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Showing posts from February 7, 2010

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

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Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in www.connectme.com.fj/news/opinion. I thank Allen and Connect for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.
Life in the Registry
It’s that time again when the Registry office is full. Every year it happens. People running around at the eleventh hour to get birth certificates. One can get high blood pressure waiting in line. With due respect to the staff in the Lautoka office, their office is not very customer friendly. 
If their staff are not very friendly, I don't blame them. We went in on Tuesday to get a friend’s birth certificate and spent two hours there. If someone had a contagious disease, we would all have caught it. There were about three million people in that little office, no wonder the staff don’t smile.
I have a plea to the people in ch…

(o) Assassination Plot Update 12.2.10

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Kill suspect soldier ‘hated Commander’State witness blames Police
Kill suspect soldier ‘hated Commander’

One of the soldiers accused of being part of an alleged plot to kill Fiji’s military commander and Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama hated Bainimarama and wanted him killed, a fellow soldier has told the High Court.

State witness Sevuloni Kedreli was testifying during the trial of eight people accused of plotting to assassinate Bainimarama, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and then Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry in 2007.

Kedreli said during a meeting in Nadi in September 2007, he and other soldiers were briefed by two other, then Counter Revolutionary Warfare (CRW) soldiers Feoko Gadekibau and Barbados Mills and IT consultant Sivaniolo Naulago. All three are among the eight accused.

When asked what Mills had told the men, Kedreli quoted Mills as allegedly saying, “I don’t like this man because of what he is doing”. Kedreli confirmed that Mills was referring to Bain…

(o) Short Briefs 11.2.10

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 Foreign  Relations

Auckland and former USP political sociologist Dr Sitiveni Ratuva says NZ's response to Fiji's appointment of a military officer to a diplomatic position at the Fiji High Commission in Wellington will determine the future of diplomatic relations between the two countries. He hopes the NZ response will be "innovative and sensitive enough to salvage a diplomatic process that now has the potential to fail."  Link.

 Fiji, NZ and Australian Foreign Ministers met again in Canberra yesterday. Link.

Pressure mounts for Australian rapprochement with Fiji. Link.

The United Arab Emirates Foreign Affairs Minister arrived in Nadi last night for talks with Fiji's Foreign Minister.  Link.

Regional and Other Development:  Roadmap Issues
PM Bainimarama is reported to have told villagers in Ra province he will retire after the 2014 elections. He also thanked them for changing their position to support Government. The retirement story is unconfirmed.  RadioFijiLin…

(o) Assassination Plot Report 11.2.10

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Michael Field reports in Stuff. Good court coverage and background information. Link.
Witness: Ballu Khan was Weapons Man. Link.
Judge warns defence lawyer (yesterday). Link. 
 Plot was to be executed during Christmas 2007 Published  11/02/2010 [12:52]
A Military Intelligence Officer has told the Suva High Court this morning that the alleged plot to assassinate Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and others was to be executed during the festive season in December, 2007.

This was revealed by the State witness Auta Natuinivalu who is currently being cross examined by Defence Counsel, Mehboob Raza. Natuinivalu told the court that one of the accused, Sivaniolo Naulago, told him that the plan was to be executed during the Christmas period when all the soldiers would be on leave.

Upon questioning by Raza, Natuinivalu stated that his mission in the group was to recover the weapons which they believed was missing since the 1987 coup and they have been searching ever since.

When questio…

(o+) Appeal to Readers: Offset the Negative Coverage

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The UN Human Rights hearing in Geneva will put Fiji in the international spotlight for several days. Unbalanced accounts will appear in the media in even greater number. Actual and  supposed human rights abuses will not be offset by anything complimentary. The abuses of power in pre-Coup Fiji will not be mentioned, and neither will Government's attempts to make a better Fiji.

Less obviously, anti-government bloggers based in Australia, NZ and the States and their supporters will be at work trying to influence outcomes.

MJ, in a comment to my post What Price Human Rights?, urges readers to write to the Melbourne Age in reply to one such unbalanced article.  I would urge all readers to write and otherwise contact their local media, and write to the Melbourne Age. Link here. Politicians do heed the media.

P.S. Some readers may think this appeal is unbalanced and so it might be. But to restore balance, it is often necessary to lean more heavily on one side than one may wish. This blo…

(o+)What Price Human Rights?

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Opinion -- Crosbie Walsh

Rev Akuila Yabaki is in Geneva attending a Human Rights workgroup that will make submissions to the Human Rights Council from 9am – 12pm on Thursday (tomorrow) 11 February 2010. The event can be watched live on: www.un.org/webcast/unhcr/index.asp A CCF release indicates that his main concerns are an independent judiciary and human rights. 

My own opinion is that while these matters need to be addressed in Fiji (but only internationally to gain more internal clout), genuine human rights advocates like Akuila should not underestimate the dangers inherent in the present situation, and the far-from-democratic forces aiming to destabilise government. If they succeed, Fiji will have another manipulated  "democratically elected" government, just like the old one.

There can be little doubt that Government is more aware of this possibility than it openly admits and it could account for it curtailment of some human rights. If this is so, outcomes could be ver…

Short Briefs 10.2.10

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Asia Human Rights Watch is  again calling on UN to condemn Fiji's "abuse of human rights.

Jon Fraenkel and Jone Baledrokadroka will speak Thursday midday at the Austrian Ambassador's residence in Canberra on the Fiji situation tomorrow. Austria! Those wishing to attend email karina.doblander@bmeia.gv.at

Rev Akuila Yabaki is in Geneva attending a Human Rights workgroup that will make submissions to the Human Rights Council from 9am – 12pm on Thursday (tomorrow) 11 February 2010. The event can be watched live on: www.un.org/webcast/unhcr/index.asp For my opinion on this, see the post "What  Price Human Rights?"

Gold Find in Upper Wainibuka valley, Tailevu.

Fiji plans to lure 130,000 Kiwi tourists.

Former High Court Judge Nazhaat Shameemlooks to the media to properly inform the public on the new Media Decree.


NLTBliquidates Vanua Development Corporation. Wants full landowner participation.

Australiantravel ban harsh and not working,

The local shipbuilding industry could …

(o) Alleged Assassination Plot Case Continues

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Reports from three four sources Three prosecution witnesses appears in assassination trial Fiji Village Link
Three prosecution witnesses appeared in the assassination plot trial earlier today as the prosecution tries to present evidence to prove that certain meetings occurred in 2007, which was aimed at conspiring to murder the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and others. 

President of the Fijian Teachers Association Tevita Koroi gave evidence that he received a call from one of the accused, Sivaniolo Naulago in September 2007, requesting Koroi to arrange a private meeting room for Naulago and a small group.

Koroi stated that he knew Naulago as the General Manager of Pacific Connex, who they were in consultations with to upgrade their IT system, and so he made some calls and arranged for them to use a room for their meeting.

State witness Lance Corporal Peniasi Kuli had said earlier in the trial that they had one meeting in September 2007 in a room at the FTA Hall at Knolly …

(o) Political Satire

Political satire in its many forms is a powerful weapon that has not escaped the attention of anti-Goverment people or the foreign media.  The English magazine Punch used it in the mid-1800s to ridicule and effectively destroy the Chartist Movement, and it has been used many times since. But not by the Fiji Governnment: there are no cartoonist or satirists at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks. And it takes humility and political wisdom to sometimes laugh at oneself.

This  link to the Cafe Pacific posting is an example of good political satire based, as much of it usually is, on a somewhat onesided selection of facts. I address one of these  is this comment I made to their post:

Sas's Open Letter to the Prime Minister
The letter's brilliant. Pure satire, it exposes the numerous petty over-reactions of Government, but it  rests on one important misrepresentation: Ordinary pensions are not being stopped and ordinary people deprived of an income derived in part from their FNPF contributio…

Short Briefs Tuesday 9.2.10

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The alleged assassination trial was  adjourned yesterday due to a key witness illness. It should resume today.
Government is looking for a chairperson for the Political Dialogue Forum who will not be "biased towards anyone." More than 200 applications have been received from NGOs, the Churches, Chiefs and the population seeking a seat in the Dialogue Forum.The agenda and the time of the Forum has yet to be decided.
Rotuma airport expected to be completed in 2012.
Fijian landowners have been promised better returns when the Mahogany Decree is in place.
It is rumoured that 20 former parliamentarians have lost their parliamentary pensions.
Former judge Isikeli Mataitoga presented his credentials as Fiji's first Ambassador to the Russian Federation at the Kremlin in Moscow last Thursday.
Roving ambassador and high commissioner to the Pacific Islands, Ratu Tui Cavuilati, will present his credentials to the President of the Federated States of Micronesia – tomorrow.Ratu Tui will be…

Short Briefs Monday 8.2.10

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NZhas put some conditions to Fiji before finalizing the appointment of Councillors.

Foreign Minister Inoke Kubuabola described the talks as constructive, mutually beneficial, and another step, towards restoring starved diplomatic relations.He said a change in climate on diplomatic relations is on the cards.

Steve Ratuva suggests "innovative diplomacy."

Peter Thomson has been confirmed as Fiji's permanent representative at the UN. Click link for short biography.

The Fiji Live poll on whether NZ should continue sanctions while trying to improve diplomatic relations remains constant with 72% saying No.

Following on from Government's ban on its monthly and divisional meetings, the Methodist Church has urged members to comply with the law. PM Bainimarama says Government is still watching seven ministers he claims are backed by corrupt politicians.

The Ministry of Works has started work on reforms to comply with Government instructions to improve efficiency.

Seventeen new lawye…

Sunday Feature: An Insider's View from the Outside

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Nesian is a pseudonym for a moderate, Fiji-born, part-Fijian,Hindi-speaking, sky-blue passport-carrying, former Fiji-resident. An Insider's View From the Outside is the result of years spent thinking about all that has happened since the 2000 coup.Photo: Earth from space. Oakfieldmedia.com.

Defining Moment
IN the lead-up to the 1999 elections, I was part of a tour into the heart of the then Fiji Intelligence Service headquarters in Berkley Crescent.
Outside, we walked past officers undergoing martial arts training under the guidance of Major Dong Jin Kim.

The centre of the room where the National Security Council met was dominated by a sizeable round table. There were chairs for the members of the council: the Prime Minister (Sitiveni Rabuka) and Minister for Home Affairs, the Commander of the Fiji Military Forces (Ratu Epeli Ganilau), the head of FIS, and others I can’t now recall.

Heavy light green curtains lined the walls of the room and one of these had been drawn aside, perhaps…