Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Eureka Viti.

Fiji Army get brownie points for their reknown experience in Sinai and distracts public attention away from the reneging
clash of ideals with the P.S.C and the S.D.L Government.

The recent proposal to create a landowner's bank is getting financial backing from an enterprising Australian. This only further adds pressure on the existing native authorities, to reciprocate with concrete developmental action for the grass roots segment of the indigenous community who have been shortchanged by Native Land Trust Board.

Fiji Prime Minister is now defending his delay in presenting the Qoliqoli Bill in the sitting parliament amid accusations of vote-buying.
This is the least of Qarase's worries taking in account the petition from C.A.M.V political prisoners objecting to their recent merger with S.D.L party. In addition to the disturbing deficit inducing expenditure.

Other frustrated landowners are also are venting their frustrations prior to the General Elections. The lack of bonafide cultural activities in Fiji a rising concern that probably won't be realized by Fijian Affairs Board.

Club Em Designs

Monday, February 27, 2006

Back in Black.

Fiji Army Commander ratchets up the passive resistance to the current Fiji Government. It is clear that the S.D.L party will even resort to money traps to attract voters. Some political commentators have equated Fiji's situation with Zimababwe's.
Economist unravels the decline in infrastructure in Fiji and highlights the lack of planning and funding that, in-directly wards off potential investors.

Here's an interesting Letter to the Fiji Times Editor.

Fijian unity

WE have heard calls for Fijian political parties to unite.

The SDL and CAMV have united and a grand coalition of Fijian parties has been formed.

There was criticism that calls for Fijian unity are encouraging and promoting political division.

It was refreshing to hear Maika Tabukovu (FT 24/2) say that "Fijians do not need unity and that we have been fooled for too long by people calling for unity".

To think that Fijians need to unite on the basis of ethnicity is shortsighted. Fijian unity presumes that Fijians have a common cause to fight for against others but what is it?

Do Fijians have to fight for anything they do not already have under the Constitution?

There are many other bases on which Fijians can unite apart from race.

One of them is class.

Fijian workers can unite with other workers to fight for their rights, better wages and conditions and a better distribution of the national wealth.

The struggle will be against the elite and business interests which are not listening to the needs of ordinary people.

But many among the elite and businesses are Fijians.

So it will be a matter of Fijians and other workers struggling against the elite and wealthy many of whom are Fijians.

In 1986, the late Simione Durutalo, predicted that the 1987 coup would happen and Fijians would be called into ethnic solidarity.

He noted that the slogan "the cause of indigenous Fijian rights'' was a carefully and deliberately calculated strategy to call Fijians away from growing class consciousness and solidarity (represented by the rapid growth of the Labour Party at that time) and back into ethnic consciousness and ethnic solidarity (or narrow Fijian nationalism).

He noted that by the 1980s, people had started to see their problems in class terms rather than ethnic terms.

They were struggling, poor and getting low wages, not because they were Fijians, but because they belonged to the working class.

The strategy of calling Fijians into ethnic unity meant frustrating the growing class consciousness and, through misinformation and misinterpretation of fact, blame Indians for the problems facing Fijians.

Yet, many of the problems were caused by Fijian political and traditional elite, not Indians.

The elite realised that if ordinary people became united on a class basis which cut across ethnic boundaries, their wealth and privilege would be seriously called into question.

By calling for Fijian unity, they wanted an ethnic consciousness to replace a dangerous growing class consciousness.

It was they who stood to benefit from Fijian unity.

Is Durutalo's thesis still true today?

Are ordinary Fijians being fooled by calls for unity?

After all, Fijians have been in control in government for most of the years since Independence yet, what have they achieved?

The growing wealth and influence of a few privileged Fijian is in stark contrast with the deteriorating quality of life for many.

By and large, the so-called affirmative action plans do not benefit ordinary Fijians but increases inequality.

We do not need Fijian unity but Fijian parties which will fight for a better distribution of wealth and a better quality of life for all people of Fiji Fijians, Indians and Melanesians.

The collusion between some Fijian political parties and church groups to foster Fijian unity is highly suspect.

Christianity should not be used to support racial politics and narrow nationalist interests.

Semiti Qalowasa

Club Em Designs

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Narrow Margins.

Qarase faces competition for his provincial seat that, he intends to contest.
It is predictable belligerence of the Prime Minister of Fiji to deflect mistakes in the Mahogany industry which occurred on his watch.
Although there are rumors of an early elections, the discrepancies in voter registrations will cast a dark cloud over the entire process.
Fiji Inland Revenue still in logger-heads with the Auditor General's office.
Outstanding award for former Fiji resident in Australia who only widens the horizons for students by motivation.

Club Em Designs

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Jumping to Conclusions.

The issue of disappearing babies has a litany of similar cases that only further embarrasses the medical industry in Fiji. Political parties finalize their voting strategies prior to the elections.
Hopefully Fiji voters can really use the power of the ballot box to force change at all levels of Governance and Public Service which is de-teroriating due to under funding. Maybe a ratio should be legislated for minimum allowable limits. No Government can reduce spending to social services below this limit; expressed as a percentage of public expenditure.

Club Em Designs

Friday, February 24, 2006

Looming Disaster.

Fiji Army spokesman unleashes a frontal assault on the idea to have individuals involved in the 2000 coup, who have been short-listed by the G.C.C; to become President. Australian Foreign Minister continues to comment using the moral highground without considering the details in-situ. It seems that Australia is pushing itself as the Pacific's big brother. Yet acts as a stranger during trade negotiations or work visa programs.

The issue of electoral boundaries is another example of skewed democracy. This boundary commission should be taken to task for negligence.

Viti Landowners and Resources owners have unveiled a new strategy that dwarfs any proposal(if any) from the Great Council of Chiefs. It also exposes the area of wealth building that no Fijian cultural institution has ever addressed.

This quote from Pacific Islands news article on the issue of Great Council of Chiefs in Fiji.

Working on the "Power 10" raised a different set of issues. No traditional chiefs (working outside the political system) or religious leaders feature on the list. Despite leaders from these areas looming large as figures of influence in the daily lives of most Pacific Islanders, it was difficult to find any whose influence is felt on a regional basis. And we made a particular effort to look for regional leaders in these two critical areas.

As we worked on this issue, an Australian academic, Dr. Robert Norton, was quoted in regional media as saying "most members of Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs lack the academic qualifications and capacity to fulfill their role in modern-day Fiji.

"While some (chiefs) have progressive views on the sharing of power and resources, the majority have highly ethnocentric outlooks and this has enhanced the image of the council as a college of backward-looking hereditary elites."

While the question of ethnicity raised here is a challenge particular to Fiji, Norton's broader comments on the role of chiefs in a parliamentary democracy, created as you would expect, debate even beyond Fiji's borders. It's one we are destined to have for some time yet.

Club Em Designs

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Outstanding Issues in Fiji.

Fiji New Alliance party chairman is steadfast in his decision not to join the grand Fijian coalition. Disgruntled members of the C.A.M.V party, are considering legal action for the decision to merge with S.D.L party. Another thorn in Qarase's pre-election plans.

The upcoming meeting of Fiji's sub-chiefs is another indication of the changing fabric in Fiji society.
The land tenure system is now getting more attention that it deserves exposing the sad dichotomy.

Tribes seek to retain resource rights
Fiji Live: Thursday February 23, 2006

Fiji's tribal leaders have been called to an important meeting next week in a bid to win back rights over their resources.

Viti Landowners and Resource Owners Association (VLRA) Acting President Ratu Osea Gavidi says the meeting on February 28 will hear the grievances of more than 200 "turaga ni vanua" (tribal leaders).

The three-day gathering in Suva comes just before the general elections, likely to occur in April-May. Opposition to pro-indigenous Bills pertaining to fishing rights and land, obstacles to indigenous Fijian involvement in resources-based business despite their total ownership, to name a few, has prompted the call for a meeting of sub-chiefs.

"What we are trying to do is not to allow changes we are seeking to go to Parliament," said Ratu Osea.

"Because the Constitution requires that two-thirds of Parliament approve any such changes, which would be difficult to get.

"We should not allow Parliament to decide on our land, forests, fisheries and so on. The authority or say on these resources should be returned to the rightful owners."

Eighty four per cent of land in Fiji, comprising 1,487,581 million hectares, is reserved for indigenous Fijians whose global population currently stands at 400,000.

The Native land Trust Board was established in 1940 primarily to administer these native lands for the benefit of the indigenous landowner.

Ratu Osea argues that NLTB is only the trustee while the real owners are the 'turaga ni vanua'. He says the NLTB is hampered from making any changes sought by these resource owners because of the debilitating Native Land Act.

Debate over changes to land laws affecting the whole country has been an ongoing political football with no sight of an immediate solution or compromise.

The landowners now want that authority taken back from NLTB so they can make the changes themselves.

"We will decide if the NLTA or ALTA land legislations should be adopted, we will also decide if we should lease our land or use it for ourselves," Ratu Osea said.

"If outsiders come and ask we will give it to them in the true Fijian spirit if we believe he or she is the right one and will bring benefit to us."

Ratu Osea adds that resource owners have been sidelined from starting businesses although foreigners have been able to secure bank loans at the Fiji Development Bank from leases on their land.

The association is also seeking rights to native land, fishing grounds, forestry, oil, seabed and other resources that could in turn be used as collateral.

"The foreigners are coming here and doing just that," said Ratu Osea.

"The turaga ni vanua can do the same with the right advice from our educated Fijians in their specialist fields."

"We have three trillion dollars worth of resources. We just need the turaga ni vanua, the real resource owners, to unite and agree to the grand plan."

Even the Chairperson of the Great Council of Chiefs is feeling the heat of insecurity. It is time that these chiefs wake up to the fact
that their time for ruling is over. It is a fact that this G.C.C is not addressing the issues which concern the grass roots community.
Meanwhile another draconian Fiji institution (N.L.T.B) are increasing their fees, again. These are the very concerns that Fiji Resources Owner's Association Chairman Osea Gavidi had been highlighting.

The plans to spend F$16 million for a tracking program is ridiculous. These civil servants will try and buy the Nausori bridge if they had their way. Without Freedom of Information Laws and Whistle Blower statutes, these efforts are purely cosmetic.

Club Em Designs

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Accident Waiting to Happen.

The nomination of a chief involved in the 2000 Coup underlines the pathetic situation involving the Great Council of Chiefs.

Obviously the Fiji Sun Political Editor has different ideas. His reference to the G.C.C being an electoral college is slight misleading.

Fiji Military clarifies it's position on S.D.L's recent merger and proclaiming it as, ethno-nationalism at it's worst. S.I.F.M could not agree more.

Club Em Designs

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Best Defense.

Great Council of Chiefs Chairman's response to the Bose ni Turaga is the usual belligerence from people insulated from reality. The role to determine who becomes President could be tainted with internal bias by members who have been tried and sentenced for their involvement in the 2000 coup.

Appointments GCC's prerogative: CEO
Tuesday February 21, 2006

Chief Executive in the Prime Minister's Office Joji Kotobalavu
The appointments of President and Vice President are the prerogative of the Great Council of Chiefs and no one else.

The comment was made by the chief executive in the Prime Minister's Office Joji Kotobalavu.

He was reacting to reports that some interest groups in Tailevu want the GCC to allow Ratu Jope Seniloli to complete his term as Vice President.

Ratu Jope resigned as VP after he was sentenced in 2004 for taking an illegal oath in coup leader George Speight's government and illegally swearing in cabinet ministers.

He was released on Compulsory Supervision Order approved by the Attorney General. Kotobalavu said the appointments lie solely with the Great Council of Chiefs.

"We still do not know that both incumbent President and Vice President are not willing to continue in their respective office, if they want to extend their term in office, the GCC has the power to do so.

"So how can it be considered until the GCC considers an extension or a new appointment of the President and the Vice President," he said.

Kotobalavu said people aorganizationsons should be patient and wait for the GCC's decision.

The army said it would be hard for them to accept a former convict as President and Commander in Chief of the Fiji Military Force.

Army spokesman Lt Col Orisi Rabukawaqa said a prerequisite in the Constitution for the President's office was a person of integrity and they cannot afford to have someone with a record in the highest office in the land.

S.I.F.M is raising the alternatives to the process of choosing the President.

Great Council of Chief is not a democratic institution. Fiji is democratically mature enough to implement the true application of governance via elected offices. Having an un-elected Council select the highest office in Fiji Government is a mechanism that requires urgent review.

It is amusing to hear these same officials clinging to a clause in Fiji's 1997 constitution, stating G.C.C's role in the selection process.

However, this is the same document that S.D.L party et al, has failed to uphold and tried to amend.

Fiji Elections office rush to illuminate the green light on the 2006 elections should be scrutinized the old fashioned way.

Fiji P.M is already feeling the heat of dissatisfied voters and is firing back counter-claims. Probably taking up the slack from his C.E.O Kotobalavu who seems to be more concerned with his marriage disruption. It only further captures the character of the man who publicizes details of his private affairs that ridicules the other party. It is more likely that the C.E.O was the rejected candidate trying to save face. This particular C.E.O's age and public demeanor speaks volumes.

Kotobalavu calls off wedding
Tuesday February 21, 2006

The chief executive in the Prime Minister's Office, Joji Kotobalavu, has called off his plans to marry sweetheart Miriama Vereivalu.

Kotobalavu and Vereivalu's courtship and intention to marry sparked much media publicity late last year.

This morning Kotobalavu told Fijilive his engagement to Vereivalu was a beneficial testing period for both of them.

"Regrettably, she has fallen short of the standard I had expected of her and I have therefore withdrawn from any further personal relationship with her.

"However, I do ask that we respect Miriama's choice of how she wants to live her life. She is a single and free person. Her life is her sole prerogative, and it is nobody else's business."

Kotobalavu described Vereivalu as a lovely person.

"In a very strange and special kind of way, I have gained so much from her in my own spiritual development. For that I will always be grateful to her," he said.

However, Kotobalavu maintained that the professional relationship at work between the two will continue to be on the basis of mutual acknowledgement and respect.

Vereivalu is also employed in the PM's Office.

Papua New Guinea's veiled threat to take the Fiji Government to the World Trade Organization for free trade violations has not been fully understood by the veteran Foreign Affairs Minister of Fiji. With all due respect to Messr Tavola, the final decision on P.N.G's evidence rests with the W.T.O and was presumptous for Messr Tavola to even comment on the matter.

The old trade barrier model seems to have ingrained with Fiji's Foreign Trade experts; whose knowledge is rooted in post cold-war international trade.
Divorced from the negative trade imbalance statistics which he is in-directly responsible for. Reserve Bank's habit of pinning the Fiji dollar to a basket of international currencies is facing academic critics.

Finally it has been reported that from Lautoka Hospital of the disaperance of another baby from the city morgue.

S.I.F.M insinuates that reply of hospital official, of blaming the stork.

Club Em Designs

Monday, February 20, 2006

Political Pinata

The issue of appropriate drinking age has entered the public discourse in Fiji. A unique milestone in itself, signaling that, the nation of Fiji is weaning itself from racial wedge issues.

Fiji Electricity Authority is putting the cart before the horse, in their renewable energy phasing-in plans. There are more
cheaper alternatives like solar power which should be legislated into the building code. All commercial sized buildings must be able to sustain itself with solar cells, built into the architectural plans.
The problem in Fiji, is that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing; especially so in the context of F.T.I.B who
seem to be doing their own negotiations by luring manufacturers to Fiji; without considering the power generation equation in Fiji.
Everything in commerce depends on a reliable and cheap power supply that is not totally dependent on fossil fuels.

Fiji Resource Owners Association are throwing the hammer down in their upcoming convention titled "Bose ni Turaga".
Their agenda is to re-visit the entire financial package of incentives for Native owned resources; and places the Great Council of Chiefs in the hot seat for being silent on these indigenous concerns.
S.I.F.M is adamant that the concept of 'Turaganism' is basically an insult to the intelligence of common people of Fiji who have grown weary of these unproductive Fijian aristocrats. These Nobles without shame, continue to bleed the Fiji national treasury dry and replace the contents with empty promises.

Club Em Designs

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Predictable Lip-Service.

There is a stark tendency for Civil Servant C.E.O's to be overly secretive in their operations. Case in point the Fiji Inland Revenue Authority which
has blocked the access to documents pertaining to the Auditor General Office, which is their primary function.

The abuse of state funds is rampant among Minister seeking re-election.

Club Em Designs

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Flash in the pan.

Fiji Army spokesman announces their concerns on the flawed process leading up to the General Elections.
The Electoral Commission chairman is obviously downplaying these issues with the usual rhetoric. It must be pointed out that, his capacity as Election scrutineer; also singles him out as the prime receiver for legal action based on negligence.

United People Party chairman denounces the motives of S.D.L merger with C.A.M.V, raising the polarization effect to the community. Unfortunately the leader of 1987 Fiji coup is attempting to force his flawed opinions onto the Fiji public; like he's the only expert on democracy.
The office of Fiji President has been subjected to internal politics, within the archaic Great Council of Chiefs claims Fiji Labour Party.

Club Em Designs

Friday, February 17, 2006

Fiji Kids need Books.
Posted by Picasa

Qarase in the spotlight.
Posted by Picasa

Leaps and Bounds

S.D.L and C.A.M.V merger only provides a bigger target for disgruntled voters who are increasingly getting shortchanged.

Fiji Labour Party and National Alliance Party have a marriage of their own to celebrate.

Meanwhile Fiji's trade imbalance is soaring astronomically yet no political parties had raised the issue in national discourse.

Officials in Fiji Public Service unfortunately have trumpeted hollow progress like the creation of a Weights and Measure website. Yet Fiji does not have a stand alone, Standards Agency to maintain consistent adherence to System International group of units.

Fiji Time Editorial ridicules the proposed grand Fijian coalition.

Bunch of hypocrites
Saturday, February 18, 2006

The haste in which the two Fijian-dominated political parties merged raises many eyebrows.

Too sudden and totally unexpected. This rush into such a major political exercise has caught by surprise even some of the loyal followers of the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Party and its coalition partner the Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua Party.

They are as confused as everyone else as to the rationale behind the move. It would have been wiser, and they expect this much, that a major consultation process be undertaken by the parties' leaders to seek their views and if necessary take a vote on it.

During traditional ceremonies organized by the parties' leaders to mark the merger, the shocked party faithful were still scratching their heads. Only time will tell how it will affect their loyalty and confidence in their leaders.

And it will be interesting how the merger translates on the ballot paper.

On a more serious yet sad note, the merger indicates yet again how nationalism is alive and well in the Fijian community and is going to have a big influence in the build-up to and during the general elections.

The sensible and responsible citizens who have been praying to see an end to the polarisation of Fijians and Indians during general elections and major political crisis are obviously disappointed.

They see the Fijians starting to band together. The Indians may not be too far behind with the National Federation Party and Fiji Labour Party planning "unity" talks.

After all the colorful talk of moving forward as one people, promoting to the world the concepts of multi-racialism and peaceful co-existence, we see this sorry political development which is against the spirit of the Constitution we accept as our supreme law.

All the public displays of sincerity, goodwill, love-thy-neighbor-as-thyself and togetherness look like coming to naught yet again. We remain a divided and, sad to say, sick society.

The late Pope John Paul II during his one visit was full of praise of this land and its people saying it was "the way the world should be". The words of the famous religious leader rings clearly in our ears today but does not mean much.

It does not help us at all when we have leaders who lack the courage, vision and will to work together themselves and then unite the people in our collective quest for progress, prosperity and peace. We see these leaders pulling apart instead of together because they have their own selfish agendas to think about. They pull the hoods over people's eyes so that they won't see the truth.

A bunch of hypocrites.

Club Em Designs

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Futile Existence.

The merger between S.D.L and C.A.M.V is a marriage of convenience deeply rooted in Fiji's calamities post 2000 Coup. It is clear that these elements of danger in Fiji; are jockeying for position, prior to the elections in 2006.

Even the post of President is in contention, by convicted Coup mobster, Messr Jope Seniloli. These Fijian political lobbyist of ill-repute, are willing to sideline the current Vice-President Joni Madraiwiwi, for an individual intoxicated with nationalism. Albeit, perilous to the social fabric of Fiji.

On cue, Fiji Army Spokesperson dispatches Commander Bainimarama's intentions of permanently shelving the controversial R.T.U Bill.

Monasavu Landowners are still awaiting their pound of flesh. Yet the abusive N.L.T.B ponder their issue as well. As if, they're entitled to the Court pay-out. $52 Million is alot of money for Fiji standards. It can be argured that N.L.T.B did spend a great deal of time; contemplating how to access those funds using their Native Lands Act.
NLTB to discuss $52m payout

The Native Land Trust Board will meet next week to discuss the $52m payout to Monasavu landowners. Executive officer Nimilote Naivalumaira confirmed this yesterday. “The issue will be discussed again at our next board meeting scheduled for next week after which we will be able to issue a full statement on the matter,” he said. The Monasavu landowners have yet to receive their $52million compensation payout from the Fiji Electricity Authority.
The Supreme Court ruled that the FEA was to direct the money to the court which would then be directed to the landowners’ lawyer, Tevita Fa. Mr Fa would then distribute the money to the landowners. However, the NLTB raised concern over the procedure in which the money would be distributed. The ruling, it said, was in breach of the Native Land Trust Act which stated that the compensation should be directed to the Native Land Trust Board who would then distribute it to the landowners.

Fiji Sun's Editorial on Friday identifies the single biggest reason for broken laws in Fiji.

It is rather pathetic to keep churning out Laws particularly when there is no Law enforcement agency; other than the over-extended and under-funded Fiji Police Force.

Forcing an age-limit for Alcohol in Fiji although, it is socially attractive, the exercise itself will be totally confusing and cumbersome without national identification cards.

Fiji Times Editorial Fri Feb 17th 2006 addresses the issue.

The legal age
Friday, February 17, 2006

"The legal age that a person can be considered an adult has been the source of constant battles between parents and children over the ages.

In the recent past, many girls were married at 16. These same women are today grandparents of teenagers who face increasingly paternalistic attitudes from the Government.

It's ironic that as we progress into the 21st century, the State's treatment of teenagers has become more and more patronising.

This week the Government will push through the House of Representatives a piece of legislation that has taken years in the making. This law will make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drink in a bar or buy alcohol.

It will allow for the prosecution of bar owners who supply or provide alcohol to anyone under 21 in a bar. The onus will be on the bar owner or his staff to ask anyone who looks close to 21 for identification.

These changes will come through amendments to a Bill to repeal the Liquor Act (Cap.192) and the Liquor Act 2005.

When enacted, the Bill will repeal and replace the existing Liquor Act, which currently allows for those 18 or over to drink alcohol in a bar.

The fine for bar owners who let someone under 21 years of age drink alcohol in their premises will be up to $2000.

In coming to a decision on what limit to put on the minimum legal drinking age, the Government had input from many quarters including a committee that explored all the options.

It was this committee that suggested that a section of the Juvenile Act, which made it illegal to sell alcohol to those 18 or under, be moved into the Liquor Act. Attorney General Qoriniasi Bale admits that the Government took this a step further and decided to not just place it in the Act but also raise the age to 21.

Mr Bale is not worried about having support for limiting the legal drinking age to 21 years or over.

In fact, many churches would support such an initiative, especially given pregnancy rates and other issues said to be offshoots of teenage drinking.

But what the Government is ultimately doing is placing limits on when a person can be considered an adult in this country.

It already denies people over 18 but under 21 the right to vote. Now it denies them the right to drink.

If the Government is so concerned about alcoholism in Fiji, perhaps its resources would be better spent legislating a bit of responsibility among older drinkers, regulating alcohol marketing and enforcing drink driving laws."

Club Em Designs

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

High Fidelity.

Fijian Coalition headed by political has-been Messr Tomasi Vakatora who must also face the acid test of historic reality. There is no guarantee that this coalition can reverse the poverty induced nation that has been dis-enfranchised by racial based programs. It is abundantly clear that this same coalition is based on nationalistic motives which has failed the Fijian landowners, miserably.
The same old political clowns in Fiji, begin their dance of oral persuasion; choreographed to the traditional beat of racial stereotyping and xenophobia.

New Bill empowering Fiji Auditor General's office is a well timed move, prior to elections.

Fiji Times editorial raise concerns about Fiji's obsolete electoral boundaries.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

There is no doubt that 2006 is an election year. But there are serious concerns that this country is not ready for the next elections.

Leaving aside the politics going on between parties, or politicking, the State machinery is simply not ready to take on such a mammoth task.

Under the Constitution, there are two bodies that influence the way elections are conducted here.

One is the Electoral Commission chaired by Fiji Law Society president Graham Leung, which controls the Office of the Supervisor of Elections and ensures that it is operating along set procedures and guidelines.

The other is the Constituency Boundaries Commission, chaired by Barrie Sweetman.

While much has been said about the Electoral Commission over the past few months, there is not much emphasis being put on the work of the Constituency Boundaries Commission.

According to the Constitution, 71 members are elected to the House of Representatives 46 of which is to be through ethnic rolls and 25 through universal suffrage.

The problem for the Constitutional Boundaries Commission is that the Constitution rules that equal population size is not an issue in only 17 seats which follow provincial boundaries.

For all other seats, however, the commission must ensure that population size is substantially equal in number.

The Elections Office has been proud to state for the previous elections in 2001 that seats were drawn up to have roughly the same number of votes, depending on the category involved.

But with massive rural-urban drift as a result of expiring land leases, ethnic tension, and job search, there is no doubt that population numbers in many areas have changed substantially.

One great example is the Suva-Nausori corridor where a major influx of settlers from around Fiji has boosted squatter numbers to record levels.

A major chunk of the country's population resides in that corridor alone. Yet no effort seems to have been made to check whether there is a need to increase the number of seats in that area or tighten up the boundaries a bit.

The Constituency Boundaries Commission cannot possibly tell all those residents that nothing has changed since 2001. In November last year, the commission first let out that the task of reviewing the boundaries might be an impossible one.

It seems that this basic constitutional guideline cannot be guaranteed. The State must act on this now to ensure that this Election fulfills all the criteria that the Constitution says it should.

Club Em Designs

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Usual Suspects.

Mud has started flying from the Prime Minister of Fiji. It's anyones guess if Fiji Labour Party leader will file another lawsuit after being labelled a terrorist.
It is official, the campaigning for Fiji elections 2006 is now gaining speed.The Grand Fijian coalition is now looking outside their
race as a means to gain support.

Army Commander Frank Bainimarama pictured with New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Club Em Designs

Monday, February 13, 2006

Towing the Line of Abuse.

Issuing of Fiji Government contracts has long been suspected of abuse by the very individuals suppose to be the guardians of resources. Yet Qarase and company have no idea of the waste in the Public Service and their own track record of un-constitutional behavior designed by the architect of legal wrangling:

Fiji's Attorney General; (pictured leading the S.D.L politicians in Fiji Parliament).

Fiji's history
S.I.F.M echoes the sentiments of Fiji Vice-President on the need to change the electoral system from a racial based one to a plural system.
However to soley rely on retirees to educate rural voters is a eyebrow raiser due to voter mis-information.
This type of mentoring should be explored sincerely by Fiji Government, as a permanent establishment for rural adult education. For an example, this enterprising Fijian from New Zealand is an outstanding individual should be a source of inspiration to all Fijians.

It also exposes the fact that more Fijians are putting less emphasis on archaic institutions and seizing their own destiny.

Club Em Designs

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics in Fiji.

90% of Fijians in rural areas live under the poverty line if the reasoning of finance is applied to their case.
S.I.F.M believes that, the visit by current Ministers of cabinet to Fijian villages is no more than a Public Relations exercise to further their influence in the elections. However, the sad situation of lack of development, poverty will be the fundamental area of concern for rural voters.

In the exact words of Fiji Minister for Women and Social welfare in the "breakdown in Fijian culture" while the Great council of Chiefs and Fijian Affairs Board seem to be out of touch with the statistics and data pointing to that disintergration of culture, which is a reflection of in-competance.

Club Em Designs

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Moving Violations in Fiji.

Fiji's political landscape is changing from ethnic confrontations to a cohesive discussion on the nation's progress.

S.D.L party's coalition with C.A.M.V, a predominately nationalist party with incidiary individuals on their ticket. Many of whom, are un-tested in any leadership capacity, in addition to being un-educated and un-reliable. It is this layer of Politicians, who stir up the volatile emotions in Fiji without substantiating their concerns.
The Nationalists claim they represent the rural Fijian dwellers, yet they have nothing to show for themselves. These unsavory characters gloss over the archaic land institution in Fiji called Native Lands Trust Board and their dubious track record.
It is apparent the N.L.T.B's shortcomings is the root cause for landowner's dis-enfranchisment.

Former Fiji soldiers looking for work in high danger areas of the world is the end result of the absence of state compassion and strategic planning.
Similarly in Fiji Hardwood Corporation, a financial vehicle to maximize the depletion of Fiji's plantations at the expense of social mobility and sustainable development.

Here's a copy of Fiji Sun article that announces Fiji Police Commissioner's flawed decision.

Hughes apologizes to CEO for charge

By Charlotte Peters

Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes has publicly apologized to a government chief executive officer for what he said was a mistake. He made the apology in the case of the CEO who was bailed and sent home after being tested positive on Dec 30 last year.

Earlier Mr Hughes stated that the officer who ordered the release of the woman had been questioned on his part in the matter and this had brought a new twist to the investigation.

Yesterday, Mr Hughes clarified the matter after seeking legal advice. He said the person was stopped at a checkpoint on the night in question and taken to the Central Police Station where a breath sample was taken.

The outcome of the breath test was 36 micrograms, said Mr Hughes.Under the LTA Act those in excess of 80 milligrams per 100mililitres can be charged.

To come up with the figure in milligrams, we took the 36 micrograms and multiplied it by 2.2 and came up with 79.2 which was below the prescribed concentration of alcohol.

Knowing this Mr Hughes said the officer ordered the release of the woman. He admitted that two others had been charged with the same offence and the police were doing everything within their power to rectify the matter.

Another scathing letter to Fiji Times Editor on the Double Standards applied by Fiji Police Force. S.I.F.M is not the only entity complaining about Fiji Police Force's inability to do their job, in an unbiased manner.

Double standard

I REFER to the letter by Tevita Bevu (FT 8/2) and would like to support his call for the Police Commissioner to come clean on double standards in relation to the release of a government chief executive. The commissioner should stop hoodwinking ordinary citizens and reveal the truth that there are two sets of laws in Fiji and that he applied the rule for the rich and untouchables in this case.

Stop making petty excuses and degrading the competence level of your staff, commissioner.

The excuse that officers made a conversion error reflects that you have incompetent officers in the force. I wonder how many citizens were charged by the incompetent officers and made to suffer for a crime they did not commit.

I would like to know why taxpayers of Fiji are made to pay for incompetent civil servants? Or was it the case of a junior biting the bullet to save a senior officer?

So much for the commissioner's assurance of "one law for all''. Or has he decided to follow the golden rule of "when in Rome do as the Romans do?''

Rakesh Chandra
Club Em Designs

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Merging Concerns.

Minster of Communcations visit to Fiji's rural areas is a concern to
Fiji Labour Party because it mirrors the actions of 2001 involving voting irregularities.

The ripples of discomfort created by the trade agreement between China and Australia should be a wake up call to all those involved in export industry. Resting on the laurels of past opportunities is an indication of the absence of contingency plans in Fiji.

Club Em Designs

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Sliding Scale of Law in Fiji.

Alcohol test

WHEN Adi Litia Qionibaravi was tested on the night she was stopped by the police, the testing device recorded an alcohol level of 35 micrograms.

During the alcohol test at the station where the reading was converted from micrograms to milligrams, it was found that the figure was two milligrams below the 80ml legal limit (FT 7/2).

I wonder if 35 micrograms is still equivalent to 0.035 milligrams. If it is, then the legal limit would be 2.035mg which is equivalent to 2035micrograms.

I am curious to know how this converted value was two milligrams below the legal limit of 80 ml when the amount of alcohol is in weight measurement while the limit is in volume measurement.

My point is that the formula the police used to justify their action to the case does not look right.

I urge Commissioner Hughes to come clean on this and tell the public the mathematical formula police used in withdrawing charges against prominent people.

Tevita Bevu

Apparently the reaction to the scathing article on the Driving Under Influence case of the C.E.O for Fijian Affairs Board is rattling the cages of Fiji Police P.R department. This is the usual dismissive attitude from official ranks that only makes a mockery of the intelligence of the greater public.
S.I.F.M recommends the instant dismissal of the incumbent and the institution for simply employing an individual with ill-repute.

Notwithstanding the Fijian Affairs Board's own shortcomings that has chained the Fijian race to an en-trenched feudal system which handicaps their progress in the modern global village.

[For further insight, refer to the Fiji Times Editorial, located at the end of today's posting.]

Fiji Post has been getting side-swiped with their decision to publish the controversial "Cartoon" that has been the cause of riots and embassy razing. S.I.F.M is confident that the same scenario wouldn't be visualized in Fiji.

The similarities of the Protest March cum riot cum Attack, in a Afghanistan N.A.T.O base as was witnessed in Downtown Suva, Fiji at the precise moment the May 2000 coup was being executed.

Fiji Sun contributor and human rights activist, Messr Thakur Ranjit Singh laments his anguish on the New Zealand "Parachute Journalists" who opinionate on the political issue of Fiji. Those who grand-stand as experts in the field, when they hardly understand the local situation.

Finally the Fiji Times Editorial decides to focus on Fiji's land issues. What the editorial fails to point out is that, the archaic Native Lands Trust Board is the root cause for this miserable stagnation of land and mind. Unfortunately the Editorial falls miserably short of real solutions. Typical print-media mentality that uses minimization pre-tense and does not rectify the problems in Fiji.

Land ownership
Wednesday, February 08, 2006

IT is a pity that some landowning units claim to be poor yet make no effort at all to utilize their land or allow portions of it to be leased.

It is sad to see so much land lying idle including that which had been previously leased but was taken back by clans after the expiry of leases.

This is evident in the cane belts in Vanua Levu and western Viti Levu and more recently in the dairy farm districts of Tailevu and Naitasiri.

The landowners are not willing to renew the agricultural leases arguing that their members need to utilize the land for commercial or subsistence farming. The excuse is that their numbers are growing and they need the land back.

While the land lies idle, no one, least of all the owners themselves, stand to benefit from it. They do not receive six-monthly rentals from the leases. There is no return because there is no investment. The Government has been too timid in promoting land use among the owners. It fails to convince some landowners of the immense wealth they are missing out on when the land is not utilized. Some of the landowners it has managed to convince eventually lose interest when the markets arranged by the Government for their farm produce fail to materialize.

We have yet to see a government effectively address the land use issue and raise its voice sufficiently to push landowners into getting the maximum returns from their land or making it available for development.

The Government's policy of handouts and special treatment for landowners has to stop. It is not the right way to help them "catch up" with others in lifting their standards of living.

A very few Fijians can honestly claim today that they do not own any tribal land. They have this vital resource which will generate so much for their families if it is utilized. Perhaps through the provincial and district councils they can be educated and counseled on how to benefit from this valuable resource at their disposal.

There used to be by-laws in the Fijian administration system requiring that each male in the village produce a certain quantity of farm produce a month. This was closely monitored and encouraged them to farm the land. Maybe a similar system should be introduced today.

Landowners have to get out of the thinking that they'll lose their precious "God-given" asset if it is leased out or once they use it for farming. They should realize that there are relevant laws in place which safeguard their ownership.

But they must use the land to help themselves, others and the country as a whole.

The wealth they look for is buried in the land. To realize it, the land has to be utilized.

End of story.
Club Em Designs

Monday, February 06, 2006

Muddying the Issue.

Respect for G.C.C is a two-way street. G.C.C has shown their allegiance to the divisive R.T.U Bill.
If the National Alliance Party Chairman wants to water down the rule of law, then his sentiments are flawed simply because of bias.

It is a well-known fact that he is also a chief and his support for G.C.C also infers support for the controversial R.T.U Bill. As a potential statesman he must learn to draw the line between institutions and the Fiji constitution.

The vocal excuse by Fiji Police Commissioner on the Zero-tolerance and No-Drop policy for Driving Under the Influence was just a Marketing hype. This case is an example of dual standards applied to the influential members of Fiji's society.
S.I.F.M believes this is a farce and exclaims that the Fiji Police are still being on pressured by people in higher places at the expense of the unbiased rule of law.

Club Em Designs

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Counting on Heaven.

S.D.L Government to implement the R.T.U Bill is being opposed by more international organizations and
only drives the point home to Fiji Prime Minister. It seems he is out of touch as usual, seeking religous support with Methodist Church of Fiji.

Stuck in Fiji echoes the calls to establish a permanent Elections Office in Fiji. It is now clear that these civil servants who take up positions during elections should be scrutinized to prevent interference.

It no longer surprise for the people of Fiji on the vast amount of lip-service dished out by civil servants, by covering up their incompetance.

Club Em Designs

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Final Destination.

Landowners of Fiji have been perpetually dis-enfranchised by organizational in-efficiencies.
Stuck in Fiji Mud believes this trend will not change anytime soon, due to the lack of implementation within Fiji Government agencies.

The rumors of Fiji President retiring has now been compromised by the un-elected members of the Great Council of Chiefs.
It is yet another miserable example of an anachronism, attempting to justify their incompetence.
Here's letter to Fiji Times Editor that encapsulates the double- standards applied to indigenous issues, by the same Fiji Government that routinely reminds the world of it's hollow accomplishments.

Next leader

A MOTIVATOR, a man or woman of principle and convictions. One who sets goals and leads from the front to achieve them is a man or woman of vision.

Fiji right now is at the crossroads to make this choice. We have to choose one who will unite us all for the betterment of Fiji, someone who is identified with everybody.

Fiji needs one who can bring the best out of everyone. One who creates an environment where people excel in what they do.

Enough of a leader who relies on others to make decisions for him or her.

Enough of one who is just a spectator.

Enough of one who goes with the flow.

Enough of one who goes around trying to please everyone. Fiji needs a leader whose life and actions permeates different races, religion and culture to bring out the good in people.

One that all of Fiji, with its different ethnicity, will stand up and ask "what can I do for Fiji?" rather than "what can Fiji do for me?"

Choose well Fiji.

Save Tabualevu

Foreshore development

I noted in the dailies last week an application for foreshore development in Volivoli, Ra. I quote "to complete and regularise the partly completed Marina and Channel in front of the applicant's property".

As this has been a frequent practice, I am just wondering if the State Act (Cap 132) Section 21 (2) allows for such "reclaim foreshore first and regularise later" practices.

To make it worse, these public notices in the dailies usually have very small letters that require a magnifying glass to read.

Has the Tui Navitilevu been consulted or is he expected to read the public notice in the dailies and to come running to the Director of Lands? Protocol wise, this is far out and insulting.

Furthermore Qoliqoli owners at the village level hardly read such public notices in the dailies let alone understand the legal write-ups.

With livelihood opportunity foregone from the reclamation of the qoliqoli, what financial equity status will the qoliqoli owners in Volivoli, Ra have from the Marina?

Even the Tui Suva is living in a squatter settlement near my Vatuwaqa home. Yet the reclamation of the Vatuwaqa industrial subdivision and the Rokobili container terminal is reaping profits for the developers while the poor qoliqoli owners are just living in shacks from these unfair system, not to mention the rubbish and the contamination of their qoliqoli.

The extent of the implementation of Queen Victoria's letter in 1881 to Governor DesVoux is yet to be experienced but as for now, there is continuous abuse of Qoliqoli owners' human rights.

We are owners by name only but in fact we have been ripped off. Frustration is really an understatement of our burning feelings at the moment.

I am wondering if Qoriniasi Bale's legal firm representation of developers and resorts is having a conflict of interest with his role as a A-G to legislate the Queens wish in her 1881 letter through the Qoliqoli Bill.

Jone Mavia

Club Em Designs