#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Fiji's Censorship and Deeper Darkness During Diwali

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fiji's Censorship and Deeper Darkness During Diwali

By Professor Wadan Narsey

The Hindus of Fiji have just celebrated the festival of Diwali: sharing food, sweets and companionship with families, friends and neighbours. 

Long a national holiday, Diwali, like Christmas, has become a joyous festival for all races and religions, with diya and electric lights brightening up the night.

For Hindus, Diwali is associated with the celebration of Prince Ram’s return to Ayodhya after his unjust banishment and exile, with diyas lit to welcome him back.

Speeches by Fiji’s leaders highlighted that Diwali celebrates the victory of light over darkness, representing the victory of truth over ignorance.

But no leader spoke of the deeper darkness of media censorship imposed by Bainimarama’s military dictatorship, hiding the truth about the disasters besetting Fiji.

The few Diwali delights

Certainly, many Indo-Fijians are happy that Bainimarama keeps talking about wanting racial equality in Fiji.  Here at last, is a Fijian Prime Minister who seems to want Indo-Fijian culture to share centre stage with others in Fiji. 

Many Indo-Fijians, after a century of being made to feel that they are forever vulagi, are happy that they can call themselves “Fijians”. 

A few are pleased that they don’t have to fill out the ethnicity space in the immigration arrival and departure cards.  Great!

There appears to be reduced random violence around the country and a greater sense of personal security amongst ordinary Indo-Fijians.  And that is most valued.

Tourism Fiji might even include Diwali in their advertisements abroad, and an Indian face or two might make it into their posters.

After four years in power, the Bainimarama Government is now talking about merging scholarship systems for indigenous Fijians with those for the Others. 

Great, but already indigenous Fijians are more than 62% of the population, and a financially struggling Government will have great difficulty giving scholarships to all who deserve it, indigenous or otherwise.

And that’s about it - the sum total of Diwali delights for Indo-Fijians after four years of the Bainimarama Government.

Bainimarama claimed that he would enforce a non-racial electoral system, and there is indeed consensus on a “one-person one vote”, proportional system.  But Bainimarama is in no hurry to implement it.

Bainimarama claimed to deliver land reform, but there is nothing in sight after four years: other than an unfulfilled Land Bank proposal.  There is also an unwise promise of 99 year leases, by which time the land-owners’ children will be dead as well, and Indo-Fijian farmers an extinct species and distant memory in Fiji.

So what else has Bainimarama offered Fiji for four years since his 2006 coup?

The Charter Cloak of Darkness

Bainimarama did the 2006 coup claiming widespread corruption and electoral fraud.  Four years later, no great evidence has been found.

Bainimarama claimed that no military personnel would benefit from his coup.  But he personally, has enjoyed all the perks of being Prime Minister and Finance Minister (official and on the side); and a little icing on his cake, $184 thousands of back-pay for 30 years of leave allegedly not taken. 

His (remaining) senior military personnel have benefited enormously from this coup, through huge increases in salary and perks, and appointments to better paying senior civil service positions.

Bainimarama keeps repeating his hollow mantra - that Fiji will be guided by the principles of the Charter and the Roadmap. 

But contrary to the very first paragraph of the Charter,  the 1997 Constitution was abrogated last year when the Court of Appeal judgment went against Bainimarama.

While one of the pillars of the Charter is that the Fiji Government will abide by the principles of transparency and accountability to the people of Fiji, that ideal has been trashed for four years now and continues to be trashed every day. Not a whimper from the Charter supporters.

Bainimarama has stopped the release of all the recent the Auditor General’s Reports, and all the other Reports on the disasters at FNPF, Natadola, Momi and FSC.

He has long stopped the audit of the Regimental Funds, thought to have been abused by virtually all the Military Commanders.

Without any public emergency in sight, an illegal Military President mindlessly keeps signing the Public Emergency Decree and enforcing media censorship.

Despite Diwali, the Fiji public will not be allowed to see any light of knowledge, or publicly meet and freely discuss any of the huge disasters created by the Bainimarama Government.

Disasters in the Darkness

It is only when you put them together and estimate the total cost, that the full scale of Fiji’s disaster becomes evident, much due to Bainimarama’s coup.

*    in just four since 2006, a loss of more than one thousand million dollars ($1.2 billion) of national income, because our economy has not grown and has probably contracted;

*    consequently, a loss of more than $300 millions of potential government revenue, and potential expenditure on health, education, poverty alleviation, etc;

*    a write-off of $300 millions in FNPF’s investments in Natadola and Momi, and more to come (public cannot seen any reports)

*    likely taxpayers’ loss of $300 millions to cover the mistakes made at FSC by this Military Government’s appointees since 2006; (and what exactly did that Deloitte Report cost, telling the sugar industry what it already knew?)

*    loss of $300 millions of EU funds to help the sugar industry and develop alternative livelihoods in the rural areas, because Bainimarama arrogantly and callously refused to hold elections in 2009 (who cares about the lives of 100 thousand, mostly Indo-Fijian people, depending on the sugar industry?)

*    loss of $150 millions of tax-payers’ funds through unlawful military over-expenditure from 2006 to 2009 (taxpayers are not allowed to see the Auditor General’s Reports).

*    another $30 millions lost through illegal over-expenditure by the previous Police Commissioner; (tax-payers are not allowed to see the Auditor Generals’ Reports).

*    combined with the refusal to reduce the illegally expanded military expenditure, the falling government revenues, and the need to spend money to cover the disasters at FSC, will ensure that there will be even larger increases in Public Debt that Bainimarama and Khaiyum will callously pass on to the future generations, in a few weeks, with yet another illegal budget (no questions to be allowed);

*    illegal decisions made by this Military Government, on the sale and purchase of tax-payers’ assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars; issuing and cancellation of contracts worth hundreds of millions; questionable changes in the education system; questionable allocations of public funds to special interest groups; plans to introduce socially evil industries like casinos;  (cost unknown)

*    the continuing destructive undermining of civil service professionalism through arbitrary firing of civil servants without any considerations of natural justice and rights of appeal; appointments of friends and cronies to top positions; and a steady drain of good civil servants (Fijian and Indo-Fijian) who can easily find jobs elsewhere and do (cost unknown)

*    the continuing appointment of military personnel to key positions, who by their very military training are unable to question doubtful decisions made at the top, so obey mindlessly; (cost unknown)

*    the continuing undermining of the professionalism and the international marketability of the Fiji Military Forces, which has effectively become a private militia swearing personal allegiance to Bainimarama, and not to an elected Government, and Fiji taxpayers who pay their salaries. (cost unknown);

*    continuing undermining of civil service financial procedures, with Ministers (including Bainimarama and Khaiyum) allegedly being paid multiple salaries through a private accounting firm related to Aiyaz Khaiyum; (cost unknown)

*    the continuing political damage to Fiji’s traditional ties with neighbors and donors (Australia, NZ, EU) and organisations (Commonwealth, Forum Secretariat and MSG); with economic losses resulting (lost aid, banned from Commonwealth Games etc). (cost unknown).

What do all these disasters add up to?
Easily more than $2,000 millions - or half the GDP of Fiji. 

The National Bank of Fiji disaster (which cost a mere $200 millions or so) was peanuts compared to what Fiji is facing now.

A once leading legal light, today passionately preaches and quite rightly about corporate accountability, constantly pleading that Fiji learn from the NBF disaster and the Agriculture Scam.  But she conveniently ignores the bigger disasters right before her very eyes - but then she started the Bainimarama coup rolling with a coup in the judiciary.

The sad fact is that Bainimarama and Khaiyum have already been running Fiji for four years.  Had theirs been a normal elected government, there would be elections this year.

Would a Bainimarama/Khaiyum Government be ever elected, given their record above?

It is no wonder that Bainimarama and Khaiyum want to hang on to power for another four years, without any accountability to tax-payers.

 
They will continue to rush around the country, making noble speeches, being garlanded by the ever servile business community, increasing numbers of provincial councils,  and narrow vested groups. 

Bainimarama will feed them generously with tax-payers’ money, in return for statements of support.

But Bainimarama should get his Ministry of Information to dig out similar photos of all past Prime Ministers, Finance Ministers and Attorney Generals.

All were similarly garlanded, and often similarly surrounded by the same faces. And when the tide turned, the same smiling faces deserted to the new holders of power.

Ask Rabuka and Qarase.  They left mixed legacies, some good, but mistakes as well.

But at least, voters voted them in to govern on their behalf; and voters must share responsibility for whatever mistakes they made; and the leaders were ultimately accountable to the voters, at the next election.

But Fiji’s voters and taxpayers did not ask Bainimarama and Khaiyum to govern Fiji.

It is surely clear now, that Bainimarama and Khaiyum (and all their collaborators) have no intention whatsoever of being accountable to the tax-payers for what they are doing now to Fiji.

They no doubt plan to walk smugly away, after they have had their fill at the tax-payers’ trough.

They care little about the gutted FNPF, the destroyed FSC and the sugar industry, the increased Public Debt, the increased poverty, and the thoughtless destruction of all the national social and economic institutions, with nothing to replace them.

Where’s the good governance?
How sad that the accounting and auditing bodies (like the Fiji Institute of Accountants) have not uttered a word for this military government to be accountable to its tax-payers. 

Instead, their leading lights actively collaborate with the government, in return for directorships and business contracts.

All the three universities in Fiji now have academic courses to ensure that all graduates fully appreciate the critical importance of principles of good governance, ethnics, transparency and accountability to the tax-payers who pay their costs.

Yet no University management in Fiji has publicly stood up for academic freedom, and called for an end to the damaging media censorship that contradicts all the principles of good governance, transparency and accountability.

University managements in Fiji placidly accept that they must obtain permits before they can organize academic conferences, public seminars or departmental retreats, to discuss academic issues.

That same disregard is shown by most organisations in Fiji, such as Principals’ Associations, that have their annual meetings to discuss future directions, and how to create the good young leaders of tomorrow!

The Darkness during Diwali

For two successive Diwalis this military government has spouted the hollow rhetoric that Diwali celebrates the victory of light over darkness, and truth over ignorance. 

But their media censorship throws a deeper darkness over Fiji, that no Diwali celebration is going to dispel.

It may be noted however, that Diwali is also about forgiving those who do wrong.

There are no truly evil people in this world, just evil deeds, many resulting from very human people thoughtlessly taking just one wrong turn on the hard road of life.

The coups of 1987, 2000 and 2006 are replete with such persons, from all the major ethnic groups in Fiji, from all the classes, and all the professions.

Most coup supporters have eventually regretted what they did, when they realised the evil consequences of the coups.

All of Fiji’s religions encourage those who have taken the wrong road, to turn back.

Those who did and supported the 2000 and 1987 coups need to seek genuine forgiveness and reconciliation with those they wronged.

Those who have supported the 2006 coup and its Charter, and who now see the light, need to help bring Fiji back from the brink, to bring back true transparency and accountability to the Military Government, to remove the Public Emergency Decree and media censorship, and to help throw light into our current darkness.

That would give festivals such as Diwali a more meaningful significance in our lives.

24 comments:

sara'ssista said...

how breathtaking it is that this regime appears, by all their own reports and that of the craven local media, that we have a bunch of people that appear to be flawless, not only devoid of corruption, but also no criminality, unless they leave the regime of course, and are given the benefit of the doubt, unless you can absolutely prove and have evidence to the contrary,(not really the standard required of FICAC) which of course you would be allowed to publish either (national security, you know) and that these few self-less individuals are leaving us to go back to the military and into the hands of less than perfect people. we can only hope that the magical 2014 election we don't entertain any perosn that even so much as deviates from the dictums of the great leader and his cadres. Can peopole not in the army really be trusted to run the country? Surely not. Cros appears to have no concerns about a flawed election and the role of this junta after... like this regime perhaps Croz may feel we need to be distracted with smiling childrens and rainbows.. as it is really none of our business, they are in charge and thats that. If we are talking in a vaccum , why bother at all, it doesn't appear this regime could give a hoot about comments even on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for people like Warden Narsey!

Anonymous said...

AS usual a great piece from Wadan Narsey who has not wavered from his stance from day one. Its a pity the others don't take the same path as he is and say it as it really is. These people are just sycophants and opportunists who will turn around the very day another government takes over. Wadan sees and says it as it is. The traits of brave and principled man.

Anonymous said...

warden you make me proud to have gone to school with you my friend and when this nightmare is all over lets sit under the vuni baka and sip of that fine 7 yr old brown liquid and pray that our childrens children will learn from this sad sad sad experiment

Anonymous said...

Well said Warden Narsey!

That once leading legal light is now nothing but an embarrassing blight...all that screeching about the NBF scandal, yes totally justified BUT in light of all that's gone down since 2006 under their watchful eyes makes all that noise bout T&A&GG (transparency, accountability & good governance) sound LAME & PATHETIC. But I guess that couldn't be helped, as that ladies & gentlemen, was the "brains-behind-bainimarama" very best shot! bwahahahahahaha......!!

utter dishonest trash said...

The indo fijian coup plotters have destroyed diwali and everything they stand for - indo fijians have written off the future of their children - never to be trusted again!

Joe said...

Thanks for this Mr Narsey. Croz Walsh will not put your article on his site because your claims are not substantiated. Can we have more details pls? Perhaps Victor Lal can chime in here with the exact figures. I have absolutely no reason to doubt your claims. The sad part is that, callers in the talkback shows are singing praises for this govt. for reducing prices on basic food items by 9%. Little do they know that they have been shafted bigtime. If this govt is so transparent, as it claims to be, then where are the Auditor Generals reports?????? Are there more people like your self in Fiji who have a decent bone? We know that the RFMF consists of a bunch of poofters now, sitting back and watching their motherland being raped.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for Khaiyum. Imagine what a mess this country would be in if it all was left to dickheads like Voreqe, Teleni, Leweni etc.

The people of Fiji owe Khaiyum a great gratitude because without him being a firm leader there would be chaos and confusion.

Imagine the power he holds as even Voreqe has to clear everything through him before making any statements or travelling overseas.

Good on you son - We Fiji Indians are greatly indebted to you and your family for sacrificing so much for the people of Fiji.

Anonymous said...

Something have to be done and should be done now...a group, individual or whoever is willing to sacrifice for the sake of our beloved country would be more than a hero. This is crazy, lunacrist. SA SO NA VUNITAMATA BOCI RATU QO I DELAINABUA.SARA SOTA GA.

Jake said...

This fellow is a regular Einstein he is wasting his time there in Fiji Australia National University would welcome an intellect like him.

After all the expert on Fiji resides there he will feel right at home.

Jake

Sa Kua said...

Jake will only feel at home in a pig sty. Bai the Kalou Vu is drowning in his own folly.

Anonymous said...

Joe - Croz won't put Wadan's piece on his site because he cannot argue convincingly against it.

The whole regime propaganda philosophy (also subscribed to by Croz) is to minimize the current national suffering by denying it, hiding it, or by dismissing it in the face of the wonderful windfall pay-offs of our Charter future.

So when Wadan demonstrates the reality of our suffering TOGETHER WITH the unreality of the Charter goals/pillars, it is a most unwelcome thing is regime coup-coup-land. The only sign we might ever see from there that it was ever written, is a report of Wadan being warned (again) for writing it.

Anonymous said...

Imagine regime will let Wadan & others like him write anything they want about the current situation because what little credibility did remain of Kai Dia leadership in Viti was shredded a long time ago by people such as Chaudhry - Reddy & others.

Radiolucas said...

History will be a harsh judge of Bainimarama and his cronies.

Jake said...

This is all hype dreamed up by some one that he himself is delusional cant you guys see.

Why doesnt this blighter be truthful the Fijian economy was retracting prior to the coup.

In fact under Qarase's regime there was an explosion of displaced people coupled with lack of fiscal control.

At least we now see the light at the end of a rainbow this is accredited to Bainimarama.

Jake

Anonymous said...

Wadan didn't even mention Fiji's other contingent liabilities apart from Sugar. For a start, there is the US$150 million bond float that needs to be repaid at the Singapore Stock Exchange next year.

Air Pac has been racking up multi-million dollar losses for a number of years now, topping $140 million in all. If that does not halt in the new competitive environment of cut-price fares, there is only one who can pick up that tab or let the airline go bust.

The Fiji Water Authority is owed over $20 million that it will likely not recover (except if it secretly re-distributes this amount to existing customers, which some suspect it is already doing with its leakage losses).

The FEA is severely undercapitalized and is suffering unanticipated and unaccountable blackouts on a regular basis now.

Telecom Fiji is poorly run by the cadre of non-business types installed by Anthony and the other post-coup amateurs. It is wasting shareholder value and business opportunities as a matter of course.

And everyone in competing and doing business in the depressed economic conditions brought on by the coup, and still not lifted four years later (cf. 2000 coup where Fiji returned to strong growth after only two years.

The IMF report on Fiji seems to think that we will start making a slow recovery out of these problems from this year. But they have underestimated the damage done to investor confidence by the regime's no-holds-barred, make-it-up-as-you-go decree-passing penchant. This has damaged both local and overseas investor confidence - both of which were already at low levels.

With the necessary funding alternatives now unlikely to come from the IMF as well, the question needs to be asked as to where is the regime will get the necessary investment impetus to to kick-start Fiji's growth cycle.

Before that happens though, they have to find the cash to revamp the Sugar Industry. Then even if they do find some cash, they still have to fix a whole lot of other problems from the mills to the farmers to the crops which even a credible Government with expert help would find difficult.

Both the Sugar and the Investment problems are much tougher to solve than they even look (which is saying something). So I am not holding out much hope even for a slow recovery.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Wadan. Perseverance is the name of the game. One day we will win, even if it is only for one time.
@Joe
Yes, the people are grateful for this government's 9% reduction in cost of food, which this same government raised up 100% with devaluation etc. Man read Wadan's article again, perhaps something will get through next time.

Anonymous said...

There is another aspect that characterizes Fiji's economy: With sugar now in serious decline and no recovery in sight, the economy has become extremely vulnerable: What keeps it afloat is tourism and remittances. Both can be very volatile and bring the economy to an abrupt stop. Imagine some tourists getting hurt, something like bird flue or cholera, tightened travel warnings in Oz and NZ etc. Equally, remittances may dry up when Fijians with overseas jobs decide not to remit.

mark manning said...

In my view, had Fijians stopped sending remittances from the beginning, this coup would have been over 3 years ago and the Economy would still be viable and recoverable.
At this point in time, things are so bad, Frank Bainimarama is no doubt on his knees to the Chinese, promising pockets of land and fishing rights if Fiji is unable to service the soft loans the Chinese are only too happy to provide.
The question is, what will Fijians do once the Red Army enters Suva and how can they be extracted once they are on the island, if they're not already there in disguise ?
What else must happen for the Fijians wake up to the reality that only they themselves can resolve Fiji's self made problems ?

Joe said...

@anon. 5:18 PM
You misread me bro, read my post again. Read the whole thing, not just one sentence.

Anonymous said...

@Joe 7:59pm

Sorry Joe, u are quite right I misred you, but the point I made about this IG is still true.

Anonymous said...

Jake,

Fiji economy was not contracting before the 2006 coup. It was slowing down yes - but that was largely due to the instability created by Bainimarama's destabilizing media utterances in the months running up to the coup (so much for the "journalism of hope".

Nevertheless, if you look at ALL the independent forecasts (RBF, ADB, Commercial Banks) the general consensus had Fiji's economy running at between 2.5% - 4% growth from 2007 onwards.

Of course, nobody had factored in the global financial crisis at that stage. But seeing how small island nations like PNG and Vanuatu barely suffered any impact from that, no sensible economist would say that the ~ 6% downturn experienced by Fiji during this period could be solely attributed to the GFC.

The main economic concern for Fiji prior to 2006 was the Government debt, the size of the budget deficits, the relative size of Government recurrent operational expenditures compared to capital expenditure. These were a worry, but hardly a crisis. And they are all significantly WORSE now. (The size of the civil service is of course smaller, but of course there has been an even greater relative fall in Government revenues)

When you kick someone out to take over you do it because you are going to make things better, which presumably you know how to do. The fact that most if not all independent development indexes are worse under Bainimarama attests to the fact that he did not pre-2007, and does not new, know what he is doing.

Radiolucas said...

@ November 15, 2010 11:28 AM

Insightful and succinct. The worry for many is that we are still stuck in this hole, waiting for some sign that the country will recover - with or without the military cretins.

mark manning said...

I have been told that there is millions waiting to be poured back into Fiji's Economy once these band of thieves is rounded up and put behind bars !
Now it's up to the Fijians to take their destiny into their own hands.