Thursday, March 28, 2013

SAVUA ENQUIRY: Part 1: Ratu Mara named Savua and Rabuka as key players in 2000 Coup


Ghosts of Speight Coup: Why Savua Enquiry should be made public?

Part 1: Ratu Mara named Savua and Rabuka as key players in 2000 Coup

A PROLOGUE

Subsequent to failed George Speight coup on 19 May, 2000, there had been a great deal of speculation as to who was that mysterious person who was supposed to take over from George Speight once he had completed the takeover of Parliament. Speight was a last minute fall guy recruit in this whole equation. But it appears, this supposed leader misread the mood of Fijian military which refused to support Fijian nationalism unleashed by Speight and his rebels in 2000. Upon failure to get support of Military, this mysterious person got cold feet and failed to surface. There are speculations as to who this purported “actual” 2000 coup leader was. From information that surfaced later, fingers point to the then Police Commissioner, Isikia Savua, when the Police force was seen as a spent force and were caught with its pants down. An enquiry, called SAVUA ENQUIRY was held in camera, (private hearing) headed by Lauan, Justice Sir Timoci Tuivaga which cleared Savua of any wrongdoing. Many likened Savua enquiry to a sham, kangaroo court and fraud on the nation. This author also believes. I therefore present my articles by Liu Muri published in the Daily Post for people to get an insight and appreciation into Fiji’s turbulent history, and why military needs to have a tight control to contain ethno-nationalists who cry for democracy now but never respected it in 2000 and 1987 coups.
  
Former Commissioner of Police, Isikia Savua and Rabuka were named by Tui Nayau and deposed President of Fiji, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara as the key players and instigators of Speight coup of 19 May, 2000 that deposed Chaudhry 's Peoples Coalition Government. Savua passed away on 30 May, 2011, but his did does not bury the controversy he created while alive.

TUI NAYAU STABBED IN THE BACK

Subsequent to Speight coup and his removal and escape to Lakeba, a TV interview he gave has been very revealing. If you heard the Tui Nayau correctly, Fijians have surpassed the Indians in skills of stabbing in the back. He implied that he was stabbed in the back by the very people he relied upon to give him advice and protection.

Sir Vijay Singh spoke about this very well in an article he wrote about removal of Ratu Mara as Fiji’s President subsequent to Speight coup. “Fijian leaders cannot evade a legitimate question that non-Fijians are entitled to ask: ‘If, despite all your proclaimed piety, you can conspire to do one of your most illustrious sons and high chief what you did to Ratu Mara, how we can trust you to be any kinder and gentler to any of us?’

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN BETRAYED THEIR CHIEF

Fiji’s name has been tarnished as far as reverence and respect for Chiefly and Westminster system is concerned. All the President’s men stabbed in the back of not only the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Fiji Military Forces of the Republic of Fiji Islands, but also the most revered and highest living Chief in Fiji at that moment. And who did this? The very people who should advise and protect the President and their Chief?

ATTEMPTED COUP HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE


And what a convenient scapegoat – the Indo-Fijians. Successive ethno-nationalist and so-called saviors of Fijian race and coup-makers have used Indo-Fijians as scapegoats for their treasonous acts. And we have so many fools and gullible people who believed this charade.

And as Sir Vijay had said, Ratu Mara’s interview cleared the red herring of inter race relations and established the fact that all this had to do with internal rivalries and animosities within the Fijian society. What it also did is to raise doubt about the findings of the kangaroo court that cleared Commissioner of Police from any wrong- doing. Late Tui Nayau had named Commissioner of Police, Isikia Savua as one of the major suspect in plotting, aiding, and abetting in the coup.

For those who do not know, Fiji Police under Savua lost all credibility after Speight coup in 2000 when rebels and criminals started taking over police posts and humiliated law - enforcers until the military took charge. During that time, my paper Daily Post drew a cartoon depicting the sad situation of police. When a farmer in Dreketi, Vanua Levu was asked about helplessness of police, he pointed towards his freshly castrated bull and said  ...”my castrated bullock has more balls than the police force..”.The person who contributed to degeneration of the once proud police force to comparison with bulumakau sele, badhia bail or castrated bullock is none other than the then Commissioner of Police, Mr Isikia Savua who has been cleared by a tribunal held in camera and headed by the former Chief Justice, Sir Timoci Tuivaga, son-in law of Dr Tupeni Baba.

In light of so much interest generated by Ratu Mara’s revelation that cast a black slur on the Savua inquiry, for sake of public interest, we will revisit Savua inquiry and some of the questions and issues raised that remain as mysterious today as the day Savua was cleared.

WAS SAVUA INQUIRY A CHARADE?

 Senior police officers and concerned citizens are appalled that the Commission of Inquiry has cleared Commissioner of Police, Isikia Savua of his involvement in the takeover of parliament and subsequent events.

The Commission of Inquiry, headed by the then Chief Justice Tuivaga had been asked to carry out full investigations by concerned groups - but it has obviously failed to do so.
 
Judges: from left-Justice Dan Fatiaki, Justice Sir Moti Tikaram and Justice Sir Timoci Tuivaga. Sir Timoci headed Savua Enquiry which was held in camera and subsequently cleared Savua of any wrong-doing. The string of articles and revelations presented by Fiji Pundit would let public decide for themselves whether Savua Enquiry was a charade, a sham and a fraud of the nation.
From the first day of the inquiry we had warned that the inquiry was merely to cover up his actions, rather than expose them. The inquiry was aimed at presenting to the international community the view that the interim administration, then led by now ousted PM Qarase, was committed to bringing those involved in the destabilization and overthrow of the government to justice. As Qarase and his interim administration got recognition from many countries, the perpetrators of the May takeover were beginning to be let free.

Some confidential information is released in public interest to show a clearer picture in mucky waters. We have known from day one that the Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the Commissioner of Police was a fraud. It was headed by Justice Tuivaga - a person who has come under attack from legal sources in Fiji and internationally for facilitating the abrogation of the constitution and for continuing to frustrate legal challenges to the abrogation of the constitution. His sympathies with the Speight and his group were well known. He was one of the few people who welcomed Speight to the Suva golf club before his arrest with a great big public bear hug!

WAS THE INQUIRY NEUTRAL AND IMPARTIAL?

 The Tribunal included close relatives of Savua. The report of the Tribunal was submitted to the Public Service Commission - a commission that was hand-picked after purported abrogation of the constitution. At all stages of the inquiry, sympathetic and supportive elements have assisted the Commissioner of Police to walk away from his crime scot-free.

Police officers who wanted to make submissions were therefore rightly concerned about their own safety had they gone ahead and made direct submissions. Indeed, we fear for safety of those few that did have the courage to make submissions.
 
Savua Enquiry was seen as a set-up of the Lauan Mafia which was then heading the Interim Government and the Judiciary, among others. Laisenia Qarase, the clean banker was not so clean after all,  as he sided with the coup perpetrators to set them free, and when he tasted power and headed SDL, his government arranged to have the criminals freed and recruited in his nationalist government. Bainimarama warned him of this and gave some 18 months advance notice to improve his governance. Qarase ignored the warning at his peril. It is such abuse of democracy that forced Bainimarama to remove Qarase to deliver social justice to all citizens of Fiji.
All in all, the inquiry was part of a deliberate and orchestrated campaign by the Interim Administration to hoodwink the international community about its commitment to bring those involved in the armed takeover of parliament on 19th May to justice.  The Savua Act - featuring one of the key actors in the May 19th takeover ended with expected results-favouring the criminal elements. However, nobody predicted Ratu Mara’s interview in April 2001 in which he named Rabuka and Savua as a key players in the whole mayhem.

SAVUA’S INVOLVEMENT IN THE PARLIAMENT TAKEOVER

 Citizens of Fiji were deeply concerned and indeed shocked by the events that unfolded after the terrorist take-over of Fiji's Parliament on May 19th. In my view, it is clear that the Police Force and its commander failed to discharge its constitutional obligation to uphold the rule of law and the constitution during the period leading to the takeover of parliament on May 19th, 2000 and subsequently.

From the information made available to the Inquiry it was clear that:

(i). The Police Commissioner Isikia Savua was directly involved in the destabilization campaign leading to the march that occurred on 19 May, 2000 and in supporting subsequent events.
 
The march that ended in deposing the government was allowed to get out of hand through negligence of police management. Savua had warned Chaudhry of the nationalist march, but was missing in action on the day and failed to prepare for a very serious breach of security. It is a clear case of dereliction of duties in aiding and abetting the rebels and those behind the removal and destabilisation of Peoples Coalition Government.
(ii). The Police Commissioner was a key player in the grab for political power that commenced with the armed takeover of the Parliament on 19 May, 2000.

(iii). The Police Commissioner authorised and provided the support of the Police Force through selected police officers, by providing Police Force resources (in raiding Muaniweni farms) including arms to the terrorists who held the People's Coalition Government hostage since May 19th until their release 56 days later.

TO BE CONTINUED in PART 2: Savua’s dereliction of duties, neutralizing the riot bus and failure to use it when needed.


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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fiji Violence: When Indo Fijians are victims of Fijian thugs


Fiji Violence: When Indo Fijians are victims of Fijian thugs

Thakur Ranjit Singh

There is frenzy amongst Australia, New Zealand and Fiji NGOs concerning a video showing violence by Fijians on Fijians. Reportedly, some protests are planned for Auckland, Wellington and maybe Sydney, agitated by people who cannot see the complete picture in Fiji and its transition into democratic stability by arresting problems that have plagued Fiji’s discredited young democracy.

There is much hue and cry when convicted criminals, who allegedly escaped from lawful custody, causing mayhem in society through their thuggery, robbery, violence and fear-mongering. They say, if you live by sword, be prepared to die by it as well. While we do not condone violence, many appreciate the dilemma security personnel in Fiji face. In light of Fiji’s turbulent trial with democracy and human rights, balancing human rights against fragile security situation does create dilemma for security personnel.

The people rallying for action against Fiji were quite when my people got beaten, raped, and pillaged by the same sort of thugs that now fear strict security situation brought in by a military government when democratic system failed to provide security.

George Speight - misled people and caused a spate of racial violence targeting 
Indo Fijians. People need to be educated about democracy and constitution to avoid other false prophets like Speight.

In 2000, when George Speight and his army of racist Fijian thugs assaulted democracy, many Indo-Fijians were then the victims. These self-appointed NGOs jumping up and down now remained quite then. I witnessed that violence when I was the Publisher of the now-discontinued Daily Post newspaper. I visited violence-struck community in Muaniweni near Suva and reported on the incident.

I reproduce one such article to tell the protestors that they are guilty of double standards. When innocent Indo-Fijians were victims, Australia, NZ and their NGOs kept quite. When those violent thugs experimenting with violence get back their own medicine, there appears to be much noise from those who are paid to cry and protest to claim Australia and new Zealand Government funding.

Below is that article of May, 2000. I hope this flashback will enlighten the blinkered protesters and others opposing tough measures by security personnel, trying to pass a message to dogs of thuggery and violence.

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A COMMUNITY IN FEAR AT MUANIWENI

The attacks have stopped - - but the fear lingers on

You drive up the once dusty (but now tar sealed) Sawani Road from Suva, Fiji for some 30 minutes and you will come to a junction road to the right hand side, reading “Savu Road.” The rich farming area there is known as Muaniweni, which is home to some 110 Indo-Fijian households comprising some 700 people in total. They are farmers on Crown land (what Crown? you may ask) and provide a unique landscape to this area with lush dalo plantations and other cash crops. They also raise cattle and grow rice, ginger and other types of vegetable.

Speight -behind bars now, serving his term for treason

You drive further into this dusty, narrow, winding and repair-starved Savu Road for some 10 minutes; you will come to a twin school complex at the riverbank. This is called Muaniweni Indian School and Vunicibicibi Secondary School, which were established some three decades ago by the Indian community for the benefit of all the residents.

In the aftermath of Speight coup on 19 May, 2000, that place had gone through devastation and racial hatred erupted by some misplaced, greedy and power-hungry people. It could be described as a war zone. We were greeted by fear and grief-gripped Indo-Fijian farmers, depicting a picture of despair and helplessness. We were shocked and saddened by the stories of inhumane and criminal acts committed on this peace loving, hardworking and religious Indo-Fijian farming community.

Muaniweni Indo Fijian victims of racially-inspired violence in may 2000, crying to see their house looted and burnt by rebels and criminal Fijian thugs.

After cries of help, Muaniweni and Nasi residents in Baulevu, Naitasiri were happy for the setting up of Muaniweni Police Post next to the local school.
The Police post came late for about 100 residents who had abandoned their homes to take refuge at Sanatan Primary School in Lautoka, and later at Fiji Girmit Centre in a refugee camp. It is a pitiful sight to see their battened houses with lush green farms and neat well –kept compounds abandoned by residents.

Other Indians in the area who did not want to move had transferred all womenfolk to their relative’s places away from Muaniweni for their security. However with life getting more secure because of the new police post and armed soldiers, most are coming back to the place they call home – and the only home they know.

 They have been subjected to thuggery and fear by the nearby village youths who appear to be under nobody’s control. One helpless farmer commented that it appeared that the whole village condones this pillaging and assault on hard – working helpless Indian community.

Rebel soldiers causing mayhem and violence, seeking supremacy and Fiji for Fijians. It is such culture of violence and separation that Bainimarama wants removed from the new Fiji

Our team was pleasantly surprised by the philosophical comments of one Indigenous Fijian Police officer at the police post “I am a Christian and my heart cries out for these Indian farmers and what the so called Christians did to them. We need to break the cultural barriers between the races. Fijians should be taught Hindi while Indians should be taught Fijian language and culture. Our education system is to blame for this mess. Our schools are too exam oriented and we teach very little human values. We should concentrate more on extra curricular activities.”

Another thuggery–scarred Indo-Fijian farmer commented that teaching of the Constitution should be included in the school curriculum. “Everybody should know about their rights, especially the new generation of Indigenous Fijians so that no George Speight in future can mislead them about their Constitutional protection.”

Another neighbouring Indian farmer had his radio, two workhorses, one calf and five chickens stolen. “We spent the night in the open fields for fear of attack. Our stolen horses are used to cart stolen items from other farms. The most disappointing scene is that the elder thugs use young school- age children of ten to twelve years as apprentice in this looting. They send these youngsters to steal, if we say anything then they come out to threaten us. We are just wondering, what will happen when these kids grow up? Where are all the moral and religious teachings? Church and their talatalas (preachers) should take some blame for these lawless people. The greater blame should go to the parents who cannot and do not manage the moral teachings of their young ones. If my son brings anybody’s stolen items home, I will whip him. Most Indian children know this.”

Muaniweni Community post- law and order now restored.  Bainimarama Government wishes to prevent a repeat of such violence through policies removing racial segregation and promoting racial integration where all have a common name of "Fijians" .

One farmer whose brother left his nearby home for the refugee center said he could not make himself to leave the place he calls home. “One thug came with a gun that was new and still packed in its box with its wrappers intact. He shot my cows, gutted them and took them to Parliament. Anybody could walk in your farm and take whatever they wanted.”

The residents however agreed that Fijians by nature are very nice people and they appear to have been misled. Once the political problems are sorted out at the top level, then they are confident that things could return to normal, and they could go back to farming. If things do not improve and they are not allowed to live with dignity then they would like to join the others in the refugee camp and plead other countries to grant them refugee status.

In all this, the philosophical pleadings of the police office should be considered. The community leaders should get together to build a bridge of cultural understanding, and perhaps both the communities need to work more closely to appreciate each other well. This will ensure that in future political differences, they do not become mere pawns in the hands of the politicians who have their own personal agenda.
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Footnote:

Therefore the strong-arm tactics that we see in Fiji now to address the culture of violence among Fijians against others and those trying to destabilize peaceful multi-racial setting and provide security to all is to address such political instability created by those with vested interests. Many measures introduced by Bainimarama Government are to address exactly the situation that in the past promoted racial segregation and animosity. These were the issues spoken by Muaniweni residents some 13 years ago and now being addressed with policies which try to make Fiji a home for all Fijians, with common name and destiny. It is hoped Australia, New Zealand and NGOs financed by them can appreciate what Fiji has been through and what it needs- a home-grown solution without foreign influence and meddling.

THAKUR RANJIT SINGH
Blogsite: FIJI PUNDIT: www.fijipundit.blogspot.co.nz

Additional Reading:

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

A fresh perspective on doing business with India


A fresh perspective on doing business with India
Thakur Ranjit Singh
Some businesses may be battling bureaucratic wrangling, red tape and some sort of corruption in India. …Do not get involved in corruption. Understand and respect Indian business regulations and bureaucracy, and adapt to meet their requirements…. In spite of these problems, the huge and growing market potential continues to attract businesses,” these were the honest assessment and words of advice to businessmen from a respected and successful businessman, Wenceslaus Anthony,   a Board Member of Bank of Baroda, among other important positions,  and  Chairman of India New Zealand Business Council.
Mr  Wenceslaus Anthony the keynote speaker-Do not get involved in corruption..Understand and respect Indian business regulations
Mr Anthony was speaking to businessmen at ANZ Bank premises, Lincoln Road, Henderson, Auckland, New Zealand on 28 February, 2013. This business networking was organised by Waitakere Indian Association (WIA) and sponsored by ANZ, to promote and foster better business relationships with India. WIA does not only organise social, cultural, community and religious festivals like Diwali, Holi and Girmit Remembrance Day but is  also involved with community welfare services such as Family Violence, Senior Citizens, Youth, Women concerns and Hindi Language and Culture School. Now it has gone one notch higher by becoming a vehicle to promote and enhance business activities.
Guests at the WIA/ANZ Business Network evening,(from left) Mrs Amail Habib, Francis Peters, a solicitor at Corban Revell lawyers and Vice President of Waitakere Ethnic Board, Amail Habib, Deputy Chair of Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel (EPAP) at Auckland Council,  Andrew Webster, Senior Regional maner ANZ Auckland and Northland and Dr Rajen Prasad, Labour List MP.
In the last 5 years, the Indian economy has grown at 8.5% to become the third largest economy in Asia, behind Japan and China. India is the 9th largest economy in the world in absolute $ terms and is poised to become the 4th largest by around 2030. In terms of PPP –Purchasing Power Parity (the same purchasing power in different countries), India has become the 3rd largest economy behind USA and China
Media presence at the function: Rajesh Maharaj (left), Station Manager for Humm FM 106.2 radio station, with WIA Executive Mahendra Dutt Sharma.

But, what does this mean to NZ Businesses? To answer this, WIA expanded its horizon to promote business. It thus invited Mr Anthony, to enlighten India’s Growth and what it means for businesses in New Zealand.

He reminded businessmen and community leaders that India is not synonymous with corruption. “There are organizations like Wipro, Godrej and Infosys who never compromise on moral and sound business ethical values. These are just few of the examples.  Hence, NZ businesses need to take that extra step and look for businesses that stand for honesty,” Anthony said. He advised that India NZ Business Council, respective Indian and New Zealand High Commissions, Trade Commissioner in Delhi and, ANZ could play a vital role with its branch in India. “We have a pool of talents from India already in NZ. The likes of Waitakere Indian Association can play a great role. We need to get them together and ignite their minds,” Anthony said.  He urged New Zealanders to establish contacts, be good hosts, create good impressions and build relationship because”…business in India is based on relationships that encompass family, personal life, and interests as well as shared business acumen.”

Anthony spoke about his dream that NZ could be one of the partners in India’s march towards becoming a Developed Nation. “We need the likes of India-NZ Business Council, Waitakere Indian Association, ANZ bank to build this bond in business between the two countries…the motto of Infosys is “Powered by intellect and driven by values” while Former President of India, Abdul Kalam said “ We need ignited minds,” he concluded with a refreshing advice on doing business with India.

ANZ enhancing diversity -Mr. Andrew Webster, Senior Regional Manager Auckland & Northland, (Left) and Sunil Kaushal who oversees Indian sector banking needs and adds to the theme that the face of ANZ staff represents the face of community
Earlier, ANZ’s Andrew Webster, Senior Regional Manager Auckland & Northland spoke about ANZ’s special focus on cultural diversity and their strategic orientation in addressing the increasing Asian needs in the community. “Our focus and recognition reflects the importance of Indian business community  to New Zealand’s success,” he observed, and added that the Bank, being largest in NZ with most staff and branches, was well geared to look after the needs of changing population.

Webster made a crucial declaration that hits at the heart of businesses aligning to changing demographic environment and embracing diversity. “One of the things we try to do is to make sure the face of our staff represent the face of the community.” He added that in his business which is focussing on small and medium businesses with 200 staff, 34% are of Chinese descent while 20% are Indians. These people represent the community and can provide culturally appropriate services. ANZ walks its talk on embracing diversity by being involved in their affairs. “We do this, by sponsorship of Diwali. We also have strategic relationship with India-New Zealand Business Council and have strategic partnership with Department of Ethnic Affairs, “ Webster said.

Waitakere hosting a Pukekohe visitor: Sunil Chandra, (left), President of Waitakere Indian Association, and Manoj Tahal, (right), Events and Business Networking Director of WIA, with Bhikhu Bhana (middle), executive of Pukekohe Indian Association
President of WIA, Sunil Chandra acknowledged the presence of Labour MP Dr. Rajen Prasad, Bhikhu Bhana, Executive of Pukekohe Indian Association, Linda Cooper, Chairperson, Waitakere Licensing Trust and Amail Habib, Deputy Chair for Auckland Council’s Ethnic Panel. He stressed that apart from community and cultural activity, the business networking was widening the scope of WIA to help the community and building relationship with business community. “In doing community work, we built a close relationship with ANZ which is a major sponsor for all our activities and we really appreciate the help and support of ANZ in helping WIA serve the wider community,” Sunil said.

Roshila Prasad, Executive Director of Humm FM radio station, in discussion with Roneel Singh, Secretary of Waitakere Indian Association
Through this business networking, community needs to salute Waitakere Indian Association for their FIRST, once again: for venturing into areas other similar organisations can emulate. That is, to better serve their communities and foster community well-being by enhancing business opportunities with India.


Photos and story by Thakur Ranjit Singh.