Thursday, December 28, 2006

Lines and Limits.

The parameters of the National Audit in Fiji has received much attention and curiosity. Very little curiosity was satisfied, leaving more outstanding questions than answers with readers of this Fiji Times article.

It is understood that more answers to posing questions of corruption can be answered when the notorious fraudster, is willing to shed more light as described by this Fiji Times article into his acquaitances with certain SDL Ministers, as well as some insight into the 2006 Election rigging allegations.

Fiji Affairs Board former C.E.O is reported to have been taken for questioning by the Army, in this Fiji Times article. Perhaps an occasion for a friendly reminder, of her employment status within the machinery of Fiji Government.
Although, the Great Council of Chief's (GCC)Chairman had safely navigated themselves into a corner by his attempt to rescind the Military issued order of employment termination for the FAB CEO, using his authority as Chairperson; the GCC Chairman ignored a niggling fact that, the incumbent of FAB CEO is an employee of the state and not the GCC secretariat . This confusion of powers may underscore the polluted ideals along with contaminated interests, between those of the state and that of GCC.

This question of demarcation between the state and the GCC, represents a legal question that will be raised time and again, along with the relevance of aristocratic influence. Both questions could be solved using alternative models of Government. Those very ideas of alternatives, to the West Minister system of Governance was floated by Fiji Chamber of Commerce President as covered by this Fiji Times article. It is unclear whether the interim Government has even considered such maneuvers, however those alternative models may well be an option that, won't be taken off the table by the Fiji Military Council anytime soon.

Club Em Designs

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Bottom Line.

(Above: Image of Fiji Parliament, Veiuto)

Fiji Times reports that, the interim President and Army Commander forbids the Great Council of Chiefs from meeting, a decision that would further dent their aristocratic aspirations to the reins of power. The date for the interim Government's grand debut was also announced by Frank Bainimarama as described in this article by Radio NZ, as well as confirming the new development on GCC's future.

Although the Fiji Human Rights Commission has been in the cross-hairs of most armchair experts of "rights" as reported in this Fiji Village article, Fiji Times and magnified by Newswire; the Human Rights Commissioner Dr. Shaista Shameem responds sternly to their reprisals especially the concerns of Alice Heffernan, an activist with Pacific Centre for Public Integrity(PCPI) as reported by Radio NZ article with a quick rebuttal outlined in this article by Radio Fiji news.

Surprising enough, the amount of allegations committed by the SDL Government including their involvement with the Agricultural scam was conveniently omitted from the attention of PCPI, revealing a degree of infancy in their general experience of tracking corruption.

So much in fact that, PCPI's relative ability to ignore blantant actions relating to conflict of interest involving SDL Ministers or their prior involvement in the 2000 coup is brow raising.

Although, the Australian Government halted Fiji's role in the RAMSI programs as detailed by this article by Radio NZ, Australian Foreign Minister's reaction is described in this Radio NZ article to the recent sacking of Australian imported Police Chief to the Solomon Islands and the news represents a wonderful example of diplomatic karma. Further reminders of the growing climate of distrust and the rapid erosion of influence into the region by the Trans-Tasman nations.

Club Em Designs

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ipso Facto: Re-gifting Democratic Consent.

Geo-political perspectives driven by some certain Anglo-American conglomerates on international law, may be an issue which inextricably deflates their grip on the moral high ground.

Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia is such a case, which the Bush led U.S Government was quite quick to rally support for such an audacious infringment. An infringment similar to their own escapade in Iraq.

The apparent abuse of international conventions, all began to slide down the slippery slope of faulty intelligence prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequently respect for international conventions began free-fall with the aid of U.S interpretations of the word 'imminent'. Such interpretations were the catalyst of the heightened global dislike for the unfulfilled objectives of WMDs. Invalid conclusions of that hunt for WMDs, intiated a suspicious contempt of those who profess to spread freedom and democracy.

Almost a year ago today in his second Inaugural Address, President Bush laid out a vision that now leads America into the world. "It is the policy of the United States," the President said, "to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." To achieve this bold mission, America needs equally bold diplomacy, a diplomacy that not only reports about the world as it is, but seeks to change the world itself. I and others have called this mission "transformational diplomacy." And today I want to explain what it is in principle and how we are advancing it in practice.

This documentary trailer titled “In the Shadow of the Palms” accurately display such a billegerent use of force, under the guise of freedom.

Whilst the western powers denigrate the bloodless coup of Fiji, their appalling silence in decrying such wanton abuses of international law, like Ethiopian Army's invasion of Somalia is apparently deafening. The British assault of a Basra police station is smiled upon because they had reportedly freed tortured prisoners.

While the reports of American and British soldiers torturing prisoners of their own in this report by the Scotsman, has highlighted a serious moral dichotomy.

Although U.S State Department press release reiterated a condemnation of the overthrow of a democratic elected Government of Fiji, a Niu Fm podcast of a New Zealand based Human Rights activist, voicing his approval on the general clean-up in the affairs of Fiji Government was recorded at an Auckland rally on Fiji and provided an ethical counter-point.

In condemning such an overthrow, the U.S State Department canceled military assistance programs with Fiji's Army. Such is the deplorable U.S State Department's over-reaction, which has also revealed an embarassing diplomatic shift, using the Potomac two-step when Fiji is compared with the Palestinian context of similar military assistance.

News reports by the Times of London, confirms the U.S weapons supply to Palestinian group Fatah. This assistance had sent shock waves of dismay throughout the minds of regional observers. Objectors view the military support as a perceived bias for an entity other than the duly elected Palestinian Government; while proponents view this as strengthening the office of the President Mahmoud Abas in this NPR news piece and podcast.

The Palestinian elected Government is filled by members of the Hamas party- recognized by the U.S State Department as a terrorist organization.

It has been said that, one person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. The recent of announcement of Israel resuming settlements in the West Bank, despite tedious brokered accords outlawing such construction, would be a such occassion to raise similar questions on terrorism and freedom fighting.

Despite Israel's provocating attempt to push the envelope of international terms and conditions, this was not a viable enough reason to register change with the US State Department, as reported by Yahoo news .

Indifference to international laws is not an effigy foreign to the U.S State Department. Failure is the poor orphan and success the rich son. Both success and failure have been demonstrated in Iraq by the U.S, sadly not in equal measures. As such, the political demagogues who supported the Iraq invasion have now embarrassingly flip-flopped in their positions and the question of how to get out of a quagmire is the 64 million question that, baffles most political experts.

Not all coups and Governments are judged the same in the eyes of America. Although U.S condemned the Fiji coup, it has not issued such a condemnation of the military takeover of Thailand and Pakistan.

Whilst Iran's objective of obtaining Nuclear Technology has been ridiculed by the International community, US nuclear deal with India upsets the natural law concept of 'equal carriage' and further underscores an application of double standards.

Although, Tranformational Dilomacy is a new direction which the Secretary of State had adopted in her speech in January 18th 2006.

Tranformations in geo-politics that don't according to U.S play book have been discredited, alienated and riddiculed by the powerful media. While the blantant abuses of international law by the U.S is glorifed, highlighted and revelled. Thus revealing a position within the U.S Foreign Policy and the media's potrayal of it, as alarmingly absent of subjectivity, morality and logic.

Club Em Designs

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Clash of the Titans.

Fiji Village reports that, Laisenia Qarase, the deposed Prime Minister had denied any knowledge of the S.D.L strategic paper to defy the military intervention prior to the coup. A series of denials were also raised by Qarase, in a feeble attempt to deflect the onslaught of other military allegations. The Army had acknowledged the existence of an incriminating video, depicting SDL party involved in vote-rigging activites. The video of concern was taken by an Army stake-out exercise during the May elections in Fiji.

The Great Council of Chief's (GCC) new media release, acknowledges the refusal of the interim President and Army Commander to meet with them, as reported by Fiji Live.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation article confirms the incident of Army Commander flatly refusing to meet the GCC. These reports of refusal, would confirm the loss of influence and recognition of GCC in their eyes of the Fiji military.

This is the excerpt of Fiji Live article.

We were turned away: GCC chair
Sunday December 24, 2006

Ratu Ovini Bokini.

The delegation of Great Council of Chiefs seeking audience with the army commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama were turned away from the Queen Elizabeth Barracks yesterday after the army chief refused to meet them.

The delegation, which was led by GCC chairman Ratu Ovini Bokini, had gone to discuss the GCC resolutions with the army commander.

"He (Bainimarama) was not willing to accept us so we just handed a letter informing him of our decision," he said.

He added that the GCC would not make any changes to the current resolutions and that it was up to the commander on whether to accept or reject it.

"Our decision will stay for the time being but will only change if we hold further talks with the army," he said.

Ratu Ovini said the Bainimarama needed to stop being 'stubborn' and start talks with the GCC.


Fiji Village article reports that, GCC Chairman denies any SDL influence in their resolution or in any other manner, after calling the interim President and Army Commander, "Stubborn" in the featured Fiji Live article.

Obviously these face-saving press releases by the GCC Chairman, may be too little and too late in salvaging their eroding integrity with the general public, amid the wake of disturbing videos aired by Fiji T.V featuring active representatives of the GCC visiting George Speight in Fiji Parliament post-2000 coup.

Despite the online reports by Fiji Live or ABC, Radio New Zealand's online article misreports that, Frank Bainimarama had agreed to meet a delegation of GCC at the conclusion of their emergency meeting in Suva. It may well appear that, the online staff of Radio New Zealand, being a Government agency have scored the Christmas weekend off, much to the detriment of their news cycle.

This displays one of the pet peeves of the media industry of Fiji, having the international parachute brigade of journalists, mis-informing their readership with outdated and outlandish information.

Club Em Designs

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Price is Right.

Further reminders of the abuse riddled affairs of Australian Foreign Policy is underscored by news of Australian exporter of Wheat, AWF being slapped with a lawsuit in U.S courts regarding their dealings with the Iraq Oil-For-Food scam, as reported by the Age Newspaper.

Australia's gallivanting excursion of conquest into Iraq, driven by commercial exploits has also brought on the tide of unintended consequences. One revealing their flaws of their idea of spreading democracy, after expending all other WMD rationales found to be seriously flawed. The other unintended consequence of Australia's decision of joining the coalition of the willing, is the apparent loss of influence and attention in detail to the complex affairs of the Pacific.

By the joining the bigger league of geo-political football, Australia sought to galvanize her position in world affairs and trade. Unfortunately larger spheres of influence also required a larger appetite for funding resources. Certainly the hefty price of arms, lives and money would be an exorbiant lifestyle that, many Australian citizens will find downright appalling.

The recent acknowledgement by the U.S President on the Iraq war reported by the Berkshire Eagle, is a reflection of the precarious equilibrium of logic that is rapidly losing its ability to balance itself.

Back to Fiji's unfolding geo-political situation:

Although, Fiji's interim President and Army Commander had indicated signs of relunctancy in meeting a delegation from the Great Council of Chiefs; further remarks published in this Fiji Village article revealed the dwindling patience of Frank Bainimarama, with the aristocracy. The interim President and Army Commander explained the existence of an unholy Trinity between the Church, GCC and SDL Government. Bainimarama further added that, the unholy Trinity was the prime instigator of racial intolerance in Fiji.

Pacific Beat podcast further explores this tenacious jostle by G.C.C to wrestle the reins of power from the interim Government. The interviews also revisits the analysis of the lost video from 2000 Fiji coup.

Club Em Designs

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tryst With Destiny.

Fiji Village reports that, Fiji Army Commander and interim President questioned the leadership of the Great Council of Chiefs( GCC). Whilst the question of the employment of sacked Fijian Affairs Board C.E.O is niggling, it was a subject which the G.C.C Chairman was impelled to defend as reported in this Fiji Village article.
After the GCC meeting concluded New Zealand Radio's online article wasn' t any closer to answers.

Although, Fiji Village(F.V) reports that Frank Bainimarama would meet the G.C.C after Christmas regarding their meeting's consolidated resolution; subsequent reports from F.V publish that, the interim Government would not entertain further negotiations.

The media take on the Fiji's latest political events is analyzed with a Podcast produced by "On the Mat" a production of Pacific Beat, a subsidiary of Australian Broadcasting Corporation. James Panichi interviews Stanley Simpson Editor of Fiji Living and presenter for Fiji T.V's "Close Up Program". Also interviewed was Michael Field correspondent of Fairfax newspapers of New Zealand.

The questions range from journalistic coverage of the coup amidst the High Court Trial for Sitiveni Rabuka and touches on the debate of journalistic experience in covering high profile cases as well as the high turn-over of media employees and the lost footage of Fiji 2000 coup.

Ethical latitude was a question posed by "On the Mat" interviewer, James Panichi on Fiji Television's decision to air the "embarrassing and incriminating" video of behind the scenes on Fiji Parliament in the height of Fiji's 2000 coup and video of a delegation from Great Council of Chiefs visiting George Speight and company.
Further issues raised on the podcast was the 'propaganda' phase of the turn of events as well as the personality profile of the Fiji Military spokesperson, Major Leweni. Overall the podcast was a balanced reportage of Fiji's current political landscape.

Club Em Designs

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

G.C.C and Privilege.

The nation of Fiji patiently awaits a resolution by the Great Council of Chief’s (GCC) meeting currently in session. Although, many realize that, this rapid turnover in Government Executive Employees is really a coup, according to their selective understanding of democracy. This group believed that, the management change in Fiji was counter-productive to Governance.
Whilst others quip that, the employee turnover is in fact, the process of a system re-engineering itself after years of ingrained corruption, cronyism and systemic abuse.

Some political observers have noted that this could ultimately be the most challenging decision, for Fiji’s institution of aristocrats. This crisis of power brokering, could either sink or lift the prestige for this motley crew of individuals, who were born with Silver “bilo” in their mouths.

Insofar, these GCC meetings are cabal filled with as much ceremony, self-indulgence and stiff upper lip that could render the British version, as half-cocked. Many have heard the saying ”For those that much has been given, much is expected” and those concerns in Fiji are conveniently placed on cold storage, whilst a culture of decadence and exuberance sets in and poisons any ounce of goodwill and honesty that, the individual was raised on as a child.

Prestige in Fiji seems to be an unfulfilled standard that, is built into the new GCC complex, from funds loaned from Government coffers. Entitlement was the excuse used by proponents of the Chiefly system, to convert the 20 million dollar loans into a grant. When presitge and entitlement are frequently used to misappropriate then, the only loss to the nation of Fiji are the qualities of humbleness and modesty.

GCC meetings are the equivalent of a “Treadmill” simply because, there have been numerous of meetings conducted and neither of these meetings are moving the nation of Fiji or GCC any closer or further to a viable solution.

Are there any GCC solutions for unemployment, poverty and justice? How about racial politics, religious intolerance and class warfare? The many points raised by these G.C.C meetings are analogous to the horns of a Steer. That is, a point raised here and point rose there, with a lot of bull in between. This infalliable condition may be reflected in a joke taking on the subject of privilege in Fiji:

Privilege in careers was a subject discussed between a Surgeon, an Engineer and a Chief.
“Gentleman,” said the Surgeon, “Eve was made from Adam’s rib and that surely was a surgical operation.”
The Engineer remarked, “Maybe, but prior to that, order was created out of chaos and that must have been an Engineering job.”
The Chief interrupts both professionals and blurts out “Wait a minute, somebody had to create the chaos!”

Club Em Designs

Monday, December 18, 2006

Occam's Razor.

Radio New Zealand reports in an article and in this podcast that, Army Commander and new interim President might decline the invitation to the scheduled Great Council of Chief's meeting. The interview also features Lasenia Qarase and former Prime Minister who described his inability of attending the GCC meeting. Fiji Village also reports the non-attendance of Frank Bainimarama. The Chairman of the GCC is also tightfisted about the decisions to be made, in this Niu FM podcast .

Dr Brij Lal, one of the architects of Fiji's 1997 constitution provides his view of the Army Commander's options in this podcast by Niu FM.
Dr Tupeni Baba and former Senator riles his old colleague Mahendra Chaudary for his silence, as this podcast by Niu FM reports.
Blog: "This New is Now Public" posts an article on the Double Speak and the Battle for Hearts and Minds through the press in Fiji.

Dr Wolfgramm, the infamous political editor of the Fiji Daily Post published his thesis on titled: "The Forth Estate and Fourteen Vanua.

All views should be view through the lens of Occam's Razor, after the study of the basic principles of Constitutions.

Club Em Designs

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Caricatures of Fiji.

Cartoons on Fiji drawn by Rod Emmerson, appear in the New Zealand Herald.

1.) Qarase Vs Army stand off.

2.) The 4th Coup.

3.)On the Army Commander's comment on 50 year rule.

Club Em Designs

Friday, December 15, 2006

Commanding the Heights of Moral Persuasion.

Fiji's Washington D.C based Ambassador has confirmed in a Fiji Village report that, US-Fiji trade will not be affected.

A looming clash of ideals brews in Suva, prior to the upcoming Great Council of Chiefs (GCC)meeting. The GCC Chairman is under severe pressure to provide some form of defiance and to create stumbling blocks to the intentions of the interim Government. This posturing from the Aristocracy will inevitably decide their political future, as well as those belonging to the nation.

Fiji Sun Editorial opinion pursues the lead story in the obfuscated conflict of authority. It is possible that, this logger heads between the Army and Chiefs would result in a major and irreversible paradigm shift in the Fijian political landscape.

Although questioned by the military, Fiji Daily Post Editor and Academic Robert Wolfgramm has been fortunate enough to return to work using the Immigration Department as a shield as reported by a Fiji Times report.

An article written by Jone Dakuvula of CCF (pictured above) presents Wolfgramm's view of the 2000 coup. Another article written by Dr Wolfgramm published by Center for Public Justice, commented on Democracy and Christian politics.

It is certainly odd that, the Methodist Church of Fiji and some Non Governmental Organizations held the same moral stance as well, judging from their lack of protests back in 2000.

This is the excerpt of the article:

Asia-Pacific Network: 24 July 2000


A response to Dr Robert Wolfgramm of Monash University published in Fiji's Daily Post on July 15. This article was published in the Daily Post on July 27.


Dakuvula defends 1997 constitution: Who were the rapists of democracy?.
Photo: Joe Yaya (USP journalism student)

DR ROBERT WOLFGRAMM, of Monash University, published a long article (Daily Post, July 15, 2000) under the title "Why Democracy Has Failed" amongst Fijians. He did not define his subject, "Democracy", and particularly what it means in an ethnically divided country such as Fiji. Democracy as I understand it in a limited sense means elections, civil liberties and the right to organise.

It could have a more radical meaning but that is the fundamental challenge facing all people of the world including indigenous Fijians in the 21st Century. Wolfgramm asserts that indigenous Fijians have never been asked whether they want constitutional democracy and its values. He believes Fijians still prefer their vanua and to be ruled by their Chiefs. This is like saying indigenous Fijians have not been asked whether they should have the Methodist Church, Capitalism, the modern state, public roads, Fiji Bitter, or academics analysing them for that matter.

Dr Wolfgramm should read Dr Esther Williams' and Kaushik Saskena's (of U.S.P) book, "Electoral Behaviour and Opinion in Fiji". This comprehensive study showed that 44% of the voters said the Chiefs had no influence over their votes in the 1999 General Election. Only 9% said the Chiefs did influence their votes. 36% (mostly Indo-Fijians) did not answer the question.

Contrary to what he asserts, a form of liberal Parliamentary system of Government based on regular elections and written Constitutions (albeit four so far) had operated quite successfully in Fiji for close to forty years since before the close of the colonial era. For most of that period, indigenous Fijian leaders held political power in the modern state, only briefly interrupted by about 13 months of two Fiji Labour Party Governments. Dr Wolfgramm should have asked the more specific mundane questions, such as for example: Why were there military-inspired Coups that overthrew these elected Labour-led Governments? And the answers are fairly pedestrian.

In May 1987 and May 2000, characters such as Sitiveni Rabuka, Apisai Tora, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and George Speight and their followers did not like the result of the Election and got supporters in the Fiji Military Forces to help over throw the newly elected Labour Government. And did they consult the Vanua, Fijian Chiefs or for that matter the Fijian people before they organised the Coups? But rallying some of them after the act was done was convenient and easy because many indigenous Fijians in the vanuas believe that the modern state also belongs to the Fijians, or to the "Vanua," and not to "others".

It is unclear whether Dr Wolfgramm is in favour of election as mechanism for changing government and holding our political leaders accountable. I might be wrong, but he seems to favour the old Colonial System of the Council of Chiefs nominating our Fijian Members of Parliament. He needs to tell that to Speight and his "wannabee Ministers" who prefer to dictate to the Chiefs who they should accept.

But if he still believes in General Election then, the more relevant question is, what type of electoral arrangement and Parliamentary system of Government is more likely to produce results that might avoid characters like Tora or Kubuabola, resorting to other methods that overturn the result! Notwithstanding my reservations about the Alternative Vote Electoral System, I thought the device of requiring the leader of the major party after an Election to invite the parties with more than eight seats into Cabinet is a pragmatic solution to the problems of governance here.

It ensures that all political communities are likely to be represented in a Coalition government. It was not fool proof solution especially with the S.V.T not included, it was free to arouse the Fijians. Any system can be wrecked by fanatics, as we have learnt to our cost.

The 1997 Constitution

Contrary to Dr Wolfgramm's belief, the 1997 Constitution was not the work of what he calls "Constitutional Romantics". The Members of the Reeves Commission were very experienced hard-headed "Constitutional realists". Over a period of 18 months, they received thousands of submissions from individuals, community groups, religious groups, organisations and political parties. They also had the benefit of advice from local and overseas scholars and experts on specific subjects of relevance and from all these, the Commissioners produced their Report with 694 recommendations for changes to our system of Constitutional Government.

Wolfgramm judged the Reeves Report thus:

Realists argue that democracy cannot force itself, it cannot be imposed against the consent of the affected. To do so would amount to constitutional rape.

He makes this assertion even though the Commission had undertaken the widest and most intensive public consultation ever since independence. Thereafter, the Report was discussed over a period of about six months by the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution and, most of its recommendations were adopted with some modifications. A Fijian version of the Report was unanimously endorsed by the Bose Levu Vakaturaga.

In both Houses of Parliament, the Constitution was also passed unanimously in June 1997. If that process is what Dr Wolfgramm calls a "constitutional rape" then we must wonder about his credentials as a student of Fiji's political history.

However, the problem of Dr Wolfgramm is not his scholarship but rather his political beliefs. He seems to support the George Speight-led Coup, whose moment of "Constitutional revolution" was inscribed in Clause B(b) of the Muanikau Accord thus:

The 1997 Constitution which they believe are repugnant to the preservation and protection of the rights and interests of indigenous Fijians in Fiji.

Who were the actual rapists of democracy?

It has been argued by some of Speight's supporters that the majority of Provincial Councils had rejected the Reeves Report, and that this was evidence that the majority of indigenous Fijians had repudiated the 1997 Constitution. And that Prime Minister Rabuka's Government had unwisely implemented the Reeves Report against the opposition of a majority of Fijians.

There is really no firm basis for this belief. Dr Williams' study that I have referred to above revealed 39% of the voters in 1999 thought the new Constitution was a good one, 24% said it was not a good one and 37% either did not know or had no opinion.

At the end of July 1996, Commissioner Tomasi Vakatora was asked by the Prime Minister to explain their Report to the Provincial Councils. He started with the Lomaiviti and the Nadroga/Navosa Provincial Councils. Both Councils supported the Reeves Report.

At that stage however, opponents of the Reeves Commission in the S.V.T. intervened at the Prime Minister's Office and directed that Tomasi Vakatora should stop his visits to the Provincial Councils because they argued it was not his responsibility to explain the Report to the rest of the Councils.

This was to be left to the Politicians. It was these Politicians, Jim Ah Koy, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Koresi Matatolu, Berenado Vunibobo and others, who then successfully campaigned in the other Provincial Councils for the rejection of the Reeves Report, in the expectation that this would put a stop to any further progress at the upper levels. These opponents of the Reeves Commission even succeeded at the S.V.T. Caucus in persuading Prime Minister Rabuka that they be free to vote according to their conscience in Parliament. They were permitted to do so. They did not vote against the Constitution Amendment Bill.

Post 1999 General Elections

However, when the S.V.T. was defeated in the 1999 General Election, they then agreed with members of the Nationalist Vanua Takalavo Party (with Rabuka sidelined to the Great Council of Chiefs Chairmanship), to campaign for the removal of the Chaudhry led-Government. They used the earlier rejection of the Provincial Councils as justification for the removal of the 1997 Constitution. Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and his men from Queen Elizabeth Barracks agreed. They compelled the President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara (illegally and against his will) to step down so they could introduce an "Abrogation of the Constitution Decree". Dr Wolfgramm argues later in his article and I quote:

Those who have had democracy imposed against their wishes will soon want to repudiate it. They will, having had bitter experience of it, become understandably suspicious of its purveyors.

This statement again presumes that there was was widespread repudiation of Constitutional democracy by indigenous Fijians two years later, in 1999. In the last election, many Fijians were disappointed especially with the unexpected result for the S.V.T. under the new Electoral System. But again it cannot be claimed that a majority of Fijians had rejected democracy either in May 1999 or in May 2000. In the May 1999 Election, the S.V.T. got only 34.4% of the Fijian votes. The Fijian parties who joined the Government had 61.3% of the total Fijian votes.

It was clear that there had been a massive rejection of the S.V.T in the last Election by the indigenous Fijians who voted for other parties. In the 1992 and 1994 Elections, the S.V.T. had received about 66% of the Fijian votes. The marches in May 2000 leading up to Speight's coup numbered at most 10,000. They were the consequence of a relentless propaganda campaign, for about one year by the S.V.T. and the N.V.T.L.P, based on misinformation and sometimes out right lies about the Governments Policies. The indigenous Fijians were aroused to a level of suspicion and hatred of Mahendra Chaudhry and Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, and even Sitiveni Rabuka, as evident in the distorted and false pamphlets written by the S.V.T. and Speight's supporters. These were distributed widely all over the country before and after the coup.

Fijian Chiefs

Wolfgramm claimed that the coup of Speight demonstrated that Fijians were as dedicated as ever to their Chiefs. What in fact the Coup showed was the ruthlessness of some ambitious Fijians who are not chiefs, but who merely wanted to use the Chiefs to get into positions of political power. At the last B.L.V. meeting, George Speight's agents strongly pushed for the B.L.V's final endorsement of all that Speight's group wanted. They were unsuccessful because of the resistance of some Chiefs, who demanded the release of all the hostages first before they could proceed to decide on the Presidency and Vice President.

It may be bad news to Dr Wolfgramm that the last Council of Chiefs Meeting had not changed it's earlier resolutions on how the current crisis should be resolved. The May 25th resolution had supported the 1997 Constitution as the appropriate framework for resolving the crisis. A leading Chief who had attended the last meeting told me that most of the Members of the B.L.V. had not accepted the Military's purported abrogation of the 1997 Constitution. Their understanding is that they had merely supported the review of the 1997 Constitution and with possible changes to it if George Speight's grievances, upon examination, are found to be legitimate and amenable to a "Constitutional Solution."

Dr Wolfgramm also seems to be sceptical about the relevance of modern principles of good governance to Fijian institutions such as the Provinces, the Vanua, the Chiefly system and the Native Land Trust Board. I believe that the endurance of the Fijian Vanuas and the system of Chiefly leadership can only be strengthened through the development of a culture of respect for the rule of law and adoption of modern principles of leadership and accountability within the indigenous Fijian social world.

We have to reinvent our traditions. I do not agree with Wolfgramm's thesis that we indigenous Fijians have to choose between liberal democracy and chiefly rule. He has utterly failed in his article to make a credible case that the values and institutions of a liberal constitutional democracy are hostile to or destructive of indigenous Fijian Vanua values. Indeed I believe the continuation of Liberal Democracy and its values is vital for the survival of the indigenous Fijian identity and the Vanua. In his ancestral homeland, Tonga, there is a movement gathering strength for a Tongan version of liberal democracy. In time it will succeed in bringing about popular changes that will give a new lease of life to the Tongan Monarchy. I doubt that even George Speight's supporters will agree with Dr Wolfgramm's argument that indigenous Fijians prefer Chiefly rule to liberal democracy, even though they seem to want to take us to a type of country where competing Vanua and Provincial Warlords decide who will be in power.

Wolfgramm's argument that Fijians prefer autocratic Chiefly rule to democracy therefore has no substance. What does Wolfgramm then make of Speight's supporters' success in rejecting the Bose Levu resolutions of May 25th? Or their persuasion of the F.M.F to force the resignation of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara from the Presidency? Their threats against Ratu Josefa Iloilo? Or their attempt at the last meeting of the B.L.V. to denigrate and diminish the status and influence of the members? Where is the traditional principle of respect and reciprocation that Wolfgramm harps so much about in these action.

Constitutional Change

All that Dr Wolfgramm is doing in his pontifications in the Daily Post is pandering to Fijian nationalist prejudices with his simplistic labelling of people as "Constitutional Romantics." It is he who fits this label, not the U.S.P academics that he wants to denigrate. We are now having to learn the hard way that democratic principles such as equality before the law, equal political rights, indigenous group rights and general human rights are important not just to us but also other nations with whom we have relations in an increasingly inter-dependent global economy. Fijian indigenous rights in particular must be protected in accordance with principles that are universally accepted.

The 1997 Constitution had achieved that, and recognised the Paramountcy of Fijian interests in the COMPACT Chapter as a guiding principle for resolving political conflicts. That is far as we can go, short of introducing political apartheid. We cannot have one special rule for indigenous supremacy for us Fijians and demand that the world either accept or "butt off". Should Speight and his gang win total political power, they will in due course find that their utopian dream of a modern and dynamic Fiji, based on a vague notion of indigenous supremacy will be meaningless with a run down economy, widespread unemployment and poverty, and qualified people deserting for other countries.

A Constitution that satisfies the prejudices (or the "souls" as Wolfgramm puts it of the minority extremist nationalists who support George Speight) will then not be worth the paper it is written on. For how can we expect people of George Speight's ilk to respect a new Constitution that they want to dictate to us when they will not abide an imperfect one that had been democratically implemented? If we are to change the 1997 Constitution, let us do it the right way, under the procedures of that Constitution.

The international community is telling us that we risk international isolation and severe decline in our standards of living, if we do not restore fundamental democratic and human rights values in our system of national government and dare I say, in the culture of the Vanuas. Having a totally Fijian Parliament, such as Speight's group are demanding, and depriving our fellow Indo-Fijian citizens of their political rights is not going to do us indigenous Fijians any good. It will reduce us to the status of a Pariah State in the international community. In such a situation, Speight's Fijian supporters will inevitably turn against him and his office seeking colleagues. Meanwhile, Dr Wolfgramm will remain a long distance student of Fijian political changes, enjoying the comforts and security of University in a liberal democratic country, whose democratic values he believes we indigenous Fijians are not good enough to have and to treasure.

Jone Dakuvula is a political commentator and researcher with the Fiji Citizens' Constitutional Forum.
Copyright © 2000

Club Em Designs

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Chances Are.

Apparently the change in management in Fiji Government had created a minor difference in opinions among the blogosphere and the NGO community in Fiji, as reported by Island Business.
It is a unique opportunity for readers to examine the wide array of opinions on the matter and decide for themselves.

Foreign correspondents have a unique perspective on the developments, like this podcast from a Radio New Zealand correspondent who examines the coup effect on Fiji's tourism industry, like perceiving collateral damage.

Fiji Times reports that New Zealand (N.Z)Prime Minister is also under a barrage of questions and documents Helen Clark defending her decision of not sending troops to Fiji, eventhough N.Z Police were deployed to Tonga. Despite all the self-centered bravado of deploying their navy to the South West Pacific region, the Commonwealth of Australia has been forced to withdraw ships and personnel from the region; due to a false alarm in Fiji, as reported by ABC. Unfortunately this reflects a serious inability of the Australia Defense Force, in overextending their influence for a lengthy period.

Although Fiji Times reports the Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer issuing another travel warning. Australian tourist holidaying in Fiji has questioned the integrity and sanity of Downer in this Letter to Fiji Times Editor.

This is the excerpt of the letter:

Human rights

I AM holidaying with my family in Fiji and find Alexander Downer's comments totally inappropriate.

This character is a laughing stock to the Australian people and is part of a corrupt government who take their instructions from Washington.

They fail to even support Australians held overseas by the United States in breach of their human rights.

They cannot meet reasonable greenhouse targets or human rights for refugees.

They instruct their corporations to bribe to secure trade and cannot be trusted.

They stay in power by bribing Australians with last- minute tax cuts immediately before an election and pay lip service in term.

Greg Ball

Another letter appreciates the concern for the grassroots by the interim Government by eliminating the proposed increase in taxes. This is the excerpt:

VAT increase

I THANK the military-appointed interim prime minister Doctor Jona Senilagakali for not allowing the increase in 2.5 per cent increase in VAT to 15 per cent.

An increase in VAT would affect poor people who will be happy now.

For that reason, I fully support the military takeover.

This is a clear indication that the military regime is more concerned about poor people of this beloved country.

It is not for the rich and selfish people who like to use the poor of this nation for the mess-up of their own problems.

Once again, thank you Dr Senilagakali for supporting the poor people.

Shalend Dutt

Club Em Designs

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Audacity of Aristocractic Democracy in Fiji.

Radio New Zealand correspondent Philippa Tolley, provides a podcast update on Fiji political events.
Fiji Sun reports of the highted alert, regarding the amateurish threat of asassination to the Army commander by a group of warriors, is quite entertaining in the wake of the Polonium 210 affair in London.

The military incursions into the Fiji Affairs Board, the removal of their C.E.O and subsequent raids on Native Lands Trust Board is an accurate milestone of a thorough clean up campaign. Fiji Times article reports on the comment of fewer ministries in Government by incoming CEO for Civil Service Commission.

Although, the chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC)continues to defend the role of the aristocracy in this Fiji Times article, it is quite apparent by the Fiji general public that, these layers of nobles have contributed little to the economy in any way, shape or form.

The GCC chairman even acknowledges that, the CEO of Fijian Affairs Board usually prepares the board papers for GCC meetings and further reminds the tax payers of decadence and inept management. Both qualities define a liability to an organization. The same liability that, provoked the 50 year comment by the Army commander.

Regarding the case of Ministry of Fijian Affairs Board Chief Executive, it is incredolous how the G.C.C a Non-Government agency, was able to divert the attention and duties of a Government paid C.E.O?
Instead of devoting the meager resources of the Ministry of Fijian Affairs Board to the rural development and empowerment of the inhabitants, the FAB has billigerently advanced the feudal myth that, actively enslaves indigenous rural dwellers to the inferiority complex.
This is precisely how state resources are misappropiated in Fiji in vote-buying schemes, under the name of provincial tainted democracy. The same misappropriation that hardly appears on the Auditor General's books.

Club Em Designs

Life in Fee-Jee.

Despite the 4th coup in Fiji and the atmosphere of terror hyped up in the media, the passing days for Tribe Wanted project continues, without missing a beat as described in the Chief's blog. This press-on-regardless attitude is indeed an attitude which the greater public need to adopt, sooner rather than later.

Club Em Designs

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

4th Avenue Exit to a Coup.

The outstanding depiction in realities of the Fiji's 4th coup written by a Indo-Fijian residing in the U.S was published in This is an excerpt of the opinion piece.

A Coup d’œil for Fiji’s Fourth Coup d’état

How should the world and virtuous citizens, deeply committed to the welfare and good of their country and all its people react to an extra-constitutional overthrow of a democratically elected government? Not very positively, of course, as many would say. Indeed this has largely been the international reaction to Fiji’s fourth Coup d’état.

Australia, Britain, New Zealand and others have come very strongly against the recent military take over of the Qarase led administration. The world has threatened Bainimarama, Fiji’s military leader and presently the acting president with travel restrictions, aid and trade decline all of which will unfortunately but surely follow with the nation losing its commonwealth membership.

Yet, is it not possible that this response is misguided? That virtuous citizens in so far as they are acting virtuously would react affirmatively in some rather unusual circumstances, such as the one that exists in Fiji to the overthrow of their own government? That reason and virtue actually side along those that now come off so badly? If all these things are possible then dissenting citizens and international community should reconsider their prima facie opinion on Fiji’s most recent coup.

A Coup d’état generally speaking is not a good thing. It involves according to my Oxford dictionary, “a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government”. But not all coups are violent or sudden. In Fiji, there has been no recorded violence on the part of the army nor has it really come as a surprise to anyone living here. Bainimarama had been repeatedly warning Qarase of toppling his administration since July 2005.

No one will deny that lack of violence and surprise has been positive, but few will affirm that these things are enough to make coups desirable. Indeed there is still something fundamentally wrong with an “illegal seizure of power from a government”. A virtuous citizen among other things is a law abiding resident and since a coup involves him doing something illegal (perhaps the worst he could do) against the state in whose jurisdiction he lives, there is still a strong reason for the international community and virtuous citizens alike to generally side against a coup.

However, if there is a reason to be generally against something, then does it follow that we must always be against it, whatever the circumstance? We should ask if coup is like torture, which invites a total moral ban. According to Philippa Foot, a leading moral philosopher, “whatever the circumstances, it is in my opinion morally ‘out’ (Foot: 2001). Foot’s opinion is that the act of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment is never justified. Foot does not discuss coup in her books, but we can speculate whether coups unlike torture can be morally justified and endorsed in some special circumstances.

Imagine a case where a democratically elected government is thoroughly corrupt and racist. Auditor general and Transparency International records reveal high level of corruption and rot that exists widely in the administration. Public monies that are budgeted for direct assistance of the 30% already poor (and another 30% who are at risk of poverty) is channeled to the pockets of the rich business interest that has captured public offices.

Affirmative action programs that should go first to the citizens that are most disadvantaged irrespective of their ethnic background (Rawls) have been in fact defined by race. Qarase’s affirmative action policy outlined in “The 20 year Development Program” explicitly discriminates against the ethnic Indian and other minority communities by reserving 10 programs specifically for the aboriginal Fijian community and only 2 for others. This ethno-nationalistic policy, which effectively reduces the humanity of some to 1/5, this document, is seriously at odds with the poverty results and recommendations published by the UNDP in 1997. Also it is seriously odds with the universal declaration of human rights that recognizes the equal humanity of all.

In addition to these charges of corruption and racism lets add the criticism of unconstitutionality and undemocratic to the leadership of the deposed ethno-nationalist Fijian state. In its first term in office, Qarase refused to offer cabinet seats to the labor party as required by Fiji’s constitution. Fiji’s court ruled as was expected against Qarase and he was legally obliged to follow the constitution. In the second term and more recently we heard during the budget deliberations threats made to the Labor ministers to vote for the budget. Democratic leadership is about listening and respecting differences not threatening or crushing them. But Qarase put the ministerial job on the line if anyone should vote against him and justifying this as the “ground rules” of his administration.

There is then much justification for any fair, well-informed and virtuous citizen to strongly condemn the corrupt and racist policies and sometimes unconstitutional and undemocratic leadership of the Qarase led government. However does this warrant a coup? Do disagreements license an illegal overthrow of a democratically elected government? Is coup ever a morally justified way to express dissent?

These questions cannot be answered in the abstract. Any judgment will have to carefully draw from the actual circumstances. Thus a contextual approach needs to be taken to make an informed decision. All this despite the fact that coup by definition implies a bad action. However it is not difficult to envision consequences and motivations that can make it still an all-things-considered the right thing to do.

Qarase’s administration over the years did not go unnoticed. Indeed it received strong condemnations for its racist and corruption records. In addition Qarase was widely criticized for introducing legislation that would in effect set free criminals associated with the 2000 coup and make sea the economic property of some abroginal Fijian landowning groups. Despite strong public disapprovals, Qarase has not taken these public feedbacks seriously. It has always considered itself above public opinion and surely things would not have been different if his administration would have allowed to continue its full term. In the next five years, Fiji would have greatly risked good governance of its public finance and deepened the already strained ethnic relations. There is then a good consequential reason for supporting the coup.

Another good reason for supporting the coup lies in Bainimarama’s motivation for it. People overthrow their governments for all sorts of reasons and most of them are surely evil. Fiji has seen three coups (in addition to the present) in the last 20 years. In 1987 Rabuka seized the Bavadra, and aboriginal Fijian leader’s government and later the interim administration for self-serving reasons and so did the failed businessman, George Speight. However Bainimarama’s motivation appears not in a self-interested obsession with political power (like Rabuka) or economic gain (like Speight) but rather in an honest patriotic commitment to Fiji’s prosperity.

Bainimarama has in the last few years spoken against racism, corruption and bad governance. He has been a citizen who has led by example. As the leader of Royal Fiji Military Forces, he has transformed the institution, which had under Rabuka and Speight’s influence been captured by ethno-national and self –serving interests. The military today is still almost entirely composed by aboriginal Fijians and yet it has become under Bainimarama’s leadership a civic institution that has publicly asserted its promise of safety and well-being of all citizens despite their ethnic and economic backgrounds. Fiji and indeed the entire world stands to gain a lot if the full humanity of all were similarly recognized and it seems Bainimarama has moved to do just this.

Motivation and ends are important criteria to judge the goodness of actions. And if Bainimarama’s coup has won on these grounds it can still fail to be the virtuous thing. Surely coup is not something that we should encourage our children to do. However nor should we teach that a coup by definition is a moral out. Rather we should pause to carefully consider its ends, motivation but also the means. An illegal overthrow is not a morally admirable way to express dissent or recall those that lead the country to ruins. Indeed it is the means that often invites such wide condemnation of coups.

Yet coups even if they fail to the virtuous action they can still be all things considered the best moral option. A functioning and stable democracy requires well-informed, critical and virtuous democratic citizens. Among other things, citizens should have the critical capacity to separate fact from political opinions and disposed to a sincere consideration of the general good of the country. These things unfortunately are severely lacking in Fiji as it is lacking in many parts of the world.

Democracies have legal means to recall elected officers. In Fiji this can be done through elections or a vote of no confidence. Elections here occur every five years while vote of no confidence can be cast at any time. However for it to seriously work, elected officers should be free but also made responsible for their constituency when they vote. Certainly any “ground rules” that antecedently prevent a dissenting vote jeopardizes the possibility of an effective no confidence vote thus undermining a democratic way of changing the government. Qarase’s “ground rules” then had effectively blocked a democratic means of recalling his administration or at least till the next elections in 2011.

History will record that Fiji in December 2006 was pushed on a critical crossroad. On one side stood Qarase, the constitution defying and undemocratic leader with his corrupt and racist administration. The future could have been hardly different, as Qarase had shown scant regard and respect for social unity, justice and honesty that the public and military insisted on. On the other path stood the motivation and ends for a better and united Fiji but one that could only happen by rejecting Qarase’s government and its prospects for further ruin.

Why should the world then condemn Fiji for choosing the lesser evil? Yes, a coup is not virtuous action, but all things considered it was certainly the best moral option. As citizens of Fiji we cannot support a leader and administration that does not recognize the full humanity of some, is corrupt and self-serving. As concerned citizens we cannot be indifferent to the ruin of our future that was, to be sure, expected of the Qarase led administration.

We humbly ask the world for understanding. We ask that it reconsider its aid, trade and travel policies towards our developing nation. Indeed, we must all work together to solve the world’s problem as we in Fiji will for the first time have come together as one community united to work towards our greater public good.

Club Em Designs

Red, White and Blue

Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer met with U.S Secretary of State, Condaleeza Rice in Washington recently to endorse further weapons deals as reported by ABC article. Although Downer and Rice made public statements on the situation in Fiji. Downer's tit-for-tat press remarks with Army Commander Frank Bainimarama revealed certain immature characteristics of the Australian Foreign Minister, by labelling the Commander as a Bully.

The reports to Congress of U.S arms shipments to Australia may indicate a certain measure of kickbacks for the use of Australian troops in Iraq, taking into account the Australian connection to the Iraq Oil-For-Food program.

This similar act of U.S defense export to Pakistan in the form of HF radio equipment, reflects this ethical dilemma with the interpretation of the Congress declared Arms Transfer code of conduct, when compared with Fiji's case. Both Pakistan and Fiji have had military coups yet, US State department had only suspended dealings with Fiji.

The US-Australia arms trade reflects a serious weaponization of the Pacific region and most certainly overkill for the terrorist threat in the War on Terror.
Are the technologically advanced weapons, a means of deterent to the potential Chinese influence in Fiji, in light of Australian and New Zealand Government's decision to suspend aid to the South Pacific island nation?

Undoubtedly, this is the most exorbitant misuse of resources for a small Pacific Rim country in terms of the percentage of the overall GDP; compared with Australia's expenditure on Pacific aid or domestic social programs. Ironically this arms expenditure reflects a fortress mentality, to procure heavy duty arsenal for an unseen threat.

The top contender of the Billion Dollar Arms export list, is as follows:
Up to three (3) MK 41 Vertical Launch System Baseline VII ship sets (includes 24 modules), modification of up to three (3) MK 7 AEGIS Weapon Systems, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, personnel training and training equipment, support and test equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, launch system software development and maintenance and other related elements of logistics support.
This type of arms transfers fits the bill of pork for outgoing members of the U.S Congress and Senate. The Committee for International Relations for the 109th Congress had commissioned a sub-committee Hearing (PDF) titled "America and Asia in a Changing World". The uneasiness of China's influence has peaked, in the wake of Pacific reverberations.

Defense exports will be definately up for scrutiny in the new Democratic controlled Congress and Senate, both fired up with pressure from their voters revolting from the Military Industrial complex and Iraq foreign policy derived from that idealogy.

With that scrutiny is the white-gloved inspection of these defense exports, especially those that flaunt the Congress directive of only exporting using US made arms for defense purposes.

Since Australia had such a inactive and unsatisfactory result in mediating with the South Pacific region, awarding such a weapons transfer only adds to the climate of suspicion.

Is Australia weary of terrorist cells capable of commanding a flotilla to invade the Great Southern Continent, or is it more a convenient method of sabre rattling using the excuse of diplomacy?

Pacific Beat podcast covers the Fiji developments with some old audio with a new twist.

Club Em Designs

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Other Side of the Coin.

Fiji Chamber of Commerce President proclaims in this Radio New Zealand news article regarding the political transition that, the "Die has been Cast". The atmosphere of optimism, rides the waves of approval in news reported by Fiji Times that, the interim Fiji Government had voided the proposed increase in Value Added Tax from the 12.5% to 15% and the reports of the interim Prime Minister's decision to reduce the salary of his position. Former Ministry of Finance C.E.O, Paula Uluinaceva presents his view in this Fiji Times article.

That fact of VAT removal is validated in an online dispatch by Radio New Zealand's correspondent in Fiji. The decision by the New Zealand Government to impose aid sanctions on Fiji, has hit a nerve with their social groups described by this article by Fiji Times.

Increasing question have been raised on the moral integrity of the Great Council of Chiefs(GCC) and their views on the former and present coups. Whilst wallowing in their present deficit in power play with the interim Government, situation has forced the Fiji Affairs Board C.E.O to conjure up options in an emergency meeting for the G.C.C as reported by this Fiji Times article.

It is envisioned by the former P.M, Laisenia Qarase to return to the main island of Viti Levu as Fiji Village reports and probably attend this same emergency meeting to shore up more support, despite warnings from the military. The former Prime Minister's relocation to his island origin of Vanua Balavu has presented the benefits of security, but also isolated Laisenia Qarase from the reins of power. Isolation would ultimately motivate Qarase's return to the main island of Viti Levu, the cradle of politics and centre stage for individuals jockeying for power.

Pacific Beat podcast comments on the debacle on Fiji Law Society with Fiji Human Rights Commission on the suspension of Army lawyers and other developments.

Although, the Paramount chief of Namosi was a SDL Minister in Qarase's Government and recently called for the soldiers with ties to the province to lay down their arms in this Fiji Times article; the report of the traditional apology ceremony presented by Nabukavesi villagers of Namosi province by Fiji Times, underlines the healthy relationships fostered by Army in their numerous exercises to the area.

The article by's correspondent, Emma O'Brien is exact and comprehensively describes the socio-political landscape in Fiji and the apparent failure of diplomacy by the Trans-Tasman outposts.

Despite all the negativity, a silver lining in the clouds of uncertainty churned by the media of Australia and New Zealand, is beloved rights of a Microsoft's new codename which pays homage to Fiji as described this article by ZDNet.

An excerpt from the Fiji Daily Post Letters to the Editor.

A catch-22 situation

FRANKLY speaking, it is a catch-22 situation for the army Commodore Frank Bainimarama for running the gauntlet.

With all the Government’s corrupt practices such as the $16 million in Agricultural scam to support the SDL campaign successful bid, the mahogany rip-off to support SDL executives, the pine forestry supporting the SDL shadowy figures, the milking of the FNPF to support SDL’s corruption and wastage, massive tax evasions to reward bumbling bureaucrats and dishonest politicians, soaring inflation rates, escalating VAT on basic food items, billions of dollars in State debts, greedy commercial banks (Aust & NZ) fleecing Fiji with huge interest rates and dubious charges, the jaundice judiciary, the cock-eyed police force, the ever –lethargic DPP, the crooked Prison Department, nepotism, obscure business deals, shady public enterprise and business mergers, the corrupt Immigration service, fly-by-night FDB borrowings, Telecommunication rip-offs against the people of Fiji, the bias media pitch, the ever-shady PSC monolithic shrine to name a few – phew! to name a few – all in the name of “democracy”.

The poor were getting poorer, and the rich were getting richer. Evil was triumph over god through the purported democracy and rule of law.

For instance, parliamentarians with aristocratic bloodlines convicted for treason got out of jail free.

Moreover, despite their treasonous predicament the aristocrats received full parliamentary pay courtesy of Ms Mary Chapman, the Secretary-General to the House.
But worse, the jaundice judiciary dished out tailor-made sentences to allow the traitors to resume their term in Parliament.

Al these evil and axis of deceit were endorsed under the pretext of democracy wherein the Attorney-General Qoriniasi Bale colluded with the Chief of Prison Aisea Taoka to release the goCSS on CSO provisions.

If that is not sufficient, the Law Society has banned military lawyers from practicing. However, the irony is, the society did not Cornishriniasi BaleÂ’s practicing certificate for fiddling with his clientÂ’s trust fund.

For the societyÂ’s Cornish Qoriniasi Bale was appointed Minister for Justice. To add salt to wound, these lawyers attended the crooked Attorney-GeneralÂ’s conference demonstrating their support for deceit. How bizarre.

And yet, the anti-Bainimarama walls such as the churches, the democracy-for-Fiji groups, the NGOs including the Human Rights Commission with its selective cases, the international community have been wittingly and unwittingly attacking the very democracy they purpose to protect by attacking the RFMF.

A matter of serious concern is the fact that overnight, the anti-Bainimarama advocates have construed the definition of the rule of law to an extremely frightening new frontier, and that is, to harbour criminals and convicts as well as exacting punishment on the just.

As an aside, it is an alarming experience to witness the over support from Australia and New Zealand – our closet Western neighbours. Notably, Qarase had advised Australia to invade Fiji in the name of democracy.

Be that as it may, it is no big secret that these groups including church leaders were the impetus fuelling the engine room behind the Rabuka and Speight coup d’etat – including the bread lady, the red bandana politician and that sleazy textile merchant.

Concisely, issues raised by these double-face and fork-tongue hypocrites are not hinged on the doctrine of the rule of law, which the proponents of democracy are trying their dandiest hide behind.

Rather, the basic interests of these anti-Bainimarama groups are not pro-democracy. Basically, they are pro-Qarase disciples – but certainly not pro-democracy, not by any stretch of imagination.

Their principle (if any) are anchored on multiple issues relating to ethnic cleansing, provincial supremacy, racial supremacy, feudalism, religion, power, money, authority, self-aggrandisement, ownership, extreme nationalism, neo-colonialism, oligarchy, nepotism, the old boy network, the clique group and manipulation (see above) to name a few.

And as for Helen Clark and John Howard, Aotearoa and the rest of the colonised countries were certainly not won by the rule of law.

Which would you be, an advocate wearing the mask of virtue subscribing to axis of deceit and lies, or would you rather be an advocate of truth, justice and fair play?

In a nutshell, Bainimarama’s action is based on truth, justice and fair play to clean out the cesspool – the basic covenant fundamental to all religion.

Anything contrary to truth, justice and fair play is satanic denoting a democratic rule of law styled in agnostic practices with gothic characters.

This author subscribes to truth, justice and fair play.

And as for Bainimarama, be damned if you did, and be damned if you didnÂ’t.
So why not take the first watch on the wheelhouse of the HMS of truth, justice and fair play.

Tomasi Tokalauvere,

Club Em Designs

Sunday, December 10, 2006

And the Band played on.

The concerns raised in a Fiji Live article by one of the drafters of the 1997 Fiji Constitution, Dr Brij Lal regarding the terms of reference of the interim are prudent. Most of them may be answered after reading this provocative article on Democracy and the Instruments of Government of a society published by

Club Em Designs

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Devil in the Details.

Stuff online magazine, correspondent in Fiji reports on the lack of concern among the grass roots on the come-uppance of Army Commander. In fact, a great majority have revealed their support for the Army Commander's motive for the rapid change in management in Fiji. Taking into account that, nine degrees of separation from being couped, were offered to and rejected by the deposed P.M Laisenia Qarase.

Micheal Field's opinion piece on the coup has quite a perspective, due to the overuse of the racial lens to view the unfolding political landscape in Fiji.

Despite the universal understanding of separation of Sports and Politics, Australian Sports administrator Arthur Turnstall advocates the ban on Fiji Rugby. It will be a wonderful moment of explanations for Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, when prompted why the Pakistan cricket team was not a target, when considering their record of having a coup and their participation in One Day Internationals.

The coverage of the dismantling of a democracy shrine in Fiji, seemed to be the only indifference of judgement, of the loaded D-word. ABC article unrealistically paints the scenario, as if it was scene out of Fallujah, Iraq. Notwithstanding the hardships faced by those living in Al Anbar province and their own difficulties faced in the wake of the 2003 invasion for WMDs; approved by the same world leaders who represent democracy.

This opinion piece published by Stuff NZ, written by Finlay McDonald presents a balanced view of realities in Fiji. Another more confronting perspective by outlines the avenues that, have opened for the Fiji interim Government.

Club Em Designs

Friday, December 08, 2006

Spheres of Influence.

Above: Cartoon from Melbourne's Age.

In light of the holiday season, the timeless tradition of sending seasonal greetings is no different with world leaders, who have had quite a good year of being honest and morally upstanding.

The Age also reports in an article that, from a strategic position which commanded the heights of morality, the Commonwealth Group officially suspends Fiji's membership.

Above image: Stuff N.Z magazine shares a depressing image of Christmas values.

The wave of change in Fiji is addressed by the various talking heads and media, both domestic and interntional. Among the leading Australian broadcast organization is ABC or Australian Broadcasting Corporation, whose online news website is quite informative at times. Their article on the widening division in Fiji, only reflects the line of social stratification that, had been dismembered from interfering with the controlling arm of Government.

Fiji Sun article covers that developments in Tavua in this article. The following is an excerpt:

Chief sealed off from army-Traditional warriors protect GCC chairman


Villagers of Tavualevu where the Tui Tavua and Great Council of Chiefs chairman, Ratu Ovini Bokini, hails from have blocked access to him, saying they will stop the army or any group from entering the village. Village spokesman Apisalome Ulusova said they erected roadblocks at the three entrances to the village and traditional warriors had been guarding them since the military takeover.

Mr Ulusova said on Thursday evening they heard the military was coming to take Ratu Ovini after he made comments that did not support the military takeover. “The members of the bati clan, or the traditional warriors of the Tui Tavua, called a meeting and asked if they could set up roadblocks to the entrances to the village and keep a lookout for those who want to visit the turaga na Tui Tavua,” he said.
He added his traditional warriors informed the elders of the village that they had a traditional obligation to carry out as the protectors of Ratu Ovini.

“The people of Tavua cannot just stand by and see our high chief being interfered with because it is how we respect his decisions on the vanua of Tavua. We have also blocked access to anyone, or any group who will try and approach the Tui Tavua,” he said. Mr Ulusova said they called the Republic of Fiji Military Forces on whether it would take in Ratu Ovini but were told it had no intention to do this.

Ratu Ovini called off a Great Council of Chiefs meeting, saying it still supported Ratu Josefa Iloilo as President and would not take orders from the military. Army Commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said he took executive authority because there were people around the President who were stopping him from exercising his powers to dissolve Parliament. He dissolved Parliament on Wednesday and said he would recommend to the GCC to endorse Ratu Josefa for another term.

Mr Ulusova warned groups who wanted to see Ratu Ovini for their own agendas, saying they would be stopped. “Anyone who wishes to see the turaga na Tui Tavua will have to go through traditional protocol and that is consultations first with the elders of the chiefly household before approaching Ratu Ovini,” he said.“His traditional warriors are also concerned with groups visiting him,” Mr Ulusova said.

He added the roadblocks would also be a sign for youths and others in the village not to take the law into their own hands because of the volatile situation experienced in the country. “In this difficult time, we will continue to protect the Tui Tavua and remove the roadblocks after everything goes back to normal. We also still believe in a democratic government led by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase,” he said.

Ratu Ovini was resting at his home while villagers guarded the village’s three entrances from Tavua town. Mr Ulusova said the vanua of Tavua still supports the democratic-elected government and recognises the Tui Vuda, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, as President and Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi as Vice President.
“The military needs to think about what it is doing at the moment because the West have been experiencing problems such as hotels and resorts closing down as well as other sectors being affected,” he said.

With out a doubt, some frustrations have been internalized with some nobles, one particular vocalization is this roadblock in Tavua by villagers supporting their chief and Chairman to the Great Council of Chiefs, Ovini Bokini, who also warns of further foreign isolation in this Fiji Live article.

Although, Fiji Village article covers more veiled frustrations from the Fiji Womens Council(FWC), who had also surprisingly cast their vote of no confidence, with their current change in Government. Their silence with the preceeding coups of 1987 and 2000 respectively, may also point out their inadequate moral positions.

The same argurement of moral double standards was raised by the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic diocese in Fiji in retaliation the statement release by the Assembly of Christian Churches in an article published by Radio NZ. This is an excerpt of the article:

Fiji’s Roman Catholic Church condemns statement by Assembly Christian Churches

Posted at 23:31 on 08 December, 2006 UTC

Fiji’s Roman Catholic Church has condemned a statement issued by the Assembly of Christian Churches on this week’s coup as politically biased and theologically wrong.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop Petero Mataca, says it is hypocritical of the churches to label the commander and his advisors as "manifestations of darkness and evil" when they did not say the same of those in the May 2000 coup.

He says it is time to acknowledge that Fiji failed to learn the lessons of the 2000 coup by ensuring that its young democracy and the rule of law were not abused and misused in the last six years.

Archbishop Mataca says the Assembly’s statement should have condemned the illegal and unconstitutional removal of the Qarase government, and affirmed the necessity for democracy and the rule of law.

He says the statement should have bound the churches to a position of compassion and justice, and recognised that what has happened has its roots in 2000.

Archbishop Mataca says the Catholic Church was not consulted by the Assembly before it issued its statement which he says is theologically wrong and morally improper.

Club Em Designs

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Narrative of Opinions.

Australian Broadcast Corporation footage (Real media) on the scenes in Suva, has captivated many by the surreal nature of this coup. Although the new interim P.M acknowledged the illegal nature of the coup, Senilagakali later summed up in an online article by ABC that, the ends justified the means.

Despite all the protests to the political shift, measuring the dimensions of all illegalities occurring in post-2000 coup Fiji will be a colossal task, even for the best paid lawyers on the globe.

To assist observers in arriving with a definite conclusion on the situation of Fiji, readers must also superimpose the reaction of Western nations to the Palestine model of democracy, with the Fiji Army's recent moral revolution.

How would the defenders of western styled democracy reconcile their cannard with the fact that, one nation's elected democracy is being ostracized by the international community along with a nation that, overthrew their elected Government?

While the coups conducted in the nations of Thailand and Pakistan, do not receive the same critical denouncements and sanctions levied by Western styled nations, as with Fiji.

This discourse has unveiled an embarrasing conundrum with the western ideal of democracy that, undeniably has failed to flower in the wilderness of third world development.

U.S Intelligence Squared forum, styled after the London original, organized a debate with podcast provided by NPR, analyzing the situation of Palestine and pondering whether the democratic elected party of Hamas should be considered by the international community, as a Government or a Terrorist organization.

Furthermore the positions of western democracies, have equivocally denied recognizing this democratic elected party, as a formal representative of Palestine.
Other observers have concluded that, the geo-politics in Thailand and Pakistan only underline the conspiracy premise that, any Government whether legal or illegal will be acceptable to the eyes of the international community, as long as it meets their agenda.

Australian P.M is interviewed on this podcast along with the snippets from the interim P.M.

The Chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs(GCC) being an unelected electoral college, misuses the appeal of democracy, to justify their inability in supporting to the interim Military Government as reported by a Fiji Times article.
Unable to redeem themselves for providing support for the 1987 and 2000 coups, the ironic position taken by G.C.C would ultimately accelerate their demise.

Fiji TV footage captures the swearing in interim Prime Minister, Dr. Jona Senilagakali including a brief interview. Included is the press conference of the head of state, Frank Bainimarama who named the new Commissioner of Prisons and Police.

CBS Survivor series may have bragging rights to surviving another coup in Fiji, as covered by this blog "Daily Dumpling".

Other dimension leading up to this management change were the concerns of the Army Commander outlined in an article by Australian correspondent, Graham Davis; whose article rationalizing with the Army commander's concerns and ruffled a few feathers.

This is an excerpt:

Fiji army chief has a valid cause

November 25, 2006

IT'S a tale of the South Pacific James Michener could never have imagined: Australian warships off the coast of Fiji and high noon in Suva between the Australian federal officer locals call James Bond, and the tough guy who heads one of the fiercest fighting units in the world.

Unfortunately it's not fiction. Australia's impotence in dealing with events on its doorstep is about to be demonstrated in a way the Howard Government would never have envisaged when it launched its policy of active engagement in the affairs of its island neighbor's.

It seemed like a good idea to send the debonair Andrew Hughes to Fiji as police commissioner. The local force was demoralised and corrupt, and criminal activity was widespread.

The Aussie import has turned the force around, putting local bovver boys on the back foot and emerging in a recent opinion poll as the country's most popular public figure. But Hughes may find himself in trouble now he's decided to go head to head with the commander of Fiji's military forces, Frank Bainimarama.

The plot goes like this: Hughes wants Bainimarama to come in for an interview over his threats to remove the elected Government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. The police chief is muttering about sedition and a range of other alleged offences. But Bainimarama has instead flown to New Zealand for a christening.

Bainimarama wants the Government to drop two key pieces of legislation: an amnesty for those involved in George Speight's 2000 coup and a bill that would give indigenous Fijians the right to claim money from other ethnic groups for using coastal waters.

The military chief maintains neither is in the national interest and has garnered significant community support for his stance.

He has now added another demand that is far from popular in Suva or Canberra: the removal of Hughes as police commissioner. That must be done, he says, in the same two-week timeframe as his other demands.

And although Bainimarama is talking about a clean-up campaign rather than a coup, Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says he fears a coup within two weeks and has issued fresh travel advisories for Fiji.

The reasons Bainimarama has made the tough statements he has - crude as they may seem to the casual observer - are not properly understood in Australia.

I'm not alone among Fiji-born Australians in being perplexed at the Howard Government's support for the Qarase Government. It is a racist Government pursuing racist policies, and has in its ranks many of the shadowy figures behind the 2000 coup who are desperate to avoid justice.

Race has always been at the heart of Fijian politics, especially the divide between indigenous Fijians and the descendants of the Indians brought to Fiji by British colonialists in the 19th century.

But it is Qarase who has made race an issue in this stoush, hitherto a power struggle between indigenous Fijians - Qarase and Bainimarama - that the Indians have wisely avoided.

When a Fiji Times-Tebbut poll last week showed that most of the Indians questioned sympathized with Bainimarama, it was the cue for Qarase to play the race card. On Wednesday he told parliament: "It is deeply troubling that the majority of one section of the community seems to favour military intervention in government. This is the conclusion to be drawn. The other major ethnic group does not support this. This leaves us in a finely balanced and potentially dangerous situation."

This is classic Qarase, an oblique message to his extremist Fijian supporters that the Indians favour his removal and to act accordingly. This is tantamount to unleashing the dogs of race on the basis of a poll of only 1000 people of all ethnicities. Small wonder Bainimarama is incensed and so many Fijian citizens of all races find themselves wondering about the true worth of democracy, if this is what it delivers.

It evidently hasn't reached Downer's ears that many would prefer Bainimarama to seize power and return it to civilian hands when the country is stabilised. Jerry Rawlings did it in Ghana, Olusegun Obasanjo did it in Nigeria: both were military men who subsequently became popularly elected civilian leaders.

Bainimarama opposes an amnesty for the perpetrators of the 2000 coup - some of whom are in Qarase's cabinet - in order to stop Fiji's cycle of coups, not perpetuate it. And he opposes the qoliqoli or coastal resources bill because it is inherently racist.

Fijian law already enshrines indigenous ownership of more than 80 per cent of the land, so there is no question of Fijians being dispossessed. By giving them dominion over coastal waters, Qarase is forcing other Fijian citizens to pay to use a resource that should be universally accessible.

Already, individual Fijians have been intercepting groups of people, including foreign tourists, at sea and demanding money before allowing them to resume their journeys. Yet when the country's peak tourism body said the qoliqoli bill could spell the beginning of the end for tourism, the country's biggest revenue earner, Qarase accused it of trying to sabotage the national economy.

Unlike the Prime Minister, Bainimarama is a committed multiracialist who subscribes to the vision of Fiji's founding father, Ratu Kamisese Mara, of a nation in which Fijian rights are respected but all races are treated equally.

The military chief has many friends among Indians and other ethnic groups, having attended the multiracial Marist Brothers High School in Suva.

If Bainimarama does seize power, as Downer now expects, he'll only be taking back what he gave Qarase when he invited him to form a government after locking up Speight in 2000.

What's not appreciated in Australia is the intensity of his rage at what he sees as Qarase's betrayal of the understandings between them, especially the need to punish those behind the coup.

Instead, Qarase brought many of the coup-makers into government and now wants a general amnesty that would lead to the likes of Speight being pardoned.

The Prime Minister could be about to learn the truth of an old adage: the hand that giveth also taketh away.

Fiji Human Rights laywer provides her feedback in the Fiji Times to the opinion article contributed earlier by Graham Davis. This is an excerpt:

Flirt with the rule of law at your peril

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A policeman stands guards over ballot boxes during the May 2006 general election+ Enlarge this image

A policeman stands guards over ballot boxes during the May 2006 general election

I refer to the opinion piece on Fiji by Graham Davis (High Noon in Fiji) in The Australian newspaper on 25 November 2006 and in The Fiji Times 29 November.

There is little doubt that Fiji has a special place in Davis' heart and that he is sincerely motivated.

However, his opinion piece is unsophisticated, is an irresponsible piece of journalism, particularly at this time of crisis, is deeply flawed from a legal perspective and is extremely dangerous for those of us trying to build a democracy based on the rule of law.

The essence of the rule of law requires us to solve our problems using lawful processes and democratic institutions such as the courts, the police and civil society.

To suggest that an illegal alternative might be justifiable undermines the building of democratic institutions, the ultimate power of the courts to rule any proposed law unconstitutional and makes a mockery of democracy and legitimate elections.

We Fijians wish to solve our problems using the rule of law.

This might involve challenging legislation that is unconstitutional or in violation of human rights, as has been done before, or voting out a government in a general election, and not by supporting the illegal removal of a government through the rule of the gun.

That is precisely what Davis is indirectly advocating: he is feeding the coup cycle and giving succour to the military.

Using the rule of law is certainly a longer and more tedious process, one which takes time, but to dispense with it in times of trouble is courting disaster.

Flirt with the rule of law at your peril.

I am curious to know whether Davis would indirectly advocate the same method in Australia whenever Howard attempts to pass unconstitutional and anti-human rights legislation through parliament or is he willing to wait out the lawful processes including the right of Australian citizens to use the courts for their grievances?

Where is it written that in those "uncivilised islands" of the Pacific live lesser people entitled to lesser rights then that accorded Australians, namely to use democratic processes and the rule of law to hold their governments accountable?

Davis and Australia need to be reminded that it was not Commander Bainimarama who brought back constitutional democracy to Fiji following the crisis in Fiji in 2000, but a poor, marginalised (now completely disenfranchised) Indo-Fijian farmer, eventually backed by civil society, through the landmark Chandrika Prasad court case.

Bainimarama actually filed a lengthy affidavit supporting the abrogation of the constitution.

It might be prudent to remember also, that it was the Commander who the courts have said committed the final illegal abrogation of the Constitution, when he unlawfully removed our former President Ratu Mara from Office.

We should let the rule of law and lawful processes take their course without any threat or perceived threat of illegal removals of government and of coups.

Have faith in us Mr Davis. Have some faith in the ability of us Fijians to build our democracy without illegal interference.

What you must remember is that the current government was only voted in a few months ago.

Surely the electorate made its choice at that time, and whether we like that choice or not is not the issue.

The Fijian people cast their vote. Respect that.

We the citizens of Fiji deserve a country without coups. Our children and the future generations certainly do.

Ms Jalal is an international human rights lawyer, a former Fiji Human Rights Commissioner, a Commissioner of the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists and a Board member of both the Geneva-based International Council of Human Rights Policy and the Fiji Women's Rights Movement. These views are her own and not necessarily of the organisations with which she is associated.

This is the counter response by Micheal Fields to the opinion article written by laywer Imrana Jalal.

Within the law

Imrana Jalal accuses me of irresponsible journalism in her response to my opinion piece in The Australian, reprinted by The Fiji Times.

Irresponsible journalism is journalism that suppresses and doesn't enlighten.

I did not advocate the overthrow of anyone.

I tried to explain something not widely appreciated in Australia that Commodore Bainimarama has reason to be unhappy with a prime minister pursuing a racist agenda.

I said that many Fiji citizens would prefer to be rid of the Qarase government rather than see the 2000 coup makers pardoned and the Qoliqoli Bill enacted.

Ms Jalal says Fijians want to resolve their differences within the law.

I agree with her but if the rule of law in Fiji is as absolute as she maintains, then Mahendra Chaudhry would still be prime minister.

We all want a lawful resolution to the crisis but it will not be resolved while the Qarase Government pursues policies that are to the detriment of other races in Fiji and deny them natural justice.

Graham Davis

Club Em Designs