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Award for excellence – and yet deaths in custody

October 21, 2014

Incompetency awarded:

Two of the country’s most incompetent agencies have been singled out for their so-called ‘excellent’ service.

And yet both have been involved in ugly and controversial beatings of Fiji citizens, including prison escapees, some of whom have lost limbs or who’ve died in custody as recently as August.
The government run Corrections Services and Fiji Police have been recognised for their service to the community, while ironically the recent death of Vikilesa Soko is being investigated, and other cases remain ‘unsolved’ or closed.

Torture of Benedito and another prisoner.

Both Corrections and Police have had poor public relations records in recent years, with cases such as that of Iowane Benedito going uninvestigated despite the perpetrators being identified.

Now, with Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority (FIRCA), Fiji Corrections has taken the 2014 Excellence (SEA) Prime Minister’s award, with Fiji Police being named in the Service Excellence Award – along with a number of government departments including the Prime Ministers Office and the Ministry of Information.

FIRCA, too, has had a questionable role in some of the fraud and corruption cases brought against Fiji citizens, working hand in glove with FICAC to pursue targets generally accepted as reflecting biases and the settling of old scores.

The awards seem to have been given out indiscriminately with almost every government agency and Ministry being rated. One has to ask: how believable is that?

2014 Service Excellence Commitment Award

‘Traumatic’ injuries: Soko’s report talks of assault.
Lost limb: Escaped prisoner.

Fiji Sports Council, Ministry of Rural & Maritime Development & National Disaster Management, Ministry of Justice

2014 Service Excellence Achievement Award
Office of the President, Judicial Dept, Ministry of Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics, Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Ministry of Local Govt, Housing and Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Information Technology Services, Ministry of Public Enterprises, Ministry of Sugar Industry, iTaukei Affairs Board, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Immigration, National Security and Defence

2014 Service Excellence Award
Office of the Prime Minister, Office of the Auditor General, Public Service Commission, Ministry of Employment, Productivity & Industrial Relations, Ministry of Fisheries and Forests, Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

source – c4.5; Posted by Rusi Varani for SWM

Nawaikula fights back on ‘out of context coup threat’

October 19, 2014

“Bainimarama must understand he is now a Prime Minister, not a Dictator with a mandate to govern, he must exercise his powers with humility, respect and accountability”

Nawaikula: Bainimarama is fear mongering

Quick and sharp response today from Opposition member, Niko Nawaikula, after Frank Bainimarama accused him of threatening to carry out a coup.

Bainimarama was quoted in the Fiji Sun as saying Naiwaikula had threatened in his maiden speech that if the Constitution was not amended it would be Parliament’s invitation to another coup.

In a veiled threat, he went on to say government, RFMF and police were working in unison and would stop any attempted coup.

Nawaikula was quick to front the claims and the ‘alleged threats against him’ saying he had said nothing of the sort.

“…. Prime Minister Bainimarama and the Fiji Sun would do well to read the context in which I referred to coups in the Hansard – if they had, they would realize that their claims that I ‘threatened a coup‘ were not only baseless, but deliberately distorted to ‘sensationalize’ the issue for their own benefit of fear mongering.”

Nawaikula said his reference to coups was in relation to his remarks on ‘True Democracy’ where he said, quote:

“True Democracy will only be achieved by a Constitution that contains the following essential elements:

1) It is the common will of the population;
2) It guarantees the rights of all citizens, and by that I mean, individual fundamental rights, indigenous group rights, minority rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights and all the other rights that are now established by UN Convention;
3) It provides within its mechanism a clear separation of powers; and
4) It must also provide within it a provision that guarantees accountability, transparency and good governance.

“I will be so bold as to say that the sooner we convene a commission to look into and extract from all previous Constitutional documents, the good they have in them, combining them all into one that we all agree with containing those essential elements, the better it will be for us.

“Not doing so will be an invitation for another coup because we have shown by the very way that we have been voting since 1987, that a coup is a legitimate way to change things. Unquote.”

Nawaikula went to say : “This is clearly recorded in the Hansard records. Nowhere in that statement do I threaten a coup!”

He added: “The fact is, the Prime Minister and his side of the House and the 2013 Constitution are themselves the end product of the coups I referred to as the way we have been changing our political direction since 1987.This is a fact. Plain and simple.

“By threatening me as he did, the Prime Minister himself is mocking the 2013 Constitution because he shows no respect or regard for my freedom of speech, expression and publication as stated in the Bill of Rights Sec 17, and my freedom of conscience and belief as stated in Sec 22.

“The Honourable Bainimarama must understand that he is now a Prime Minister, not a Dictator with a mandate to govern, he must exercise his powers with humility, respect and accountability and that includes allowing others to freely express their view and he must protect their right to do so.”

source – c4.5; Posted by Rusi Varani for SWM

Authorities forced to respond to Ebola concerns

October 19, 2014

Fiji police: due home from Liberia.

Is Fiji ready for the Ebola epidemic?

The question is a fair one but not one Parliament is ready for – or wants to discuss.

An urgent question was filed yesterday by Fiji’s Opposition member, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, but it was rejected by the Speaker.

Lalabalavu

The epidemic is sweeping several West African countries, with new cases reported in the U.S. and Spain and Germany but there have been no reports of the virus in Fiji or anywhere near the Pacific.

Fiji police, however, are stationed as part of the United Nations peace keeping mission in Liberia, one of the hot spots for Ebola.

Fiji has now been forced to respond with the Assistant Health Minister, Veena Bhatnagar, saying safety measures have been put into place.

She says the Ministry mobilised a taskforce early in August so safety precautions are already in place .

“This multiagency technical advisory group which consisted of advisers from within the ministry, WHO, Defence Ministry, Foreign Affairs, Ports Authority of Fiji and most recently AFL have mobilised preparations at the boarders and hospitals in preparedness of any arrival from an Ebola affected country.”

But she also says measures are being stepped up with  training and workshops being held next week for health professionals.

Lalabalavu’s urgent question stated that:

Given the potential of the epidemic to worsen before it is expected to be brought under control, can the Minister for Health please inform the House on the following:

• Does the Ministry have in place any plans to create public awareness about the Ebola virus and what can be done to prevent it?

• What plans do we have to effectively isolate any suspect cases

• Has the Ministry started any training of Health personnel to handle cases while maintaining their own safety

• Do these plans include the establishment of an Ebola testing laboratory to enable quick results?

• Have our Border officials and airline personnel been briefed on this Virus and are they ready to conduct proper screening of visitors and returning residents?

• What plans have we got in place for screening our Police contingent when they return from Liberia which is the centre of the Ebola epidemic.

Fiji police have also undertaken not to send replacements to Liberia.

The Fiji Times quotes police spokesperson, Ana Naisoro, as saying the first lot of officers is expected back at the end of next month and the rest in May next year.

Last month the Health Ministry said the chances of Ebola entering the country were low but conceded if it did, it would be via an infected traveller.

source – c4.5; posted by Rusi Varani for SWM

MPs use maiden speech to target Constitution

October 19, 2014

Early days yet but the maiden speeches give some idea of who to watch.

SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula twisted the tiger’s tail with his comment the 2013 Constitution did not have the people’s mandate and that the best parts should be extracted and the rest discarded.

Niko Nawaikula

“The question I ask Madam Speaker is, Is the 2013 Constitution the People’s will? The straight answer is, it is not and this has been imposed on us.”

The lawyer was reprimanded several times by the speaker for saying the Constitution was an interim measure only as Fiji morphs and seeks to achieve true democracy.

He said a true Constitution reflected the spirit of the people.

“It is common will of the population,” said Nawaikula. “It guarantees the rights of all its citizens and by that I mean individual or fundamental Rights, indigenous group rights, Minority rights, Worker’s rights, women’s rights and all other rights that are now established by the UN convention.

“It provides within it mechanisms that provides a clear

Mosese Bulitavu

separation of power, and it provides within it provisions that guarantees accountability, transparencies and good governance.”

The leader of the Opposition, Ro Teimumu Kepa, also focused on the Constitution saying the history of the Deed of Cession wasn’t even mentioned in it.

source – c4.5; posted by Rusi Varani for SWM

Bainimarama slaps photographer at Fiji Day event

October 19, 2014

Prime minister by title but thug by nature.

A second citizen has been attacked by Frank Bainimarama -

Earlier incident: Bilitaki beaten.

a photographer who was slapped across the face after being ordered to stop taking pictures.

The incident happened on Friday evening at Government House during the Fiji Day cocktails and was witnessed by at least two people.

Witnesses say the newly-elected Fiji First leader slapped the photographer, who is believed to work for the Ministry of Information or the Corrections Services, and swore at him because he didn’t wanted pictures taken of him and his family.

Injuries documented: Investigation underway.

The incident occurred at about 11.30pm.

The 2006 coup leader also ordered youth who were at the event to leave.

Bainimarama told them: “Raica dou kua tiko ni veitaba, dou vinakata meu cemuri kemudou ike” meaning “Look, don’t take photos or I will chase you out of here.”

Source – C4.5; Posted by Rusi Varani for SWM

Ructions already with albatross MPs slapped down

October 19, 2014

Ructions within the ranks already with reports Frank Bainimarama is unhappy with Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum’s ministerial appointments and ministers already talking about a major reshuffle because some of their appointed colleagues are not even capable of public speaking.

He’s been warned not to make any announcements without consulting Khaiyum and told there will be no elections in towns or cities. Parveen Bala, whose is due to answer to the charge of death by dangerous driving, is proving to be the predicted albatross for Fiji First and has been growled at for announcing municipal elections just after being sworn in.

 
Womens Minister Rosy Akbar has also been told off for saying women are lazy and need to work hard to get out of poverty.
Veena Bhatnagar, the assistant minister of health, has been dubbed ‘the biggest joke of the Health Ministry’ after Neil Sharma was sidelined because of corruption allegations.

The budget is expected to be announced in the last week of November – and will be the first test for the Opposition parties: while they can’t bring a vote of no confidence against Fiji First, if 9 Fiji First MPs join the 88 opposition MPs in voting against the budget, the president will have to dissolve Parliament and call for fresh elections.

A restructure has meanwhile been announced for the fuel industry to allow fuel to be bought directly.

Who is likely to benefit? Tappoos, who run the mobile service stations, of course!

The bigger question is: can they survive and their companies and branches in Fiji survive against oil giants BP, Mobil, Shell in the global market?

According to a preliminary analysis, almost 7000 will be out of jobs should this happen.

Another bigger reform is tipped for the civil service as Fiji First seeks to reduce civil servants by 6000 by 2016 leaving 40,000 lives affected.

Editor’s Note: Wadan Narsey’s take on a New Catastrophic Risk to Fijian sovereignty

He points out that Fiji First Party is a dictatorship of two without any internal democracy, so FFP Cabinet Ministers and backbenchers will follow orders blindly, even if questionable on professional and ethical grounds. Professor Wadan Narsey argues that if everyone in Fiji follows the Adam Smith economic model of looking after their own selfish interests, then the political result may be a loss of Fijian sovereignty.

Civil servants have also been totally intimidated and follow orders blindly.

The evidence is the circumvention of all our environmental laws, without accountability. New foreign investors will be even more powerful and possibly totally control a government, with all being made by Bainimarama and Khaiyum, not other FFP Ministers.

Parliament is likely to be totally ineffective as the rules have already been set.  Civil society organisations are powerless to protest, professional organisations of accountants and lawyers have capitulated to the Bainimarama Regime without a fight.

The few brave ones in SODELPA have not received the public support they need from Fijian intellectuals.  “Business as usual” will see a possibly irreversible erosion of Fijian sovereignty. There is a critical need for intellectual Fijian bati.”

 

source – c4.5; posted by Rusi Varani for SWM

October 4, 2014

Silence no more

Timoci Vula And Shalveen Chand
Saturday, October 04, 2014

A RETIRED teacher who made headlines in the past two days over allegations that he was arrested and assaulted has finally broken his silence.

In a signed statement sent to this newspaper yesterday, Josefa Bilitaki, 60, related last Friday night’s visit by a group of officers at his Qauia home in Lami, and the events leading up to his hospitalisation at the CWM Hospital in Suva.

In his letter, Mr Bilitaki also confirmed the Commissioner of Police Ben Groenewald visited him at the hospital on October 1 and assured him of police protection.

On September 26, Mr Bilitaki said he awoke about 10pm when a policeman told him that some officers were outside to take him to the “station” over text messages he allegedly sent out earlier that day. He said he could not recall what he did or said and regrets his actions.

He claimed there were four officers, and he claimed the police officer who accompanied them told one of his daughters they were military intelligence officers.

“I got dressed and they brought me to a place I do not recall as I was very frightened. There were four trucks (twin cabs). They parked and asked me to come out. They ordered me to board another vehicle where I was told to get into the back seat,” Mr Bilitaki claimed in the letter.

He claimed he was later assaulted.

He said the officers then took him to Totogo Police Station where he was locked up in a cell.

He claimed police officers were concerned about his condition.

Mr Bilitaki claimed on Saturday afternoon, he was feeling weak and requested to be taken to the hospital where medical officers took his blood pressure and ECG, and administered medical treatment for five hours before he was admitted to the Paying Ward.

He claimed he was never interviewed by police nor had been asked to give a statement.

However, Mr Bilitaki said: “He (Mr Groenewald) assured me that the police will do everything in their powers to protect my life and asked me to get better and not to worry about anything. Another senior officer was with him, witnessed by my two daughters – Dominika and Vasemaca Bilitaki.”

When contacted, Mr Groenewald said all comments regarding this matter would be made after the investigation has concluded and a report submitted to the Defence Minister.

Section 17(c) of the Public Order Act allows a member of the RFMF to perform all or any of the duties and functions of a prisons officer or police officer at the request of or with the concurrence of the Commissioner of Police.

 

 

Source – The Fiji Times; Posted by Rusi Varani for SWM

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