Tuesday, October 31, 2006

U.S, Australia are jittery over Rumors of a Coup in Fiji.

The hysteria emanating from the Fiji Army Commander's warnings have prompted the two states to prepare contingency plans, among them issuance of travel warnings to the sublime South Pacific location. Perhaps one outstanding fear for both U.S and Australia is who will then guard the U.N compound in Iraq if, Fijian troops are withdrawn early.

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Floreat Publius.

Attempts by the S.D.L Government to remove the standing Army Commander Frank Bainimarama has fallen embarrassing flat on its face.

Letter to Fiji Sun's Editor sums up the sentiments of the grassroots community.

Don't crucify him

He has spoken the truth and the guilty ones are once again out to gag him. Frank Bainimarama has uttered facts about the state of Fiji and has demanded a very simple and honorable thing any public office holder would have been asked to do if under investigation.

Why are some people trying to make it look as if he is the guilty one?
If we the people of Fiji have voted in the government of today then we have put a lot of faith and trust in you and it looks like this trust has been broken and most of you do not deserve to be there.

Mr Bainimarama's calls therefore, are very much justified. Besides being commander of the Fiji army he is also a human being and a good one too. Cutting ribbons and making flowery speeches is one thing but actually having guts to fight injustice and corruption is another.

The commander has shown that the human race is what he has remained loyal to. Why are some of you out to crucify him?
Mr Bainimarama, I am just a simple, law abiding and loyal citizen while you are a pillar of strength to me and many more like me. Your family and true friends must be so proud of you. I together with the silent majority salute you. Keep up the good work and remember truth triumphs.

Prabha Singh

This failed lobby has also embolded the Commander to return with a vengeance and tie up the loose strings associated with the abysmal track record of the S.D.L Government.

This is the excerpt of the Fiji Sun article.

I'’ll be back to make PM resign: Commander

Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has to quit now, army commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said last night. He confirmed that he will return from his Middle East tour and continue his fight for a nation free of corruption.

I'll be back to see that Qarase and his cronies step down, he said. Commodore Bainimarama said the army was the only voice of hope for the nation, as the corruptive practices of the Qarase-led government had gone from bad to worse[...]Qarase is trying to weaken the army by trying to remove me,” [Commander] said[...]It has been his aim from day one.
If [Qarase] succeeds then there will be no one to monitor them and imagine how corrupt it is going to be"[...]If civil servants speak out against the Government they are sacked. If the provincial councils speak out their allocated funds are reduced so we are the only hope of the silent majority.

Commodore Bainimarama said such corruptive and unconstitutional practices had been supported by the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and the US governments.
These countries are saying it is a democratically elected government, said Bainimarama.
Sure that'’s fine - but what about the corruptive practices. That means these countries condone such practices"[...] What has the E.U done about all those unanswered questions [regarding] the general election? Can Australia, New Zealand or the US allow people who are involved in the overthrow of a democratically elected government to sit in positions of power?

“What about those coup convicts who went to prison but yet their seat in parliament was kept for them till they come out?"[...] Will Australia, New Zealand and the US allow that in their country and anyway these countries have not experienced any coups, so they have not experienced that. [Commander] said what was more frightening was the appointment of Qoriniasi Bale as Attorney-General.

He was not voted in by the people but through the Senate. And we know Qoriniasi Bale'’s record and involvement in some trust fund a few years back that saw him being disbarred for some time"[...]“This is the kind of people who are dealing with the country's legal policies and are supported by these overseas countries.

Commodore Bainimarama said he had regretted putting Mr Qarase in as the interim Prime Minister in 2000. “[Qarase] betrayed our trust when he went back to team up with the very people who caused the political instability of 2000,” [Commander] said.

Although George Speight is in prison, the policies that he made are now being adopted by the Government and also the very people behind him are now in parliament making decisions for the nation. [Commander Frank] said that for the nation to progress the only viable option was for Mr Qarase is to step down". Commodore Bainimarama vowed that the army would continue its fight to pressure the Government to:

1.)Drop the controversial Qoliqoli and Reconciliation, Truth and Unity Bills.

2.) Abolish the Native Land Trust Board'’s commercial arm Vanua Development Corporation. The NLTB has to only serve its core function of helping the landowners.

3.)Audit the provincial council's’ financial status, which had not been done for the past years.

Above image: Soldiers in Queen Elizabeth Barracks, the main encampment of Fiji's Army.

Fiji Daily Post, the Government owned newspaper has responded to the latest rumblings with their Editorial.

This is an excerpt.

The risk
Source: Fiji Daily Post

As our military leaders risk descending into a personality cult of their commander by their refusal to accept the instructions and advice of their commander-in-chief, the president, the observation of two Harvard social scientists, Herbert Kelman and Lee Hamilton, in their 1989 classic, "Crimes of Obedience" seems pertinent. The authors describe therein two psychological process, authorisation and routinisation - that permit otherwise law-abiding persons to engage in unlawful acts.

Authorisation processes, as they define it, create a situation in which people become involved in an action without considering its implications and without really making a decision. Once they have taken the initial step, they are in a new psychological and social situation in which the pressures to continue are powerful’. Indeed, ‘many forces that might originally have kept people out of a situation, reverse direction once they have made a commitment (once they have gone through the “gate region) and now serve to keep them in the situation.

Kelman and Hamilton note, for example, that because of authorisation, ‘concern about the criminal nature of an action, which might originally have inhibited a person from becoming involved may now lead to deeper involvement in effort to justify the action and to avoid negative consequences.

Kelman and Hamilton argue further that ‘the likelihood of moral resistance is greatly reduced by transforming the action into routine, mechanical, highly programmed operations by a second process they term, routinisation’. As they put it: routinisation fulfils two functions. First, it reduces the necessity of making decisions, thus minimising the occasions in which moral questions may arise. Second, it makes it easier to avoid the implications of the action, since the actor focuses on the details of the job rather than on its meaning’.

Routinisation operates both at the level of the individual actor and at the organisational level. Individual job performance is broken down into a series of discrete steps, most of them carried out into a series of discrete steps, most of them carried out in automatic, regularised fashion. It becomes easy to forget the nature of the product that emerges from this process.

Organisationally, the task is divided among different offices, each of which has responsibility for a small portion of it. This arrangement diffuses responsibility and limits the amount and scope of decision making that is necessary.

There is no expectation that the moral implications will be considered at any of these points, nor is there any opportunity to do so. The organisational processes also help further legitimise the actions of each participant.

By proceeding in routine fashion the different units mutually reinforce each other in the view that what is going on must be perfectly normal, correct, and legitimate. The shared illusion that they are engaged in a legitimate enterprise helps the participants assimilate their activities to other purposes, such as the efficiency of their performance, the productivity of their unit, or the cohesiveness of their group’.

We trust that our military is well exposed to the risks by placing their allegiance in a man, their commander, rather than in the institution of the presidency that represents their constitutional mandate and legitimacy.

Note from S.i.F.M to the Editors of Fiji Daily Post:

Refer to the Agricultural scam and Kunatuba's case currently in Suva High Court for the real application of "Crimes of Obedience".

The moral datum of crime then becomes the universal standard which all things must be measured against. Not a sliding scale of perceptions that are routinely abused by individuals in positions of authority.

Fiji Times Editorial also comments on the matter. The timing of these editorial also adds to the suspicion of external forces (within Fiji) pressuring some of the Fiji media to potray the Army Commander as a villian.

The degree of Editorial sameness underlines these suspicions with historic trends in Fiji and the lack of objectivity, including the apparent absence of direction and oversight from media watch dogs.

Fiji Media Council
and the Media Watch Fiji both of whom have been accused of being toothless tigers that have long been muzzled by the powers that be.

Club Em Designs

President Office and the Commander.

The office of President is under pressure from the standing S.D.L Government to replace the present Commander. In a secret bid to recruit a senior Army officer, the President's office was forced to issue the request to the officer, following active lobbying by the Prime Minister's office to remove Army Commander Frank Bainimarama.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Fiji Army warns Australian born Police Chief of Fiji.

The logger heads between the Fiji Government and the Army Commander is on the verge of contaminating relations between the two security counter parts; the Army and Fiji Police. This escalation stems from the decision of the Police Commissioner to refuse the release of the ammunition consignment intended for the Army's armory.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Heavy Traffic

An entertaining video was sent by relative and S.i.F.M decided to post it to remind readers of the stakes on hand in Fiji.

Back to the normal grind of addressing the crucial issues of Fiji M.U.D(monotonous Unsubstantiated Denials).

The methodical abuse of the mysterious slush fund managed by Fijian Affairs Board has underlined the drastic need to overhaul the entire system of native administration.
This latest incident speaks volumes on the apparently disregard for financial regulations by native institutions, as well as proving beyond any shadow of doubt that these provincial councils are basically in operation to cater for the whims of the chiefly class.
Added to that mismanagement is the ill discipline of some members of the Great Council of Chiefs who had lobbied for the removal of the current president of Fiji well before the end of his tenure. The disconnect with the native institutions has spilled over to the arena of democratic debates and political squabbles. This notion of straddling both the cultural arena and state governance is the Achilles heel of Fiji.
The issue of under development have been raised repeatedly by rural villagers, yet the call has been ignored and brushed aside by powers that be; who are the same shadowy group who have lobbied unabashedly for the resignation of the Fiji's current President.

Calls by the European Union(E.U) for the Army Commander to toe the line makes is indeed laughable. For once the S.D.L Government of Fiji has ignored their usual stance: Demanding that the E.U not interfere with domestic politics.

Above image:Montage of Fiji politicians and the standard which they should adhere to. The words are from the former speaker of California State Assembly, Bob Moretti (1971-1974).

The project adopted by Yasawa landowners in securing and subsequently repaying a loan for the purchase of the Oarsman resort highlights the bright development potentials for the Taukei or indigenous Fijians. Yasawa Landowner's success only adds more legitimacy to the notion that family units are indeed capable of operating independent of these archaic native institutions. This story also pokes holes in the entrenched argurements of the opponents of the Qoliqoli Bill in Fiji Parliament.

The above image is the Northern Coast of Vanua Levu, a huge Qoliqoli resource(Traditional fishing ground). Further down the coast lies Vorovoro island, the location of Tribe Wanted project. The view is from Udu point in the foreground looking westward along the Macuata coast which Babasiga and Taveuni blog writers may find familar.

The 14 Provincial Councils of Fiji are tasked with development within rural areas, yet there is no schedule of undertaking this project; let alone officially acknowledging the existence of a multi-disciplinary plan. The embarrassing trends of abuse of power, misappropriation of funds and non-audited financial accounts demonstrate that, the system is beyond repair and continues unabated.

A resounding and timely Letter to Fiji Times editor refutes the claims by Fiji academic.

Sydney Quack

AS a foreign journalist and former Fiji citizen, I feel compelled to address some of the issues raised by Dr Steven Ratuva in his opinion piece (FT 27/10).

The essence of his argument is that Australian and New Zealand journalists are rumour-mongering idiots with a bloated sense of cultural superiority who want a coup in Fiji to provide them with sensational headlines.

The problem with Dr Ratuva's analysis isn't just his argument, flawed as it is, but that it comes from a respected Fijian academic.

As a senior fellow in governance at the University of the South Pacific, Dr Ratuva is giving intellectual weight to the crudest of arguments that can only give comfort to the very people attacking the foundations of good governance in Fiji.

Call me sensationalist but that's what I find alarming.

Rather than point the finger at us uninformed hacks from across the seas, Dr Ratuva would be doing the nation a better service if he dissected the real reason why Fiji is coming under the international spotlight. And that is because the quality of governance the manner or functioning of governing (as the Oxford dictionary defines it) is so poor.

Why is everyone so eager to conclude that a coup is imminent in Fiji? Because the army commander who has the guns keeps threatening the government?

Why does he do that? Because the government wants to pardon coup-makers and extend indigenous rights in a way that threatens the national economy.

And as the President quietly tries to reconcile both sides in the interests of all Fiji citizens, he's vilified for being too old and ineffectual.

I am sorry if my colleagues in the foreign media have concluded that these facts, together, seem like a recipe for trouble.

You don't need to be trained in social anthropology to see it. As the saying goes "looks like a duck, quacks like a duck ... is a duck!"

Graham Davis

Club Em Designs

Monday, October 23, 2006

Delegate or Relegate?

(Top image-[L]Fiji's President:Joesfa Iloilo and[R]Vice President: Joni Madraiwiwi)

Individuals continue raising sentiments of dissatisfaction regarding the inability of the office of Fiji's President to publicly comment on the issue involving the commander of Fiji Army and Government; this matter will be clarified in court once the Attorney General files for the matter. Until then, avid readers into the subject will have to wade through the quagmire of eccentric remarks from both Army, the standing Government and those public comments(from Lawyers, Senators and bloggers [including S.i.F.M])even though the sentiments are extruded from biased platforms.

(L-Fiji's interim Government post 2000 coup.)

Although these remarks fall squarely into the right of free expression, they may require some form of independent fact-checking, to ascertain their validity as well as establishing a legal precedent devoid of any malice, innuendo and misrepresentation by segments with perceived or real conflict of interests in the matter.

(R-Sam Speight signing legal documents for the Rebel Government in 2000)

The loggerheads actually has beginnings stemming from the turmoltuous post-coup period in Fiji.

The issue of judicial patronage and legal activism is another matter that further complicates the issue in Fiji's case.

(Top-Fiji's current Chief Justice: Daniel Fatiaki in ceremonial wig. Messr Fatiaki has been named as being part of the legal team of the rebel Government).

This particular subject of independence and impartiality of the judiciary in Fiji, is covered comprehensively by the website owned by the International Commission of Jurists.

The excerpt of the detailed report(PDF) on Fiji by I.C.J is as follows:

Since November 2000, the Fijian human rights group, Coalition on Human Rights, has urged President Iloilo to suspend three High Court judges and investigate them for alleged misconduct.

The group claimed that the Chief Justice Timoci Tuivaga and Justices Daniel Fatiaki and William Scott had violated the independence, impartiality and the integrity of the judiciary, since they wrongfully advised the then President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara on the abrogation of the 1997 Constitution following the Speight coup.

Club Em Designs

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Imperfect Army for an Imperfect Government.

(L)Fiji Army Commander: Frank Bainimarama.

The recent media coverage quoting Fiji Army Commander, has created a turbulence within the ranks of biased political commentators who were virtually absent during and after the post-coup violence in Fiji.

S.i.F.M defends the actions, the words and the intentions of the courageous Commander applying the weighted verbatim of Henry Thoreau from his essay on "Civil Disobedience".

The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government.

The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.

It is these scandalous layers of people who hide behind the skirts of their vanua have acquired 2000 Coup Amnesia, including white washing the litany of illegal offences by certain members of Laisenia Qarase's cabinet, who were also named in the misappropriation of state funds (Kunatuba's Agricultural scam) for their own dispicable gains.

(R)Fiji P.M's office C.E.O: Jioji Kotobalavu and Former Minister of Agriculture Apisai Tora at the High Court trial for the Agriculture scam.

Although the Fji President has given the nod for a Supreme Court date, what remains to be seen is exactly how this legal clarification will be worded.
For certain the elements of natural justice is clearly on the side of the Commander, as well as a greater cross section of people from many racial groups.

If a man is thought-free, fancy-free, imagination-free, that which is not never for a long time appearing to be to him, unwise rulers or reformers cannot fatally interrupt him.

Vakaivosavosa's posting denegrating the Fiji Army and Commander Frank's moral high ground echos the flawed and logically unsound sentiments of these sunshine patriots.

Confucius said: "If a state is governed by the principles of reason, poverty and misery are subjects of shame; if a state is not governed by the principles of reason, riches and honors are subjects of shame."

Club Em Designs

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fiji Land Claims Tribunal- Look, Learn and Live.

Fiji's land tribunal has attracted much attention. Citizens Constitutional Forum head shed, Rev Akula Yabaki has contributed an interesting opinion article on the Lands Claim Tribunal legislation in Fiji, which appeared in the Fiji Times (Tues. Oct 10th 2006 issue).

It is prudent for the public to study other similar models that incorporated mechanisms, like the return of tribal land to the native owners. S.i.F.M echoes Yabaki's sentiments on the need for further and in depth consultations on the matter.

Above: Mamanuca group.

One such model from New Zealand's Crown Forestry Rental Trust organization that is similar to Fiji Hardwood Corporation (managing the proceeds from the native forest plantations), however there is one major difference. The Rental Trust was created to assist the landowning units of New Zealand during and after the Waitangi Land s Tribunal claims.

This is an excerpt of the Rental Trust website describing themselves.

The Crown Forestry Rental Trust was set up under the Crown Forest Assets Act 1989, after the New Zealand Māori Council and Federation of Māori Authorities took court action to protect Māori interests in the Crown’s commercial forests.

The Act allowed the Crown to sell licences for forestry, but prevented it from selling the land itself until the Waitangi Tribunal recommends who has ownership of the land - Māori or the Crown.

On 30 April 1990, Māori and Crown representatives signed a Trust Deed to establish the Crown Forestry Rental Trust.

The Waitangi Tribunal website describes the Rental Trust as follows:

Despite its name, the Crown Forestry Rental Trust is not a Crown agency. It is an independent trust that was established in 1989, as a result of an agreement between the Crown and Māori, to receive the rental proceeds from the licensing of Crown forest land.

The Trust uses the interest earned from the rentals to assist Māori to prepare and present claims to the Waitangi Tribunal. It also provides assistance for Maori to negotiate settlements with the Office of Treaty Settlements. The Trust is the largest funder of research for Tribunal claims.

The Crown Forestry Rental Trust has created a booklet(PDF) to assist the resource owners in the claims process.

Left: Suva foreshore. The native inhabitants of Suva have expressed their desire to control the area's foreshore.

Somehow the general framework of the Rental Trust operates with much similarity to Fiji's own Native Lands Trust Board. It is hoped that the same characteristics are not duplicated with Fiji's own Lands Tribunal Commission. In particular, the notion of having a Fijian dominated Government colonizing their own native inhabitants.

Having such a pseudo state-like entity in Fiji calling the shots on how the claims process should operate, is treading on the thin ice of ethical violations involving the division of powers. This contention of abuse of power by Native Lands Trust Board (N.L.T.B) resonates loudly, considering the avalanche of negative publicity involving N.L.T.B who are more inclined to listen to the concerns of their wealthy tenants, rather than the claims of abuse by poor landowners.

However one thing native resource owners in Fiji can actively gain from the New Zealand experience, is a greater understanding of the Waitangi claims process which uses fundamentals of English common law; also in force in Fiji jurisprudence.
The segment of preparing evidence is quite helpful for resource owners who are claimants yet are ignorant of the necessary steps needed to draw up their claims.
Another factor that should be incorporated by Fiji's Land Tribunal is the transparency index.

Each report from the Waitangi Tribunal is available to the public for perusal.

Above: Island off Nasoso, Nadi.
Another model worth studying is the land claims for the natives of Alaska. The website for the Alaska Land claims is quite comprehensive as well, as it provides other resources for natives.
The Alaskan website also provides links to other indigenous groups from around the globe. They are as follows: Aborigine of Australia, Indigenous people of Africa, Hawaii the 50th state of U.S, Ainu of Japan, Native American Indian, First Nations of Canada, Inuit of Greenland and Canada, Maori of New Zealand, Indigenous People of Russia, Saami of Scandinavia,

S.i.F.M has taken the liberty in drawing up a flow diagram template for Fiji; borrowing from the Waitangi model of claims.

Club Em Designs

Monday, October 09, 2006

Qoliqoli: Rights & Wrongs

Fiji Daily Post has acquired the services of prolific writer in Vitian affairs, Messr Francis Waqa Sokonibogi who laments on the proposed Qoliqoli Bill and the surrounding interjecture by Fiji's pseudo-talking heads. The discussion of the Qoliqoli Bill occupies the content in Fiji media simply because it is without precedent and it also deals with unalienable rights with respect to, the ownership and control of maritime resources and foreshore areas which most of Fiji's tourism industr.

This is an extract of the first part.

Qoliqoli and cannibalism


In response to the military commander’s recent comments concerning the return to cannibalism if the proposed Qoliqoli Bill is introduced, let me say this: Cannibalism has never left the Fiji Islands since it was introduced. Our ancestors when they were baptized en masse into Western civilisation were only converted into another form of cannibalism. Neo-cannibalism would be a more appropriate term but cannibalism all the same.

The difference in the two forms of cannibalism is only in degrees. The cannibalism our ancestor practised was to do with ritual eating flesh and blood of the people while the practice of neo-cannibalism they were introduce into, is to do with exterminating their descendants while they are yet alive i.e. civilisation which is urbanisation.

Read what Professor Scott explains how what form neo-cannibalism subtly worms its way into an suspecting people who thought they have done away with being ‘eaters’ to being the ‘eaten’ alive:

“Urbanisation itself was probably the most important political sociological phenomenon of the last century, for the whole of humanity and possibly also for the portion which lived in Fiji.

In any society known to humans since the last 18th century at least, has it been possible to stop urbanisation—even when people wanted to do so. The best such social reactionaries have managed has been to delay the process which itself builds up the basis for later conflicts.

For the future to occur it will probably be necessary to also go through the pains associated with rapid rates of urban migration, high levels of unemployment, landlessness and urban crime” (USP Parkinson’s Lecture series. USP 19th September, 2001).

The Fiji Daily Post editorial, ‘Ownership first then custodianship’ concludes positively with: ‘
Communal ownership is a positive strength in Fijian culture but will not benefit anyone if government is constantly baby-sitting the mataqali…’

We have seen the effects of the above process on the members of the Fijian ethnic sector of our society. This is because those who were supposed to be with their people in the villages have opted for urbanisation rather then ploughing back their investment to improve their peoples’ lot. They prefer to drive past urban and peri-urban squatter settlements and call their own people ‘thieves’.

Our army commander does not have to make the threat that the Fijian people will go back to cannibalism when his own people are already being cannibalised by their own leaders—economically and landholding-wise.

The Fijian people were cannibalised by the urbanisation process when the British changed the word “governance” into “possession” in the 1874 Deed Of Cession. Let us return to 1874 and see how this happened:

Customary law was used to seal the final understanding leading to the signing of the 1874 Deed of Cession. Commodore Goodenough and Thurston represented Queen Victoria on the 20th March, 1874.

The relevant part of the report reads:

“Sa qai tu cake ko na Komadoa ka vakamacalataka mai ni sa yalataki walega na Lewa ni Matanitu kivei Peritania ka sa sega ni soli vata kaya edua na tamata se dua na tiki ni vanua se dua na co ka sa tubu kina...Sa qai uliva nai tukutuku ko Rokotuiviwa ka ra sa vaka-mana-edina ko ira kece na turaga...”

In English the report states that: “ The Commodore stood up to explain that only the administration of governance pertaining to the Fiji Islands was being ceded to the British Government and the cession does not include any Fijian nor does it included any land or piece of the vanua nor any grass that might be growing on it.. This understanding was sealed by ‘so be it’ ritual...”
What happened and barely seven months later, on the 10th of October was this sacred intention altered from “governance” to “possession”. Witness the relevant toxins injected into the initial objectives of the Cession outlined above:

Applied Terra Nullius or Vacant Land Doctrine

Relevant preamble to the 1874 Deed of Cession reads: And Whereas in order to the establishment of British government within the said islands the said Tui Viti and other several high chiefs thereof for themselves and their respective tribes have agreed to cede the POSSESSION (author’s emphasis) of and the dominion and sovereignty over the said islands and over the inhabitants thereof…(Extract from preamble).
Clause 4 actually converts Fijian native lands into terra nulliu’ or the applied vacant land doctrine. The toxin reads:

That the absolute proprietorship of all lands not shown to be now alienated so as to have become bona fide property of Europeans or other foreigners or not now in the actual use or occupation of some chief or tribe shall be and is hereby declared to be vested in Her said Majesty her heirs and successors.

Clause 5—That Her Majesty (now to be the State—author’s brackets) Her Majesty shall have the power, whenever it shall be deemed necessary for public purposes, to take any lands upon payment to the proprietor of a reasonable sum by way of compensation for the deprivation thereof.

Echo of the past

We experience the past resounding in the essence of what our army commander, ex PM Rabuka, Ratu Epeli Ganilau and others with similar apprehensive objective and political intentions.

On the Qoliqoli Bill, we refer to comments by Ratu Epeli Ganilau (‘Qoliqoli Bill will raise conflicts’, Fiji Times, 26/09/05) where he claims the Fisheries and Qoliqoli Bill will cause national and sectional or racial interests.

Ratu Epeli Ganilau and others of similar hyperbolic negative thinkers’ main worry is the fact that such a bill allows for a broader and more equitable sharing of the economic returns of indigenous peoples’ resources. [Ganilau's] suggestion that “We would rather the seas in Fiji become a perpetual asset for all the people of Fiji – a national heritage or so,” reflects the terra nullius ethos that has become ingrained in the attitude, mindset and policy-direction of Fijian chiefs and their upper-class cohorts.

His argument that an Eco Tax of $20 per departure to be distributed to i qoliqoli owners is shallow and does not reflect the real economic benefits of indigenous’ peoples resources.

It does not take into account items like: loss of access to fishing grounds, loss of fish and other food items, loss of customs and traditional sustainable environmental practices, pollution caused by economic activity (hotels, commercial fishing etc). The intent is seeking to reduce the ownership question to one of “racial interests” thus he has failed miserably to delineate and differentiate “racial interests” and “indigenous interests/rights”.

What is apparently, and obviously, emerging into the Fijian ownership question is not only neo-cannibalism but neo-colonialism in its nakedness as well. We have just witnessed a judgement that applied in effect that the NLTB owns the land.

Now the pro-nationalisation syndrome edges its way into the minds of our Fijian leaders whose ancestors committed the very same cannibalistic process by alienating lands that were never theirs. Nationalisation here meaning, a de-ownership process for indigenous people, where their land and other natural resources become “nationalised” or absorbed into national ownership. This is a very scary concept.

To be continued


Club Em Designs

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

U.S Embassy tax refund: Double Dipping or Backdoor Financing?

Senator Buaserau scrutinizes the need for a decree for V.A.T(Value Add Tax) reimbursement for the construction of the new U.S Embassy in Suva, Fiji.

These are excerpts from Fiji Times article written by Frederica Elbourne.

During debate on the Bill in the Upper House, Senator Ratu Solomoni questioned the wisdom of the Bill and said he was amazed that it came at a time when the nation was faced with a 30 per cent fuel surcharge, rising interest rates, poverty, high debt and economic woes.

He challenged Ratu Jone and Foreign Affairs minister Senator Kaliopate Tavola to prove if an official request came from the Government of the United States of America seeking a concession. The Bill allows VAT refund to embassies and high commissions who want to build their offices here, following a request from the US embassy.

"I hope the letter did not just originate from the US embassy here in Suva. It is important to verify this. If it is coming from the USA, then Fiji can use this precedent for its future negotiations,"he said.

The Senator's comments were refreshing because they were intelligent questions and were not the usual echo chamber speeches which the public expects from Government appointed Senators.
The honorable Senator also posed an interesting question, on why the Minister of Finance is tabling a decree for matters which lies within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"Thus the amendment should be legally and correctly introduced by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade with the concurrence of the Minister for Finance and National Planning,"he said yesterday.

The U.S State Department website has vast resources, like this document on Capital Construction and Major Rehabilitation projects (PDF)overseas. Tax reimbursements for foreign taxes should come under bilateral agreements and not decrees by one party.

[Source: U.S State Department publication: Foreign Affairs Manual & Foreign Affairs Handbook.]

Club Em Designs

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Probing the Deep End.

The agricultural scam in Fiji is now being revisited in depth, during the trial of former C.E.O for Ministry of Agriculture, Peniasi Kunatuba. It is believed that several prominent business people are involved along with Laisenia Qarase and a few Ministers of his old cabinet. However, the P.M has been granted leave to attent to the Australian-Fijian Business Council in Brisbane. It remains to be a niggling and embarassing issue which further compounds the P.M's integrity. A tag which the citizens are frequently reminded of.

The case also unravels the full extent of the corruption within the Fiji Police Fore and other organizations as claimed by investigating Detective, Inspector Nasir Ali.

My removal was a plot, says Ali
Fiji Live: Tuesday October 03, 2006

The main investigating police officer in the $29 million agricultural scam alleges he was conspired against by authorities to save some influential businessmen and government ministers.

Inspector Nasir Ali revealed during the trial of former Agriculture permanent secretary Peniasi Kunatuba that he had originally interviewed the then Agriculture Minister Apisai Tora with an intention to charge him with conspiracy to defraud the Fiji Government.

Ali also revealed that he had intended to interview Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase based on allegations made by Kunatuba against him.

During this morning's session, Kunatuba's lawyer Tevita Fa asked Ali whether Kunatuba was primarily responsible for the scheme to which Ali replied that while some liability fell on Kunatuba, others were also responsible.

He told High Court judge Justice Nazhat Shameem that Kunatuba's evidence also incriminated former Home Affairs Minister Jonetani Cokanasiga and his permanent secretary Jeremaia Waqanisau amongst other interim cabinet members yet to be named.

Ali said there was also evidence that came out during his investigations against former assistant Agriculture Minister Marieta Rigamoto.

He said the scheme involved "everyone from the top management to the ordinary worker".

Ali told Justice Shameem that in the midst of investigations, some senior police officers complained that he had "done some business" with Suncourt, a hardware company implicated in the scam.

Ali said the charges of abuse of office against him were "nothing but to save prominent people implicated including some senior officers and management staff and the directors of Suncourt and RC Manubhai".
He said since he was removed no Suncourt employee was neither questioned nor charged in relation to scam. Ali said a Suncourt director had admitted to that in a tribunal set-up in 2004 to investigate the abuse of office charges laid against him.

Ali also alleged that the conspiracy extended to other investigations conducted under him in particular, a "police pay fraud" involving "many senior police officers".

He added that the July 2001 fire that destroyed part of Suncourt claimed as accidental was in fact arson.

It was revealed in Court yesterday that some of the invoice and payment receipts claimed by Suncourt directors to have been destroyed in the fire were later recovered in 2002 in the Suncourt general manager's office.


Apparently the prime reason for the treasury's pathetic state is the misappropriation of state funds. This is always been highlighted by the reports of the Auditor General's office, year in and year out in Fiji.

Club Em Designs