Herald on Fiji

August 9th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial said:

Pointedly, however, Bainimarama has also taken steps to ensure his vision of a democracy featuring equal suffrage for all of ’s racial groups will hold sway.

This year, he disbanded the Great Council of Chiefs, a leadership tradition that dates back more than 130 years. This was to prevent the council being written into the new constitution. Last week’s imprisoning of Laisenia Qarase, the country’s last democratically elected Prime Minister, on nine charges of corruption was also a conveniently-timed damning of the pre-regime government.

Bainimarama has further decreed that the term Fijian applies to all 837,000 people in the archipelago, including the 37 per cent who are Indian.

“We must now look to our commonalities as citizens of the same nation, not to what separates us as individuals or groups,” he has said.

This admirable sentiment, in a country where extra voting power has historically been allotted to ethnic Fijians, does not mean, however, that the draconian nature of Bainimarama’s regime can be overlooked. Or that emergency powers of the sort that effectively suppressed any sign of dissent, can be excused.

There has, , however, been obvious progress in the lifting of some of these powers, public consultation on the new constitution, and preparations for electronic voter registration – enough to encourage the restoring of diplomatic relations and the more flexible, case-by-case implementation of travel sanctions on members of the interim Government and the military regime.

The signs are encouraging, and I am cautiously optimistic. The intention of a non-racial constitution and electoral system I applaud. However I struggle to see a full restoration of democracy, as can Bainimarama risk someone else taking power – who could hold him accountable for his illegal actions?

Time will tell.

9 Responses to “Herald on Fiji”

  1. kowtow (13,217 comments) says:

    Can anyone tell me why ,when our repeaters on radio and tv pronounce the good admirals name they say

    ” inBainimarama” ie adding an extra In before the B?

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  2. George Patton (415 comments) says:

    The easiest path to democracy is to NOT hold Bainamarama to account for his actions, but to declare an amnesty to him and other senior officers as a means to ensure they return to their barracks and stay there.

    If there have been systemic human rights abuses, rather than just some random thuggery by his troops, then this might be best addressed the South African way, with a truth and reconciliation commission. It might be a good idea to do this anyway – in concert with a new constitution, it might offer a chance for Fiji to move beyond the cycle of coups every ten years.

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  3. barry (1,233 comments) says:

    Fiji has had decades of racist government and it still is beyond to understand why the NZ Govt wants the country to return to a racist setup. Under the previous setup the country was slowly rotting.

    While the NZ foreign relations people screw it up – china has more or less replaced them as far as influence is concerned.

    I well recall someone asking questions of the Fiji attorney general why they couldnt have an election sort of next week and why the delay back to democracy. The attorney general said that it would take time to remove race from the system and that it would be well if the interviewer recalled that Hitler got to power thru democratic elections – ie: not any old election system gives good results. A point well made.

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  4. RAS (66 comments) says:

    Hold on. How was Fiji a “democracy” any more than apartheid SA if there wasn’t equal suffrage for all of Fiji’s racial groups? It sounds like Bainimarama is talking about establishing democracy. I hope it happens.

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  5. hj (8,596 comments) says:

    “With the recent announcement of the Fijian Government to give ownership of its coastal areas to indigenous tribes, it would be ideal to hope that this could offer some support to Maori arguments by is unlikely to have any effect here.

    “I completely support and endorse what the Fijian Government has done. They’ve taken an initiative that this Government needs to follow. That unfortunately is not the case with the Government here; the indigenous Fijians are the majority and are in Government where as we are not,” Hingston said.
    By Kui Paki – Tu Mai February 04 – An interview with Judge Ken Heta Hingston
    Tariana Turia and the Maori Party have a point when it comes to the situation in Fiji. Les Simpson explains.
    The fact that Tariana Turia seems to be the only MP who recognises the import of Frank Bainimarama’s objective of installing a truly democratic process in Fiji is of some significance.

    It is clear that the Prime Minister and many others are not aware that democracy vaka viti (in the Fijian manner) has little in common with real democracy.

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  6. hj (8,596 comments) says:

    I wonder what the Green Party position is on Fijian Democracy given:

    “I am very excited that we are moving into a more sophisticated era under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and we are moving beyond the limited concept of conservative Pākehā that one man, one vote is the only manifestation of democracy possible in Aotearoa.’

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  7. Paulus (3,567 comments) says:

    MBainmimara is the correct pronunciation in Fiji.
    The town of Ba is pronounced MBa.
    Bainimara is trying to get Democracy into Fiji over the previously corruption of the Great Council of Chiefs (recenntly abolished) who ran everything, often deeply corrupt.

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  8. kowtow (13,217 comments) says:


    thank you

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  9. hj (8,596 comments) says:

    In order to understand the present situation, it needs to be recognised that the Fijian population is not homogeneous, but is distributed into regional groups with well-defined territories, and headed by chiefly families with hereditary titles of “ratu”.

    Subsequent to a period of inter-tribal warfare, there has been a recognised ranking of the territorial units and their ratu.

    Possibly the most senior territory is Bau, which is home to the Cakobau dynasty, followed by Lau, with the Tui Nyau (the king of Lau).

    Ratus (and possibly other dignitaries) are accorded an extraordinary level of respect. In my first year at the Central Medical School in Fiji, in 1955, I hired, as a laboratory technician, a young Lauan who had been educated at Queen Victoria School.

    But every time I entered my office, where he was working, he fell to his knees.”

    “One of jh’s themes has been dis-satisfaction with the Green Party for not being specific about the outcomes of our policy in relation to the Treaty. “What, specifically, will this country be like if we go down this course?”. It’s a question I have heard many times over the years, and it usually speaks from a position of fear and insecurity for Pakeha: what if I’ll be worse off? or even what if there’s no place for me?
    I want to acknowledge that actually we are asking people to do something (and we are doing it too) quite different from what we usually ask with our policy. Normally we have a very clear idea of the outcome we are seeking, and establish a policy to reflect how we will get there.
    But the Treaty is different. The words all have the potential to sound pretty hammy, but fundamentally the outcome being sought is a process: the process of absolute good faith negotiation, in which we Pakeha engage from a position of honour – acting ethically and morally.
    That process involves courage because we don’t know the outcome (and because we know we have it pretty sweet just how things are, let’s be honest). It is pretty scary, but it’s also pretty damn exciting!”

    So NZ heads down the “damn exiting” road to a situation like they have in Fiji because that is the “ethical position” that we be subjugated to people with ancestral links to tribal systems.

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