Fiji's Family Network
This discussion is for those who are interested in new developments in Fiji, political or otherwise, as we observe how the "New Fiji Vision" by the current leaders pan out.
Administrators in Government ministries will be watched like hawks as the government attempts to prove that what was dictated to the people of Fiji and determined by only a handful prior to the last Elections, the new parliamentary system, the new Constitution, etc...etc.. was all a necessity.
Post whatever you might think will make interesting reads ......
(Include dates if possible)
The Auditor-General’s Office has misinterpreted the Constitution and acted beyond its powers granted by it, says Chief Justice Anthony Gates in correspondence sighted by theFiji Sun.
Chief Justice Gates was responding to the Auditor-General’s office seeking details about judges appointed last year.
The Office of the Auditor-General has asked the names of judges, their remuneration, recruitment procedure, interview records and vacancy advertisement details during audit.
All these records could then appear before the Public Accounts Committee and be made public, meaning everything that protects the independence of the Judiciary and Judges is being encroached upon.
Fiji Sun sighted letters written by Chief Justice Gates to the Acting Auditor-General on 24 June 2015 and 3 July 2015 questioning the Office for the need to have such information.
Chief Justice Gates made all the personal files available and included a note on the appointment procedure which is followed by the Judicial Services Commission.
He further questioned in a letter: “Could you inform me as to which of your functions this part of the audit was addressing?”
Deputy Auditor-General Atunaisa Nadakuitavuki responded June 30, saying that this was part of annual audit of the Judicial Department for 2014.
He also stated that as part of the payroll audit, they “also perform audit checks on new appointments, acting appointments, promotions and resignation which include Judges and to ensure that proper procedures were followed and correct remuneration was paid…”
This letter was received by Chief Justice Gates on July 3. He responded the same day, once again raising questions about the inquiry.
Justice Gates highlighted that Part C –Auditor-General under the heading “Functions of the Auditor-General” section 152 (1) of the Constitution, provides authority to the Office to inspect, audit and report to Parliament on:
Chief Justice Gates said: “The correctness or otherwise of solely administrative or policy decisions of Judicial Department or of the Judicial Services Commission do not come within that jurisdiction.
“Unlawful or procedurally flawed administrative decisions might perhaps be challenged in Judicial Review proceedings in the Courts.
“The recruitment and appointment of judicial officers, recruitment procedures and methodology, interview records and advertisements do not come within the jurisdiction or purview of the Auditor-General. Nor would ascertainment of the judges’ names be relevant. Such an inquiry would suggest an inquiry into policy matters.
“With respect you refer to no power in the Audit Act or in the 2013 Constitution which would override the inviolability of the Commission’s administrative and appointment functions and powers. The office of the Auditor-General is confined to the scrutiny of public accounts and an ascertainment of the proper use of public monies.
“The JSC (Judicial Services Commission) kindly requests that you confine your audit to the Constitutional role granted to your office by the Constitution. If such a wide-ranging all-encompassing an inquiry had been the practice in the past, such an audit is, with respect, beyond the powers granted by the Constitution and a misinterpretation.”
The office of the Auditor-General is yet to respond to the Chief Justice’s legal clarification.
Given the legal clarification this brings into question other audit functions therefore impacts upon queries and questions raised by the Public Accounts Committee.
It will be very interesting to see how the Office of the Auditor-General responds to the Chief Justice....
interesting indeed...we at home are very pleased/happy to see that the Opposition Party is doing what they have been paid for is to question left/right/centre of what the current government is doing...on the other hand we in the villagers/towns and cities are seeing the facts of what the government is doing ..the roads/free education/better medical facilities/more tourism than ever/we have seen increase of jobs/the sports facilities are getting better/public transport are getting better than ever/overseas business are interested to invest here/more business building/complex to be built in suva/nadi and lautoka..so far so good..thumbs up !!!
vinaka Bogirua..... not so much what the opposition is paid for, but what those who voted for them hoped they would do to implement what they believe is the right thing by one and all... but since there was zilch chance for any other political party to win the elections due to the set up and conditions of the then elections.... they now find themselves in opposition...so, .......
.... as you say, "so far so good..thumbs up!!!"
Fiji names new commander after Mosese Tikoitoga's sudden resignation
Updated 5 August 2015, 10:35 AEST
Viliame Naupoto has been appointed as Fiji's new military chief after Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga resigned only 18 months into the job.
Commodore Naupoto told Pacific Beat he would focus on developing basic military skills during his time at the helm. He said the process of depoliticising the military was underway but may take some time.
Prime minister Frank Bainimarama, a former naval officer who has twice seized power in Fiji via military coup, has been prime minister of Fiji since 2007.
"What we emphasize to our military now is that Fiji is being led by a government that has been elected by the people," Commodore Naupoto said.
"To see that our systems and processes are effective and relevant to the situation now, that's what I plan to do in the next few months."
Commodore Naupoto was allegedly involved in the beating of prisoners aboard a navy vessel during the George Speight coup of 2000 but he refused to comment.
"I think we should not live in the past, I think we should move forward," he said.
General Tikoitoga resigned as leader of the Fiji military late last week to pursue a career in the foreign service. Commodore Naupoto will remain as acting commander until a substantive appointment to the position is made.
British nuclear test victims finally receive compensation – from Fiji
Fiji pays compensation to soldiers exposed to Christmas Island nuclear test after British government refused to pay H-bomb test near Christmas Island in the 1950's, left, and the island as it looks today, right Photo: Michael Lawrie & Alamy
30 Jan 2015
Fiji closed "an unfortunate chapter" on Friday with a compensation payout to soldiers exposed to radiation during British nuclear tests in the Pacific more than 56 years ago, the prime minister said.
The payments ended decades of campaigning by veterans and their children for recognition of the serious health problems they suffered after more than 70 Fijians were stationed on Kiritimati, then known as Christmas Island, during the 1957 and 1958 tests.
The British government has refused to pay any compensation, but Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said the Pacific nation could wait no longer.
"We are righting a wrong. We are closing an unfortunate chapter in our history," Mr Bainimarama told a special ceremony recognising the suffering of the veterans.
"We are bringing justice to a brave and proud group of Fijians to whom a great injustice was done.
"Fiji is not prepared to wait for Britain to do the right thing. We owe it to these men to help them now, not wait for the British politicians and bureaucrats."
The 24 survivors who attended the ceremony each received Fiji$9,855 (£3,181) from a compensation pool of Fiji$2.95 million (£950,000).
Mr Bainimarama said it was known the veterans suffered ailments including leukaemia and other blood disorders.
Fijian personnel, unaware of the mission they were on, were deployed from the then-British colony of Fiji to Kiritimati, now part of the island nation of Kiribati, during the British tests at the height of the cold war.
"We were only told that we will go there to test some weapons, but when we got there we found out that we were brought there to be part of the British test of weapons of mass destruction," Naibuka Naicegulevu, whose job was to clean and repair vehicles on the island, told AFP.
"My two sons, now in their early 30s get sick suddenly and they can be ill for one week, sometimes more, this is all because of the radiation that we were exposed to," the 76-year-old said.
Mr Bainimarama, whose father Inoke Bainimarama led the Fijian mission, said Fiji could no longer afford to wait for Britain to take the lead on compensation.
"The ranks of these survivors are rapidly thinning. Too many men – our fellow Fijians – have gone to their graves without justice. Those who remain deserve justice and Fiji as a nation is determined for them to finally get it," he said.
Thousands of British, Australian and New Zealand veterans of the Kiritimati tests and their families have not received any compensation or special recognition.
PM: Large scale migration of Fijians to Canada a loss
Sunday, August 09, 2015
PRIME Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says the large scale migration of Fijian community to Canada has left Fiji poorer for their absence.
Speaking during the first ever Miss Canada Pageant in Canada last week Mr Bainimarama said the pageant had a bittersweet quality.
"We know why many of these beautiful young ladies are competing for the title of Miss Fiji Canada. We know why there is such a large Fijian community here in Canada," Mr Bainimarama said.
"Because many of you were told through words or threats or worse that you were not welcome in Fiji, that you did not belong in Fiji, that you were not Fijian no matter how many generations your family had lived and toiled on Fijian soil."
"Those days are behind us, thank God."
The pageant also coincided with the Canadian Fijian community's early celebration of Fiji Day and Mr Bainimarama said Fiji Day could be any day when a Fijian community joined together to celebrate their heritage and pay tribute to the nation of their birth.
"Fiji is poorer for your having left, and Canada is all the richer, rewarded for its generosity, its tolerance and its innate and very refined sense of justice and equality. Fijians have repaid their adopted country with loyalty, energy and accomplishment, as is fitting."
He said the pageant symbolises the beauty of Fiji and the spirit of our people, and the permanence of what it meant to be a Fijian.
"This event will surely reveal more than the physical beauty of these young women. It will show how the talent, intelligence and character that turn their fine physical traits into genuine beauty — the divine spark in us that makes us human. "
"We Fijians are united through our homeland and our culture. And we are especially united through our humanity.
"Fiji will always be your home. Fiji's arms will always be open. And Fiji will always be proud of who you are and what you have created here in Canada."
$74k in dishonoured cheques
Ropate Valemei | Friday, July 17, 2015
MORE than $74,000 worth of dishonoured cheques was recorded by the Auditor- General's Report in 2011 in the Prime Minister's Office account.
Public Accounts Committee member Balmindar Singh questioned the Prime Minister's Office at the hearing yesterday on what steps it had taken or whether this had been written off.
Because of this, Mr Singh said, cheques had bounced from banks and came back to the ministry.
This, he said, showed the unavailability of the pay as you earn or the return that needed to be paid to Government.
Dishonoured cheques, a cheque which the bank will not pay, because there is not enough money in the account to pay it.
Principal accounts officer Moape Rokosuka said cheques were given six months to be presented to the banks.
"For us at the office of the Prime Minister, we don't receive any revenue," Mr Rokosuka said.
"What has been receipted comes in the cases of people given advances and they retire the balances or when staff member are given an OPR payment, where some of them preferred to be paid in cash."
Kuruwara Tunisalevu from the Office of the Auditor-General said the amount that they had was the basis of qualification for recount.
He said there was no support for those adjustments.
Mr Rokosuka said they would reply properly to the committee with a written response.
Radrodro questions PM's visa card
Ropate Valemei | Friday, July 17, 2015
THE Prime Minister's VISA card payment procedure was brought to the attention of the Public Accounts Committee yesterday.
Committee member Aseri Radrodro raised the question highlighting credit card payments without supporting documents as stated in the 2011 Auditor-General's Report.
Principal accounts officer in the Prime Minister's office Moape Rokosuka said the credit card was the only source of funds for the PM when he was on overseas trips.
Mr Rokosuka said the introduction of this card by the Ministry of Finance was to help with the Prime Minister's travel.
"For us at the accounts unit, it's really helpful in terms of payment," he said.
In previous years, he said, former prime ministers were given accountable advances when they travelled abroad.
He said it ranged from $15,000 to $30,000 hard cash, which the private staff officer (PSO) pays for accommodation, meals and incidental costs.
"By the introduction of VISA card, on one hand it really helps with the accounts team with the non-submission of receipts by the PSO of the PM."
For them, he said, they would just look through the statement related with the travel, and if it was in line, they proceed with the payments.
Mr Rokosuka said they tried to settle the VISA card accounts as soon as possible.
Committee chairman Dr Prasad advised them to use debit card instead.
The PAC meeting continues today.
THERE will be no national referendum to determine whether or not we should have a new flag, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama confirmed in Parliament yesterday.
Mr Bainimarama responded with a simple "no" when responding to Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa's question on whether he would hold a national referendum on whether we should have a new flag.
Mr Bainimarama's answer propelled a heated argument in Parliament between the two sides.
Ro Teimumu, not satisfied, stood up again to ask a supplementary question mentioning the Tebutt Times Poll published by this newspaper on June 24 showing that majority of the people wanted to have a say in the flag issue.
"And we note that when FijiFirst was out campaigning last year, they loved the flag so much that they had it on their buses, their taxis and the honourable Speaker was wearing it, so 87 per cent want to have a say on whether the flag should be changed or not, with 66 per cent wanting a referendum," Ro Teimumu said.
She asked why the PM did not allow people to have a say in something that was so important to them, especially the youths.
The Government side booed this question.
She continued and said the flag was important to the youths because their forefathers and fathers had fought in the wars with the current flag.
Speaker Dr Jiko Luveni labelled Ro Teimumu's question as an allegation.
"That is only an allegation which cannot be substantiated by just the media alone, and therefore the question on the props of the matter has already been answered by the Prime Minister," Dr Luveni ruled.
Opposition MP Niko Nawaikula asked: "Madam Speaker, if you don't like the flag, then why are you wearing it?"
He later stated that the public was entitled to know the cost of the project.
"Can you tell us the total cost of this project and whether it was part of the budget?" Mr Nawaikula queried.
The Speaker said the question needed facts and the onus was on the PM to answer.
In response, Mr Bainimarama said they would provide the figures if needed but highlighted that the flags were missing from the Opposition members who had not been wearing it like Government MPs.
"He's been questioning about the flag that we wear, unfortunately, their flags have disappeared.
"They're not very patriotic, this group of people," he added.
He said last week when Ro Teimumu walked down the street with the flag, none of the Opposition members who were so vocal about the flag change in Parliament were to be seen.
"None from this group, so I don't know what flag are they fighting for, how do they define patriotism in that side of the house, but if they want those figures we will let them have it," he said.
Opposition MP, Semesa Karavaki said the Fijian people needed an explanation to the "no" answer.
PM Bainimarama replied in a lengthy answer stating he was disappointed with Ro Teimumu for "her lack of leadership which is showing on this issue".
"When we first embarked on the search for this new flag, I hoped we would all do so in a spirit of co-operation and goodwill, I wanted to work closely with the Fijian people to reach a consensus on a more appropriate expression of our nation and who we are today, what we were at the colonial era almost a century ago, I thought that even the Opposition despite the way it constantly looks backward, on almost every issue, would seek a value on trying to find a more modern simple of the Fijian spirit."
Parliamentarian Viliame Gavoka asked the PM why they wanted to push Great Britain (British signs on flag) out as it had become dear to many.
The PM responded and said the question needed to be asked to former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka who made Fiji a republic.
Professor Biman Prasad also joined the debate saying a large majority of people in Fiji on a very credible opinion poll rejected the change in the flag and he questioned Mr Bainimarama if he was willing to listen to the people.
Later in a statement, Mr Bainimarama said he believed the mood for change was strong and the challenge was to find a design that speaks to everyone.
"And that is what we will achieve in the coming weeks and months. To hone in on a flag design that we can all hoist with pride. That speaks to everyone. That embodies our nation and its values."
He said feedback teams had embarked on visiting communities which had given them the result which showed the Fijian people had agreed to the proposed change.
"We also estimate that Fijians viewed the 23 existing designs more than 70-thousand times on the national flag website. That's actual participation in the process.
"Broadly speaking, what the Fijian people are saying is this: Yes, we agree on the need for a new national symbol. But show us a design we like. Give us more choices. Give us more time to consider them. And that is what they are going to get.
"I passionately believe that we need a national flag with symbols that represent the Fijian spirit today and into the future. That speaks to us all as Fijians, not as a people once ruled by the British."
He said true leadership was having the courage to stand up and see the future.
"And the future I see is of a modern nation state with a national flag that represents the present and future, not the past.
"As I announced last week, we now have until the end of the year, December 31st, to complete this process. So the Fijian people have the time to fully consider new alternatives.
"We have listened."
16 charged with sedition asked to file information and further disclosures
By Elizabeth Rokosuka
Ratu Epeli Niudamu of Ra and 15 others who were charged with sedition and inciting communal antagonism last month have been asked to file information and further disclosures.
The state has informed the Court that disclosures have already been filed and served to the Defence.
The State has also extended bail for all 16 including Sailasa Wairoaroa Malani, Sereima Adidave Rokodi, Nanise Kasami Nagusuca, Waisea Duailima, Isikeli Waisega Kabakoro, Laisiasa Mocevakaca, Emosi Toga, Waisake Racaca, Samuela Ligabalavu, Mikaele Gonerara, Josefa Natau, Sulueti Lotu Waqalala, Ulaiyasi Rabua Tuivomo, Apolosi Qalilawa and Ilisapeci Natau.
The matter has been adjourned to the 1st of next month.
This is the case in relation to the group of people who were alleged to have been forming a so called “Autonomous Christian State”. This illegal move has attracted a small group of people.
Any insurrection will be crushed - PM
By Ronal Deo
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has stressed that any insurrection will be crushed.
While opening the Tavua Multipurpose Sports Facility yesterday, he said that there is no need for the public to be alarmed after more than 50 people have now been charged with sedition and urging political violence.
He has stressed that there will be no so-called independent States established in Fiji.
Bainimarama said anyone who swears an illegal oath will face the full force of the law.
He added anyone who encourages political violence will face the full force of the law and this needs to be understood by every Fijian.
Bainimarama said the kind of instability certain people are currently trying to provoke will not and should not be tolerated.
He added it is not in the interests of the Fijian people as a whole, who are sick and tired of a tiny minority trying to sow division, insecurity and holding our nation back.
Bainimarama said he has an important message for the whole nation and that is “Do not be swayed by those who seek to divide us and do not listen to their lies and false promises because if you do break the law, you will be punished”.
He also said that it is a lie to say that the iTaukei way of life in Fiji is threatened as it is protected in our Constitution for all time.
He said that it is a lie to say that Christianity is under threat as every person’s right to be a Christian is protected in our Constitution for all time.
According to Bainimarama, theirs is the mindset of the past, the misguided thinking that led to the events of 1987 and 2000 and tore our nation apart.
He added that thinking was wrong then and it is wrong now.
He has asked every Fijian to turn their backs on these messages of division and hatred and embrace the new era of opportunity that they have forged by working together as One Nation.
He has called on Fijians that if some people talk about division, if they spread lies, stand up to them, tell them they are wrong and tell them about the positive developments in Fiji and tell them to think about the future and also tell them to be patriotic.