Fiji People's Coalition Govt Releases, 19-23 Jan
Tourism Industry Makes Another Plea To Regime Supporters - 1997 Constitution is good, but - Indigenous Rights used as a front for power-grab - You will profit from residential leases, NFP tells farmers - Military sends confusing signals - "We took over Government" – Military - Kotobalavu on witch-hunt - Qarase lies to the UN - Weapons still missing
Tourism Industry Makes Another Plea To Regime
Issue No: 405 23 January 2001
The tourism industry has again pleaded to politicians supporting the Qarase regime to be more responsible in their statements.
Speaking in a Radio Fiji interview yesterday, the industry's Bill Gavoka said he was begging the political leaders to refrain from making threats of violence in Fiji. Gavoka was referring to the threats made by the SVT and an amalgam of splinter groups supporting the regime. The group said that it will not accept the decision of the Fiji Court of Appeal if it goes against the regime. The group warned of destruction if they lost the case.
Gavoka stated that the tourism industry was a very vulnerable industry and threats of the nature as made did not help the industry recover. He stated that millions of dollars have been spent since 19 May to promote the industry but such threats destroy any chance of Fiji acquiring a positive image with the visitors.
Meanwhile, Fiji First Movement has condemned the group for making the threats. Movement's spokesman, Ratu Meli Vesikula told last night's TV news that the group should be immediately charged and put away for as long as it needs to be to ensure the return of democracy. The Movement's Mick Beddoes also condemned the threats. He is quoted by today's Fiji Sun as saying that when Fiji needs progressive leadership we are "continually subjected to statements of threats, intimidation and bloodshed, from supposed leaders who seem bankrupt of any ideas that will help find real solutions".
1997 Constitution is good, but. - regime minister Issue No: 404 2 January 2001
The newly appointed interim regime's Tourism and Transport Minister says that the 1997 Constitution is a good document.
Konisi Yabaki was quoted by yesterday's Daily Post as saying: "The 1997 Constitution was a good document, but it was too early for Fiji. We should understand that people in the rural areas need a bit more time to understand some of the issues raised in the constitution".
Yabaki was appointed by Qarase after another SVT Member of Parliament approached by Qarase to replace Koroitamana declined the offer.
For one year, Yabaki espoused nothing but racism and hate in the Parliament. His view on the 1997 Constitution now confirms that it is sheer political opportunism for politicians like him to condemn the 1997 Constitution when not in power. Yabaki was a key member of the group which had been having underground meetings to plot the violent overthrow of the elected government. The police department, headed by Isikia Savua, refused to arrest the group despite being given the minutes of the meeting as well as a tape recording of the group's discussion planning the mayhem.
Today's Fiji Sun quotes Yabaki, who was sacked from his Fiji Pine CEO job by George Speight when Speight was Pine's Chairman during the SVT reign, as saying that he feels good to know that his "service or expertise" is needed by the country. He of course, did not state that the people of Fiji freely exercising their will had rejected his party's expertise and offer of service in the 1999 general elections.
Indigenous Rights used as a front for power-grab Issue No: 403 22 January 2001
"The source of Fiji's troubles are increasingly being acknowledged as a power struggle between indigenous Fijians. The fear of Indian domination has been used by Speight and his supporters, just as Rabuka did in 1987, to inflame prejudices among the uneducated and ignorant Fijians."
So says Tonga's Sione Masina in a column published over the Tongan website itonga.net.
The article, written on the backdrop of the hostage crisis, remains as much, if not more, relevant today then when it was originally written.
"The majority of indigenous leaders do not mention principles: right or wrong; playing fair; following rules established by the collective wisdom of past leaders; what to do for the poor, the dispossessed and the increasing number of unemployed. Nor do they acknowledge that Fiji's 1997 constitution in fact enshrines the rights of indigenous Fijians."
"Many indigenous Fijians look to their chiefs, leaders and educated brothers and sisters for guidance on the provision of the constitution. And therein lies the problem."
"Speight's supporters consist of racists, opportunists, businesspeople and sore losers from the previous government and recent graduates who feel that their new qualifications makes them eligible to run the affairs of the nation. All are hungry for power."
Masina states further that Speight and the other terrorists "must not be allowed to get away with what they have done. For the sake of future generations of the Pacific and for justice to prevail."
Masina make a very compelling case for the return of the government to the elected government. He article also states that the army "is divided and failed to do what they swore on the Bible to do - that is to protect the government."
The full text of the article is found at: http://www.itonga.net/comment/index4.shtm
You will profit from residential leases, NFP tells farmers Issue No: 402 22 January 2001
The National Federation Party has advised the farmers who face eviction to accept the NLTB offer of residential leases for their house sites.
In a statement to last week's Hindi Weekly, Shanti Dut, NFP's General Secretary said that it is better for farmers to accept residential leases because residential leases are for 50 years. He is quoted as saying: "In 50 years, the value of the houses will rise and then farmers can sell the houses and get a good income, or they can mortgage the houses and take out loans to establish small businesses or for farming". He did not state who will buy the houses, how will the farmers survive without land or jobs during the 50 years, and where will the people start their farming businesses.
Earlier the NFP backed Fiji Cane Growers Association stated that it was pleased with the NLTB's actions and plans.
Meanwhile most farmers have continued to reject residential leases offered by the NLTB. Today's Daily Post quotes the NLTB's manager northern Emosi Toga as saying that it has started giving out residential leases to farmers whose leases are expiring. Each lease is approved after payment of massive sums of money for goodwill and administrative expenses. The NLTB's plan has been to recover the same amount of lease rent from residential leases as it has now been deriving from the agricultural leases. (see: http://www.pcgov.org/hot_press/no335.htm and http://www.pcgov.org.fj/archive/2000-12/no325.htm for more details on the NLTB's plans).
Military sends confusing signals Issue No: 401 22 January 2001
The military has been giving out conflicting messages on its commitment to the rule of law over the past week or so.
A newspaper today quoted the military's legal officer as saying that the military had actually carried out a coup in Fiji. The same officer, Lt. Col. Etuweni Caucau, was quoted by Radio Fiji last Friday saying that he believed that the Qarase regime was in effective control in Fiji and hinted that Qarase was likely to win the appeal.
On the other hand, over the past weeks, the official military spokesmen have stated that the military will abide by the decision of the Fiji Court of Appeal, whatever the outcome be.
Whether the hope and expectation of some sections of the military - that the regime will win the case - will be extended to actively undermine the court decision if the decision was against the regime, is not clear. But rumours are rife of a military takeover if the regime loses the case. Some sectors of the community also believe that the military is deliberately maintaining a silence over the threats of violence issued by pro-Speight politicians and chiefs, and by this is tacitly encouraging the thugs, so that the violence provides an excuse for the military to intervene.
So far different officers of the military have spoken out publicly. The people have not heard any word from the Military Commander on this, save him saying that he will decide when he comes to the bridge. The recent conflicting statements by his officers now requires that the Military Commander issue a statement on whether he intends to uphold the integrity of the courts or not.
"We took over Government" - Military Issue No: 400 22 January 2001
The military has for the first time come out clear and stated that it had carried out a military coup in Fiji.
Today's Fiji Times quotes military's legal officer, Lt. Col. Etuweni Caucau as saying: "In actual fact we are the ones who took over the Government". He did not specify when did this happen - on 29 May when the military asked its Commander in Chief to step aside and tried to abrogate the 1997 Constitution, or when it arrested terrorist George Speight and others. Or whether it was done on 19 May, through George Speight.
This revelation, however, throws open new and interesting perspectives on the military and its actions and plans. It also questions the statements made by military seniors that the military is committed to democracy and the return of law and order.
It also raises a fresh perspective on the millions of dollars which were contributed by businessmen to get rid of the elected government. Were senior officers of the military bribed to take over the government? It is now well-known that former spy chief, Metuiseli Mua had sent close to $100,000 to the soldiers to release the weapons and join the terrorists. Was this bribe actually accepted by the military seniors? It is also alleged that each CRW soldier involved with Speight was offered $20,000 each, allegedly coming from an ethnic Indian businessman to participate in the attempt to overthrow the government. Who else in the military was offered money by the terrorists?
The revelation will also place Fiji under the spotlight of the international community again, for its shows that it wasn't only a terrorist activity which rocked Fiji, but a calculated military coup with Speight and others being used as pawns.
The revelations raises more questions than answers.
Kotobalavu on witch-hunt Issue No: 399 21 January 2001
The Permanent Secretary in the PM's Office, Jioji Kotobalavu has embarked on a witch-hunt.
Friday's Fiji Times quoted "a government spokesman" as alleging that Fiji 's Permanent Representative to the UN, Amraiya Naidu will be investigated for sabotaging Lt. Col. Filipo Tarakinikini's posting to the UN. The source was quoted as saying:
"It would appear that the People's Coalition had petitioned the Secretary-General against Lt. Col Tarakinikini's recruitment. The People's Coalition was the first to announce through its web site that Lt. Col. Tarakinikini's departure for New York would be delayed. The question people must ask is, how did they get to know that, unless of course, they themselves had petitioned the Secretary-General directly. Whether they communicated through Fiji's Permanent Representative to the UN is being investigated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs".
The regime's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kaliopate Tavola, however, has denied that Naidu is being investigated. He has also revealed the government spokesman to be Jioji Kotobalavu, the Permanent Secretary in the PM's Office.
A Pacnews story quoted by the media today stated: "I really don't know where Jioji is coming from and I think its best that you ask him about the investigations on Naidu". Tavola stated that he is not aware of any directive from the PM's office for Naidu to be investigated.
It now emerges that Kotobalavu himself manufactured the story to tarnish Naidu's reputation. It is well known within the civil service that Kotobalavu acts as he is the Prime Minister, threatening other senior civil servants to get his way in postings, promotions, and policy implementations. He is often known to have falsely used the successive Prime Ministers names to throw his weight around and get what he wants. It is also now known that Kotobalavu had drafted the letter to the UN Secretary-General on Tarakinikini which regime PM Qarase had signed. The letter was found to be factually incorrect.
According to one source, Kotobalavu himself wanted to become Fiji's High Commissioner to the UK, but realising that the UK government will not accept any nomination from the interim regime, Kotobalavu began eying Naidu's post. The UN job does not have the protocol of the UN having to endorse Fiji's representative.
Qarase lies to the UN Issue No: 398 21 January 2001
Interim regime Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase has been found to be lying to the Secretary General of the UN.
In a letter to the Secretary General on the posting of military's Filipo Tarakinikini, Qarase has stated: "Both the army and the police have conducted thorough investigations into these allegations. None has been proved and Lt. Col Tarakinikini has been cleared of all these malicious allegations".
The military, however, denies that it has cleared Tarakinikini. Today's newspapers carry a military statement which says that military investigations into Tarakinikini's role in the attempted coups is not yet complete. The military says that Tarakinikini is still under investigation. Military's legal adviser is quoted by the newspapers as saying: "After an intensive interview earlier this month, he was given the green light to pursue his contract with the UN Peacekeeping Operations in New York. Lt. Col. Tarakinikini is not the only senior officer to be investigated after the May 19 coup and so far as investigations are concerned, his alleged involvement with other senior officers can only be determined at the end of the investigation process". The military stated that Tarakinikini was given the green light only on the understanding that he will be called whenever needed for further investigations.
That the interim Prime Minister has gone to the extent of misleading the UN's Secretary-General indicates how desperate the regime is. It also is a clear indicator of the gross incompetence of the interim regime and Qarase in particular.
Meanwhile sources indicate that Tarakinikini will not be cleared to take up the post at the UN.
Weapons still missing Issue No: 391 19 January 2001
The weapons smuggled out of the military barracks by soldiers turned terrorists are still missing.
Official reports are that over 20 military-issued weapons are still not returned by the terrorists who had taken them.
Unofficial reports, however, are that the terrorists have much more weapons than the number stated. It is believed that the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit (CRW), which had taken part in the 19 May and the 2 November attempted coups, had a huge stockpile of weapons. It had also purchased a large quantity of weapons, estimated to cost over $600,000 before 19 May. It is also rumoured that a container load of weapons had arrived illegally in the country during the period the terrorists had kept the government hostage. In addition some weapons found by the security forces were those which did not belong to the military.
The police had issued an amnesty for the return of weapons which ended on Monday 15 January. By the end of the amnesty, no weapon was surrendered. The amnesty has now been extended by another month. This also is not expected to bring in any surrender. The security force has still not considered offering rewards to those surrendering the weapons, or to those who provide information which can lead to the discovery of the weapons.
This week one newspaper stated that the military was frightened of those who held the weapons still unaccounted for and that for this reason, Justice Gates' decisions should not be enforced until much later.
END 19 January 2001