#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Lal: Military intent on retaining power

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lal: Military intent on retaining power

Professor Brij Lal spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Aaron Roden about the character and contradictions of Fiji’s military dictatorship, led by coup leader Frank Bainimarama.

You’ve said the essence of Bainimarama’s 2006 coup is no different to the previous coups in Fiji’s history, even though past coups were largely based on establishing power for the Fijian ethnic majority. What do you mean by this?

Bainimarama justified his 2006 coup as a “clean-up campaign”, not a military coup. Well, it was a military coup that deposed a democratically elected government. And no one has been prosecuted for corruption in the last two years.

I don’t think anyone now seriously believes in this narrative anymore. As time has gone on, it has become increasingly clear that this is a military coup and that the military is intent on retaining its power.

I doubt very much if the military will voluntarily relinquish power to a civilian authority. More likely, we are likely to see a militarised democracy in Fiji where the military will have a visible presence in the governance of the country.

In April, the regime annulled the constitution. Can you comment on the motivations behind this?

The abrogation of the constitution was not surprising. It was observed more in the breach from the day the coup was [carried out] in December 2006. What it has done is to enable the military to do things unfettered by legal niceties, without having to justify its actions and policies in a court of law.

The country is ruled by decree and the most important of the decrees cannot be challenged in a court of law. It gives the interim administration a free hand to do the things it wants.

And there is a public emergency regulation in place that curtails the freedom of the media and the freedom of speech. Dissent is suppressed through censorship and self-censorship.

Is a new constitution likely?

Three years have gone by, but the military has not shown its hand about what kind of a constitution it wants for the country.

A week ago, the interim administration said they would convene a dialogue forum about the future. But political parties and political leaders who do not subscribe to the military’s rendition of events will be excluded, [unlike] selected non-government organisations and community leaders.

Such a restrictive approach is counterproductive and will not fool anyone. It goes to the heart of the legitimacy of the project.

I think it is important for the military to declare its hand and engage in good-faith negotiation with the principal stakeholders about the future. Going it alone unilaterally will not address the fundamental problems of Fiji.

Australian diplomats, as well as yourself, were kicked out of the country recently for “interfering”. Why did the regime do this?

I think most people in Fiji, including in the department of foreign affairs in Fiji, were surprised by the expulsion of the diplomats. Just a week before, Fiji’s diplomatic status in Australia was formalised, so expelling the [Australian] High Commissioner [to Fiji] did not make sense.

I think most people in Fiji know that a few [high-placed] individuals in the interim administration have a vendetta against Australia because of the travel bans that have been imposed upon them, and they are motivated by a sense of revenge and retribution.

I don’t think this situation will last long and that diplomatic relations will be restored. Fiji cannot simply ignore the realities of geography and history.

Is Bainimarama dangerously isolating Fiji?

I think there is a willingness in the international community to engage with Fiji, but there has to be some willingness on the part of the authorities in Fiji to engage in a genuine dialogue.

It is not only Australia and New Zealand that have expressed reservations about what is happening in Fiji. The Pacific Islands Forum, the Commonwealth and the European Union all have done the same.

Blaming the international community will not resolve Fiji’s difficulties. Sadly, the deepening isolation of Fiji is self-inflicted.

Is the dictatorship guilty of human rights abuses?

No one in Fiji would deny that breaches of human rights occur regularly, such as the harassment of sugar cane growers by the military. But there is complete media censorship in Fiji, and the public emergency regulations curtail the freedom of speech and movement.

There is a yawning gap between the regime’s [democratic] rhetoric and the reality on the ground. People must be given an opportunity to engage in a dialogue about the major issues facing Fiji and the way these can be resolved.

The regime’s proposed “People’s Charter” appears to be a progressive initiative, with some noble principles that try to address racial discrimination, such as “one person, one vote”. However, despite its democratic aspirations, it has no democratic mandate. Does it stand a chance, and is Fiji ready for such progress?

The so-called People’s Charter is essentially a plan drawn up by a few hand-picked people, many of whom have no mandate from the groups they purport to represent.

It contains some good things, but you did not have to have a coup to embrace its principles. There is nothing in the charter that is not in the constitution.

The 1997 constitution enshrined the principle of power-sharing among the principal ethnic groups in Fiji. It acknowledged the realities on the ground and the burden of Fiji’s racially divided history.

It was moving in the right direction. You can change the electoral system to anything you like, but the fundamental problem will still have to be addressed, which is respect for the rule of law. Unless you have that, there will be no stability in Fiji whatever electoral system you have.


EnufDictatorship said...

Vinaka Professor Brij Lal.

And to think that Voreqe was saying that Fiji has been too nationalist, without due regards to our fellow citizens.

Well hullo! we now have Prof. Lal and Prof. Narsey both non-indigenous Fijians but both with strong ties to Fiji saying it like it is.

And as they have both raised, which we as pro-democracy believers also continue raise...it boils down to RESPECT FOR THE RULE OF LAW and having the MORAL RESPONSIBILITY to live by it. Both social/personal aspects/values in life Voreqe and his circle of goons and supporters thoroughly lack.

Again. Vinaka vakalevu Prof. Lal and Prof. Narsey for continuing to speak boldly on the peoples' behalf and being true sons of Fiji.

Anonymous said...

Once again, turncoat Girmit Baini Brij Lal rabbits on about his beloved 1997 constitution without conceding what a flawed document it really was. And it's all because of his continuing pique that his precious constitution, which he coauthored, is now relegated to the dustbin of history. Get over it Brij. This is a man who allowed the story to get around that he was physically assaulted in military detention when the truth is he was verbally abused at most. He could have clarified the situation in the interests of truth but chose not to. A rank propagandist to the last.

Anonymous said...

So Enufdictatorship, two Uncle Sam Indians get a big pat on the back from you when elsewhere in these columns, people talk about "evil Indians" and vulagi.
What does it tell us? That so long as you side with the indigenous majority, you get a cobo and a string of hearty vinakas. But dare to question the monopoly enjoyed by indigenous power structures and indigenous political parties and it's a different story. Those forces cry of "jaldi" out of Fiji and "Fiji for the Fijians". Narsey and Lal are tickling the tiger's scrotum for now but rest assured; it will bite.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. that should have read " two Uncle Tom Indians", meaning that identifying with and promoting another race's position doesn't mean acceptance and can be offensive. The term was originally coined in the US to describe blacks trying too hard to be white.

Anonymous said...

The Green Left Weekly and Ridgy Didge Brij in Lalaland. A perfect match. Both utterly irrelevant.

Keep The Faith said...

Ho hum the military goons are out earning their illegal backpay and trawling the blogs...get a real job you low-lifers!

Try to understand what it feels like to actually break a sweat instead of ass-kissing for favours.

Anonymous said...

Oi Keep the Faith. me a military goon? Not bloody likely. What, you think only Frank's boys would express the kind of sentiments I and many others have in these columns? It might make you feel better to think so but, no, we're just ordinary, unassuming people like you. The difference is, of course, that we've got better powers of analysis and persuasion. And a much more sophisticated turn of phrase. But we're all ultimately God-fearing Fijians so do feel free to send a large cheque to the RFMF Officers' Mess and we'll use it to toast your health and ensure that you enjoy five more years in the political wilderness. Sincerely yours, Lt Col Savasava OF, Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Suva. PS. I've never kissed an "ass" for favours. From your own long experience, does it work?

EnufDictatorship said...

So, easy to be an ANNON and try and talk sense huh.

I don't really care if one is Fijian, Indian, Malaysian or whatever when it comes to talking on issues that relate to Fiji now...you Annonymous Military supporting low-lifes coming to put in your two cents in these sites. As long as they are supporting the rights of Fiji's citizens to have the leaders they CHOOSE, I will support them. So, get your backsides off the couch and go and do your job and earn a decent living instead of STEALING FROM THE HARDWORKING PEOPLE OF FIJI. The very ones whom you have made poorer when you aimed your guns at them and suppressed them.

Anonymous said...

Oh, so we're anonymous, EnufDictatorship, but you're not? Eh?I don't know anyone in Fiji with the Christian name Enuf and the surname Dictatorship but perhaps you changed your name by deed poll to celebrate the new order. So who's your father and where's your village? Au vakasama ko iko e dua na tamata lialia sara ga.

Anonymous said...

"Is Bainimarama dangerously isolating Fiji"? Are you kidding Mr Crazed Green Lefty. The isolating is coming from Fiji's white kumala neighbours who can't stand the thought of an island leader giving them the two finger salute. End the travel bans and sanctions and we might be prepared to talk again. Otherwise, eff off.

Discombobulated Bubu said...

Vinaka ENUF .. to go back to the topic for which a certain ANON has been trying to distract us from with its highfaluting coup-supoting lingo, you are so correct - this all goes back to RESPECT for the rule of law, and taking responsibility for one's actions .... we take the position that taking a country by force and continually using force to control the masses is NOT right nor is it legal.... anon and co. on the other hand argue from the premise that this is ok ... so never the twain shall meet hana ?

Prof Lal is correct in his summation of the situation. Vore and his merry band of thugs will now never wish to relinquish the power which has made them drunk for more.

They will continue raping us monetarily, traditionally, psychologically, physiologically and nationally until like boiling lava, something explodes.

What do these military types care ? What do they know about running government machinery, national health and education programs, banks, or weather stations.

Doodly squat I say.

When you think about it, the military types that have now donned wonderful titles and salaries to boot, and inserted themselves into the civil service, know nothing about what they are pretending to be doing. Most of them have learnt some very bad habits from bad situations and circumstances in war torn scenarios overseas. Most of them are suffering from some type of war/stress disorder/syndrome .... like Vore from his cassava gunning/running episode.

The very sad situation here is that we have people like coup-supporter anon as above who have swallowed the old story about a utopian society - full of happy happy people living in multiracial harmony and happy happy land. Lala...lala ...ulu-lala.

They don't get it that its a big LIE and a big con to pull the wool about the real reasons underlaying this coup .... but we have been all over this old ground before .... just people like anon and the goons have chosen selective thought processes and donned horse blinkers, like the ones Paris Hilton wears ...... its not a pretty picture , and we all know it.

Anonymous said...

Discombobulated, you are a prize, 24 carat, tamani sized doce. Paris Hilton? What the eff has she got to do with anything? I suspect, from your ranting, that you must be either in Sinai or Iraq. Only someone who's been exposed to continuous bombardment for extended periods could possibly mount such a discombobulated argument. The rest of us can't help you in a physical sense but rest assured that you are in our prayers. Now, just keep taking the tablets those nice men in white coats give you and all will be well. I know the news that Brigadier Driti may no longer be able to join you will be a particularly bitter pill to swallow. But time is a great healer and you'll soon be back in your village trying to explain to your matagali why you have such an odd name. Moce mada.

Anonymous said...


The term is diddly squat.

Radiolucas said...

@ Anon Dec 7 2:46am

Well said peabrain. What was the point of your retort?

That the previous writer is insane?

Wow. Imagine getting into a slanging match with you - it would be like arguing with a 4 year old.

Disco's argument is fairly simple: Brij Lal's comments and sentiments about the future of Fiji are sound and Disco agrees with his sentiments and commentary (without, I might add, having to resort to insults and racist diatribes).

So what did you add, other than making a vague statement regarding the sanity of Disco?

Nothing. In fact you started accusing Disco of suffering from shell shock (which is pretty bizarre).

Some people live by the adage (that seems to have escaped you), that if you think you are about to say something stupid, it is better to keep silent than open your mouth and remove all doubt.

The military dictatorship will most likely remain until they have taken all the country has for themselves - already they have taken over all facets of government, legislation and judiciary powers - they are not accountable to anyone.

Brij Lal makes the obvious point, as do some of the other writers, that the military has NO intention to relinquishing the power it has stolen - their claims that they are "doing it for the people", "cleaning up" or that "we will have elections in 2014" are ALL LIES.

I really wish they werent but you have to be a seriously deranged and deluded cretin not to realise that the man who refuses to relinquish power or even enter into a dialogue on government today, is most likely going to be the same man who says in five years time "Oh, we need another five years before we can hold another election".

This is not a science. There is nothing magical about this concept.

Frank and the military have lied before about elections, they are lying now and they will be more than happy to break whatever "promise" they give us now to continue lying to us in the future.

So I ask you, while you and your buddies are sitting there, huddling in the dark, exclaiming about what a "good job" the military are doing for Fiji to think about what prospect the future for Fiji holds while the military, being as inept as it is at doing anything other than shooting and scaring civilians, fucks Fiji's future up for the next fifty years.

Discombobulated Bubu said...

Anon 7.15 pm.... I think you will find both terms mean the same :

doodly-squat |ˈdoōdl-ē ˌskwät| |ˈdudl-i ˈskwɑt|

another term for diddly-squat

Anon 2.46 am .... I went through the Suva market this morning but didnt see you selling bean, but vinaka luvequ for your enlightened comments , please see this picture of what horse blinkers look like- http://www.woodlandsltd.com/acatalog/6_4b%5B1%5D.jpg- then you can have a look at Paris Hilton the dear girl here - http://img2.timeinc.net/people/i/2007/stylewatch/gallery/sun_glasses/paris_hilton.jpg - and hopefully you can make the connection between the blinkers, Paris and Vore's thought processes.

Anonymous said...

Bubu, some people will be on the streets, if they dont comment against common sense and truth in your bloggs. They have been tasked to do this, and their brains have been reprogrammed to think crooked, and however and howmuch we argue on the truth, they cannot grasp it because they dont have the mind to do so.
Just imagine the truth in the 2 professors statement, being ridiculed by this kind of mind. Anyway, cant blame a ulu malumalumu, like father like son.

Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.

Anonymous said...

What a great resource!