The Carrol Report "Buy Off Butadroka and pile up pressure on Gavidi for him to end up in prison - Our opponents are mad men"
By VICTOR LAL
In “The Carroll Report” on how to deny the Indo-Fijian dominated National Federation Party/Western United Front Coalition power in the 1982 general election, which was grafted onto ‘Motibhai and Company’s Business Report, the four-member team had provided three Scenarios.
In Scenario Two –‘Malaysian Replay’, the Report observed: “Receives less attention because it is less appealing but it certainly is possible if timely corrective action is not adopted. It is so named because there is an uncanny likeness between certain features of the current political situation in Fiji and that which occurred in Malaysia in the late 1960s and 1907s.”
The Report continued: “In the Malaysian case, the ‘father of his country’-Tunku Abdul Rahman, leader at the time of Independence and prince from a relatively unimportant state on the periphery of the country-came under increasing attack from elements of his own party after an unconvincing ‘win’ in the 1969 election, which threatened a coalition or even loss of the government in Selangor, the state where is located the Federal capital.
Though the Tunku survived the election, and even succeeded in purging two of his critics, Dr Mahathir and Musa Hitam, he was ultimately removed himself as head of the party and PM. Mahathir and Musa made a comeback, indeed are PM and DPM respectively this day.
They went into a coalition with certain of the opposition parties (though form a position of great strength, unlike the Fiji situation) and then developed the program (the NEP – National Economic Policy) which consolidated their hold on the government. In their viev, however, the 1969 threatening electoral loss never would have occurred had the proper policies been adopted in time. That may be the most important lesson for Fiji.”
What about the Alliance Party of Fiji. The Team developed the following, Scenario Three (Alliance Loses)
Fijian Support and Constituents Fragment over Next 12 Months
Public: FNP (Fijian Nationalist Party) and WUF take voter support away from Alliance in its natural constituency. Apparently sense of drift and confusion cause voter apathy
Elite: Other Alliance politicians moving around issues: (e.g Singh (Sir Vijay, ex-AG), (e.g. process selection), Redistribution scares them)
Federation Unity Going into Election: Koya sits out election waiting to strike; accommodation with Reddy
Strategy: Fijian support by getting chiefs on ticket, Electoral cooperation with splinter Fijian parties. Hit on emotional issues: education quotas, stagnation/lack of direction. Pocket book issues: sugar, copra, unemployment, housing, land
Meanwhile, the 17 September 1981meeting (see Part One) had set in motion the second stage of the project.
The public opinion exercise of the team’s survey was thought to have produced some useful results and that it should be repeated in March or April 1982, when the Alliance campaign was to be advanced, in order to see if voter’s attitudes on the issues covered had changed.
The Australian market researcher Rosemarie Gillespie’s services were again accepted and the Alliance agree to pay for this second survey. The results were to assist the Team, particularly Jeff Allen (another member of the Team), to develop a framework for an analysis of the political strategy to be present to senior members of the Alliance at a subsequent meeting on 24 April 1982.
While this meeting was still impending, however, another controversial event occurred. In November 1981, ‘Mac’ Patel received a copy of a report entitled ‘Strategic issues Facing the Fijian Government’. He did not send this to Ratu Mara believing, so he later claimed, that he already had one.
Another copy, and an undated covering letter, which referred to meetings and advice previously given to the Alliance, were addressed to Mara with Section One specifically noting it as “Report of Consultants to the Prime Minister of Fiji on the Economic and Political Outlook and Options for Strategy and Political Organization’. Mara has denied ever receiving either the report of the letter.
The Report, with slight variations, included the papers supplied to the participants at the 17 September 1981 meeting, but with significant updating.
Amongst the recommendations were explicit strategies to bribe the FNP leader, Butadroka, and by manipulating the criminal justice system, to prevent the WUF leader, Ratu Osea Gavidi, from contesting the 1982 general election. In Butadroka’s opinion it was a ‘Mafia’ type operation’, and he stated that ‘if anyone is thinking of trying to buy us off, he better forget it, we are priceless’. Butadroka subsequently called on Mara to seek clarification.
In the meantime, Mara publicly claimed that his copy of the report did not include the ‘Private and Confidential’ page recommending strategies on how to cripple political opposition in order retain political control of the country. This page read as follows:
(Private and Confidential)
Public: FNF – either buy off or take him out of running. Gavidi-since he is going to jail anyway, best to pile all effort on and accelerate prosecutions so he cannot run. Two other parties forming-got to make an accommodation. Nationalist and other party challenge in general-accept the challenge-‘We hear what you are saying, we have well-though-out-responsible programme. Our opponents are madmen’
Elite: Ratu David and allies-got to have accommodations with Alliance. Voluntary or involuntary drop-out from Cabinet-either let them leave happy (appointments) or make sure they understand they will be sorry if they challenge the Alliance (get something on them).
General Notes: Need an enforcer (PM’s surrogate). Combine divide and rule with stroking. Need both means of disciplining people now in and incentives to attract more good candidates. Mechanism of planning. Rest is obvious.
Ten months later, what had begun as a business survey turned into a political nightmare for Mara. He had to either admit or deny the NFP charges that the Alliance Party was implementing the Carroll Report; he completely denied them. He maintained that until the NFP leader Jai Ram Reddy’s allegations he did not even read the 17 September draft report.
The NFP/WUF Coalition, however, viewed this with scepticism.
In their opinion the purpose of the Carroll Team was to develop a political strategy to enable the Alliance Party to win the 1982 general election. The 24 April meeting, they maintained, including the draft and the final report, were part of that strategy. Later they alleged that “perhaps Mahendra Patel was only an innocent victim used in getting access to the Prime Minister by organising such as the CIA and Business International.”.
The economic and business survey for MMPatel was also interpreted as “a hastily contrived smokescreen designed to cover up the real nature of the Fiji project”.
MORE TO COME
Pictures: Ratu Osea Gavidi (top), Reddy winning Fiji support - attack him (top right) and Butadroka on the hustings - buy him off.