fiji UNCENSORED

June 11, 2009

ACCEPTANCE OR ISOLATION Part II

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 16:44
Tags: ,

OPINION

  • This is the second part of the speech DR BRIJ LAL was to have given tomorrow at the Fiji Institute of Accountants Congress in Nadi. These are excerpts from his handwritten notes.

It is no secret that the interim administration is unhappy with the reaction of the international community, and it has singled out Australia and New Zealand for particular criticism in relation to their alleged interference in forum decision-making about Fiji.

There are several points to consider. The forum position has hardened over time in direct response to Fiji’s intransigence. Tonga’s Fred Sevele was sympathetic to Fiji in the beginning, as was PNG’s Michael Somare. Both were disappointed at Fiji’s snub of Pacific leaders’ meeting in Niue and then in Port Moresby.

Fiji needs to recognise that Pacific leaders are not pawns in the hands of Australia and New Zealand, and it is deeply offensive to Pacific Island leaders for Fiji to think so.

And there is a further point to consider. Why should anyone express surprise that Australia and New Zealand are using their diplomatic leverage in the region to effect an outcome they want?

You would surely expect democratic countries to champion values that underpin their own political culture and not condone practices which seek to subvert them. But having said that, I know that the international community does want to help, provided there is genuine willingness on the part of the interim administration to engage in inclusive dialogue.

Fiji’s siege mentality in the circumstances is understandable, but it is also a hindrance to progress. It is perhaps this closed mindset that obscures a clear perception of the international reaction to Fiji.

I recall what then Minister Mahendra Chaudry said when the Rudd Labor Government was elected into office.  He welcomed the new government and said that he was hopeful that Canberra would show a more sympathetic appreciation of the situation in Fiji.

I was asked to respond to this on a Hindi radio talk show. The whole world came crashing down on my head. I said that the change of government would not alter Australia’s position on Fiji, and gave three reasons. One was that no Australian political party would ever condone a military coup against a democratically elected government. Two, that after 13 years in the wilderness, the ALP having won power at the ballot box could hardly be expected to condone its violation in its own neighborhood.  And three, Australia would not take a position on Fiji without consulting its closest partner New Zealand, which had already condemned the coup in the strongest terms possible. All this was, or should have been, common sense.

Today, some in the interim administration are making a similar noise about China. Let me say at the outset that I hope the interim administration is right and that Chinese aid, trade and investment will flow into Fiji in ample measure in the years to come.

But I am not optimistic. Why?

We have been on this route before, soon after the 1987 coups when Fiji embarked on a “Look North Policy” with great enthusiasm, not the least to teach Australia and New Zealand the lesson that they were not indispensable to Fiji’s development.

Nothing tangible came from that initiative. Nothing. And I am not sure that much will come out of the current China drive either.

China’s strategic interest in Fiji is limited. Its regional policy is driven by the Taiwan factor. At this time of global financial crisis, no country, including China, will invest in an environment characterised by systemic instability and periodic eruptions. And for China, Australia and New Zealand are far more important than Fiji.

For that reason alone, China is unlikely to do anything in direct defiance of Canberra and Wellington.

The interim administration has repeatedly told the international community and anyone else who would listen, that merely having elections will not solve Fiji’s problems.

I agree. Elections by themselves don’t solve anything. That is common sense. What they do is to provide the basis of legitimacy for governance.

This fundamental point has escaped many who place trust and confidence in the military and the interim administration. Fiji tells the international community that Fiji’s constitution is “undemocratic” and that it has to go if Fiji is to develop into a fair and just society.

I have alluded to this before, but let me make some additional points. I do not know what criterion is used to define democracy. What I do know is that international laws allow for a certain margin of appreciation to accommodate a country’s unique culture and history and traditions and for these to be incorporated into its constitutional structure.

There is no one-size-fits all.

Second, I know that the 1997 Constitution attempted to deal with the most fundamental problem that has beset Fiji since the inception of party politics in 1966.

That problem was not a flawed electoral system (although the first-past-the-post most certainly was), but the systematic exclusion of one community, the Indo-Fijians, from sharing power.

They were the perennial “Other” of Fijian politics. The compulsory power-sharing provision in the 1997 Constitution was designed to address that problem. And in 2006, for the first time in Fiji’s political history ever, there was a genuinely multi-ethnic, multi-party government in place.

A new beginning was being made, however tentatively. Consider the sweet irony: Fijians and Indo-Fijians were in government, while the opposition was led by a General Voter!

Third, I know that there are other forms of democracy other than the Westminster variety, respected and practiced in many stable democracies. One such, upon which the 1997 Constitution was partly founded, was what Arend Lijphart has called “consociationalism” whose principal characteristics are: A grand coalition of elites representing different segments of society; guaranteed group representation so that no major community is excluded from power; mutual veto over matters of particular concern to the different communities; proportionality in political representation; and segmental autonomy that allows for the maintenance of different cultural identities.

This, too, a model of democracy, and Fiji’s 1997 Constitution meets its test fully. In this version, reserving seats for distinct communities is not the evil that the advocates of the Westminster model make it out to be.

Fourth, I know that no country will ever enjoy political stability so necessary for economic development unless there is basic respect for the rule of law.  You may have the most perfect constitution in the world, the most perfect model of democracy on paper, but as long as you have a large standing military in an environment characterised by violence and disorder, there will always be a threat to peace.

The time for apportioning blame about what happened is over. The question now is: Where do we go from here? First, we need to confront the inescapable truth that Fiji cannot go it alone, that sooner rather than later, it will have to engage with the international community Fiji will have to adopt a more open and inclusive approach.

Many initiatives contemplated by the interim administration are praiseworthy, and I have no doubt that there would be a meeting of minds on many of them. That is why there is an urgent need of tact and diplomacy.

Fiji is an island, I have said so many times before, but it is an island in the physical sense alone. The words of John Donne come to mind: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of the thy friends or thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved with mankind.”

As a practical matter, the interim administration, if it is serious about returning Fiji to parliamentary democracy in a timely fashion – and I have already expressed my doubts before – it should deign backwards from 2014 and draw up a timetable for taking the country to elections.

Without that demonstrable commitment, the international community will not engage. That much is clear. No one wants to be taken for a cheap ride.

It would also be helpful if the interim administration set out in specific detail what aspect of the abrogated 1997 Constitution it finds problematic so that areas of agreement and disagreement among the different stakeholders can be clearly identified.

The problems Fiji faces are huge, but they are surmountable. The international community will come to the party but it will have to be convinced of Fiji’s genuine desire to engage in an inclusive dialogue.

In the end, though, solutions to Fiji’s problems will have to be found here, devised by the people of this country. And no solution will be sustainable and enduring unless it is based on tolerance and a sensitive understanding of this country’s diverse inheritance.

It must be based on the understanding that dissent does not mean disloyalty.

President Obama said it well in Cairo earlier this month. He said that “in order to move forward, we must say openly to each other the things we hold in our hearts and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground”. Fiji can realise its potential that is so within its reach. That is its challenge and its opportunity.

I want to end by quoting again words from President Obama’s Cairo address which are apt for my purposes. He said: “I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: The ability to speak your own mind and have a say in how you are governed, confidence in the rule of law and equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from people; the freedom to live as you choose.

“These are not just American ideas; they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.” – fiji uncensored

Advertisements

13 Comments »

  1. Well said Prof.Brij. Our govt of the day is setting the platform for Obama’s words to materialize in our beloved Fiji.

    Comment by Dau — June 11, 2009 @ 22:01 | Reply

  2. The Bible tells us we will be able to tell false prophets by their fruits! So on that basis we can predict the difference between what the military THINKS they are achieving right, versus what is ACTUALLY happening.

    Obama has already listed all the characteristics of the kind of society he is talking about. Right now the Regime has not hit ANY of those criteria. And the only way they will be able to hit any of them is to make a 180 degree u-turn from the direction they are currently heading.

    So if as you claim Dau, the Regime is really preparing that platform, then what you are saying is that they are just about to back down and make that u-turn. The good thing is that we will know that when we see it, and we don’t have to rely on the Regime’s alleged sincere motives (which are belied by their evil and cynical methods).

    Comment by Jean d'Ark — June 12, 2009 @ 00:00 | Reply

  3. Dau – get an education buddy. The government of the day quashed all hopes for Obama’s dreams i.e. human yearning and human rights.

    Read Senator Clinton speech about the situation in Fiji (she, by the way, was Obama’s personal pick for Secretary of State). Obviously, she wouldn’t be talking about Fiji the way she did had Obama been happy with Fiji’s dictatorship setting any kind of platform. And under whose mandate was this platform being set again?

    DEMOCRACY NOW FOR FIJI!

    Comment by Samu — June 12, 2009 @ 11:48 | Reply

  4. Samu, How qualified on the intricate and intrigue issues of Fiji is Sen. Clinton. You must be joking Sam to say that these outsiders know in-depth the politics that envelopes us the indegenous and the people of Fiji. You ought to educate yourself on the intrigue of our Taukei Politics,therein lies the answer to our woes.
    Frank and the boys are taking one step at a time. Are you not aware of team thats on the ground soughting out the land issues and Chiefly titles that has plagued us since the cession of Fiji. Many land owners are backing Frank, and we’re one of those with many others.
    To suggest that Govt make u-turn is preposterous. The dogmatic hypothesis based on the parallels of other democracies is not workable here; not yet anyway. Come 2014 we’ll be ready to make comparisions.I’m sure you can villify & vent whatever your frustrations with no fear of repucussions then.
    In the meantime join in the foward move, and educate yourselves on the issues that’ll make you understand the more intricate poltical web you fail to see. God bless Fiji.

    Comment by Dau — June 12, 2009 @ 19:39 | Reply

  5. So then which is it Dau?

    You say that the Regime is formulating a platform for Fiji’s future that will deliver the kind of hope that Obama is referring to – but which includes NONE of the criteria he has outlined. How does that work?

    It is like saying you will cook a curry that has no curry ingredients in it. Forget about the fact that the person cooking the meal has never cooked a thing before in their lives.

    And what’s this about educating ourselves on the issues? Almost every post and comment on the freedom blogs has arisen out of peoples understanding of the issues, and their failure to understand how the Regime is unable to abide by the most fundamentally basic principles of wisdom and orthodoxy in any of them.

    And that confusion is not being cleared up PRECISELY BECAUSE you and your Regime REFUSE to be transparent or accountable about it. We cannot get you to explain why you are doing the things you are doing. All we get from you is “We know best” or “Everything will be fine in the end, you’ll see”.

    But HOW? The very fact you are admitting that it will be fine in the end proves that you do not accept it is fine now! So where are the details, or your roadmap, of how you’re going to do this that could stand even the most cursory scrutiny by independent minds?

    Independent review is such an essential key to success in so many fields from academia, to management, and even in politics. So why is it that is such an important issue as the FUTURE OF AN ENTIRE NATION, that independent review is either not afforded at all (Cabinet/Military Council decisions), or else completely ignored (Charter deliberations)?

    How then are we to “educate ourselves” if it is not by asking questions about things we can’t, or are not being allowed to, understand? The fact that neither you nor Frank, nor Driti, nor anyone else in the Regime can give any straight answer which can stand any kind of scrutiny, is more about your lack of justification, than it is about our lack of understanding.

    Comment by Jean d'Ark — June 13, 2009 @ 01:24 | Reply

    • Nobody gives a stuff about your ‘legal jargons’. What is best for Fiji will happen regardless. Only if you morons would wake up to the fact that we have a true son of Fiji who wants a better Fiji for all. The time frame of achieving democracy depends upon obstacles like yourself.

      Comment by joe — June 14, 2009 @ 23:36 | Reply

  6. Wake up to what???

    All the evidence right back to 2004 points to the fact that we have a tin pot dictator who is prepared to trash the whole nation in order to save his own miserable hide! Nothing brave or honourable about that.

    Your conditional democracy is no democracy at all – so no thanks, you can take those plans and toss them into the garbage where they belong.

    Meanwhile the only obstacles to progress are you guys. You are a bunch of grunts who are trained and paid not to think. That is par for the course for soldiers everywhere since nobody wants their troops standing around thinking about their orders while they are being shot at.

    But your problems is that you are being led by a bunch of sub-standard, yes-men officers who don’t know how to think (something which shows in the piss-weak pro-coup arguments here on the blogs). So there you have it – no thinking at the top, AND no thinking at the bottom, so no wonder you haven’t been able to work your way out of the current problems which you created yourselves after nobody asked you to.

    Comment by Jean d'Ark — June 15, 2009 @ 15:57 | Reply

  7. JdA Correct presumption we don’t know much about curry ingredients but speaking for myself, Chicken curry has to be one of my favourite dishes. The art of cooking in a LOVO is more on our line.
    The education of issues I’m talking about are the indigenous ones long overdue for ‘resolve’. The insensitivity of some so called highly educated wannabees like you and the Samus is part of the obstacles which will soon, become totally irrelevant.My advice is go to the national Archives and do some research on indigenous issues you need to educate yourself on.
    Better still you could contact the NGO known as FIORA(Fiji Indigenous Rights Assoc.)and discuss some very relevant issues which, if not resolved by this Govt. will once again likely to materialize itself as a catalyst for nullifying a demoratic govt. The speedy return to Democracy that you guys sing all day long is just a feeble song compared to the seething anger and dissension buried deep in the bosom of the natives of Fiji. WAKE UP! firstly, Resolve all issues of the indigenii.
    All past Govt’s have’nt had the guts to face native issues head on. Instead they turn these into political football,used unscrupulously for their political agendas.The SDL being the worst culprit. Its taken a man with Guts to face these issues head on,as in grabbing the bull by the horns.
    This cleanup on Fijian Institutions and the Fijian Heirachy in general is a necessity for a better future for all, especially the indigenous. Democracy is secondary at this point. Your comment “Its not fine now”? yes only cos’ we’re still in the refinement process which should be completed by 2014. The best we all could do is eat humble pie and face REALITY….. my humble opinion : Democracy is Hypocrisy without limitation. May God bless us all.

    Comment by Dau — June 16, 2009 @ 12:46 | Reply

  8. Dau – you guys aren’t “resolving” anything! All you are doing is smothering issues.

    So, just as with every other contrived solution you guys have imposed since 2006, you have only imposed the appearance of a solution, and the appearance of calm. So it dictatorship and coercion, not good planning or understanding, that is producing the current appearance of compliance. But underneath, everything is just boiling away even worse than before you guys interfered. In 2000, a whole lot of trouble blew up out of nothing. Now that you guys have created real grievances and real fermentation, you have put us all in worse danger for the future. Worse, the over-use of force will produce excesses of two kinds of responses in the people: despondency and anger. Those who are despondent will lack creativity, zeal and perseverance and will drag down national productivity. Those who are angry will become a ticking time-bomb for future instability or even coups. So much for 2006 being the coup to end all coups. It is in fact the coup that writes coups into the fabric of Fiji society!

    The reason this is happening is you don’t know what you’re doing, and you are being led by someone who doesn’t know one end of the bull from the other.

    You have fallen back into your useless habit of cryptic innuendo with FIORA and the national archives and the rest of it. You guys keep talking about transparency and good governance, but you don’t know the first thing about what that means.

    For a start it means you don’t engage in any of this cryptic “we know best” conspiracy theory rubbish. You come out openly and state your theory, your case, your evidence and your predictions. Specifically! You haven’t done any of that, so all you are doing is stating your uneducated, pre-determined, hand-me-down, opinions.

    You’re allowed to hold those, of course. But they are NO BASIS upon which to build the future of an entire nation since they are so damn rickety where they are known, and so damn unaccountable when they aren’t

    Comment by Jean d'Ark — June 16, 2009 @ 23:22 | Reply

    • There is no ‘quick fix’ to this. Being a lawyer, you should know that. It is not like a traffic infringement case, basically an open and shut scenario. I must admit that I learn new things from you daily. Thanks for that. Today I learnt that ‘Transparency’ means that you lawyers will have to declare activities of your trust accounts to Madam Ana and not to shithead Dorsamy Naidu. About your theory of good governance, we have one right now. Your interpretation of a good governance seems to be litigation after litigation, and more litigation so that you ‘blood sucking leeches’ can continue to milk the poor and disadvantaged people of Fiji.

      Comment by joe — June 17, 2009 @ 02:07 | Reply

  9. JdA I respect your analysis as well that of the Govt.However your perception is contorted by your dogma. That parable on curry cooking brings to mind the parallel Indian girmits had, at that point in time. When the Girmits sailed from their motherland they did not have any hypothesis,no paranoia, or negativity. They were looking to better their quality of life not even sure of what was in store for them.
    The one thing they had was FAITH, HOPE,and the Will to suceed. Now thats something you guys don’t have and you can never take away from this Govt. The unbending Will and Faith will see them through the proposed changes. The Advocacy of Hope is there for the detractors to jump on board.You don’t have much other choices.
    Joe says there is no quick fix and thats the truth of it. My advice, dig deeper so your eyes can see other aspects of the circumstances of our objectives. Being blinded by the bias of the glasses you wear is your folly. Do some serious research on what I suggested earlier before making more comments on the uneducated lot that you incessantly villify, you’ be surprised. Cheers !

    Comment by Dau — June 17, 2009 @ 08:04 | Reply

  10. Dau – Faith and Hope don’t exist out in a vacuum by themselves!

    They must be based on something. And to have any chance of success, they must be based either on Biblical principles, or on secular best practice.

    As far as Biblical principles go – you guys are “offside”. Matt 7:18 says “… a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit!” That means by Biblical standards, the bad “fruit” you guys are producing in terms of law-breaking, bad faith, violence, threats, coercion, cover-ups, arson, molotov cocktails, lying and persecution CANNOT be linked with good intentions. CANNOT! In this respect, the Lord may be pleased with Teleni’s Crusades, but that will not obligate Him to listen to prayers that would require him to break his own Word in order to bless what is evil!

    As for best secular practice (which have had proven results elsewhere), you can see a number of those outlined in articles like Brij Lal’s or Graham Leung’s. You either comply with those, or you don’t. It’s your choice really – but of course if you don’t comply with them, then don’t cry when you don’t get the results that you, or we, expect.

    In this respect, you just can’t keep putting things off into the indefinite future with vague statements like “things’ll get better, you’ll see!” But when? There must be some kind of timeframe if you have any kind of workable plan (even if you won’t let anyone else see it). Timelines bring plans to reality – if you don’t have them, then your plans are nothing but wishlists which only exist in the indeterminate future.

    If we have to wait Frank’s full 20 years for things to get marginally better, if at all, then the first thing people will say is “What the hell did we go through all that for?” It just won’t be worth it, unless you bring REAL benefits QUICKLY.

    This leads me to the final point, which is to put your claim about the “Will to Succeed” in perspective. Note that you did not say the “Will to Persevere”. If that is what you are chasing, then all you need to do is keep heading in your chosen direction REGARDLESS of what happens. That is what is occurring now.

    The “Will to Succeed” is different though. It is the Will to do whatever it is you have to do to succeed! You guys have already shown something of that kind of commitment by your willingness to even do things you know evil in the pursuit of staying in power.

    Well if you’re prepared to go that far, then why can’t you just do the easier thing and simply follow the prescriptions of the Bible, or the experts, and just do what you need to do to succeed. Just ditch the Charter, and put in whatever the experts and the people ask for? If you can’t do what is best for Fiji in that regard, then you simply can’t claim to have the will to succeed, since you are obviously not prepared to do in order to succeed!

    Two final points:

    1. Can you tell me how many members FIORA has? If you can’t, then what is all the fuss about? And if you can, then you will know how small they are. How could they be an imminent threat to Fiji? Sure, some of their dogma is unattractive and potentially dangerous. But the number simply aren’t there. You guys need to learn something about context if you want to put that in perspective. You coup solution is analogous to amputating a leg to treat an ingrown toenail. Way too much overkill and damage – like Wadan said – a cure that is worse than the original disease. Worse still – so far you guys haven’t even amputated the correct leg!

    2. Nice try for the good cop/bad cop routine with you and Joe! Our opposition to the coup though, is not based on trick of the emotions or the psyche. It is based on principles! If you bring yourselves into line with those proven, time-tested, and righteous principles, then that opposition automatically disappears. If on the other hand you prove that you don’t really have the “Will to Succeed”, but only have the “Will to Win the Battle of Wills”, then we can keep doing this as long as you can because YOU CANNOT CHANGE WRONG INTO RIGHT whatever justification you try and use!!!

    Comment by Jean d'Ark — June 17, 2009 @ 13:14 | Reply

  11. JdA/ Once again you miss my point.You are so engrossed with prejudice you even sadly fail to grasp the subject on FIORA
    I mentioned the indigenous issues not the uprising by members of FIORA. FIORA has one of the most extensive and well researched data in their archives.
    As for the amputation, you’re wrong again. Our objective is to cure the toe,not amputate the leg.Its the dramatization of the detractors in play again.
    Our perception of the Will to Succeed & the Will to Persevere is that they’re an intregal part of each other, and not seperate entities as you so claim.
    The Govt is righting the WRONG to RIGHT on the platform for elections and other issues you are quite aware of. Take a deep breath ponder a little and enjoy God’s gift of life; all is not as miserable and unresolvable as you make them out to be.

    Comment by Dau — June 18, 2009 @ 11:47 | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: