Editors Note: As debate on the role of the Fiji military in the affairs of our nation intensifies, we have decided to reproduce excerpts of the highly controversial and secretive Defence White Paper whose contents contributor Victor Lal had exposed shortly before the 2006 coup. Coupfourpointfive argues the Report was one of many factors which prompted the dictator to seize power.
We also assert that Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes (pictured) was thrown out of Fiji because the dictator had no intention to allow the Fiji Police to take control of internal security
The DWP and Fiji Police
The Defence White Paper strongly recommended that internal security should be the preserve of the police rather than the military. Likewise, domestic intelligence gathering should be the task of the police and not the military, as the latter was engaged in during the 2001 general election.
The Fiji Police Force (FPF) has statutory responsibility for law and order, including internal security and anti and counter-terrorism. However, the DWP recommended that the military role in assisting the police maintain order in times of crisis be continued, when so authorised by the Minister for Home Affairs.
It also recommended that the police and the military agree on a list of possible assistance tasks and initiate or revise appropriate contingency plans and joint training. In its introduction to the DWP, the Committee noted that the FPF had a newly appointed Commissioner of Police, Andrew Hughes, who had begun instituting reforms that will take several years to reach fruition.
To succeed, however, police reform must be accompanied by reform of the whole justice sector as outlined in the SDP. As the FPF was preparing a 5 year strategic plan for endorsement by the National Security Council (NSC), the DWP on the FPF was restricted to those law and order issues that required external coordination and clarification of responsibilities.
They included (a) the requirement for military assistance in times of crisis or emergency; (b) counter-terrorist responsibilities; (c) the division of responsibility between the RFMF Naval Division, or its successors, and the FPF; and (d) specialist skills, particularly divers and explosive experts.
Although the FPF was responsible for maintaining order and internal security, the RFMF had also been involved from time to time. If the RFMF was disbanded, the DWP suggested the police would have to maintain law and order and internal security against all corners.
If the RFMF was to be retained, as recommended previously, a decision had to be made about what police functions, if any, they might be called upon to perform and, correspondingly, what functions the police need not develop.
The 2004 Budget authorised the FPF to employ 2170 regulars and 1220 special constables giving a police population ratio of 1:266 citizens (assuming a population of 900,000), more than adequate by world standards. However, the archipelagic nature of Fiji, the poor road systems, the relatively large and dispersed rural population, and the volatile politics of Fiji, warranted the authorised manpower base and probably more.
The Police Mobile Force (PMF) was being rejuvenated and will comprise about 200 men, the DWP observes. The PMF was being modelled on the South Australian Star Force and will have responsibility for armed hold-ups, counter-terrorist incidents, search and rescue, riot control, explosive ordinance disposal (EOD), and diving.
However, according to the DWP, given the deep seated political tensions in Fiji there might be times when these resources could be overwhelmed by mass political movements or dissent. In these military assistance will be sought.
The DWP noted that the FPF was rundown over the last 15 years and the RFMF usurped or was required to exercise some police functions on a routine basis. The Government had now given priority to rebuilding the FPF, including the PMF, but this will take several years. Nevertheless, the threshold at which military support is needed is rising as FPF resources and professionalism rebound.
Consequently, the DWP recommended, when police reform has produced the desired result, final decisions could be made on whether to retain a military backstop to assist the police maintain order. Meanwhile, the DWP strongly recommended, the FPF should discuss with the RFMF the sorts of tasks that they could be expected to undertake should they be called out to assist the police and develop or maintain the appropriate plans and joint training.
On counter-terrorism, the DWP stated that the Government should be aware that the FPF’s specialist assault capability, if required. Consequently, the FLP will need to develop understandings with potential suppliers of specialist assault units, particularly Australia and New Zealand, about how such operations will be conducted. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed with Australia covering many of these issues but it will need to be complemented by procedures, and practice.
Regarding maritime and waterway security, the DWP recommended that the current division of responsibility for maritime patrol between the FPF and RFMF Naval Division, or its successor, be retained due to the need for close coordination between inshore and shore based security needs. However, provision will have to be made for establishing and maintaining the water police units (or private security units) in the major ports and waterways.
The DWP, like its recommendation on the RFMF, recommended that the FPF should be encouraged to maintain the racial balance and accommodate female representation to the maximum degree possible. Moreover, although the CEO Ministry for Home Affairs and Immigration had no responsibility under the 1997 Constitution for the administration for the administration or operation of the FPF but he should retain the capacity to advise the Minister for Home Affairs on major policy and resource issues.
The FPF had played a substantial role in peacekeeping and continues to do. This experience, the DWP noted, will be useful in the future regional peacekeeping missions. Nevertheless, the DWP recommended that the Government and the FPF agree to a cap on UN peacekeeping commitments.
The DWP examined Fiji’s strategic interests globally, regionally, and domestically and has identified and assessed the threats and challenges to Fiji’s security. It concluded that (a) there is no external military threat to the sovereignty of Fiji; (b) trans-national crime and unsustainable resource exploitation is a growing threat to Fiji: and (c) that the greatest threats to Fiji’s security are internal.
At the broadest level, the DWP concluded, the threat to internal security derives from the fundamental division of Fiji population into two large ethnic communities, and from the problems experienced in any cultural transition from traditional social and political life to modernity. The ‘wild cards’ most likely to challenge Fiji’s national interests, ignoring global phenomena such as pandemics, major global economic collapses, and terrorist attacks elsewhere are:
(a) governments that ignore the relentless drumbeats of progress and fail to implement the development plans effectively;
(b) systemic decay from failing to tackle domestic and international crime and institutionalised corruption; or
(c) the convergence of events that might be managed individually but in concert can overwhelm the community, for example, the convergence of economic stagnation or decline with political instability, systemic decay and natural or man-made disasters.
TO BE CONTINUED