the constitution then the manifestos of political parties with proven support should also be put to the people."

Mara says Bainimarama should also tell people whether the army will be sitting in the constituent assembly.

"Which political parties will qualify? Who will decide on the assembly's membership? There are real grounds for scepticism about the level of freedom Fiji citizens can exercise to make their views known. It appears that only those who Bainimarama thinks are "forward-looking" will make the grade. This is coded language indicating intolerance of dissenting views. Similarly his comments urging people not to be distracted by "petty politics and politicians" is another warning sign."

FTUC statement

Roko Ului statement via Council for a Democratic Fiji

Replacement Constitution timeline announced

The 'masterpiece' has been revealed: three months of civic education, followed by three months of 'consultations' from July to September from which a Constitution will be put together (October to December). According to the regime timeline a draft document should be ready by January 2013 - taking almost a year to put together.

Frank Bainimarama's speech:
Bula Vinaka and Good Morning.
Ladies and gentlemen, today is a remarkable day in the history of Fiji. The process of formulating Fiji’s new constitution is being launched.

The way Fijians have come together to rebuild, to share, to care during and after the recent floods demonstrates the capacity that we – irrespective of our individual backgrounds, ethnicities, and religions – can work together.

We can study together. We can live together as Fijians. We are one nation. And I ask every Fijian to keep this in mind and not be distracted by petty politics and politicians as we embark upon the constitutional formulation process.

Formulating a new constitution that will be relevant to a new and modern Fiji will require that we unselfishly, patiently, and inclusively complete the process with integrity and honesty.

It must be done properly. When we are done, Fiji will have an enduring blueprint for all Fijians.

Every Fijian who wants to contribute and be forward-looking in the creation of an enlightened constitution will have the opportunity to do so.

For the first time, everyone will have a voice. This is a fundamental part of the constitutional formulation process that cannot be and must not be compromised.
The constitution must be premised on the fundamental values and principles set out in the People’s Charter for Change, which my Government has been advocating and implementing.

These principles and values are universally recognized and aspired to. Therefore, these principles and values are non-negotiable. They are:
• A common and equal citizenry;
• A secular state;
• The removal of systemic corruption;
• An independent judiciary;
• Elimination of discrimination;
• Good and transparent governance;
• Social justice;
• One person, one vote, one value;
• The elimination of ethnic voting;
• Proportional representation; and
• A voting age of 18.

Civic Education
In the month of May, we will commence a civic education programme, to last until July.

As stated in the book “Constitution-making and Reform”, published by Interpeace and authored by international experts, to have effective consultations, the public must be well informed of the issues that they need to think about, that they need to address, and that they need to express.

If the public is not educated about the issues to consider, then the process will be useless.

The guide by Interpeace noted that during Fiji’s 1997 consultations, some Fijians were not given enough information and materials to understand the issues they needed to consider for the constitutional process.

Some people did not feel they had a voice, or that their voices would not be heard. There was not enough information available to educate and facilitate a fully participatory consultative process.
We cannot allow this to happen again.
We want true consultations. We want to hear from ordinary Fijians, not just the elite or the well connected.

The guide concluded that civic education plays a critical role in ensuring informed public contributions and constructive debate during the constitution-making process.

In order to facilitate the civic education programme, from now until April, the Government will collate and print material highlighting issues for all Fijians to think about before they make their voices heard in the consultation process.

To ensure Fijians understand and contribute meaningfully, all informational material will be distributed in urban, rural, and maritime areas—to farmers; to fishermen; to youth; and to women’s organizations. In short, to everyone.

These materials will include the People’s Charter for Change and a list of issues that need to be considered in any constitution-making process.
The kinds of issues that the public should consider in advance of the consultations include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Do we want economic and social rights to be included in the Bill of Rights? In other words, should there be a right to basic housing, to clean drinking water, to basic health services, to electricity?
• What should be the size of Parliament? Should it be reduced from previous numbers?
• How do we attract better quality candidates to Parliament?
• Should we have a Senate? If so, should Senators be elected or selected?
• How should the judiciary be selected?
• Should political parties and their office holders disclose their assets and liabilities?

July – September
Following the civic education process, consultations will commence between the Constitutional Commission and the citizens of Fiji.

This will commence on July 2nd and end on September 30th. It is imperative that all Fijians be given access to the consultation process.

We will accordingly need to ensure, for example, that adequate transportation is provided to citizens—in particular in the rural and maritime areas—to attend the consultation forums and meetings.

The Constitutional Commission, which must be adequately staffed and resourced, will consist of five people: two international experts and three Fijians.
I’m happy to announce that the Chairperson of the Constitutional Commission will be Professor Yash Ghai, internationally renowned constitution and human rights expert.
Two of the three distinguished Fijians who will be members of the Constitutional Commission include:
• Taufa Vakatale, the first female Deputy Prime Minister of Fiji; and
• Satendra Nandan, Academic writer, former Member of Parliament.
We intend to announce the names of the last two members in due course.

October – December
From October to the end of December 2012, the Constitutional Commission will collate the public submissions. Based on the Guiding Principles, the Commission will draft a constitution.
The draft constitution will then – in January 2013 – be submitted to a Constituent Assembly.

January – March
The Constituent Assembly will consist of representative civil society groups and organizations that are Fijian-registered, including faith-based organizations, national institutions, political parties, and Government.

The Assembly will consider the draft constitution in an inclusive and transparent process, based on the Guiding Principles. The rules for the Constituent Assembly, such as quorum, speaking rights, and voting shall be finalized with the assistance of international experts prior to the formation of the Constituent Assembly. We expect to announce the composition of the Constituent Assembly by December of this year.

It should be noted – ladies and gentlemen – that we had a similar constituent assembly only a few years ago in the form of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji.

We hope that all organizations will participate in this Constituent Assembly. Our objective is to hear all Fijian voices.
It is expected that the Constituent Assembly will debate the draft constitution and make amendments if and where necessary.

Once the Constituent Assembly approves the constitution by the end of February 2013, it will then be assented to by His Excellency the President.

My fellow Fijians, the next 12 months is going to be crucial in determining the future of our beloved country. We must all be forthcoming, actively contribute to, and participate in this process with the view to ensure a better Fiji for all Fijians. We must put aside any prejudices, any self-interest, and political ambitions. In doing so, we will ensure peace, prosperity, economic well-being, and a sustained and true democracy for all.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Australian u-turn on Fiji being talked up

Bob Carr and Julia Gillard
Regime supporters are claiming the Australian government is about to offer an olive branch to dictator Frank Bainimarama.

Coup apologists reckon Julia Gillard's new Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, is about to reverse six years of hard-line Labor Party policy.

According to today's Adelaide Advertiser  Carr is about to offer an 'olive branch' to Bainimarama and he is travelling to New Zealand tomorrow to meet Prime Minister John Key to discuss Fiji's ban from the Pacific Islands Forum in 2009.

According to the paper, incentives for Fiji are likely to include lifting some of the "sticks" against the regime, including the forum's ban on the junta - and some reversal of Australian sanctions set up in the wake of the 2006 coup.

"These include a blanket ban on the supply, sale or transfer to Fiji of arms and related material, the provision of technical advice, assistance or training, a financial service or financial or other assistance to Fiji related to military activities or any activity that involves the sale or supply of any export-sanctioned goods to Fiji."

In an article on Pacific Scoop under the headline, Rollback on the 'Rudd block' on Fiji policy set to begin, coup apologist Graham Davis claims the mood for change in Canberra hardened after his recent interview with Bainimarama.

"Bainimarama’s strident comments in the Sky/Grubsheet interview have achieved their purpose and the tone of that rhetoric will now be lowered to oil the wheels of diplomacy."

He admits some media, such as the ABC, have ignored the interview but insists that "whatever the politicians think about Bainimarama, many hadn’t grasped the interview’s central tenet that Australia was now the last man standing in refusing to have anything to do with him."

A more balanced steer comes from the  Australian, which acknowledges the  u-turn is being pushed by the Liberal Coalition. 

Quote: "The Coalition has flagged a new direction on Fiji, calling on incoming foreign minister Bob Carr to open dialogue with the island nation, isolated since the 2006 military coup."
It quotes the Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman, Julie Bishop, as saying that rather than ignoring Fiji, "Australia should lead the way with engagement."

It would be criminal for Australia to reverse its policy at the agitation of a small group of academics and coup apologists who have been scaremongering in a bid to have Bainimarama brought back into the fold.

The move would certainly come as a surprise to New Zealand, which has maintained its nerve and stuck to the sanctions and the bans.

Simply put, the treasonous Bainimarama regime continues to oppress people and there is no justification for the sanctions coming off. Doing that will only prove to the regime that it can do whatever it wants and get away with and neither Fiji nor Australia will be the better off for it.

We must engage with Fiji regime: Coalition
Carr softens Australia's stance on Fiji
New Australian Minister wants to engage with Fiji

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dodds' report speaks for itself

The 'obscure British NGO' the regime has tried to dismiss after its chair reported there was no rule of law in Fiji, is in fact credible and represents thousands of solicitors and law firms.

The Law Society Charity represents the Law Society of England and Wales, which have an estimated 170,000 solicitors and 11,000 firms.   

The Charity was set up in 1974 and half of its board members (including Dodds who made the secret fact finding mission to Fiji last year) are members of the Law Society Council.

Incredibly, the regime has tried to dismiss the group and Dodds' findings as dishonest saying he has 'publicly spread false, outrageous and inflammatory allegations against the Fijian judicial system.'

We publish here Dodds' report so bloggers can read for themselves his  findings and recommendations.

Readers will see that Dodds had good reason to keep his visit quiet and that unlike the regime, he has not stooped to personal attacks.

The regime has only itself to blame for the undeniable truth that there is no rule of law in Fiji.

Fiji - The Rule of Law Lost

Big rush on the RFMF report into the 2000 mutiny

While Fiji's censored media continue to ignore the RFMF report and graphic photographs into the deaths of CRW soldiers in the 2000 mutiny, copies of the previously suppressed report are being downloaded in huge numbers from the Truth for Fiji website.

The RFMF Board of Inquiry report was released by former 3FIR leader Roko Ului Mara several days ago, along with pictures of soldiers beaten unconscious or beaten to death after the mutiny.

Truth for Fiji's website has now updated the BOI report saying the size of it has been reduced to allow easier downloading, but its contents have not been changed in any way manner or form.

It says 1,584 copies of the report were downloaded from the site when it was first released on Friday and that downloads now average 495 a day.

Add the numbers downloaded from other blog sites including Coupfourpointfive, and it's clear there's huge interest in the report - and the truth - despite regime leader Frank Bainimarama and media predictably thumbing its nose at it.

The RFMF BOI report (see link below) should now have all 1,027 pages with the article by Brig V Lal (pages 374 to 398) now forming part of the Report.

Supporting documents also now include a letter from the Reverend Timoci Silatolu to Bainimarama from prison, a letter from the office of the then permanent secretary for the president's office, a letter from the then permanent secretary for the Home Affairs Office, along with a statement.

The smaller version of the BOI Report
Ratu Silatolu's letter
Letter from President's Office
Letter from the Home Affairs Office
Home Affairs Office statement

Fiji coup rats caught fabricating 'analyst' to support smear campaign

The so-called 'analyst' the regime cited in its statement last night denouncing what it claims is the 'dishonest' report of Nigel Dodds who has 'publicly spread false, outrageous and inflammatory allegations against the Fijian judicial system' is no other than a writer by the name of Sudden Shelley.
Yet searches of the unknown 'expert' (who seems to have so much inside information of key players in the Fiji judiciary) throws up no Google footprints.
So who really has written the piece used by Christopher Pryde and co to try to discredit the work of Dodds? The popular theory is that it's the penmanship of well-paid regime spin doctors, Qorvis.
Incredibly, the 'analysis', which ends with the admonishment 'there is little of professionalism here' has been used by Pryde to defend himself and the DPP in the eyes of a discerning international community.

We have published the so-called 'critique' in the interest of exposing the unprincipled and hypocritical behaviour of the regime and its supporters but we do not endorse the inaccurate and inflammatory information it contains.
Critique: The Rule of Law Report by 
the UK Law Society Charity

By Sudden Shelley

The independence of the judiciary cannot be compromised by activist elitist groups who espouse political causes. In good times and in bad the judiciary’s role is not to take on governments, whether lawful or unlawful, but to rule on cases brought before the courts. This is a more pedestrian role. But as usual, activists and partisans wish to use the judiciary as a weapon of combat for their political ends.

Fiji Law Society claims not supported by UK and other regulation systems

The Fiji Law Society cannot claim that it is the rightful body for discipline or licensing of lawyers. Other jurisdictions including that of England and Wales have moved away from self-regulation to statutory regulation, which has included the creation of the position of Legal Complaints Ombudsman. This is similarly the case in Australia, New Zealand and other Commonwealth jurisdictions with minor variations.

Self-regulation has been rejected by a wide body of consumer associations, including the Consumer Council of Fiji. The public has demanded greater accountability from the legal profession, long held in low esteem in Fiji. The last Transparency International Global Perception Index on corruption in Fiji found that the majority of the public thought that the legal profession and the judiciary were corrupt [2005 Index]. Clearly there was an imperative need for change.

When the Independent Legal Services Commission was set up in 2009, it was discovered that over 400 complaints which had been filed with the Fiji Law Society lay unattended. Many such complaints had been brought against the current and four previous Presidents of the Law Society and Council members. When the Commission commenced sittings, many of the prosecutions were brought in relation to former Presidents. Thus the delay of the Society’s authorities in prosecuting these complaints went beyond the mere systemic. The public saw that the police, as it were, were unable to police themselves.

Hand over Complaints files, and the Dorsami Naidu case

The attitude of the Law Society will explain why the Chief Registrar had to insist on the handover of the Complaint files and why it was necessary for her to refer to her authority and powers under the Decree. The then President of the Fiji Law Society Mr. Dorsami Naidu has since been disciplined. This was not for any political offence, but for drawing up conveyancing documents in relation to the purchase of land without disclosing that the land was not owned by the vendor alone, but was owned jointly with another, and hence that under the transaction, the purchaser was only buying a half interest.

By the same reasoning UK judges support Government

The critics of the Independent Legal Services Commissioner assume support for the Government by virtue of taking up office. By this reasoning, every High Court Judge in England is to be taken to support the Government of the day, by virtue of the agreement to take up office. The critics do not condescend to any details nor do they refer to a specific judgment which they regard as defective. There is nothing of substance in this vague allegation, which appears to be a political rather than a law and justice comment.
The control of the professional prosecution unit for legal practitioners in the Chief Registrar’s Office is given to a civil servant and not to a politician. Previously, lawyers controlled lawyers at times when many of the previous presidents were politicians and members of Parliament. No complaints of this so-called independent procedure were then heard from these same international bodies of a lack of demonstrable political neutrality.

Josaia Naigulevu 'long-standing and respected'?

The Report refers to Josaia Naigulevu as “long-standing and respected”. This was the same person who used to hold prayer sessions within the confines of the DPP’s Office. Some of these were held to pray for success in appeals, and many members of the Office felt it prudent to be seen to attend if they wished to advance in the Office. As Acting DPP, Naigulevu swore an affidavit in the Chandrika Prasad case in which the courts eventually upheld the Constitution. Naigulevu chose to depose to active support for the illegal Qarase SDL regime, which had obtained power through the usurping civilian coup masters. Strangely, or perhaps not, the Acting DPP was made substantive DPP shortly thereafter. And this was the same Naigulevu who had concealed the fact that he had sworn such an affidavit in favour of the Respondent regime when answering questions from the International Criminal Court to which he had applied for the job of Deputy Prosecutor.

2000 coup files locked away

Many of the files dealing with crimes, including treason, committed at the time of the 2000 coup were locked away by Naigulevu for some years to gather dust. These were discovered by his successor who found that many of the prosecutions were by then time-barred. The alleged perpetrators thus did not have their day in court.

Favours exchanged?

This was the same Naigulevu who had a noisy and violent altercation with his then wife who lodged a formal complaint with the police that he had tried to strangle her. The medical evidence in the case confirmed injuries consistent with her complaint. However the Police Commissioner Mr. Andrew Hughes delayed the decision to lay charges. Meanwhile, the Director was requested to consider whether there was sufficient evidence to arrest Bainimarama in New Zealand on charges of sedition. The DPP did agree that there was sufficient evidence against Bainimarama, and the charges against the DPP were never laid.

Sri Lankans and racist overtones?

Whoever was the author of this Report is undoubtedly a racist. To say that the prosecution offices “became populated with Sri Lankans” follows the Nazi gripe that there were too many Jews populating Germany. These are the kind of comments we might expect from those hiding within the reeds of the internet, hoping to remain concealed whilst they spew out shameful pieces of racism. The racism is to be seen also in the derogatory comments on members of the judiciary who happen to be Sri Lankans. The issue for proper consideration is whether the judges sitting on the courts of Fiji are intellectually honest. A good idea as to whether that is so can be derived from a trawl through the judgments on the judicial website www.judiciary.gov.fj  or PACLII.

Go tell it to the Americans

The Commonwealth Law Conference sub-committee has no business poking its nose into the judicial appointment system of another jurisdiction, whether friendly or a member of the Commonwealth. Fiji might have been thought to have been both. Perhaps the Committee could give some soothing advice to the Americans, an ancient jurisdiction, on how they could de-politicise the US system of appointments to their Benches. But in reality it is none of their business. It is for the Americans to seek reform and to fix.

Incidentally what is wrong with the Chief Justice using a personal connection with a friendly Commonwealth country in order to provide necessary numbers for the Fiji Bench? The Fiji Bench has had connections with the Sri Lankan Bench since the early 1980’s. And was it out of order for the Fiji Bench to secure the services of expatriate English judges since before Cession in the 1870’s?

The recommendations in the Report appear to conflict with the rights of free expression, privacy, and free choice. The authors could benefit from a summer course on the decisions of the US Supreme Court on these matters over the last 50 years.

Graeme Leung's choice

Graeme Leung tells us he is not practising in Fiji at the moment. That was his decision alone. He was not joined by any other member of the Bar in that decision. All other members of the Bar applied for and received the issuance of their practicing certificates. No one has prevented Mr. Leung from obtaining a practicing certificate. The new procedures for scrutinizing the applications for practicing certificates have been instituted as a matter of consumer protection. Mr Leung’s decision can only be characterized as his own individual political statement.

It is clear the main informant (author?) of the Report is Graeme Leung, who was not noticeable for an interest in matters of professional ethics and practice when he was President of the Fiji Law Society. His history in the civil service did not shine forth with an interest in democratic values either. Forced to leave the DPP’s Office in 1985 over a financial impropriety, he became the Fiji Police Advisor, a position he held during the 1987 coup. He did not then think it right to leave Government service because of the nationalist and military coup, an occurrence of obvious unlawfulness. Instead he continued to work for the Attorney General’s Office until he was transferred to Fiji’s U.N. Embassy in New York as First Secretary. Eventually he fell out with the Ambassador and was recalled to the Attorney General’s Office, leaving behind a number of personal bills unpaid. They did not appear to be connected with official matters. Much mirth was created over two of the purchases – one was a “love seat” and the other, bills for telephone calls to a telephone sex service.

Leung: Conflict of interest?

At the time of the 2006 elections Leung was the Chairman of the Electoral Commission. At the same time he was President of the Fiji Law Society. Apart from the apparent conflict of roles, he did not earn a reputation as Chairman for looking into complaints about registration irregularities or other procedures leading up to the elections. It was said that he had tried to persuade Ratu Tevita Mara to stand in the elections for the SDL party. These improprieties colored his independence and explain his anger at the removal of the Qarase government in late 2006. He was very close to Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi the Vice President and thought from his daily visits to Government House, to be a close advisor.

Permits required since 1969

As a former prosecutor Leung would have known that the requirement for a permit for the assembly of persons numbering three or more came not from the Public Emergency Regulations 2009, but from section 8 of the Public Order Act 1969, a piece of legislation thought fitting for Fiji by the British colonial government. There was nothing remarkable about the Public Order Act which the British legislated for in many of their overseas possessions. The need to have a permit for a meeting long pre-dated the 2006 coup. This was known to Leung.

The Report demonstrates ..

This Report demonstrates how a flawed methodology and lack of objectivity at the outset leads to a skewed outcome. This was a Report written during a private visit by the (unrevealed) Chairman who met no one other than Leung’s close friends and associates. He has not revealed his sources, or whether he made any attempt to speak with sitting judges or members of the magistracy. He did not speak with the Chief Registrar or the Independent Legal Services Commissioner, to discuss the workings of the Legal Practitioners Decree.

PACLII not consulted

But as has been said before, the workings of the complaints procedure and of the judiciary can only properly be tested by examining closely the reasoning of the decisions of the Commissioner and of the judiciary. No such analysis has been done. It is noticeable that the regional website (PACLII) which carries the judgments of the judiciary has already had intimations that Australian government support may be withdrawn. Is it that our regional neighbors who maintain a hostile blockade do not wish to have evidence of a viable working and intellectually honest judiciary shown on the internet?

Professionalism lacking

The authors of the Report purport to propagate the ethos and work of a charity. One wonders what the Charity Commissioner would make of this Report. Is this genuine charitable work? Or sub-contracted political advocacy? There is little of professionalism here.
TheK 'Rule of Law Lost' Report and a Retort to the Report

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fiji regime: covert rule of law report dishonest

Christopher Pryde
The regime has tried to dismiss the recent report by Nigel Dodds, the chair of the Law Society Charity, who made a secret visit to the country and concluded it is without rule of law.

Almost two weeks after Dodd's report hit regional and international headlines thanks to blogs alerting the world to the findings, the regime - clearly stung by the publicity - has issued a statement  denouncing Dodd.

The statement tries to rubbish Dodd's findings, which as people who know the story will recall went on to be endorsed by the New Zealand Law Society.

Dodds made the secret fact-finding mission on a tourist visa late last year and released last month the report Fiji: The Rule of Law Lost. The report made no bones about the fact the independence of the Fiji judiciary ‘cannot be relied upon’ and ‘there is no freedom of expression’.

Tonight's regime statement dismisses Dodds as 'the chairman of an obscure British NGO, Law Society Charity' who has 'publicly spread false, outrageous and inflammatory allegations against the Fijian judicial system.'

The regime claims Dodds did not interview the number of attorneys, judges and Opposition politicians he said he did and deemed his findings 'intellectually dishonest allegations'.

"Mr Dodds spent approximately four days in Fiji. Four months later, he is making an undisguised attempt to draw publicity for himself and his group as a supposed expert on Fiji’s judicial system."

The statement says Dodds never contacted the Director of Public Prosecutions or any other government official for his “report” and has  Christopher Pryde falling back on the claim that Dodd's organisation is being used by disgruntled people with an agenda.

“The failure to solicit any opinion from people actively engaged with the Fijian legal system strongly suggests that Mr Dodds and his organisation are either being used by certain disgruntled people in Fiji to promote a political agenda or are being deliberately obtuse. 

"Either way, the report is intellectually dishonest and does their organisation no credit."

The regime cites an unnamed 'analyst' who it says criticised the report asking: “Is this genuine charitable work? Or subcontracted political advocacy? There is little of professionalism here.”

Pryde pulls out another favourite put down, claiming Dodds was racist: "Mr Dodds seems to have a problem with Sri Lankan lawyers. The DPP’s Office recruits staff on the basis of merit, and is not concerned with a lawyer’s ethnic background but with their professionalism and integrity.”

Pryde insists the DPP is an independent office and that it is 'without recourse to any Government minister, including the Attorney-General.' "The Office is non-political and independent in its decision-making.”

Covert trip reveals rule of law lost

Idemnity clause hurting Fiji doctors

Neil Sharma
Leaked information about the controversial indemnity insurance cover Fiji doctors are being made to pay, show 10 have already been suspended by the Fiji Medical Council because they can't afford to pay it.

The insurance cover is compulsory under the Fiji Medical Practitioners Decree 2010, with the Council maintaining the indemnity will protect doctors from any law suits.

But doctors say it's rare Fiji doctors are sued and that the fee is unjustified. It was $1,012 when the decree was introduced two years ago but is $1,610 this year with talk it could increase to $2000 to $5000 depending on the number of claims that come in.

Information obtained by Coupfourpointfive show doctors are worried more of them could end up being suspended because of the hardline attitude of the Fiji Medical Council and the ineffectiveness of the Fiji College of General Practitioners (FCGP) secretariat.
Dharmesh Prasad

The chair of the Fiji Medical Council (which includes dental practitioners), Dharmesh Prasad, told media recently the chance of being sued is quite high these days and that a patient was awarded $410,400 last February.

Coupfourpointfive understands the doctor who was sued last year is an Othopedic Surgeon employed by Government, who come under the Fiji Medical Association as opposed to GPs who are self-employed and come under the FCGP. 

We also understand Prasad has threatened to use the police to impose the $5,000 penalty on doctors who refuse to pay the cover.

The regime's Minister of Health, Neil Sharma, has come under worse attack for saying if doctor's can't afford the indemnity cover, then they should look for work outside of medicine.

Sharma is also being criticised for bringing Cuban doctors to Fiji to fill an apparent shortage but allowing local doctors to be pushed out for not paying the indemnity cover.

Doctors angry at the way the issue is being handled, say Sharma is allowing hard earned Fiji money to go to an overseas company, Lumley Insurance of New Zealand.  

Information obtained by Coupfourpointfive shows questions being asked about how the Auckland based company came to secure the contract.

Doctors plan to petition the self-appointed prime minister Frank Bainimarama to revise the decree.

In a related matter, readers may recall Sharma crowing there would be no more shortages of essential drugs. He also said that any shortages would be the fault of the individual health centres. Coupfourpointfive has acquired a list of drugs that have run out at FPS, which means there is effectively a nationwide shortage.

Doctors say there are alternatives available for most of these medications (except for the anti-diabetic ones) but they are not ideal in terms of cost and effectiveness, which is why they are not frontline drugs. The list includes:

Glipizide and Metformin: First and second line drugs used to manage diabetes. People often cannot afford to buy these drugs, so their sugar is uncontrolled, and they end up getting complications.
Nifedipine: Used to manage hypertension, another common disease with serious complications if left untreated.

Aspirin: Helps prevent heart attacks.
Amoxycillin: Most commonly used to treat respiratory infections, which are common today. 
Multivitamin elixir: Used to treat malnutrition/vitamin deficiency in very small children.
Prednisone: Used to manage autoimmune conditions, allergies and severe asthma. Many asthmatics need to take this every day.
Fluclox 250mg capsules: Used to treat skin infections. This dosage is used for children, and anyone who has lived in Fiji will know how common skin infections in children are.
Paracetamil elixir: For pain and fever in infants and younger children.
Permethrin cream: For scabies, which is again, very common.
Whitfield ointment:
For dhani.

Stemetil injection: For treatment of severe vomiting.

Regime henchmen awarded at QEB medal parade

Sitiveni Qiliho gets the Operational Leadership Award. pics MINFO
Just days after the release of the photos of CRW soldiers beaten and tortured to death for their role in the 2000 mutiny, Fiji's illegal leader has awarded medals to some of the soldiers who've carried out his dirty deeds.

At a medal parade yesterday at Queen Elizabeth barracks, the country's illegal leader (incongrously kitted out in navy whites), awarded the likes of Lieutenant Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho, with the Operational Leadership Award.

Qiliho, the CSO for Operations, has been fingered in the torturing and killing of the IFMS soldiers and the torching of the Deuba house of Justice Ward.

In a speech aimed at reminding soldiers how good they have it under him (Fiji's soldier's are now some of the best paid in the world thanks to the regime pumping millions into the military budget), Bainimarama yesterday reminded military personnel that their obligation is  towards the welfare of their family and the community. 

He saluted RFMF members for what he said was their continuous contribution towards the welfare of the nation saying: "Please let us continue to provide the best service towards our course until the nation goes to polls in 2014.”

It's widely believed Frank Bainimarama intends to cement his power at the elections by becoming prime minister but some insiders maintain his preferred plan is to become president.

They believe his only choice is to become president with absolute power as commander-in-chief and to let someone else run his party for the 2014 elections.

At yesterday's medal parade which is normally held on or before Fiji Day (sources say it was not on the routine RFMF agenda and was brought forward to counter the photos and the BOI revelations), Bainimarama sought the support of security forces in the consultation of the new Constitution supposedly due to start this week reminding them of the need to be 'transparent.'

In what was clearly a pitch for the military to keep backing him, he said: "The new constitution will affirm that there will be no discrimination, no ethnic voting one, and establish the democratic principle of one person, one vote, one value."

PM tells RFMF put family and community first

Monday, March 5, 2012

Fiji's newest ally wins Russian election amid claims of cheating

Vladmir Putin today (below) after the recent rallies (above) against him.
As Fiji's illegal leader talks of winning the 2014 election, tears came today from new ally - Russia's Vladimir Putin who was elected president amid reports of cheating. 

Putin was prime minister but with his protege and then president, Dmitry Medvedev, last year hatched a plan to swap jobs to beat the rules limiting his term in office.

Sergey Lavrov
They very quickly became unpopular, with Russians taking to the streets angry at how Putin and Medvedev assumed they had the elections wrapped up.

In his acceptance speech in central Moscow today, Putin who will now be in power for another six years, told supporters: "We have won an open and honest battle.” 

But Opposition parties say Putin supporters engaged in 'carousel voting', which involved bus loads of people being driven to different voting stations to cast their vote. 

Video footage also showed voters stuffing ballot boxes with multiple sheets of votes instead of the one they were entitled to.

Here in Fiji, Frank Bainimarama has also declared victory for himself, saying he'll win if he stands in the 2014 elections. Quote: "I would win" .....  "No doubt about that."

Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov (pictured above), visited Suva early last month. The visit was hailed as part of Russia's recognition of the Pacific as a priority and talks apparently focused on security and climate change.

No brainer that a dictator would win the elections

Frank Bainimarama is already predicting the outcome for the so-called 2014 elections and declaring himself the winner .... when the country hasn't even gone to the polls yet! With the rule of law gone, media gagged and people intimidated from endless decrees, no wonder he can beat his chest two years out from the supposed polls. We note that he also says 'anyone' will be allowed to seek election in his 'latest interview' with Graham Davis. But judging from his recent hostile reaction to 'jealous' Mahendra Chaudry, we suspect he is a long way off from reconciling himself with the most probable candidates to those he personally prefers and will tolerate.

Serving up justice dictatorship style
The elections
Q: Assuming the election takes place, which you say it will, the big question is what form it will take. Will it be a democracy as Australia and New Zealand understand it? In other words a level playing field where everybody can stand? Or will it be more like an Indonesian style democracy with a high level of military control?
B: To tell you the truth, Graham, I really don’t know at this stage. But I presume that we will continue where we left off.
Q: Who will be able to stand and who won’t be able to stand?
B: Anyone is able to stand.
Q: Even [Former elected prime minister] Laisenia Qarase?
B: Even Laisenia Qarase . . .
Q: . . . The guy you removed?
B: Yeah, even Laisenia Qarase.
Q: I mean you’ve told me once before, no-one will be allowed to stand on behalf of any one race in Fiji. Is that how you envisage it?
B: Yes. It’ll be equal suffrage, one man, one vote. That is definite, that everyone has accepted that. And that is the way we’re going to go.
PM standing?
Q: Are you going to stand for election?
B: Right now I’ve not made up my mind because I want to do the constitution and the election process first.
Q: Are you saying you’re not ruling out standing?
B: I’m not changing.
Q: You’re not saying you’re ruling it out, or are you ruling it in?
B: I’m ruling it in.
Q: You’re ruling it in?
B: Yeah, I might stand. I don’t know.
Q: You’re gonna consider it close to the event . . .
B . . . I will consider it, yeah.
Q: All the indications are that if you did decide to stand you would win. The Lowy poll gave you 66 percent popularity in the country, which would be the envy of Julia Gillard and John Key.
So is it your feeling that if you did stand that you would win?
B: I would win.
Q: No doubt about that?
B: No doubt about that.
Q: Well, why not announce that you’re going to stand?
B: [Laughter] Because I’m …
Q: Why are you delaying that?
B: I guess what I want, I  want to concentrate on what I’m doing now. If I, if I start, if I tell people I’m going to stand, the concentration will be diverted to politics and standing for election instead of just continuing what I need to do now and that is bring about a credible constitution and then of course the election.
Multiracial agenda
Q: You’ve also got this multiracial agenda. Everybody is called a Fijian.
B: Yes.
Q: How important do you think that’s been for the psychology of the rest of the population in Fiji?
B: It is very important because years past there’s been a division in the races, division in the religion, and we want to bring that together. Not that we want Christians to be Muslims or Muslims to be Hindus, but we want people to accept each other’s religion.
Trade unions
Q: There are very negative things said about you as well. You’ve cracked down on elements of the trade union movement. Why was that necessary?
B: We have no qualms over the trade unions. We have a lot of trade unions here going about doing their own thing in their own way and there’s no interference. What we’re worried about is a group of people who think they have, that they can influence what we do, especially in terms of economy.
Q: They’ve done some damage to you, haven’t they? They’ve got the Australian Council of Trade Unions, for instance, to to suggest to Australian holidaymakers that they not come here.
B: It didn’t make any difference, did it?
Q: You mean people kept coming?
B: Yes, and in bigger numbers than before.
Q: I mean how much of a threat are they under those circumstances to the country? Because some people might suggest that this is economic sabotage.
B: Well it is, and that’s exactly what we tried to do, to remove their hold over our economy. And guess who’s helping them? The Australians and the Kiwis. It says a lot about these two countries.
Religious persecution
Q: The other problem area for you in terms of international perception is this notion of religious persecution. Why have you targeted the Methodist Church in the way that you have?
B: I have not targeted the Methodist Church. I’m a member of the Methodist Church.
Q: You stopped them from having their annual conferences and you’ve stopped them from having certain meetings and all of that.
B: We we are on the path of equal suffrage. No race, no creed difference. We want to bring about Fiji for everyone. There are some groups of people who want to take us- continue to take us back.
Q: And that includes some Methodist Church clergymen?
B: And that include some hierarchy.
Q: So there were certain Methodist Church clergymen who were exploiting racial differences?
B: Yes.
Q: And you’re not going to tolerate that?
B: That’s not going to be tolerated, not in in the direction that we’re taking now. Nor are we tolerating unionists who go about trying to sabotage our economy.
Q: You’re gonna be tough with these people and and that’s just the way it’s gonna be?
B: Yes.
Freedom of expression
Q: There’s still a lot of concern about freedom of expression in Fiji. You lifted censorship but then imposed controls on the media. You’ve brought in a decree that gives you protection from the defamation laws, but nobody else. Can you understand your critics being concerned about this, that it’s free speech for you but not for them?
B: The laws that we put in place is no different from what you have in Australia, from what they have in New Zealand, from what they have in America – no difference. The people who are making a big deal out of this are the same people that we removed because of corruption, because of lack of action, because of inefficiency.
Defamation decree
Q: In the case of the the defamation decree though, in Australia you can, you can say whatever you like in the parliament, but in Fiji you’re going to be able to say whatever you like outside the parliament too. Do you think that’s fair?
B: Well for what we, for the next couple of years that that needs to be put in place so we don’t get targeted by some people who are part of the people that are going against the government right now. Now …
Q: So this this is unashamedly to protect you against the forces you removed?
B: Yes.
Ratu Tevita Mara
Q: Okay, and this is the first interview you’ve done for about 18 months, and if you’ll excuse me there’s a lot of water under the bridge, so a couple of other points for the record. What caused the falling out between you and your fellow officer, Ratu Tevita Mara, the son of the former Prime Minister, who’s been campaigning against you ever since he fled?
B: We have a vision and a path and we should go down this path to get to where we want to go, which is building a better Fiji. He didn’t actually come on board that path. His was, his was his own agenda.
Q: He wasn’t part of the programme?
B: No.
Q: What was his agenda.
B: Himself.
Q: Okay, so this was a a personality thing, or did he try to organise a coups against you? Or what was it?
B: Well he couldn’t. There is no way anybody can organise a coups against me, because for the simple reason the soldiers of RFMF are tired of people trying to organise coups.
Q: Are you suggesting that Tevita Mara wanted to replace you?
B: No, he’s not good enough to replace me.
Q: Was he organising something?
B: He tried to.
Q: He did try to?
B: He tried to.
Q: What did he try to do?
B: Oh well he tried to organise people, some soldiers and some in the civilian community.
Q: To remove you?
B: Yeah.
Q: How did you find out about it?
B: Through intelligence.
Q: Can you explain further?
B: No.
Q: What sort of intelligence?
B: No, because this case is with the police, so I really don’t have much ?
Vision for Fiji
Q: Okay, and finally, you told me a couple of years ago that your vision for Fiji was a country free of race. Do you remember that? A prosperous, multiracial Fiji, not coup coup-land, as some people call it, but the way the world should be again.
B: Yeah.
Q: How close are you now to achieving that aim?
B: Very close. Very close. As I, as I said, the election is very important to us, election in 2014. But what is more important is the constitution that we’re going to put together. We will leave that as our legacy for our children and our grandchildren. We have said that we are not going to entertain any any interference in in the making of our constitution, and especially, most especially, in the election process. That’s the bit that we’re worried about. We are not going to entertain any interference from any countries.
Q: So it’ll be a clean election?
B: Clean election.
Q: There will be no hanky-panky?
B: None.
Q: None?
B: None.
Q: And it will be the will of the people?
B: It will be the will of the people.
Queen of Fiji
Q: You also said to me a couple of years ago you wanted to have the Queen back as Queen of Fiji when democracy was restored . . .
B: . . . Well that was two years ago.
Q: Yeah. Do do you still want that?
B: Well there’s no doubt after the 2014 election the commonwealth nations will accept us back as a member of the commonwealth. And then we’ll have the Queen back.
Q: So the Queen will be Queen of Fiji again after the next election?
B: After the next election. But we have the President.
Q: But you still regard her as Queen, don’t you?
B: Everyone does.
Q: Everyone does?
Q: So she’s Queen of Fiji in your heart?
B: She is still, yeah.
Q: Prime Minister, thank you very much.
B: Thank you, Graham.

Graham Davis interview

Jealous Chaudhry should stay out