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SVT wants NZ High Commissioner expelled

Four releases...
-SVT wants NZ High Commissioner expelled
-Savua may get overseas posting
-Rabuka ban lifted
-Regime loses pay case

SVT wants NZ High Commissioner expelled

Issue No: 233; 29 November 2000

The SVT wants the NZ High Commissioner, Tia Barrett, expelled from Fiji.

The SVT statement asking for the expulsion was covered by all the print media in Fiji today.

In its typical style, the statement, taken out on the name of SVT Secretary, Jone Banuve, asked for a 24 hour expulsion notice for Barrett. It also attacked Barrett for saying that indigenous rights can not be pre-eminent. The SVT statement read:

"Perhaps Mr. Barrett wants Fijians to become a disinherited dispossessed people like the Maoris of New Zealand who now own only six percent of the land that was originally theirs. This fate Fijians do not desire".

In his speech to USP's journalism students, Barrett had stated: that it could be true that indigenous people had a prior right over land and the sea and their resources, but "political, economic and social predominance is a function of individual ability and capability and flair. Nowhere is it written in any holy scripture that because you are indigenous you have first rights over others in their daily lives. You should be respected and highly regarded as an indigenous person, but respect is earned not obtained on demand."

The SVT also criticised Barrett for expressing concern that despite all the evidence available there was delay in prosecuting the terrorists. The SVT stated:

"What form of hasty `justice' is he seeking? Is it the kind that hung his forefathers, the Maori leaders who fought for the rights of their people in the land wars of the 19th century of New Zealand?"

The SVT's leader, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola has been linked to the terrorists, and has been investigated by the police. On 20 May, a day after the terrorists took the government hostage, Kubuabola visited the hostages with the terrorists. The terrorists announced to the hostages that "from now on", Ratu Inoke Kubuabola will "be responsible for [the hostages'] security". On 19 May, minutes after the government was a taken hostage, Kubuabola, and Senators Verenado Vunibobo, and Paul Manueli walked up into the Government side office in the Parliamentary Complex and asked the Senator and Fiji Labour Party President, Mrs Jokapeci Koroi to vacate the office as they were taking over it.


Savua may get overseas posting

Issue No: 234; 29 November 2000

Disgraced and now suspended Police Commissioner, Isikia Savua may be given a diplomatic posting.

A Fiji TV news report this evening stated that a diplomatic posting for Savua was recommended by the Board of Inquiry into Savua's role before, during and after the terrorists took the government hostage.

Meanwhile, there has been no progress in the investigations into the collaboration of some civil servants with the terrorists. Numerous senior civil servants, including Fiji's High Commissioner to Malaysia, Adi Samanunu Talakuli, Fiji's first secretary at the Australian High Commission, and some permanent secretaries, were closely involved with the terrorists.

Many people in Fiji believe that these investigations will not result in any conviction since there are powerful people who do not wish to see their colleagues convicted. It may be recalled that regime Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase was also on George Speight's list of ministers in the Speight government. Qarase's Permanent Secretary in the Reconciliation Ministry, Jeremaia Waqanisau has also stated, a day after the 2 November attempted coup, that the investigation is a hinderance to reconciliation.

In a statement recently, Deputy Prime Minister in the People's Coalition government, Dr. Tupeni Baba had expressed grave concern at the slow pace of investigations.


Rabuka ban lifted

Issue No: 235; 29 November 2000

The ban from military installations on Sitiveni Rabuka, former Prime Minister and the suspected leader of the rebel soldiers who attempted a coup on 2 November has reportedly been lifted.

Fiji TV reported this evening that a meeting took place yesterday between the Army Commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama and Rabuka where the differences were ironed out and the ban lifted.

The ban was placed on Rabuka after he showed up unannounced at the Military Barracks at the height of the attempted coup and started giving orders to some soldiers. One rebel soldier was also found in Rabuka's vehicle.

Meanwhile, in an interview published in yesterday's Fiji Sun, Army Commander Com. Frank Bainimarama stated that there will be no repeat of the incident like the 2 November one because the army will not create any more capacity for such incidents to arise. He was referring to the creation of a special unit - the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit - by the then Commander Sitiveni Rabuka. Military analysts have referred to the CRW as Rabuka's equivalent of a palace guard.


Regime loses pay case

Issue No: 236; 29 November 2000

The Qarase regime has lost the case filed by the civil servants union against the regime decision to reduce civil service pay by 12.5%.

The Ad Hoc Permanent Arbitrator delivered his ruling yesterday to the regime's Minister for Labour. While the full ruling has not been made public, it is believed that the Arbitrator has found for the unions and has ordered that the 12.5% pay be reinstated from 1 August, the date from which the pay cut was affected.

This means that the regime will now have to find about $10m extra to pay the civil servants the lost wages.

The Secretary of the Fiji Public Service Association, Rajeshwar Singh stated that the regime had breached the established procedures on salary changes. He said if the regime were to seek a judicial review of the decision, they were ready for it.

Meanwhile in its budget delivered last week, the regime had restored the 12.5% cut with effect from 1 December. This move was designed to save it further embarrassment in light of the decision which was expected by the Arbitrator. It is also believed that ruling of the Ad Hoc Arbitrator, John Apted, was leaked to the regime before being delivered so that it could brace itself for this in its budget. Credence to this is given by the fact that the ruling, which was to be made before the regime's budget delivery, was deliberately delayed. Apted, who had resigned from the post before May 19, was a surprise presence on the Parliament Complex after the terrorists took the government hostage. Hostages saw him spend many hours outside the rooms where the terrorists were meeting.

In another development, the regime has announced the appointment of magistrate John Semisi as the new Permanent Arbitrator.


29 November 2000

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