Fiji

I tried, I really did, but couldn’t find a single road block, goon squad or government censor anywhere

The Grand Pacific Hotel, redeveloped and open for business

The Grand Pacific Hotel, redeveloped and open for business         Photo/ CamSlater, Whaleoil Media

I have spent three days in Fiji, a short trip transiting onto my next destination.

After my interview with Frank Bainimarama I received emails, threats, and comments that basically said that I didn’t know what I was talking about. That Suva wasn’t safe, that there were government goon squads roaming the city setting dogs onto people and breaking up groups of 5  or more, and that the media were muzzled by government censors, not to mention the road blocks and general intimidation and subjugation of the general population at the point of a gun. In fact I never saw a gun, at all, and trust me as someone who is interested in such things I was looking.

Well, I can tell you that despite asking and looking for all of these things that we have been told exists by the disaffected and the complicit media in New Zealand, I could find none of those things.

I went to several press conferences where media turned up, asked questions, received answers all without any Police or Army people present.   Read more »

Dodgy ratbag unionists same the world over, this time in Fiji

Felix Anthony, a trade union boss, who has troughed it up large at the expense of Fijian taxpayers has been busted.

Felix Anthony was paid more than $160,000 over three years as a board member of the Fiji National Provident Fund.

The amount also included the fees the then Fiji Trades Union Congress general secretary and now leader of the People’s Democratic Party received for sitting on the boards of FNPF’s subsidiary companies.

Mr Anthony was asked during FBC’s 4 The Record television programme on Sunday about the amount.

He replied: “I don’t recall the exact amount.”    Read more »

Barry Soper locked out from last nights debate, and not at all happy about it

Last night a WOBH camera operator was in attendance at the farce of a debate in Helensville electorate.

He was able to capture the displeasure exhibited by NewstalkZB journalist Barry Soper as he sought entry to the hall.

Note that Patrick Gower seemed able to saunter through the rather aggressive door security.

Soper was undeterred and unleashed that little Rottweiler that still lives inside himself.

Eventually the PM’s handlers arranged to assist him through the door.

Read more »

Will Fiji’s elections be free & fair?

Mohammed-Saneem

Supervisor of Elections at Fiji Elections Office, Mohammed Saneem Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

I am in Suva at the moment investigating Fiji’s path to democracy.

Today I visited the Fiji Elections Office, their Electoral Commission, and had an in-depth discussion with the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem.

My questions and discussion focused on whether or not Fiji would be having free and fair elections on September 17.

In past elections there have been several incidences of vote tampering, ballot box stacking and in one particular example more votes cast than registered electors in a constituency.

Despite international observers in the past declaring elections free and fair it is obvious to all that Fiji’s past elections have been far from that.

Independence of Fiji Elections Office

The Fiji Elections Office is independent, just like New Zealand’s Electoral Commission. They are charged with overseeing the election and electoral law, which at present is by decree, but it is the law nonetheless.

I spent quite a bit of time understanding their voting processes and there are some quite innovative techniques they are utilising to combat voter fraud and vote rigging.

Voter Registration

The first step has been a comprehensive voter education and registration process that has been running for two years. Registered voters have a voter id card, this is not at all like the Easy Vote card that is so easily rorted in NZ.  The Fijian voter registration card is a photo id, it also contains biometric data (fingerprints) which require a match of at least 8 points.

The Fijian registered voters carry these cards everywhere. When I asked my cab diver last night, when I arrived in Suva, if he was registered to vote, he reached into his pocket and flourished it with obvious pride. Everyone eligible and registered to vote has one of these and a random sample on the streets shows that everyone without fail carries it. What this means is that only registered voters will be able to vote, and they require the photo and biometric identification in order to vote. This is a significant advancement over our voter registration processes in NZ. I should know as I have just watched my 18 year old son register to vote in NZ and our processes are farcical to say the least compared to what Fiji has initiated.    Read more »

EXCLUSIVE: An interview with Frank Bainimarama

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Photo/ Whaleoil Media, Steve Cook

On Saturday morning I was invited to an interview with Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

Other NZ media other than Venkat Raman from Indian NewsLink were refused interviews.

I was free to ask anything and everything in a wide ranging interview. Some of the insights are very interesting. For reader who don’t know, I was born in Fiji, I am a Kaiviti.

My apologies in advance for the audio, I was using borrowed equipment and lacked a proper mic (which is now on my shopping list)

Read more »

1000 vs 20, so what does Michael Field focus on?

Yesterday over a thousand people turned out to hear what Frank Bainimarama had to say at a public meeting in South Auckland.

Michael Field, enraged by not being granted an interview has decided to focus, not on the large turnout of people who want to listen and learn, but rather on the pathetic group of around 20 disaffected loons that he gets most of his stories from.

Around a thousand people greeted Fiji’s military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama in Auckland today, but his rally was peppered with barracking and jeers at times.

Bainimarama, who overthrew a democratic government in 2006, is in New Zealand on a tourist visa to campaign ahead of elections on September 17.

Speaking to the predominantly Indo-Fijian audience, he stressed that under his military dictatorship he had instituted a rule that was not based on race.

Unlike previous elections, voters will not be categorised by race. Instead, everybody’s vote would be equal, he said.

Around 56 per cent of the 838,000 people of Fiji are indigenous and 37 per cent Indian, descendants of indentured labourers imported by the colonial British.

Around 20 protesters marched to the Manukau Event Centre and while security kept them out of the grounds, a number of loud critics called out abuse during the meeting.

“I have been told not to worry about the devils,” Bainimarama told the audience.    Read more »

Bitter media & apologists for old corrupt regime continue to lie about Fiji

The bitter media, upset at not gaining any interviews with Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama are intent on fomenting anger where none actually exists.

The presence of Fiji’s interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama in Auckland has “disgusted” Fijians living in New Zealand.

Around 30 people holding placards and Fijian flags has marched in Manukau to the Vodafone Events Centre where Mr Bainimarama is holding a Fiji First festival to campaign for his political party ahead of elections in Fiji this year.

Protestor Shailendra Raju said it was “simply disgusting” that Mr Bainimarama was in Auckland this weekend.

“It’s mind-boggling that after all that has happened the New Zealand government is willing to facilitate this,” he said.

“I think the appeasement policy of John Key’s government has gone too far.”

He said he felt the government had “turned a blind eye” to evidence the elections in Fiji were not fair.

When the protestors arrived at the gates of the Vodafone Events Centre they were told to keep their protest to the road.

The protesters were told Mr Bainimarama hadn’t arrived yet and to keep the protest to the road.

Protestors became enraged and demanded to be let in by security.

Read more »

David Shearer dead wrong on Fiji…again

David Shearer has opened his mouth and spouted more nonsense about Fiji and human rights.

Radio New Zealand reported:

The New Zealand Labour Party says it will raise the Fiji police’s closure of an investigation into alleged beating and torture of prisoners by security personnel at the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on Thursday.

A nine-minute video released on the internet last year shows a handcuffed man being beaten with batons and metal bars by men in plain clothes with one man being set upon by a dog as its handler urges the animal on.

The Police Chief of Operations, Rusiate Tudravu, confirmed the case had been closed but declined to explain what prompted the police decision.

Labour’s spokesperson for foreign affairs, David Shearer, says the contents of the video and the closing of the case are travesties against basic human rights and action must be taken.

“It’s appalling that they’ve just closed the investigation. If the Fijians want to be seen as a democratic player in upholding human rights, these sorts of reviews need to be seen through to their conclusion, and we need to have recommendations and people brought to account.”

There is a massive problem with that story, from Shearer’s point of view and for Radio New Zealand in reporting it.

It is flat out wrong as you can see from reporting at Fiji Village.

The investigation into the alleged brutality video case has not been closed as Fiji’s Police Commissioner Major General Ben Groenewald confirmed to Fiji Village today.

The Police Commissioner has today revealed that the investigation regarding the alleged brutality video posted online remains under investigation.

Major General Ben Groenewald said earlier comments by Police that the matter was closed referred to advice from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions concerning possible charges against the person responsible for uploading the video.

He stresses that no final decision has yet been made relating to other allegations concerning the video.

Groenewald said once the investigation is complete the file will be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a decision.

Police Chief of Operations, ACP Rusiate Tudravu had earlier said that the case is closed and he will not make any further comments.

Also what Radio New Zealand and David Shearer forget is that these ratbags who the Police apprehended had previously escaped from Suva Prison and went on a rampage robbing, assaulting and destroying property fro over a week.

They were violent thugs who caused a great deal of fear and anguish in SUva while on the run.

If they got a bit of a tickle up in the back of a ute then very few Fijians especially those in Suva would have cared very much at all.

- Radio New Zealand, Fiji Village

Thai coup, will McCully put in place sanctions like with Fiji?

The Thai military has reacted to political instability and conducted their 12th coup since 1932.

Thailand’s military seized power in a bloodless coup, dissolving the government, scrapping the constitution and dispersing groups of protesters from both sides of the country’s political divide who had gathered in Bangkok and raised fears of a violent showdown.

The powerful army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, announced the military takeover in a statement broadcast on national television.

It was followed by additional announcements including a nationwide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and an order for 18 government officials – including the ousted prime minister – to report immediately to the country’s new governing military commission.

Soldiers kept a low profile in the center of the capital. But as the curfew approached, troops diverted traffic at key intersections and used armored personnel carriers to block some main roads, including the one in front of the US Embassy.     Read more »

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NZ Aid money used to buy Cook Islands’ PM a new boat

While everyone likes to have a go at the smallest transgression in Fiji, it appears that senior politicians in the Cook Islands can funnel NZ Aid money into their own pockets and the NZ Government will turn a blind eye.

TV3’s Brigitte Masters reports:

The Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna is set to get an estimated $116,000 worth of equipment and loan funding from NZAid for his pearl farm in Manihiki, despite an apparent conflict of interest.

The payment is part of a Grant Funding Arrangement (GFA) signed between the Cook Islands and New Zealand in 2013, which gave $1.7 million to the Cook Islands as part of the Pearl Revitalisation Project.

A requirement of the GFA was that all conflicts of interest were to be declared to the New Zealand Government. However, Mr Puna’s involvement in his pearl farm was not.

So the NZ Government hands our money over to the Cook Islands’ Government and it gets funnelled into Mr Puna – nice.

According to a document supplied by the Cook Islands’ Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) in Rarotonga, Mr Puna put in a request for a $38,000 boat, an $18,000 outboard motor and $30,000 worth of building material to upgrade his seeding house.

The document shows the equipment Mr Puna requested was worth more than twice as much as that asked for by most other pearl farmers. He also requested $18,393.75 as part of an emergency float loan.

[…]   Read more »