Bainimarama supports torturers

March 10th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

TVNZ report:

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says he will “stick by his men” if they are found to have been involved in the savage beating and torture of an escaped prisoner.

A nine minute video posted online this week shows two men being repeatedly beaten with poles, as they lie huddled on the ground handcuffed, screaming in agony. …

Sources have told ONE News the men carrying out the beating are army, police and prison officers.

Speaking to , Bainimarama said if that is shown to be the case, he would support their actions.

“At the end of the day, I will stick by my men, by the police officers or anyone else that might be named in this investigation,” he said.

“We cannot discard them just because they’ve done their duty in looking after the security of this nation and making sure we sleep peacefully at night.”

I wasn’t aware their duties included torture?

Hopefully those responsible will still be arrested and charged, despite the views of the Commodore. It would show that no one is above the law.

The Commodore is due to announce in the near future if he will contest next year’s elections. I expect he will. He may find that his support for torturers doesn’t go down that well with the voters.

Now Fiji is deporting a priest

January 26th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Michael Field at Stuff reports:

Fiji’s military regime says it is deporting a Catholic priest who had been the subject of abusive text messages and phone calls by military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama.

So what did he do to get deported?

Barr, who has lived in Fiji for 32 years, was long seen as a Bainimarama supporter but earlier this month he was subjected to a torrent of abuse after he suggested the Chinese flag could replace the Union Jack on Fiji’s planned new flag.

So let’s be clear on this. He has lived there for 32 years, and has actually been a supporter of the Commodore. His crime was to write a letter to the editor that joked about putting the Chinese emblem on Fiji’s flag (as the Commodore has taken so much money from the Chinese). That is not a deportable offence in Fiji!

But after he made the Chinese crack in a letter to the Fiji Sun, he got a phone call from Bainimarama himself.

“Then in a very angry voice he said that I should apologise to the people of Fiji for my letter concerning the Fijian flag in the newspaper,” Barr said in a letter he wrote privately to the Australian High Commission but which has been leaked in blogs.

Barr confirmed to Fairfax Media it was his letter.

“(Bainimarama) then called me ‘a f***** up priest’ and said I had become anti-government,” Barr said.

He repeated the phrase again and threw in a few swear words and told him to go back to where he came from.

“His tone was angry and really over the top.”

Minutes later he got a text message from Bainimarama: “I think you owe the people of Fiji an apology for your childish comments. You give all Catholic priests a bad name.”

Barr said he replied that he was not anti-government but disappointed at some developments.

He then got a reply from Bainimarama: “F*** U a***hole. Stay well away from me.”

Shortly later he got another text telling him to “start saying your goodbyes” and pointing out his work permit expired at the end of the year: “Go and be a missionary in China”.

If that is how the Commodore reacts to a semi-satirical letter to the editor, do you think there is any chance he will hand over power? Sure there will be elections, but will they be free or fair? Or will anyone who criticises him be deported?

Coup 4.5 has further details of the exchange:

There was yet another text message just as he was going to lunch which said: “Fuck U arsehole. Stay well away from me.” I texted back: “Thank you Sir for the nice words. If you want me to apologise I will do as you wish.”

“As I was having lunch another text arrived: “Start saying your goodbyes Father Kevin James Barr, Australian national, work permit as a missionary, expiry date for permit 31/12/2013.” 

“I did not reply. Then came the final text: “Go and be a missionary in China”.

The Commodore seems rather unstable. Father Barr is 76 and spent almost half his life in Fiji. But an enemy of the state for simply writing a letter to a newspaper. Anyone who claims to support freedom of speech should be dismayed by this development.

Fiji expels NZ and Australia envoys

November 3rd, 2009 at 8:17 pm by David Farrar

NZPA report:

Fiji has ordered New Zealand and Australia envoys to return home within 24 hours, accusing them of interfering in its internal affairs.

They have not recorded the specific reasons why. It is over the respective Governments allegedly blocking travel through Australia (and possibly NZ) for their new (Sri Lankan) Judges to replace the ones fired.

The Commodore’s speech setting out his rationale is here – press conference judiciary-1.

I’m not overly impressed by the Commodore citing the need for an Independent Judiciary, when he sacked the last set fo Judges because they got too independent.

Having said that, I’m not sure applying travel sanctions against the new Judges is achieving a lot either.

NZ Herald on Fiji

April 16th, 2009 at 12:18 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald editorial makes an astute judgement:

Nothing foreign diplomacy can do, however, could be as effective as the regime’s economic destruction. The arrest of Reserve Bank Governor Savenaca Narbue has been described as an “act of vandalism”. It is certainly an act of idiocy. Nobody can have the slightest confidence in the currency or the resilience of the desperately declining economy if the soldiers have usurped the country’s financial management.

In the absence of an explanation for his arrest it can only be assumed Governor Narbue was being ordered to take steps he knew to be economically disastrous. Commodore Bainimarama’s monetary expertise is probably no better than his diplomatic sense, which we know to be inept.

Exactly. The Commodore is now determining monetary policy.

Changes of government in Australia and New Zealand presented him with an opportunity to reconcile them to his coup. Sanctions applied by previous Governments had brought no sign of progress towards a restoration of democracy. The Key Government was plainly prepared to try a different approach. But it was barely in office before the commodore was threatening to expel New Zealand’s ambassador over a refusal to renew a study visa for an official’s son.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully’s response was notably mild, but the threat was carried out. Even now, in his comments on the country’s constitutional destruction, Mr McCully’s remarks do not ring with the righteous indignation that used to be heard from Helen Clark and Phil Goff.

The change of Government gave Bainimarama an opportunity to get sanctions lifted. All he needed to do was make some minor steps twoards elections – such as set a date for the census.

Instead he throws out the NZ High Commissioner over nothing. And now he rules elections out for at least five years.

It is easy to criticise Australia and NZ’s responses. But I don’t actually think the Commodore is entirely rational, and am not sure any policy change from NZ or Australia would in any way change what he does.

Samoan PM attacks Bainimarama

February 25th, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

AAP reports:

Tuilaepa Sailele, prime minister of Samoa, has launched an unprecedented attack on his Fijian counterpart, Frank Bainimarama, claiming the military man has no plans to relinquish the leadership.

“I strongly believe that Bainimarama has no intention of relinquishing power and returning Fiji to democratic government,” Tuilaepa told the New Zealand Fairfax newspapers on Tuesday.

“Therefore, that’s a clear indication that Bainimarama has no intention whatsoever of holding general elections and returning his country to democratic rule.”

He also said the commodore was “stealing public money” by appointing himself as finance minister and paying himself F$200,000 (NZ$213,000) in unclaimed leave.

The Samoan leader mocked Bainimarama’s “ridiculous” full military garb and the need for an army, saying “perhaps Bainimarama fears a combined canoe attack from Tuvalu and Kiribati,” its closest neighbours.

Wow, that is pretty stinging.

I have considerable sympathy for the purported goaals of the Commodore – a non racial constitution, a census, democratic elections. However the problem is he does indeed seem to have no intention of ever holding elections. If he wants sanctions to be lfited, he needs to spell out a time-frame and commit to it.

Best cartoon ever

December 21st, 2008 at 12:56 pm by David Farrar

Tom Scott as good as ever.

Meltdown with Fiji

December 16th, 2008 at 10:52 am by David Farrar

Commodore Bainimarama seems to be very misguided if he thinks he is in a position to demand NZ issue visas to various family members of Fijian officials.

Such a demand would guarantee the Government won’t issue a waiver. If he wants waivers, then you have to make concessions, not threats. Such as a firm timetable for elections.

The threat is very lame – expelling our Acting High Commissioner. So what? It hurts Fiji far more not having NZ diplomatic presence, than it does NZ.

And this morning, they have expelled TVNZ’s Barbara Dreaver. Again, the Commodore is getting bad advice if he thinks this upset the Government at all.

I’m open to persuasion that the Commodore has good motives – his planned reforms to get rid of race based voting are laduable. But the longer he remains the self-appointed ruler, without taking concrete steps towards elections, the longer sanctions will remain. The way ahead lies with him.

Fiji looks grim

February 29th, 2008 at 9:21 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald editorial on Fiji is grim reading:

The Fiji Sun had run a series of articles accusing Fiji’s Finance Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, of tax evasion. The junta’s response was a blatant act of intimidation against a newspaper trying to do its job. It made a mockery of Commodore Bainimarama’s assurances that his Administration would uphold media freedom …

 The attempt to tighten control does not stop there. This month, Commodore Bainimarama appointed himself head of the Great Council of Chiefs. This powerful group has sometimes been the voice of reason as Fiji stumbled through a succession of military coups. It can serve that role no longer. In addition, Police Commissioner Esala Teleni has warned Fijians not to speak out against the Administration. All this points to a determination to stifle debate, rather than a broadening of the regime’s tolerance to a wide range of viewpoints, the necessary precursor if a return to democracy is seriously contemplated.

Increasingly, it appears that any concessions Commodore Bainimarama makes are merely a response to aid-related ultimatums, especially from the European Union. There is nothing to suggest that he is genuinely intent on creating a united Fiji or that he is benignly shepherding it back to democracy.

The Commodore I suspect will never give up power.

The left’s campaign against the Herald

February 28th, 2008 at 12:06 pm by David Farrar

The Standard accuses the Herald of handing editorial control over to the Free Speech Coalition. If only they would – I’d love to be editor even just for a day.

KBB repeats the charge.  Their complaint is the story which includes:

Prime Minister Helen Clark says her criticisms of the New Zealand Herald bear no similarity to the ejection a newspaper publisher from Fiji by that country’s military regime.

What both blogs deliberately ignore – because they want to bring down the Herald – is that the story is not a NZ Herald story. It is an NZPA story. This is clearly indicated at the bottom of the page. The Herald running on their website an NZPA story is a daily event.
So really they are saying that NZPA has also joined the Vast Right WIng Conspiracy of 91 years of non charity to Labour.  And if I now have editorial control over NZPA, could someone start paying me.

Incidentally I did enjoy the comment made in this thread:

Meanwhile, overheard at a telephone exchange in downtown Suva!

“Hello, Commodore Frank Bainimarama speaking.”

“Hello, Helen Clark here.”

“Why Helen, This is an unexpected surprise, what can I do for you?”

“Just some advise please Frank, how DO you deport a newspaper editor?”