LICENSE to ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER: Bainimarama's brother PS for Rural and Maritime Development, MELETI, gave greenlight to DICK PENG of FREESOUL to construct the ill-fated $100m hotel on the Malolo Island
MELETI BAINIMARAMA TO DICK PENG
"On behalf of the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, please accept this letter of support for the construction of $100million worth of a hotel in the Malolo Islands. As Permanent Secretary of this Ministry, we very much approve the project...we very strongly support the proposed hotel project."
DUMPED INTO DUSTBIN: After 125 years, Aiyaz Khaiyum abolished Fiji's Assessor System but was DDP Pryde consulted beforehand, for after all he, unlike defence lawyers, is best qualified to judge its utility & efficacy?
The Public Lunatic Asylum Ordinance of 1884 was legislated to 'care for the maintenance of lunatics and idiots'
ANTI-colonialist Aiyaz Khaiyum claimed that the Assessor System in Fiji was a relic of colonialism. If so, will this mentally challenged and egotistic retard of a bully also get rid of the ST GILES PYSCHIATRIC HOSPITAL - established as Fiji's Public Lunatic Asylum in 1884. Many Indian coolies were classified as MAD and locked up when, in reality, they were victims of destruction and displacement caused by the colonial indenture system. The native Fijians suffered similar fate. The British colonial administration outlawed their secret societies and cannibalism but still feared their sorcery of drua ni kau and other traditional ancestral beliefs. Like British colonial administrators of the late 19th century, perception of madness continued into the 20th Century. Larry Dinger, former US Ambassador (2005-2008) to Fiji, observed that
No assault charges will be laid against the prime minister of Fiji in relation to an incident with an opposition MP outside parliament, despite there being “sufficient evidence for the matter to proceed to court,” the country’s department of public prosecutions has ruled.
Frank Bainimarama was accused of assault by Pio Tikoduadua, an opposition MP for the National Federation Party, who alleges the prime minister grabbed and shoved him outside Fiji’s parliament in Suva, causing his glasses to fall to the ground and break.
The incident was captured on video and the footage was widely shared online.
It shows Bainimarama grabbing the lapel of Tikoduadua’s coat and giving him a light push before the men were involved in what appeared to be a heated exchange while security guards looked on.
Bainimarama told the Guardian in the weeks following the incident that Tikoduadua had insulted Bainimarama’s family during a parliamentary debate.
The Fijian department of public prosecutions issued a statement saying that while there was enough evidence for the case to go to court, they would not lay charges against Bainimarama because the incident had already been dealt with by the parliamentary privileges committee and to pursue criminal charges “would, in effect, be subjecting the prime minister to double jeopardy”
“Had the matter not been heard by the privileges committee and dealt with by Parliament, there was sufficient evidence for the matter to proceed to court,” said Christopher Pryde, the director of public prosecutions.
Larry Dinger, the former United States ambassador to Fiji, observed that “a psychiatrist would have a field day with Bainimarama”.
In 2004, the Minister for Home Affairs Joketani Cokanasiga had to grab Bainimarama by the scruff of the neck and throw him out of his office as he threatened to kill Home Affairs CEO Jeremaia Waqanisau.
FLP: 'Speaker’s role as an independent arbiter has been compromised by the changes which now allow HIM to sit as a MEMBER of the BUSINESS Committee of House, deciding on which questions and motions to allow.'
"Regrettably, the manner of operations of Parliament since the 2014 elections is of considerable concern. Well established parliamentary conventions and processes have been removed through successive amendments to Standing Orders to restrict and curtail procedures and debate. Sittings have been drastically cut back and the Opposition gagged – rendering it virtually ineffective in fulfilling its role to hold the government accountable."
Speaker Ratu Epeli Nailatikau shocked the nation when he declared in Parliament that the deportation of USP’s Vice Chancellor Prof Pal Ahluwalia two weeks ago, and the brutal manner in which it was executed, was not a matter of national concern.
The deportation caused considerable consternation throughout the region and in Fiji. There has been an outpouring of public condemnation and revulsion, reflected in comments in the social media and letters and statements in the mainstream media.
It may also have far reaching consequences for the future of the university as a regional institute, with moves now being considered to relocate its HQ away from Suva.
Yet, the Speaker said that he did not consider the matter qualified as urgent enough, or of enough public importance, to warrant special attention. He rejected moves by the Opposition to have the issue raised in Parliament through an adjournment motion and oral questions to be put to government.
The Opposition showed its disgust by walking out in response to the ruling. Given the facts, there can be only one explanation for the Speaker’s ruling – to bail out the government.
The ruling has brought considerable disrepute to Fiji’s parliament. It has made a mockery of the democratic values that parliaments stand for and the right of the people to hold the government accountable for its actions.
Ratu Epeli is a person of eminent standing as a high chief and a former Speaker of Parliament between 2001 and 2006. He had earned a reputation for being fair, principled and stern in his rulings, even if the decisions had to go against the government of the day. But it’s so different today.
A compromised parliament
Regrettably, the manner of operations of Parliament since the 2014 elections is of considerable concern. Well established parliamentary conventions and processes have been removed through successive amendments to Standing Orders to restrict and curtail procedures and debate. Sittings have been drastically cut back and the Opposition gagged – rendering it virtually ineffective in fulfilling its role to hold the government accountable.
The Speaker’s role as an independent arbiter has been compromised by changes which now allow him to sit as a member of the Business Committee of the House, deciding on which questions and motions to allow.
Government is now abusing Standing Order 51 with the Speaker’s concurrence to rush through, virtually, all Bills. This is an abuse of process which should not, in the normal circumstances, be allowed by the Speaker.
Case in point, are the two Bills relating to the judiciary, currently before the House.
Bill No. 1 of 2021 which aims to establish a special court to deal with cases of corruption and Bill No 2 of 2021 which intends to scrap the use of assessors in criminal proceedings.
None of the Bills are of such urgency that Standing Order 51 needs to be invoked to push them through. In fact, they are of considerable public interest and ought to be subjected to wide consultation as pointed out by the Fiji Law Society.
FLS has called on the government to stay the Bills to allow for wider public discussion. Personally, I see no necessity for the two Bills.
Bill No.1 – special courts for corruption cases
There is no need to meddle with the Judiciary to create a specialized court for dealing with corruption cases as proposed in the Bill.
I see absolutely no merit in the Attorney General’s comments that the appointment of a special court will give a certain level of certainty to the prosecutors and the offenders and will reinforce the rule of law. Just what does he mean by “a level of certainty”?
Is he suggesting that the High Courts are unable to provide the level of certainty that he is talking about?
The Bill is seen by many as interference with well established judicial processes and possibly an attempt to undermine the authority of the judiciary. This must not be permitted.
It is public knowledge that corruption has become endemic in our society and I believe that the FF government, particularly the Prime Minister and the Attorney General, must take full responsibility for this sick state of affairs.
There are institutions and constitutional provisions in place to fight corruption but these are either not being properly run or have been deliberately kept out of existence.
Take for instance FICAC. Why has a Commissioner not been appointed to take charge of FICAC which has been operating without a substantive head since its inception in 2007. The government has not explained to this day why an appointment has not been made to this position in the last 14 years.
What is really pressing, is the need to amend the FICAC Act by deleting a provision in s5.5) which permits the Commissioner to seek the assistance and input of the Attorney General. This provision compromises the independence of the Commission and must be removed.
Does it make sense to create a special court to deal with corruption related cases without first putting in place institutions that are mandated in the Constitution to curb corruption? Is the government not just paying lip service to curtailing corruption?
The mere fact that it has taken no action in the past 7 years to enact Code of Conduct and Freedom of Information legislations as mandated by the imposed 2013 Constitution, speaks for itself. Frankly, I think they are quite content with the status quo.
Bill No.2 – removal of the system of assessors
Similarly, the removal of the assessors system from our courts is again uncalled for interference with judicial processes which have been in place for decades. The AG should know that assessors are chosen from among the lay people who are educated enough to appreciate what their role is all about.
The system does not require them to have an understanding of “sophisticated matters” as the AG puts it. It is the judge’s role to explain such issues to the assessors based on which they must make their findings of guilt or innocence.
In the final analysis, the Judge’s decision prevails as he has the powers to overrule the assessors. There should be no difficulty in finding the right persons to serve as assessors as lamely claimed by the Attorney General. There are hundreds of law graduates around looking for non-existent jobs. Why not give them something to do?
Law Reform Commission
Reform of laws, particularly in the criminal jurisdiction, must be undertaken with great caution and must remain a function of the Law Reform Commission, rather than the Attorney General. The Commission is so empowered under s5 of the Law Reform Commission Act.
However, this very important institution has been defunct for sometime now because the appointments of its former members were not renewed or new ones not appointed.
Under the Act, the Chair of the Commission is appointed by the President following consultation with the Attorney General and the Leader of the Opposition. Three (3) other members are appointed by the Attorney General.
Only the Attorney General can answer why this important Commission remains defunct.
Given such noxious developments, one may well ask: why have a parliament?
FIRING BLANKS: DEBATE WITH DR RAJNI CHAND about her PhD Thesis on Flexible Learning at USP where she is now Director of the Centre for Flexible Learning. Better still, for Fiji's sake, Bainimarama should Resign
DR RAJNI CHAND has given over two decades of her service to USP, unlike Aiyaz Khaiyum's UNCLE who came back to Fiji after 2006 COUP, and was appointed Chairperson of the USP Audit and Risk Committee.
Dr Chand and many other Fijians, especially women staff, survived and continued teaching despite Bainimarama's treasonous COUP
“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” — Dr Rajni Chand, quoting Ralph Nicols in her PhD thesis, "Listening Needs of Distance Learners: A Case Study of EAP Learners at the University of the South Pacific"
Chand, R. K. (2008, June). Listening Needs of Distance Learners: A Case Study of EAP Learners at the University of the South Pacific (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy)
University of Otago.
This study focuses on student listening needs in the context of the English for Academic Purposes program taught by distance education at the University of the South Pacific. It explores the relationship between learners’ awareness of the learning strategy they use for developing their listening skills and their teachers’ knowledge of the strategy use and listening needs of learners.
Using an ethnographic case study approach, the study was conducted at various campuses and centres of the University of the South Pacific. Interviews were conducted with five EAP/study skills teachers; five subject/course teachers; 19 past learners and 10 present learners of the EAP/study skills course. Questionnaire data was also obtained from 19 past learners and 153 present learners. In addition, a course material analysis was carried out.
The study confirms and adds weight to the conclusions of earlier researchers such as Berne (1998), and Mendelsohn (2001) who explain that discrepancies exist between L2 listening research and practice. The findings of this research indicate that teachers differ from their learners in terms of learners’ knowledge and understanding of listening skills and learning strategies in use. The findings also indicate that even though learning had taken place in this distance education context some face-to-face teaching would have been desirable. A combination of distance teaching with longer teacher–learner contact for distance teaching of listening skills is recommended, since regular contact between teachers and learners is seen by learners as very beneficial and more likely to lead to a better development of listening skills. It also helps create an awareness of learners’ present and future listening needs. The nature of distance teaching at the University of the South Pacific, and the challenges faced by both teachers and learners are discussed in this study, and the requirement for further needs analysis in regard to distance EAP courses are noted.
The study concludes with recommendations for strategy training for distance learners as well as for raising teacher awareness about the importance of strategy teaching. It is also recommended that similar studies be undertaken in other language skills courses offered by distance at universities like USP such as reading, writing and speaking courses.
Advisor: Stracke, Elke; Alm, Antonie
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Department of English / Linguistics Programme
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Distance education; Oceania.
Click link below to read Dr Rajni Chand's thesis
Dr. Rajni Chand holds a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Otago. She received a position in the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) Women and Leadership in ODL training program and has recently been appointed a mentor in the COL’s CommonwealthWiseWomen mentoring programme. She is also the chairperson of Board of Trustees for femLinkPacific; a major regional feminist media NGO.
- Chand, R. (2020). “It rains a lot here”: Online assessments versus Mother Nature”, in Naidu, S and Narayan, S (Eds) Teaching and learning with technology: pushing boundaries and breaking down walls, https://orep.usp.ac.fj/edu-sharing/components/render/c343e6ae-5db6-4eff-a54a-a8d7ea43b970, USP: Suva.
- Chand, R. (2020). “Under the shadow of Girmit era”, in Amba Pande (ed) Women in the Indian Diaspora: Historical narratives and contemporary challenges, Springer Science+ Business Media: Singapore.
- Chand, R. (2008). Media for Language and Education in the Pacific Islands. In B. Prasad and S. Singh (Eds.). Media and Development: Issues and Challenges in the Pacific Islands (pp. 232-269). Fiji Institute of Applied Studies and Auckland University of Technology.
- Rao, C.; McPherson, K.; Chand, R. and Khan, V. (2003). “Assessing the impact of IELTS preparation programs on candidates’ performance on the General Training reading and writing test modules”, Cambridge: University of Cambridge, British Council and IDP Australia, Volume 5, October.
- Chand, R. (2009), A student’s guide to bibliography and referencing, Pacific Educational Resources, Lautoka.
- Chand, R. and Khan, V. (2004). Referencing and Bibliography Writing: A guide for university students, Suva: USP.
- Chand, R. (2014) “Access to information: questions on equality, gender and geographical gap in relation to suicide prevention”, Journal of Pacific Studies, Vol. 35, Special issue.
- Chand, R. (2012). Key challenges and opportunities facing the Community radio sector in the Pacific Island Countries, FemLINKPACIFICEMegazine Special Edition: The Thirteen 25 Report (November 2012 – February 2013 Edition), pp 17-19.
- Chand, R. (2011) English use among South Pacific Islanders at The University of the South Pacific, SEDI Journal, Vol 15 (2), pp 73-90.
- Chand, R. (2007) Same size does not fit all: Insights from research on listening skills at The University of the South Pacific (USP). International Research and Reflection in Open and Distance Learning Journal (IRRODL), Vol. 8(3). http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/383/951
- Chand, R. (2014) “Access to information: questions on equality, gender and geographical gap in relation to suicide prevention”, Journal of Pacific Studies, Vol. 35, Special issue.
- Chand, R. (2008) Listening needs of distance learners: A case study of EAP learners at The University of the South Pacific. University of Otago.
- Rethinking Strategies: Online tests and exams, paper presented at USP’s CFL webinar series, 13 May, 2020 Suva, Fiji.
- Indian Diasporic Identity: Language policies or politicizing languages, paper presented at Banaras Hindu University conference titled: People of Indian Ancestry and Indian Culture: Historic and Contemporary Contexts, 19-20 January, 2019 Varanasi, India.
- Girmit in literature texts in Fiji schools, paper presented at Commemoration of Centennial of Abolition of Indian Indentureship: An international conference, 22-24 March, 2017 Lautoka, Fiji.
- Multilingual or Multidimensional: The case of teaching English across 5 time zones and 12 countries, paper presented at ALLA/ALANZ/ALTAANZ conference, 30th Nov - 2nd Dec, 2015 Adelaide, Australia.
- Women in the Indian Diaspora: Issues of Discrimination and Empowerment: Women in Fiji Islands, 10-11 January, 2014 New Delhi, India.
- Access to information: questions on equality gender and geographical gap, paper presented at Oceania Development Network Biennial Conference, 11-12, September, 2013 Suva, Fiji.
- Transformative pedagogies: Crossing boundaries in teaching English language, Paper presented at VC’s Forum on Learning and teaching University of the South Pacific, 3 October, 2013 Suva, Fiji.
- Research skills development framework: UU114 and the RSD, paper presented at VC’s forum on Learning and Teaching, University of the South Pacific, 11 September, 2012 Suva, Fiji.
- Language and Literacy: Case Study of Practice across 300 million square kilometres and a Dozen Countries. Paper presented at the 2nd combined conference of ALAA and ALANZ, 29TH Nov- 2ND December 2011, Canberra, Australia.
- Learning outcomes from a generic course to specific disciplines: Lessons from UU114, paper presented at VC’s forum on Learning and Teaching, University of the South Pacific, 22 September 2011, Suva, Fiji.
- Disaster Response & Preparedness: Analysis and overview of contributions on the role of community radio in disaster management and Preparedness” case study of femLinkPacific’s suitcase radio. Paper presented: AMARC (World Community Broadcasters organisation) Conference, 8-13 November, 2010, La Plata, Argentina.
- Teaching across the Curriculum: Focus on Climate Change, Paper presented at Oceanic Conference on Creativity and Climate Change at the University of the South Pacific: 17th September, 2010, Suva, Fiji.
- Language Issues in English-medium Universities: Case of ESL learners at a regional South Pacific university”, Paper presented at Language Issues in English-medium Universities; A global Concern Conference at University of Hong Kong, 18-20 June, 2008 Honk Kong.C
While we are on nepotism and corruption, here are other promotions that have gone unnoticed in the past 15 years:
1. Bainimarama’s brother who was moved from Assistant Roko to Permanent Secretary
2. Bainimarama’s brother who was promoted to an Ambassador
3. Bainimarama’s daughter who was appointed as CEO of the Fiji Sports Council. Also the current chair of FHL Properties.
4. Bainimarama’s daughter who is the President of Fiji Netball. Used to be the manager.
5. Bainimarama’s daughter appointed to a senior position in the Ministry of Civil Service
6. Bainimarama’s sister-in-law who went from some officer in the FAB Scholarships section to Director iTaukei Language and Culture at Ministry of iTaukei Affairs (where her husband is PS, see 1)
6. Bainimarama’s brother-in-law who ironically went to jail for manslaughter then becomes the Commissioner of Prisons. He was also the Chair of Fiji Rugby until he was pressured to resign last year by World Rugby for letting convicted rapists play provincial rugby.
7. Bainimarama’s nephew who found a job at the Department of Information after the 2006 coup. Currently a senior diplomat at Fiji’s UN mission in New York.
8. Bainimarama’s son-in-law, Development Manager at Fiji Rugby Union.
9. Bainimarama’s sister-in-laws husband is the Director Force Development at Republic of Fiji Military Forces.
Graham Davis Lifts Up Curtain: 'The PM is like a ventriloquist dummy on the AG’s knee who, unlike other dummies, happens to live and breathe but doesn’t have to think before he speaks. His thinking is done for him'
MISSING IN PANDEMIC: Where is Aiyaz Khaiyum? There are rumours that he is in SINGAPORE undergoing heart treatment? Who is paying for his medical bills and who paid for the chartered flight? Aren't our Fijian hospitals good enough for him? In 2016, when our Editor-in-Chief was pictured with President Jioji Konrote in London, the two thieves nearly suffered heart failures. Frank Bainimarama directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to phone the Fiji High Commissioner in London and establish who had invited our Editor-in-Chief to the President's function? The personal invitation had come from the President of Fiji, who is related to our Founding Editor-in- Chief through marriage connections. The Swindler Bainimarama forgot that the $3,000 a day foreign travel allowance that he pockets, actually come from the taxes our Editor-in-Chief's own large family pays into FFP government coffers, with one branch of the extended business family (JACKS FIJI) donating a staggering $160,000 to FFP
Fijileaks: Since Graham Davis article on Frank Bainimarama and Aiyaz Khaiyum was over 6000 words, many of our readers asked us if we could extract certain revelations for 'speed reading'. So we have selected the one on 'ventriloquist dummy'. Davis revelation confirm all those cartoons from 2013 onwards about who is really pulling the strings in Fiji
"It is common knowledge that every word uttered by the PM is written for him by Qorvis and the AG. So that when he speaks – whether it is in the parliament or to a village gathering – it is not Bainimarama speaking but Bainimarama reading out the AG’s script. He is, of course, a good reader and has mastered the TV autocue well enough for many people to believe that it is really him. But it is not. In reality, the PM is like a ventriloquist dummy on the AG’s knee who, unlike other dummies, happens to live and breathe but doesn’t have to think before he speaks. His thinking is done for him. His attack on me was the AG’s creation. And I know that because for six years – with the AG’s approval – I put the words into the PM’s mouth myself. As everyone at senior level knows, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is the hand in the glove of the Bainimarama government. Which is why so many people loathe him and want him gone. Not only because of the power he wields and the fear he engenders but because he is the lightning rod in the community for growing disenchantment with the government and its increasingly disconnected leader." - Graham Davis
LAST SWAN SONG: Graham Davis, 'I cannot support Bainimarama and his government any longer - trigger is last week’s events in Parliament, unbridled assault by AG – with PM’s blessing – on Institutions of State'
"I apologise that this article is so political and – at more than 6000 words – is so long, indeed the longest I have ever written in these columns [Grubsheet]. But it is my last one for some time and I have a lot to say. I also apologise that it is so personal, some might say self-indulgently so. But I have a lot to get off my chest."
"The USP academic, Professor Konai Thaman, sparked a furore this week by questioning whether the deported Professor Pal Ahluwalia, was “Pasefikan” enough to be USP Vice Chancellor. Some may raise the same question about the AG. Whether a devout Muslim who interrupts the business of government five times a day to pray towards Mecca, consults an Imam and whose family is teaching its children Arabic so they can read the Koran in its original form, can ever be generally accepted as Fijian prime minister. It is not a question of religious tolerance but political reality. If one accepts the dictum that politics is the art of the possible, is it possible for Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum to win an election at the head of a mainstream party in a Christian and Hindu dominant Fiji?"
"I personally don’t have a problem with the AG as PM on religious grounds. In fact, I have already recounted the story of how I told his father, Sayed, in 2012 that I one day hoped that his son could be prime minister.
"After 15 years in power, there’s a famous phrase used in the British Parliament in 1939 that applies as much to Bainimarama and Khaiyum as it did to the besieged Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, after his policy of appeasing Hitler failed:
”You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. In the name of God, go!”"
Three weeks ago, I wrote on Facebook that the resumption of Grubsheet for 2021 was being postponed out of consideration for the national effort to assist the victims of Cyclone Yasa and Cyclone Ana. I made the observation that it was not the time for politics but for supporting the authorities to get help to those who needed it most. The inspiring sight of the estimable Inia Seruiratu leading the cyclone relief effort in the north with the help of the equally inspiring Australian servicemen and women from HMAS Adelaide was regrettably short lived. Because it didn’t take long in the public consciousness for politics as usual to rear its ugly head. So much so that I no longer feel bound by my decision of three weeks ago. I apologise that this article is so political and – at more than 6000 words – is so long, indeed the longest I have ever written in these columns. But it is my last one for some time and I have a lot to say. I also apologise that it is so personal, some might say self-indulgently so. But I have a lot to get off my chest. We have just had a parliamentary session dominated by almost everything other than the needs of cyclone victims or the hundreds of thousands of people suffering because of the Covid-induced economic crisis. It was a spectacle that has triggered widespread community dismay and resentment at the apparent lack of empathy of fat-cat MPs and especially those on the FijiFirst government benches. Much of the nation that isn’t on the public teat is in deep distress. Yet as they struggle to find shelter, put food on the table, worry about disease outbreaks, cope with chronic interruptions to their power and water and make their way through Mumbai-style traffic jams over canyon-sized potholes, they find the public discourse dominated not by their concerns and challenges but the same old political valavala (fighting) and point scoring.
Despite the unprecedented national crisis, it was business as usual in the Parliament, led by the ever-preening Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Fresh from his “Gestapo-like” deportation of the USP Vice Chancellor [Professor Pal Ahluwalia], the AG was more than usually testy and belligerent. Perhaps he has given up even trying to manage the economic crash that has engulfed the nation. He is routinely seen signing fresh documents committing Fiji to further borrowing and portraying them as “strategic partnerships” rather than the loans and indebtedness that they are. One might reasonably have imagined the AG to be focussed exclusively on managing the economic firestorm and the challenges raging on every front. Yet there he was at a USP Council meeting helping his “Uncle Mahmood” resolve a crisis that he alone created and has done unprecedented damage to Fiji’s relations with the region. How does it all “put food on the table?”, as the Prime Minister used to ask about every diversion before he too lost the plot. It doesn’t. But for the AG, winning at all costs is what matters. The articulate guy in the turban demanding accountability at USP got in his way and had to go, whatever the political fallout. As I’ve noted before, crash through or crash is the customary approach. Except that it’s much more likely to be crash on Wonder Boy’s horizon when the voting public finally get their say.
"The articulate guy in the turban demanding accountability at USP got in his [Khaiyum's] way and had to go, whatever the political fallout."
Yet there’s something just as disheartening that poses an equally serious threat to social cohesion and national unity. In my many years observing Fijian politics, I have never witnessed such a disconnect between the political elite and their struggling constituents. There has been no concession at all to appearances, let alone the substance of relative privilege. The political elite continue to speed around in their blacked-out Prados, trailed by their attendants and security guards, attending all manner of functions at which the food and drink is plentiful and fawning is invariably the currency of maintaining favour and influence. While outside on the streets, the burgeoning ranks of prostitutes and beggars – including children pleading for food – bears testament to the other face of Fiji. Unadulterated, pitiful despair. Away from the capital, increasing destitution, hunger and homelessness reflect a society that no longer seems to care or certainly doesn’t care enough. The only genuine Bula Bubble in Fiji is the one inhabited by the political and social elite. For much of the rest of the population, the bubble burst a long time ago.
It could and should have been a time when the government forged a national program of collective resilience – a back-to-basics grassroots movement led by the state in which shelter, food production and public health became the sole priorities. Instead, the government can’t even keep the power and water on, is consumed by hubris, obsesses about the unimportant and those charged with enforcing the law engage in all manner of criminal activity. The list of police offences detailed recently – everything from theft and assault to perverting the course of justice – is a sure sign of a nation in big trouble. The AG admitted as the cyclone crisis unfolded that he had only $3.5 million dollars on hand for the relief effort until the foreign cavalry arrived. Astonishingly, while $38million a month is being allocated for aircraft leases and loans, there’s barely enough in the government’s contingent emergency funds to buy a couple of prestige houses in Suva.
With its obsession with seemingly everything but the immediate needs of ordinary Fijians, the FijiFirst government appears to have almost totally lost the plot. It isn’t just the chronic spin, media manipulation and continual protestations of “no crisis! Nothing to see here!” We now see normally straight-shooting ministers like Jone Usamate obliged to give misleading answers in the parliament. Usamate said Fiji had withdrawn Ratu Inoke Kubuabola as its candidate to lead the PIF out of deference to its Pacific neighbours when the truth is that it was to save the Prime Minister’s face when his handpicked candidate got little or no support.
Once again last week, Frank Bainimarama read out a speech written for him by Qorvis and the AG praising the AG and expressing his full support for him. Yes, Prime Minister, we know. You will both go down together, maybe not at the same election but sometime. And it has already happened in the estimation of those who once had high expectations of you but whose confidence you have since lost.
For its part, a cowering media – aside, of course, from the oleaginous flatterers at the CJ Patel Fiji Sun and the AG’s brother’s FBC – is starting to get creative. Creatively subversive. Did you notice that almost every photograph of the Prime Minister in the Fiji Times during the parliamentary sitting had him laughing uproariously with ministers like Faiyaz Koya and others around him? Yes, it’s the image of the local Nero fiddling while Rome burns. Laughing in the face of a nation’s suffering. A big joke. All up, I can’t recall a more depressing parliamentary week. And if it is to be business as usual in the bear pit of Fijian politics, I certainly no longer feel constrained by sensitivity to resume some serious mauling of my own. So here goes.
More than eight years ago, in September 2012, I wrote a Grubsheet article entitled “Methodist Church of Intolerance” in which I strongly criticised the church that my late father, the Reverend Peter Davis, once led in Fiji. One of his successors as president of the Methodist Church, the Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu, had stridently opposed the notion of Fiji being a secular state – an eventual provision of the 2013 Constitution – and had called for the declaration of a Christian state and for Christianity to have preference over other religions.
It gave me no pleasure to cast the otherwise distinguished churchman as a bigot. Indeed I wrote that confronting him head-on was “undoubtedly the toughest article I had ever written, and the saddest”. Until today. For however much it pained me to bite the official hand of the church in which I was reared, doing what I am about to do is much more painful. Because I am formally withdrawing my support for Frank Bainimarama and the FijiFirst government. And ending a 15-year relationship with the Prime Minister in which I am widely acknowledged to have played a significant role in assisting him, including in the role of principal communications advisor, speechwriter and advocate, not only in these columns but in the Fijian and international media.
In response to my recent articles echoing calls by the Military Council and members of his own cabinet for the reform of the FijiFirst government and in particular, the removal of Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, the PM responded – in statements written for him by Qorvis and the AG – by casting me as a disgruntled and relatively unimportant former employee. I am not in the business of big-noting myself personally in the way that has become customary at senior levels of government and the state. I leave it to others to judge whether I was important or not – though I appear to have been important enough to warrant a formal Prime Ministerial statement, in written and video form, attacking me for my Grubsheet posts that became the lead item in every news outlet in Fiji.
I fully expected the attempt by the PM to belittle me as a means of trying to blunt my attacks on the AG. It is common knowledge that every word uttered by the PM is written for him by Qorvis and the AG. So that when he speaks – whether it is in the parliament or to a village gathering – it is not Bainimarama speaking but Bainimarama reading out the AG’s script. He is, of course, a good reader and has mastered the TV autocue well enough for many people to believe that it is really him. But it is not. In reality, the PM is like a ventriloquist dummy on the AG’s knee who, unlike other dummies, happens to live and breathe but doesn’t have to think before he speaks. His thinking is done for him. His attack on me was the AG’s creation. And I know that because for six years – with the AG’s approval – I put the words into the PM’s mouth myself. As everyone at senior level knows, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is the hand in the glove of the Bainimarama government. Which is why so many people loathe him and want him gone. Not only because of the power he wields and the fear he engenders but because he is the lightning rod in the community for growing disenchantment with the government and its increasingly disconnected leader.
Why this article is so hard and sad for me to write isn’t just the spectacle of the once admired Frank Bainimarama as the AG’s puppet and, increasingly, a figure of derision. It is what has gone before in my own relationship with the PM. Because the record shows that I have publicly sided with Bainimarama since his coup of 2006, continually played advocate for him, went to work as an advisor to his government in 2012 and played a role in all the major events leading to the restoration of parliamentary rule in 2014 – including the tortured passage of the 2013 Constitution. Indeed, I was instrumental in persuading the PM to proceed with the 2014 election when he told me he “was thinking of having a referendum about whether to have an election”, instead of holding the election itself. And I stayed with him well into his second term, writing hundreds of speeches and articles for him, shepherding him through multiple challenges – including in his relationship with the AG – and crafting Fiji’s overall messaging in multiple global forums, including its presidency of the COP23 climate negotiations. I even wrote the State Prayer that opens every parliamentary session on the instruction of the AG one night to “give me a prayer in 15 minutes”. So invoking the blessing of the secular Almighty was also among my duties. I certainly have ample material for a book on the Bainimarama era, though, as we know, it is so far a story without an ending.
Even as I was publicly attacked by the PM for my recent calls for reform of his government to protect his revolution, I kept faith with the man himself. Respect and friendship are not so easily jettisoned, especially when my late father had asked me before he died to do what I could to assist the Prime Minister. He and the PM’s father had been close friends in Lautoka in the 1960s and my father had described Frank to me as “a good boy” who deserved support in his effort to level the playing field in Fiji. While I was engaged for most of my time in government by Qorvis, I was not the usual hired PR gun, creating a narrative only because I was paid to do so. I was unapologetically a true believer in the Bainimarama revolution to eradicate ethnicity and religion as the defining factors in national life. That commitment predated my engagement in Fiji. Indeed, it was my advocacy for that revolution in these columns before 2012 that drew me to the attention of Qorvis and produced the invitation to join the company on its Fijian account.
When I did, I dedicated myself with the passion of a true believer to give Frank Bainimarama a voice with speeches that are widely credited with not only his election win in 2014 but establishing him as a regional and global statesman. In the deep divide of Fijian politics, it was not without personal cost to my own reputation. A year ago, the opposition MP, Lenora Qereqeretabua, wondered aloud to me whether I realised how hated I was in Fiji. I knew it but didn’t give it a moment’s thought. It was the cause that mattered, not me.
Yet regrettably I cannot support Frank Bainimarama and his government any longer. And the trigger is last week’s events in the Parliament, the unbridled assault by the AG – with the PM’s blessing – on Fiji’s institutions of state and the removal, without any consultation whatsoever let alone an election mandate, of a mechanism for public participation in the judicial system that has been in place for almost 130 years. The abolition without notice of the assessor system in Fiji’s courts and the setting up a special court for corruption offences separate from the mainstream judiciary – primarily a court to try the government’s opponents – is a gross betrayal of the people who put the FijiFirst government in power in the first place.
Even if the AG disputes my characterisation of the changes, none of it was put to the Fijian people in the FijiFirst election manifesto for the 2018 election to enable them to reflect on the merits of the policy. None of it was done in consultation with Fiji’s legal profession, other institutions of state or anyone else. It is without doubt, the biggest assault on Fijian democracy since the coup of 2006. And the difference is that while the 2006 coup was to level the playing field and protect the rights of Fiji’s minorities, this was an unashamed exercise in entrenching and protecting the government’s political position. Unforgivable, inexcusable and deserving of absolute censure, including the government’s removal at the first opportunity. Which is what I intend to campaign for from now on. Lest my last statement feed into the PM’s narrative about me being an overwrought, ageing drama queen, let’s examine in detail what happened in the parliament last week.
The speed with which the AG railroaded through two bills that fundamentally alter the criminal justice system in Fiji sent shock waves through the legal profession, the judiciary, the office of the DPP and anyone in Fiji who believes in the rule of law. His unilateral establishment of a specialised division of the High Court to hear corruption cases has raised grave fears that these will be “kangaroo courts” that give the impression of fairness but are weighted against those who appear before them and will be used against the government’s opponents. And his unilateral abolition of the assessor system in criminal trials ends nearly 130 years of public participation in the verdicts of those trials, leaving them solely in the hands of judges. I repeat: In neither case was there proper debate, no reference to any parliamentary committee and no consultations with the legal profession or the nation’s judges or prosecutors, let alone the public.
Astonishingly, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum – a “here today, gone tomorrow” politician – simply took it upon himself by bypass the institutions of state that comprise the criminal justice system and use the FijiFirst government’s numbers in the Parliament to pursue a personal preference and his own political agenda. He did so by using the expedited procedure under Order 51 of the Parliamentary Standing Orders to fast track his changes rather than Chapter 7 of the Standing Orders, which would have allowed for a proper process of public consultation. It is one of the most egregious abuses of power by an individual politician in Fijian history. These are fundamental assaults on democracy – in the case of the abolition of assessors – and on human rights and civil liberties – in the case of the corruption courts. Yet when the country’s lawyers had the temerity to question what had happened, the AG rounded on them, accusing them of being politically motivated and in league with the opposition.
BILL NO 1. OF 2021 (ANTI-CORRUPTION DIVISION)
When the Fiji Law Society said last week that “the proposal to create a “specialised” division of the High Court to consider corruption cases needs careful review”, it reflected widespread apprehension in the profession about how these courts will operate. I have already documented in these columns the sentiment of fear that exists about the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) – the shadowy corruption watchdog that has become a parallel prosecution arm to that of the Director of Public Prosecutions and gives every appearance of being only as independent as the AG tells it to be. This is what I wrote about FICAC last October in my posting “A Tangled Web of Secrecy and Control Part 2”:
“There is evidence that FICAC has, in fact, become something of a personal tonton macoutes for the AG – a Fijian version of the feared special operations unit set up by the Haitian dictator, “Papa Doc” Duvalier, to control his own country in the 1960s. Whereas the DPP only prosecutes after a formal police investigation and solely on the basis of the public interest and whether there is a reasonable chance of securing a conviction, FICAC is both investigator and prosecutor and has none of the same constraints.
There is no judicial or other independent oversight of its operations, nor even the most basic internal oversight for that matter. Since it was established in April 2007 soon after Frank Bainimarama seized power, it has never had a commissioner as the equivalent of chair to oversee its operations and act as a buffer between the FICAC deputy commissioner as CEO and the government. So the deputy commissioner has a great deal of power but little in the way of supervision and accountability.
The current FICAC Deputy Commissioner is Rashmi Aslam, a Sri Lankan who is obliged by a little-known clause in the 2013 Constitution to report directly to the Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, in a way that doesn’t apply under the Constitution to the DPP. It’s worth citing the relevant section – Section 115, Clause 9 – to understand its importance and how the AG is in a position, with the force of law behind him, to influence the operations of FICAC to the extent of it being genuinely “independent” only in name. “The Commission shall provide regular updates and advice to the Attorney-General on any matter relating to its functions and responsibilities”, reads Clause 9.
So Rashmi Aslam and the AG have regular meetings that are prescribed under Fiji’s supreme law. Yet this constitutional provision is what is known among lawyers as the classic “reverse clause”. Because at these meetings, it is also reasonable to assume that as well as being provided with updates and advice, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is also able to give advice and direction to Rashmi Aslam as FICAC Deputy Commissioner.
All this means that there is no judicial or other independent oversight to prevent the corruption watchdog from being sooled onto the government’s opponents for political purposes.”
At the time I wrote this, I was unaware that formal contact between the AG and FICAC isn’t only provided for under the 2013 Constitution but under the FICAC Act – the law setting up the corruption watchdog. As the Labour Party leader and former Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, pointed out in an article in last Saturday’s Fiji Times, section 5 (5) permits the Commissioner to “seek the assistance and input of the Attorney General”, which takes the constitutional provision much further. Mr Chaudhry called for the amendment of the FICAC Act to remove this provision, which he rightly said compromises the independence of the Commission.
FICAC has a history of failed prosecutions in the mainstream courts, most notably that against Sitiveni Rabuka, who survived a FICAC prosecution on election funding offences that was widely perceived as an attempt to prevent him from contesting the 2018 election. The case against Rabuka failed in the High Court and failed again on appeal in a dramatic “final hour” ruling by the former Chief Justice, Anthony Gates, that enabled Rabuka to take Frank Bainimarama to the brink of defeat. Would the same thing happen if such a case were referred to a specialist corruption judge? How much influence would the AG have on the selection of such judges? And is what happened in the Rabuka case the underlying motive for him to have railroaded through the changes he has made? These are all legitimate questions that deserve an answer and might have been canvassed in a proper consultation process. Alas, that is not going to happen. The AG has made sure of it.
BILL NO.2 OF 2021 (ABOLITION OF ASSESSORS)
The abolition of assessors also provoked a strong response from the Fiji Law Society. In its open letter to the AG and members of parliament, the Society described it as “a profound change in, and the dismantling of, a key part of the administration of criminal justice in Fiji”. Assessors, it said “are a fundamental protection of an accused person’s right to a fair trial”. “Removing public participation from criminal justice will reduce transparency and erode public confidence. Leaving the question of guilt or innocence in serious cases to a single judge, without an accused having a choice in the matter, is neither fair nor just”, it said.
While for any member of the community, the aforementioned statement is deeply concerning, it sent the AG into a rage. And on the margins of the parliament, he attacked the Law Society as a group of individual lawyers working in league with the opposition, even though the new President of the Law Society, Wylie Clark, has no overt political affiliation – so far as I know – and no record of partisan political statements. Unsurprisingly, a counter argument in relation to the issue of corruption courts came in the form of a public statement from FICAC. There is no way of knowing whether FICAC was instructed to issue that statement or took it upon itself to enter the political fray. But the mere fact that it said anything at all has reinforced concerns about its independence because this is a debate in which the Acting Chief Justice, Kamal Kumar, and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Pryde, have been noticeably absent.
25 years ago, in 1994, a Commission of Enquiry on the Fiji Courts was set up by the government of the then prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka. It was headed by a distinguished Australian-born New Zealand judge, Sir David Beattie, who had been Governor-General of New Zealand. After extensive consultations with the legal profession and other interested parties, the Beattie Report recommended that the assessor system should be retained. Yet in a matter of hours last week, something that had been a key part of the administration of justice in Fiji since the 19th century – was abolished unilaterally by Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
Fast forward 25 years later and we know what the current DPP, Christopher Pryde, thinks from a speech he gave to the annual AG’s Conference in December 2017. A link to the address is still on the DPP’s website. In front of both the AG and the Prime Minister, Mr Pryde concluded that “Fiji’s assessor system has operated well for 125 years and should continue to do so. It is cost effective, it guards against elitism, it keeps the community engaged and it promotes democracy”. As unambiguous as it gets. So was the DPP consulted before the unilateral abolition of the assessor system? Was the Acting Chief Justice consulted? These are questions the public is entitled to know. Because an independent prosecution arm and an independent judiciary are cornerstones of our democracy. And while the Attorney General may have the numbers in the parliament to mess with our institutions, he has no right to impose his will unilaterally with the support of the Prime Minister. For me, it is the final straw, the final break with the Bainimarama government in which I have now lost all confidence.
So what happens next? I am going away to examine my options and wait to see what emerges in terms of a potential alternative government. As things stand, I am not committed to any particular course of action. Except that I will support any political party that like FijiFirst, embraces the multiracial, multi-faith agenda but unlike FijiFirst is more than a two-man dictatorship, isn’t repressive or prescriptive and genuinely respects pluralism – the notion of different groups, principles and beliefs co-existing in politics and the community. In short, which doesn’t continually treat the opposition as the enemy but recognises its legitimate role to keep the government accountable and honest and works with it for the common good. Above all, I will support a political party that puts the genuine needs of the people first and respects and defends the independence of the institutions of state, not subverts them as the FijiFirst government has so wilfully and demonstrably done.
So where are we in terms of a viable alternative to FijiFirst? The short answer is “not there yet”. But a great deal is happening behind the scenes, and especially in relation to Sitiveni Rabuka – the man the Prime Minister refers to as “the Snake”. Having parted ways with SODELPA in December after he lost the leadership to Bill Gavoka – the AG’s father-in-law – Rabuka is said to be working hard behind the scenes to establish his People’s Alliance. It is a potent name for a political party, the “People” part signalling inclusion and “Alliance” not only suggesting bringing together different elements but harking back in the minds of older Fijians to the golden days of the Alliance Party in which Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara presided over a long period of stability and prosperity that in a striking political irony, Rabuka brought to an end with his coup of 1987.
Grubsheet understands that Rabuka is engaged in discussions with Savenaca Narube – the former Reserve Bank Governor and leader of the Unity Party – to be part of the People’s Alliance and give him the economic credibility he needs in government. Despite the confidence of Bill Gavoka that the SODELPA brand name will carry it and him over the line, there are persistent rumours that up to 15 current SODELPA MPs are ready to jump ship to join the Alliance, including Lynda Tabuya, one of its brightest stars. And Biman Prasad – the leader of the National Federation Party – is evidently telling people that he can happily work with Rabuka if he makes the commitment to abandon the notion of iTaukei supremacy and genuinely embraces a multiracial, multi-faith agenda.
That is my own condition as well. I am prepared to take Rabuka at his word that he has had a Damascene conversion since 1987 and has come to accept the principle of one nation, with equal rights and opportunity for all. Not everyone will be prepared to accept the sincerity of that conversion. Far from it. The baggage Rabuka carries – his coups and the collapse of the National Bank – would make it nigh on impossible to stage a comeback anywhere else. Yet the notion of forgiveness and redemption is deeply ingrained in the Fijian psyche. And there is one compelling reason why I am personally willing to take Rabuka at his word. That leaving aside the events of 1987 – the rape of democracy and horrific victimisation of non iTaukei – his record subsequently as elected Prime Minister was that he respected the independence of the institutions of state, something that no longer can be said about Frank Bainimarama and Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
Rabuka continues to enjoy a great deal of support in the country and “snake” or not, I am certainly willing to consider the notion that he be given another chance to lead. Or be the principal vote-getter in a party led by someone younger who represents a transition to a new generation. And be available to impart his undoubted knowledge and experience to a People’s Alliance team. Part of me is willing him on to close the circle of his extraordinary political life. But that is largely down to him. He clearly needs to demonstrate more than he has – with inclusive policies and the credibility of the team he builds around him – that he has a competitive vision to take Fiji forward.
I would never have imagined until last week expressing the view that I have just written in the preceding paragraph. For a long time, many of the Prime Minister’s strongest supporters have hoped – indeed counted on him – to reform FijiFirst to bring some of his more talented ministers to the fore and end the AG’s stranglehold on the party and government policy. It long ago ceased to be Fiji first, as the name was meant to imply. It is the Prime Minister and the AG first. Their way or the highway. And I am far from being the only former supporter who has become convinced that they have not only lost their way but are a clear and present danger to the electoral prospects of their parliamentary colleagues and to genuine democracy in Fiji.
Internal dissent is invariably conducted in whispers at the present time because of the all- pervasive climate of fear. But it is capable of becoming more voluble whenever, if ever, the election approaches. Because the dominant political instinct is self-preservation and most FijiFirst ministers with their fingers genuinely on the nation’s pulse are already acutely aware that the opposition benches beckon. Will it lead to defections? In the words of the old cliché, only time will tell. There’s already a story doing the rounds that Parveen Bala – the FijiFirst minister who commands a Tamany Hall-style bloc of votes in the West – has approached the National Federation Party seeking a safer refuge. But that may be more to do with his lack of confidence in being endorsed again by FijiFirst because of his own baggage than his lack of confidence in another Party win.
In a country where the Coconut Radio has always been abuzz, more potent rumours abound that the Prime Minister may be about to assume the presidency that is being vacated later in the year by the current President, Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote, and that he plans to install Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum as his successor. I have no inside knowledge of whether this is indeed the case. All I can say is that the second part of this rumour would be regarded with genuine alarm in government ranks, the military and in much of the country. It isn’t just that the AG is deeply unpopular and has no hope under the d’Hondt electoral system of acquiring the large number of votes needed to take other FijiFirst candidates over the line. The question is invariably whether he is sufficiently part of the mainstream to be acclaimed by consensus as Bainimarama’s legitimate successor.
The USP academic, Professor Konai Thaman, sparked a furore this week by questioning whether the deported Professor Pal Ahluwalia, was “Pasefikan” enough to be USP Vice Chancellor. Some may raise the same question about the AG. Whether a devout Muslim who interrupts the business of government five times a day to pray towards Mecca, consults an Imam and whose family is teaching its children Arabic so they can read the Koran in its original form, can ever be generally accepted as Fijian prime minister. It is not a question of religious tolerance but political reality. If one accepts the dictum that politics is the art of the possible, is it possible for Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum to win an election at the head of a mainstream party in a Christian and Hindu dominant Fiji? If the rumours are true, Frank Bainimarama may be about to test that proposition. Truly a crash through or crash proposition of epic proportions.
I personally don’t have a problem with the AG as PM on religious grounds. In fact, I have already recounted the story of how I told his father, Sayed, in 2012 that I one day hoped that his son could be prime minister. But that was before I experienced the hubris, arrogance, nepotism, cronyism, tribalism, vindictiveness and ruthlessness on the AG’s part that I witnessed at first hand for the best part of six years and eventually convinced me of his unsuitability to lead. His assault on the integrity of Fiji’s institutions of state – that began long before last week and his been endorsed by his patron, Frank Bainimarama – is merely the final straw.
But will there be an election at all? Rumours have also surfaced that the government may use the pandemic as an excuse to defer next year’s poll, emphasising the need for continuing stability and confidence rather than the unpredictability of an on-time election that doesn’t go its way. Certain military officers close to the Prime Minister privately express the view that if the “Snake”, Rabuka, ever rears his head again, another coup is inevitable. But the Fiji of the 2020s is not the Fiji of 2006, let alone of 2000 or 1987. Young people especially are just not as acquiescent these days as their predecessors and integrated schools have made the new generation of Fijians much more homogenous. As president, Bainimarama may conceivably have the power to prorogue the parliament and reintroduce rule by decree to keep Khaiyum in office. But doing so would destroy his legacy and a great deal of community goodwill towards him.
My own view is that things have come too far for anyone to again behave so recklessly. Leaving aside the disaster of Fiji again becoming a pariah nation – succoured only by other dictatorships – the RFMF, let alone the country as a whole, would be torn apart. Another coup would inevitably be seen not as entrenching the rights of a particular community but entrenching the power and privilege of Frank Bainimarama and Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Fiji is not yet Zimbabwe even if we have begun to take the Zimbabwe road. And we are certainly not China, with a population prepared to trade democracy for prosperity and kowtow to perpetual dictatorship. Some Fijians worry that the Australian and New Zealand governments might be tempted to turn a blind eye to another coup to keep Bainimarama out of the clutches of the Chinese. But given our dependence on the goodwill of ordinary Aussies and Kiwis to resume coming when the Covid nightmare ends, it’s a fair bet that whatever their governments do, it is they – if democracy dies in Fiji – who would drive the final nail into the coffin of the economy and the future prospects of a great many young Fijians.
Sadly, the old adage that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely could have been invented for the duo of Frank Bainimarama and Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. They did some good things once. A lot of good things, in fact.
But I have never forgotten what Pio Tikoduadua – someone I have always admired and who was once also close to them – said in frustration before he defected to the opposition: “For these guys, enough is never enough”. Sa dina sara ga. How true. The increasing petulance of both men as the public mood turns against them and their tin ear to the concerns of the people means that as far as I am concerned at least, their time is up. After 15 years in power, there’s a famous phrase used in the British Parliament in 1939 that applies as much to Bainimarama and Khaiyum as it did to the besieged Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, after his policy of appeasing Hitler failed: ”You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. In the name of God, go!”
NIL EXPERIENCE: Aiyaz Khaiyum's nephew MOHAMMED SANEEM was appointed Supervisor of Elections in 2014 when he had no experience at all. Khaiyum: 'New Zealand and Australia told me to give job to Saneem'
Fijileaks to Bainimarama: So, you and your FFP were elected in 2014/2018 under the electoral supervision of Saneem who did NOT have the qualifications nor had he applied for the position of the Supervision of Elections; and now his CONTRACT has been extended for another FIVE YEARS. And you have the gall to tell Prasad to play straight ball
WALKING ON EGG SHELLS: Can FRANK Bainimarama tell us why he, as Immigration Minister, let 49 BANGLADESHI NATIONALS into Fiji to PICK EGGS at the Ram Sami poultry farm? Is it because the Samis donated $30,000 to FFP? Can't FIJIANS do egg collecting? Bangladeshi nationals are also employed by Khaiyum's contractor, Tulsi Construction, another DONOR to FFP, who should be charged by FICAC for double donating to FFP
SHOCKING: Fiji Human Rights director ASHWIN RAJ was very swift to run and take up the Bangladeshi nationals plight (standing with them) but we are still waiting for him to make a statement on the deportation of the Ahluwalias. He says he is still waiting for details from the FFP government.
Fijileaks: In the appointment of Professor Biman Prasad's wife Dr Rajni Chand, proper processes were followed by USP. In Saneem's case, Khaiyum appointed his nephew despite Saneem not even having applied for the job.
"He [Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum] said they received 13 applications for this position, where three applications were from Fijians, 10 from foreigners while one application was withdrawn. Sayed-Khaiyum says however none of the 13 applications met the criteria set out. He said upon recommendation from New Zealand and Australia Mohammad Saneem was announced the Supervisor of Elections. Saneem will be resigning from the judiciary this afternoon and will start working as the Supervisor of Elections from Monday." - Fijivillage, 2014
"Saneem will be resigning from the judiciary this afternoon and will start working as the Supervisor of Elections from Monday."
RESIGN: Now, Bainimarama wants Professor Biman Prasad to ask his wife Dr Rajni Chand to resign as Director of Centre for Flexible Learning. “Everyone knows his wife has nil experience in that post" - Bainimarama
Fijileaks: What qualification did Frank Bainimarama have after seizing power in 2006 from the SDL-FLP government to RUN FIJI? Zilch- ZERO
Incidentally, before Bainimarama was recruited into the Navy in 1975, he was the “velovelo” boy for the coastal cutter “MV Maroro" skippered and owned by Captain Sam Brown (a friend of his dad from the days of nuclear testing by the UK Government over Xmas Island) which plied the waters off the Yasawas and Mamanuthas. When Captain Brown was appointed Commander of the Fiji Navy in 1975, he recruited his "velovelo boy" into his Navy as well but because he obviously lacked requisite qualifications for entry into any recognized naval academy in NZ, Australia, and UK, he was then sent for a 6 months stint with Dictator General Pinochet’s Navy in Chile. He served on the Esmeralda – The Ship of Death. The above Chilean Navy ship has a brutal and bloody terrifying history. In 1973, in the aftermath of a bloody coup, supported by business leaders and the CIA, against the democratically elected government of President Salvador Allende, the Chilean Navy helped the new military junta led by General Augusto Pinochet, to be used as a prison and torture chamber. The former Mayor of Valparaiso, where the ship was stationed, described being tied to one of the ship’s masts and subjected repeatedly to electric shock. “I couldn't sleep for six days because they woke me up every six minutes, night and day,” he said. “We could hear how the others were tortured right where we were.”
Bainimarama: "Again I can’t figure out why Biman is always attacking the military. Maybe in 1987, somebody from the Force gave him a clip in the ear ". In the aftermath of 2006 coup Bainimarama regularly, brutally, and violently, began "clipping" opponents around "ears"
"He began life as an ordinary midshipman on a paltry pay in 1975 but after his 2006 treasonous coup ordered Warrant Officer J. Degei, a low ranking officer in the military and the RFMF’s chief clerk, to hand over to him a cheque of $184,740. In total the military leader and self-appointed Prime Minister stole a whooping $205,147.29 from the taxpayers of Fiji under the guise of leave pay and other payments he claimed was due him for thirty years."
"Everyone knows his wife has nil experience in that post. As per USP policy the post should have been advertised internationally. But that was never done. It was done locally to suit Biman’s wife. And the sad thing is someone even went to the extent of trying to justify her appointment by saying the immigration would not allow anyone from overseas to take the post. They think we’re a bunch of kids...He [Prasad] is endorsing corruption by letting his wife continue in that post."
Fijileaks: What qualification did Frank Bainimarama have after seizing power in 2006 from the SDL-FLP government to RUN FIJI? Zilch- ZERO. What qualifications does AIYAZ KHAIYUM have to run several Ministries?
"Again I can’t figure out why Biman is always attacking the military. Maybe in 1987, somebody from the Force gave him a clip in the ear "
Fijileaks: We don't know the answer but maybe one needs to know
what GDP stands for, otherwise Fiji will have billions in DEBT. Bainimarama is yet to admit or deny that he and his military officers CLIPPED trade unionist FELIX ANTHONY'S eardrums, resulting in serious injuries - that was after he treasonously seized power at gunpoint
The anger regarding unemployment led to charges of nepotism against the Bainimarama clan by Truth for Fiji website, 15 July 2014
CHAUDHRY TO BAINIMARAMA: "STOP living in a FOOL'S PARADISE"
FLEXING HIS LOOSE TONGUE: Bainimarama claims NFP leader Biman Prasad became 'parley, parley' with deported Pal Ahluwalia to get wife Dr Rajni Chand appointed new Director for the Centre of Flexible Learning
Professor Prasad says his wife is a highly qualified woman in her own right who is smashing glass ceilings as a beacon for other young women. He adds that Dr Chand has always believed in and promoted meritocracy and earned her new appointment on merit. The NFP Leader says the party considers Bainimarama’s comments as misogynistic
“I want to say that Biman had an agenda. He stuck with Ahluwalia when he came in. I understand the interview that was done, with Ahluwalia to bring him as VC, he answered all the right questions. Until he got in and he started to divert from what he was supposed to do because Biman – Biman stuck with him from the beginning because Biman had two agendas. One was to attack Professor Rajendra (Rajesh Chandra) and he attacked Professor Rajendra, and the other one, he stuck up to Ahluwalia so that his wife can get that post.” - Frank Bainimarama
From Fijileaks Archive, 22 April 2016