fiji UNCENSORED

June 10, 2009

Australian financial aid for education

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 15:10
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PRESS RELEASE

AUSTRALIA is providing approximately $151,000 to the Ministry of Education to assist with the continuing rehabilitation efforts resulting from the damage caused by floods in January this year.

This is in addition to the $756,000 Australia provided to the Ministry of Education in February this year.

In the latest funding, $32,000 will be used to repair damaged classrooms and replace teaching material in six Early Childhood Education (ECE) centres. The remaining funds of $118,897 will cover annual school levies (i.e. those levies charged by school committees) for approximately 1780 students from 15 schools in the Western, Northern and Central divisions.

Provision for annual school levies is aimed at assisting families, who have suffered financial hardship as a result of the floods, to ensure their children continue to attend classes.

The Ministry of Education will disburse the funds to the individual school management committees. – fiji uncensored

May 23, 2009

Australia ready for tough battle to restore democracy

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 17:57
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NEWS

AUSTRALIA’S Foreign Minister Stephen Smith says Australia is ready for a “long, hard, tough battle” to restore democratic rule in Fiji.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation website quoted Smith as saying that Australia remained concerned about the situation in Fiji.

“We will do everything we can to return Fiji to democracy and we’ll do that in conjunction with our friends and partners and neighbours in the Pacific,” Smith said.

“We’ll also do it in conjunction with our friends in the Commonwealth.” – fiji uncensored

Australia backs EU’s tough line in canceling Fiji’s sugar aid

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 09:37
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NEWS

AUSTRALIA has welcomed the “firm line” the European Union is taking on Fiji, saying the cancellation of sugar aid to the Pacific island nation this year was inevitable after the military regime refused to restore democracy.

The European Commission announced recently the cancellation of a grant worth over $71 million because Fiji rejected international calls to hold elections in 2009. In October 2007, the EU had announced that subsidies would be tied to progress toward democracy.

The cancellation “is the inevitable result of the interim government’s failure to return Fiji to democracy,” the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement. “Fiji and its people continue to bear the consequences of the interim government’s intransigent attitude.”

Australia has been one of the harshest critics of Voreqe Bainimarama’s regime and has led international criticism of Fiji since his military coup in December 2006. – fiji uncensored

May 21, 2009

Regime still open to talks with Aust, NZ

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 15:58
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NEWS

INTERIM Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama is still willing to hold talks with Kevin Rudd and John Key about Fiji’s way forward.

Ministry of Information’s permanent secretary and army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Neumi Leweni yesterday said that Commodore Bainimarama’s was still open to meetings with his Australian and New Zealand counterparts. But Leweni said it was up to the two countries to move quickly if they wanted to meet as Fiji was moving on and Commodore Bainimarama would not be waiting for them.

“As the PM said in his earlier interview with Graham Davis and again today, he maintains he is ready to meet Kevin Rudd and John Key for talks,” he told the Fiji SUN.

Lt-Col Leweni reiterated the stand after Tongan Prime Minister Dr Feleti Seveti called on Pacific countries to support Fiji.

In a joint press conference with Mr Key in Wellington on Tuesday, Dr Seveti called for support as the country finds a pathway to democracy. “We do not know why the change of heart but our PM wants to have talks with Rudd and Key.”

He said decision by the Pacific Forum to suspend Fiji and now the call made by Dr Seveti is not going to change anything.

“It must be clear that with or without the Pacific Forum, Fiji is going to forge ahead with its road map set out by the charter.”

Lt-Col Leweni said despite the suspension and the stand Australia and New Zealand have taken, the country was able to find new friends who understood Fiji’s situation.

“We’ve been able to have friends from Asian countries who understand our situation and have come in to help.” – fiji uncensored

May 6, 2009

Former soccer player accused of spying for Australia

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 08:36
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NEWS

A FIJI-BORN Australian citizen claims he was arrested and thrown into jail for three days on his recent travel to Fiji.

The man said he spent three nights in custody before his captors, whom he said were soldiers, released him.

“They actually apologised, saying they mistook me for someone else,” said the man who asked not to be named.

Soldiers, he said, initially accused him of being a spy for Australia.

“They apparently were monitoring my phone calls because they wanted to know to whom I had been talking on the telephone to.

“These people are crazy. All I was doing was calling my family and office in Australia.”

The man, an indigenous Fijian, used to be a soccer star in Lautoka before he moved to live in Australia. – fiji uncensored

May 2, 2009

Khaiyum questions forum’s credibility

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 20:08
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NEWS

ACTING Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has questioned the credibility and independence of the Pacific Islands Forum after Fiji’s suspension earlier today.

Khaiyum said the while forum’s decision was regrettable, it had also been based on inaccuracies.

“The announcement [of Fiji’s suspension] was made via a press statement without any formal notification by the forum. It was only at the prompting of the Government that a diplomatic note was received this morning.

“The statement also falsely refers to so-called breaches of basic human rights, democracy and freedom under a military regime. Such inaccurate statements do not lend credibility to the analysis and conclusion arrived at the by the chair.”

He also hinted at New Zealand and Australian influence on the forum’s decision. “They appear to be based on representations made by only a few with political agendas and are reflective of the positions taken by the metropolitan powers in Wellington and Canberra.”

Khaiyum said the forum’s unjustifiable demand that elections be held “at any cost immediately, even under a flawed system” was not only patronising but showed a lack of commitment to real democracy and sustainable parliamentary representation.  fiji uncensored

April 24, 2009

Former Aussie PM calls for crackdown

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 22:03
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NEWS

FORMER Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser has called for tougher action against Fiji’s military government.

Both Australia and New Zealand have already restricted development assistance and imposed a travel ban on regime members and their families.

Speaking to ABC Fraser said further trade and economic sanctions had to be considered, even if they impacted on Fiji’s society as a whole.

He said the measures taken so far have had no effect and more pressure had to be put on Voreqe Bainimarama and his supporters to return to democracy.

“The military government is all the more intransigent, the more deeply emersed in power and has moved further away from democracy,” Fraser said.

“I believe additional ways need to be found to bring pressure to bear on that regime.”

Expert predicts trade restrictions will fail

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 20:06
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NEWS

TOUGHER sanctions, including trade restrictions, are unlikely to work against Fiji, a political scientist says.

Anthony Bergin, the director of research programs for Australian Strategic Policy Institute, made the observation in a four-page paper analysing Australia-Fiji relations in the aftermath of the latest crisis to hit the nation.

He said Australia was certain to be looking at toughening its “so-called smart sanctions”, but it had possibly underestimated the effect its previous sanctions would have and where that burden would fall.

“Sanctions over the last two years, including the travel bans, weren’t working. If they were, the interim government in Suva would not have moved to its current position.

“Smart sanctions have pushed Fiji away from its traditional friends and suppliers to others, notably China,” he said.

Severing defence links had also resulted in Fiji’s military strengthening training and other links with China, India and Malaysia.

Bergin said average Fijians were suffering because of the decline in the economy, exacerbated by floods which struck parts of the main island in January.

“The travel bans are particularly harsh: they apply to government members and public servants and anyone related to a member of Fiji’s military, no matter how junior.”

Bergin said Australia’s Trade Minister Simon Crean had raised the prospect of trade sanctions, but said intensifying sanctions was hardly likely to be any more effective than the current sanctions. fiji uncensored

Crisis aggravates visa issue for Fijian Aussie rules recruit

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 00:02
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NEWS

THE Western Bulldogs Australian rules football team is increasingly pessimistic the Australian Government will overturn an order banning 19-year-old Fijian recruit Inoke Ratu from entering Australia.

Ratu was one of two Fijians signed by the Melbourne club under a scholarship program last October but was denied a visa to visit Australia to train with the Bulldogs because of his father’s links to the country’s military, which overthrew Laisenia Qarase’s Government in 2006.

The club had hoped the Australian Government would reconsider the sanctions and allow Ratu a visa later this year.

But Fiji President Ratu Josefa Iloilo’s decision to scrap the country’s Constitution, sack the Judiciary and reappoint Voreqe Bainimarama as prime minister has not done Ratu’s chances any favours.

The Bulldogs’ recruitment and football partnership manager, Simon Dalrymple, denied the club’s plans to take Ratu to Australia were already doomed.

“Our optimism isn’t increasing with the news but we’re not giving up as such,” he said.

“We’ve got a two-year agreement with the boy, so legally — and morally — we’d stick with that. We’ll speak to the Government and the people that have been lobbying the Government on our behalf, but the latest developments aren’t a positive, put it that way.

“I’m meeting with the AFL Oceania representative on Friday to get the latest update from him and then we’ll know a bit more about (it).”

Australian rules football is the most popular spectator sport in Australia.

Dalrymple will fly to Fiji next week with scholarship program benefactor Shaun Bassett to meet with Ratu and Solomon Loki, 17, who was allowed to enter Australia last year and is not subject to visa restrictions.

“We’ll be … doing a bit of work with them,” Dalrymple said. “They do three skills sessions a week and three strength sessions a week. We’ve got a person in Fiji who supervises their program and the AFL are also looking to start a competition in Fiji in the next month, so they’ll play in that, which will certainly help their development in the game.”

He said they still had plenty to learn about the game. “That’s where playing regular football in Fiji’s going to be a big boost to their development.”

Australia’s foreign affairs department was not available to comment yesterday on the status of Ratu’s visa application.

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