#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: The Fiji Times Saga: Remember ‘Mac’ Patel and his “The Caroll Report” to Ratu Mara’s 1982 general election campaign?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Fiji Times Saga: Remember ‘Mac’ Patel and his “The Caroll Report” to Ratu Mara’s 1982 general election campaign?

SNAPPED:Sir Vijay Singh showing a copy of the Carroll
Report, with NFP leader Jai Ram Reddy
VICTOR LAL takes up part two of his story about the new owner of the Fiji Time's involvement in a report to deny the Indo-Fijian dominated, National Federation Party, victory.


WHATEVER THE underlying motive Mahendra ‘Mac’ Patel had, the Carroll/MMPatel/Ratu Mara meeting of 17 December 1980 led to the recruitment of Allen Carroll, Geoff Allen, Rosemarie Gillespie (Australians)  and Dr Jeffrey Race (American) to form the so-called Carroll Team.

As Carroll’s telexed statement to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the 1982 general elections, admitted: “A professional report was provided by me to Mahendra Patel, chairman of Motibhai and Co, at his request in April 1992. The Report took a detailed look at the political economy of Fiji, but in the context of the business strategy options of Mr Patel’s company.

RIDING TO POWER IN 1982: Mac Patel on Mara's right hand side.
 "Given the company’s structure and base of operations being centralised in Fiji, it was obviously important to explore a risk assessment profile of the political/economic environment of that country. I then enlisted the aid of Dr Jeffrey Race as an Asian expert and political consultant based in Thailand to assist with that assessment.”

The enlistment of Race, an expert on Malaysian politics, and head of the Asian Strategies Company, added a new dimension to the survey of Fiji’s political scene. It quickly became clear both to Race and Carroll that there some striking similarities to the Malaysian political environment of the 1960s and they devised an analytical structure to enable them to demonstrate alternative possibilities should the Alliance Party approach the 1982 elections under differing assumptions.

According to Gillespie, following the recruitment of Race, Carroll telephoned her at her Melbourne office in late April/May 1981 to say that he and Race were “developing a political strategy for Fiji”, and would she be willing to undertake the research component; she agreed to do this.

After their preliminary surveys and assessments, and with the overall view of the 1981 political climate as, according to Gillespie, Race perceived it: “The ruling party is like the ruling party in Malaysia [it is] falling apart at the elite level [there is] squabbling in the Cabinet. At the mass level [the Alliance Party] is losing popular support. Everyone says the PM is becoming very isolated. Nobody there dares tell him he is becoming very isolated from everybody including his own Cabinet….things are falling part…if nothing is done, the Alliance Party will be out on its arse.”

On 17 September, the ‘outsiders’ – Carroll, Race, Allen  - who had run three Liberal Party campaigns in Australia met Mara and a few selected senior Alliance members and informed them of the results of the economic survey and the public opinion polls. 

There was also a draft report with a segment by Carroll entitled “Outlook and Outlook and Implications”, and a set of three scenarios by Race. What transpired at this meeting has since been disputed with varied and controversial interpretations put upon it.

The scenarios that dominated the election campaign are reproduced below, as contained in The Carroll Report:
Aspect: Fijian support intact. Biggest problem and first priority is consolidating Fijian support – point made by both friends and opponents of PM (Mara); feudal allegiances crumbling

Risk: Dictation by leader won’t work. Must use carrots
Strategy:  Widen range of contacts and advice in elites of Pm’s own camp – press, Cabinet, opinion leaders, business
Means: Organised ‘stroke’ kitchen cabinet. New carrots for support – honours, stroke, other payoffs
Recognise that NFP despite pretence is businessmen’s party and push economic growth (see economic section). PM shows decisive leadership. Split in the Alliance (Autocracy), Stroking/appointments. Good start already made 8/81. Must be handled right.

Boundary redistribution slightly favours NFP: ‘Throw of the dice’ but probably more than slightly favours NFP. Must handle carefully. Carefully analyse likely constituency-by-constituency campaign strategy
Poor economic conditions in 1982, increasing urban unemployment; Election polices: economic policies – sugar, television, housing, fiscal stance, medical, education

NFP pushes ‘issue’ (class politics). Timing is crucial. NFP has but irresponsible; Alliance needs, Possible cost/benefit, Seen as pro-Fijian, Too Conservative. Think ahead, have in readiness. Release in studied succession to further support image of movement.
Image: Get credit for pro-Fijian stance currently without jeopardizing expansion of Indian support. Risk: [Jai Ram] Reddy will hit here. Difficult. ‘Fine Line’. Need Professional expertise

Renewed direction – vigour versus perception of present stagnation. Need firm support from top. Danger of split in Alliance. Refer Malaysian precedents/success. New stocks – ‘Toc-cutter to plan and implement might be useful
Gain 1 Fijian communal seat. In fact shaky, need major effort – difficult. Marginal deterioration of Federation unity – marginal at best – Muslim leakage to Alliance. Koya/Reddy battle smoulders. Improve quality of Alliance candidates
Expand Indian Support while Splitting NFP Base: Seconary priority but still essential – (1) Gain Muslim support. Many observers say it can be done and will affect marginal seats – Can’t be blatant – Means: appointments, oral commitment to Muslim representation in Alliance government (not change constitution), improve business.

Make it respectable for Indians to support Alliance and build on that – Must handle very carefully or will undercut Fijian Strategy (this election): Strategy: Malaysian method – articulated program (NEP), hard-charging ethnic parties as coalition constituents (segment marked), pitch – ‘responsible leaders’ v ranting madmen, Get more/better Indian candidates (Incentive needed).
After election: Total re-think of strategy for next five years; possible restructure of voting system-preference voting, single electorates
Image/Communications Aspects

Nature of campaign two levels:
Emotional: Most observers agree will be mostly emotional and not rational. Get ready for it – hit back quickly or hit first. Segment the market (Malaysian method)
NFP Strategy: Build Fijian support, ‘fear in the pubs’, get coalition, wait for chance to take over. Some issues: racial component of civil service, diplomatic service, military service, policy, and statutory bodies
The Pitch: Responsible, have a program, fresh blood/new ideas, equity/fairness. Rational: well-thought out, have answer for everything
Timing: Don’t fire all your guns at once
What about Scenario Two – ‘Malaysian Replay’ and Scenario Three –‘Alliance Loses’


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