Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fiji Rugby Union- A Rising Cloud of Suspicion?

In a follow up to an earlier SiFM post regarding the affairs with Fiji Rugby (FRU) and surrounding the tainted past of its current acting CEO, the ever recalcitrant Keni Dakuidreketi.

The current Fiji Rugby Union President, Filipe Tuisawau has issued a seven day ultimatum to the FRU board, as a Fiji Times (FT) article outlines.

The excerpt of the FT article:

One week for FRU board

Indra Singh
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

FIJI Rugby Union president Ro Filipe Tuisawau has given his board until the end of the week to change its mind before formally asking for the Prime Minister's office to intervene.

Tuisawau wants acting chief executive Keni Dakuidreketi, who is facing corruption charges, removed from office. The Rewa chief has hit out at the board for refusing to accept the resignation of Dakuidreketi.

Tuisawau has been a vocal critic of Dakuidreketi since earlier this year.

"I understand that the board will meet again this week and I am hopeful that they will reconsider Keni's case given the concerns," Tuisawau said. "Failing that I will formally ask the Prime Ministers office to intervene.

"After that, I will envisage a joint meeting with the board, convened by the Government to agree on a way forward. " I am sure that the outcome will be positive for all. We will then progress from there."

Dakuidreketi refused to be drawn into the debate but said Tuisawau should follow the right channel.

"It is obvious from the start that Ro Filipe does not want me here and wants me removed," Dakuidreketi said. "He must have his reasons but if he has some issues, than he should come to the board and talk about the issues at hand."

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has also called for the resignation of Dakuidreketi, who faces charges lodged by the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption.

Dakuidreketi said he was upset by calls for his resignation. "I'm saddened that I've been found guilty by the highest law of the land even before the trial," he said.

It is still unclear if Dakuidreketi will travel on the end-of-the-year tour.

Dakuidreketi's defenders including the Chairman and some of the board, reacted to the negative potrayal, claiming that any interference will incur the wrath of the International Rugby Board (IRB) as described in a Fiji Village (FV) article.

The excerpt of F.V article:

Govt interference could threaten IRB membership
Publish date/time: 21/10/2009 [16:57]

The Fiji Rugby Union said that if government is brought in to interfere in their decision that Acting CEO Keni Dakuidreketi remain in his post, it could threaten its membership of the International Rugby Board (IRB).

This is in reply to FRU President Ro Filipe Tuisawau giving the Board an ultimatum to change their decision on keeping Dakuidreketi or he would call on government intervention to resolve the issue.

There is an audio file attached to this story. Please login to listen.

However, the FRU Chairman Bill Gavoka said the rugby house has its links with the IRB and there will be serious implications if government intervenes on the affairs of the Rugby House.

There is an audio file attached to this story. Please login to listen.

Bye-Law 10 of the IRB Constitution, subsection C states, that a union may be suspended pursuant to the IRB Bye-Laws and regulations if state authorities interfere in its affairs.

Gavoka hopes that Ro Filipe will think things through before seeking government intervention especially since Fiji rugby is under the IRB Body, which provides assistance and organizes tournaments which we participate in.

The pointed posturing and predictable belligerence from FRU, only raises many eyebrows, with respect to ethical standards and begs the question: why is Dakuidreketi so hard to replace? Are there any other discrepancies within Rugby house that may warrant FICAC's attention?

Before this mess with FRU was even being close to being resolved, the latest news from SMH of the upcoming Fiji tour of Europe, highlighted the super extravagant number of officials touring with the 30 man squad and simply goes to show the lack of sensitivity or judgement, from FRU's head honcho.

The excerpt of SMH article:

Officials swell Fiji rugby tour party
October 21, 2009 - 2:24PM .

Cash-strapped Fiji will send 15 officials to accompany 30 players on its three-match end of year rugby tour to Europe.

The official contingent in the 45-strong tour party will include two physiotherapists, a media officer, administrative officer, a trainer and video analyst, the Fiji Times newspaper reported.

The Fiji Rugby Union has been struggling for some time to find a major sponsor for its national team but its chief executive, Keni Dakuidreketi, denied the tour party was extravagant.

"Under the IRB Tier One Test rules, each union is allowed 30 players and a management team of up to 15," Dakuidreketi told the Times.

"For the costs, FRU will pay for the airfares and the allowances while the host unions will cater for all other costs from the time we land in the respective country.

"This will be for the 45 tour squad but as for any extra, FRU will have to fork out itself."

Dakuidreketi said Fiji was a top-10 rugby nation - ranked eighth in the
world on IRB listings - and had to act accordingly.

"Everyone we are taking is for a reason and those like a video analyst, who we want to learn and get used to the new technology," he said. "At the same time we will have trainer Naca Cawanibuka who will work with experts there."

Fiji will play Scotland on November 15, Ireland on November 22 and Romania on November 29.

© 2009 AP

It is rather incredulous to see Dakuidreketi justifying the need for 15 member official entourage, based on the fact of that the tour is operating under "IRB's tier 1 test match rules".

Irregardless of the tier 1 test rules, the sad fact of the matter is that; Fiji Rugby 15s team is not a tier 1 rugby entity. The apparent lack of financial resources does not seem to dissuade the FRU board's deliberate and obnoxious manner of "living beyond their means".
Added to that, is a seemingly two tiered system of natural justice, where the celebrated 15's coach of Fiji, Ilivasi Tabua was dismissed on mere allegations of drinking alcohol while on tour and the unceremonious removal of sevens icon Waisale Serevi from duties as IRB 7s circuit coach.

Fiji Times Sports Columnist, Percy Kean calls for an Governemnt intervention in his opinion piece. Kean's opinion highlights the urgent need for a honest broker to navigate FRU out of stagnancy and undertaking the major task of draining the cesspool of politicization and corruption within its ranks.
The excerpt of Kean's opinion article:

Children's money

Percy Kean
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

IT'S crucial the International Rugby Board and the Government of the day step in to again steer Fiji rugby out of the trouble waters it has found itself in.

No, not to clean up the Fiji Rugby Union, dismiss its Board the FRU president Ro Filipe Tuisawau labelled as practising double standards, or even help board chairman Viliame Gavoka shame the devil and tell the truth why all of a sudden acting chief executive Keni Dakuidreketi is indispensable to rugby.

We'll highlight more on that tomorrow plus how the vanua politics used its connections to vote for the FRU board members. So make sure you get a copy unless you want tomorrow's news today.

Today we delve on constructive issues to see rugby's progress.

That's reason enough key stakeholders -- the IRB provides more funds and ensures the directors run FRU in accordance with principles of corporate good governance and discipline and the state can flex it's muscles so local authorities can help the national sport come to terms with realities of professionalism.

I know the former FRU president up at Muanikau Road, who also called on the FRU Board and Dakuidreketi to step aside for the honour of rugby, will like this subject.

Let's talk about making money. Some people surely need financial assistance.

Because it is definitely a lack of finance and the Board's inability to secure funds as we have been reading that has seen the FRU fail to appoint a CEO, a marketing man etc.

FRU is a multi-million dollar business venture, as such there needs to be a CEO and experienced qualified financial controller appointed soon as possible to run the affairs of FRU and be held accountable at the end of the day.

There were a number of very prominent names that responded to the advertisement but the lack of finance was the board's defence in delaying the selection. With finance, current hardships can be overcome.

The demand now is far greater than 15 to 20 years ago and these cost money.

In a talanoa session the other week, Bruce told a work mate how money can be evil. I quipped money was not evil but it was the love of money that was the root of all evil.

It is logical and common in people's lives to make money. Economic security is basic to one's opportunity to do much in any other dimension. Other needs are not even activated until that basic need is satisfied at least minimally.

Sometimes there are apparently noble reasons given for making money, such as desire to take care of family. And these things are important. But to focus on money-making as a centre will bring about its own undoing.

Stephen Covey says money-centred people often put aside family or other priorities, assuming everyone will understand economic demands come first.

As Jim, an investor from Brisbane, said it was important that FRU upholds transparency and accountability in conducting its services, especially if and when IRB and the Government lends substantial grants .

"Because that is children's money. To help get our kids off the streets, drugs and idleness, an alternative pathway for those who are not good academically," he said. "It's a shame on educated people if they bend low and deny this to our children."

This is not the first but hopefully the last call for FRU to venture into other income generating activities to supplement grants and sponsorship.

Maybe it's an opportune time to review gambling laws and through casinos in controlled locations rugby will earn a percentage of profits and tourism is lifted to new heights.

A time for the FRU to enhance our sons and daughters marketability to the professional world by building better infrastructure or innovative measures or maybe turn its assets to generate income.

Previously the casino concept was on the table with an aim at benefiting clubs and provincial unions. Not just casinos, but lottery generally.

While holidaying in West Hampstead in London, former rugby great Pio Bosco Tikoisiva told me how in the UK the national lottery contributes generously to charity including sports. "I am told and I have heard about for some time." he said.

Take Tattslotto in Fiji for instance. One of the major reasons it was approved was the fact that Fiji rugby was one of the supposed beneficiary. Unfortunately, this did not materialise, all proceeds went to the Fiji Sports Council (that is building into a bigger story).

So, it proves that yes, it can definitely support sports associations economies. There had been plans for an international size ground, with modern lighting to attract big matches, even Super 14 games.

Discussions on this was well underway in 2006 when FRU had discussions with the current government and FSC regarding Lawaqa Park. The government was supportive but it seems the problem was with FSC agreeing to the terms FRU was negotiating; the terms FSC was offering was not very helpful.

FRU's plan for Lawaqa Park was to upgrade it to international standard with appropriate training facilities, shopping mall and building accommodation and cafeteria close by.

FRU has had discussions with the Sigatoka Town Council and the traditional landowners. There was a company ready to come in if FRU got the nod to dominate sponsorship adverts/signboard.

FRU pays a lot of money during preparations for any Fiji national team -- hotel, meals, laundry. This accommodation plan can save a lot of money and can also offer the same facilities to other touring sides (may be not international teams, but other overseas clubs).

There are teams in Australia, NZ and even Japan that usually go to some other countries during their preparations for the new season. Having them come to Fiji on training camps-cum-holiday can be an attractive proposal.

The choice of Lawaqa Park was because of the location; distance from Nadi and the availability of very good hotels in the area.

The upgrade to international standards will not only attract international matches and Super 14s but it can also allow FRU to bid to host one of the IRB 7s tournaments.

FRU cannot bid because it lacks the proper facilities.

The FSC must seriously think of the benefit this FRU proposal can offer for taking Fiji rugby to another level, it can affect the tourist arrivals in Sigatoka area and of course be good for the business houses in the area.

The benefits it can bring to the country should be reason enough for FSC to approve FRUs proposal and not to burden FRU with its (Sports Council) level of debts on Lawaqa Park.

It's also high time for every union to stop the talk and begin the walk to see Fiji rugby enjoys progress. The upgrade for grounds where major unions play should not be the responsibility of FRU, it should be the responsibility of major unions which together with other sporting bodies, should negotiate with the appropriate city/town councils for the upgrade of grounds.

After all, at the end of the day it is the council that will benefit; ground hire and local businesses from the crowd that follows the team/sport whether it is rugby, soccer.

Take Lautoka for instance, Churchill Park is the best ground in Fiji. Why? because the council has saw it fit to upgrade it. The result, most FRU international matches are been held in Lautoka. Other councils should learn from Lautoka.

Sporting teams within the council boundaries should get local businesses to be part of the game by offering sponsorship. This is where FRU can come in; to assist major unions in the art of negotiation with potential sponsors.

Another source of funds is the plan already with FRU to sell Rugby House.

Even in 2004/05 there was a plan to demolish and build a six story building with one floor to FRU and rent the rest. Talks were held with Vinod Patel who has been involved with similar projects with the Ba Provincial Council.

This approach meant that Vinod Patel builds and over the years FRU pays back and fully owns the place once payments are made. The new board that came in after 2005 had another plan.

FRU should take advantage of the location of the property and build and rent for long tern gain. It's time to talk the talk and walk the walk.

However, there maybe good reasons why these were not pursued. A sponsor (Digicel/Vodafone) may like to be part owner. Never know.

Save Page As PDF

Zemanta Pixie

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bordering On Failure- Current US Immigration Policy?

Immigration is one of the contentious and overarching issue that is currently simmering on the back burner (among the numerous others) in US politics. It is also a subject that touches many countries, let alone Fiji.

A series of video blogs, in an ongoing project by Busted Borders, in conjunction with Buster Halo, explores this very issue and interviews several illegal immigrants in the US.

With the help of a grant from the Carnegie Corporation, began covering the issue of immigration in a unique way. Instead of contributing to the glut of coverage about immigration, BustedHalo is featuring stories by immigrants themselves about the issue. We distributed Flip video cameras to undocumented individuals and agencies across the country and asked them to start video blogging for a period of at least three months.

Busted Borders is an attempt to use the web’s unfiltered nature to move the immigration debate away from abstractions and statistics. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, we hope to give a personal glimpse into the humanity of these strangers in our midst. For reasons of safety, some of the participants have opted to keep their last names and locations secret.

Busted Borders is an ongoing project and we are still in its early stages. If you or someone you know is interested in participating please contact us at

Busted Borders Producer: Bill McGarvey; Project coordinator: Mirlande Jeanlouis.

Among those who submitted videos, is a Fiji immigrant named Prerna, who found herself in such a predicament. Prerna describes her complicated situation in the following videos.

Part 1 (posted below): Prerna, Fijian student, who was applying for residential paperwork, became the only undocumented member of her family

Part 2 (posted below): Prerna becomes an activist, a blogger and a volunteer

Part 3 (posted below): In this third video, Prerna's family is trying to avoid foreclosure on their home.

Part 4 (posted below): In this fourth video, Prerna talks about her experience biking from Los Angeles to Berkeley, CA.

Save Page As PDF

Social Bookmarking

Add to: Digg
Add to:
Add to: Reddit
Add to: StumbleUpon
Add to: Furl
Add to: Yahoo
Add to: Spurl
Add to: Google
Add to: Technorati
Add to: Newsvine