Redeeming Moti

PictureProfessor Shameem 

May 2017

Hon. Members of  Parliament, Hon. Chief Justice and members of the Judiciary, Your Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps, Distinguished Colleagues, Students, Ladies and Gentlemen.

When Dr Merrell asked the School of Law of the University of  Fiji to host the world first launch of  her book ‘Redeeming Moti’ I did not hesitate for a moment even though I had not yet received the advance copy to read.
I said yes because I have known of Julian Moti for a long time, though we did not officially meet until he became Dean of the Unifiji School of Law where I myself had taught previously.  I sought Julian out on one of my trips back to Fiji from NZ because I was pleased that he had been appointed the first substantive Dean of the School of Law, and I had liked the paper he had delivered for the inaugural Sir Moti Tikaram Memorial Lecture.

But back in 2006 I had no idea of the horrors that faced Julian. That year I was in Melbourne delivering a lecture when I heard the news that he had just been arrested in Papua New Guinea.  The only news items I received were those published by the Australian press. These articles obviously favoured the Australian authorities who were responsible for his arrest (and then had him charged) with what I, as a human rights lawyer, considered to be an unspeakable offence.

Until I read Dr Merrill’s book last week, I still had no idea of the actual facts, only that he had eventually been cleared by the Australian courts; and that was good enough for me. I did not want to know the details; he had been cleared.

But, Ladies and Gentlemen, I was naive. It is just not enough to know that Julian had been cleared. The wrongs inflicted on him by those who otherwise wave the flags of democracy, rule of law, due process and human rights, and trumpet all the politically correct platitudes at us, Pacific Islanders, thus far remain unpunished. The perpetrators have shrugged and moved on, as if to say, you lose some….so what? And that is the evil that this book exposes.

It is possibly accurate to state that had the accuser not confessed practically on his death-bed that he had made up his story about Julian’s so-called ‘crime’, a confession that Dr Merrell obtained on video at the 11th hour and publicised, the story may not necessarily have had a particularly pleasant ending. This is the true horror of this saga. I have to use the word ‘serendipity’ for that reason. But for that….we don’t know.

‘Redeeming Moti’  is going to be an important book for universities and scholars for a number of reasons which I will go into in a minute. But it is not a scholarly book- it does not have the kind of language that scholarly tomes tend to have nowadays in the post-modern tradition- convoluted and Foucaultian  It is uncompromisingly straightforward; a High School student can read it and will find in it both  tragedy and  comedy, take your pick. The story is so awful it is funny- and by funny I mean gallows humour. When I read it I said can this possibly happen to anyone? Well it did happen.  Dr Merrell’s book explains how and why. Julian, in his usual pithy way, put it well….he was, as he said, ‘…the last blackbird out of  Melanesia’. He was not immune to kidnapping, destination Australia, even as the Attorney General of the Solomons.

Now, what will scholars and universities find in the book? What will my law students take from it? That was the litmus test for me as I read it.

Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me tell you why I think that every person in the Pacific and the world should read this book. They will find everything in it. It has all the ingredients of a good thriller; it has a good survey of Pacific and international politics; a good review of media culpability in the persecution of a man who stood up to neo-colonialism, sometimes without support even from those he was protecting; there is a love story (of sorts) in it; and there is redemption, that is, a belief, a desperate belief actually, that one day the truth will be out and then everyone will understand.

At the time that Julian was suffering in various filthy police cells, under trees on a remote Solomon Island air strip, as a “refugee” in an embassy in Papua New Guinea and in the court rooms where his very privacy was violated and exposed to public ridicule, he clung to that hope that he will be redeemed. It is remarkable that his legal intellect remained intact despite these assaults on his dignity and person. And the effect on his elderly parents must have been enormous. How did the long term stress of it all affect his father, also a victim, who sadly passed away just as the Court redeemed Julian.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there are several observations that I can make in reference to why this book will rightly have a scatter-gun effect. First, it exposes mainstream media for what it can be- banal, here today, gone tomorrow, slavish to those in power, hence denigrating its own power to do good, or if that is too hard, at least to be fair, occupying its own colonizing space shamelessly, and then, without warning, becoming self-righteous and unjustifiably indignant.

I say all this with some confidence because my very first job after leaving university was as a journalist with Fiji’s only daily newspaper at the time. I was absolutely amazed when I read Dr Merrell’s book to find that nothing had changed with the media since I was a rookie reporter more than 40 years ago. Is there something to be said about the way mainstream media works in the Pacific and how journalists are trained? Or about the difficulty with the concept of truth? Or if not truth, if that’s too complex, just plain facts? I do advise you all to read the book and reach your own conclusions.

But what Dr Merrell shows as a journalist, and she is one despite her political science doctorate, is that the mainstream media must understand what it means to be the ‘critic and conscience’ of society. That goes for Universities to. That, being the critic and conscience of society, is the core value of both the media and universities. We lose sight of that too easily in both institutions.

Secondly, I turn to Pacific Politics, both external and internal that is exposed in the book. During this sorry series of events apparently now known as ‘Motigate’, parliamentarians of some Pacific Island states switched sides so fast, it made me dizzy just to read about it. What this book says about Pacific Island politics is revealing, to put it mildly. It appears we have no ethics, no loyalty to anyone but ourselves (certainly not to the constituency), no shame in changing sides to stay, even precariously, in power, and no guilt about selling our country or ourselves to the highest bidder. Instead we say, oh well,  that’s politics for you. It’s just a dirty game and anyone entering politics must learn to play it. After all this is the way the world has been even in the western tradition; look at what happened to Julius Caesar. So why should we expect anything different in the Pacific?

Well, I can’t uphold that perspective to my law students; and I hope no lecturer here tonight will be able to say that to their students either. Dr Merrell’s book exposes the farce of Pacific politics, including in Australia, in such a way that we have now to decide what we want our politicians to do and be.

It is the constituency that will have to take the responsibility for keeping its politicians on a tight leash. Deceive us and you are history. That is the message we have to teach our young people- take responsibility for keeping your representatives straight. Challenge them at every opportunity; make them answer your questions; hold their trouser legs with sharp teeth until they beg for mercy. Above all, don’t be frightened of them; they are your servants, not the other way round.

Finally, the law. Ultimately, what comes out as a force for good in this book are the courts. But not easily. In Dr Merrell’s account, courts’ decisions are based as much on chance as on law. If there had been no death-bed confession by the false accuser that the entire story against Julian had been absolutely fabricated to get money out of the Australians who wished to continue milking the RAMSI cow, a story that was published widely by Dr Merrell before the appeal court heard Julian’s case on deportation, who knows how the Australian courts might have ruled. It was as serendipitous as that. In my own experience as a lawyer in Fiji, I know only too well that one can never predict a court outcome. It’s Russian Roulette.

All I and my colleagues at the Unifiji School of Law can do is to advise our students that if they define law as justice, they can keep their heads high; because without justice there is no law. They will still lose on many an occasion because not everyone thinks like that- and the courts very often do not. We should remember, and learn from, the remark attributed to the US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jnr. to a young lawyer arguing that his client required justice from the court. Justice Holmes told him, quite kindly,….’This is a court of law young man, not a court of justice’. But the Australian court that released Julian into the arms of the country of his birth, was a court of justice – at the time. That is the one bright light in the book.

But above all, for all that I have made some remarks that would be pertinent to scholarship, this book is about human foibles, including the author’s own which she freely shares with her readers, and about, almost Shakespearean, tragedy, and regret.

Nevertheless, the phoenix does rise, as did Julian who is here with us today to talk a bit about the aftermath, the postlude. No one involved in this saga remained unscathed, least of all Julian, and also the author- that is clear.

However, we are reminded that despite the evil that we know for a fact exists in the world in myriad forms, there is good also, and that is the only thing that counts in the end. But, of course, only if we can find the difference between the two because, quite often, evil masquerades as good. That is the message in the book.

I congratulate Dr Merrell for having written it, warts and all.

But most of all I commend Julian for having considered the story, unauthorised as it was, important enough to agree to having it launched publicly here today despite the obvious wounds that would be re-opened for him in the process.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am indeed very happy and honoured to formally launch ‘Redeeming Moti’ and to highly recommend it to you.

A Man Worth Voting For.

FORMER FijiFirst party Cabinet minister Pio Tikoduadua said he joined the National Federation Party (NFP) to ensure a brighter future for his children and for the country.

While addressing a gathering at Rakiraki Village yesterday, he said the future of the country and especially that of the youths was at stake.

This had prompted him to come out of retirement and to enter national politics.

“I am happy to be at the front and I am happy to cop the bullet,” he said.

“That is the risk, I take but it is a risk that is actually worth taking. Because, I am not taking it for anyone else, I am taking it for my son and my daughter.

“That’s my motivation. Because if I don’t, they are going to go through worse. So don’t let your children go through worse, they have been through enough.

Prostate Cancer News

Prostate cancer: Blood test could help target treatment

A blood test has been developed that could help target treatment for men with advanced prostate cancer.

Cancer researchers in Europe analysed blood from 265 men with the disease.

They found those with multiple copies of a particular gene did not respond to abiraterone and enzalutamide – drugs commonly used to treat advanced cases.

More trials are needed but the team hope the test could prevent thousands of men undergoing unnecessary treatment and allow more personalised care.

The drugs abiraterone and enzalutamide are given to men whose cancer is no longer responding to traditional hormone therapy and has started to spread.

Costing less than £50, the test is a quick and relatively cheap way of preventing men from undergoing the side effects of therapy that will fail.

Read article click here :

Time For a Change

Very Uneasy Lies the Head That Wears the Crown.

SPEAKER of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni says “there is no law currently that prevents people from criticising parliamentarians”.

Responding to questions regarding the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Bill 2016 (Bill No.28 of 2016), Dr Luveni said the Bill was before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights which had already called for public submissions.

Under clause 24 of the Bill, any person whose words or actions defames, demean or undermine the sanctity of Parliament, the Speaker or a committee commits an offence and is liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $30,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both, and in the case of a body corporate, to a fine not exceeding $100,000 or to imprisonment for each director and manager for a term not exceeding five years, or to both.

Dr Luveni said people were encouraged to air their views on the Bill to the committee as hearings were open to the public.

The deadline for written submissions is 15th May 2017 and this week beginning tomorrow (today), the committee will be holding oral submissions.

“Anyone wishing to make a submission on the Bill, including political parties, is to contact the secretariat.”

She said there were laws in place that protected the freedom of speech in Parliament and protected people and witnesses who made submissions or appear before parliamentary committees.

Yesterday, prominent Suva lawyer Richard Naidu of Munro Leys said it was unthinkable in any democracy that there should be a law which prevented people from criticising Parliament.

“This violates their (people’s) freedom of expression and their right to demand accountability from their MPs,” Mr Naidu said.

He said clause 24 of the Bill made it a crime to “defame, demean or undermine the sanctity of Parliament, the Speaker or a committee”.

“This is so vaguely worded that a person could be prosecuted for saying virtually anything about Parliament.

“The law might understand the word ‘defame’. But the words ‘demean or undermine’ could mean anything.”

Mr Naidu said the word “sanctity” did not even exist in most legal dictionaries.

“It means being holy, sacred or saintly. Parliament is not holy, sacred or saintly. It is a place where ordinary people, elected by other ordinary people, engage in debate and pass laws.

“The same people can also make mistakes, behave badly and waste the money that taxpayers pay to keep them there.

“Those people work for us. And like any employer, we are allowed to criticise the people who work for us.”

He said under the Bill, it was bad enough that a ordinary person could go to prison for five years for breaching the law.

“But if a company manager criticised Parliament for passing a law he or she did not like, all of the directors and managers of that company could also go to prison for five years, even if they knew nothing of what their manager had said.

“So the whole of clause 24 is characterised by overkill and paranoia.

“I’m unaware of any similar law in any country which calls itself a democracy.”

Yesterday, the National Federation Party said they would repeal the Parliamentary Power and Privileges Bill – which is Bill 28 of 2016, if it forms a Government.

In a statement, party leader Professor Biman Prasad said clause 24 of the Bill would allow Parliament to jail and fine people if they “defame, demean or undermine the sanctity of Parliament”.

“It goes without saying that we oppose it. An NFP government will ensure clause 24 of the Parliamentary Privileges Bill will never see the light of day,” Prof Prasad said.

“Parliamentarians are the people’s servants. The people elect them and the people pay them.

“The people are also allowed to criticise them, even if we as parliamentarians think the criticism is unfair.”

Prof Prasad said freedom of expression is also the freedom to differ with the Government.

He said there was no democratic country in the world where such a law existed.

A Simple Truth

“An NFP Government will ensure Clause 24 of the Parliamentary Privileges Bill will never see the light of day…The Fiji First Government has become arrogant and out of touch. Its Ministers are surrounded by bodyguards and drive around in motorcades (and NFP will ban those too). Now Fiji First is so scared of criticism that it would put people in jail and fine them up to $100,000 if they spoke up against Parliamentarians. Politicians who cannot accept criticism should leave Parliament – or the voters should throw them out!”


May 1, 2017

Privileges Bill suppresses freedom of speech

The people of Fiji must know that Clause 24 of the Parliamentary Privileges Bill, if it became law, would allow the Government to jail and fine people if they “defame, demean or undermine the sanctity of Parliament.”

It goes without saying that we oppose it. An NFP Government will ensure clause 24 of the Parliamentary Privileges Bill will never see the light of day.

Parliamentarians are the people’s servants. The people elect them and the people pay them. The people are also allowed to criticise them, even if we as Parliamentarians think the criticism is unfair.  Freedom of expression is also the freedom to differ with the government.

There is no democratic country in the world where such a law exists.

The Fiji First Government has become arrogant and out of touch. Its Ministers are surrounded by bodyguards and drive around in motorcades (and NFP will ban those too). Now Fiji First is so scared of criticism that it would put people in jail and fine them up to $100,000 if they spoke up against Parliamentarians.

Politicians who cannot accept criticism should leave Parliament – or the voters should throw them out!

Authorised by : –

Professor Biman Prasad
NFP Leader

Words Frank, Just Words

Monday 01/05/2017

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (right) and his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull.

The Australian assistance for Fiji’s COP23 presidency has been the subject of talks in Sydney between the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull.

The Prime Minister is in Australia for a four day visit and left soon after arriving to meet Turnbull at his home in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

Bainimarama told Turnbull that it was critical to preserve the multilateral consensus contained in the Paris Agreement for decisive cuts in carbon emissions to arrest the current rate of global warming and reduce the impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events such as Tropical Cyclone Winston.

He says Fiji had deeply appreciated Australian assistance in the wake of the devastation caused by Winston last February.

The PM also asked Turnbull to use his influence with countries like New Zealand and Japan to fully support Fiji’s leadership of the ongoing UN climate change negotiations in Bonn, Germany, in November.

During his visit to Australia, the Prime Minister will deliver the keynote address at the 4th Australasian Emissions Reduction Summit in Melbourne today.

How About some action at Home Frank….

Less than three years ago, I was given a verbal assurance by Fiji’s top mover and shaker (while his 6 bodyguards kept a cautious eye on me) that given all the tourist development proposed and existing at Vuda and in the Nadi Bay area, the government would not allow new ocean pipelines for the discharge of Residual Fuel Oil (HFO) into Vuda Point storage tanks
This type of fuel oil can be made from high sulphur Middle Eastern Crude in which case the fuel oil will have a high sulphur content which will necessitate using more expensive lubricating oil in the engines and also doing something to scrub the exhaust gases so that you don’t just put nasty oxides of sulphur up the chimneys, which will give children and adults living in the area of the power station asthma and respiration problems, over time it also corrodes everything made of steel. It has a high specific gravity and might be borderline in terms of whether or not it floats.( which means it is extremely dangerous to marine life in the event of a pipe leak or accidental discharge).
It could be made from low sulphur South East Asian Crudes – like Tapis for example. In that case it will not have such a high sulphur content but it will be waxy which means that it will be solid or semi solid at ambient temperatures (high pour point) and will certainly need heating for storage and handling.
In short it is a low cost product with disadvantages that Fiji really does not need.
However guess what???, contractors are currently installing the new pipeline to handle this product, and we are advised two new fuel storage tanks are to be built at Vuda.

Have the public, or the residents of Vuda, the investors in hotels and developments in the area been advised or consulted??. Not to my knowledge.
It is rumoured that the local land owners have been paid a pittance to obtain their approval for an additional pipeline, but were they fully informed about its proposed use.

Has our erstwhile PM, whilst campaigning against air and ocean pollution been kept advised. Has he advised his peers on the world stage that Fiji is facilitating and encouraging the use of this product, in one of Fiji’s main tourist areas.???

One thing is certain, trust has been shattered and nothing can mend it.

The Buffet Rule





Let’s see if these folks understand what people pressure is all about.


Salary of retired US Presidents .. . . . .. . . . . .. . $180,000 FOR LIFE.


Salary of House/Senate members .. . . . .. . . . $174,000 FOR LIFE. This is stupid


Salary of Speaker of the House .. . . . .. . . . . $223,500 FOR LIFE. This is really stupid


Salary of Majority / Minority Leaders . . .. . . . . $193,400 FOR LIFE. Stupid


Average Salary of a teacher . . .. . . . .. . . . . .. .$40,065


Average Salary of a deployed Soldier . . .. . . .. $38,000


Here’s where the cuts should be made!


Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:


“I could end the deficit in five minutes,” he told CNBC. “You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election”.


The 26th Amendment ( granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds ) took only three months and eight days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971 – before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc.


Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year or less to become the law of the land – all because of public pressure.


Warren Buffett is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.


In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.


Congressional Reform Act of 2017


1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman / woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they’re out of office.


2. Congress (past, present, & future) participates in Social Security.


All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.


3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.


4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.


5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.


6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.


7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 3/1/17. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women.


Congress made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and go back to work.


If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people, then it will only take three days for most people in the U.S. to receive the message. It’s time!




If you agree, pass it on.


The PM is Correct