The prime minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, has described the decision by Fiji's junta to impose a media decree on local media as "astoundingly predictable."
"First you silence your critics, you then appoint your yes-men to positions of power then you issue outlandish decrees to, well, save your skin.”
It's being reported self-appointed prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, has given him and his government immunity under another decree.
Tuilaepa says the rule of thumb is not new. “We’ve seen it with the abrogation of the constitution, the disbanding of Parliament, the takeover of Police, the sacking of the judiciary, the dismissing of the council of chiefs and even the bullying and sidelining of the Methodist Church. Now with the silencing of critics and the declaration of legal immunity, it’s all very predictable. The regime is digging in for the long haul.
“He (Bainimarama) has entrenched the public service with the military, appointing his army top brass to heads of government ministries and corporations. I wouldn’t be surprised if come 2014 he declares there’s no need for elections as his CEO colonels have become ‘experienced’.”
Tuilaepa has criticised the illegal regime several times before, but told the interviewer: “It’s not really criticism… its advice. It’s like watching somebody trying to jump over a cliff. So I’m actually consoling my friend Bani. Trying to help him, pointing him out the error of his ways.”
Tuilaepa says he he has had a lot of Fijian friends and he is concerned with the Fijian people’s welfare. “Fijians are happy people. Happy-go-lucky people like us Samoans. But then, as the children’s verse goes, along comes Bani the spider and bites it in the…[laughs]. They’re not happy people anymore. Caught in the spider’s fly trap… er, I mean web.”
And he says Fiji could easily hold free and fair elections next month if Commodore Bainimarama wanted it to. "It’s the only way he can respectably bow out of the predicament he’s got himself into … give the country back to the people. Besides elections are fun, very liberating."
He adds: “Democratic politics is a lot of fun. Where you can engage in political wit with your political opponents in the morning and still enjoy a round of golf with them after work. At the same time, the people exercise their right to vote, their right to support and of course, their right to dissent. In fact, if it wasn’t for elections and democracy, I’d be really bored.”
Tuilaepa says good governments need good oppositions to tell them what to. "And good governments do what good oppositions tell them what to do – so they can remain government and the opposition remains the opposition. Forever.”
Picture: From top to bottom Samoa's prime minister Sailele Tuilaepa Malielegaoi and Mussolini, Hitler and Mugabe