Fiji Army has joined the chorus of objectors to the recent appointment of the Fiji ambassador to Malaysia.
Fiji Sun Article excerpt outlines the other side of the story.
Envoy was coup backer
Army queries diplomat post
The military is baffled at the recent appointment of what it calls a coup perpetrator as a diplomat. It expressed reservation at the appointment of Ratu Epeli Kanaimawi, as Fiji's high commissioner to Malaysia claiming that his involvement in the 2000 political crisis was common knowledge.
as the chairman of the Assembly of Christian Churches, he asked the army commander not to pursue charges against personnel involved in the 2000 crisis, army spokesman Major Neumi Leweni said yesterday.
Furthermore, he was one of the four people that lobbied the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, not to appoint Laisenia Qarase as the interim Prime Minister because they wanted Adi Samanunu (Cakobau) instead to lead the caretaker government.
Because of his involvement in the 2000 coup, Major Leweni said the military could not comprehend the reasons behind Ratu Epeli's appointment.
ÂHowever it's the Governments choice and they should be able to tell the public their reasons for appointing such people, he said. Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase did not wish to comment yesterday saying only that if there were allegations against Ratu Epeli, they should be referred to the police.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Kaliopate Tavola and his chief executive officer Isikeli Mataitoga could not be reached for comments after their mobile phones were switched off.
Converted coup convict Maciu Navakasuasua had identified Ratu Epeli as one of the church leaders that had rendered their support to those involved in the illegal takeover of 2000.
Ratu Epeli, he said, had also been considered by the George Speight civilian government as a possible candidate for the Prime Ministers position in 2000.
Mr Navakasuasua named Ratu Epeli, Pastor Poate Mata and then Methodist church president Reverend Tomasi Kanailagi as strong supporters of the illegal act.
Ratu Epeli had earlier told the Fiji Sun on Sunday night that he would comment on the issue once he received a final confirmation from Government concerning his posting.
More media skirmishes for the NLTB P.R department as the flak of unfulfilled proises erupt in their midst. Fiji Sun Political Editor throws in his five cents worth.
NLTB must come out clean
By MAIKA BOLATIKI
It is time that the Native Land Trust Board cleared the air on allegations levelled against it by landowners. Some landowners have lost faith in the NLTB, an institution established with a legal obligation to act in the interests of the landowners.
Some landowners are not happy with what has been happening and this is because they are not well informed of the changes made.
According to the NLTB website, the Native Land Trust Board was established under the Native Land Trust Act of 1940. It comprises the President of Fiji as president, the Minister for Fijian Affairs as chairman and a 10-member board of trustees.
The board may delegate some of its powers to the general manager who with other officers carries out the board's plans and instructions.
The primary role of the board is to administer native land for the benefit of the indigenous landowner. As custodian of Fijian owned land, NLTB recognises its responsibility to the indigenous landowners and the nation to ensure that land and natural resources are used and managed in a wise and sustainable manner.
The board must also ensure that the unique and important features of the Fijians natural and cultural heritage are set aside and protected for the benefit of present and future generations.
The NLTB, as administrator of the largest tract of landmass in Fiji, plays an important and essential role in the development of Fiji. It is required to make available native land that is outside reserve for development.
However, in doing this, the NLTB is statutorily required to satisfy itself that the land to be opened up for development will not be required by its native owners during the currency of the lease or licence.
The board is required to collect land rentals and distribute them to landowning units according to a formula prescribed by law.Not under false pretences!
The NLTB is the body that links investors to landowning units who own the land earmarked for any type of development and it is therefore important for investors to contact the board if they intend to use native land for development purposes.That role can now be undertaken by landowning units under strict legal defintions, as demonstrated by the Monasavu compensation case.
Landowners can be rest assured that the NLTB is an institution specifically established for them.
However, it now seems that the landowners and the NLTB are not working as a partners.Why is this happening?
Do NLTB officers often visit landowners to discuss with them of the BoardÂs role?
There is not enough communication and this must be addressed.
Some landowners have even suggested that they administer their own land and not the NLTB.
They should be reminded that the importance of the NLTB stems from the tasks it has been assigned to carry out under the Native Land Trust Act.Point of contention from S.i.F.M for the editor that, laws can be amended to take into account the non-performance of the trust guardian. By all defintions, the trust guardians have wilfully breeched the fiduiciary rights of the land owner. A cardinal sin.
The institution website says principal among these is the requirement to administer native land for the benefit of the Fijian owners. As native land continues to be opened up for development, it would be cumbersome and irrational to expect a potential investor to visit every single member of the landowning unit for assent to lease.
Another problem that may arise is the irregularity of lease conditions. The board has the expertise needed by the indigenous landowner to effectively manage his land.
It is sad that a group of landowners has filed a court in junction to stop tourism development work on their land after the NLTB allegedly made payments based on forged documents.
Why should it be sad for the landowners? Apparently the only distress is clearly on the N.L.T.B side.
The Tokatoka Nahoni, which includes villages of Naveisabasaba, Vusama, Batiri and Togobula in the Tikina of Malomalo in the province of Nadroga/Navosa claims that the board conned them with false promises.
Spokesman Ratu Tevita Korodrau said a $10,000 payment was not made to the right people.
Tui Nahoni Ratu Apenisa Cokanauto Rakuro and three other members of the Tokatoka filed an injunction application against the board and Natadola Holdings Limited.
The NLTB officials put together a list of people that agreed to the payout, said Ratu Tevita.
"We found out later that 11 of the signatures were forged. These people said they never signed the documents.
When I went to enquire about the payment the NLTB statement of royalty payment and proceeds no 2/2005 stated a total income received of $10,537.46 but total distribution payable was zero,
The NLTB must clear the air on this allegation because it is very serious.
How can NLTB officers be part of an illegal act of obtaining forged signatures of some landowners?".
I know the matter is now before the court but a least the NLTB should issue a statement on the matter. The landowners used the media to air their concern and the NLTB should follow suit.Using the Fiji Sun political editor as a mouth piece, they just did!
Another case that the NLTB must clear the air on is its involvement with Mr Ballu Khan.
The wife of the jailed Turaga na Qaranivalu Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, Vilisi Takiveikata alleged that Mr Khan, Mr Bakani and representatives of Pacific Connex had visited her husband to seek his support for the issuance of their mobile telephony licence.
Again this is a serious allegation and the NLTB must clear the air.
Did they actually visit the Turaga na Qaranivalu?
That was confirmed by 3rd party witnesses in Prison.
Who was behind this visit?
Answers have to be provided.
Landowners must accept the changes[in laws.]
They should be mindful of the fact that the NLTB's first priority is to safeguard the native owners by ensuring they have enough land for their use, maintenance and support. The surplus is then available for national development.
This first priority claimed by N.L.T.B, as well the political editor has failed beyond the perimeters of a joke.
Mr Bakani in a release issued at the weekend said the board had adopted a more commercial approach to the utilisation of native land.This commercial approach adopted by the N.L.T.B cannot be undertaken at the expense, without consent or without compensation of the landowning units in Fiji. The track record of Native Lands Trust Board speaks for themselves.
[Bakani] said the landowners now expected the NLTB to be more than just a leasing agency.
The landowners continue to wonder why the cannot negotiate for themselves, without a proxy organization with fraudulent streaks.
In its search for new sources of income, the board is concentrating on tourism, which is expected to become the largest revenue earned for the landowners. New leases have been issued for major investments ad smaller projects.
The NLTB manager confirmed that, this year, tourism lease revenue is expected to be more than $10 million.
Land use studies in the Suva-Nausori, Lami and Lautoka-Nadi areas, had identified opportunities for further residential commercial, industrial and agro-based development. These are being actively pursued.
Through the partnership with the Government and the Housing Authority to provide land for low and middle-income tenants, the NLTB generates more income for landowners.
That point is unsubstantiated by 3rd party research
In another initiative to create better returns for the landowners, the board has established the Vanua Development Corporation (VDC). This will invest in ventures promising an attractive return, with an acceptable risk. These will utilise the NLTB's expertise in land and specific business skills of private sector partners.
The VDC's Pacific Connex joint venture aimed to promote participation by the landowners in the information, technology and communication sector.
The company's proposed mobile phone venture would give the landowners access to a growing business.That false claim of cell phone business potential echoed unresponsibly by the Fiji Sun political editor requires an independent feasibility study to confirm that. In addition this disease of lobbying for Pacific-Connex has transfered to the Fiji Sun political editor, Messr Maika Bolatiki.
The NLTB is playing its role but there seems to be a breakdown in communication.
Some landowners want to carry out developments without the consent of the NLTB.
That sad reality is the reverse, which the political editor finds difficult in understand that, N.L.T.B has unscrupolously leased native land with forged consent forms of landowners for development.
[Landowners] must remember that the NLTB is for them and it is the guarantor of all lands.
The law specifies clearly that native lands cannot be sold; and any dealings or works to be done on or with respect to the land requires the approval of the majority of the members of the mataqali that are over 21 years of age.
Legally the final approval/decision rests with the NLTB.
The above premise is both legally unfactual, as well as logically unsound.
Although native lands cannot be sold, they can be officially leased with the consent of the mataqali landowners, through the NLTB.
Once leased they naturally come under the ÂwesternÂ system of land tenure for the duration of the lease.
The advantages of the traditional tenure system for the taukei is that it has firstly, prevented outright land sales and land speculation, and thus has ensured that they have not become a landless people in their own country.The hollow theat of landlessnes, which N.L.T.B keeps sheltering behind has outlived it's usefullness, especially when the native right to land is enshrined under the 1997 constitution.
Secondly it has helped the taukei to maintain their land-based customs and traditions, which are based fundamentally on the maintenance of family and kinship ties, and ultimately on the basic principles of sharing and caring - a principle that has prevented the Fijians as a whole from being swept away by the materialism of the modern age.The only reason why the N.L.T.B does not want the rapid knowledge aquisition of landowners is that their abuse will continue to run rapid without control. The land-based customs which N.L.T.B wants to perpetuate is passive timidness as well the non questioning of decisions. It is especially desired for the landowner not to progress.
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