There is no personal agenda against Chaudary – Victor Lal in the Fiji Sun

The Military Council must not be swayed into supporting any media legislation just because the interim Finance Minister and Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Pal Chaudhry claims that by publishing his tax affairs the media was trying to foster a division between the interim administration and the military council.
They must come to an independent decision on the documentary evidence that Mr Chaudhry had secretly hid $2million in his Australian bank account from FIRCA, Parliament, the military, and the people of Fiji
In 2005, he had claimed that he had not received a cent from his ancestral homeland in Haryana.
And the council must not easily swallow Mr Chaudhry’s claim that the news media and Fiji Sun’s deported publisher Russell Hunter had a personal agenda against him.
If Mr Hunter had a personal agenda, why didn’t Mr Chaudhry make his (Mr Hunter’s) removal from Fiji a pre-condition for FLP MPs joining the Qarase-led multi-party Cabinet after the 2006 election?
Why is he raising the issue now? Is it because of the publication of the $2million Haryana story?
Mr Chaudhry has also accused me of conspiracy, an allegation that I have dispelled in a previous column.
What was Mr Chaudhry doing when he was criss-crossing the globe, calling upon us, and the various governments, to impose sanctions against the Bainimarama-installed interim Laisenia Qarase government after the 2000 coup?
Was he, as a former minister Simione Kaitani claimed, encouraging us to commit treason with him against that interim government?
Mr Chaudhry has no right to complain or accuse Mr Hunter and I over the tax stories. As I pointed out previously, he had every opportunity to end the speculation when the tax story first broke in August 2007.
But, no, he chose to remain silent, and only went on the offensive when the Fiji Times took up his challenge and named him as the minister concerned.
What Mr Chaudhry was, perhaps, unaware of was that I had a far more explosive story than the tax story, and that is, that he was hiding $2million in Australia.
His allegations and outbursts against the media must be interpreted in the context of the $2million story. He is now claiming that the media is racist and divisive – a claim which is patently false and misleading.
When Mr Chaudhry was ousted in the 2000 coup, one foreign journalist claimed as follows: “For reasons not yet fully explained, Chaudhry however had no honeymoon in office and quickly found himself ensnared in a bitter media war.
“Part of the problem was, plainly, his own behaviour; he was startlingly arrogant and when confronted with genuine issues of concern (such as hiring his own son to a lucrative post) he responded with all the hostility useful in his former profession as a trade unionist.”
It is evident that whenever Mr Chaudhry is not happy with a story about him or the FLP, he invokes the words, “personal agenda”.
In 2000, as Prime Minister and Minister for Information, he removed a radio presenter and then publisher of Daily Post, Thakur Ranjit Singh, from the news and current affairs programme on the Hindustani station Radio Fiji 2, accusing him of being biased against the FLP.
Mr Singh hosted the twice-weekly programme called “Tanik Hamari Bhi Suno” (Hey mate, listen to me).
Mr Chaudhry said his government was the “custodian” of the taxpayers’ money and Radio Fiji had a responsibility to be fair, accurate and unbiased. He said Mr Singh violated this and was biased against the FLP. Regarding media criticism, he said: “In the name of freedom they want to commit murder.”
Mr Chaudhry also suggested that the Fiji Media Council would take too long to handle a complaint. So he took it upon himself to remove Mr Singh from the programme!
What about the counter-claim of Sir James Ah Koy, the former finance minister and current Fiji ambassador to China, that there was no personal agenda against Mr Chaudhry?
On February 25, 2008, Sir James stressed that the two FIRCA chief auditors, Lepani Rabo and Joseva Leano, who were sacked last year had no personal agenda against Mr Chaudhry when the two started their intensive investigations against the FLP leader for allegedly evading tax over a period of time and his source of income in the off-shore accounts..
Meanwhile, on the advice of Mr Hunter I had, on Monday August 6, 2007, sent Mr Chaudhry a list of questions regarding his tax matters to a private e-mail account of his which I had been using over the years to communicate with him.
It was a formal e-mail and was sent under the Fiji Media Council’s Code of Ethics.
The e-mail read: “Dear Mr Mahendra Chaudhry, Further to my earlier questions, I would be extremely grateful if you could indicate whether you are willing to confirm or deny that the interim Cabinet Minister that the Daily Post alluded to is none other than yourself. As I mentioned, I am working on a general tax story and your co-operation as interim Minister of Finance would be greatly appreciated.
“You will also agree that although the Income Tax Act requires the FIRCA to maintain secrecy, it does not permit the taxpayer not to be untruthful in reporting his tax details.
“Again, I would be extremely grateful if you could explain why you did not submit your tax returns in 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003, presuming you are the minister in question?
“Also, why were you allegedly wrong in calculating your earnings, given that you are a former government auditor, a former finance minister in the ousted Bavadra government, and now the official purse keeper of the nation?”
In the same e-mail I raised other matters: “I would also be grateful if you could answer the questions that I sent you on the Cyclone Ami and the Haryana funds. I hope you fully understand the seriousness of the matter and that your name is now being floating around on the internet, especially on Why Fiji is Crying website.
“It is therefore in your own interest and in the interest of the nation and the interim government to confirm or deny that you are the minister in question, and are willing to give your side of the story… I look forward to hearing from you, preferably by the end of the week, as my deadline for the story is approaching, and as required by the Media Concil’s Code of Ethics. Yours sincerely, Victor Lal.”
Mr Chaudhry completely ignored my questions so, on Wednesday August 15, 2007, I ran my version of his tax affairs, without naming him as the minister: “Taxman and the Minister: Revealed: How FIRCA did not believe him.”
He, thereafter, continued to maintain stony silence, except claiming that an internal FIRCA inquiry had cleared the minister concerned. He refused to disclose his identity until the Fiji Times named him lately.
Since he declined to respond to my earlier questions, neither I nor the Fiji Sun had any further obligation to ask him why he was hiding $2million in his Australian bank account.
Now, Mr Chaudhry suddenly claims that Fiji’s media should be licensed because it’s divisive and racist. He said the media is not practising the way it should be and is not following media principles or ethics.
What were we at the Fiji Sun doing when we sent him a list of questions in August 2007 to answer about his tax affairs – did he think that we had sent him a card wishing him Happy Diwali?
Mr Chaudhry said Fiji’s media is not responsible with the freedom it’s been given. Frankly, it is he who is abusing his position as a servant of the people, albeit in a non-elected interim Cabinet. According to him: “Media freedom and any sort of freedom come with a sense of responsibility and if the media cannot comply with its own ethics and if it cannot discipline itself in the matters of the ethics and the conduct of the media, then obviously legislation is necessary to ensure that the media does not play a role which is detrimental to the country, which is dividing, which is racist in nature.
“This is the hallmark of a number of media organisations in Fiji which have not even hesitated to destabilise the country for its own narrow agenda.” he said. Mr Chaudhry said the media in Fiji has earned itself a critical hallmark through its biased reporting. “Because of the bias that the media has shown in relation to a number of issues, the media is creating a political agenda and they have sacrificed the principle of media ethics. They have not reported on matters accurately and in a fair and balanced manner. And they seem to be frequently biased with freedom,” he said
Mr Chaudhry added there was enough evidence to show why media legislation was important in Fiji. In the same breath, one could argue that there is enough evidence in the three-member team’s report which investigated his tax affairs that warrants a legislation to bar the likes of Mr Chaudhry from ever holding political office, not to mention as the chief treasurer of the nation, and as line manager of FIRCA.
The report of the independent inquiry into the taxation affairs of Mahendra Pal Chaudhry found as follows: “Mr Chaudhry lodged his tax returns for the 2000 and 2001 financial years together on May 30, 2002, which was outside the March 31 due date for the lodgement of those returns. He lodged his returns for the year 2002 year on December 12, 2003, which was also outside the time allowed. Mr Chaudhry did not declare interest on the Australian and New Zealand financial institution accounts in his return lodged with FIRCA in respect of any of the 2000 and 2003 (inclusive) years.” These were some of the very questions that I had asked him to answer on August 6, 2007, and which he blatantly chose to ignore.
Now, after thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money was paid to the team, we know that there were anomalies in his tax records, the very anomalies I had claimed in my stories.
It is not the media but Mr Chaudhry who needs a lesson in ethics and should be subject to legislation – and the Military Council should deal with him immediately.
We followed the Media Code of Ethics when we confronted him about his tax details. It was he who chose to brush us aside, and adopt an ostrich-like position until recently. He must, therefore, explain about the Haryana letter and who is the mysterious Harbhajan Lal.
No media legislation can stop our search for the $2million that belonged to the Fiji-Indian community in Fiji.
The media does not need a lecture in ethics from him nor be subjected to legislation when he ignored questions sent to him under the Media Council Code of Ethics. Perhaps Mr Chaudhry should disclose how much was paid to the three-member team to compile that tax report on him.
It’s only ethical, since the money paid out belongs to the taxpayers, which includes the members of the Military Council.
The views expressed are those of Oxford-based Victor Lal and not those of the Fiji Sun.
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19 Responses to “There is no personal agenda against Chaudary – Victor Lal in the Fiji Sun”

  1. ex Fiji Tourist Says:

    Brilliant!

    A fantastic summing up of a snake, a viper and a complete waste of space in Fiji.

    chaudhry the cheat must have a hide as thick as an elephant if he believes that he has any credibility in international politics.

    Remember 4 months ago he was beaming and talking about how his labor party mates in Australia would help him after their election win.

    Somehow, I can’t recall hearing about his invitation to ‘The Lodge’ for tea and scones in recent months.

    Then again, neither has bin larden.

  2. Mark Manning Says:

    just been watching channel 7 in Sydney , it finished at 1130 p.m. , about a lady who couldn’t stop lying . to the point where she lied about having cancer and her young daughter dying . All B/S and after 9 months jail for fraud of $30,000 from unsuspecting men friends , she then starts telling the reporter she has been diagnosed in prison with bi polar disease ! when the reporter asked for the list of medication , she got angry and asked if the reporter was calling her a liar ! I believe Frank and Chaudhry and many in the IG , are compulsive liars and can’t help themselves . Like Peter Foster . The thing they have in common is , they are all very convincing and almost believable , until they get caught out .

  3. FijiGirl Says:

    You know the psychological term of ‘projecting’ – when you project your own perceived characteristics, fair or foul, onto another entity?

    It’s a simple but revealing exercise. Take a statement and reverse the role of the speaker and the subject. It shows how critical people are actually self-critical, positive people are positive, and so on.

    Well get a load of how Chodopu$$ is ‘projecting’ his own failures onto the media (reversals indicated in capital type)

    Media freedom and any sort of freedom come with a sense of responsibility and if I cannot comply with MY own ethics and if I cannot discipline MYSELF in the matters of the ethics and the conduct of ME, then obviously legislation is necessary to ensure that I do not play a role which is detrimental to the country, which is dividing, which is racist in nature.
    This is the hallmark of ME who has not even hesitated to destabilise the country for MY own narrow agenda.” he said.
    Mr Chaudhry said HE has earned itself a critical hallmark through HIS biased reporting.
    “Because of the bias that I have shown in relation to a number of issues, I AM creating a political agenda and I HAVE sacrificed the principle of media ethics.
    I HAVE not reported on matters accurately and in a fair and balanced manner. And I seem to be frequently biased with freedom,” he said.

    Revealing, much?

    God bless Fiji

  4. Peace Pipe Says:

    That was brilliant FijiGirl. When I read it, it really reflected on what the snake is really doing instead of the media. The projecting reversal indeed shows that what the snake claims other to be is in fact what he really is. The sooner we get rid of the snake the sooner we will be able to progress. He is like a bad constipation in the country’s progress. Once this blockage is removed everything will start flowing smoothly.

  5. ex Fiji Tourist Says:

    Peace Pipe.

    Did you hear about the constipated illegal minister of finance?

    he worked it with a pencil.

  6. ex Fiji Tourist Says:

    FijiGirl, well done.

    This one line shines out to me as the personification of chaudhry the cheat.

    “””This is the hallmark of ME who has not even hesitated to destabilise the country for MY own narrow agenda.” he said. “”

  7. ex Fiji Tourist Says:

    Whoops!

    The last line above should read:-

    he worked it out with a pencil.

  8. Fiji Democracy Now Says:

    Congratulations Soli for running this fine piece of writing and reportage by
    Victor Lal. Somehow we overlooked it. But to make amends we are front-
    paging your posting of it as our “Think Piece” for today.

    Like you, we’ve been onto the CHODOPU$$ for some time (actually, we
    invented the term, which we thought appropriate given the way he slithers
    around behind the scenes and gets his greedy tentacles into everything – so bloggers keep using the term! Even the appalling Budhau has used it!).

    Seriously, Victor Lal has posed questions that MUST be answered – why the
    CHODOPU$$ has never been transparent about his personal finances and
    remains completely opaque about his millions in Australia; why he is allowed to stay on in power when he preaches ethics but doesn’t practice them; and how much the whitewash investigation cost taxpayers.

    Like you and the courageous few among Fiji’s media who are prepared to stick to their media ethics and reveal the truth in the public interest, FDN is going to stay on the case until we get some answers.

  9. Corruption Fighter Says:

    Why doesn’t Chaudhry bring his $2 million to Fiji? Could it be that he has reason to believe the Fiji Dollar will be devalued? When he seized power he imposed tough restriuctions on foreign currency transactions and now the RBF has been chasing gold hidden under people’s beds or foreign currency accounts. Why doesn’t the media hound to ask whether his money is staying offshore because he knows a devaluation is coming.

  10. George Says:

    Chaudhry, Khaiyum and Bainimarama WISH the questions about the $2m and exactly when Chaudhry paid taxes on it, were over.

    Chaudhry has been back at work now the last 2 weeks, with nary a peep out of him (except saying that his charter first before any elections), but he’s not his usual self aye!

    Thinks that the people of Fiji will forget. The farmer who gave land for the FLP Valelawa refugee camp certainly is not forgetting the money he was promised!

    And this after Nasinu Mayor and FLP treasurer told the world the $2m was all used in their Vanua Levu refugee camps. Where are all those camp residents now? why, in squatter settlements in Nasinu and around Viti Levu! where else? FLP couldn’t organise to get them as refugees to Oz and NZ. But you still expect them to vote for you. Now contradicted your policy position where you advised tenants of expiring leases NOT to pay GOODWILL to landowners – what does MPC organise this week in cabinet, why, none else but to pay $400,000 as goodwill to landowners in Naitasiri province for farmers whose leases were about to expire. Tut, tut, don’t have time to setup a refugee camp? oh, and what else? subsidise 10% ucv rental on new ALTA leases. QUESTION IS, ARE THE LANDOWNERS PLAYING?

    just how will you try to pull the wool over their eyes THIS TIME?
    – Can they trust the courts to resolve a future lease dispute without bias? – Can they trust the current NLTB board appointed by the illegal government?
    – Can they trust the illegal govt to have the funds for the 10% subsidy?
    – Can they trust that the rfmf goonies will not be stopping them from evicting tenants if they don’t want to renew leases

    Bottom line, do the landowners and people of Fiji, including the cane farmers, STILL TRUST FRANK AND MAHEN??

  11. newsfiji Says:

    Brilliant Work Victor Lal – expose the lies!

  12. natewaprince Says:

    Totally agree,Victor Lal must keep his articles concerning the tax evading dog in the Sun untill elections so that his supporters do not forget what this self-serving hypocrit has done to them.

  13. FijiGirl Says:

    From Fijilive
    PM takes a swipe at media
    30 MAR 2008
    Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama took another swipe at the media, this time during the second meeting of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji which took place in Suva last week.

    Bainimarama said a major difficult issue relates to the media’s role on promoting good governance and free speech.

    “If you were to believe all that you hear and read on Fiji in the media, local and international, you would be inclined to think that there is clear and present threat to free speech in Fiji.

    “In truth, there is no such threat, it is only a figment of the imagination of those who remain persistently opposed to the interim Government,” he said.

    He said the interim Government is increasingly concerned about the lack of professionalism and responsibility in some media reporting.

    “The media plays a major role in influencing the mood of the nation but that needs to be done fairly, objectively and with close regard to how best to help Fiji to move forward,” Bainimarama said.

    He added it should not be left to the Government to have to tell the media what it thinks.

    “We expect and accept the media will often disagree with us. However we believe the media is best regulated by itself-there is a Media Council that should be playing a more effective role in calling to account the more persistent irresponsible reporting that goes on.”

    He went on to say that if the media fails to report truthfully and responsibly and if it also fails to self-regulate, “that will make it more difficult for Government to give sensible consideration to promoting greater transparency in government through the introduction of freedom of information laws in Fiji”.
    Fijilive

    Have fun playing ‘projection reversal’ here with Frank. I suspect his public relations exec has been reading this blog. His statement is more considered than Chodo’s. But that don’t mean he ain’t crazy.

    God bless Fiji.

  14. senibua Says:

    E rawa beka ni vakamacalataki e “chief” mai vei o ka qo na $2man?

    Sa dua na ka na via reverse psychology e via caka o la qo. Beka sa rauti koya ga kei vore na reverse psychology tactic vaqo, laiva vei Mahen na ka vaqo Jo! Sa kaukauti koya cake dina – galu qo o tukitau, sa vosa cake mai. Mai yaso!!!!!! Leqa gona ni ra sa vuku mai na lialia!

    —————————-

    Fiji doomed unless VP appointed: Chief
    31 MAR 2008
    A Fijian chief believes the country could become a ‘crisis’ zone unless the position of Fiji Vice President is filled and the appointment of members of the Great Council of Chiefs done as soon as possible.

    GCC taskforce chairman Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo told Fijilive it is imperative that members of the GCC are appointed soon otherwise the country is doomed.

    “With all due respect, what if something goes wrong with the head of government and his position is left vacant?

    “We will have no choice but to have the interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama take over his position because the VP and the GCC has not been appointed yet.

    “That’s the reason we are trying to appoint the chiefs to sit in the council, but a few provinces have turned renegade on us. They don’t realize the consequences that will follow.”

    Nawalowalo was referring to five provinces that have not shown support for the military-led interim Government and its initiatives.

    He said that resentment of the interim Government will not get any better if the Prime Minister decides to become the head of government.

    “So why don’t the chiefs and the people come aboard and support the interim Government and let life go on because if they continue to drag this then surely a crisis is imminent.

    “It’s now or never and its time to make a wise choice for the people of Fiji.”

    He is also pleading with the 14 Fijian provinces not to hesitate in appointing their high chiefs as their respective representatives to the GCC, so that the appointment of the VP is done.

    “Our priority is to appoint the Vice President as soon as possible to fill the vacant position.”

    He said the taskforce is confident that the new-look GCC will be ready to convene in two months.

    “We are planning to hold the first meeting in June.”

    Meanwhile the taskforce will be visiting the province of Serua next on April 10 to present to them the interim Cabinet’s decision on changes to the GCC.

    The Naitasiri Provincial Council last week rejected the changes. http://www.fijilive.com/news_new/index.php/news/show_news/3299

  15. aubatinuku-N Says:

    Today MC says no charter, no elections, the guy has no conscience and no worries at all for him because all he has to do is get on that plane and go to his stolen booty in Australia.
    Sa ra sota ga vaka lialia!
    Mahendra Chaudhary and Voreqe Bainimarama & Company are running short on patience and time.

  16. John Veikoso Says:

    so what no election, what will you do then batilala??

  17. aubatinuku-N Says:

    E cava? Sa maca nomudou weli?
    Se sa lala ga mai na qavokavoka?

    bhahahah!!

    Don’t get too comfortable naita!!

    “WE AIM TO PLEASE”

    You ain’t seen nothin yet bro!
    Waraka namaka!
    Power of the people!
    Kudru ni vanua!
    You and 7 generations of your decendents will be cursed with the same and even worse treatment you and your kind dish out.

    YOU, JONE VEIKOSO! ONLY SERVE TO STRENTHEN OUR RESOLVE!
    God bless you for supporting our cause by adding your 2 cents worth!

    E sa kanaki qima vi iko.
    “NO CHARTER IN REWA” !!
    Get it and get it good!!
    Iko vaka na tamata kaisi, sigai nona koro, sigai nona kawa!
    You think in your PUNY liver of a brain that you are all mighty, powerful because you hide behind your silly hat, camies and dumb gun you tote like a purse.
    At the end of the day good always TRIUMPHS over evil!
    Du sa maleka na kana loto tiko e na gauna taucoko qo eh!
    Ia, e sa vakarau qima, da qai saka yani i nakoro i RATU JONE VEIKOSO, me lai qaravi saka na i tavi e sa lesia saka mai na Tamada Sa Tabogo “TAGANE, KANA MAI NA BUNO NI YADREMU”.
    E a sigai ni vakarota na Kalou vi keda na tagane me da tauri dakai wavoki, se kanaloto, se butakoca na wekada, se vodomotoka wavoki!

    “Rerevaka na Kalou ka doda na Tui”
    God Bless you and yours bro!

  18. senidilo Says:

    Woohoo! vinaka AUBATINUKU-N !!

    you go girl!!!

    tell them to them!!

    😉

    so glad to see the rfmf goonies and gremlins get their ass handed to they on a platter!!

    na ka me tukuni vei ratou o voceke: Kana mai na buno ni yadremu… sega ni buno ni demu, na buno ni rerevaka na tu vakatagane, me bolea na isau ni laba eratou caka ena yabaki 2000… eso na sotia lamulamu era bini tiko qo ena Runny F@rkers Mimi Flours!! do the crime, do the time…… era na velavela ga mai vakataki tuiteci, era na qai muri koya kece!

    na tagi ni vanua e sega ni levei rawa. sa oti qo e 8 na yabaki nodratou drotaka tiko na nodratou laba.qai laurai ni sa gauna mera bala kina e valeniveivesu, se mera kuna, o cei vei ira na lala kanaloto oqo ena baci tovolea me drobula!

  19. aubatinuku-N Says:

    Oops! Typo error!

    “Rerevaka na Kalou ka doka na Tui”

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