Thursday, November 30, 2006

Parallax Error.

Above Image: Fiji Sun front page.

Update on the drama in Fiji is that, the deadlines set by the Army has come and gone placing the observers of military in episodes of infantile frustration. One vocal projectile of insanity was hurled at the Army Commander by the Prime Minister depicting hopeless expression.

The recent raid on the office of the President by the Fiji Police Force was revisited, when an official of the President's office demanded from the Police the return of those seized documents .

It also appears in this instance that the Fiji Police and Government have fallen out of favor with the President's office in the wake of the shameful raid. This division was more evident and distant, when the silence of the President's office was shattered proclaiming their avid support of the Army Commander.

Although, the Army Commander had been given clearance for audience quite readily, as seen with his 40 minute brief with the holder of the highest office in the state of Fiji; this further illustrates the loss in influence by the SDL Government and supporters. This support for the Army by the President's office, marks the stark contrast in ideals mirroring a similar fault that has also deepened with the general public in Fiji. One side for the Government and the other in Frank's camp.

This difference in opinion was raised by the Fiji Attorney General when he read the speech of the Prime Minister that questioned the silence of Fiji Law Society and their relunctance to take a position on the conflict between the Government and the Army, even though other Non Governmental Organizations had voiced theirs.

One similar view has been voiced by the iconic Human Rights Lawyer and wife of the C.E.O of Airports Fiji, Imrana Jalal whose opinion article appeared in Thursday's Fiji Times.

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.

Fiji Police Commissioner, Andrew Hughes has conveniently kept out of the spotlight recently only to give impromptu interviews if the circumstances weigh in his favor. Fiji TV 6pm news segment of Thurs. Nov. 30th quotes Sydney Morning Herald on the rumored resignation of Police Commissioner Hughes. This rumour has been flatly denied by the man himself speaking from Cairns in an inteview with Fiji Village.

Although Fiji P.M has announced that no further shifting from his position on the impasse , he is reported to be seeking cover in undisclosed locations waiting for the political storm to pass.

This is the address to the nation by Fiji Prime Minister post- New Zealand talanoa session.

This is regarding the list of demands outlined by the Army recently. Despite the early comments of the seeking the application of the Biketawa Declaration by the Fiji P.M, the older and much wiser diplomat and Minister of Foreign Affairs plays the denial card.

Pacific Beat podcast of Dec 1st, 2006 has an overview from the Pacific Island leaders forum on the impasse in Fiji. The podcast also features an interview with the Fiji Police Commissioner.

Club Em Designs

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Australian Black Hawk Crashes in Waters off Fiji.

In exercises designed to replicate rapid insertion techniques that may be used in Fiji, a Black hawk helicopter crashed landed while attempting to land on HMS Kanimbla, killing one member of the Australian SAS.
This exercise and proposed mission has jinxed the efforts by Australian Government and setting the Commonwealth back several million dollars in damages & insurance payouts.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Placebo Effect.

Fiji Times editorial of Friday Nov. 24th 2006 views the current impasse between Fiji Army Commander and the Fiji Government with an objective and unbiased description.

This is an excerpt:

Only time will tell

Friday, November 24, 2006

Things are coming to a head. The announcement by Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes that army commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and others are to be questioned comes as no surprise.

Image: Hughes with sunglasses and Fiji P.M on their departure to N.Z.

Mr Hughes said they are to be questioned on cases ranging from disobedience of a lawful order, plotting to overthrow the Government, sedition, removing a container of ammunition, stopping the President from instituting an inquiry into the commander's actions, the death of CRW soldiers and abuse of LPOs approval.

What is surprising is the timing of Mr Hughes' announcement, which many will see simply as a flexing of muscles after the military's call for his removal.

Even more surprising, is the announcement coming only a day after Prime Minister said the State does not regard the military as the enemy and that he believes they can sort their differences out through dialogue.

Mr Hughes' announcement that the investigation is not against the institution of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces but against the individuals involved will do little to allay fears of political instability.

He, as head of a disciplined service, knows very well that the commander is the service. To go against him is to go against an institution that all but a die-hard few will admit is last bastion of decency this country knows.

In truth, the people are fed up of the cat-and-mouse games being played by all those involved in the stand-off that is on the verge of bringing our nation to its knees.

Mr Hughes must be careful. Now people will question why it took so long to say he wants to question military officers over things like the CRW deaths, something that happened five years ago.

If there were difficulties, why was this not said before? Likewise, the military commander has repeatedly said 'he will tell all'. Well, perhaps now is the perfect time to get everything off his chest. If it helps clear the air, so be it.

If not, everyone must face the consequences of their actions.

But the nation should not have to face the consequences of the actions of a few as it has done in 1987 and in 2000.

We are fed up of that. It is time to grow up and move forward, as everyone loves to spout.

Everybody seems to want to uphold the 1997 Constitution, when it suits them. Perhaps now is the time for all of us to live the spirit of the Constitution. But, for that to happen, it must start from the very top. A token multi-party divided Cabinet is not enough.

Do we, as a nation, have the courage to shape our own future or must we always pick up the pieces behind those with ulterior motives. Only time will tell.

The Fiji Times follow up article "No one is above the law" was written with similar template of unbiased reflection.

No one is above the law

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Many people were exposed as a result of investigations into the 2000 coup and the mutiny at Queen Elizabeth Barracks in November that year.

People such as George Speight, Timoci Silatolu, Josefa Nata, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, Ratu Jope Seniloli, Ratu Josefa Dimuri, the Ratu mai Namalata Ratu Kolinio Tuirakiwaimaro, Captain Shane Stevens, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata and others have served their time in prison.

Some people, however, still live freely among us and some questions have remained on people's minds since 2000 as to why has it taken so long for police to lay charges.

That is not all and the investigation is hardly over.

The impasse and war of words between army commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and the Government has extended to Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes.

That was after the unlawful removal of a container of ammunition by the army without the approval of police from the Suva wharf two weeks ago.

Commodore Bainimarama later called for the removal of Mr Hughes because police said the ammunition was not cleared and the document used by the army to clear it from the wharf was falsified.

In a press conference this week, Mr Hughes said there was a need to verify allegations and misinformation which needed to be cleared for the sake of good governance.

Mr Hughes said they needed to get to the bottom of things on the latest from the commander and senior officers in the military to clean-up the Government.

"The investors and potential tourists to Fiji want to know what their clean-up means.

"I have to find out what it means in the context of my broader responsibility for maintaining law and order in Fiji," said Mr Hughes.

He said people of Fiji had a right to know what "clean-up Government" meant and it was not fair to keep making threats and then disappear overseas.

Mr Hughes said everyone have to wait for more than a week while the commander attends his grand-daughter's christening in New Zealand, which is hardly fair.

Meanwhile, the police investigation into allegations against Commodore Bainimarama has taken 28 days with effect from October 24.

The allegations include:

  • Disobedience of lawful order,
  • Seditious contents of public statements by Voreqe Bainimarama,
  • Unlawful removal of container of ammunition from the King's Wharf,
  • Alleged plot to overthrow the Government by the commander,
  • Unlawful obtaining of approval from the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, to abort the commission of inquiry against the commander, and
  • Investigations into the death of Counter Revolutionary Warfare soldiers who were allegedly murdered at the QEB during the mutiny on November 2, 2000, and

Alleged abuse of office by senior military officers in approving payments of LPOs beyond their authorised limits.

Assistant Commissioner of Crime Kevueli Bulamainaivalu said Commodore Bainimarama was supposed to be interviewed on Wednesday but he had left the country for NZ while the rest of the senior military officers were scheduled to be interviewed by Monday.

"It is important to note that the police have unsuccessfully tried to complete the investigations into the deaths of the CRW soldiers because of the difficulty faced by the instigators in securing the co-operation of the military," he said.

Mr Hughes said: "I also repeat a warning made a few weeks ago to the military, officers and troops in the military that they cannot commit unlawful acts and say I was only following orders.

"It does not wash with the CRW and will not wash now.

"Already there are five senior offices likely to face charges for committing unlawful acts in the past."

Mr Hughes said a vast majority of the service men and women in the RFMF were decent, honest and law-abiding honourable professionals.

"I do not want to see them step on the wrong side of the law; remember what happened to the CRW soldiers.

"Think of your families and I don't want to see costly mistakes happen," he said.

Mr Hughes said no one including the President could authorise anybody to commit an unlawful act.

"It is unlawful to do that and I plead to members of the RFMF to bear that in mind.

"The other thing I like to say is if there are plans out there to form an interim Government of some sort people need to be very aware of what happened after 2000 and the fate of those who committed an unlawful act.

"There were a number charged including former Vice-President Ratu Jope Seniloli. Mr Hughes warns that the same could happen again.

So he says if you have been approached and contemplating taking up a position in some interim government in Fiji, forget it.

It will not be in your interest and certainly not the country.

He said we have a newly elected democratic government and the people have voted it in.

"Remember the events of 1987 and 2000 and learn from it.

Mr Hughes said in 1987 it was widely speculated and indeed rightly so that there were people behind Mr Rabuka when he staged the coup.

"In 2000 there were people behind George Speight shadowy operating in the shadows manipulating and influencing rebels and we suspect the same applies here.

"There are individuals, groups and organisations behind this inciting and manipulating the commander and others to do what they are doing," he said.

Mr Hughes openly said the next phase was targeting these individuals and groups. In the interest of everyone in Fiji unlike what has happened in the past, these people will be dragged out of the sunlight for all to see, he said.

They will be interviewed in respect for their involvement.

"Tell everyone hiding in the shadows who were involved in the conspiracy to destabilise the Government that they need to think again because the investigation is getting closer to them," he said.

For the sake of good governance and transparency the public look up to the police force to allow justice to prevail.

At least, that way, we will still have some faith in our police force and the judiciary if not in the leaders who have failed us again and again despite our faith and trust in them.

Fiji Police responded with a hastily designed correspondence in response to the Editorial with a scathing Letter to the Editor (F/T of 25/11) that, almost questions the Freedom of Speech of the daily publication. This is the excerpt of the letter:

Only time will tell

Your editorial today (24/11) cannot not be left undisputed. The content is an example of the persisting parochialism and continuing reification of the Republic of the Fiji Military Forces and the commander as one and the same. It is not.

People need to understand that an institution such as the military as is the Fiji police, comprises of a group of individuals who subscribe to a set of values and ethos it is not beholden nor subject to any one person's whim even if he is the head of that institution.

The dignity and reputation of such institutions is a collective journey by the group to uphold and maintain those values and ethos despite influences (internal and external) to the contrary.

The game is much, much bigger than any one individual. That is the gist of what we mean when we say that our investigations are into the commander and a select few and not the military per se. I am surprised that a reputable paper such yours failed to identify and recognise that one simple difference. The respect that we, the Fiji police, have for the institution that is the RFMF remains undiminished. Its values and ethos are honourable and one that we too uphold, therefore, as I have stipulated above the RFMF as an institution is not the 'enemy' as you so plainly put it.

The even more troubling content of your editorial is that you saw fit to question the timing of the commissioner's comments at a press conference yesterday (23/11).

Where on earth have you been for the last two months? Were you in hibernation when the rest of the media (local and international) covered press conferences and statements by Commissioner Hughes with regards to the unlawful use of ammunition and sedition as well other matters pertaining to certain individuals in the RFMF?

What he talked about yesterday was an update to that. The only new thing he mentioned was the presence of those shadowy figures in the background who, for reasons best known to them, have seen it fit to advise the commander on this course of action. Yes, an investigation has started into these scurrilous few and we will, as Commissioner Hughes said, "drag these people into the sunlight for all to see". This cycle and mentality of coups must end.

As for the CRW soldiers, I personally had replied to questions sent by a reporter at Fiji Times last month regarding investigations into the deaths of the CRW soldiers and I told him that we did have difficulties because those wanted for questioning were either overseas or not at work.

I informed him that we had handed the Provost a To Do List that was given to us by the Director of Public Prosecutions and were given assurances that it would be done. So your assertions as to timing is so far off, you'd be hopelessly lost were you on a jungle survival course.

The wheels of justice may not move as fast as some would like but it does move and we, the Fiji police have managed to front up some of the more notable members of society in a court of law in relation to events of 2000. That should be proof enough that we do carry out our role without fear of favour. The law, you see is for everyone. What more can anyone expect?

Sylvia Low
Police acting director corporate communications

S.i.F.M has received an email that responds to the letter to the Fiji Times Editor by Police Acting Director Corporate Communications. The following is the excerpt:

Paradox or Placebo.

The letter penned on behalf of the Fiji Police Force to the Fiji Editor which appeared on the Sat (25/11) issue may require more than grain of salt to digest. The sentiments of the Fiji Police Force are outlined in the correspondence dispatched by their Acting Director of Corporate Communications (ADCC), Sylvia Low.

It may be prudent to analyze the correspondence and apply the same argurment raised by the Fiji Police force to their own Ad Hominem caricature of the Fiji Times editorial of Friday Nov. 24th.

“The content is an example of an example of the persisting parochialism and continuing reification of the Republic of the Fiji Military Forces and the commander as one and the same. It is not”.

Using the logic of the ADCC, the views of a head of an organization or incumbent should not be confused as being the policy for the entire organization.

To filter out the innuendos and parody built into the letter, truth is ultimately found by reversing this lampooning rhetoric and substituting it to other cases.

“People need to understand that, an institution such as the military as is (sic) the Fiji Police, comprises of a group of individuals who subscribe to a set of values and ethos it is not (sic)beholden nor subject to any one person's whim even if he is the head of that institution.”

People of Fiji understand the general concepts of institution and their inherent roles in society. They don't need to be lectured on the ideals of a democratic Government; especially when lectured by an organization that liaises with a foreign Government to import arms and men. This same agency that prides itself as law enforcement, further colludes to circum-navigate border controls of a sovereign nation under the name of security(see media reports of Australian covert soldiers overtly disembarking an international flight to Nadi airport from Sydney and spiriting away the silver cases and soldiers on Fiji Police vehicles).

The checks demanded by international conventions which the state of Fiji is signatory to, was raised before in international forums. Was it not these same foreign Governments who demanded a strengthening of these borders; in light of the events of 9/11? It demeans all rational thinking people, when these floating series of judgments actually are a premise based on falsehood. One ponders, when exactly did the Parliament give Fiji Police Force authority for border security and customs enforcement?Absence of such approvals illustrate the abuse of office, using the elements of fear and ignorance of the law.

The idea of diplomatic privileges of pouches and packages claimed by Australian Embassy and Fiji Police is only tenable if; those items are declared as such at the custom check points along with the right paper work. Avoiding these border controls at airports mandated by International conventions, only makes a mockery out of the need for border control and divisions of responsibilities. Legal precedents such as border and custom enforcement are in place for a reason; first and foremost they make it more difficult to import dangerous goods into the country.

It defeats the purpose of border controls, when the visitors are conveniently detouring these lawful checks with the assistance of local law enforcement agencies. There is much danger in relegating border enforcement in Fiji to the local law enforcement agencies. Abuse and concentrated power without checks and balances are the main pillars of concern.

The bill of goods which the Fiji Police are attempting to sell to the public is undoubtedly damaged products, with an expired shelf life. The issue of the ammunition ordered by the Fiji military not being released from Suva wharf without an import license is among those pinnacles of mis-representation.

Is it quite difficult to comprehend the process of applying for an import license with the Fiji Police Force, especially when they clearly do not have the authority to issue such import licenses or charge fees that accompany such applications.

What the people of Fiji need clarification on is, advice when these tools of Governance not living up to that same degree of excellence, they constantly hold the public to.

People of Fiji really do not need any advanced theory of Governance to understand when the wheels of justice turn only, when prompted by the influential. People of Fiji do not need a consultant to point out the ugly reality that, the financiers of the 2000 coup are yet to be brought to justice. People of Fiji have seen perpetrators of the 2000 coup being convicted and released within months. People of Fiji watch with incredulity that, the reports of abuse of funds and corruption which the Auditor General's office keeps publishing year in and year out; has become more of an annual event that reminds the public of decadence and exuberance. Auditor General's annual reports further congratulate Politicians and officials in how they have skilfully escaped the gauntlet of accountability in Fiji, yet again.

The people of Fiji have yet to understand the legality of this. The people of Fiji ask where and what the law enforcers are doing when spates of religious intolerance, corruption and coup investigations are not investigated with the same vigor, enthusiasm and inertia as demonstrated in the sedition investigation.

Similarly, when this logic is applied to the Fiji Police Force case: the perspectives entailed in the Letters to the Editor authored by the ADCC, inextricably makes those perspectives her own. This obdurated view is not, does not and should not reflect the view of the entire Police Force. Furthermore the constant interviews by Andrew Hughes, are his own perspectives and not that of the Fiji Police Force. If readers feel some awkwardness about this premise, than obviously there is an ingrained flaw of the initial logic.

“The game is much, much bigger than any one individual. That is the gist of what we mean when we say that [Fiji Police] investigations are into the commander and a select few and not the military per se.”

The game alluded to by the Acting Director of Corporate Communications, is indeed larger than one individual or one institution. Although the charges of sedition have been leveled at those individuals, the actual legal determination is absent and far from absolute.

It also paints the logos and pathos of the Fiji Police investigations into the allegations of sedition, as politically inspired. As with the idea of terrorism that one group may find a certain action closely fitting their idea of terror; yet others may consider it freedom fighting. The ruction of the 1987 and 2000 coups of Fiji reinforce this double edged sword. The Fiji public remembers only too vividly the ethno-nationalism ideals brandished by those who supported the putsch.

The extension of this rhetoric is: one party's idea of sedition could be another persons idea of freedom of expression. The danger in Fiji's case is that, the same Orwellian rhetoric is being maligned, misappropriated under these fears.

“The even more troubling content of your editorial is that you saw fit to question the timing of the commissioner's comments at a press conference.” This sentence proves that content of the editorial was pre-judged more for its timing, rather than its content.

What the Fiji Police Force determined to be troubling in the Fiji Times editorial (of Fri. 24/11) was nothing more than a sad reflection of the facts.

These dangers of impropriety, unduly manifest themselves as state policy and abuse state tools to enforce these dogmatic principles.

Club Em Designs

Monday, November 27, 2006

For whom the Bells toll.

Fiji Times reports that the local police have sought the assistance of Interpol to arrest the Fiji Army Commander in New Zealand. This report comes in the wake of revelations in Fiji Sun article published on their new look website that, Fiji Police have dispatched officers to track the Commander. This is the excerpt of that article:

Top police team follows Frank

Police have remained tightlipped on a failed attempt to arrest army commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama in New Zealand over the weekend. A team led by Assistant Police Commissioner Crime Kevueli Bulamainaivalu and Assistant Superintendent of Police Waisea Tabakau flew to New Zealand last Saturday. ASP Tabakau is heading the sedition investigation against Commodore Bainimarama.
Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes last night was resting and refused to reveal the purpose of the officers' visit to New Zealand.

"The Commissioner is resting," a senior aide said. "Yes, we confirm that Bulamainaivalu and Tabakau left for New Zealand on Saturday but we will not say anything on the purpose of the trip," a senior police officer who answered on behalf of Commissioner Hughes said. Deputy Police Commissioner Moses Driver and Director CID Josaia Rasiga's mobile phones were switched off.

However, Commander Land Force Colonel Pita Driti told the Fiji Sun that he was informed that certain senior police officers had left for New Zealand on Saturday. "If the intention is to arrest the Boss then it is a failed mission," he said. "In actual fact, the police are only embarrassing themselves." Cdre Bainimarama said he had not met Mr Bulamainaivalu or Mr Tabakau in New Zealand. "What are they doing here?" he said. "If they had come in on Saturday and today is Monday, why haven't they shown up?"

Cdre Bainimarama said the Fijian and Indian communities in New Zealand had been visiting him during his stay. The New Zealand High Commission in Suva did not wish to comment on the officers' trip and whether they could be having talks with the New Zealand Police on how they could handle Cdre Bainimarama.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Kaliopate Tavola referred all questions to his chief executive officer Isikeli Mataitoga, who was not available to comment.

Meanwhile, Cdre Bainimarama opted to remain silent on Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's request for Foreign Ministers from the member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum to meet this Friday to discuss the situation in Fiji. Forum secretary general Greg Urwin said Mr Qarase had requested a meeting in accordance with the forum's Biketawa Declaration. "I don't want to say anything about that meeting," said Cdre Bainimarama.

This request by Fiji Police represents another untimely escalation in the volatile situation,
considering the efforts to broker a meeting between the Commander and Fiji P.M was intiated by the New Zealand Government. The efforts by the Fiji P.M to seek regional assistance as reported by Fiji Times, only compounded an already dicey situation derived from the Interpol request.

Arrest order out for head of Fiji military

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Police Tactical Response Division member guards the entrance to Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes house in Tamavua, Suva last night+ Enlarge this image

A Police Tactical Response Division member guards the entrance to Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes house in Tamavua, Suva last night

Fiji police have asked the international police agency, Interpol to have Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama arrested in New Zealand.

And last night, Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes and his family were moved under police escort to a secret location.

Police sources yesterday confirmed two senior officers flew to New Zealand on Sunday to seek Interpol help in arresting Commodore Bainimarama before he returns to Fiji.

The Commodore is expected back this afternoon.

The source said the two officers were Assistant Commissioner Police (Crime) Kevueli Bulamainaivalu and Criminal Investigations Department senior officer, Waisea Tabakau.

Commodore Bainimarama said last night from Wellington he had not been contacted by the two officers.

"Are they in New Zealand? Well, I have not heard from them," he said.

Commodore Bainimarama refused to comment further, saying he was enjoying his holiday with his grandchildren.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Moses Driver said police were being more careful in making comments to the media.

"Now, the media will have to fax questions over to our public relations department," he said.

"There will be no more casual comments over the phone." About 3000 members of the army's Territorial Forces were called in to camp at the weekend and have started training.

Military spokesman Major Neumi Leweni said the training was a normal schedule for the army.

But Radio Australia said the two senior officers were sent to New Zealand to interview Commodore Bainimarama.

It's believed the decision to send a team to New Zealand was made after fresh threats on senior police officers were made via mobile telephone calls late last week.

Last night, Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes and his family left their home in Tamavua at 6.30pm escorted by a police vehicle.

Security officer Kalaveti Rokolati said he saw Mr Hughes and his family leave their home but he did not know if they were leaving the country or had gone elsewhere.

Last night two Police Tactical Response Division officers who were guarding the house confirmed Mr Hughes and his family had been moved to another place.

The house was in darkness, with only the porch lights on and two officers guarding the house.

Mr Rokolati said the officers started guarding the house last night.

Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase said: "There is no need to worry about what is going on right now, especially the students, because they can enjoy their remaining week before taking their school break."

Fiji Police Force acting communications director Sylvia Low called for "calm in the country".

She asked the media to be responsible in its reporting of the stand-off between the military and the Government.

Australia's Foreign Affairs minister Alexander Downer told an interview with ABC he believes a coup could happen within the next two weeks but was not sure on which day.

"Perhaps a bit later than the end of this week, but I think a coup is very likely to occur," he said.

The INTERPOL request by Fiji Police Force created unintended consequences that further disturbed the simmering tensions as well as, eroding any motives for good will that this meeting between (Qarase/Bainamarama/Peters) had hoped to incubate. Although, Fiji Army Commander and New Zealand Foreign Minister have meet twice previously as reported by Fiji Times article, it is unlikely if any solution to the impasse would surface.

NZ minister meets Fiji army chief twice

1120 FJT
Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Update: 11.20AM New Zealand's foreign minister has met Fiji's army commander for a second time in Wellington in a reported last-ditch attempt to head off threats of an imminet coup in Suva.

Winton Peters met Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama for a second time after holding talks with him over the weekend, his spokesman James Funnell said.

"Obviously our fullest focus is on trying to ease tensions in Fiji and do whatever we can do to prevent anything unfortunate from happening," Funnell said.

He declined to give further details.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said her government was "in dialogue with the commander and the Fiji Government ... to try to see whether there's a way through what is clearly an impasse."

The development comes as South Pacific nations rushed to organise a top-level regional meeting on the worsening crisis.

Bainimarama is expected to return to Fiji from a trip to New Zealand later today, providing a potential flash point in the crisis.

He has threatened in recent weeks to "clean up" the government if it didn't accede to a range of demands by next week, including halting a police investigation into his actions.

"My intention of removing this government is clear," Bainimarama was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Australia and New Zealand have upgraded their travel advisories for Fiji because of the security situation, and Wellington has pulled some of its 30 diplomatic staff and dependents out of Suva.

Tensions between Bainimarama and Qarase have been brewing for almost two years, but they have escalated recently.

Their dispute has centered around two pieces of government legislation: One offering amnesty to the plotters of a 2000 coup, and another that hands coastal land ownership in the multi-ethnic country to indigenous Fijians.

This level of diplomacy by Fiji Government must have prompted the need to create Australian initiated workshops for potential Fiji and Pacific diplomats. The experience of Australia in trade and diplomacy is second to none. So vast are their expolits that, Australia also is involved in the Iraq Oil-for-Food scam reported by an article published by Times of India. Houston Chronicle remarks that, although the Commonwealth of Australia escaped wrath from the investigation, the heat generated from this case may indirectly damage the reputation of Australian P.M John Howard and Foreign Minister Downer.

The embarrasing involvement of Australian executives in this scheme of unbridalled greed, also tarnishes the track record and ideals which the Australian Commonwealth have built their plans for the Pacific on.

The simmering under currents of tension currently captivating Fiji can be safely acknowledged to the remarks by Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer in his recent interview.

Another perspective of the geo-political shift in the Pacific, blames the ripples of power brokering exercised by the larger and wealthier nations perched on the rim of fire.

This unamed article appears on this webpage. This is the excerpt of the opinion:

The New Pacific Wall:


Media Release(Nov 28, 2006)

The big three, the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, have divided the Pacific island territories.

New Zealand now controls Polynesia, Australia is “in charge of” Melanesia (including the plundering of natural resources by its multinationals in Papua New Guinea),

and the U.S. has a firm grip on Micronesia. What are the consequences for the people of the island nations.

Return to Fiji Village Forum

Conspiracy Theory

After Fiji was condemn to the bottom of the Ocean by Australia, NZ and the US during the coupe in 2000, the Qarase government in its Foreign policy reviews had decided to forged a new look North policy to Asia.

China, Japan and Taiwan open the door for Fiji with the hope to bring in the rest of the pacific islands to their side. The move by Fiji and its acceptance by our Asian neighbours took Australia by surprise and immediately relax the tough sanctions they impose on Fiji. NZ and the US follow suite later on.

By this time The Qarase Government has decided to never again to put all Fiji's hope on Australia and NZ,

The new relationship has mushrooms to a new level of co-peroration and China shows their interest and mutual respect for Fiji and the pacific islands, in establishing a special envoy to the pacific and they show their commitments by attending a special China-Pacific business forums in Fiji this year attended by their Premier,

Australia and NZ wasn’t invited and I don’t think it sits well with them especially after they have accused China for using the pacific Islands and offering a Chequebook foreign policy. Which China adamantly denied.

The America Congress in its 2005 foreign policy reviews raised serious concerns on Chinas move to the pacific. Immediately they send General Abiesay to Australia, NZ, and stop by in Fiji to visit the Commander.

We can only speculate on the content of the visit or conversations, but we cannot deny the result.

  • Few months later the American and NZ resolved their long dispute over Non Nuclear issue.
  • Howard has already a strong Bush ally
  • NZ Foreign affairs and PM were given the red carpet treatment at the white house
  • American Military resume high-level meetings with Fiji Military

    We had to wonder the unrest recently in Solomon Island and Tonga the target is Chinese Business. Will that happen in Fiji? Time will tell and certainly looks in that direction.

    Also we have to wonder the true motives of Bainimarama’s against Qarase’s government who want s to forge a strong relation with China.

    My theory is The US, Australia, and NZ has made it clear their intention, to destabilized any Pacific Island government that have strong ties to Beijing.

  • Victor Lal's opinion on the viable options available in his article published by Fiji Sun and provides an illuminating view of this stand off between the Government and Army.

    There is no other way

    Fiji is now in a ‘political crisis’ that so far has not been resolved constitutionally. The President should ask the Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and Commodore Frank Bainimarama to resolve their differences amicably, in the form of give and take, on the grounds of ‘national interest’. Towards this end, the option of the appointment of a new Minister for Home Affairs, to enable the Prime Minister to open a fresh line of communication with the military, remains. But this is for the Prime Minister to exercise, who can be encouraged by the President in doing this.

    Even President George W. Bush sacrificed his Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld when the heads of the army, navy, and air force declared a vote of no confidence in Mr Rumsfeld. Also, both Government and the Military, should submit independent mediators of their own choice (but please, no persons already hated and distrusted by both sides).

    If this does not work, then the President should at this stage, call upon the Government to seriously entertain the military’s demands, even though it could be seen as caving into the Commodore’s threats, and setting a dangerous precedent for military leaders to dictate future running of a Fiji government. After all, there is ample evidence that it is the military that is in effective control of the military-government politics now rather than the Qarase government.

    It must also be stated that both the military and the Government have raised issues that have merit and go well with many people. The Government has stressed the powers of the parliament in democracies - which is a position that must be respected.

    On the other hand, the military, in sum, has stated that the democratic majority is being used by the Qarase administration to undermine the rule of law, and is using this majority against the interest of the state and the people; it has also stated that the elected Government is allowing for the serious possibility of foreign intervention in the country - as already evidenced by the undermining of the integrity of the office of the President by Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes in search of the Office - thereby posing a significant danger to national sovereignty.

    This is a position that expresses the sentiments of many in Fiji. Mr Hughes has however strongly defended his action, saying the police carried out a routine search of the President’s Office in the course of their investigations.
    What are the demands of the military?

    The military’s list of demands include

    (1) a public declaration by the Government that the events of 2000 were illegal; (2) withdrawal of the three controversial RTU, Qoliqoli and Tribunal Bills;

    (3) all investigations against Commander RFMF and RFMF to be completely withdrawn;

    (4) termination of Commissioner of Police contract to be effective as soon as possible;

    (5) review the role of the Police Tactical Response Unit;

    (6) no foreign police/military intervention;

    (7) removal of the commercial arm of the NLTB, the Vanua Holdings.

    The first demand is straightforward and easy to accept by the Government, as it can do nothing but condemn the 2000 terrorist uprising.

    Demand two is negotiable, so the two sides should seriously consider discussing the three contentious Bills (here is a staring point of a sensible dialogue) while the Bills remain suspended.

    As far as demands three, four and five are concerned, they are all negotiable and allow for room for serious discussions to move the talks forward.

    Perhaps the Constitutional Officers Commission (COC) should conduct an inquiry into allegations that the Police Commissioner has been conspiring with the Australian and Fiji governments to remove the Commodore from power.

    The military, on the other hand, should provide evidence, if any, to the COC for Section 172 (2) provides that ‘A person to whom this part applies may be removed from office for inability to perform the functions of his or her office (whether arising from infirmity of body or mind or any other cause) or for misbehaviour, and may not otherwise be removed’.

    After all, it is the COC that appoints the Police Commissioner. The Home Affairs Minister Josaia Vosanibola has no control on the office of the Police Commissioner except on general matters. Demand six is achievable. As to demand seven, the onus is on the military to spell out in detail, and backed up by evidence, as to why the commercial arm should be cease operations.

    We are all in the dark on this one. If the Presidential interventions as noted above were not effective - as for them to be effective, they have to be obeyed - then the political crisis would not, in all likelihood, be resolved under the provisions of the Constitution any time soon.

    The consequence of letting this state of affairs fester longer is not only to see the economy totally destroyed - the Reserve Bank has already warned of an impending disaster - but also to see a serious possibility of breach of constitution, through the military’s clean up campaign.

    It is now the responsibility of the President’s Office to resolve the crisis - and if its plea for dialogue and give-and-take does not yield results, then the President’s Office will be left with no other option but to, as a measure of necessity of protecting the Constitution and the rule of law, assume temporary charge under the convention of Presidential reserve powers.

    The President could suspend the Parliament for a defined period of time (no more than 3-6 months), have an interim team of advisers to specifically address and help the President resolve the matters in contention, and then recall Parliament once the crisis is over. In strictly limited circumstances the President, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, could dissolve or suspend Parliament without acting on the advice of Prime Minister Qarase.

    The President, like similar office holders in other Commonwealth nations, possesses “reserve powers” to be unilaterally invoked by him in a crisis. We have a serious and potentially violent and bloody crisis in the country. The suspension of the Parliament would also legally shield any persons chosen by the President to run the Interim Administration for the next three months.

    The problem, however, is who is going to step in to maintain law and order? In abnormal circumstances it would have been the police, assisted by the army. But the two institutions are at loggerheads. Worse, the Commodore has called on the Government to ask the police chief Andrew Hughes, the very individual supposed to operate side by side with the Commodore, to “pack and leave now” otherwise “the military is going to do it”.

    Without Hughes - during the period of Presidential control - there is significant possibility that the military and the police could rebuild their trust in each other, and work together. Direct presidential action, therefore, is the only way forward if dialogue fails. The people have endured enough misery and economic ruin. The President Ratu Josefa Illoilo has reserve constitutional powers in exceptional circumstances to use - that this is the time that may demand their use.

    One other matter needs to be stated: Australia and especially its Prime Minister John Howard should simply butt out of the current impasse, for if anything, he and the Prime Minster of New Zealand, Helen Clark, have internationalised and inflamed the dangerous standoff. Instead of acting as honest brokers, since the two had immense leverage on Commodore Bainimarma, they blindly jumped to Mr Qarase’s defence.

    In Mr Howard’s case, he has also seriously put his fellow countrymen in harm’s way in Fiji. The Australians should also have had common sense to stay out of the Fijian dispute, given another Australian Police Commissioner’s role in the raiding of the office of Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, and now President Illoilo’s office for incriminating evidence against the Commodore.

    Above all, the Great Council of Chiefs should stay out of the fray but though under no circumstances should the chiefs sit under mango trees and get drunk on home brew. They should provide support to the President in his attempt to resolve the crisis.

    Meanwhile, the failed sacking of Commodore Bainimarama while he was overseas has a dangerous parallel with the attempted sacking of the then Pakistani Army’s Chief of Staff and current President General Pervez Musharraf. In October 1999, the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif removed General Musharraf as army chief while the latter was visiting Sri Lanka. Worst, while General Musharraf was still air-borne, Mr Sharif ordered the Karachi airport to prevent the landing of the airliner, which then circled the skies over Karachi. The army officers loyal to the General however ousted Mr Sharif’s administration and took over the airport. The plane landed with only a few minutes of fuel to spare, and General Musharraf seized control of the government.
    Mr Sharif was thrown in prison and tried by Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Courts, which sentenced him to several life sentences for corrutpion, hijacking, tax evasion, embezzlement, and terrorism in 2000. The military government agreed to commute his sentence from life in prison to exile in Saudi Arabia. Thankfully, the military officers loyal to Commodore Bainimarama did not emulate their Pakistani counterparts by seizing the Nadi airport, overthrowing the Qarase government, and installing Commodore Bainimarama as the new head of state in the footsteps of General Mussaraf, who is today feted as a great friend of Great Britain, the United States, and Australia.

    On 15 October 2005 Mr Howard, while welcoming General Musarraf to a luncheon in the Australian Parliament, told the Pakistani dictator that he was glad to welcome him and reminded his listeners that the general had survived two assassination attempts in Paksitan: “So I pay tribute to somebody who has come through the fire of violent challenge to his position, somebody who has played a major role in the fight against terrorism, somebody who has understood the need to confront and defeat the extremist elements within our society, and they are to be found in many societies that seek to visit death and terrorism on people around the world.”

    Well, Mr Howard, did you know that Commodore Bainimarama survived an assassination attempt on his life in November 2000? Did you know that he risked all to give back to the people of Fiji democracy and freedom after George Speight’s failed coup?

    Did you know that he is hell bent on defeating Fijian extremism, which has caused so much pain and suffering to the nation since 1987? The only difference with your un-elected hero General Musarraf and Commodore Bainimarama is that the latter did not encourage his loyal senior officers to seize power for themselves and, in turn, appoint him (Commodore Bainimarama) as the new Head of State in the South Pacific when he was dismissed recently while overseas.

    He should be congratulated rather than demonised. He should be encouraged rather than provoked. Let us, therefore, hope that Commodore Bainimarama will remain on the sidelines, allow the law to take its course, and enter into bi-lateral dialogue with the Government.

    For that to happen, the President Ratu Josefa Illoilo must come out of the shadows and take charge of the affairs of the nation under the ‘reserve powers’ vested in him. If the Government and the military still refuse to listen to him, he should suspend the Parliament until a satisfactory resolution is reached.
    During this period the nation should be governed by the President with the help of a team of Presidential Advisors. That is the only way forward.

    Victor Lal is a law academic based at Oxford University in England. The opinions expressed are his and not those of this newspaper.

    Entertaining letters published in the Fiji Daily Post reveals some idea of the extent of this conflict between people of priniciples.

    Role of Police Commissioner


    MAREKO Vuli and others who condemn the police and call for the sacking of the Commissioner of Police show their ignorance and lack of understanding on the legal and proper operation of a democratic system of government.

    They praise the illegal ramblings of the military and accuse the Fiji Police Commissioner of improper conduct when he is enforcing the laws of the country. Perhaps these people prefer the looting and lawlessness witnessed during the political upheaval of 2000 when we experienced extreme suffering.

    Mareko Vuli spews his venom through his extreme views regularly expressed through the Fiji media from the comfort of a true democracy in Australia, something we the committed citizens of Fiji are trying to achieve.

    The Australian Immigration Department should check out the status of this man who is inciting illegal activities in another country through his support for the illegal activities of the army and demanding the sacking of a constitutionally appointed officer.

    Commissioner Hughes may want to contact his colleagues in Australia to do a check on Mareko Vuli.

    His true identity may be exposed in the process.

    Emosi Balei,


    Sunshine raggae


    STREWTH, Commissioner Hughes is in the news again.

    Only this time his unsubstantiated tirades have become more sinister wherein the colours of his political stripes are more obvious.

    It is of great concern that Commissioner Hughes partisan comments, actions and press statements is in respect harmony with PM Qarase, Australian PM John Howard as well as his mouthpiece Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer in national and geo-political benefits.

    The political gridlock assuring mutual benefits was cemented during the Melanesian Spearhead meeting in recent weeks.

    Briefly, the beleaguered PM Qarase did not take PM Howard to task over the controversial ransacking of Solomons Prime Minister’s Office on the islands by the Australian Police.

    Why? As political soul mates, was there a trade off between PM Qarase and PM Howard?
    Be that as it may, shouldn’t Fiji be supporting its weaker Melanesian cousins in time of need especially againt big brother such as Ned Kelly?

    And more, PM Qarase has not adequately explained the Australian Police incursion into Fiji’s sovereignty, if any at all. Why?

    Is PM Qarase supporting foreign invasion and the overthrow of Commander Frank Bainimarama? Why is the real story behind the Hooey Hughes and his $250,000 salary paid by AusAid? What is the trade off?

    Concisely, what is more frightening than anything else, is the fact, that Hooey Hughes freely admits advising PM Qarase and his goons to have Commander Frank Bainimarama “stood down”.

    Hooey Hughes’ plot came to nought.

    If that is not enough, the maverick Police Commissioner then authorises the raid into the Office of the President of the Republic of Fikji in pursuit of a non-existent document he vows to drag the “shadowy figures” out into the sunlight for all to see. (As an aside, it would be interesting to know which HIgh Court Judge signed the Search Warrant).

    The police blitz against the President of the republic of Fiji is an exact carbon copy of hte mercenary-style raid into the Solomon Islands Prime Minister’s Office.

    Hooey Hughes’ reasoning is most bizarre considering that most of the shadowy figures in the 1987 and 2000 coups are out in the sunlight except that no actions against them.
    For example, the gun-toting politician arrested in possession of firearms but not charged.
    The man wearing the red bandana?

    How about the bread lady delivering fresh loafs in the Parliament precinct during the illegal overthrow of the Chaudhry-led Government.

    And there is that sleaze ball garment factory owner, who frequented Parliament during the dark coup days?

    Where is the former Police Commissioner Isikia Savua? His name was strongly linked to the coup. What is the outcome of the finding against him conductedd behind closed doors by former Chief Justice Sir Timoci Tuivaga?

    Sir Timoci Tuivaga and current Chief Justice Daniel Fatiaki together with High Court Judge Michael Scott freely admitted trying to abrogate the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of Fiji, Arent’ they out in the sunlight Hooey?

    In addition, how about the crooked lawyer found dabbling with his client’s trust funds and the current Attorney General Qoriniasi Bale holder? Why him? Well wasn’t he advising PM Qarase and the Great Council of Thieves?

    How about the Naitasiri MP Ted Young? Wasn’t he found in the parliamentary precincts during the illegal takeover?

    The bread lady, the textile merchant, crooked politician, the mercenaries, the gun-totting politician, the opportunists, the disabarred lawyer, High Court judges and brotheis were one way or another are linked to the overthrow of the constitutionally elected Labour Government.

    These entire hosts of crookes and sleaze balls are all out in the sunshine for all to see.
    But no action from Hooey Hughes, Why?

    The answer is basic. Hughes’ pocket, political stripes and regimented thought process is smugly lodged between where the sun don’t shine. Period.

    Tomasi Tokalauvere,

    Club Em Designs

    Sunday, November 26, 2006

    Question of Integrity.

    Above: Fiji Prime Minister exiting from Methodist Centenary church.
    Nov 27th 2006 online article by ABC reports that Pacific Forum leaders have convened for a emergency meeting of the threats of a clean-up campaign by Fiji Army Commander.

    Above: Fiji soldiers reinforced the President's compound main gate.

    Pacific beat, Radio Australia online magazine podcast of Nov. 24th provides an Australian perspective on the latest rumours. Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer is interviewed regarding the situation in Fiji. Downer's spiritual revelation on a coup plans being plotted in Fiji has been ridiculed by mercurial Opposition leader Mick Beddoes in this podcast.

    Ideas floated in this interview covers:

    • The idea of Commander Frank B being the front person of a shadow group of disgruntled civil servants and foreign entities.
    • Australian Academic puts in his two cents on the socio-political and socio-economic forces at raising in Fiji and the Pacific.
    • Tonga situation and post-riot investigations.
    Radio New Zealand update of Nov. 27th reports that counter warnings have been fired by the Fiji Army Commander across the bow of Australia's intentions of micro-managing Fiji's domestic affairs. ABC online magazine "The Word Today" reporter Emily Burke interviews foreign correspondent Micheal Fields in Fiji.

    Fiji Live article reports, Minister of Home Affairs:Vosanibola vows that investigation into the sedition charges on Commander Frank will continue.

    Army probe will not stop: Vosanibola
    Sunday November 26, 2006

    The military's demand to drop all investigations into Fiji's army commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama will not be met, said Home Affairs Minister Josefa Vosanibola.

    "It is a total contradiction of their widely acknowledged principle that 'no one is above the law', said Vosanibola in a letter to the military dated November 10, 2006.

    Vosanibola said that if Government were to stop investigations, it would undermine the general public's respect for the rule of law particularly if selective justice is accorded to military personnel who may have broken the law.

    "Government is in full agreement with your commonly held view that 'justice must not only be done but seen to be done'," Vosanibola said.

    "My power to give general policy directions to the Commissioner of Police is well outside the ambit of giving instructions on ordinary police matters like investigations.

    "The Constitution is very clear in that section 170 (5) stipulates, like other Constitutional Office holders, the CP is not subject to the direction or control by any other person or authority in the performance of his constitutional duties or functions."

    Vosanibola said in this regard, it is unconstitutional to direct Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes to stop all criminal investigations against the commander or any military personnel for that matter.

    "It is unlawful on my party or government's for that matter, to also interfere with the 'independence' of the office of the Director of Public Prosecution," he said.

    The DPP's office he said is currently handling many of the criminal cases against military personnel, including the commander, and any act to stop it would be a direct interference with the criminal justice system.

    Bainimarama is being investigated over his alleged disobedience of lawful order, seditious content of public statements, unlawful removal of container of ammunition from the Suva Kings Wharf and the alleged plot to overthrow the Government.

    Other allegations are unlawfully obtaining approval from the President to abort a Commission of Inquiry against him, non-cooperation with police on investigation into the deaths of CRW soldiers allegedly murdered at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks during the November 2000 mutiny, and abuse of office by senior army officers in approving payments through LPOs, (Local Purchase Orders) beyond their authorised limits.


    Although, the Minister of Home Affairs finally acknowledges the illegality of the 2000 coup in this interview, the Minister's token affirmation fails to clear the stain of reality that, the financiers of the 2000 coup are yet to be convicted or even attempt to explain why convicted coup perpertraitors occupy Ministerial and ex-officio posts in Fiji Government.

    Peter Rideway's June 2005 interview with ABC radio magazine "The Word Today" underlines the state of corruption in the halls of justice.

    • Fiji sends DPP Director packing

      The World Today - Friday, 17 June , 2005 12:38:00

      Reporter: Paula Kruger

      TANYA NOLAN: A senior Australian prosecutor who has spent the past four years in Fiji, winning convictions against key figures in the 2000 coup, has been denied permission to continue working in the country.

      Peter Ridgway is the former Deputy Director of Fiji's Department of Public Prosecutions. His contract expired last month, but he had requested a 10-week extension from the Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, but it was turned down.

      Mr Ridgway's imminent departure comes amid increasing pressure on the Fijian Government, over its proposed Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill. The bill would free people jailed for their involvement the 2000 coup, if their crimes are deemed political and not criminal.

      Paula Kruger spoke to Peter Ridgway as he was packing up his home in the capital Suva.

      PETER RIDGWAY: The sticking point or rather the unsticking point seemed to be the Prime Minister, whose consent was required, but was being withheld.

      PAULA KRUGER: So we're not talking of an administrative error here. We're talking that you weren't given permission by the Prime Minister to continue staying in Fiji?

      PETER RIDGWAY: That seems to be the case. But what the motivation for that is, perhaps is not clear. The information that's been reaching me is to the effect that the Prime Minister was more than a little piqued at not having been consulted a good deal earlier on the matter, as protocol seems to require. His response seems to be as much the product of pique as anything else.

      PAULA KRUGER: There's been some criticism within certain groups in Fiji like the Law Council about the upcoming Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill. Can any connections be drawn between you not given permission to stay in Fiji and this bill?

      PETER RIDGWAY: It's hard to draw a direct one, there are inferential connections, obviously.

      When I set about this process of prosecuting those responsible for the 2000 coup I knew that it wasn't going to make me the most popular man in town, with at least half of the population. And that's proven to be the case.

      You'd be naïve if you went into this believing that you were going to be winning friends and influencing people. It was a hard job, and had to be done. So I never expected to be loved or even for that matter greatly thanked for it.

      PAULA KRUGER: Is it frustrating, though, that you've spent four years prosecuting people over that coup?

      PETER RIDGWAY: Oh yes it is, of course it is. Of course it's frustrating to see the process salvaged, virtually, from the wreckage of 2000, and made to work as it was properly intended, only to find that it's being unravelled for reasons which have very little to do with justice.

      PAULA KRUGER: So those reasons would probably have to do with the election coming up in Fiji next year?

      PETER RIDGWAY: Well, again, that's speculative, Paula, and to be honest, in my former position as Deputy DPP, I stayed out of politics. It was inappropriate to engage in the political debate. And it's the same thing with this bill. It is now part of a political process.

      PAULA KRUGER: You're packing up today. When are you heading out of Fiji?

      PETER RIDGWAY: Well, all being well we're expecting to fly out on Sunday week, the 26th of June. Now, that is a date of my choosing – it's not a date of the Government's choosing, it's not a date that's being forced on me.

      We're not being kicked out in that sense, we're merely… we have no further business here, and the time has come to go.

      PAULA KRUGER: Would it be sad to leave?

      PETER RIDGWAY: Oh yeah, very much so, because I have, in the last four years, I think, with all due false modesty aside, I've had a lot to do with resurrecting the rule of law and the criminal justice process in this country. I take a lot of pride in that, and I'm going to be very sorry to leave it behind me.

      TANYA NOLAN: The former Deputy Director of Fiji's Department of Public Prosecutions Peter Ridgway, with Paula Kruger.

    The justifications for investigating over-spenders of Fiji Army budget is another concern that
    question the motives for frivilous charges that pale in comparison to the treasonal offences of the 2000 coup.

    2000 coup was illegal: Vosanibola
    Monday November 27, 2006

    It is a bygone conclusion that the events of 2000 were illegal, says Fiji's Home Affairs minister Josefa Vosanibola in response to a demand by the military that the Government publicly declare it.

    As a result, perpetrators have been found guilty and have been convicted, he said.

    "Countless number of people, including the former Vice President, traditional chiefs, civilians and former military personnel have been convicted, some have been released while others are still serving their term.

    "Currently the case of former military commander and Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka is before the court. The Fiji Police have indicated that remaining coup-related cases are with the office of the DPP and will proceed with criminal proceedings if there are prima facie evidence in support of the charges laid," says Vosanibola.

    He adds that if the military has any evidence that will assist police in investigating the overthrow of the government in 2000 including military personnel who have been implicated, they must submit it to police as soon as possible.

    This he said, was important for the sake of public interest and to reassure them that justice must not only be done but seen to be done.

    Vosanibola said the Government is extremely satisfied with the performance of the Fiji Police Force, in relation to the maintenance of law and order since 2000.

    "The assumption made to connect the alleged moral decay in the nation to the current political leadership in Government is indeed confusing.

    "Such an allegation is defamatory and I caution the military against relying on such unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations."

    The military had earlier said the increase in lawlessness is the fallout of the 2000 events, "especially when coup perpetrators and those implicated are holding public offices".

    "Their presence and involvement at strategic level indicated that the event of 2000 was right. The mass is taking their cue from this practice.

    "There is an urgent need to educate our people in this area for them to get away from the 'coup culture' and respect the law," the military said.

    The ongoing military-government impasse was reignited last month by a three-week military ultimatum for the Government to resign.

    A committee of the Great Council of Chiefs has been formed to mediate between the outspoken Military Commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and Qarase.

    Commodore Bainimarama has issued conditions to the Government to adhere to in return for his silence.


    This comment by Vosanibola will intricably conflict with the sentiments by Commissioner Hughes and the fact that the 2000 coup case is yet to be closed. Financers of the 2000 coup have yet to convicted and these claims and counter claims by authorities have yet to admonish that fact.

    Commisioner Andrew Hughes also trying to deflect the blow-back of these politicaly inspired investigations in this Fiji Times article. In the interview, Hughes also defends the raid on the President's office stating that the proper search warrants were obtained.

    What the Commissioner failed to explain :

    1. Why the raid was first denied by officials?
    2. Who approved the warrant?
    3. Who requested it?

    This flip-flopping acknowledgement by Hughes of the raids on the Fiji President's office, can only raise a volley of suspicous questions. In another interview by Radio Australia on Nov 24th, Commissioner Hughes dismisses calls for his resignation by the Army. In the same interview Hughes avoids the question pondering if the Commander's comments were really seditious?

    The token reply by the Commissioner reflected the doubts in the charge of sedition, which was requested by the Minister of Home Affairs. Obviously the explanations by Commissioner Hughes is damage control to conceal earlier flaws to the 2000 coup investigations.

    The transcript of the interviews is as follows:

    Last Updated 24/11/2006

    FIJI: Police commissioner rejects calls for his resignation

    In Fiji Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes has dismissed calls by the country's military for his resignation. Speaking at a press conference in Suva on Thursday, Commissioner Hughes also denied that he had come under pressure from the government to investigate military commander Voreqe Bainimarama. Commissioner Hughes had attracted strong criticism from Commodore Bainimarama, following reports that police were investigating the commander over allegations he made seditious comments.

    Listen Listen | Audio Help

    Presenter/Interviewer: Geraldine Coutts
    Speakers: Andrew Hughes, Fiji Police Commissioner

    HUGHES: Well there's been a lot of allegations being thrown at Fiji police and more specifically at me and I felt it was time to rebut what is being said by the commander, and also to provide an update on the progress of the investigations, the criminal investigations in respect to the commander and some other officers in the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

    COUTTS: To refresh people's memories commissioner can I ask you to perhaps refresh our memories as to what those allegations are, and what your rebuttal is?

    HUGHES: Well they claim that, well first of all they sought my removal, they wanted me being sacked basically on the basis that I had compromised somehow my position in respect of not being neutral in relation to an investigation into the commander and into the unlawful removal of ammunition from the Suva wharf by the military. That I was being subject to political pressure to conduct these investigations, and finally that I was under foreign influences insofar as the performance of my duties were concerned, which of course are all totally false, and I'm certainly not going to resign.

    COUTTS: Now on that issue of the Commander Frank Bainimarama asking the question or suggesting that the Prime Minister in fact was putting pressure on you to conduct an inquiry into his affairs at the moment. You say that's not at all true?

    HUGHES: No it's not true, the background to all of this is that earlier in the year the Minister for Home Affairs had written to us complaining about constant outbursts criticising government to government policies from the military commander.

    We commenced an investigation in relation to that, but then an issue arose, a legal question arose as to what the minister's powers were in respect of the commander of the military under the constitution. So the government has referred that to the Supreme Court for a decision. So in the absence of that clarification we continue to catalogue if you like these ongoing outbursts from the commander.

    Until we got to one in particular, which occurred a few weeks ago, which of course is out there which was we will force the government to resign. Now when that came out of course alarm bells went off as to what that might mean, and did that amount to a seditious comment.

    So we sort of had an off-shoot investigation in relation to whether that was a seditious comment or not. And that is the one that is likely to stand. But there's been no pressure on me whatsoever politically in relation to this or any other investigation.

    COUTTS: And is it or was it a seditious comment?

    HUGHES: Well that's still with the DPP, we expect an advice on that within the next 24 hours. But certainly the early indications are that it could amount to sedition intent yes.

    COUTTS: What is your relationship now with the military after that event with the docks as you've mentioned where the military as I understand it gave a promise that they would not remove the ammunition from the docks until you gave permission. That in fact didn't happen; they took it without your consent. Where do we stand on that issue now?

    HUGHES: Well it's not the military; I think it's important to make this point that the relationship between the police and the military is fine. What we're doing is that we're doing our job and we're investigating criminal offences that have been committed by a few in the military, including the commander. And this has obviously strained the relationship between me and the commander at a professional level, but so far as the two organisations are concerned the interaction is still good and the relationship is still strong.

    COUTTS: But they did go against your word and take the ammunition from the docks?

    HUGHES: Yes there are four officers now who we have briefs of evidence in with the DPP, and again we expect a decision in the next 24 hours on that and they will be prosecuted for a whole range of offences in relation to that unlawful removal.

    COUTTS: What is the relationship between the three leaders if you like, the Prime Minister, yourself and Commodore Frank Bainimarama, because it seems that you're the only one that hasn't called for someone's resignation at this point?

    HUGHES: Well I don't think it's an accurate portrayal to throw the three in the same sentence and say you know what is the relationship, because there's actually quite separate issues at stake here.

    The relationship between me and the Prime Minister is a professional one and a strong one in respect of his role and my role, there's no issue there.

    The relationship between the Prime Minister and the commander that's a separate issue, and the relationship between me and the commander is on a totally unrelated thing, which is his objection to me doing my job.

    With the commander it seems that you either agree with him or you're his enemy, and he fails to grasp that I'm simply doing my job, I have no personal issue with him, but he sees this as like a personal attack and that me and the police are now the enemies.

    COUTTS: In that you are responsible in large part for the national security, the fact that Commander Frank Bainimarama continues to threaten the government to overthrow or take over the running of it, must place you in some difficult position if not compromise you?

    HUGHES: Well it doesn't compromise me; I mean my role is clear. In fact one of the investigations that is going in the background now is in fact this potential treasonable conduct by the commander over a period of time with an intention to what we believe to be an intention to remove the government. So there's no compromise there, my role is quite clear.

    What we're also doing is we're looking behind this because we strongly believe it's not just the commander, that there are individuals and groups in the shadows, as we saw in 1987 in the first coup in Fiji when Rabuka was the frontman, again in 2000 when George Speight was the frontman.

    These people operate in the shadows and manipulate and incite, there's a sort of conspiracy going on in the background. Now we're saying this time in 2006 if that is what the intention is to have a military coup then we are going to drag these people out into the sunlight for the world to see.

    They can no longer operate in the shadows enjoying anonymity and continue to break the law and just rely on the commander to be the frontman. We're going to actually, they are now under investigation in a new phase of our overall investigations and they'll be taken to task.

    COUTTS: Is it your feeling Commissioner Hughes that the threat of a coup by Commodore Frank Bainimarama was more than that?

    HUGHES: It's unclear to be honest. We're getting mixed messages, I mean asked today publicly what does he mean by we're going to clean-up government? I mean what does that mean? And he said well I'll tell you when I come back, so he takes off to New Zealand to go to his granddaughter's christening for eight days and meanwhile we're all left back here wondering what on earth is in his mind, what's his intention. And I've said that that is just unfair to investors and potential visitors to Fiji want to know what he means. I have to find out what he means because of my responsibility to maintain law and order in Fiji, and the people of Fiji have a right to know what he means. It's unfair to keep saying these things and then take off overseas.

    Club Em Designs

    Wednesday, November 22, 2006

    Fiji-A Nation Torn By Corruption or Eroded by Coups?

    Above Image: Papua New Guinea P.M, Sir Micheal Somare and Fiji P.M, Laisenia Qarase at the recent South Pacific Forum meet.

    Despite being tainted by his legal maneuvering in post-2000 coup events; Chief Justice of Fiji, Daniel Fatiaki has made a bold declaration in an Fiji Times article that, brutally casts aside any significant research done by experts of neuro-science, sociology and anthropology.

    Fatiaki 's hypthesis is that, Fijian youth are no more pre-dispositioned to undertake criminal acts than any other ethinicity in Fiji. His remarks are based soley on the data sourced from criminal files. Any readers of S.i.F.M's post-Morality of Fiji Politics may find some dichotomy in the methodology used by the Chief Justice.

    This is the excerpt of the article:

    Youths lack parental guidance, says Chief Justice

    Thursday, November 23, 2006

    Fijian youths are no more criminally inclined than youths of other ethnic groups, says Chief Justice Daniel Fatiaki.

    Speaking at a youth forum on Education, Youth and Justice in Suva yesterday, Justice Fatiaki said almost all youths with criminal convictions were committed by those who came from broken homes where parental guidance and control were absent.

    "Six out of 10 times, the cases are linked to alcohol and drugs, to which the suspect pleads guilty," he said.

    The cases are sufficiently recurrent to warrant closer examination, Justice Fatiaki said.

    He said the rural urban migration was a contributing factor particularly because children were forced to leave their parents and communities to further education in urban schools, he said.

    Justice Fatiaki said the location of secondary schools and tertiary institutions needed examining, as well as an overhaul of the school curriculum to redirect it from academic subjects to one that identified talents and abilities.

    The changes need to come at an earlier stage than present, he said.

    "The disruption and upheaval caused by these young boys and girls in being removed from the stable, caring and loving protection of their parents and traditional village and being thrust into the new unfamiliar, and indifferent surroundings of an urban centre with its permissive lifestyle, cash economy and numerous distractions is plainly obvious," Justice Fatiaki said.

    These cavalier assertions on the human behavior by a flawed legal expert, lacks any in-depth scientific evidence and in the same stroke makes a mockery out of the professionals who diligently apply their knowledge in science. Perhaps the Justice could have just published his opinion in a academic paper for perusal at a reknown publisher of Scientific journals.

    Controversial decisions are no stranger to the present Chief Justice of Fiji. This report from International Commission of Jurist outlines a decision by Justice Daniel Fatiaki.

    Here is the excerpt of the Commission's report.

    Following the 19 May 2000 coup, the military Commander Bainimarama assumed executive authority and began to rule by decree. Apparently, the Chief Justice, Sir Timoci Tuivaga was involved in drafting the Administration of Justice Decree No.5 of 2000. The Fiji Law Society received information about the Chief Justice's offering advice to the military government and wrote on June 9 2000 to the Chief Justice to express its concern. In his response, Sir Timoci Tuivaga confirmed his involvement in drafting the Decree and justified his actions by arguing that he "took the opportunity that had presented itself to ensure that the Administration of Justice Decrees of the military government took cognisance of the freedom and independence of the courts to maintain a system of law and order and justice in the country". The Chief Justice also stated that this was his pragmatic approach to the fact that "the 1997 Constitution has been unable to provide a solution to the current political and constitutional morass in the country."

    It seems that most lawyers in Fiji are still deeply dismayed at the Chief Justice's conduct. However, certain judges have supported the Chief Justice. Justice Michael Scott of the Suva High Court wrote individually to the Law Society in response to the Society's letter stating that there is no possible justification for the Law Society's "nasty, cliché-ridden, and almost hysterical" protest letter. Justice Scott went so far as to refuse to allow Ramesh Prakash, a senior lawyer, to appear before him in order to argue a case for a client. Apparently, Justice Scott's refusal is linked to the fact that Prakash was one of the eight members of the Law Society that endorsed the letter to the Chief Justice. Justice Daniel Fatiaki criticised the Society's letter saying that it was "needlessly provocative, blatantly discourteous and unduly censorious".

    Pacific Island Business published an opinion article from Auckland based writer Rajendra Prasad and author of book "Tears in Paradise". This is the excerpt of the piece.

    Restive army -an anxious State

    Since the mutiny, Bainimarama has not rested. He changed from a reluctant and vacillating commander during the coup to one who has put others on their toes... However, the Government also strengthened its position since its election in 2001...

    Rajendra Prasad in Auckland
    Fri, 3 Nov 2006


    A restive army is a fear for every nation and when the Prime Minister and other government ministers respond to the media with "no comments" it means that the fear factor has registered. Recent threats to the Government by Commodore Bainimarama, commander of Fiji's army, are a cause for concern and anxiety in many circles. The situation arises from the Government's insensitivity towards the army that suffered the deaths of eight of its soldiers in a mutiny. The mutiny followed the May 2000 civilian coup, which left a divided army and an edgy nation.

    Interestingly, following the May 2000 coup led by renegade George Speight, it was Commodore Bainimarama who installed Lasenia Qarase as interim Prime Minister to head an interim administration. Those that comprised the interim administration were largely from the Fijian extremist fringe. They were quietly celebrating the restoration of political power in their hands while the deposed Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, and many of his parliamentary colleagues, after being incarcerated in the Parliament Buildings for 56 days, were left to ponder their future, as Indo-Fijians were rudely reminded that their future remained precarious in this enigmatic land.

    The interim administration, until it went to the polls in August 2001, contrived its own elaborate plans to entrench its power. A clandestine plan was to remove Commodore Bainimarama as the head of the army and appoint someone more amenable to its sinister designs. In covert operations, the army was infiltrated by those sympathetic to the interim administration. They successfully destabilised the army, which led to a mutiny with dire consequences. However, the objective of the mutiny was not achieved and Commander Bainimarama regained firm control of the army.

    Since the mutiny, Commodore Bainimarama has not rested. He changed from a reluctant and vacillating commander during the coup to one who has put others on their toes, some on the edge of the cliffs and a few prominent chiefs in jail. However, the Government also strengthened its position since its election in 2001 that had returned those anointed nationalists.

    They had unfinished business. Their debt of gratitude to those who executed the coup now languishing in jails, including Speight marooned on Nukulau Island, was like a millstone around their necks. Having regained power through the works of those blessed hands they had an obligation to reward them for their courage, bravery and sacrifice. In their eyes, they were worthy recipients of indigenous awards for their feat and spending their time behind bars was a slight to the indigenous dignity.

    However, the army was firm and it insisted that the perpetrators of the coup, including some of the high chiefs that included the Vice President, Ratu Jope Seniloli, Tui Cakau and Minister for Fijian Affairs, Ratu Naigama Lalabalavu and Qaranivalu Ratu Inoke Takiveikata bear the full brunt of the justice system. The Government could not evade and the heroes of the 2000 coup soon found that they backed the wrong horse.

    Many observers hold that if it were not for the insistence of the army none of those involved in the execution of the coup would have faced the justice system. Arguably, the 1987 coups had emboldened the chiefs and coup makers to be as defiant and daunting as Rabuka and his associates who were granted immunity from prosecution. With such knowledge and assumption that the army would align itself to the indigenous cause, the chiefs and their rowdy supporters became bold and adventurous.

    In their flight of madness, they made another cardinal error in cruelly removing Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, President and Fiji's most powerful chief. It did not feature in the initial stages of the coup as the indigenous flag was wildly waved to garner support of the Fijian people. The indigenous call invited hysteric and frenzied response from the ordinary Fijians who gravitated to the Parliamentary complex en masse to support the indigenous cause, unaware that it disguised the removal of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

    They came and met and shook hands with their newfound hero in George Speight. Already the Counter Revolutionary Unit of the Army that joined him to support his cause buoyed him. The parliamentary complex became a stage for theatrics where George Speight performed his feats with masterly skill to the joy of his followers. In the later stages, once the emotions welled and the road of reason was lost, George Speight became more spirited and daring.

    He laid down his conditions for the release of his hostages, which included the removal of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara from his position as President. The groundswell of support that Speight had gathered provided him the ammunition to dictate. With its armoury looted, the army was unsure if it could assure security of the President and his family. The army relented and it is reported that Commodore Bainimarama, with former Prime Minister Rabuka, prevailed upon Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara to step down from his office presumably on the grounds that the army was not in a position to guarantee his security and that of his family including his daughter Adi Koila Nailatikau who was one of the parliamentarians held captive by the Speight group.

    Without the support of the army, a chief who earned laurels for his country and people had never imagined that, at the sunset of his public life, his own people would betray him. He stepped down from his position under duress. This singular event would go down as the greatest betrayal of a high chief in the annals of Fijian history.

    Undoubtedly, this event took its toll and Fiji's greatest chief and political leader never recovered from it. Commodore Bainimarama has not spoken much about this sordid affair but some observers claim that he carries the guilt of having failed his own chief and being party to his crude banishment.

    This, together with the attempt on his life, has transformed him and he is out to avenge what was inadvertently lost in the sad saga of Fijian politics. He is now poised like a tiger, to use the muscle power of his army to ensure that the Government does not engage in activities that are immoral and unjust. The proposed Promotion of Reconciliation, Unity and Tolerance Bill and Qoliqoli Bill have earned his wrath. The Promotion of Reconciliation, Unity and Tolerance Bill was blatant in its intent to facilitate the release of those convicted for their involvement in the 2000 coup but the title given to the Bill was a monstrous lie. It had nothing to do with reconciliation or redressing the pain and suffering inflicted on the Indo-Fijian community but to facilitate the release of those who were convicted and jailed for coup-related offences.

    Ignoring the above, many critics have questioned the need for Fiji to maintain such a large army that consumes millions of dollars of state resources. Fiji has no external threats nor is it torn by any internal strife that the police cannot handle. There is no doubt that there is intense racism in Fiji but unlike other countries, it has not descended into to violence or confrontation mainly because Indo-Fijians, are not attuned to violence and it poses no threat for the future that intervention of the army may be required.

    If it was meant to dislodge any Indo-Fijian Government and restore it into the indigenous hands then it was achieved in 1987. However, in May 2000 coup, a group of civilians achieved the same objective virtually with sticks and stones at a fraction of the cost negating the need for massive intervention of the army. What little the army was called on to do could have been attained by the Police Mobile Unit.

    Historically, what was considered an army that would acquiesce to the interests of the Government and Fijians is now at odds with it. The Government has real problems on its hands as it cannot disband the army or remove Commodore Bainimarama. It is a situation identical to what the Chaudhry Government suffered when the NLTB acted unilaterally in 1999/2000 instigating landowners to evict Indo-Fijians from their land except that the threat posed by the army to the Qarase Government is far more serious.

    I think it was President Kennedy who admirably captured his thoughts saying that governments who chose to ride the tiger of terrorism (army) to rob their way to power may one day find it difficult to dismount and may even find themselves inside its stomach. Some people leave their imprints through their walks and some through their talks. We need to take heed of their wisdom to retain our sanity and our path to attain that intricate balance.

    Rajendra Prasad is former town clerk, Ba and author of "Tears in Paradise - Suffering and Struggles of Indians in Fiji 1879-2004" (Revised Edition 2006). The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily subscribed to by

    On the other end of the spectrum of orderly chaos, the Fiji Army has revealed to Fiji Village news, part of their intelligence on evidence supporting the notion that, pressure was forced on Fiji Police Commissioner Hughes to investigate the Fiji Army Commander for sedition.

    Frank Bainamarama is currently visiting relatives in New Zealand and has remarked that all will be revealed on his return to Fiji.

    This interference of the Police Force has amounted to the non-completion of crucial investigations relating to the 2000 coup. Added to that, other similar descriptions of corruption has surfaced during the High Court trial of Kunatuba; who was recently found guilty by accessors.

    On the surface the Police investigations into the Agricultural Scam was relatively straight forward. However, there are loose ends that stick embarassingly out and make the public think otherwise. For an example, Pacific Islands Report article published the matter of Inspector Ali and his removal from the case as primary investigator.

    The excerpt of this article is as follows:


    Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
    With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai‘i


    By Harold Koi

    SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, Oct. 4) – Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and other Cabinet ministers were suspects in the multi-million-agriculture scam, the High Court was told yesterday.

    The trial of the former agriculture permanent secretary, Peniasi Kunatuba, continued with the leading investigator Inspector Nasir Ali claiming evidence showed there was a conspiracy between senior government officials and hardware company executives.

    However, he was removed from the investigation and could not obtain a statement from Qarase and other Cabinet ministers, he said.

    Inspector Ali told the court he was stopped from conducting the agriculture scam investigation after he revealed new evidence of fraudulent activity by senior officers within the Fiji Police Force. He said that before he was removed from the scam investigation, evidence he gathered showed there was a conspiracy that involved the former Minister for Agriculture, Apisai Tora, and others.

    He told the court that there were also allegations of conspiracy that pointed to the ministers, assistant ministers, executives of Suncourt and RC Manubhai to conspire to defraud the government.

    And he claimed the Suncourt hardware store in Nabua was deliberately burnt down to hide evidence.

    Inspector Ali said he had written to President Ratu Josefa Iloilo that there was a conspiracy to defraud the government but he was not able to complete his investigations. He said he and his team were unlawfully detained and an official handover of evidence and documents on the scam case was not carried out.

    He said he and his team discovered Suncourt Hardware documents revealed fraudulent activity by senior police officers and later ordered that the documents be seized from the police pay office.

    Inspector Ali said he was not able to complete his interview with certain prominent people, including Qarase, and other Cabinet ministers over their trip to Rotuma with FJ$300,000 [US$174,418] worth of free farming and fishing equipment.

    He said he had planned to interview those that he needed to, despite their positions in the government.

    Inspector Ali said the rest of the pending interviews were rounded up by the investigating officer that replaced him. He said certain officers later accused him of involvement in dealings with Suncourt.

    The claims jeopardized his involvement in the investigation. Inspector Ali said investigations of Suncourt staff were never carried out after he was removed on September 20, 2004.

    He said he was transferred to uniform duties in Nausori and later suspended from the Fiji Police Force.

    October 5, 2006


    Outstanding Police investigations and mis-reported facts are the climate which corruption thrives. In Fiji, these conditions are so rampant and contribute more to the turn-off factor of foreign investors than, the logger heads between the Government and the Army.

    Excerpt of Fiji Sun article underlines the extent of corruption within the Fiji Police Force.

    Court acquits farm scam investigator

    A police inspector suspended after corruption allegations by other senior officers was acquitted yesterday. Inspector Nasir Ali said he was accused of compromising his position as a police officer while leading a major investigation in the multi-million-dollar agriculture scam. However, Inspector Ali said he had raised complaints against two senior officers when they tried to interferer with the investigation.

    “The two then raised allegation against me claiming I had compromised my position as a police officer with Suncourt Hardware that was under investigation then,” he said. Inspector Ali made the same statement earlier when testifying as State witness in the case of Peniasi Kunatuba, the former Ministry of Agriculture permanent secretary who was found guilty of misusing $8million in public funds. Inspector Ali told the court he was removed from the investigation when he complained about the two officers.

    He said he was waiting for the decision of Police Commission Andrew Hughes to reinstate him. “I will continue to fight against corruption and make it my business that the two officers involved are investigated,” he said. Assistant Superintendent Fasaitu Kava acquitted Inspector Ali of all allegations because of insufficient evidence. “It had been two years, two months since I was suspended from the force, and I have always maintained my innocence,” he said. “The charges against me were fabricated to defer the investigation in the agriculture scam case.”

    Above image: Snapshot of the Fiji T.V segment.

    Fiji TV news Tuesday Nov. 21st 2006, 6pm segment reported that, Justice Gerald Winters had issued a stern warning to the Daily Post publisher and editor for mis-informing court proceedings.

    This is an excerpt of a Letter to the Fiji Daily Post Editor that castigates their opinion page "Qurukutu". The mis-representation from this Government daily has not gone unnoticed from the judiciary as well.

    Qurukutu’s cheap talk


    I HAVE been following your weekly column titled ‘Under the Microscope’ from Qurukutu and they are often laced with innuendoes gossip and cheap talk with a lot of misinformation and distortion.

    The Fiji Daily Post, commandeered and run by a first cousin of the Prime Minister is now becoming the official mouth piece of the SDL-led Government using the newspaper to help camouflage the growing nepotism that exists in Government which is fast turning the current administration into being a haven of crooks and self-centred individuals.

    The recently concluded High Court case and the impending one on Peter Foster has now surely become a laughing stock for the whole world to see what is now the true colours of some of our representatives in Parliament.

    My first suggestion to the newspaper is be true to the apt title of its column and perhaps proceed on a microscopic overview of how the Fiji Daily Post is now the family abode or hide away of yours truly, a son or, the yam expert from Kaunikuila and a daughter and son-in-law combination at the expense of taxpayers’ money.

    This is nepotism of the highest order and perhaps in its most glaring example fully supported by fourth floor Government Buildings, which some years ago via their cronies at the Public Service Commission issued a directive that all departments must fully subscribe and advertise all official Government messages in the Post to ensure its continued existence in particular for the family quartet.

    Then following this, I will further suggest that they take their microscope and if I may add their cutting edge to the Prime Ministers Office and therein similarly look closer at the flouting of regulations and indeed the existence of perhaps at higher level and degree of nepotism compared to the Daily Post.

    Some years ago, a Deputy Secretary recruited her own daughter into the staff establishment of the office following deregulation of intake procedures from the PSC. This did not go down well with his boss who later decided not to interfere since they were all from the same origin I suppose.

    However, some months down the line the boss saw the dream of his life and his gift from heaven who was then employed in another ministry which according to prevailing conditions of delegation of powers, a transfer can only be effected through the trade-off of an existing staff member.

    This therefore became the neat and best opportunity to alleviate what is perhaps the greatest degree of nepotism in the highest office in the land. Well what happened to that bed of roses is best forgotten, but I would suggest to columnists to have a serious look at other areas in the civil service and assist get rid of corruption, nepotism and affairs at very high places.

    If that is still not enough to fill perhaps their daily columns up until the last issue of the year, then these would be other good ones for a try. What about the love affair between two Chief Executive Officers in Government who once attended a seminar in Hawaii under the guise of being husband and wife when he was in attendance in his capacity as Chairman of a leading statutory body. Their more recent government paid trip through taxpayers’ money was to Australia again as Mr and Mrs.

    And if that is not enough, what about the case of a mixed blood millionaire who gave $1.5 million to the SDL for its 2006 General Election campaign and who is now getting restless for not being given the correct bargain in as far as a payback agreement is concerned?

    What about the 45 sets of rugby jerseys bought under the Taiwan Grant in the Prime Ministers Office during the lead up to the election and delivered to perhaps all corners of the group including the outlying islands?

    What about the outboard motors, brush cutters and cooking pots that is often stocked up at the office as a lure or bait to win votes?

    Also the countless number of church leaders who benefited in cash or kind from this grant so that they will at all times, reserve their loyalty to the SDL-led Government. The Tamavua Village and Nadera Church Community Halls are best examples.

    Definitely, there is more out there than what meets the eye that your columnists and observers will, I believe better expose for public scrutiny and consumption.

    Now let me finally turn to the events particularly after May 19 2000 which many will find amusing and of course news to them. At around 2pm that day, George Speight now into the fourth hour of the parliamentary siege and of course with the non appearance of the real perpetrator of the civilian coups decided without any further options to issue three decrees following advice from his legal practitioners of what the appropriate way forward was for the coup plotters.

    At the time, the commander was away in Europe on official business. The first of these three decrees was the Fiji Constitution Revocation Decree 2000. Interim Government Decree No. 1.

    This decree was dated Friday 19th May 2000 and issued under Fiji Gazette of that day published as the gazette said at the top of the page, by authority of the Interim Government.

    In it, the now established coup maker said, in exercise of powers vested in me as Taukei Civilian Takeover Leader, I hereby make the following: 1. This decree may be cited as the Constitution of the Fiji Islands 1997 Constitution Revocation Decree 2000.

    The RFMF knows and is of the view that your column is really based on some files now gathering dust at the Fijian Affairs Board in Suva or what your sources like Ratu Epeli Kanaimawi are spreading misinformation as a means to discredit the nation saving role which the army took upon itself in 2000.

    There is no denying this fact as now engraved in our proud history. It will rest there for time immemorial becoming a fitting testimony to the men and ‘women of the security forces who toiled day and night and for some paying the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the security of all people of Fiji’.

    Also on the same breath, George Speight issued Decree No 2 titled Republic of Fiji Military Forces – Appointment. In this decree, again signing off as Taukei Civilian Takeover Leader, he appointed Colonel Ulaiasi Vatu and Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini as commander and chief of staff respectively of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.
    The third Decree again issued immediately after the first two was titled the Constitution Abrogation – Interim Government and Finances Decree 2000.

    This particular piece of legislation enacted by Decree and therefore was forceful as law at the time had among other provisions legitimised the illegal takeover and the appointment of an Executive Council headed by Ratu Timoci Silatolu as interim Prime Minister and furthers the “legal abrogation” of the 1997 Constitution.

    Also it was an indication of how those in SDL party and now in Government felt it was time the commander should be removed because they feared that he will forever champion truth and justice to save this country.

    Iliesa Cewanivavalagi,

    Club Em Designs