Friday, June 29, 2007

Fijian Holdings Ltd. Stock Dump.

South Pacific Stock Exchange (SPSE) website published a list of Unexecuted Orders report (PDF) for Fijian Holdings Ltd, following the news of the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) investigative visit to the offices of Fijian Holdings and Fiji Development Bank, as reported by Fiji Times article.

This is the prospectus (PDF)of Fijian Holdings appearing on SPSE website.

It was reported that, South Pacific Stock Exchange was also in the cross hairs of FICAC, in a Fiji Village article. SPSE Board of Directors is listed on their website. Note with interest that Fijian Holdings representative sits on the SPSE board, including 2 representatives of Fiji National Provident Fund and a representative from Fiji Development Bank.

Blog: Why Fiji Is Crying posting comments on the Fijian Holdings stock price on the South Pacific Stock Exchange, claiming that trading may be suspended.
The following is an excerpt of Fijian Holdings Ltd (FHL) stock transactions, published in SPSE website, listed as "Unexecuted Orders". From the table below, it can said that the biggest transaction was from Broker/Dealer No. 171 trading 52, 201 FHL shares, at $4.05. The same broker also appeared to have been the most frequent trader of FHL stocks.

Price ($F) Quantity Broker/Dealer No.
3.50 528 170
3.50 7,500 172
3.50 518 172
3.51 8,169 171
3.51 975 172
3.59 300 171
3.60 2,000 175
3.60 500 168
3.60 200 150
3.60 500 172
3.60 2802 172
3.60 500 171
3.60 700 171
3.79 500 175
4.00 3,500 172
4.01 1,430 171
4.03 2,443 169
4.03 1,000 171
4.03 446 169
4.03 500 168
4.03 1,571 171

1,229 171

1,428 171
4.04 662 171
4.05 52,201 171
4.05 1,370 171
4.05 1,520 172
4.06 1,356 171
4.06 7,272 171
4.06 2,000 171
4.06 1,850 171
4.06 500 171
4.06 1,000 171
4.08 500 168
4.09 565 171
4.10 4,236 171
4.10 1,000 171

The Next Call Market Session will be held on Monday, 2nd July 2007 at the SPSE Trading Floor at 10.30am .

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New Corruption Unit Investigates Fiji's Financial Organizations.

Fiji's Independent Commission Against Corruption(FICAC) is carrying out in-depth investigations into statuary agencies like Fiji Development Bank, Fijian Holdings and South Pacific Stock Exchange. This raid is part of surfacing allegations, stemming from the high profile case of Natadola Resorts Project; pointing to a massive web of corruption in Fiji.Already this clean up campaign in Fiji has looked in Native Lands Trust Board and terminated the former General Manager, Kalivati Bakani, suspended a Board member, Keni Dakuidreketi with more suspensions to follow according to a Fiji Live article.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My Brilliant Career. (Update)

Following up on the S.i.F.M post titled "7 Seven Sins of NLTB" - apparently there has been some developments regarding the sins from the Teflon coated executive of APRIL, Keni Dakuidreketi.

This case raises serious questions into the integrity of the entire criminal justice system in Fiji pre-2006 coup. Among them, Why didn't Natadola raise red flags in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID)of the Fiji Police? Surely, someone had an idea of the alleged impropriety and illegalities in the dealings of Dakuidreketi.

It appears that Dakuidreketi was recently suspended from the board of Native Lands Trust Board (NLTB) for questionable dealings, as reported by Fiji Times article and confirmed by Fiji Live article.

Reactions to the story was captured on the Fiji Times web site and readers who commented on the particular story, were overwhelmingly scathing of Dakuidreketi's series of alleged actions, which was tainted with corporate malfeasance.

This is the excerpt:

Dakuidreketi suspended

Fiji Times
Wednesday, June 27, 2007

INTERIM Fijian Affairs Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau has suspended Native Lands Trust Board member Keni Dakuidreketi after the independant investigation team into Fijian institutions cited certain allegations against him.

In his letter dated June 25, Ratu Epeli wrote to Mr Dakuidreketi stating the allegations surfaced over his role and capacity as a member of the NLTB board, chairman and director of Viti Development Company Limited and director of Pacific Connex.

"In view of these rather unfortunate circumstances, it would not be prudent if you were to continue to sit on the board of NLTB," the letter stated.

"Therefore in the interest of the NLTB and as chairperson of the Fijian Affairs Board, I am suspending your FAB membership of the NLTB board pending the outcome of the investigations into these allegations."

Mr Dakuidreketi confirmed receiving the letter yesterday but described the wording as 'generic' as it talked about allegations. "They are citing certain allegations which I do not know therefore I cannot comment yet," he said.

"Anyway, I am meeting the minister tomorrow and hope to discuss the matter with him."

Mr Dakuidreketi said his position as chairman of VDCL was an appointment sanctioned by the NLTB board.

Both suspended general manager of the NLTB, Kalivati Bakani and IT manager Mojito Mua were handed their termination letters citing 'no cause' recently by Ratu Epeli last week.

Fiji Village article
quoted Dakuidreketi saying, "He has nothing to hide". Dakuidreketi met with Interim Minister of Fijian Affairs Board, Epeli Ganilau regarding the suspension letter he received, labeling its contents as "generic".

Fiji Times article reports that Ganilau and Dakuidreketi had a "fruitful" meeting.

This is the excerpt:

We had a good talk: Ganilau
Fiji Times
Thursday, June 28, 2007

INTERIM Fijian Affairs minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau said his meeting with suspended Native Lands Trust Board member Keni Dakuidreketi yesterday was fruitful.

[Ganilau]said they discussed issues stated in the suspension letter which was sent to Mr Dakuidreketi on Tuesday.

"It was a good meeting and I managed to explain the reasons of the letter and what was required from it," [Ganilau] said.

Mr Dakuidreketi agreed the meeting was "a good one" and they had discussed issues which were "well articulated". "There are certain allegations and I will have to look at answering these allegations but I am satisfied with the meeting," [Dakuidreketi] said.

On Tuesday, Ratu Epeli suspended Mr Dakuidreketi after the independent investigation team into Fijian institutions brought up allegations against him.

In his letter dated June 25, Ratu Epeli told Mr Dakuidreketi that the allegations surfaced over his role and capacity as a member of the NLTB board, chairman and director of Viti Development Company Limited and director of Pacific Connex. "In view of these rather unfortunate circumstances, it would not be prudent if you were to continue to sit on the board of NLTB," the letter stated.

"Therefore in the interest of the NLTB and as chairperson of the Fijian Affairs Board, I am suspending your FAB membership of the NLTB Board pending the outcome of the investigations into these allegations."

Mr Dakuidreketi described the wording as "generic", on Tuesday as it talked about allegations. "They are citing certain allegations which I do not know therefore I cannot comment on yet," he had said. Mr Dakuidreketi was also a central figure in the Natadola resort project in Nadroga.

Another Fiji Times article reports that, Interim FAB Minister has received the report from the NLTB investigative committee, which will be tabled in the next NLTB Board meeting. It is unclear if Dakuidreketi will be formally charged anytime soon, however S.i.F.M remains optimistic that the case will be heard in court.

Island Business article
covers the initial investigations into APRIL and Natadola project, which began to unravel this web of dubious deals.
French born APRIL co-principal, Louis Gerard Saliot was confronted with his criminal past which he failed to declare on his application for an Foreign Investor License and subsequently APRIL's license was suspended, throwing the entire million dollar project into dire straits. It is interesting to note that, Fiji Trade & Investment Board (FTIB) which issued the Foreign Investor License had undertaken background investigations into Saliot, according to their website.

Unfortunately, this background check by FTIB, forgot to compare notes with Interpol and this error contributed to the present financial quagmire at Natadola. One would hope that the system of background checks has been rectified, but time will tell.

Natadola Development Limited
Posted: Wednesday 28 March, 2007

Natadola Development Limited was granted approval on 26 October 1995 to develop the proposed Natadola Hotel and Tourism Development. The shareholders in the venture were the AD Group Asia/Pacific and Gerard Saliot.

The application went through the investment approval regime which existed at that time where the investment application form did not require an investor to make a declaration whether he had a criminal record or had been declared bankrupt. However, as a safeguard, the Bureau required investors at that time to submit a bank reference.

Mr. Saliot submitted a bank reference, which prompted the Bureau to undertake a due diligence with Dunn and Brad Street. The exercise did not produce any adverse findings on Mr. Saliot’s business conduct and his bank advised that he had maintained a proper current saving account with the Hong Kong Bank.

Based on this finding, the Bureau submitted the proposal for approval, which received Ministerial endorsement in 1999.

On 10th August, 2004 APRIL Fiji’s accountant’s applied for a change in the group’s structure, which saw the formation of Natadola Land Holdings Limited (NLKH). In this new venture, Fiji National Provident Fund owned 51% of the shares and Natadola Marine Resort Limited the remaining 49%. It was on this same application, where one of the director’s declared that none of the shareholders were undischarged bankrupt.

Based on the information provided in the application form, on 23 August 2004 APRIL Fiji was issued with a foreign investment registration certificate to undertake consultancy services for the development and management of Natadola Integrated Resort Development by Natadola Holdings Limited.

On 6th October, 2005 Natadola Marine Resort Limited’s accountants advised FTIB of a change in company name and shareholding. The new name of the company is Hotel Property Pacific Limited. Under the new shareholding structure, Euro Asia Management Limited owns 95% of the shares and Euro Pacific Trade and Invest Propriety Limited own the remaining 5%.

The Bureau strongly views that any lending agency that lends out funds to an investor or companies should carry out their due diligence on the investors and FNPF is no exception. On the same note other government agencies should have carried out their own due diligence before granting approvals/licences etc. Investor screening is a responsibility of all agencies giving approvals.

Given the latest findings on Mr Saliot, the Bureau will now go through the process of reviewing the registrations granted to the NRML and APRIL. The relevant government agencies will be advised accordingly.

Sainiana Waqainabete
Senior Public Relations Officer

Factions of native landowners had threatened to withdraw their land, prompting the Interim Minister to appease their concerns with an official visit and even dangled out equities into the Tourism project, in exchange for the landowner's approval. Fiji Live article reported that, Interim FAB Minister urged the landowning faction of four tribes, out of the total seven; to think of their children's future.

Think of future generation: Ratu Epeli
Monday June 25, 2007

Fiji’s interim Fijian Affairs minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau says Natadola landowners should think of their future generation by making choices that will ensure the development of their land.

Speaking to landowners last week, Ratu Epeli said there is nothing better than investing for future generations.

His advice follows comments by spokesman for the Vanua O Nahoqo at Natadola, Ratu Osea Gavidi, that landowners will be taking their land back from the developers of Natadola Bay Resort and re-investing it for other use.

Ratu Osea said the allegiance of landowners no longer rests with the developers of the resort after they felt they had been mistreated. “There are certain issues that need to be resolved by the landowners and the developers but right now we are thinking of canceling the land lease which was issued to them.”

“By doing this we are able to do something on our land and we are thinking of leasing it to someone else,” Ratu Osea said.

Ratu Epeli however said landowners need to be consulted on such matters.


The final decision from this native faction with regards to the future of Natadola project, is pending. This faction is represented by Osea Gavidi, a colorful character from the same province of Nadroga. According to a Fiji Live article, it is same Gavidi who had attempted to set up an indigenous owned commercial bank with a $6 Billion donation from a fictional organization named: Office of International Treasury Control (OITC).

Former Senator, Dr Atu-Emberson Bain's speech regarding the 2002 Bill to amend the Native Land Act and Native Land Trust Act, is perhaps an impartial look at NLTB's role and underscores the smoke and mirrors behind this amendment in legislation, spearheaded by the SDL Government.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

And, Who'll Come a Waltzing Matilda With Me?

An astounding article from the Christian Science Monitor, reports that Australian Government has set loose soldiers to crack down on Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory of Australia.

"Federal troops arrived Wednesday to enforce tighter regulations on welfare payments and a ban on pornography and alcohol in Aboriginal communities."

However another article by "The Courier-Mail" reports that Australian troops in Iraq, have been ridiculed by US troops for avoiding bloody battles.

Unfortunately, the lack of Australian casualties in Iraq is not seen as much of a dent in the bravery of the soldiers, but highlights the increasing cowardice in the Australian civilian leadership.

What can be said of a nation's leader, who chooses to restrain the highly experienced soldiers in free-fire zones in Iraq, yet unleashes them on the civilian populace within Australian borders!

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Jurisdiction of Lawyers.

Fiji Live article reports that Australian-based lawyer John Cameron, who was representing local activist in a case against the Interim Government, was denied entry.

Cameron was detained at Nadi Airport, while flying into Fiji. Immigration Director, Viliame Naupoto stated that,

“Cameron has been abusing our laws for sometime, by unlawfully
using his visitor’s permit to work in Fiji”.

This is the excerpt of the Fiji Live article:

Cameron was working illegally: Immigration
Tuesday June 26, 2007

Fiji’s Immigration department has revealed that Australian-based lawyer John Cameron, who represents local activist Angie Heffernan, was deported this morning because he was working illegally in the country.

Immigration director Viliame Naupoto has denied that Cameron’s “denial of entry” into Fiji was political in nature stating it purely related to him working without “proper papers”. Naupoto said two local lawyers had complained about Cameron’s “illegal” work status and the Immigration department acted on that tip.

“There is nothing political about this,” he told journalists in the last hour.

However, Cameron on June 13 had told the media that he would not be surprised if he is refused entry into the country. He departed for Australia two days later.

Cameron had also told High Court Judge Jiten Singh that he could be denied entry to Fiji during a case where he was representing the Fiji Law Society in its case against the appointment of the acting chief justice, Anthony Gates.

But Naupoto said Cameron has been coming to Fiji “and worked by representing clients in court without a proper work permit”.
“Cameron has been abusing our laws for sometime by unlawfully using his visitor’s permit to work in Fiji,” Naupoto said.

[Naupoto] said that while the Immigration Act allows that businessman on a visitor’s visa can work in Fiji for 14 days, “this provision is meant to allow for exploratory work for those that want to come and invest in Fiji”.

“It also allows a little freedom for foreign business people who have business entities both locally and abroad to come into the country and check their businesses here in Fiji.

“The provision was not meant for full fledged employment, like the way Mr Cameron was abusing it.”

Naupoto said it was hard to police individuals from overseas who come and “abuse” the 14 day work provisions but stated that Cameron’s deportation was not an isolated act, adding that the Immigration Department will react similarly to other solicitors who work illegally in Fiji.

“If Mr Cameron wants to work in Fiji, he needs to have approval to do so and that approval is issued via a proper work permit,” he said.

“He will have to first apply for a work permit and he needs to do this from outside Fiji as per the requirement.”

Cameron was to appear as Hefferans solicitor when her case is called before Fiji Court of Appeal President, Justice Gordon Ward later this afternoon.

Justice Ward had earlier today sought reasons from authorities on Cameron’s deportation and Naupoto said a response has been sent to the Appeals Court.

Cameron flew into the country last night to represent Heffernan who is taking legal action against the military for allegedly restricting her movements and freedom of expression following the December takeover.

Heffernan's case is the first court challenge to the Fiji military's attempts to detain civilians following the 2006 coup.

A second article by Fiji Live, reports that Cameron was on his way back to Australia, after being deported early Tuesday. Cameron's deportation was confirmed with an article from Radio NZ.

This is an excerpt from the second Fiji Live article:
Aussie lawyer sent back from airport
Tuesday June 26, 2007

Australian-based lawyer John Cameron was deported back home this morning after being detained by immigration officials following his arrival at the Nadi International Airport last night.

Cameron flew into the country to represent his client, local activist Angie Heffernan who is taking legal action against the military for allegedly restricting her movements and freedom of expression following the December takeover.

Cameron’s colleague and Fiji Law Society vice-president Tupou Draunidalo confirmed to that Cameron flew into the country yesterday to prepare for the case, scheduled for later today.

“He called me last night saying he was being detained by immigration officials in Nadi and he was later deported at around 9 this morning,” Draunidalo said.

Asked whether Cameron was given any reason for his detainment, she said she had just heard that it had something to do with his work permit.

Immigration director Viliame Naupoto is holding a press conference this hour to explain the reason for Cameron’s deportation.

Heffernan's case is the first court challenge to the Fiji military's attempts to detain civilians following the 2006 coup.


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US Congressman Backs Fiji and Reveals Double Standards.

American Samoan Congressman, Faleomavaenga Eni Hunkin says the US position on Fiji is unfair and when compared with US engagement with Pakistan, despite having a military dictatorship for 6 years.

read more | digg story

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Don't leap to judge Fiji coup

Fiji's political scene was featured in a post from Whale Oil.A learned reader pointed me at this article from the Presbyterian Church. It is something which caught me by surprise.  I didn't know the Presbyterian Church could show such good sense.  [quote]However, the actions of the military and the appointment of the interim regime have attracted much criticism from overseas governments. There have been

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Anatomy of Fiji's Event Horizon.

Two different opinions on Fiji diplomatic ties from the same newspaper, NZ Herald. The first article from correspondent Audrey Young.

A new era of diplomacy
Audrey Young:
Page 1 of 3

5:00AM Saturday June 23, 2007

It may be good politics for Opposition leader John Key to praise Helen Clark and Winston Peters for the way they have handled the diplomatic crisis with Fiji, as he has in today's Weekend Herald, but he has good reason to mean what he says.

It is hard to see how Clark and Peters could have handled the immediate crisis better. Having been hit with the bombshell on June 7 that Fiji intended to declare High Commissioner Michael Green persona non grata, they worked hard behind the scenes to prevent it happening.

Clark has taken the hard line the circumstances demanded of a Prime Minister. Peters has been equally as condemning but adapted a "more in sorrow than in anger" tone, reflecting the sentiment many New Zealanders feel about one of their favourite neighbours.

It is inevitable New Zealand will be accused of bullying by those who prescribe only to fair-weather diplomacy in the Pacific. There are times when the "there, there" approach just will not do.

Clark and Peters have pitched their message carefully to take account of both audiences and to try to avoid pushing ordinary Fijians further into the arms of the military commander. They have also sensibly reserved New Zealand's decision on reprisals. A sudden move would have understated the offence.

They wanted to see what response the Fiji cabinet would have to an assessment that an election is possible in March 2009, which is acknowledged to be more important than the diplomatic insult. It was agreed to in principle, the importance of which was lost in the wash of the Green affair.

Also lost in the wash was an extremely conciliatory statement issued by military head and Prime Minister Commander Frank Bainimarama on Thursday, extolling the value of the relationship with New Zealand and pleading the case for limited sanctions.

Fiji's willingness to see off Green quietly by having him not return from holiday suggests his expulsion does seem to be grounded in a personal dislike by Bainimarama. Bainimarama's failure to set out a convincing case for having ordered the expulsion reinforced the personal nature of the decision.

He has accused Green of interfering but offered as evidence only a speech delivered two months ago on the coup culture. It was a strongly critical speech. It was probably more critical than some New Zealand has endured from former US ambassadors over the nuclear policy, but no less critical than New Zealand could expect from the US if the New Zealand Army installed a puppet government.

Bainimarama's behaviour mirrors the coup itself, purported to have been conducted in the name of ousting a (newly elected) "corrupt" Fiji nationalist Government.

The firm view within the New Zealand Government is that Bainimarama was motivated by his desire to avoid probable charges arising from the deaths by beating of four Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit members after they had killed four loyal soldiers (and almost Bainimarama) in a failed mutiny in November 2000.

New Zealand's short-term response to Green's expulsion will be a package of sanctions foreshadowed by Clark to be "serious and significant". They may not sound as such when they are announced because Clark and Peters are bound to sweeten the sanctions - banning transit for Government and military leaders - with an offer to help prepare for general elections in March 2009.

A replacement for Green is likely to be sent only if and when benchmarks are set in Fiji for the general election such as dates for the electorates and rolls to be finalised.

There are also high-level back-channels of communication open with Fiji which, by their very nature, are not broadcast to the world. Just because you can't see them doesn't mean they are not there. As importantly, Clark and Peters have also maintained contact with Pacific Island Forum countries.

New Zealand's short and medium term priorities for Fiji appear to be helping it back to democracy which can put it back on path to economic development and independence. How to maintain that longer term is harder in a country with a coup culture that destabilises the whole region whenever one happens.

Constitutional reform hasn't worked on its own. Perhaps the only way to get rid of military coups is to reduce the power of the military.

No serious thought has yet been given to Australia and New Zealand recruiting large numbers of Fiji soldiers, in the way the British Army does, to boost their own ranks.

But it is an emerging idea in Australian think-tanks that may get a little more traction as officials and politicians on both sides of the Tasman start grappling with the need for a serious rethink on how they handle Fiji.

Despite expressing outrage at the situation, Clark and Peters have not delved too deeply into the politics of the coup. It is an unpredictable country led by an unpredictable man and they do not want to inflame the situation.

The racial politics of Fiji makes all coups complicated, this one more complicated that the last.

Although it was led by an indigenous Fijian military leader, it is seen widely seen as an Indo-Fijian coup. As well as the possible personal motivation for the coup, Bainimarama politically objected to measures that disadvantaged Indo-Fijians.

The coup has been embraced by many Indo-Fijians - with whom the commander has close personal relations - on the basis that "my enemy's enemy is my friend".

The fact that the Fiji Labour leader Mahendra Chaudhry signed up to be Bainimarama's finance minister was a bitter blow for New Zealand Labour and others who had supported him after he was deposed as Prime Minister in the 2000 coup. It may explain the disgust in Helen Clark's tone.

Her hard line has been seized upon by economic victims and apologists of the coup.

In this paper and other media, tourist operators have blamed the New Zealand Government travel warnings - which are relatively mild - for their own economic plight.

Clark expressed concerns again this week, with a hint of moral persuasion - hardly surprising from someone who comes from a tradition of taking moral stands against immoral situations in other people's countries.

Former All Black and Fiji resort owner Brad Johnstone would be familiar enough with that having toured South Africa in 1976 and captained Auckland against the Springboks in the 1981 tour.

New Zealand's style in the Pacific is changing. Kava diplomacy is gone. It may have carved out a more independent foreign policy under Clark's leadership in most parts of the world. But in the Pacific it has worked more closely with Australia, and along the way acquired some of its style.

The appointment of someone as senior as Green to Fiji in 2004 - he was a deputy secretary - was a sign New Zealand was taking the Pacific more seriously than it had.

It is a change of style and emphasis that is set to continue into the future, whether it is under John Key or Helen Clark.

The second perspective from the New Zealand Herald Editorial had a different take on the behavior of NZ Prime Minister, comparing her reactions to the expulsion of NZ High Commissioner to Clark's meeting with the Delai Lama.

Editorial: Fiji needs a diplomatic touch like the one we show to China
Page 1 of 2
View as a single page
5:00AM Sunday June 24, 2007

Zoologists call it displacement activity: an animal in a state of stress, frustration or uncertainty will perform an irrelevant action. A bird confronted by an opponent may peck at the grass. Humans respond to nervousness or confusion by scratching their heads. And that very odd creature called a politician will, when faced with an challenge she does not know how to deal with, start throwing her weight around somewhere where she counts.

How else to explain the startling contrast between the Iron Lady stance adopted by Prime Minister Helen Clark towards the military regime in Fiji and the meek and compliant nature of the snub she and her administration delivered to the Dalai Lama when he visited this week? Clark's meeting with the spiritual leader of the world's Buddhists and the Tibetan leader-in-exile since the Chinese occupation and annexation of his country in 1959, in an airport departure lounge in Brisbane, was carefully planned but intended to look serendipitous. The reason was plain: we are in the midst of negotiating a free-trade agreement (FTA) with the Chinese, who take a very dim view of any government recognising the Dalai Lama as the leader of a would-be independent Tibet. Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters did not meet His Holiness, but NZ First leader Winston Peters did.

Taken together with the Government's apparent connivance in March when New Zealand-based Chinese journalist Nick Wang was denied entry to a photo opportunity between Michael Cullen and Chinese Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan, and with previous occasions when protesters have been hustled out of sight of visiting Chinese dignitaries, it adds up to a pretty craven look.

Critics of the Government's tiptoeing, such as Green MP Keith Locke, occupy an impeccable moral position when they demand that our representatives ignore the pressure - implicit and very probably explicit - brought to bear by the Chinese. But the People's Republic is the dragon of the world economy and this country would be foolhardy to ignore its sensitivities in matters of international relations.

Others have compared our position unfavourably with that of the Lange administration, which defied the nuclear hegemony in the 1980s. But the matters are not equivalent. The US in the mid-1980s had much less power over our trade fortunes than China does now. A better comparison is with the Lange Government's decision to release the Rainbow Warrior bombers, Mafart and Prieur, to what everyone knew would be brief internment on a Pacific atoll. Lange's attempt to paint the climbdown as a diplomatic victory fooled no one. And Clark's pas de deux with the Chinese is equally transparent. It would have been better for her to admit, in terms as vague and diplomatic as she chooses, that she was acting pragmatically, in this country's best interests.

Better, too, for her to practice a bit more of the diplomatic soft-shoe shuffle with the Fijians. The expulsion of our High Commissioner, Michael Green, is the sign of a Government under pressure, but no one should take comfort from that. It's hard to back down when your back is against the wall and Clark's thundering approach is the wrong one for a Pacific nation leader who needs to show leadership.

On his return, Green stopped well short of endorsing Clark's security warning to intending travellers. The PM would do well to work quietly behind the scenes to resolve the Fiji crisis, rather than coming out with guns blazing, causing collateral damage to Fiji's tourism industry. She may think she is diverting attention from the cringing attitude to China - but she is fooling nobody.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

The 7 Sins of NLTB.

In a follow up to a S.i.F.M posting on Natadola, an article published by Fiji Sun reveals the gross malpractice in the negotiation phase of the project. Other investigations, as reported by a Fiji Village article-that FNPF was investigating the allegations of the loan being unsecured.

Recent report by Radio NZ of a whistle-blower from Fiji National Provident Fund outlining the alleged malpractices in Natadola, sent to the office of APRIL's Chief Executive Keni Dakuidreketi. Ironically, it was the same Dakuidreketi who was heavily involved in securing the native land in question, by virtue of being a board member of Native Lands Trust Board. This issue has ignited heated dicussions in online forums like Fiji Exiles and My Fiji Friends.

APRIL's foreign investor license cancelled
Friday June 01, 2007

The foreign investor license for Asia Pacific Resorts International Limited (APRIL), the sacked project managers of the multi-million dollar Natadola project, and two other related companies has been cancelled.

Interim Commerce Minister Taito Waradi confirmed that the licenses have been cancelled by the Fiji Islands Trade and Investment Bureau. It is understood that the FTIB had initially issued a notice of cancellation of licences for APRIL, the Natadola Land Holdings Ltd and a related company Hotel Property Pacific Limited (HPPL) early last month.

The companies were given 15 days to reply. The licenses were cancelled two weeks ago.
Waradi says if the companies wanted to appeal the decision, they have to appeal to the ministry. "And it hasn't come yet. So I don't know whether they are going to appeal or not," [Waradi] said.

A principal of APRIL, Keni Dakuidreketi says he does not wish to comment on this "because there is a legal process involved".

No comments could be obtained from FTIB on why the licenses were cancelled. Both FTIB chief executive officer Lailun Khan and board chairman Jim Ah Koy are out of the country. Ah Koy said he has been in New Zealand for three weeks and could not make a comment.

APRIL has been in the spotlight since the newly appointed Fiji National Provident Fund board axed the company along with contractors COTEBA in March claiming the Natadola project was 26 weeks late and only 10 per cent of the work had been carried out after about $60 million was pumped into it.

Felix Anthony, the chairman of Natadola Bay Resort Ltd (NBRL) also claimed that Interpol reports show that the promoter of the Natadola project Gerard Saliot had a criminal record, which he did not disclose when obtaining a work permit.

APRIL and its chief executive officer Saliot are the founders of the Natadola project. Anthony went on to reveal details of Saliot's past and cancelled APRIL's contact as project managers.

In 2004, the NBRL had hired APRIL to be project managers for this development. Saliot is the principal of the three companies.


APRIL subsequently had their Foreign Investor License revoked as reported by Fiji Live article; the decision of which, is currently being appealed by APRIL according to a Fiji Village article.

The following is an excerpt from a Fiji Sun article:

Natadola has no proper documentation
Fiji Sun.
Last updated 6/21/2007 8:28:02 AM

The ousted project manager of the Natadola Development Project did not provide proper documentation on the project, the Fiji National Provident Fund claims in its report to Cabinet. The FNPF also alleged that with the native defects it has, the Natadola investment does not have valid security.

Defects that are sufficient to void the native land lease include;
  • No survey carried out over the native land as requirement of the Native Land Trust Board

  • De-reservation of native land not completed on the date of sale on July 2, 2004

  • De-reservation of native land for the new lease not completed

  • No evidence exist that section nine of Native Land Trust act was satisfied objectively prior to the issuing of the lease of the land sold to NLH

  • Dissatisfaction by landowners manifested in Civil action 33 of 2007

  • Conflict of Interest that exist at all times between NMRL and NLTB on the issue of common directorship

The report also stated that the value attributed to the land and the concept contributed by APRIL, $20million, was greater than valuations of land prepared by Jones Lang LaSalle and Colliers, which was $5.5million.

  • APRIL was entitled to a 15 per cent ‘special dividend’ on gross land sales

  • APRIL secured fees from Management Works, was paid a monthly fee of . The whole Natadola project is unknown and it is not prudent investment procedure to have such an investment

  • APRIL gained from contributing a defective land lease and not cash to finance the project

  • Management services appear to have been given to APRIL to undertake because of its existing involvement in the project. The basis of APRIL’s dollar value of monthly fees is unclear and there appears to be no tender process in this regard

  • Feasibility Studies were done by Euro-Asia Management which is an donkey of APRIL and thus independence is questionable

  • NBRL continues to pay outstanding invoices to contractors who were contracted by APRIL since August 2006

  • Due diligence and analysis originated from APRIL and not from FNPF or FIL

  • Increases in total budgeted costs by $73.1 million from $270 million in 2003 to $343 in 2005.

Fiji Times article, quotes the Interim Fijian Affairs Board Minister who commented on the unsecured lease of the land occupied by the Natadola project. Undoubtedly, this very aspect of unsecured lease of native land, raises serious questions on the integrity of NLTB and quality control mechanisms into their entire portfolio of hotel projects in Fiji.

Lease hinders resort: Minister

Saturday, June 16, 2007

THE issue of the unsecured native land lease title at Natadola Resorts could have been ironed out had there been a clear line of communication between all the parties involved and the Native Land Trust Board, interim Fijian Affairs Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau says.

He said while the Fiji National Provident Fund required a properly secured lease to release the funds, the NLTB said a provisional or temporary licence was enough for the developers to begin work and even use this provisional title to solicit funds for development purposes.

However, yesterday landowner representative Ratu Osea Gavidi said landowners would now take their land back and would not allow Fiji National Provident Fund Investment Limited to continue development in the area.

Ratu Osea said landowners had been neglected in the ordeal and they were now doing what was best for them. [Gavidi] said they would consult the NLTB regarding their options and if the NLTB did not act in their best interests, they would seek legal redress.

Ratu Epeli said the NLTB's stand was that after issuing the provisional title developers could then secure the permanent title while development continued.

A subsequent article by Fiji Times in light of these discrepancies in Natadola, forced the Interim Minister to offer equity of the Hotel project as a good will gesture to the landowning units, after being manipulated by officials employed by NLTB.

Shares offer for landowners

Saturday, June 23, 2007

LANDOWNERS at Natadola have been offered equity shares in the multi-million dollar hotel project being developed on their land.

This was revealed by interim Minister for Fijian Affairs Ratu Epeli Ganilau at his first meeting with the landowners of the vanua Nasoqo, at Sanasana Village, in Nadroga, on Thursday.

[Ganilau] said the meeting was prompted by a visit initiated by landowners of Nasoqo, who raised several concerns about the Natadola project. He told the villagers they would have to clarify with the FNPF the company they would invest in and how much shares would be offered.

"This was the first vanua delegation to have visited me in my capacity as interim Minister for Fijians Affairs and Provincial Development," [Ganilau] said. Ratu Epeli said at the meeting it was clear to him the issues they wanted to him to look into, which was why he wanted to update them on progress made since then.

The delegation requested: The continuation of development at Natadola; that another meeting be held between the Fiji National Provident Fund and the landowners before they make a decision on APRIL, the original land developers; that the trickle effect of development on the land not be reserved to the lease premium or royalty but equity shares be offered by the FNPF so they could have ownership of the overall development.

Ratu Epeli said the FNPF had decided APRIL no longer held the licence to develop the area. He warned landowners to be vigilant of rumour monger."I urge you, the landowners, to be firm and to love one another in this matter," he said.

What is concerning is that, why weren't these project shares part of the original negotiations by NLTB?
Reviewing the reports into Natadola, it is now apparent that officials within the NLTB had undercut the landowners for their own financial gain. What irks most landowners and the greater public is that, Why didn't these transactions raise any red flags in the entire system of Fiji's land tenure?
What happened to accountability, checks and balances?

A Fiji Live article covers the preliminary investigations in Native Lands Trust Board and their involvement with Hotel developments in Fiji.

NLTB investigation report ready
Thursday June 21, 2007

A report on the investigation into Fiji’s Native Land Trust Board will be submitted to the Interim minister for Fijian Affairs tomorrow. The report will be submitted by the Independent Investigating Team into Institutions Fijian (IITIF), which was set up by the interim Government to investigate all Fijian institutions.

“A report will be handed over to Ratu Epeli and interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama for their scrutiny and also if the need arises than the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption (FICAC) will be involved,” said board member Ponipate Lesavua.

“Altogether 68 cases of corruption, illegal land sales, misuse of funds and secret dealings between certain chiefs and hotel developers are contained in the report,” he said.

He also said contained in the report are investigations regarding Fiji-born millionaire, Ballu Khan concerning his involvement with NLTB. “Although the NLTB board has carried out its own investigations into Khan, our team have come out with a different matter altogether.”

“Credit should be given to KPMG after auditing NLTB and this has also made our work much easier.”He said certain discrepancies have been labeled against Khan which is contained in the report.“This will not be revealed until it has been scrutinized by Ratu Epeli.”

A prominent chief is also under investigations for allegedly swindling thousands of dollars out of landowners and making dubious deals with hotel developers in the Coral Coast.“The case regarding the chief has been classified as a criminal case and we will surely involve police in this matter.”

IITIF have wrapped up investigations on the Native Land Trust Board and will be moving to the Ministry of Fijian Affairs soon before a ‘clean up’ at the Great Council of Chiefs begins.

The team comprises Colonel Apakuki Kurusiga as chairman and Ratu Luke Yavaca as deputy chairperson. Other members are former Senator and police inspector Ponipate Lesavua, Kalaveti Batibasaga, a consultant on indigenous affairs and Alifereti Roko, the senior auditor at the Ministry of Finance.

Other Fijian institutions subject to scrutiny by the team include the Fijian Affairs Board, Native Land Commission and all other interdependent institutions like the Fijian Scholarship Unit and Provincial Councils.


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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Blogging Ethics.

NZ Journalist, Micheal Field's new article post-deportation points to the postings from the blog: Why Fiji Is Crying that openly advocates violence.

Seriously, this blog has certainly made its mark in irresponsibility and should not be a reflection of all other Fiji bloggers. Speaking of which, S.i.F.M welcomes the two new blogs on Fiji: Blog in Fiji and Fiji Rugby Blog.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Diplomatic Straits.

Interesting article appearing on blog titled "The Briefing Room" which was also referenced on a NZ blog: Whale Oil Beef Hooked, which had a thought provoking posting regarding the expulsion of Micheal Green and deportation of Micheal Field. A seemingly opposite perspective was seen in the harangue by No Right Turn.

Fiji Problem

This in from a correspondent of ours:

Thought you might be interested in this, which I've sent to the PM, Winston, Mikky Cullen, Ron Mark, Leighton Smith, Rodney Hide Gerry Brownlee and Bill English

Methinks 'tis time for a modicum of good old-fashioned honesty, credibility, and integrity. This was sent to me by Thakur Ranjit Singh, a migrant from Fiji who is concerned about the way New Zealand is trying to undermine the progress of the return to a non corrupt government. It has been claimed that the "democratically elected government" was not above some dodgy dealings involving the Fiji Holdings Limited, no doubt more information will be forthcoming in due course. Jim Sowry, Warkworth

Michael Green and Field cannot blame others for their Fiji expulsion

Thakur Ranjit Singh, Auckland, New Zealand

If NZ Government claims that the expulsion of Michael Green came as a surprise then it is a white lie. This is because the NZ government was warned about Michael Green's behaviour some four months earlier by members of Fiji community in Auckland.

NZ Labour Party had been concerned with its falling ratings and intelligence that Fiji's migrant community had been unhappy with its uncompromising and insulting attitude towards Fiji. To gauge the feeling, it commissioned a meeting with Fiji's community leaders in Auckland at Ministry of Internal Affairs office where I was in attendance. The meeting was attended by a NZ Labour Party Minister, a listed Member of Parliament and leaders of Fiji community.

The meeting was told about Michael Green's behaviour towards the military regime as well as people of Fiji seeking services from NZ High Commission. It was reported that Michael Green was very close to Qarase regime and could not fathom the fact that he would no longer be in the cocktail circuit after Qarase's removal in December last year.

Subsequent to that it was recently revealed to me by an Auckland taxi driver where one of his Kiwi passengers reportedly told him that Michael Green was cross with the military because his brother had been involved in some investment in Fiji under SDL regime, and that was on hold at the moment. This I have not been able to confirm, and perhaps is a job involving some investigative journalism. Therefore it has yet to be revealed whether Green's wrath with the military was professional or personal.

We need to see how Fiji citizens got treated by Michael Green's regime at NZ High Commission in the Reserve Bank Building where the Commission is based. Before the coup, anybody seeking services could go up to their offices but after December, people were herded outside the building where you had to queue like herd of Kiwi sheep to seek services, in sun rain and storm.

While Australian High Commission could issue visitors visa in just ten days, NZ High commission took at least 30 days. An aunt of mine who is mother of two leading journalists in Fiji has applied for her visa to visit Auckland so see her sick brother in early April, 2007 but has only got her visa in June, only when the sponsor from Auckland had to call NZ High Commission.

New Zealand professes itself as a country leading in productivity, yet the time it takes them to process visas in Fiji after December shames them when compared to Australians or any other Embassy in the world. Perhaps it would be interesting to know how many unprocessed visa applications are held by NZ High Commission in Fiji today. It would run into thousands, and perhaps the reason why Air Pacific had to cut back on flights, as increasingly larger numbers of Fiji people are visiting New Zealand now.

Every man and his dog either applying for a NZ visa or already on NZ work permit were made to fill forms declaring that they were not related anyway to Frank Bainimarama. Under Michael Green's regime, you were your brother's keeper. Joe Rokocoko's fiancée, daughter of former military spokesperson had her work permit not renewed because she accidentally happened to be daughter of her father, while her cousin, bearing the same surname was denied a NZ scholarship because of accident of birth.

While Helen Clark and Winston Peters are political animals, Michael Green is not. He is supposed to be a respected career diplomat, but he revealed little evidence of this. Merely dancing to tunes of political leaders, who come and go, is not a very good habit for any astute civil servant. As the Commander recently said, we cannot argue about the legality of the events. We must be pragmatic and understand that Military was governing the country with the mandate of the President.

He failed to appreciate the reality of the situation and has now paid a heavy price for it.

The other Michael also came into prominence. The supposedly expert in Pacific affairs, Michael Field was detained at Nadi on the eve of marching orders to Michael Green and deported the following morning to New Zealand.

On 20th December, some two weeks after the removal of Qarase regime, Coalition for Democracy in Fiji held a panel discussion on Fiji affairs in Auckland. Apart from Suliana Siwatibau and N Z MP Keith Locke, I was also one of the speakers. Michael Field also attended this forum. In my presentation which was reported in Fiji as well as NZ papers, I revealed the ills of Qarase regime. The theme of my presentation was that: democracies that are devoid of or lacking in granting freedom, rights and equality to all its citizens and those without social justice are not worth defending. Qarase's regime that Bainimarama removed was an epitome of such a democracy. Michael Field did not report any part of my presentation. I am not cross that he did not report me but he displayed acute case of dereliction of media ethics in not telling Kiwis what they deserved to know.

Michael Field works for a very influential NZ mainstream media which shuns migrants as its journalists. When you look around at the paternalistic NZ mainstream media, they profess to be experts in Pacific affairs but hardly employ any sizable Fiji or Pacific journalists, as they rely on Kiwi parachute journalist to cover Pacific issues, and hence New Zealand's jaundiced views on Pacific.

While Michael Field had a strategic position to inform ignorant Kiwis on the actual Fijian politics, he missed this opportunity and abused his position in joining the bandwagon in calling the military thugs from day one and failed to reveal the shortcomings of Qarase to NZ. It is surprising that I as a migrant to New Zealand was made to reveal the actual truth about atrocities under Qarase's regime. I have difficulty in getting articles to mainstream media in NZ because the perception here is that migrants cannot write.

If Michael Field was indeed the veteran journalist then he should not have abused his position and status in keeping Kiwis ignorant about what was really happening in Fiji. My experience shows that like NZ Labour Party, New Zealanders generally are still ignorant about Fiji and this had to do with a journalist like Michael Field who while occupying an influential position indulge in news selling reporting rather than informative reporting.

Therefore the two Kiwi Michaels, both Green and Field had it coming. It is not only Bainimarama who needs to learn the art of Diplomacy, but on his return to NZ, Green needs to attend a course on diplomacy himself. Michael Green needs to be pragmatic about the situation as the interim administration was governing the country and decides what it does. As a diplomat, he was not a politician and hence should have respected Fiji's sovereignty.

And it is so important for New Zealand mainstream media to have Pacific or Fijian journalists reporting on Fiji issues and informing the ignorant Kiwis on local politics, so that they get the correct picture.

But unfortunately, the mainstream media in New Zealand is in no hurry to use Fiji journalist who have migrated to New Zealand, and will depend on jaundiced views from parachute journalists from New Zealand. Unfortunately, such views appear to get copied as New Zealand's foreign policy in the Pacific.


(About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is Fiji migrant to NZ, commentator on Fiji issues and is human rights activist and advocate of good governance.)
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Another intriguing view of the expulsion of New Zealand's High Commissioner was a blog posting from Micheal Tarry's blog titled Magnus Frater Spectat Te.

This is an excerpt:
Fiji: It's an independent country now.

Sovereignty is a difficult and complex thing. Philosophers in several countries, in several centuries, in several notable tomes, have considered the concept. Thinkers from Aristotle to Bodin to Mill to Schmitt and others have thought and pondered, and each has a different position. Each has dismissed their predecessor, and each in turn was dismissed by their successor.

It would seem that the nature of sovereignty presents conundrums without answers at all; indeed, asking the political theorist to define sovereignty is akin to asking the theologian to define God, or the metaphysicist to define love.

Similarly, asking the theorist to determine who may exercise sovereignty and what rights and prerogatives such a sovereign might have would be like asking our theologian, having defined God, to tell us why we ought to believe in Him and not some other deity, or of our metaphysicist, who once setting out what constitutes love, is then called upon to tell us why, as the case might be, love is limited to relations between people and not animals.

The problem of sovereignty has been brought to the attention of this part of the world by the expulsion of the ambassador of New Zealand to Fiji by that country's current leader. The New Zealand High Commissioner, Michael Green, was ordered to leave Fiji by it's military ruler, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama because the latter had believed Green was interfering in Fijian domestic political matters.

Consequently, and understandably, governments across the Pacific have vented their collective spleen upon Bainimarama. One simply cannot go about expelling diplomats left and right. New Zealand and Australia talked of upping the ante with more sanctions, and our Prime Minister declared that Cabinet (which met this morning) would "weigh up it's options." Such is well and good, and Helen Clark is welcome to consider her position all day and well into the night.

In doing so, she would merely be exercising her right to make whatever decisions she likes as the leader of a sovereign and utterly independent country. New Zealand is it's own master: we have cocked snooks before at the United States, and the United Nations, and Australia, and China, and anyone whom we don't particularly wish to kowtow before on such-and-such an issue.

We lose all semblance of having anything approaching the moral high-ground when it is realised that Fiji, like New Zealand, is a sovereign state. Bainimarama's government can expel whomever it pleases, whenever it pleases, entirely upon whim. Clark could do precisely the same for such is what sovereignty allows.

Crawford (in 1979) wrote "Sovereignty does not mean actual equality of rights or competences: the actual competence of a state may be restricted by its constitution, or by treaty or custom. The term sovereignty accurately refers not to the totality of powers which all states have, but to the totality of powers which states may, under international law, have." It doesn't matter whether we approve of Fiji's sovereign actions - we don't need to. We didn't approve of the coup - we didn't need to.

We condemned it, certainly, and we can heap opprobrium and sanctions upon Fiji for the reminder of eternity but it will not diminish in the least the existence of Fijian sovereignty and concordantly the prerogative of Fiji to do whatever it damn well wants within it's own borders. If they want coups galore, so be it: there's nary a thing we can or should do to prevent it. If they want to expel our ambassadors and ignore our entreaties, so be it: we have ignored their demands before.

If New Zealand does succeed in getting it's own way, then we will have proved only one thing. We will have shown that we are merely bullies of the sort we usually disapprove of. We will have refuted the principle that "sovereignty is the ultimate territorial organ which knows no superior." We will have trumped Bodin and his fellows, and will have added our own name to the list of philosophers-of-sovereignty who simply beg to be rebutted.

Interesting enough, the issue of sovereignty was raised last year as reported by Island Business article that, accused Australia of breaching it. Along with ignoring the moral dimensions raised by Journalist Graham Davis in his article.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Flight of the Intruder.

In a follow up to a S.i.F.M posting regarding the Australian Black Hawk helicopter crash location. Today video footage was released showing the actual crash, which broke the tail rotor off and footage of the wreckage in deep waters within Fiji.

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The Question of Growth.

In a Fiji Live article, Sri Lanka's Central Bank Governor raised an important case study of his own nation in the midst of decades old civil war. The remarks would seem to contradict widely held convictions regarding stability and macroeconomics recently voiced by a USP financial expert in a Fiji Times article.

Fiji can grow despite coup

Tuesday June 19, 2007

A small country like Fiji can achieve positive growth irrespective of internal strife or external pressures, says Sri Lanka’s Central Bank Governor Ajith Cabraal.

Cabraal made this comment during the Fiji Institute of Accountants annual Congress three days ago saying Fiji had the potential to succeed despite the coup.

He said while coups can not be prevented, “the less you think about it and the more you think about economic activity, when it (coups) happens again you would still be able to move forward”.

Cabraal based that comment after drawing reference to ongoing conflict between the Sri Lankan government and a separatist militant group known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE or the Tamil Tigers) in the northeastern parts of the country.

He said in the beginning, LTTE’s “terrorist attacks” had paralysed Sri Lanka, halting economic activity, every time one occurred.

“However, over time we began to look at the attacks as an irritant which has to be dealt with and at the same time did not allowed it to paralyse the nation.”

Cabraal said the economy of Sri Lanka progressed when its people made this transition that the “irritant” would not affect their lives.

Sri Lanka recorded an unprecedented 7.4 per cent growth of its economy last year, a feat Cabraal said many Sri Lankans had brushed off as unattainable.

Cabraal said a lot of people in Sri Lanka still “give the excuse that Sri Lanka has a terrorist problem or an ethnic conflict or a political problem” and therefore cannot attempt “serious economic development or growth”.

“We Sri Lankans had consistently used the terrorist problem as the convenient scapegoat when explaining why we are not able to do many things.”

Cabraal said governments could take some proven steps in stimulating their economies.

“The political leadership in the country should be committed to a long term economic vision and strategy that promoted strong growth,” he said.

“Growth does not happen by accident.

“It has to be thought through carefully and painstakingly. Lessons of past experiences, good and bad, should be evaluated.”

Cabraal said the leadership should have the courage and capacity to go through with strategies “even in the face of serious challenges”.

He said the leadership could also encourage patriotism in the people and the work force, which enhances productivity.

“There should also be a can-do national attitude amongst the people,” Cabraal said.

“We have to take bold steps and build confidence to overcome the ‘some-one-else’ syndrome, where very often, many of us are content to watch and criticise while expecting others to do.”

Cabraal said Sri Lanka’s economic growth can be duplicated in Fiji but only of its people and leadership have the determination and “positive attitude” to do so.


On the performance of Fiji's overall economy, reports from Fiji Live article points out an 10% increase in Fiji's exports.

Fiji exports up 10%: Chaudhry
Monday June 18, 2007

Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry
Fiji's exports have increased by 10 per cent in the first four months of 2007, says interim Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry.

He said it could have been better if Fiji was able to take advantage of with its mahogany resources that is "still untapped".

Chaudhry said Fiji's foreign reserves are stable "at the moment" and imports are down.

"But we would like to see other resources like mahogany and fisheries to also to play a part in enhancing our export levels."

Chaudhry said compared with the same period last year, Fiji's "agricultural sector has preformed well".

"Our agricultural, wood exports are up by 10 per cent compared to the 2006 exports for the same period from January to April," he said.

Chaudhry said Fiji has also been able export an extra 55,000 tonnes of sugar to the European Union that is "over and above our usual sugar quota and this should fetch us a good price".

"While this increase in sugar revenue will assist our exports, we have also got to work extra hard and enhance other exports and that is very critical to our balance of payments."

Chaudhry expressed concerned with "the fact that mahogany is still lying untapped".

"This huge resource should enter the economy and we are now giving it priority," he said.

Chaudhry said the priority is to "sort out the disputes that exist in this particular area between the landowners and the Fiji Hardwood Cooperation Limited".

The former Prime Minister of the Peoples Coalition Government of 1999 knows very well the disputes in the mahogany industry, which was a contentious issue between his deposed government and the mahogany landowners during his one-year term in office.

In fact George Speight who led the uprising on May 2000 and took Chaudhry and his government hostage for 56 days was the former director of the Fiji Hardwood Cooperation.

This time Chaudhry said he will sort out the disputes before moving on to the "next stage", which is getting "strategic partners into the industry to downstream processing of this huge resource which will not only befit our exports and the national economy but more particularly the indigenous resource owners".


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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Singing the Blues.

New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, has alot of things in Fiji not go her way, which probably sums up her latest vitriolic outbursts regarding Fiji's diplomatic re-shuffling.

Understandably, even the NZ media have found in Clark, an outstanding profile to lampoon; since the disappointing opinion poll found Clark's rival National Party slam dunk over her own popularity. A podcast analyzes the political forecast in NZ. Perhaps, there's nothing like positioning Fiji as a convenient whipping post to perk up Clark's poll rating or the issue could force her to an early retirement.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Latitudes of the Truth.

Two different takes on the sentiments regarding the comments of former Fiji Vice President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi's opinion(PDF) on the post- 2006 coup events, appeared in the Fiji Times Letters to the Editor including a paper by the former CEO for Prime Minister's office, Jioji Kotobalavu, both of whom were invitees to the Australian National University workshop.

One must be appraised with palatial leanings of the participants to the ANU workshop in order to honestly analyse the multitude of opinions from the various players and prudently arrive at a unbiased, impartial and truthful conclusion.

The following are excerpts to the Letters to the Fiji Times Editor:
Wake up

I'm asking the Prime Minister of this country and his fellow ministers to please wake up.

Since December 5 last year, the nation has sat back and watched you parade the "clean-up" slogan.

It's been six months now and we are seeing otherwise; Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi eloquently described the latter in his paper that was presented at the Australian National University.

Yet he was being labelled a racist and an opportunist who is using the plight of the indigenous people.

For your information, Ratu Joni's presentation is actually the echo of the minds of the majority of this country.

The silent query about the real motives of December 5 last year.

Why are we now witnessing court cases that appear to be personal vendettas?

Why is the famous father (puppeteer) and son (puppet)' part of this regime?

Why do we feel that this is now becoming an ethnic issue as evident in the appointments of key positions?

Why do we feel that there is a new cloud of religious domination at the national level, as evident in the key positions in the judiciary, the HRC and elsewhere?

I'm just merely echoing the silent query of the many.

The silence is bound to break, usually via explosions.

Please, let's learn from the mistakes of past leaders. Your actions are speaking louder than your press releases. Wake up!

Sereana Raisili

Old adage

I think it's the Chinese who have a saying: A reputation takes many years to build but only seconds to destroy.

In my opinion Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi finds himself in this tragic situation.

His image for multi-racialism has suffered a severe setback with the comments he made in Australia.

No amount of defending his reputation now will restore the damage.

A person in his position should not have staked his credibility on mere perceptions' as he calls them, knowing full well that they were not true.

Was he trying to be smart at the expense of truth?

Kavita Singh

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Ethnonationalism & Spin Doctoring in Fiji.

Fiji's former Vice-President has some objections to the forward momentum of the nation, reflected in his impartial statements published in a Fiji Times article. The following is an excerpt:

Ratu Joni: Coup weakened law

Sunday, June 10, 2007

THE military commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and his close advisers saw the military as the ultimate guarantor of the peace as echoed in their public statements and private discussions, says ousted Vice-President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi.

Speaking last week at the workshop on the Fiji Coup six months on, organised by the Australian National University Ratu Joni said with the military arrogating for itself the role of guardian and protector, the Police Force had increasingly demoralised.

He said the reformed and rebuilding of morale implemented by former Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes had dissipated gradually since his departure last year.

"The military has blurred the boundaries between policing and security roles at the cost of police independence and autonomy," Ratu Joni said.

Ratu Joni said paradoxically, the business community was quick to embrace the expanded reach of the military.

"They welcomed the presence of checkpoints and the involvement of the military in policing as having a salutary effect on crime and while such tunnel vision was understandable it was shortsighted.

"There has been a real undermining of the rule of law by the military's acts and while crime has not diminished, it has simply relocated elsewhere."

Ratu Joni said breaches in human rights had been on a wide scale culminating in the deaths of Nimilote Verebasaga, 41, and Sakiusa Rabaka, 19.

He said there were two related objectives for human rights abuses.

"The first was to intimidate and frighten opponents of the military where skills acquired in soldiering abroad have been deployed for such ends.

"The second was to consolidate their position by assuming policing functions in the months after the coup," Ratu Joni said

Ratu Joni said the military readily attended to inappropriate calls for intervention from many Indians, and citizens frustrated or dissatisfied with the level of police investigations on their behalf. He said the helplessness of the ordinary citizen was heightened by the inexplicable stance assumed by the Fiji Human Rights Commission in (FHRC) favour of the military.

Ratu Joni said a majority of the minority communities felt marginalised and deprived by the previous SDL government including the Catholic Church hierarchy, a significant section of civil society, elements in the judiciary as well as some in the private sector.

He said the interim Government formed by Commodore Bainimarama, in January was revealing.

"While multi ethnic in character, it has limited Fijian support.

"The Fijian politicians in the interim Cabinet were unsuccessful candidates at the last general election with the exception of one member of the SDL represented by default," Ratu Joni said.

He said the interim Government was perceived by Fijians as the handmaiden of Mahendra Chaudhry. [Madraiwiwi] said Fijians were convinced this was an Indian coup.

Irrefutably, the comments by the Madraiwiwi, reflects a pitiful attempt to stoke the flames of ethnic divisions in Fiji, which he as a chieftain has exploited. The broad brush used by the former Vice-President in painting the 2006 coup as, predominantly favoured by one ethnic race is among the greatest manipulations of the facts. Madraiwiwi's assertion on the issue of racial perceptions to the 2006 coup, lacks empirical evidence and should be considered as pure speculation designed to incite any remnants of ethnonationalistic fear mongering.

There is an overwhelmingly number of indigenous Fijians, exceedingly happy with this clean up campaign, which has injected "checks and balances" over these native institutions and exposed the mega scams in Native Lands Trust Boars like the Pacific Connex MySap debacle, the underhand dealings in Natadola, the scams in Fiji Sports Council and a host of other wiful and wholesale malfeasance.

Where was the moral virture of Madraiwiwi, when these misappropriations were repeatedly raised in the media and blogs?

This pandemic of corrupted chiefs and politicians are much more of threat to the rule of law in Fiji, than the concerns raised by Madraiwiwi. Clearly, the actions of the former Vice-President speaks louder than his comments.

The rule of law in Fiji had been despotically maligned by these native institutions which Madraiwiwi himself, is a benefactor of. This stains his integrity in being honest observer of Fiji's socio-political landscape. If anything, Madraiwiwi's mandate in speaking on behalf of all indigenous Fijians, is highly questionable with respect to the issue of equality under the law.

A similar styled misrepresentation was reflected in a recent Fiji Daily Post Editorial.

Misrepresenting the Dangers of Ethnonationalism.

The editorial by the Fiji Daily Post titled “Ethnonationalism, Yes. Ethnocentrism, No” published on 28th May, 2007 leaves an unpleasant reflection of fair and balanced coverage; as well as revealing the Editorial's selective use of the word: Ethnonationalism.

The following paragraph is an excerpt of the definition of ethnonationalism, used by the Fiji Daily Post:

“Ethnonationalism is a respectable idea. In it, one takes pride in one’s ethnos (i.e. people-group) and in the social organisation of that people-group into a modern nation. No human alive should be unhappy about one’s ethnos per se, and ethnonationalism is a healthy pride to have. It is the sentiment which has kept all of the world’s rainbow plurality of ethnic people-groups alive and surviving. If we lose our sense of ethnonationalism, we may as well cease to exist. We may as well give up our borders, our resources and our beloved ones to the invasion of alien peoples and cultures or to the majorities in which we may find ourselves. Ethnic pride is a condition of survival; it is a survival instinct.”

Ethnic pride can be safely demarcated from the questions of nationhood. Ethnic pride also means taking the time to re-examine the ethos of ethnic pride, with the fundamentals of moral values. It means questioning the inherent dichotomy of ethnonationalism and seeking accountability for the abuse of native institutions in Fiji. Confusing survival with ethnonationalism is among the chief motivations of the Fiji Daily Post and all those who pander to the same divisive ideology.

At this juncture of Fiji's political turmoils, the issue of ethnonationalism is a loaded subject many readers are familiar with. Although, the Daily Post suggests that Ethnonationalism is akin to taking pride in one's ethos; it is factually incorrect to extend that definition to the political sphere. Every person is proud of their own culture, as much as the next person, but aligning ethnicity with nationalism, demeans any rational and impartial objectives of multiculturalism.

The Editorial further fabricates the dangers of the border security incursions, in the absence of ethnonationalism. Claiming with questionable authority that:
“ If we lose our sense of ethnonationalism, we may as well cease to exist. We may as well give up our borders”.

It begs the question, what does surrendering Fiji's international borders have to do with domestic ethnonationalism? Fallaciously, the Daily Post attempted to tie the fears of self-existence, along with the concept of multiculturalism.

It is these similar threats that were used extensively in Fiji, that resulted in the 1987 and 2000 coups. Fortunately, the 2007 Interim Government has the diligence and knowledge to separate the issues of border security and ethnic incitement, as well as isolating those individuals who use these fears for political mileage. The constant referrals to ethnocentrism by the Fiji Daily Post Editorial is a convenient veneer, obfuscating the true meaning of ethnonationalism and racism in Fiji:

"Ethnocentrism is the unhealthy psychological attitude that one’s people-group is all that matters. That one’s culture ought to be the measuring stick of the value of all others. Ethnocentrism therefore promotes racism."

It is also a myopic view which the abusers of Fijian culture have maintained, at the expense of cohesive social empowerment. For one thing, ethnonationalism is the exact opposite of multiculturalism.The Editorial contradicts itself, by equating multiculturalism with ethnonationalism in this particular reference:

“Ethnonationalism is at the heart of what governments call ‘multiculturalism’. That is, multiculturalism, at its most fundamental premiss, is a policy which allows and encourages people-groups to celebrate themselves, to be proud of their roots and identity, and to maintain the dignity of their history.”(sic)

Unashamedly, the Editorial continues to create self fulfilling prophesies with a litany of falsehoods. It is sad reflection of the biased stance taken by the Daily Post, which tailored its verbatim with inconsistent uses of the truth. Similarly, the following paragraph from the Editorial alludes that multiculturalism promotes ethnonationalism; without referencing any independent sources proving that the statement is factual correct.

“Multiculturalism rejects the notion that the modern nation must require the submergence of historical identity and culture for the sake of another identity or culture. Multiculturalism promotes ethnonationalism because it sees it as a building block of ethnic or racial stability. Without ethnonationalism, self-hatred easily steps into the vacuum and fills a people-group with unhelpful psychological desires and expectations.”

The Daily Post Editor's professional capacity must be seriously questioned for this hasty, unsupported and unsubstantiated conclusion stating that: ethnonationalism in Fiji is inversely proportional to self hatred. Notwithstanding, the recent mistake of the Daily Post, erroneously publishing the results of the International Rugby Board's Sevens Grand Prix.

An inconvenient truth that bears testimony to the evils of ethnonationalism in Fiji, is convincingly demonstrated in post-2000 coup events. Particularly so, when the Great Council of Chiefs rallied their support behind the illegal takeover of Chaudary's Government. In fact, the 1987 and 2000 coups in Fiji underscored that, ethnonationalism threatens multiculturalism.

Undoubtedly, these very native institutions benefited from the seditious acts, by abusing the parallel structure of the chiefly hierarchy. Ironically, after the suspension of the GCC, several members sought legal address and questioned the authority of the Interim Government; without realizing the immense hypocritical position of their logic.

Neither GCC or its members questioned the authority of the Interim Governments that emerged from the 1987 or 2000 coups and their belated objections on the 2006 coup, is a fallacy of the highest order.

Legally, the GCC is in a tenuous position by challenging the State's authority over them and by extension of this question of authority, somewhat undermines the very sovereignty of state power; which the institution of courts derive their authority from. It is interesting to point out that the GCC had also advocated a separate Fijian court to specifically cater for cases within the native dominions. Realistically, it was clear headed thinking that pointed out the dual tracks of law, arising from such an arrangement.

Ethnonationalism is wrong then, as it is now. It is also equally wrong and morally irresponsible for the Daily Post to downplay the failures and dangers of ethnonationalism in Fiji.

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