#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2012-03-25

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Two dead in worsening floods

Aerial view of the flooding in Nadi

Airports Fiji Limited has requested that no passengers be flown into Fiji until Monday because of the worsening floods which has already claimed two lives.

Fiji's Central Division has now been put on flood alert with the Navua and Rewa river continuing to rise.

More than 30 evacuation centres have been set up and thousands evacuated in the Western Division where heavy rain is continuing to fall flooding towns from Sigatoka to Rakiraki.

Air Pacific has cancelled all its inbound flights for today and tommorrow. 

The flights affected are:
J852 - Honolulu - Apia to Nadi
FJ260 - Port Vila to Nadi
FJ 392 - Hong Kong to Nadi
FJ813 - Los Angeles to Nadi
FJ1392 – Apia to Nadi
FJ410 – Auckland to Nadi
FJ210 – Tonga to Nadi
FJ410 – Auckland to Nadi
FJ910 – Sydney to Nadi
FJ922 – Brisbane to Nadi
FJ914 – Sydney to Nadi

Air Pacific says the following outbound flights will operate:

FJ923 – Nadi (depart 2040) to Brisbane (arrive 2255)

FJ211 – Nadi (depart 1835)  to Tonga (arrive 2005)

FJ810 – Nadi (depart 2359)  to Los Angeles (arrive 1520)

Bainimarama visit cut short

Regime supporter challenges illegal govt's claim it's at forefront of improving workers' lot

 In an article titled, 2011 Was Not a Good Year for the Workers of Fiji on a pro-regime website, Father Barry says the regime introduced the controversial Essential National Industries without consulting the Employment Relations Board and mentions a strong lobby of employers who have the ear of Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum who he says are operating outside due process. He describes it as crony capitalism. He also says the 2012 Budget did not put money in worker's pockets as claimed by the regime.

By Kevin J. Barr
In an address in early August 2011 defending the Essential National Industries (Employment) Decree, the Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said: “The Bainimarama Government, as you can see from our track record, has been on the forefront of improving wages for those workers who have been on the margin of poverty.” (Fiji Times 8th August)

Mythical improvements
 However, this statement is far from the truth and needs to be addressed.
I wish to take a brief review of 2011 from the viewpoint of the workers of Fiji. It may have been a great year for employers and investors but not for the ordinary workers of the country.

 1. The Wage Regulation Orders set to come into effect on the 1st January 2009 were delayed until the 1st July that year due to objections of a small group of influential employers. Then the new Wage Regulation Orders which were due to come into effect on the 1st July 2010 were not only delayed until 1st May 2011 but were reduced by 5% without any consultation with the Wages Councils.

2. These Wage Regulation Orders had also previously been held up on the desk of the Permanent Secretary for four months and not handed to the Minister responsible without any explanation ever being given to the Wages Councils for the undue delay.

3. Even then there was a further delay because the Wage Regulation Orders were not gazetted in time to take effect on 1st May 2011 and had to be backdated. Yet, in fact, not all employers did backdate worker’s wages.

Peter Mazey
4. None of the 40 Wages Council meetings due to be held in 2011 were held due to the stubborn determination of the Permanent Secretary to have a formula based only on inflation and productivity. In fact the ILO Convention 135 for fixing wages (which Fiji has adopted) is based on much wider criteria, which includes (as fundamental) the current cost of living and the basic needs of workers and their families.

Friday, March 30, 2012

DISMAC: not enough boats to rescue people

Nadi town. Photo Mai TV
The western division is in lock down tonight in what is being described as Fiji's worst floods since 2009 with no boats to help in the rescue.

Sigatoka, Nadi, Lautoka, Ba and Rakiraki towns are under water with parts of Tavua flooded.

 Ba under water
Fiji's Disaster Management Office the Ministry of Misinformation (DISMAC) is  appealing for locals who own boats to help them rescue those stranded.

A DISMAC source says today's heavy rains and floods were totally unexpected. He says these floods are worse than the ones in January and could be as bad as the 2009 floods which devastated thousands of homes and killed 11 people.

The floods began in the early hours of this morning: by tonight DISMAC was still trying to reach everyone, hampered by the lack of boats.

Eight people were rescued off roofs in Nadi as waters rose seven metres high and sources say the phones have been ringing all day with people needing help and the only assurance they can give is 'wait till the boat comes'.

At nine o'clock tonight, 50 people including 10 children, were still stranded on Nadi bridge.

PINA media summit exposes realities of Fiji censorship

Nevermind the censorship we still honour 
your presence at this PINA summit Mr Dictator

Akauola with Bainimarama at PINA.
An example of why the real world gives very little time and credibility to both the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) and Fiji's censored media.

While illegal leader Frank Bainimarama's speech about journalists 'not having to be pro-government but pro-Fiji' was a big push at this week's media summit, the headline splash has been the all too obvious decision of PINA and the regime to stop journalists from grilling him.

Bruce Hill
Radio Australia journalist Bruce Hill revealed in a report that PINA did not want questions to be asked saying Fiji's Ministry of Information had  told him that PINA has imposed censorship on its own media gathering at the Pacific Media Summit.

Fiji Village is today quoting PINA's media manager, Matai Akauola, as saying it would not have been right in the Pacific or Fijian culture to door-stop the Prime Minister after the official opening.

Akauola says no request had been made for time for journalists attending the media summit (the theme is Building a Healthy and Responsible Media Culture), to ask questions and it was improper to do that. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chaudhry: too early to talk specifics about a Coalition Party

OLD ALLIANCE: Chaundry and Bainimarama in chummier days.

The debate over the consultation process for the regime's new Constitution and its planned elections, has prompted a jostling for positions.
We have subsequently sought answers from the Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, regarding his new fervour in taking on the military government and the sudden attraction of the SDL Party.
We also republish here two articles that appeared in the Fiji Times which we feel readers and bloggers should note as discussions swirl, especially about the possibility of a Coalition Party being formed to challenge the regime at the ballot box.
While we want the removal of the unelected government, we don't want political immorality, lack of credibility and self-interest being put ahead of national interest.

C4.5: Why did you support the 2006 coup?
Chaudhry presenting 2008 budget.
Chaudhry: The FLP did not support the 2006 coup. In fact, a Labour Party statement on 6 December 2006 denounced the Army takeover, and called on the RFMF to hand over "executive authority to HE the President, as soon as possible, to facilitate a prompt return to democratic rule". 
C4.5: When sworn in as interim finance minister, did you not say that the legality of the administration that you elected to serve had yet to be determined by the court - yet you condoned the military coup as many of your statements show. Why?
Chaudhry: Please state when and where this was said and forward copies of the statement.  

Editor's Note: In the front page story A Strange Twist of Fate (Fiji Times Jan 10, 2007), Chaudhry describes his appointment as a 'strange twist of destiny' and says while the constitutionality of the regime has yet to be determined, he was joining to 'rebuild the nation'. Note: It was also FLP's own decision to join the regime after executive authority was returned to Iloilo. http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=54937

C4.5: Why a craving now for the 1997 Constitution when you have been on record as rubbishing it since its enactment 13 years ago?
Chaudhry: The Fiji Labour Party has never rubbished the 1997 Constitution. In fact, it had a significant input in the constitution through the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee process. What the FLP opposed was the complete reversal of the electoral arrangements as recommended by the Reeves Commission by the Rabuka/Reddy (SVT/NFP) leadership.  The Reeves Commission had recommended that Fiji move away from race-based politics by adopting more Open seats as opposed to communal seats on a 45:25 ratio. This was reversed to 25 Open and 46 communal seats under an agreement between the two leaders. We also wanted a reduction of the voting age to 18 as recommended by Reeves but rejected by SVT and NFP.

C4.5: If you did not like the electoral provisions, why didn't you change it when you were in power? You had at the time an 81 per cent majority in the House of Representatives when one needed just a two third majority. You also had control of the senate.
Chaudhry: You forget that the Labour-led government was only in office for 12 months in which short time we achieved a lot. The Constitution had just come into effect - it had to be given time to be tested. Based on that experience, whatever action was required would have taken place in due course.

C4.5: Regarding today's story about a coalition with SDL, if it went ahead would the marriage of convenience be enough to get the regime out of government?
C4.5: Given your past history with SDL, would you and the FLP be prepared play second fiddle to SDL?

C4.5: How much of a compromise would FLP be prepared to make? Bloggers are already tipping 35 candidates for SDL 32 for Labour. Would that sit well with you?

Chaudhry: Q 5,6&7: These questions are premature at this stage.

The articles below (Click on Read More) from the Fiji Times: Coup Good for Economy in July 2008, published after a press conference given by Chaudhry as interim finance minister three weeks before he was forced to resign in August 2008. In the second article, Economy Stable, Chaudhry (on the day he left office as Bainimarama's interim finance minister), maintained the regime had been a Saviour for the Fiji economy. Note his view of the coup, the economy, and Laisenia Qarase and SDL.

Fiji regime uses decree to muscle out Qantas

The regime has introduced a new decree to reduce the influence Qantas has on Air Pacific, stipulating that a Fijian-registered carrier must remain under the "substantial ownership and control" of a citizen.

The illegally elected government is the biggest shareholder in the national carrier with a 51% stake, so the change doesn't require Qantas to sell any of its 46.3% holding. 

But according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the Australian carrier will lose some influence over management of the airline.

Qantas has been trying to sell its holding in Air Pacific to the regime but the parties have failed to reach an agreement, especially on price. 

The illegal attorney general and Minister for Civil Aviation, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, claims Qantas has used "super-majority and veto rights over significant areas of the company" to control Air Pacific.

He says these include the appointment of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman, the annual operating budget, expenditure plans, the selection of air routes, scheduling and management appointments.

He is quoted as saying: "While Qantas currently has veto power over most areas of Air Pacific's operations and business decisions, Qantas also competes directly against Air Pacific through its wholly-owned low-cost carrier subsidiary, Jetstar, which flies overseas visitors to Fiji from Sydney."

Khaiyum says the new ownership laws bring Fiji into step with other countries and with international conventions related to airline ownership. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Testing Yash Ghai’s alternative to futile cynicism

Yash Ghai

By Professor Wadan Narsey

Professor Yash Ghai is appealing to the Fiji public not to be cynical, to constructively engage in the Regime’s constitution review, and “to test Bainimarama’s genuineness”.

These are good suggestions for cynics to take on board, especially when you understand what the two graphs at the bottom of this article mean (more at the end).

Of course, Fiji people are aware, as Yash Ghai would be, that Bainimarama has not kept many important promises:

  • "no military officer will benefit from the coup" (all have, including himself, considerably)
  • "I will hold elections in 2009" (he did not)
  • the 1997 Constitution will be obeyed and strengthened (in the Charter allegedly approved by more than 400 thousand people): but immediately trashed after the 2009 Court of Appeal judgment
  • all Fiji governments will be guided by the pillars of the Charter and the 1997 Constitution: but his own Regime’s many military decrees have denied rights to property, freedom of speech, freedom of association and assembly, right to recourse to court for perceived grievances, etc. all even guaranteed in the Charter;
  • "my government will be transparent and accountable": yet refuses to release all Auditor General’s Reports since 2006, as well as all the reports into the FNPF disasters.

The list of Bainimarama’s broken promises is long indeed.

Chaudhry tries to take the lead

Saturday gathering of the FLP

Typical: the Fiji Labour party leader Mahendra Chaudhry has seen an opportunity and seized the moment. 

Chaudhry is today being quoted by the state-owned FBC in an exclusive interview that says FLP and SDL will unite to form a coalition party.
Chaudhry says that despite deep differences in the past, there is nothing strange in uniting with rival political parties when it comes to salvaging the country from a government which suppresses the people through despotism.
Quote: "The country is in danger, we have to save the country. Whatever is happening here is before all of us. We have a government which dictates to the people, people don’t have freedom of speech for the past three years, political parties and people could not meet. People were made slaves so in this sort of situation we have to get together and oppose this. Political parties always have their differences. This is not new but we need to get together to get the country out of danger because we think more about the future of this country so we can’t sing different tunes, we have to get together and sing the same tune."

We are investigating the story (which doesn't carry any reply from SDL but one from Frank Bainimarama) but offer at this time the more factual events from the FLP meeting on Saturday from their website.

More hiccups at Air Pacific and Pacific Sun

Shaenaz Voss
Inside leaks continue about the problems at Air Pacific as the national carrier's domestic line, Pacific Sun, tries to fend off reports of trouble.

Ongoing complaints from travellers about disrupted Pacific Sun flights from Suva to Nadi flights, and  Savusavu, Labasa and Taveuni have finally got an answer from management.

Fiji Village has today buttonholed the airline's general manager Shaenaz Voss who blamed  the disruptions on 'bad weather.'

Voss reckons the Twin Otters for the country's only domestic airline have now been 'equipped with weather radars and GPS’s which will now allow domestic flights to be on schedule despite bad weather.'

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bainimarama’s coup and claim of desire for ethnic equality: Separating facts from fiction

Professor Wadan Narsey

Adjunct Professor
The Cairns Institute

James Cook University

former Professor of Economics at

The University of the South Pacific (USP)

[Seminar at James Cook University. 23rd March 2012]


Fiji dictator on the international circuit
It is not disputed by historians that Fiji's 1987 and 2000 coups were about re-establishing indigenous Fijian control of government. In contrast, Bainimarama's 2006 coup has been popularly, but quite incorrectly, seen as removing an "indigenous-Fijian" Government of Qarase.

The Bainimarama Regime is now in the process of implementing constitutional and electoral change with the alleged objective of ensuring that the indigenous majority do not dominate the Indo-Fijian minority. Two allegedly “non-negotiable” objectives are to establish a proportional electoral system of "one person one vote", and a “new” Constitution to be guided by this Military Regime's previously formulated "People's Charter for Change, Peace and Progress".

This presentation will separate the facts from fiction in the above narrative, and explain why Bainimarama's proposed system is not at all about “protecting the Indo-Fijian minority”. Instead, given population projections, and if ethnic politics persists, then Bainimarama is likely to entrench majority indigenous control of government, quite contrary to the Regime’s alleged objectives.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Client list shows Nazhat Shameem influencing key regime entities

Judiciary: Daniel Goundar and Anthony Gates. photos Law Fiji

Ana Tukeitei and Madam Nazhat Shameem

A look at the website for the law firm of former judge Nazhat Shameem shows she is legal advisor to institutions and government entities making the most crucial decisions for Fiji.

Shameem is one of illegal attorney general Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum's inner power circle and has been revealed by Coupfourpointfive as part of the coterie that has prepared a 'guiding constitution' ahead of the consultation process, which is not due to get underway until May.

Shameem, sister Shaista Shameem and Chief Justice Anthony Gates held a secret meeting on New Years Day at the Macau Hotel in Nadi to discuss the make-up and sanctioning of the Constitution, the start of the consultation process in May, the start of the Civic Education programmes  and the composition of the Constituent Assembly.

The website for Nazhat Shameem's firm, Law Fiji, shows she and law partner Ana Tuiketei, offering legal direction to government entities and companies as follows:

FDB, Fiji Police, DPP, FICAC, BSP, McDonalds,  FCEF, FHA, MOH, AusAid, UNAID, Tanoa, Namotu, FRCA, AFL,  Fiji Corrections, RBF, FIU, FNU, Ministry of Labour, FSC,  Ministry of Women, Social Welfare & Housing, FijiTV, Ministry of Information, Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, Amalgamated Telecom Holding Limited, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Fintel, PSC, SCC, Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji, Citizens' Constitutional Forum Limited, HAFiji, Fiji National Provident Fund, Hibiscus Fiji, KPMG, Women's Action for Change and Williams & Gosling Lt.