12 November 2015: ABC News Pacific Beat – Fiji’s installation of military leader as acting police commissioner ‘reflects post-coup era’

“Jenny Hayward-Jones, director of the Melanesia Program at the Lowy Institute, says these latest developments show Fiji still has a long way to go in proving its democratic credentials.

She says installing Colonel Qiliho as acting police commissioner is a reminder of the post-coup era, when military officials often took senior positions in the police.”

Listen to interview here.

Lowy

 

 

 

12 November 2015: ABC News Pacific Beat – Fiji draws international criticism for treatment of Police Commissioner

The resignation of Fiji’s former Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald has been met with disappointment overseas.

Amnesty International is calling on the Fiji government to ensure that the good work Mr Groenewald has done so far goes on.

As well as disappointment over the departure of Mr Groenewald, there’s been concern expressed about his replacement being a senior military officer.

Listen to interview here.

amnesty

11 November 2015: Fiji One News – Groenewald confirms outside interference

“DPP has decided to charge 3 police officers and 2 military people we had numerous problems in getting one of the suspects behind bars because they were harboring him, and they didn’t want to release him.To me that was straightforward preventing the course of justice and I was not satisfied and could not get satisfaction from any of the officers”

Groenewald though declining to clarify further said there were also other reasons for his resignation.

“There were other reasons also , I am packing and I will be leaving as soon as possible”.

Read more here.

PolCom 3

11 November 2015: ABC Pacific Beat – Fiji opposition party disturbed at resignation of top cop

Listen here.

Transcript of interview. Please check against audio:

“NFP Leader: It didn’t have to be like that and I think what it does is it leaves a lot of questions with respect to the process and the transparency in the whole process and Bruce with your interview with him, Commissioner Groenewald has clearly said that obviously he didn’t like the interference of the military in the way he was running the Police Force — and that too is of serious concern and I think Government would have to do better, to explain clearly what happened because the public is entitled to know that, and understand why such an abrupt end to his term.

Pacific Beat: The Fiji Government issued a press release saying that he was leaving for personal and family reasons.

NFP Leader: That’s not what the Police Commissioner is saying to you Bruce so obviously there is more than what’s in the press release and I think its incumbent upon the Government to come out very clearly and explain to the People of this country why this very abrupt action by the Government and it also raises other questions in relation to the appointment of the Acting Commissioner of Police who is a senior military officer, when there are several senior police officers in the cadre who could have easily been appointed as Acting Commissioner of Police. So I think the Constitutional Commission will have to come out clearly and tell the people of this country whether proper processes are being followed in these constitutional appointments by an independent Commission.

Pacific Beat: Do you have concerns about the appointment as Acting Police Commissioner, of a very senior military officer?

NFP Leader: It’s an issue that needs to be looked at because I think the expectation in any situation like this would have been that somebody from the Police Force would be Acting. Obviously this appointment is not reflective of that and so questions will have to be asked about that as well.

Pacific Beat: Is this purely an internal issue for Fiji to sort out, or is this something that say Aid partners like Australia and New Zealand should have some sort of role in?

NFP Leader: The Opposition, and I have said this very clearly since the election last year that Fiji has a long way to go to bring about genuine democracy, to bring about genuine reforms in the independent institutions of the State which were destroyed during the military rule and all these actions and events do not give any confidence to us, at least here in Fiji and who are in Parliament, that the Government is adhering to its own rules and the Constitution and making decisions in a transparent, open and an accountable manner. Those principles are fundamental to any genuine democracy and I think the international community which has come on board to support Fiji after the general elections will definitely have to take note of these incidents and these decisions that are being taken by Government, and whether Government is genuinely moving towards achieving genuine democracy or is it just rhetoric that it puts out to the international community and to our development partners.

Pacific Beat: The reason for Mr. Groenewald’s departure, that he was upset about military involvement in policing is being carried on the ABC in Australia, on Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand but so far at the time of this interview on Wednesday afternoon Fiji time, not a single Fiji media outlet has actually run that. They’re simply running the Government press statement.

NFP Leader: Well Bruce, you know this very well that under the draconian media decree, the media is under strict control and obviously there are certain media organisations which would never run any story contrary to what the Government say’s and that is really an unfortunate part of our so-called democracy at the moment and so its not surprising that Fiji media has not covered any of those comments that has been made by the former Commissioner to Radio Australia.”

 

NFP - PolCom

10 November 2015: Diwali Message

The virtues of Lord Rama and the significance of Diwali are extremely relevant in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural country like Fiji, especially when we are transiting to democracy after 8 years of dictatorship, which supposedly ended following general elections in September last year.

The celebration of Diwali lays a strong foundation of self-dignity and the virtues of respect and tolerance to future generations

Diwali is the Festival of Lights. It is a time of rejoicing with family and friends. It is also a time for prayer and reflection about those less fortunate.

The lighting of the traditional lamp, Diya, symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and most importantly, truth over evil.

The light from the Diya re-commits all of us to bring light to any place facing darkness. Hindus are very resilient and draw strength from their faith and a sense of solidarity in times of adversity.

The return of Lord Rama after 14 years in exile is a triumphant occasion. Lord Rama is the embodiment of truth, justice, righteousness, honesty, integrity and humility. These are fundamental principles that we should all espouse.

The high cost of living, the decline of the sugar industry, the devastating effects of the drought, rising unemployment, derogations in the Bill of Rights of the 2013 Constitution, regressive and draconian decrees, a regulated media and the deteriorating health system and medical services are fundamental problems that can only be resolved by a display of sound and sensible leadership.

To ignore these fundamental problems would be doing so at our own peril. In Fiji, calling everyone Fijians and saying they enjoy common and equal citizenry doesn’t guarantee fundamental freedoms like freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of the media. It does not guarantee job opportunities based on meritocracy, rendering common and equal citizenry meaningless.

These are the challenges we face as a community and as a nation, which unfortunately are not highlighted by the media. This reality may not be grasped by many of you simply because limitations in the Constitution and continuation of regressive Decrees that dilute provisions in the Bill of Rights, resulting in the inability of the media to disseminate such information.

As a party born out of the struggle for dignity and justice of all our people, the NFP will continue the struggle for the triumph of truth over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance so that our beloved nation once again becomes a beacon of hope and trust.

We sincerely wish the people of Fiji a blessed Diwali.
Hon Prof Biman Prasad
NFP Leader

06 November 2015: Excerpts from the Fiji Budget 2016

Excerpts from the 2016 Budget Estimates. Only 55 or 75 (depending on who you ask) printed copies are available in the whole of Fiji and the Ministry of Finance is apparently reprinting extra’s.

Assurances have been made that they will be made available online for downloading via: http://www.finance.gov.fj/s/government-budget.html

but as at 5.00pm today the screenshot of the Ministry of Finance web-site still only has the 2015 budget documents.

Edit as at 6:15pm: 

The 2016 Budget Estimates and the Budget Estimates are available for download here: http://www.fiji.gov.fj/Budget/2016.aspx

The e-version of the Supplement to the Budget Estimates are still not available for download.

 

budget 1 budget 2 budget 3 budget 4 budget 5

05 November 2015: Fiji Times – FICTU steadfast

FICTU steadfast
Siteri Sauvakacolo
Thursday, November 05, 2015

THE Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions (FICTU) has remained steadfast preferring not to sign the tripartite agreement believing it will be a gross injustice to workers in the country.

FICTU, which has 20 affiliates, said it would await the decision of the International Labour Organization, which meets on November 11.

FICTU general secretary Attar Singh said it was important for the Fijian people to note that the tripartite agreement, which they did not sign, did not include two of the key issues the ILO Committee of Experts had noted.

“One is that the Political Party Decree of 2012 restricts freedom of trade unionists and trade union employees in political party activity, secondly, the committee of experts has pointed out that the 2013 Constitution although it was in its draft format at that time has caveats on freedom of association which are to do with workers’ rights,” Mr Singh said.

“That agreement is a sellout, not only that, that agreement is ambiguous.”

Mr Singh said they had demanded in the Employment Relations Advisory Board meeting last month that they would only sign once proposals to these amendments were made.

“We cannot allow and we will not sign an agreement that does not say anything about amendment to what we had required because we have a duty to the future generation of workers,” Mr Singh explained.

FICTU in its letter to the ILO director general said over the three days of the Employment Relations Advisory board meeting in Suva last month, they had argued that their proposed amendments if included in the Joint Implementation Report would satisfy them and would go a long way to settle the issues in dispute.

The letter stated Government had rejected their proposals and instead made only minor and insignificant changes to the proposed JIR.

The letter outlined that FICTU’S key concerns remain unresolved and would not be resolved by the JIR signed only by the Government and employers representatives.

One of the recommendations of the ILO earlier this year, was for the parties — Government, employers and union to work together in signing an implementation report, which did not eventuate failing to meet deadline of October 15.

Employment Minister Semi Koroilavesau said he respected FICTU’S stand on the issue.

“FICTU’S views is totally different from FTUC because he (Mr Singh) believes there are already a lot of issues that were supposed to be addressed but then the FTUC has a different position to FICTU,” Mr Koroilavesau said.

“I respect their decision and it is my job to try and work with all parties and make sure that all parties are happy so in that decision we will come back from Geneva and try and work it out for him.”

FICTU

 

 

05 November 2015: Fiji Times – PSC job cuts

Your taxes will be used to create added unemployment in this reform of the whole public service sector. Note that this number is for PSC alone at this stage.

“A REVIEW of the Public Service Commission is expected to affect at least 120 workers, who may have to look for jobs elsewhere.”

Read more here, or even better buy the paper.

PSC job cuts
Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari
Thursday, November 05, 2015

A REVIEW of the Public Service Commission is expected to affect at least 120 workers, who may have to look for jobs elsewhere.

Some workers have confirmed receiving letters last week on the decision by Government.

The Fiji Public Service Association said it was also informed of the restructure and review through a letter from the PSC Permanent Secretary, Parmesh Chand, on October 29.

FPSA general secretary, Rajeshwar Singh said the letter explained the review.

He said the Government had determined the PSC functions were not required and did not meet the provisions of the Constitution.

Instead, a new Ministry of Civil Service, with different functions specifically tailored to supporting devolution would be created from January 1 next year.

Mr Singh said the letter also stated the Government’s intention to maintain employment where possible including the possibility of transferring some functions to other ministries. For these functions, staff members will transfer with their positions.

A Transition Unit is also being established in the new Ministry of Civil Service to manage the transition of functions and staff members.

Staff members not transferred with their current functions to another ministry will move to the unit from January 1, 2016.

Staff members whose contracts end during 2016 will remain in the Transition Unit until the end of their contracts or when they secure a job in another ministry.

Those whose contracts end after December 2016 have been advised their contracts would be cancelled with effect from February 29, 2016 if they had not secured employment by then.

It is understood that all ministries were asked to compile a list of vacancies suitable for the PSC staff members.

 

 

FT headline