Wednesday, June 24, 2009

From Croz Walsh: Race Used To Divide The Nation.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

(+) Race Used to Divide the Nation

is no room for racial discrimination is this government, says interim
PM Cde Voreqe Bainimarama. Speaking at Dawasamu, Tailevu yesterday Cdre
Bainimarama said the interim government was committed to eradicating
discrimination at all levels. "I will not tolerate racial
discrimination as a way of dividing people of this nation."

may mean having to write a new constitution "so that racial
discrimination, a tool previously used by many politicians to win
votes, is eradicated."

Cdre Bainimarama said Government did not
want a repetition of the 2000 [Speight coup] event where little trust
was shared by Fijians and other races and drove many people to
parliament to support rebel leader George Speight for no reason. FijiSun.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Question Of Trust. (Updated)

In a follow up to a March 2008 SiFM posting, that highlighted the issue of Fiji veterans regarding their claims. The veterans were subsequently hung out to dry during the 1956 "Operations Grapple" .

Video of actual Operation Grapple, posted below.

Recently, the Fiji Veterans of the Christmas Island won their legal battle, according to a Fiji Times article. The excerpt of F.T article:

Veterans win case

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Justice at last ... Jone Tabaiwalu with his wife, Kacaraini Bolalevu, and daughter Lanieta Valeloloneirokotuibau at their Nasinu home yesterday. Picture: SITIVENI MOCE.

FIFTY years after the British conducted nuclear tests on Christmas Island, surviving Fiji veterans will be compensated after a British court decision ruled in their favour for compensation for ill effects they suffered.

The 60 survivors from the 289 servicemen who took part the tests between 1952 and 1958 will converge in Suva on Tuesday to decide on compensation.

"It's been a long struggle and many have gone. This is the first time for Fiji and the world where we can sue a government for the ill effects of such tests," said Jone Tabaiwalu, president of the Fiji Nuclear Test Association.

Delivering his judgment on the case at Room 73 of the London Royal Court of Justice on Friday (Fiji time), Justice David Foskett rejected arguments by the Ministry of Defence that the claims should be thrown out because they were outside the three-year time limit.

Nuclear test veteran Pita Rokoratu was accompanied by association counsel Adi Lusiana Sivo Ganilau to London earlier this year to testify in court.

The British Government were also recently forced to acknowledge the plights of retired Gurkha soldiers and allowing them to reside in the United Kingdom, according to the Guardian newspaper. The excerpt of the Guardian article:

Gurkhas win right to settle in UK

Lumley campaign succeeds as Home Office rewrites rules to give veterans with four years' service permanent residency

Gurkha veterans were today given the right to settle in the UK after an extraordinary campaign led by the actor Joanna Lumley.

The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, completed the expected U-turn by confirming that veterans who had served four years or more, their wives and dependent children could apply to come to Britain.

She said the move "recognises the unique nature" of the soldiers' service and was consistent with the government's broader immigration policy.

Lumley, who joined with Gurkhas outside the Commons to hear the announcement, praised Gordon Brown for his "brave" decision on behalf of "the bravest of the brave".

"A great injustice has been righted. The Gurkhas are coming home. ..It is a day of such exhilaration. I can hardly believe it."

Lumley, who had been briefed on the announcement in advance, visited Brown at Downing Street earlier and met Phil Woolas, the immigration minister last night, said: "It is wretched that the government has taken so long but we must remember that this is the first administration to take action. Consecutive governments ignored us, so we owe a lot to them."

Smith will reverse government guidance issued last month that made the obstacles to entry almost insurmountable for many ordinary Gurkha soldiers, who are traditionally recruited from Nepal.

Smith is changing the rules to allow entry into the UK for Gurkhas previously excluded because they retired from the regiment before 1997, provided they have served with the British army for at least four years.

She promised 1,400 outstanding applications would be processed "as a matter of urgency''.

Smith told the Commons: "Generations of Gurkhas have served the United Kingdom with great courage, sacrifice and distinction and they continue to make a vital and valued contribution to our operations around the world."

Smith said she expected up to 15,000 Gurkhas would come to Britain over the next two years, but they would not get the same pension rights as those who retired after 1997.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, whose Commons motion led directly to the rapid change of heart by ministers, said: "Gordon Brown has finally woken up to the principle that people across Britain understand instinctively: if someone is prepared to die for this country, they must be allowed to live in it.

"Tragically this decision will come too late for many of those brave Gurkhas who have been waiting so long to see justice done.

"Gordon Brown's claim of a 'moral compass' rings hollow when, on every issue from Gurkhas to expenses, he has to be dragged every inch of the way towards doing the right thing."

Chris Grayling , the shadow home secretary, said: "First and foremost this case has been about basic decency. People from around the world have to come to live in this country in the past decade.

"There was never a justification to deny that right to a group of people who have lived long in the nation's affections, and who have risked and often given their lives for its protection.

"It is just a shame that the government had to be dragged kicking and screaming through the courts and then through the crowds of Gurkhas outside parliament before it finally did the right thing."

The turnaround came after the government suffered its first big defeat last month by 21 votes, as 27 Labour rebels joined the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in demanding equal residency rights for all Gurkha soldiers.

Al Jazeera news footage (posted below)capture the elated reactions of the retired Gurkhas, once the news of the decision became public.

The British Government is also not the only country forced to re-look and re-engineer their policy on veteran's welfare and related affairs. US veterans are in no better position than their Atlantic allies, considering the Walter Reed fiasco. A Waco Tribune article reports that an army veteran is living in a shed.

In 2001, the French Government was also forced to examine the past injustices on migrant soldiers from Africa, according to a BBC news article.

The French case of injustice to veterans were dramatized in a wonderful movie titled "Days Of Glory". The trailer of the movie is posted below.

While the issue of pensions have been addressed by the UK and French Courts. What is interesting, is the subject of pensions also intersects the abuse trust and finances.

On The Media (OTM) podcast titled "Grade Inflation" examines the role of Ratings Agencies and their role in the sub-prime fiasco, where numerous pension funds had invested in, on account of the flawed AAA ratings, allocated to the mortgage backed securities. Podcast available on player below.

This American Life (T.I.A)podcast also raises the issue of trust among those rating agencies, that seemed to have grossly failed on many different occasions and many different levels; resulting in the most catastrophic economic meltdowns in the world's history.

Trust was a commodity in short supply, as the economic balloon began inflating; as the banks and mortgage brokers went on a high-stakes binge, fueled by the greed of Wall Street and the collusion of Federal regulating institutions. US President Barack Obama is keenly aware of the failure of regulation and his latest proposal to reform the financial industry, was unveiled by Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geitner.

CQ Politics article outlines the role, some of Obama's financial advisers played in the creating the perfect storm of economic calamity.
According to Los Angeles Times article, Wall Street is not buying it; Wall Street are also wary of their reputation among the middle class who have seen their equity and pension plans wither before their very eyes.

The subject of trustworthiness of regulators, as T.I.A outlined in the podcast, also has bearing in Fiji; with respect to 283 pending cases against Fiji Lawyers, as a Fiji Live article reports.

The excerpt of the F.L article:

New unit to probe Fiji lawyers
June 12, 2009 08:20:49 AM

A special unit within the office of the Chief Registrar will be set up to investigate the 283 pending cases against lawyers.

This follows the downgrading of the Fiji Law Society to a voluntary body with the issuance of the Legal Practitioners Decree.

Acting Chief Registrar Ana Rokomokoti said her office receives five complaints per day on average against lawyers. “Some of the complaints lodged against lawyers dates back to 2000 which were pending before the Fiji Law Society for action,” she told FijiLive.

The complaints against lawyers include malpractice, misconduct, deliberate attempts to delay cases, trust fund account violations, incompetence, negligence, discrepancy with costs charged to clients, failure to follow client’s instructions and failure to communicate with clients.

Raw Fiji News blog posting, also raises the issue about Twitter and its use in Fiji, implying that Iran's situation was similar to Fiji.

In a rather adequate response to that RFN claim, was neatly addressed by a Michael Madden's post on Salon.
Not long ago, Republicans were talking about attacking Iran. Now they think Obama doesn't love Iran enough

Undeniably, those like the Republicans, are queuing up to capitalize on Iran's domestic situation, to shore up their own political position in Fiji; which raises the trust issue yet again.

Croz Walsh latest blog posting, addresses the issue of Trust, in deciphering the intentions of the Trans-Tasman nations, as friendly or unfriendly in their engagements with Fiji. An OP-Ed by World has accurately outlined the back ground story of Fiji's political situation.

One concerning aspect of the recent foreign policy of both Trans-Tasman nations, is their incessant megaphone diplomacy in the region; as if the island states within the area were
an extension of their empire and more recently NZ Foreign Minister had to poke his nose into the recent developments in Iran.

The neo-colonist interference by these Trans-Tasman bullies is multi-faceted. One thrust is to poison the Sino-Viti bi-lateral relationship, as reported in Australian Network News article.

The other, constant hectoring through the media-the Australian and New Zealand media.
If criticizing Fiji was a favorite past time, both Trans-Tasman nations would take the prize as being the most vocal and belligerent.

Even Micheal Field the disgraced journalist, was among those echoing the news of S & P down grading the investment ratings of Fiji. Ironically, it was S & P among other agencies, which gave the Mortgage backed Securities an AAA rating and the end result is the quantitative easing, of the Global Financial Collapse. This whole affair brings us back to the question of Trust and the abuse of it by these ratings agencies.

Although, both Australian and New Zealand's Foreign Minister were quoted in NZ radio web article, as being concerned about Fiji's economy, because it was allegedly on the decline; what was omitted was that, their own economies are also being disintegrated by the Global Financial Collapse, according to Bloomberg.

What is not being questioned, is the Trans-Tasman moves to fast-track the highly controversial PACER-Plus negotiations for a Free-Trade deal with the Pacific Islands.

An ABC Australia web article quotes from Australian Trade Minister, Simon Crean who has a pollyannic outlook on the PACER-Plus negotiations in Apia and often used the buzz words: "level of trust", "capacity building", "genuinely desire to make this work".

These sultry words are almost equivalent to the one-liners, used by Wall Street Brokers to sell junk bonds to the unaware. Undoubtedly, the Australia Trade Minister, Simon Crean comes across in the ABC interview; as the type of person, who sells steak knives and food processing equipment on late night TV.

The excerpt of ABC article:

Varied reaction to PACER Plus negotiation timeline

Australian Trade Minister Simon <span class=Crean is strongly in favour of Pacific free trade negotiations. [ABC]" title="Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean is strongly in favour of Pacific free trade negotiations. [ABC]">

Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean is strongly in favour of Pacific free trade negotiations. [ABC]

AUDIO from Pacific Beat

Pacific trade

Created: Thu, 18 Jun 2009 12:51:40 GMT-0700

Jemima Garrett

Last Updated: Fri, 19 Jun 2009 14:50:00 +1000

Samoa's Associate Trade Minister Jo Keil says all the Ministers at the Pacific Trade Ministers meeting in Apia are happy with the decision to recommend that negotiations for a PACER Plus trade agreement begin this year.

A joint statement issued by the Ministers stressed the importance of progressing PACER Plus as a means of underpinning the economic security of the region.

Samoan Minister Jo Keil said all the ministers were happy with the decision to recommend negotiations start this year.

"Very friendly and very good," he said. "I was there, we were there the whole time and we got along very well - the ministers were all friends." Pacific Australian and New Zealand civil society organisations represented in Apia say the Pacific ministers conceded too much to Australia and New Zealand.

Spokesperson Maureen Penjuelli said none of their concerns had been addressed. The organisations will ask Pacific leaders to use their meeting in Cairns in August to delay PACER negotiations.

ABC podcast (posted below in MP3 player) interviews the Samoan Associate Trade Minister, Joe Keil and PANG Coordinator, Maureen Penjuelli. Both interviewees were present at the Apia Trade talks. However, Penijuelli who met with several other Trade Ministers found a sense of disappointment among them. The PANG Coordinator also disputes the label of general concensus, as described by the Australian and Samoan Trade Minister.

Fiji, one the largest economies in the region was recently excluded from the recent talks held in Apia, Western Samoa as reported in Fiji Live article, including the reaction from the Interim Attorney General.

The excerpt of F.L article:

Fiji regrets trade talk exclusion: AG

June 20, 2009 03:21:01 PM

Fiji’s Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has labeled as “regretful” Fiji’s exclusion from regional trade talks in Samoa, which ends today and questioned the motives of big brothers Australia and New Zealand.

“Fiji’s exclusion from regional trade talks has the potential to adversely impact on the country’s economic development by affecting its regional trade and economic integration, thereby hurting its most vulnerable and disadvantaged citizens,” Sayed Khaiyum said today in a statement.

“Fiji is a party to PACER (Pacific Closer Economic Relations) having signed and ratified the Agreement in 2001. The decision to exclude Fiji from discussions under PACER is a violation of her rights under the treaty," he added.

"Any decisions reached by the Forum members in the absence of Fiji on PACER are legally challengeable under the principle of ‘consensus’ espoused by the treaty and the Pacific Islands Forum in general and will not be legally binding on Fiji.

European Union funded trade talks among members of the Pacific Islands Forum had kicked off in Samoa on June 6, a two weeks event which excluded Fiji. This was a direct result of its suspension in April from Forum membership. Sayed-Khaiyum said it was a regret that Fiji, being one of the founding members of the Forum, had to be excluded from these talks.

Fiji Times article also reports on the reaction of Fiji's Government.

Whether or not these neighbours are genuinely concerned about the welfare of the inhabitants is highly questionable. What these Trans-Tasman nations have banked their hopes on and the recovery of their own domestic economies is, the trade with Pacific Island nations and the most convenient vehicle to back their budgetary projections on, is cementing these free-trade deals with the Pacific Island states, whether they want it or not.

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Congressman Points Out Inept Trans-Tasman Policy On Fiji.

New Zealand Herald article reports that, American Samoan Congressman, Eni Faleomavaega reiterated has view on Canberra and Wellington's misguided foreign policy on Fiji.

Congress told 'inept' Fiji policies risk US interests

2:53PM Sunday May 31, 2009

American Samoa's member of the US Congress has warned that the "inept policies and heavy-handed actions" of the New Zealand and Australian governments in the Pacific are putting American interests in the region at risk.

Eni Faleomavaega - who discussed Pacific issues with the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in April -- has called for the United States to step up its influence in region. He has claimed that the USA has increasingly deferred to the governments of New Zealand and Australia on Pacific issues, and that the State Department has neglected Oceania.

Mr Faleomavaega is reported to have told Mrs Clinton that Australia and New Zealand are making "nasty accusations" against Fiji and "acting with a heavy hand" about a "situation that is more complex than it appears". According to Mr Faleomavaega, who has set out his views in an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald, Fiji and its one million people plays a vital part in trans-Pacific trade routes with vast marine and seabed minerals.

The US should play a more proactive and independent role, one offering the country a better chance of emerging from its current crisis, eliminating its "coup culture" once and for all and establishing a more stable government," he said.

"For too long, the US has deferred to Australia and New Zealand ... despite their obvious policy failures".

"Heavy-handed tactics and misguided sanctions" used by Wellington and Canberra politicians had hurt average Fijians far more than the coup government, he said. Punishing average Fijians would never solve the country's problems, and by making life in Fiji increasingly difficult, "Canberra and Wellington may well be sowing the seeds of civil unrest and violence".

Mr Faleomavaega, who chairs the Congress subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, warned that China had stepped in to fill the vacuum, offering grants, concessionary loans and enhanced trade opportunities. He noted that Australia and New Zealand's combined exports and imports to Pacific island nations were more than US$25 billion ($40.3 billion), and that Fiji alone counts for almost US$4 billion during the same period.

But the interests of Australia and New Zealand may diverge -- sometimes significantly -- from those of Washington, and their "foreign policy elites" wrongly viewed the region with a eurocentric mentality. Fiji's complex ethnic mix was not adequately appreciated in Canberra and Wellington.

"Fortunately, the Obama Administration is gaining a better understanding of ... how our friends in Canberra and Wellington have dropped the ball," he said. The USA should offer the country the necessary resources to reform its electoral process, redraft its constitution and to hold successful elections.

Washington should also offer to help strengthen Fiji's economy -- and long term stability -- through the promotion of bilateral trade and investment, particularly in tourism. The congressman also wants the USA to hold a Pacific Islands "conference of leaders" in Washington so that President Barack Obama and senior officials can meet the region's leaders.

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