Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fiji: Suva Sin City Perhaps or Is it an Economic Spin?

Snoqualmie Tribe considering $260 million Fiji casino partnership


By CAROL LADWIG

Snoqualmie Valley Record Staff Reporter

December 27, 2011 · 12:15 PM

For $1 million and some sharing of its expertise, the Snoqualmie Tribe could take part-ownership of a $290 million luxury resort and casino operation in Fiji.

The offer, from developer Larry Claunch's One Hundred Sands corporation, proposes a partnership with the tribe in developing a resort and casino on Denarau Island, on the west coast of Fiji, in early 2012, and possibly a second casino at Suva, on the southeast coast, to be built later.

It's an intriguing proposal, said Tribal Administrator Matt Mattson, for three reasons. One is that Claunch was recently awarded the country's first and only gambling license, giving him exclusive ownership of all gambling activities at the tourist destination.

"That steady stream of tourists presents a healthy market," Mattson said.


Also, "The tribe thinks it would be an excellent opportunity to assist and mentor another indigenous culture… as they get into operating a gaming facility in their country."

Finally, the timing was opportune. In July, Mattson said the tribal council had just finalized eight priorities for the coming year, and economic development through diversification was high on the list. Within a few months, Donald Sampson, executive director of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon, met with the Snoqualmie council to suggest the partnership with One Hundred Sands as an investment opportunity.

Having nurtured the Snoqualmie Casino through three years of economic recession since its opening in November, 2008, the tribe has valuable experience and expertise to share. The casino was not only the cheapest and biggest startup venture in tribal casinos in Washington, he said, but it also has never lost money.


"The tribe has never not paid its bills," Mattson said. Revenue from the casino has still not met the initial projections from the 2006 plans, and the tribe, banking on higher returns, was forced to eliminate its police force, and cut staff salaries by 20 percent, among other budget cuts in 2008 and 2009. However, by 2010, the casino had experienced 40 percent growth, and was taking market share from its competitors while overall gaming activity in the Puget Sound area has decreased. Further, it plans to start making per capita distributions of tribal profits to its membership in the coming year.


That experience alone could be extremely valuable to the Fiji casino, Mattson said. The tribe has also been asked for a $1 million investment, which he says "is very real money, but the risk-reward ratio seems reasonable.".......

Read more http://www.valleyrecord.com/news/136273828.html

Learn about the Snoqualmie Tribe at http://www.snoqualmienation.com/.

Contact Snoqualmie Valley Record Staff Reporter Carol Ladwig at cladwig@valleyrecord.com.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fiji Refuses Entry to International Union Delegation

INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION CONFEDERATION

ITUC OnLine

Fiji Refuses Entry to International Union Delegation

Brussels, 13 December 2011 (ITUC OnLine): The refusal by the Fiji authorities to allow an Australian and New Zealand trade union delegation to enter the country today shows that the country is "sliding deeper into dictatorship", according to ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

"The Fiji regime has maintained that it is open to outside scrutiny, but this denial of entry tells the opposite story.  Try as the military authorities might, the spotlight will continue to shine on their violations of workers' rights and other basic freedoms.  Todays' events will only increase pressure on the regime," said Burrow.

The delegation, led by ACTU Australia President Ged Kearney, was refused permission to enter the country on arrival at Nadi airport and deported without any access to consular assistance.  Delegation members' mobile phones were confiscated until their departure.  The New Zealand and Australian unions had planned to meet Prime Minister Bainimarama to seek a fresh dialogue on human and labour rights in Fiji, and had also planned to meet Fiji trade union counterparts, church leaders, and other civil society and business representatives.

The ITUC represents 175 million workers in 153 countries and territories and has 308 national affiliates.

 Source:
 Director: Bauu Institute and Press
http://www.bauuinstitute.com/

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Call for Silence in the Pacific

A CALL FOR SILENCE IN THE PACIFIC

The Pacific has been the scene of much important thinking. Recent Pacific publications present ideas that are not only relevant to Pacific societies, but have important implications for the other cultures around it. One of these is a project to recover the meaning of silence.

As Unaisi Nabobo-Baba argues in her book *Knowing and Learning: An indigenous Fijian approach *(Suva: IPS Publications, 2006), the silent child in a Western classroom is seen as a problem. By contrast in many traditional Pacific communities, silence is seen as a culturally appropriate mode of behaviour. Nabobo-Baba goes further and develops a taxonomy of silence, which includes 18 different ways of being quiet, including ?silence and the elements? and ?silence when in awe of custom?

(see here<http://www.southernperspectives.net/field/culture/a-taxonomy-of-silence>for
an extract of her book).

The cultural meaning of silence poses some challenging questions:

   - What is the positive expression of silence?
   - How can silence be reconciled with modern democracy?
   - What is the role of silence in modern Western countries like
   Australia?
   - How can silence speak?
   - What is the constructive role of silence in the classroom?
   - What are the creative dimensions of silence?

Would you be interested in being part of a further discussion about this issue? If you would like to be involved in the development of a colloquium on silence, you are invited to send in your details. This includes:

   - Name
   - Role
   - Area of interest
   - What you would like to contribute to this development

Contributions can include research, a specific perspective, a performance, a venue or a program context. Please send an email to silence@southernperspectives.net. Responses are due 21 January 2012. We will then follow up your interest and keep you in the loop about events where silence will be heard over the next two years.

Unaisi Nabobo-Baba, University of Guam http://www.uog.edu/ Kevin Murray, Southern Perspectives http://www.southernperspectives.net/

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Relook: "How Frank Bainimarama's regime screwed up Fiji's Mahogany.." [Raw Fiji]

Bula all,
We have decided to reblog Raw Fiji's brief on this article as we believe it is important to note what has transpired over time since this 2006 coup by Bainimarama.
Many readers have often commented on spelling mistakes and structure of blogs. On this note, we again emphasise that many of the writings are done under the scrutiny of the Fiji military regime under Bainimarama. This together with his group of supporters in Fiji and overseas do all possible to either hack or block bloggers like us that are vocal about the happenings in Fiji.
Our reason for opposing this regime is clear. We do not condone the ongoing Human Rights Abuse.
We do not condone the ongoing extension of Public Emergency Regulation under which this Fiji regime is able to run its governance.  The list goes one to Indigenous People of Fiji being marginalised at the outset of the 2006 coup.
 For instance, most of the beatings and those that lost their lives were Indigenous Fijians. Why?? We want answers!!
Please bear with us if the speelings or the structure of these blogs do not make sense to you. For some like us it does make alot of sense.
Secretariat
Luvei Viti Think Tank Forum.
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Sent to you by fijian via Google Reader:
via Raw Fiji News by rawfijinews on 11/23/11
By real jack well the mahogany thing is not getting us that rate of return. its supposedly a billion dollar asset – but we are reading about mahogany trees being left to rot in the field and that sort of thing.
back in the 50′s/60′s when they planted those trees, those guys kept records of the varius plots – the point of keeping those records was because as the tree's grew you would be able quantify the yield by plot - and the forestry guys would be able to have the forest Rangers assess any variations on the ground (i.e account for new sprouting or damaged trees from weather variations etc etc etc) and they would be able to keep a database on those plots
those Rangers would have been checking the plots on a monthly basis and keeping records – we should have had records going back to when those trees were first planted.
and coming into the early 90′s we should have started tranferring all that information onto a digital interface connected into the broader digital land information system which Kamikamica and the late Tui Nayau were setting up
we would then be in a position to know EXACTLY HOW MUCH OF A YIELD WE HAD and EXACTLY HOW MUCH THEY WERE VALUED AT.
the quality of the trees would be known – and the value of each plot would be known based on the exact number of trees standing in each plot.
and the policy guys in Govt should have known what to do with the plantations – either we parcel them off into small lots and auction them internationally based on the yield value per plot and then sign up concession agreements for the guys who bought in OR go the Fiji Hardwood way which they went.
but either way we needed to know exactly what was in the field.
but we didn't.
there was no Transparency in what was going on and as a result we have squandered that so called billion dollar asset.
how much development have the people of Vugalei seen from those mahogany forests ? they have (or had) an estimated $50 million dollar forest standing in their lands over there - and how much of that $50 million have they actually seen ?
the Govt guys went and did things based on royalty – so guys come along and pick and choose which trees they want – and leave the rest of the trees they have chopped down to rot in the field – and so the full value of that plot is not realised – apart from the damage caused.
in other places in the world eg Germany they sell lots – guys have to auction for forest lots at market rates. they then purchase the concession to harvest those lots – and they go ahead and harvest for a limited concession period – the value of the concession is based on the value of the standing timber within the PLOT – and they are able to do that because they have a GIS and LIS system which is a database tied into that land information structures – they realise full value on their forests.
here we give concessions for a licence which is nowhere near the actual standing value of the trees – and then we hope that those guys go in a cut down trees and pay us royalties – but those guys go in and pick and choose – and the net result is we don't get full value on the yield per plot, bcause they only pay royalty on what they cut down and bring out
in one plot they take 25 trees and leave 50 trees to rot – and then in another they take 35 trees and leave 65 to rot – and so on and so forth.
and what do we get ? we get royalties for the 25 trees they cut in plot 1 and 35 trees they cut in plot 2 – and the remaining 115 trees are left rotting in the field.
so what was the point of our having planted all those 115 trees and nurtured that plantation ?
we end up with royalties return which don't reflect the actual value per plot in a 100 tree plot – we value each tree at $80,000 a tree – so we have a plot of 8000000 (eight million) dollars in value
the guy comes in and cuts out 65 trees – pays us 17.5% royalty on how much he has purchased it for from Fiji Hardwood (which is definitely not 8 million) and takes off – leaving the 35 trees rotting in the field that plot valued at 8 million dollars we have just flogged off for $900,000 to Fiji Hardwood for 65 trees plus 17.5% royalty to Forestry - 2 million or thereabouts give or take the damage done to the plot is complete – we can't use the remaining trees left to rot for anything other than secondary value the guys walks away with what he wants by picking and choosing. leaves the whole plot scavanged. what gives ? we give. hand over fist. and thats whats happening now. we are losing money lots of money.
that billion dollar mahogany asset is a myth – nowhere near it. we haven't retained any of its value – let alone structured deals to ensure that we recovered the full value of the plantation. we are making all these deals and having photo shoots – but the family silver is being flogged off for way below value whilst our economy descends into debt and sub par growth Things you can do from here:
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Bula, No'oia, Kia Ora, Warm Greetings, Namaste

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