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 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 and to plunder the nation.
The role of the RFMF is defined in the RFMF Act (Cap 81), which states as follows: “The Forces shall be charged with the defence of Fiji, with the maintenance of order and with such other duties as may arise from time to time be defined by the Minister’. Cap 81 does not specify the procedures for authorising military support to the civil power or military support to the civil community.” A replacement Defence Act was drafted in 1998.
In the three-member Committee’s opinion, the Draft Act needed extensive revision that should include: (a) separating the provisions relating to the establishment of military forces from the disciplinary code to form two separate bills; and (b) recasting the Defence Bill in a logical form putting the basics up front including, the authority of raising forces, the role of the forces, authority for directing their employment, and provisions for calling them out in support of the civil power or civil authority.
The Committee however felt that the size of the RFMF did not justify a separate Ministry nor did it justify the establishment of Defence Council as recommended in the 1997 Defence White Paper, which was chaired by Brigadier Ian Thorpe, a former NZ RFMF commander. It had more detail on the military but less strategic analysis of the need for the RFMF. The 2004 DWP felt that it would seem appropriate, however, to change the name of the Ministry to reflect its focus on national security issues.
The 1997 DWP recommended the establishment of formal Defence Council comprising the Home Affairs Minister, Commander, and CEO with supporting committees. This was not implemented and in the opinion of the 2004 DWP it seemed unnecessary for such a small Fijian force. However, the DWP recommended that the Minister for Home Affairs should issue a directive that defined control and how he intended to exercise it. The directive should require the CEO to advise and assist the Minister in exercising control. It should also advise the Commander that, while his responsibilities and relationship with the Minister for Home Affairs are undiminished, it is expected that he will furnish the CEO with the information necessary to formulate advice to the Minister on those matters relating to control of the RFMF.
The DWP recommends that the control measures include approval of
(a) defence legislation and regulations;
(b) defence instructions;
(c) defence policy;
(d) organisations and establishments; and
(e) major equipment proposals;
(f) personal policy matters, such as conditions and terms of enlistment and discharge;
(g) defence budget submissions;
(h) the selection and appointment of officers to the rank of lieutenant colonel and above;
(i) requests for foreign assistance; and
(j) defence cabinet submissions.
Furthermore, since there was virtually no structured parliamentary scrutiny of security and defence policy or the performance of the relevant agencies, the DWP recommended that Parliament redress this deficiency.
TO BE CONTINUED