#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2012-11-04

Friday, November 9, 2012

The picture the Fiji regime doesn't want the world to see

Here it is: the first photograph of the Naboro prisoner who had his leg amputated after taking a beating from RFMF and police when he was recaptured.

Epeli Qaraniqio appeared in court on Wednesday afternoon and has been further remanded in custody.

The pro-regime newspaper, the Fiji Sun, ran the above photo of Qaraniqio on its front page yesterday but did not post the picture or the accompanying court story on its website.

No other Fiji media has covered the story or run the picture.

Fiji police and some citizens have insisted the brutal beatings meted out to Qaraniqio and the other four escapees were justified because they're criminals.

Police have also tried to cover up the abuse of Qaraniqio by claiming his leg was amputated because he has diabetes.

They have said an investigation is underway into the prisoner's escape and their recapture, which we await with interest.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Question mark over Constitution after Ghai admission regime has interfered

THORN IN BAINIMARAMA'S SIDE: Fiji's last democratically elected prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, outside the Fiji High Court recently.

The Constitution process is in trouble but no sign from the illegal leader Frank Bainimarama that he wants to salvage it.

He has instead today told Fiji Village it's up to the Constitution chair Yash Ghai to decide for himself whether he wants to be part of the process.

Bainimarama has denied harassing the Kenyan constitutional expert saying Ghai needs to stop thinking it's his job to amend or repeal existing laws.

He says Ghai's job is to produce a Constitution and get it to the President: any public discussion on the draft will be done by the Constituent Assembly. 

Yash Ghai yesterday admitted in an interview with Radio Australia there has been 'massive interference' by the regime.

He also revealed he thought Bainimarama objected to the Commission appointing Jon Madraiwiwi as a consultant because Madraiwiwi supported former prime minister Laisenia Qarase at his mitigation hearing several months ago.

Ghai also said he was concerned at the regime's perverse decision to remove the provision that allows public consultation on the draft Constitution.

The constitution expert has taken cover but has left the big question of where the process goes to from here since his admission his team's four-month long work has been contaminated.

The United Peoples Party and the Fiji Trades Union Congress have meanwhile waded into the stoush.

FTUC national secretary Felix Anthony says the attacks on Ghai constitute blatant interference.

"FTUC calls on the Government to demonstrate its sincerity and commitment by not interfering in the work of the Commission to ensure a report that fairly reflects the will of the people of Fiji. The report must reflect the true aspirations and will of the people as Decrees 57 and 58 mandate the Commission.

"Of greater concern is the fact that Decree 58 empowers the Prime Minister to appoint a "Constituent Assembly". Having experienced and witnessed the behaviour of the Government in the review process and the Commission being treated with contempt, it is now becoming clear that the Assembly will simply be a rubber stamp, no more, no less.

"Yet we have witnessed how much faith has been placed by the International Community in this process and more so because the process was headed by Professor Ghai who is well regarded internationally.

"We call on the Government to repeal Decree 64 immediately and allow the Commission to perform its work unhindered. Any further instability created by the regime would invite more sanctions and cause grave hardship to the people of Fiji who are already suffering."

UPP leader Mick Beddoes says the decision to tinker with the decree shows the regime is incapable of governing in a free society without resorting to draconian measures.

And he says Bainimarama's outburst over Madraiwiwi was  orchestrated to allow the regime to remove the provision from the decree that allowed Fiji citizens to debate the draft.

Beddoes says Madraiwiwi's appointment as a consultant has nothing to do with the decree and it's clear the regime has realised from submissions against the question of immunity that it is not as popular as it thinks.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ghai admits 'massive interference' by Fiji regime in Constitution process

The amended Decree 64 introduced last week by the illegal regime to allow it to remove the provision for public consultation after the draft constitution is completed. The Constitution Commission is now also required to publish in a Fiji newspaper the names and salaries of all those working for it, on a monthly basis. 

Coupfourpointfive understands currently on board are staffers Mary Chapman, Mithleshni Gurdayal (public awareness), executive officer Keshwa Reddy and several parliamentary staff who act as secretaries and Hansard recorders.

Commission chair Yash Ghai has meanwhile continued to defend his decision to hire Joni Madraiwiwi as a short term consultant telling Radio Australia the illegal leader Frank Bainimarama has misrepresented the situation.

Ghai says Madraiwiwi did not actually present a submission   advocating a Christian state. He says: ".... the submission was made by the community within which he lives that he did not actually present it, and he went on to say that he supports it . So I feel that the Prime Minister must have some other reason for his dislike of Ratu Madraiwiwi who's highly respected throughout the country."

He tells presenter Campbell Cooney Madraiwiwi's support of the jailed former prime minister of Fiji, Laisenia Qarase, might have something to do with Bainimarama's opposition.

"I think there was this trial of Mr Qarase who was the former prime minister and whose regime was overthrown by the Prime Minister, and there was a trial against him on some charges of fraud. 

"And at the end of the case the court invited statements on the character of the person, which is often used to determine the actual sentence. And Ratu Joni came and spoke in favour of Mr Qarase, and that I think has probably upset the Prime Minister."

Of the amended decree, Ghai says this: "The most important perhaps from my point of view is that it eliminates the period in the process where draft would be placed before the public and they would have a few weeks to discuss it and debate it before the Constituent Assembly meets. And the views that people express would also be conveyed to the CA. 

"That has been eliminated so that from the time the draft is prepared and the Constituent Assembly meets is now barely a week, and maybe not even a week. So there will be no opportunity for the people or indeed members of the Constituent Assembly to absorb the recommendations and think about them individually, in groups and organisations before the process of debate in the CA starts. 

"This for us is a very serious problem because we have been assuring people there will be a period of time for this kind of debate, and the Constituent Assembly members themselves will have an opportunity to study the document carefully before they begin to debate it. And that is a very serious lacuna in the process". 

He admits the work of the Constitution is not independent.

"Yes I'm afraid that is quite true, there has been massive interference. Now I get emails from PM to do this or not to do that, and this is a kind of harassment. We've also been now told to publish any newspapers ads for which we pay, every single expense we have incurred since the beginning of July.

"Now while we greatly welcome transparency and indeed there's a provision in the decree for which I'm responsible, which commits the commission to account to the people a report of our processes and funding, as well as a very professional audit of our financials before we are formally wound up in December. And it's also a little bit puzzling that a government which is so wedded to secrecy should suddenly be converted to transparency."

COONEY: Does this concern you and the whole process towards elections in 2014?

GHAI: Well it does because another position they have removed is our examination of existing laws for possible incompatibility with the draft constitution. And there are hundreds of decrees past since the coup which have stripped the rights of access to courts, media is under pressure subject to heavy penalties, trade unoin rights have basically been removed, civil servants have no protection. And it seemed to us that a lot of these decrees needed to be amended and in some cases repealed. 
"Now that power has been taken away from us, and I do not see how Fiji is going to have a free and fair election unless these decrees are cleaned up. So that power has been taken away and it's extremely worrying. 
"This change was brought out last week in the last month of our process, we have spent a lot of time, effort and money into examining all the decrees and the proposals for change, and at this last stage we are told that is not our responsibility." 

COONEY: Are you considering this has slightly been an untenable position for yourself Professor Ghai?
GHAI: Well it is a very difficult position for me indeed. 

Ghai defends impartiality of Constitution process

Fiji's sleeping bandas and rugby goons

Trade unionists Urai and Amanaki
Surely a case of people in the wrong slots: Fiji Trade Union Congress president Daniel Urai asleep in the arms of Tongan trade unionist Mele Amanaki and QEB Goon, Aseri Rokoura, (below front right), leading the Fiji Rugby Team.

The Amanaki picture, sent to us with the caption Classified: The Royal Flash and Sleeping Banda, was taken at the FTUC biennial gathering earlier this year.

Rokoura's picture was just last week. The army goon, identified to bloggers via C4.5 revelations last year, was appointed to the Fiji rugby team on the directive of the Fiji Rugby Union chairman, Mosese Tikoitoga.

He is number two in Frank Bainimarama's inner gang after Ben Naliva and is Tikoitoga's eyes and ears on the ground since he's not travelling with the team to England, Ireland and Georgia. He has no experience in rugby, let alone Fiji rugby and the appointment has outraged rugby purists. 

Rokoura was one of the army operatives behind the assault on FTUC national secretary, Felix Anthony, early last year and was fingered by Peter Usaia Waqatairewa from the Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement as having threatened him in 2009, via Bainimarama's email.

He was also Joni Madraiwiwi’s ADC, when he was still vice-president from 2004 to 2006. He went to Duntroon Military College in Canberra, the same military school attended by the butt-prodding Ben Naliva.

Editor's Note: Daniel Urai was listed in the recent petition by three high ranking chiefs and the four main political parties to the illegal president calling for a caretaker government to be appointed. We have been advised that while FTUC was part of the early discussions, Urai's spot is unsigned because the union's stance remains unchanged from an earlier decision not to be involved with any initiative that includes the Fiji Labour Party. The only union to sign the petition was FICTU.

QEB Goon Aseri Rokoura (front right) makes Fiji Rugby squad as manager. pic MINFO.

Monday, November 5, 2012

SDL: Commission must be given 'freedom' to represent the people

Muddied history: Bainimarama and Madraiwiwi
It took a few days but Yash Ghai has defended his decision to appoint Joni Madraiwiwi as a consultant.

Ghai has taken refuge behind the Constitution Commission Decree for the unpopular decision saying it allows the Commission to seek the assistance of experts on specialised issues.

He also says none of the local commissioners have the practical or academic experience of law, including local law, it needs for its work and that Madrawiwi's appointment was not hidden but neither is it in the habit of announcing appointments. 

Relevant quote from Ghai's statment: "The lack of submissions from relevant government bodies has made expert guidance on law more necessary, a task that Ratu Joni fulfilled admirably."
Ghai: Standing by Madraiwiwi
Getting Madraiwiwi on board as a short term consultant has caused the biggest stink yet in the work of the Commission. 

Frank Bainimarama has taken strong exception because Madraiwiwi was part of the Bau delegation that called for Fiji to be declared a Christian state.

Bainimarama has now tinkered with the Constituent Assembly decree to muzzle the power of the Constitution and it may not end there.

The regime will probably will make much of the fact, too, that Ghai has also admitted the Commission knew Madraiwiwi was intending to make his own submission and it did not consider this a conflict of interest.

Bainimarama is also unlikely to buy Ghai's argument that Madraiwiwi, a high chief, is a traditional leader and appeared before the Commission in that capacity. 

He was also the country's last democratically recognised vice-president, nominated by Josefa Iloilo and, of course, removed by the 2006 regime.

Ghai statement again: "Fiji is a small society and people function in several capacities and contexts. Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi is not only a legal practitioner with some years' experience, but a Fijian who has served in the public service and the judiciary as well as on the boards of civil society organisations concerned with human rights."

Truth be known no leader of significance in Fiji today is unsoiled or 'neutral' enough to be acceptable to the regime and those of us wanting democracy. Many who would've been suitable for such roles have left the country driven away by the polarised politics and the ongoing coups.

Some sense, though, today in a small statement from the SDL Party calling for the Constitution Commssion to be given what it describes as 'the ideal work environment to achieve their objective.'

"Their task is an important one and it is only fair that they be allowed liberty to carry out their work. The regime must respect the Constitution Commission's work and give them the fitting work freedom to carry out their role which is ultimately to produce to us a Constitution that well represents the wishes of our people."

Editor's Note: See our Facebook page for the full Yash Ghai statement on Madraiwiwi's appointment

Another foreign company 'not paying FNPF'

MD Sharma
One of Fiji's major IT players revealed today: Mayadutta Sharma, owner of the company, The Digital Group, which is getting major government tax breaks but who has hired very few local staff and who is putting his money into off shore accounts so no revenue is going to local economy.

Industry sources say major scams are going unchecked in the IT arena as no one really knows where the money, which usually amounts to millions, is going and how it is being spent. The illegal regime is turning a blind eye, and letting these dodgy companies, most of them Indian owned, make their own rules while they stuff their pockets full of money and send it out of Fiji.

Sharma lives in Suva by himself while his family stays in the U.S. Locals whisper about a mistress and young girls but industry sources say the 80-something year old has made a killing in recent years thanks to connections in the ranks of the unelected government.

One of his 'benefactors' is the manager of the government ITC service, Eliki Salusalu, who has put a lot of work his way and who industry sources say gets priority use of Sharma's Pacific Harbor villa for 'him and his gang.'

"All alcohol, beverages and food is always stacked there and house maids are provided at request. The house maids are coming in different forms to entertain the visitors almost all weekends. In return, Sharma gets projects and they are all done in India."
The head of IT in the Fiji police was also giving highly sought after projects to Sharma and paying him 20 thousand dollars a time - the limit that he can approve without having to go higher, before he was eventually moved to the illegal prime minister's office.

"Sharma was given the job of implementing the police payroll. The contract was originally awarded to another IT company and taken back by Roqo to give to Sharma. This was done as a backhand.

"But it was leaked to ITC and someone stopped all payments, apparently police commissioner Ioane Naivalarua when he was tipped off. But by then Sharma had already raked in over 200k's without doing a single thing."

Sharma's Digital Group has also been doing work for other government departments like FNPF. Ironically, he is another foreign company not paying FNPF. 

Industry sources say he's good at conning the regime - one time advertising to recruit 50 staff as software developers, designers, account managers, consultants but he never hired  anyone.

"He used the ad to get Aliki Salusalu to get involved in the e-gov project and managed to get a contract for over two million dollars. This project is paid by ITC apart from the soft loan of 20 million from China, which was paid to consultancy firms recommended by the Chinese.

"But he never recruited any locals and his only staff was an Indian national, Mukesh Chotrani, who was doing the talking with ITC and sending all the work to India. "

Mayadutta Sharma has also been recruiting trainees (students out of USP) and paying them just $10 a day, promising pay rises but getting rid of them after a very short time.