Showing posts with label Australia meddling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australia meddling. Show all posts

Sunday, July 14, 2013

X-Post: Islands Business - Trans-Tasman Political and Diplomatic Naivety.

Australia and New Zealand have effectively failed to leverage this increased aid to engage more meaningfully with the Fijian government to the greater advantage of all, not least the Fijian people. Their stance smacks of political and diplomatic naivety’.

An article saying that Australia and perhaps New Zealand have played an active role in influencing a continuing ban on lending to Fiji by international financial institutions received much coverage in the regional media and the blogosphere. It suggested the two ANZAC nations used their influence on organisations like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank to stymie financial assistance to the Fiji Government after 2006. But while continuing to influence these two large institutional banks, Australia stepped up its own development assistance to Fiji, the article noted, accusing the Australian establishment of hypocrisy.

Expectedly, both sides of the Fijian divide furiously commented on the article while the financial institutions and Australian Government sources issued the customary denials in customary bureaucratese, putting their practiced skills of saying much without saying anything to effective use. The institutions denied they were influenced by politics in decision making related to lending to governments but the language that was used in communications around not being able to lend to Fiji since 2006 hints at exactly the opposite.

Australia has clarified its boosting of development assistance as being aimed at projects benefiting the people directly as against lending to the Fijian Government to implement any development schemes. The denials appear strenuous. Though they seem to have softened their public stance on Fiji over time, there is no doubt that the ANZAC nations were vehement in their criticism in the early years following 2006 and worked actively to campaign worldwide to treat Fiji as a pariah. For instance, they tried to influence the United Nations to drop Fiji as a supplier of personnel for peacekeeping forces in the world’s trouble spots. But their clamour went unheeded. They canvassed the European Community, again with limited success. They have also opposed Fiji’s participation in regional trade deliberations like PACER Plus. They refrained from engaging with the Fiji regime in the crucial early years after December 2006, pursuing a rudderless isolationist tack that bore no fruit and resulted in forcing Fiji to look north.

Islands Business

" Americans have also stepped up pressure on the ANZAC nations to relook at their Fiji policy in light of China’s growing geopolitical muscle in the region. Everyone knows that Fiji is the pivot of geopolitical influence in the region. And the ANZAC nations’ isolationist policy has driven Fiji straight into the waiting arms of the Chinese. "
It is this deepening engagement with the north, notably China, that ultimately got them worried enough to change that stringently uncompromising isolationist tack of the earlier years. In recent years, both Australia and New Zealand, although not keen on saying specifically they have softened their school masterly stance on Fiji, have increased their engagement with the country at several levels. Increased development assistance, which is referred to in the said article, is one of them. The article’s allusion to Australia’s hypocrisy is somewhat misplaced.

The hypocrisy is not that it is not stymieing the Fiji Government’s access to international funding agencies for loans while scaling up direct development assistance. Rather, the hypocrisy is about hiding their mounting worry about the consequences they now face with their stringent isolationist strategy of the immediate years following 2006. As well as deeper engagement with China, which has undoubtedly worried them, the Americans have also stepped up pressure on the ANZAC nations to relook at their Fiji policy in light of China’s growing geopolitical muscle in the region. Everyone knows that Fiji is the pivot of geopolitical influence in the region. And the ANZAC nations’ isolationist policy has driven Fiji straight into the waiting arms of the Chinese. For instance, a World Bank infrastructure loan that was close to finalisation just before December 2006 has been held in abeyance ever since, affecting a crucial water supply project. But the Chinese government stepped in and duly helped complete the project with a soft loan.

The Chinese government has thereafter assisted by providing financing for a number of other infrastructure projects such as roads and ports around the country including on other islands.
Australia and New Zealand have effectively failed to leverage this increased aid to engage more meaningfully with the Fiji Government to the greater advantage of all, not least the Fijian people. Their stance smacks of political and diplomatic naivety. They seem to have concluded that helping people with aid while denying the government with vital loans somehow vindicates their stand of opposing the December 2006 event and the present state of affairs.

It is incredible that the boffins in Canberra and Wellington could not have figured out that whatever aid that lands in Fiji and helps development, ultimately is credited to the government by the people, thereby making the government look good anyway.

Such befuddled thinking accompanied by the looming fear of the growing Chinese influence in the region and their unwitting part in abetting it, as well as pressure from the United States to toe its own line on conciliation on the Fiji issue in the interests of regional geopolitical rebalancing has further confused policymaking. On their part, the big financial institutions accused in the article of complying with the wishes of the ANZAC nations in denying financial assistance to the Fiji Government have expectedly denied such a thing happened. Their denial is enveloped in clever, circumlocutory corporate speak. But it is a little more than the proverbial fig leaf.

In view of the steps the Fiji Government is taking towards elections on September 14—under the watchful gaze of the international community—it is time these institutions and their board member countries revise their duplicitous policy that has led them nowhere so far. Fiji is too geopolitically critical to remain friendless for too long. The manner in which China and the Asian nations have rushed in to fill the vacuum left by the ANZAC nations post-2006 is testimony to this. Australia and New Zealand have undoubtedly realised this. It is time they acknowledged it—they won’t publicly. But they can do so by stopping any negative campaigning behind the scenes.

Source: "We Say" Islands Business -July 2013 Issue.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

X-Post-East Asia Forum: Japan’s Pacific Islands Diplomacy At a Crossroads

Author: Sandra Tarte, USP

Japan’s decision not to invite Fiji’s prime minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, to the sixth Japan–Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM 6), to be held in Okinawa this 25–26 May, represents a defining moment in its diplomatic relations with the Pacific Islands.
Fiji P.M -Voreqe Bainimarama (Source: Fiji Live)
Japan announced that due to the perceived ‘insufficient pace of reform toward democratisation’, it would invite Fiji’s foreign minister instead (who subsequently gave his apologies). That this announcement came just one week ahead of the meeting is an indication of what a difficult decision this was for the Japanese government. In addition to the immediate consequences for Japan–Fiji relations, this decision has broader implications.

The PALM summits have been held every three years in Japan since 1997, and are Tokyo’s signature event in its foreign relations with the Pacific Islands. They normally bring together the heads of government from Japanese and Pacific Island countries, plus ministerial-level representation from Australia and New Zealand. Although in the past they have been dubbed the Japan–Pacific Islands Forum meeting, the PALM summit is not technically a Forum event. Fiji remains suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum pending its return to democratic rule, but it is not officially excluded from the PALM process.

In October 2010 Japan hosted the first Interim PALM meeting — a mid-term gathering of Pacific Islands Forum foreign ministers in Tokyo. This was ostensibly aimed at assessing the progress in the implementation of commitments made at the previous year’s PALM summit and looking ahead to the next one. Most significantly, however, it was a first step toward normalising ties with Bainimarama’s government, and was the occasion for the first meeting between Fiji’s foreign minister and his Japanese counterpart. During the 2010 Interim PALM meeting Tokyo indicated its concerns that the policy of isolating Fiji to pressure it into more meaningful democratic reforms was failing, and this was taken as a positive sign that Prime Minister Bainimarama would receive an invitation to PALM 6.

Since then, Japan has watched events unfold in Fiji and in the region, waiting for the right moment to issue the invitation. As the head of the Fiji Military Forces, Prime Minister Bainimarama has not been allowed to travel to Japan since he came to power in the December 2006 coup. He has, however, made numerous visits to China and to other Asian powerhouses such as Indonesia and India, and to new friends in the Middle East.

Japan had compelling reasons for inviting the Fijian prime minister to Okinawa this year. First, it has been six years since Fiji was last represented at PALM at a prime ministerial level. It missed out on PALM 5 in 2009 due to the political upheaval Fiji was undergoing at the time, including the abrogation of the constitution and subsequent uncertainty over the country’s democratic future. The 2012 PALM summit is the last one before elections in Fiji, which are scheduled for 2014. Inviting Fiji’s prime minister would have signalled Japan’s support for the political process mapped out by the Bainimarama government. Despite its perceived flaws, this political process remains the only hope Fiji has of returning to some form of democratic rule.

PALM 6 also represented an opportunity for Japan both to rebuild bridges with this key actor in the region, and to acknowledge that the Pacific Islands is a region in transition. In the six years since he seized power, Prime Minister Bainimarama has redefined Fiji’s foreign policy, and these changes have led a growing number of Pacific Island countries to embrace new partnerships and alignments. A new diplomacy that is not contingent on the policy preferences of Australia, New Zealand or the US seems to be emerging across the region, indirectly prompted by Bainimarama.

If, as reported, Japan’s decision not to invite Prime Minister Bainimarama to PALM 6 was the result of international pressure, from Australia in particular, it signals a reaffirmation by Japan of the ‘old regional order’ and a rejection of the ‘new regional order’ that is gradually taking shape. As Japan’s prime minister welcomes Pacific leaders in Okinawa, including ministers from Australia and New Zealand, he may do well to reflect on the long-term significance of Fiji’s empty seat.

Sandra Tarte is Associate Professor and Director of the Politics and International Affairs Program at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji.

Further reading:

Mainichi- Noda (Japan PM) Eager to Deepen 'Bonds' With Pacific Leaders.

Grubsheet- Australia Engineers Japan Snub

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

X-Post-Blak and Black: AFP racism sparks diplomatic row between Australia and Vanuatu

Posted on May 10, 2012 by Bakchos

On 2nd May, 2012 the Vanuatu Daily Post reported that Private Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office Clarence Marae had been arrested at Sydney International Airport by the Australian Federal Police (“AFP”) whilst accompanying Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Meltek Sato Kilman Livtunvanu to Israel on a diplomatic mission.
Following his arrest, Mr Marae was charged with conspiring to defraud the Commonwealth, contrary to section 86 (1) and 29D of the Crimes Act 1914. The allegations underpinning the charges relate to an incident or a series of incidents which occurred more than ten years before.

What should be of paramount concern to all of the Pacific’s Indigenous people and what has clear echoes in the AFP’s now discredited treatment of Mr Julian Moti QC, the former Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands, is the high-handed manner in which the Australian Government and the AFP treat the Indigenous people of the Pacific, including their political and beaurocratic leaders.

In a statement issued from the office of Vanuatu’s Prime Minister on 1st May, 2012, the Prime Minister stated that:
…the Prime Minister’s Office was totally unaware that Marae still had an outstanding issue with the Australian Federal authorities.
Prime Minister’s Office would however like to echo the sentiments forwarded to the Australian Government via a diplomatic note protesting the manner in which the Prime Minister and his delegation were forcibly diverted from the international transit area of Sydney Airport to the Customs area under Australian Government jurisdiction so that the warrant could be served on Mr Marae.
The statement also stressed that this was a public embarrassment to the Prime Minister of Vanuatu and stressed that the Vanuatu Government is reviewing its options and has sought legal advice on the manner in which Marae’s arrest was orchestrated by the Australian Federal authorities at the Sydney International Airport, as it is suspected that in disallowing the delegation to go directly to the international transit lounge the actions may have infringed on international diplomatic protocols set out in international conventions ratified by both Australia and Vanuatu.

In fact, and typical of AFP arrogance when dealing with Indigenous people, the AFP have refused to enter into dialogue with Vanuatu over the issue, resulting in the Vanuatu Government issuing a statement on 9th May, 2012 giving the AFP 24 hours to close its liaison office, otherwise officers would face arrest for failing to ”take into account the decision of the Vanuatu government’‘.
Again, with strong resonances with the Moti affair, in 2004, Vanuatu’s then Foreign Minister, Barak Sope, wanted to throw the AFP out over allegations of spying and meddling with domestic politics. In May 2011, Australian lawyer and senior Australian Litigation Advisor to the Attorney-General of Vanuatu Ari Jenshel was expelled from Vanuatu by its government after it accused him of espionage.
Mr. Jenshel was made to leave after the Australian government was warned he faced imminent arrest over his activities as senior adviser in the office of the Attorney-General in Port Vila. Among claims being investigated by the police in Vanuatu are that sensitive government documents have been copied and sent to the Australian Government in Canberra. Mr. Jenshel, who is a former Australian Defence Force lawyer seconded to Vanuatu five years ago as part of an AusAID program, says any adverse findings against him by the Vanuatu police will be based on fabrications.

Some of the documents allegedly copied relate to talks between leaders of Pacific countries including Vanuatu, aimed at developing a closer working relationship with Fiji’s interim Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

The other documents Mr Jenshel is suspected of accessing, copying and sending to Canberra are confidential Vanuatu Government business and legal affairs, relating to taxation policy. Could these documents relate to Project Wickenby? Project Wickenby is a cooperative partnership between the ATO, Australian Federal Police, Australian Crime Commission, Australian Securities and Investments Commission, and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, with support from the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, the Australian Government Solicitor and the Attorney-General’s Department.
Specifically to Project Wickenby, Mr Marae is an alleged associate of Victorian accountant Ian Henke, who was jailed in March 2011 for a multimillion-dollar tax avoidance scheme working through Vanuatu. Is this why Mr Jenshel was expelled and Mr Marae arrested?

Moti and Marae acts of neo-colonial racism?

The question goes begging – if Mr Marae were accompanying say, the Prime Minister of Britain or the President of the United States or indeed the President of Indonesia on a diplomatic mission rather than the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, would the AFP have acted in such a high-handed manner? The answer, is probably not. Similarly, if Mr Moti were the Attorney-General of one of the aforementioned countries, would he have been treated in the way he was by the AFP? Again, the answer is probably not.

The difference is that Australia sees the Pacific as being nothing more than its colonial domain, a domain which Australia governs through direct police/military intervention (known in the 19th Century as Gun Boat Diplomacy) and/or a few shekels of silver pressed into the hands of those Pacific ‘leaders’ prepared to sell out their own people to a racist and corrupt Australia in return for the crumbs from Australia’s table.
Australia has tried to justify its neo-colonial interventions in the Pacific by arguing that it was bringing stability to the so-called ‘arc of instability.’
…The so-called ‘arc of instability’, which basically goes from East Timor through to the south-west Pacific states, means that not only does Australia have a responsibility in preventing and indeed assisting with humanitarian and disaster relief, but also that we cannot allow any of these countries to become havens for transnational crime, nor indeed havens for terrorism…
There is no official list of member states in the Arc, however it has traditionally been accepted to include South-East Asian and Oceanic nations such as Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, East Timor, Indonesia and Fiji.
What Australia is really doing in the Pacific is using the tragic events which unfolded in New York on 11 September, 2001 as a pretext to economically colonize the Pacific for its own commercial ends.
In the words of former United States President Woodrow Wilson:
Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused[1].
Actions speak louder than words. The actions of the AFP in both the Marae and Moti affairs speak volumes about the attitude of white Australia to the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific.

Post script News:

AFP’s long memory of alleged associations from the past 
Of the many articles published this week concerning the recent arrest of Clarence Marae, private secretary to Vanuatu’s Prime Minister at Sydney International Airport, only one goes any way to explain why the Australian Federal Police may have taken the action they did.

Ilya Gridneff, writing on May 2 says: “The Herald understands that the arrest is connected to the joint operation Project Wickenby, run predominantly by the Australian Taxation Office. Mr Marae is an alleged associate of the Victorian accountant Ian Henke, who in March last year was jailed, along with two Queensland accountants, for their roles in a multimillion-dollar tax avoidance scheme”

If this is indeed the basis for Marae’s arrest it not only shows that the AFP have very long memories, but also that one can never really escape one’s past – whatever that past may be.

In May 2008, the Australian Financial Review’s Matthew Drummond and Colleen Ryan reported under the headline: “Vanuatu dragnet opens up new front”.

“Ian Henke, who once tried to put former tax commissioner Michael Carmody on trial for war crimes and claimed the Australian Taxation Office was a legal fiction, has been charged over what the Australian Federal Police has (sic) alleged to be a $10 million asset-stripping scheme involving Vanuatu. “Mr Henke, 72, of Victoria, and Robin Huston, 62, of Queensland were summonsed to appear before Brisbane Magistrates Court.

“The AFP alleges the pair promoted a scheme that resulted in the assets of 69 companies being stripped and transferred through an “intricate network” of firms in Australia and Vanuatu.
“The companies, spread across five states, then told the ATO they could not meet their liabilities.
“The alleged asset-stripping scheme is understood to resemble the famous “bottom of the harbour” tax scheme of the 1980s.

“The summons issued to Mr Henke, who has previously described himself a “former senior ministerial policy adviser” and “businessman”, alleges that between July 1999 and May 2001 he conspired with five others to defraud the commonwealth. The alleged associates include Clarence Marae, a former deputy secretary of foreign affairs in Vanuatu, and Philip Northam, whose Vanuatu investment club was closed down by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in 2004. Also named was Lance Miller, a former director of the Institute of Taxation Research.”

In August 2008 accountant Brian Francis Fox was arrested at Brisbane airport in connection with the same alleged asset-stripping scheme that occurred prior to his employment with Hawkes Law (previously KPMG) in Port Vila.

Brisbane Times reported in December 2011 that at the conclusion of a Supreme Court trial in March that year Henke, Huston and Fox were found guilty of conspiring to defraud the Commonwealth of more than $4.59 million. The trio devised, promoted and implemented the scheme between July 1, 1999 and May 23, 2001. [The scheme] involved setting up offshore bank accounts and companies. Through a series of elaborate and fraudulent transactions the men shifted the assets of various companies into the names of their former directors, before closing the businesses without paying off their tax debt.

Henke was initially sentenced to four and a half years in prison to be released on parole after 12 months; Fox to three years and nine months to be released on parole after nine months and Huston to four years jail to be released on parole after 10 months. However, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions appealed their sentences on the grounds they were “manifestly inadequate”. The appeal was upheld. Henke’s sentence was increased from four and half years to six years imprisonment. He will now spend at least three years behind bars before he is eligible for parole.

Fox will spend the next two years and six months in prison, after his sentence was increased to five years and Huston will be imprisoned for three years, as his head sentence was increased from four to six years. “The offending here was serious, protracted and grossly dishonest,” Justice Muir said in his written judgment.

“It was embarked upon by Henke and Huston for personal gain. “Henke pocketed about $145,000 for his part in the scheme, while Huston received $40,000 and Fox gained professional fees through promoting the schemes with his clients. “It put at risk about $4.5 million of Commonwealth revenue,” Justice Muir said.
“The effect of evading tax liability is to deprive the community of revenue needed to provide government services and to impose an unfair burden on those who act honestly.”
The amounts gained by the trio hardly seem worth the risk but maybe risk, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

In 1998, among other things “anti” – anti-tax, anti-Constitution, anti-Commonwealth – Henke’s Institute of Taxation Research (ITR) published a booklet entitled “30 Key Questions About the Australian Taxation System”. A friend in Fiji gave the writer a copy of it the same year. It is a flawed logic, but obviously Henke and his co-convicted didn’t see it that way.

Question 21 asks: “But don’t the ATO have incredible power to investigate and punish?
Henke’s answer: “In a nutshell, no! And what’s more they never have really had these powers. It didn’t matter so much when the old Taxation Department was simply an arm of the government, strict but operating very carefully and correctly. However the transition from Taxation Department to Australian Taxation Office introduced a new culture where bonuses are paid on the basis of the amount of tax collected. Not all ATO offices are on a bonus but enough are to make putting a return in no better than a lottery – but a lottery where you can’t win, you can only lose AND THEY PUT PART OF YOUR LOSS IN THEIR OWN POCKET. The problem is that letters from the ATO still bristle with threats to increase taxes, impose arbitrary penalties and quote various sections of the Income Tax (or other) Act in a way calculated to intimidate including threats to place honest citizens before the courts, a prospect most dread”.
Question 22 follows that line: “But don’t they always win in the courts?”
Henke: “Not any more. The court system may not be about truth - that disappeared long ago from the British/Australian legal system. It is about procedure and precedent and the rules of court and these can be turned against the ATO. It is a question of saying to the ATO ‘forget your rules and play according to ours where the dice aren’t loaded your way.’
“There is a simple question for the ATO. When did they win in a court against our arguments?”
Answer: March and December 2011.
Henke and his co-convicted have around 1000 long nights in jail to ponder it and the booklet’s concluding words: “The truth eventually exposes itself. Fact can’t be kept secret forever”.

Kidnap and breach of diplomatic protocol: Kilman

Prime Minister Kilman 
Prime Minister Sato kilman described the arrest of Clarence Marae by the Australian Federal Police at Sydney International Airport as “kidnap and breach of diplomatic protocol”.
PM Kilman made the remarks immediately upon his arrival in Port Vila yesterday afternoon from the visit to Israel.

“In my humble view, it was kidnap and a breach of diplomatic protocol,” Prime Minister Kilman remarked after being welcomed by the Deputy and Acting Prime Minister Ham Lini Vanuroroa, government ministers and officials and members of the diplomatic corps at Port Vila International Airport yesterday afternoon.
“It is my hope and prayers that Australia can shoulder any representation that will be made in a true spirit,” PM Kilman remarked.
“I am disappointed because Vanuatu and Australia have an agreement in place for exchange of information.

“But there was no information access to a person who should have been refused a visa to enter Australia in the first place.“They were aware, yet granted the visa which led to the arrest,” PM Kilman told government officials and reporters on his arrival yesterday afternoon.

“There is a very strong cooperation between Australia and Vanuatu but unfortunately what happened at Sydney airport is not a sign of the existing cooperation between Australia and Vanuatu. “And if Australia says she is one of the countries in the Pacific but does this to smaller nations in the Pacific then it infringed on the sovereignty of the country.

“We must realize that we are an independent country and must be prepared to accept the consequences of the decisions taken. “We are in the 21st century and must not create instability in the region which would in turn affect world peace,” a concerned Vanuatu Prime Minister remarked in relation to the AFP arrest of Mr Clarence Marae at Sydney International airport.

“Is Pacific important to Australia or not?” Prime Minister Kilman questioned. “If yes, then Australia must make her stand clear on the Pacific,” PM Kilman reiterated.

The Vanuatu Prime Minister thanked the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the senior officials of the Prime Minister’s Office for the Note of concern already communicated to the Australian Government on the issues. He said further considerations will be given on the issue.

Prime Minister Kilman told government officials and reporters that upon their arrival at Sydney International airport, they were taken to the Immigration and Customs and made to fill out forms and had to wait at one of the lounge. He said it was then that they realized that Mr Marae was not amongst them.
When questioning his whereabouts, they were told that he has been arrested by the Australian Federal Authorities.“I am disappointed in the way this was done and in my humble view, it was kidnap and breach of diplomatic protocol,” concerned Prime Minister Kilman said on his arrival in Port Vila yesterday.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

X-Post: Strategic Culture-Checkbook Diplomacy Doesn’t Apply to the United States

Wayne MADSEN | 07.02.2012 | 15:29

The United States, Australia, and New Zealand and their ally in Tbilisi, Mikheil Saakashvili, are upset that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently visited Fiji. The fear from Washington, Canberra, Wellington, and Tbilisi was that Lavrov was going to offer Fiji lucrative financial assistance in return for the South Pacific nation’s recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The two countries broke away from Georgia, triggering a war between Georgia and Russia in 2008

While the Obama administration is cautioning Fiji about recognizing the independence of the two secessionist republics in return for economic aid from Moscow, something Washington calls Taiwan-style “checkbook diplomacy,” it is more than happy to reward other countries with special incentives if they recognize the independence of America’s creation in the Balkans that was severed from Serbia, Kosovo.

The United States has complained, along with its two surrogate “sheriffs” in the Pacific region – Australia and New Zealand – that Russia’s offer of economic perks to Nauru, Vanuatu, and Tuvalu, three nations that have never managed to fully break free of Western colonialist dictates, resulted in those nations’ decisions to recognize the independence of Abkhazia. While Vanuatu recognized only Abkhazia during a government crisis in Port-Vila, the Vanuatu capital, Nauru and Tuvalu recognized both Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Previously, only Russia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela recognized the two breakaway nations, with Washington charging that Russia offered military and other deals to Nicaragua and Venezuela in return for their recognition of the two emergent nations.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd lived up to the Australian Labor Party’s total subservience to the United States by calling for transparency in Russia’s dealings with the South Pacific states. Yet Australia’s and New Zealand’s policies to the small Pacific nations has often been based on secret intelligence agreements between the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, including the signals intelligence alliance between the three nations that makes the diplomatic communications of the South Pacific states and all telecommunications in the South Pacific subject to eavesdropping by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).

Georgia has argued that the cases of Abkhazia/South Ossetia and Kosovo are un-related. However, the United States has cajoled a number of nations into recognizing Kosovo, the latest being Ghana. In return for recognition, Washington has granted countries recognizing the organized crime-imbued regime in Pristina, the Kosovo capital, with the same sort of perks that the United States has accused Russia of providing the South Pacific and Latin American states that have recognized Abkhazia/South Ossetia. While the United States condemns the “checkbook diplomacy” practiced for years by Taiwan and China to gain and swap diplomatic recognition from mostly poor and small nations, it has practiced the same sort of “checkbook diplomacy” with regard to Kosovo.

A State Department cable divulged by WikiLeaks points to the hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy and how Washington has pressured countries into not recognizing Abkhazia/South Ossetia by exerting pressure directly or via its allies.

On February 22, 2010, a cable from the U.S. embassy in Quito, Ecuador cited the visit by the Abkhazian Vice Foreign Minister to Quito and referred to U.S. concern that Ecuador’s Multilateral Affairs Under Secretary Arturo Cabrera had met the Abkhazian official in preparation for the announcement of diplomatic relations. The cable states:

“Cabrera said that the MFA too was surprised by the Vice Foreign Minister's visit, and indicated that nothing materialized from it. He gave the impression that he considered it unlikely the GOE would recognize South Ossetia or Abkhazia as independent states, although he did not say so directly. Cabrera also informed us that the issue was handled by Bilateral Affairs rather than his office. When the opportunity arises, the Embassy will raise the issue also with the MFA's Bilateral Affairs office.”

Previously, on January 26, 2010, the U.S. embassy in Peru ensured that a Peruvian official would raise Washington’s objections with Ecuador over Abkhazia/South Ossetia at a South American defense meeting:

“Charge raised reftel points regarding the Government of Ecuador's potentially recognizing the Georgian separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia with MFA Under Secretary for the Americas Ambassador Javier Leon January 25. Leon said he planned to travel to Ecuador this week for a UNASUR meeting of Vice Ministers of Defense, and would raise the issue with his GOE [Government of Ecuador]
counterparts at that time.”
Wayne Madsen

"The fear from Washington, Canberra, Wellington, and Tbilisi was that Lavrov was going to offer Fiji lucrative financial assistance in return for the South Pacific nation’s recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. "
The same day, the U.S. embassy in Chile tried to use Chile to pressure Ecuador not to recognize the two secessionist nations but with little success:

“Poloff [Political Officer] delivered reftel demarche to Eduardo Schott, Deputy Director for European Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Schott was unaware of Ecuador's potential decision to recognize the independence of the Georgian separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He will consult with colleagues about the possibility of raising the issue with Ecuador. He said that Chile is comfortable sharing its reasons for not recognizing the regions, but other countries are free to make their own decision.”

Nauru’s decision to recognize Abkhazia/South Ossetia was seen as a “comedy” according to a December 16, 2009, cable from the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi:

“Georgian officials downplayed the significance of Nauru's apparent December 14 recognition of Abkhazia's "independence," which Russia reportedly encouraged with an offer of $50 million to the island nation. Although officials are discussing with Australian counterparts whether the recognition is actually final, Reintegration Minister Yakobashvili joked in public about Russia's apparent purchase of the recognition, calling it a "comedy," while Deputy Foreign Minister Bokeria told us privately the step was not so important, even if it was true. The relaxed approach represents a welcome shift from Georgia's more manic reaction to previous recognitions by Venezuela and Nicaragua, an approach that we have actively encouraged with our Georgian counterparts. Georgia has also recognized and expressed appreciation for successful U.S. efforts to discourage additional recognitions from Latin American countries . . .”

Perhaps the most draconian use of U.S. pressure regarding recognition of Abkhazia / South Ossetia was the pressure Washington, London, and Paris applied on four poor African states, Burundi, Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, and Mali, that signaled a willingness to establish relations with the secessionist states. The information is contained in a September 1, 2009, cable from the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi. The relevant sections of the cable are as follows:

“Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze called in the U.S. and UK ambassadors August 31 to request urgent assistance on two matters. First, the Georgians learned that four African countries -- Burundi, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, and Mali -- are seriously considering recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the Georgians want help dissuading them from doing so . . . Vashadze told the ambassadors that the Georgian Embassy in Paris learned from the Quai d'Orsay that Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), Guinea-Bissau, and Mali were seriously considering taking the step of recognition. He considered this information quite reliable. He expressed great concern that such a step would undermine many of Georgia's diplomatic successes over the past year. He was especially concerned that Russia will orchestrate an announcement of these recognitions at the UN General Assembly, saying that such announcement would be an absolute catastrophe, especially if it occurred when President Saakashvili was in New York. ”

The four African nations were pressured into not recognizing Abkhazia/South Ossetia.

Other leaked State Department cables illustrate Washington’s pressure on various nations, including Spain, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Zambia, Guatemala, South Africa, Brunei, Djibouti, and even the tiny Maldives through the same sort of financial incentives and diplomatic “sweeteners” Washington accused Russia applying on the South Pacific states in return for recognition of Abkhazia/South Ossetia.

When it comes to hypocrisy, there is no greater world center for it than the U.S. Department of State. However, thanks to the leaks of State Department cables, the hypocrisy of the State Department and the Obama administration in foreign policy can be read in their own words.

Monday, January 30, 2012

X-Post:: Blak and Black -Lost Sovereignty; a disgraced judge and a kidnapped Attorney-General

Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty is both famous and obscure. A twentieth-century political theory, containing two canonical sentences: “Sovereign is he who decides on the exception” and “All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts.” These statements are regurgitated by contemporary political and legal theorists time and again. Standing alone, Schmitt’s statements are both puzzling and shocking.

Schmitt’s claim of a theological origin for political concepts stands against the common faith view that Western political theory as advocated by figures such as Locke, Hume, and Smith, not to forget Machiavelli and Hobbes, laid the groundwork for the modern theory of the state. The social contract, not the divine covenant, is at the centre of modern political theory. The concept of a single sovereign, deciding on rules and exceptions, is similarly inconsistent with current thinking about the rule of law, separation of powers, and judicial review.
Blak and Black

"Corruption not by an indigenous people living on a remote island in the Pacific, but corruption in the very seat of power in Australia, corruption that Australia has subsequently exported to our Pacific neighbours."

Today, if somewhat naively, we are prone to ask “what exception?” rather than who decides the exception; how, after all, can we reconcile Schmitt’s definition of sovereignty with the accepted maxim of Western jurisprudence, “extraordinary conditions neither create nor enlarge constitutional power”? In a system of popular sovereignty, we do not know a “he” who can claim to be the sovereign; in our system of constitutional law, we do not know a state of exception.

In reality there are exceptions, there always have been. In Australia the exceptions are usually decided by the police or the Director of Public Prosecutions (“DPP”) and are generally, if not exclusively, based on race. I have written at length on Blak and Black and elsewhere about organisations such as the Australian Federal Police (“AFP”) and the Australian Capital Territory Department of Public Prosecutions making decisions about whether to investigate or prosecute a crime based solely on race. In these situations, the decision almost always goes against the person of colour. This is unabashed racism. This racism becomes more pronounced if the person of colour is an Indigenous Australian or Pacific Islander. This unabashed racism is currently being exported to Australia’s Pacific neighbours via the Australian directed Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (“RAMSI”) and the AFP.
“We went into the Solomon Islands in order to restore the rule of law. What happened on 27 December [2007] did not involve the Australian government participating in a process of restoring the rule of law.” (Patrick O’Connor, Australian High Court concludes hearing into Julian Moti appeal)
Indeed, Australia did claim to go to the “… Solomon Islands in order to restore the rule of law …”, but far from restoring the ‘rule of law’ Australia stripped the Solomon Islands of its sovereignty and imposed in its place a form of neo-colonial rule far more oppressive than anything the European powers of the nineteen century could have dreamed up. What happened on 27 December 2007 is that the Australian Government kidnapped and unlawfully brought to Australia the former Attorney General Mr Julian Moti of the Solomon Islands to stand trial on what the former Prime Minister of The Solomon Islands Manasseh Sogavare described as “a sham and malicious conspiracy to indict an innocent man.”

In fact, in a media release dated 7 August, 2007 then Prime Minister Sogavare stated that and I quote this document in full:
Prime Minister Sogavare, with the full support of Caucus, has decided today to table in Parliament a questionnaire containing 666 questions addressed to the Australian Federal Director of Prosecutions, Damian Bugg QC, for his independent examination of the Moti case.
The questionnaire deals with the unsuccessful and unmeritorious Vanuatu prosecution of Moti, the shameful and politically motivated Australian investigation of Moti, and the violations of human rights, international law, and the national laws of the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. 
Sogavare says: “Our forensic and legal advisers have told the Solomon Islands Government that the Australian Federal Police investigation of Attorney General Moti QC is a sham and malicious conspiracy to indict an innocent man. Moti is a target of a vicious campaign to topple a democratically elected Government concerned about the protection of sovereignty.”
 “My Government will not enter into any further debate on the Moti case until DPP Bugg QC complies with our legitimate request under Solomon Islands and international law”, says Sogavare.“We know that DPP Bugg QC has not personally looked at the Moti file, yet his name is being used to authenticate the Australian prosecution of Moti.”
(My emphasis)
The entire Solomon Islands ‘666 questionnaire’ together with the Australian Governments responses can be read on Blak and Black by following this link.

Our forensic and legal advisers have told the Solomon Islands Government that the Australian Federal Police investigation of Attorney General Moti QC is a sham and malicious conspiracy to indict an innocent man. Moti is a target of a vicious campaign to topple a democratically elected Government concerned about the protection of sovereignty.” Strong words from a democratically elected Prime Minister, but nonetheless true.
“There are other areas in which public confidence in the administration of justice is said to be relevant. One is… the abuse of process which arises when legal processes are used for purposes alien to their proper purposes.” Heydon J Moti v The Queen [2011] HCA 50.
If Carl Schmitt is correct and the “Sovereign is he who decides on the exception”, then based on what happened on 27 December 2007 RAMSI is sovereign in the Solomon Islands. Make no mistake, it was RAMSI in the form of the AFP who targeted Moti and engaged in “a vicious campaign to topple a democratically elected Government”. It was also RAMSI in the form of the AFP who engaged in conduct that had the potential to diminish public confidence “in the administration of justice” by using legal processes for “purposes alien to their proper purposes.” The final attack on the sovereignty of the Solomon Islands by Australia came in the form of the immunity provisions contained in the RAMSI Treaty.

The effect of these immunity provisions is that the AFP officers responsible for undermining the sovereignty of the Solomon Islands are immune from prosecution both in the Solomon Islands and in Australia. The immunity clause in the RAMSI Treaty is an ‘exception’, an ‘exception’ which makes RAMSI sovereign in the Solomon Islands.

An act of hubris, a loss of sovereignty

In August 2006 a car owned by former Federal Court judge and current barrister, Marcus Einfeld, was photographed speeding in Mosman. Einfeld said that his silver Lexus was being driven by Teresa Brennan, a visitor from the United States. But when it was found that Brennan had died three years earlier, Einfeld was soon in trouble over other traffic offences and faced serious charges including perjury.
This extraordinary act of hubris by former Australian Federal Court Judge Marcus Einfeld not only resulted in him being sentenced to a term of imprisonment of two years for lying under oath and perverting the court of justice in relation to a $77 speeding fine, but had consequences for the sovereignty of one of Australia’s near pacific neighbours.

A scandal in Australia, and an engrossing matter within legal circles, had its impact on the Solomon Islands where Einfeld had been appointed to chair an inquiry into the April 2006 riots in Honiara. When Einfeld withdrew, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare moved to replace the Attorney-General Primo Afeau with Julian Moti, a Fiji-Indian by background and an Australian lawyer by training and citizenship. Sogavare was seen by his opponents in the Solomon Islands and some Australian observers as attempting to use Moti to oversee the terms and conduct of his riot inquiry to shift blame to RAMSI and away from the two members of parliament (Charles Dausabea and Nelson Ne’e) who were jailed for their involvement in the riots and have subsequently sued the Solomon Islands Government over their jailing.

After Sogavare announced the appointment of Moti as Attorney-General, the AFP issued a warrant for Moti’s arrest for an alleged child sex offence in Vanuatu in 1997. Sogavare saw a deliberate plan by Australia to frustrate his attempts to set up a separate inquiry and he appealed to arguments about Solomon Islands’ sovereignty and prejudice against a big and distant Australian bully.

Acting on an Interpol alert triggered by Australia, the Port Moresby police arrested Moti on 29 September 2006 in the transit lounge of Jackson’s airport when he was flying from Singapore to Honiara. After his arrest Moti was released on bail and decamped to the Solomon Islands High Commission in Port Moresby. As reported by the National Broadcasting Corporation and the two national dailies, the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare advocated the release and transfer of Moti and punishing the police who arrested him. Somare’s reported words were explicit:”Let Moti go” and “my view was to make sure that he gets past our system and goes through [to Honiara]“. On Monday 9 October the only operational PNGDF CASA aircraft took off from Jackson’s airport and dropped Moti and other Solomon Island officials at a disused airstrip on Munda Island.

Had Einfeld not been forced to withdraw as chair of the inquiry into the April 2006 riots in Honiara, Sogavare might not have found himself in a position to appoint Moti as Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands. Likewise, if Australia had not been so paranoid about one man who was determined to defend the rights of his indigenous public for whom he was a servant, his appointment would not have mattered.
A former Judge caught lying under oath and perverting the court of justice cannot be seen as anything other than a form of corruption. Corruption not by an indigenous people living on a remote island in the Pacific, but corruption in the very seat of power in Australia, corruption that Australia has subsequently exported to our Pacific neighbours. Was Einfield’s fall from grace simply a matter of justice prevailing over corruption or were there more sinister forces at play?

In any event the results for the Solomon Islands have been profound in terms of its national sovereignty. One of the first national sovereignty issues we encounter when considering the role of RAMSI in the Solomon Islands is that of national or sovereign accountability. Under the FIAA the Participating Police Force (“PPF”) is accountable to the Deputy Police Commissioner who is a senior Australian Police Officer. The FIAA is silent on whether the Deputy Police Commissioner should resign his/her Australian commission before acceding to the post of Deputy Police Commissioner of the Solomon Islands.

If the Deputy Police Commissioner is allowed to accede to that post without first resigning their Australian commission, a parallel line of accountability is created within a sovereign state. Is this constitutionally sound?
This parallel line of accountability in turn gives rise to the question of immunity. Under the Solomon Islands Constitution, an aggrieved party may apply to the High Court for redress for the contravention of his/her fundamental rights. Section 18 (1) provides:
…if any person alleges that any of the [human rights provisions] of this Constitution has been, is being or is likely to be contravened in relation to him for, in the case of a person who is detained, if any other person alleges such contravention in relation to the detained then, without prejudice to any other action with respect to the same matter which is lawfully available, that person (or that other person) may apply to the High Court for redress.
If a situation arises where a member of RAMSI is alleged to have violated the fundamental rights of a citizen of the Solomon Islands, the courts would be powerless to act unless RAMSI waives its immunity, which in turn raises the question: are the immunity provisions con tained within the FIAA consistent with Schmitt’s test of Sovereignty?
On the point of Schmitt’s test of Sovereignty, it is worth quoting from the Memorandum of Advice written by Mr Julian Moti QC in his capacity as Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands dated 27 August, 2007. In this advice Moti argues that if it is the intention of the Solomon Island’s Parliament to:
…incubate a permanent state of exception in Solomon Islands by retaining the presence of the visiting contingent here indefinitely, it might simply achieve that by delegating its plenary legislative power to “make laws for the peace, order and good governance of Solomon Islands” to the head of the visiting contingent. Assuming that would not be acceptable, it is necessary to enter into dialogue with all affected parties to reconcile identified problems before legislating future amendments to the existing FIAA regime.
As Carl Schmitt reminds us “Sovereign is he who decides on the exception” therefore if RAMSI personnel and support corporations are exempt from the equal application of Solomon Islands national registration and revenue laws and are further entitled to privileges and immunities which FIAA grants only to individual members of the visiting contingent, which as Moti argues can amount to nothing less than a permanent state of exception can the Solomon Islands Government still be seen as being sovereign in its own territory or has it, as Moti has suggested ceded its sovereignty to the Australian controlled RAMSI?

Club Em Designs 

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Judging The Regional Hegemony In The Pacific & The Diplomatic Expulsions In Fiji.

The expulsion of Australia and New Zealand senior diplomats from Suva, is rather an unfortunate turn of events. Albeit, an endgame to the diplomatic stumbling blocks placed in Fiji's progressive path, by the Trans-Tasman bullies.

What exactly did bring the inter-Pacific relationship to such a teetering edge?

The expulsion itself did not occur within a vacuum, but was the culmination of protracted and unbridled interference from the neighborhood punks.

For those who suggest that the Trans-Tasman justifications are solely based on their superior understanding of Fiji's situation, are simply myopic reductionists.

It appears that these independent judges from Sri Lanka would not dance to the tune of harassment and arm twisting, played by Australia and New Zealand. The transcripts regarding the recorded "courtesy call" from Australia's High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka to the judicial incumbents, prior to their travel to Fiji were revealed in a Radio Fiji article.

The excerpt of the Radio Fiji article:
Calls not courtesy but discouragement
Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Australian Government’s courtesy call to the Sri Lankan judges and magistrates bound for Fiji is tantamount to harassment, and also an indication that their transit visa applications won’t be approved.

FBC News has obtained and authenticated a recording of a phone conversation between a staff from the Australian High Commission in Colombo and one of the Sri Lankan judicial officers bound for Fiji, and it alleges against the Australian denial that they were offered visas.

The phone conversation, which was recorded on the 29th of last month was clearly discouraging the Sri Lankans from taking up judicial appointments in Fiji, even though as the Australians allege, merely a courtesy call.

“Individuals appointed to the Fiji judiciary regardless of citizenship, become subject to these travel sanctions and that obviously include yourself and individuals affected by travel sanctions cannot be allowed to travel to or through Australia although the travel sanctions policy is applied (inaudible) and visa application is considered on a case by case basis. We also understand that New Zealand sanctions apply definitely to people (inaudible) to the Fiji judiciary. As I said this is just a courtesy call just to let you know of the Australian policy towards Fiji in terms of travel sanctions.”

According to Fiji’s chief justice Anthony Gates, applying for an Australian transit visas usually only takes 48 hours, but the Sri Lankan officers had to wait eight full days before they receive the courtesy call.

And the from the phone call, it clearly indicates the Australian government’s position against members and potential members of the Fiji judiciary.

“Australia (inaudible) is that, you know, there are (inaudible) concern in the state of the Fiji’s judiciary. (Inaudible) of accepting judicial appointments, including the International Bar Association is chance that accepting a judicial appointment would be perceived that you’re condoning and supporting the military regime’s action. As I said, this is a decision for yourself as a person but as I have said, this is an advance warning of Australia’s travel sanctions.”
The Sri Lankan judicial officers have been appalled by this treatment.

Apparently, this Fijian episode is not entirely different from the situation in nearby Solomon Islands, where similar meddling by the Australian Government, demanded the removal of its Attorney General, Julian Moti.

Micro-excerpt of the article:

Moti has been targeted both as a means of undermining the Sogavare government, and to avoid any scrutiny of the Australian-dominated Regional Assistance to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

Australian forces were dispatched to the Solomons in 2003 after the Howard government declared the Solomons a “failed state” and a potential haven for terrorists. RAMSI took over the country’s key economic, judicial, and security institutions.

The present trial of Julian Moti had unfolded in a court room in Queensland, according to a Sololmon Star(SSN) news article, in which there were contradictory witness statements to the prosecution 's case.

The micro excerpt of SSN article:

THE Queensland Supreme Court resumed hearings Wednesday on the application by former Solomon Islands’ attorney general Julian Moti for a permanent stay of proceedings in the attempt by Australian prosecuting authorities to try him on charges relating to statutory rape allegations that were discharged by a Vanuatu magistrate in 1998.

Moti’s counsel is seeking to have the charges thrown out on the grounds that the investigation and prosecution represents a politically motivated abuse of judicial process.

During Wednesday’s proceedings, glaring contradictions emerged between the testimony of defence and prosecution witnesses.

These related to the events that led up to Moti’s extraction from the Solomon Islands and arrest in Australia in December 2007. At issue was the irregular nature of the deportation process, in which Australian police and officials played an important and, according to Moti’s counsel, unlawful role.

Right from the outset of Fiji's expulsion from the Pacific Islands Forum, the Trans-Tasman grandstanding policy was to stymie Fiji's progress and in every single arena as possible. Both Australia and New Zealand have incessantly lobbied to the U.N to remove Fiji's lauded and re known contributions to Peacekeeping duties in war torn areas of the world.

The juvenile antics from the Trans-Tasman colonial cousins, even infected the process of trade negotiations in the Pacific, by virtue of the much despised Pacer PLUS free trade deals; that are viewed by many smaller island states as an economic threat to their very livelihood.

Undoubtedly, the Pacer PLUS trade negotiations were being forced upon them without significant discussions and research from their own people. Fiji, was blocked from entering negotiations regarding Pacer PLUS and the Trans-Tasman bullies conveniently wined and dined the other island Trade Ministers, to acquiesce to this controversial free trade deal.

Fiji formally withdrew its participation to the Pacer PLUS negotiations, effectively placing the entire framework in an untenable situation.

This chapter of undermining the judiciary of Fiji has reached a water shed moment.

The Sri Lankan judges were given a detour in their transit arrangements, en route to Fiji. This was first denied by the Australian officials then, the redacted statement back pedaled and acknowledged that the judges were indeed warned and cajoled not to accept these judicial appointments in Fiji; as if the Australian and New Zealand Governments had sole veto authority over employment decisions within the judiciary.

Undeniably, the expulsion of the diplomats will have their own repercussions in terms of bi-lateral and multi-lateral ties. However, the decision to expel the Trans-Tasman diplomats were perhaps a last ditch effort by the Interim Government to assert their offensive realism and maintain sovereignty of the nation of Fiji.

It has become nothing short of scandalous to have these long train of abuses of international law, continuously violated by the regional hegemony; for their own gain, at the expense of the island states.

The expulsion of the Australian and New Zealand diplomats, is nothing more than a declaration of independence by Fiji and is a clear indication that the neo-colonial exploitations and interference in terms of trade, diplomatic relations will not be tolerated.

Perhaps it is high time the other Pacific island states realize that, the only way to confront the neighborhood miscreants, is to stand up and say enough is enough.

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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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