By Dr Mere Samisoni
The unelected illegal interim military junta regime (UIIMJR) is always using the word politics or political in a derogatory manner to justify its alleged reform programme. Take a look, for example, at this statement by the Interim Minister of Foreign Affairs:
“Ratu Inoke says PACER is no longer a promising instrument for development as it has been corrupted by regional politics” (Coup 4.5, Tuesday 10th August).
Well – what exactly is politics?
The Chambers Everyday Dictionary defines politics (of actions) in accordance with good policy, expedient, judicious, strategic: (of persons) prudent, discreet, and cunning: political pertaining to polity or government: pertaining to parties differing in their views of government.
In short, it is the process of parleying your opinions of how things should be done, into first policy, then political power, then ultimately and hopefully, into progress and development.
In a democracy anyone who has an opinion may seek the political power to affect it. The tactic is your ability to convince the majority to give you a chance. Eventually though, your political promises will give way to your actual political performance. And it is that which the people will use as their primary yardstick for deciding whether to persist with you, or not.
In that sense, there is nothing intrinsically irremediable or untenable about the political process. Certainly, nothing than is worse than dictatorship, anyway! Democratic politics may sometimes lend itself to scheming, lying and manipulating. But none of that will trump the peoples’ right to decide for themselves in the end. And none of it is worse than the wall-to-wall lies, manipulation and scheming that is necessary for a dictatorship to maintain itself in the face of popular discontent or dissatisfaction.
But what the Regime means when it invokes the term politics, is not what you or I or the dictionary mean when we say it. Their use of the term more closely resembles the sense that the Spanish invoke with their term “politico”. This is a derogatory term that speaks of the habits of some politicians who behave in cunning ways to achieve their personal interest.
The problem with this use of the term is twofold.
First of all, it ignores fact that many people could accuse the UIIMJR of the exact same thing. We see them as using cunning and manipulation to pursue their own political program, which has so far not resulted in any real progress after almost four years. On the other hand, what is very clear to everyone is that the personal interest of the regime members themselves has been taken very good care of (eg. the Mara/Ganilaus, Aiyaz Khaiyum and his friends/relatives, and of course Frank and a number of senior military officers).
Secondly, the regime assumes that everyone else’s political programme is “political”, but theirs is not. This is clearly untrue. Their Charter is nothing if not political!
For a start, they are evidently not pursuing their Charter because it is empirically true or viable (since clearly it has not delivered anything to the people of Fiji yet). They are pursuing it because they believe it will work (one day). Other people prefer to put their faith in other programmess or manifestoes because they think those have a better chance.
That is exactly what politics is – the process of lobbying for one programme or manifesto over another. The UIIMJR cannot accuse other groups of lobbying or prosecuting their own beliefs or opinions, when that is EXACTLY what the Regime is doing in respect of its own Charter!
For all its fine sounding rhetoric, the Charter is nothing more than a collection of opinions about how to create a foundation for a better future. But not only is it merely a collection of opinions, it is actually just a collection of ho-hum ideology and platitudes that has excited little support or advocacy among serious academics or development experts.
Furthermore, it is also a collection of fine-sounding rhetoric that bears little resemblance to the spirit and the manner in which the UIIMJR is ACTUALLY conducting itself. Finally, and most tellingly, the Charter is simply a collection of opinions and assertions that have NOT delivered anything worthwhile to the people of Fiji after almost four years of unbroken negative economic and legal degeneration.
Additionally, the Land Use Decree, No. 36. 2010 with its the Land Bank Project, being pushed at present, has a parallel in the Philippines where the land bank only benefited a few rich lawyers.
The difference in a democracy, is that the “road to nowhere” can be short-circuited whenever the electorate has “had enough” come election time.
But with Fiji’s dictatorship, it is a potentially endless trial as the UIIMJR continuously moves the goalposts, re-invents its coup rationales, changes the rules, and makes up its mind as it goes. It keeps pointing to what it believes are its “positive reforms”, but seems to be completely unaware of the fact that the vast majority of these are simply policies that could and would be implemented by a normal, legal and democratic Government as a normal matter of governing course.
In fact, the Greeks understood the Greek word for citizenship as the active participation of those citizens in politics and political discourse.
The issue in Fiji, then. is people power as opposed to gun power. The people have the right to choose which leader, political organization or manifesto that best serves their needs. Freedom of choice is an intrinsic part of that process. However, the UIIMJR has removed this choice.
This is wrong, immoral, illegal and unsustainable!
It is the people who own Fiji – not Frank Bainimarama. So it is the people who should make decisions about our Fiji. It is the people, mandated by our humanity as “us and we”, who know what is best for Fiji and the Region. Aligning with the orthodox macro-economic ideas and accountable free human governance systems offered under Pacer Plus makes economic and developmental sense.
This is in stark contrast to the UIIMJR Charter and dictatorship, which have not been able to deliver and neither will it.
*Dr. Mere Tuisalalo Samisoni is the legal and elected SDL Member for Lami Open Constituency (deposed 2006).*