#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2010-10-10

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Defence White Paper: Does Fiji Need a Military?

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 National Security and Defence Review (NSDR), or the DWP, was commissioned by the previous Qarase government on 2 September 2003. A three-member Committee comprising an USP professor, an independent Australian military analyst (who acted as chairman), and a taukei Fijian, prepared the DWP. It was submitted to Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase on 9 February 2004.

In their introduction to the DWP titled ‘Safeguarding Peace & Security’, the Committee declared that Fiji does not face an external military threat but the principle challenge was domestic instability. In Chapter 8 of the DWP, the Committee called upon the Government to answer a number of questions in relation to the future of the RFMF. The questions were: Does Fiji need a military for defence purposes? If not, how will the non-military functions (navy, engineers, and youth training) be redeployed? If it does need a military, what for? As a backstop to assist the Fiji Police Force (FPF) maintain order? For peacekeeping? And if so, at what level? 

In early May of 2006, Qarase, as Prime Minister, had confirmed that there was a Defence White Paper (DWP), but would not disclose any details. He said when his government got back into power after the 2006 elections; it would give serious attention to the recommendations in the White Paper.

Selection and Appointment of Commander
The view was put to the NSDR Committee that the Constitutional Offices Commission, to reduce the scope of nepotism, should appoint the Commander RFMF in the same manner as the Commissioner of Police. It was claimed that this would promote a professional military ethos and potentially lesson tensions that arise within the military when it is perceived that promotion to the highest ranks is not based on merit.

This suggestion was not deemed appropriate by the Committee because of military’s direct link with the Head of State, even if only symbolic; and the salience of ministerial responsibility for exercising civilian control of the military.

By convention, the outgoing commander advises the Minister on the options for his replacement. The Minister makes his decision and conveys it to the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) for agreement. The residual strength of the Fijian social structure, the DWP observed, meant that this was not just a symbolic process. Presidents can and have influenced the choice of commander. Although appointment on merit should be the norm, the DWP stated that the selection of a military commander was the prerogative of the government of the day. The Committee considered other options for selecting a commander, like a vote of the officer corps or parts thereof, but no satisfactory alternative emerged.

The term of appointment was not mandated, although Commodore Frank Bainimarama, was appointed for 5 years and had since been granted an extension. To improve accountability, the DWP recommended that consideration should be given to shortening the term of appointment of a commander to three years with the option of one extension not exceeding 3 years.

The letter of appointment should include: a list of outcomes the government expects the commander to achieve; a list of what would constitute grounds for dismissal; and a salary package. The DWP also recommends that the Constitution should be amended to require the Minister for Home Affairs to consult the Prime Minister on the appointment of a commander before making his recommendation to the C-in-C.

Vaniqi: FSC to call the shots next week

The Fiji Times: The Government's rescue plan for the sugar industry includes a calculated deliberation on the benefits of closing a sugar mill in the Western Division, Ministry of Sugar permanent secretary Lieutenant-Colonel Manasa Vaniqi said.

Also under discussion are the gains of privatising the Fiji Sugar Corporation, he confirmed.

Lt-Col Vaniqi said those matters would be discussed at a sugar stakeholders meeting next week when the underlying objective would be to determine the most effective rescue plan for the ailing sugar industry.

He said that ultimately the final decision would have to be made by the FSC management and board. "I do not want to speculate on what may or may-not happen," he said. 

"The closure of one mill and privatisation of FSC are just suggestions at this stage. These are just considerations which need close inspection, the ramifications of what these types of actions may have - economically, socially and otherwise - will have to clearly be examined before any such decision can be made. As I said before, these types of decisions will have to be made by the board."

It is understood there are suggestions to close either Rarawai or Penang mill for up to two years to carry out comprehensive and extensive repairs. Also to be discussed is the possible sale of government shares in the debt-ridden FSC to private companies.

"This is something we are considering - it may be something to look at - the privatisation of the FSC," Lt-Col Vaniqi said. "All these things are part of the Government's plan to rescue the industry. "We have already implemented part of the plan with the delisting of FSC from the South Pacific Stock Exchange and the Government taking over the FSC debt.

"All these other considerations, like the closure of one mill for complete repairs and privatisation will, like I said before, have to be done with close consultation with the FSC board, engineers and stakeholders."

Dictator Bainimarama twitchy over mill closure

Where is the illegal regime going with its latest move regarding the sugar industry? Does is know what it's doing? Where will it all end?

The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation is reporting that the  self-appointed leader, Voreqe Bainimarama, says consultations need to be carried out first before a decision is made to close down the Rarawai Sugar Mill in Ba.

The closure was recommended by the Fiji Sugar Corporation acting Chief Executive Officer John Prasad at a meeting of the FSC board held in Lautoka on Thursday.

Bainimarama said wide consultations with stakeholders will determine the impacts of the proposed mill closure.

Prasad had recommended the Rarawai Mill close down because of high overheads. 

He says farmers in the area can be given the opportunity to build the volume of sugar cane which can be transported to the other mills for processing.

Prasad says FSC has faced some significant problems and the closure of the Rarawai Mill will help alleviate the situation.

More on China in the Pacific region and Fiji's 'look north' policy

By Ishaan Tharoor for Time Magazine

Most Westerners think of the South Pacific island nation of Fiji as the place on the label of a somewhat high-end brand of bottled water. But to those looking beyond its exotic waterfalls and beaches, the country is hardly a tropical idyll. Tiny Fiji has been under military rule for almost four years.

The press has been muzzled and its economy has slumped, hobbled, in part, by targeted sanctions set by regional neighbors Australia and New Zealand. With the restoration of democracy nowhere in sight, the country has grown into something of a pariah. In 2009, it was suspended from the Commonwealth — a poignant punishment for a former British colony where the royal family is still much loved.

But all is not lost for Voreqe Bainimarama, the military commander who toppled the ruling government in 2006 with promises to clean up corruption. Shunned by Fiji's traditional friends, Bainimarama's interim government has decided to look north to countries in Asia, particularly China.

In a visit to Beijing and Shanghai in mid-August, he secured vital aid from the rising superpower as he lauded the efficiency of its authoritarian system. "[The Chinese] think outside the box," Bainimarama told reporters. "What they want to do they do, [and] they are visionary in what they do."

It's no longer surprising for a politician unpopular in the West to turn to Beijing for support. In recent years, China has deepened its links with an array of autocratic leaders and military dictatorships, including the secretive junta in Burma; Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe (recently seen on a Hong Kong shopping trip); and Sudanese Prime Minister Omar Hassan al-Bashir, wanted for war crimes by an international tribunal in the Hague.

To be sure, Beijing's ever growing standing in world affairs - and its thirst for natural resources - necessitates some of these contacts.

Richard Herr, a professor at Fiji National University, doubts Chinese strategists would want to directly antagonize a country like Australia over its dealings with a small South Pacific isle. "But if ripe fruit falls into [Beijing's] lap," says Herr, gesturing to Bainimarama's courtship of the Chinese, "it won't reject it."

China has been steadily expanding its influence throughout the South Pacific. Last week, the fledgling government of East Timor announced that Beijing would be building the country's new multimillion-dollar defense headquarters. East Timor has also acquired Chinese patrol boats and may enlist Beijing's help in future training of its ragtag military.

China's extensive footprint in Papua New Guinea has been well documented and, in Vanuatu, China constructed the headquarters of the evocatively named Melanesian Spearhead Group, a regional body of island states that includes all of the above as well as Fiji and the Solomon Islands.

Rodger Baker, Asia-Pacific analyst for Stratfor, a global intelligence company, says the seeds of a larger geopolitical strategy may have been planted.

Talk of Chinese-manned listening posts may be premature, especially when considering the far greater scale of involvement Australia and New Zealand still have in these countries.

But it's one more sign of a slow shift in the Pacific's status quo as China elbows for room in waters long kept calm by the U.S. and its allies.

A much discussed 2009 defense white paper by the Australian government spotlighted Beijing's naval expansion as a strategic concern in the long-term, with China's increasing ability to project its power across the region furrowing brows in Australian policy circles.

"If China starts [its activities] from Port Moresby, it's a whole lot different than starting from Hainan Island," says Baker, referring to the capital of Papua New Guinea and the southern Chinese province where Beijing is building up its submarine fleet.

Yet, in other respects, the challenge China poses is less strategic than ideological. A string of recent books by Western Asia hands has warned ominously of the toppling of the liberal global order — When China Rules the World, as one title goes.

Stefan Halper's The Beijing Consensus: How China's Authoritarian Model Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century argues that the appeal of China's example — which sees "rapid economic growth, stability, and security, but not freedom in the public square" — will nudge many developing countries away from democratic politics.

This is already on view in some African and Central Asian states close to Beijing, but the Chinese publicly disavow any intent to impose their system on the world. Still, says Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., "outside of official conversations, Chinese scholars at state think tanks and universities are really quite excited" about the ground their politics is gaining internationally.

It's too soon to tell whether Fiji will fall under such a spell. Despite Bainimarama's gushing statements while in China, he remains committed in word to democratic reform, though elections have been deferred till 2014. Concrete signs of progress have been few, says Gerard Finin, an expert on the Pacific at the East-West Center in Hawaii.

"Some prominent intellectuals have been exiled and the promises made for change have turned out to be fairly vacuous," he says.

Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs, one of the country's leading societal institutions, has been dismantled.

But Herr, who at one time served as an adviser to Bainimarama's interim government, says the regime has been at the receiving end of heavy-handed treatment from Canberra and Wellington. Fiji has seen four coups d'├ętat since 1987 and Bainimarama has repeatedly framed his efforts as the first cautious steps toward the restoration of a stable and effective parliamentary democracy.

Glaser at CSIS reckons the supposed allure of the "Beijing Consensus" and China's soft power  - which, in the South Pacific, amounts to distributing money for political leverage - is overhyped. "Not a lot of countries in the world could implement China's model and find that it works," she says. "I prefer a definition of soft power that is about what a country is attracted to, not what a government actively promotes."

And while China's influence grows, in many instances it has yet to find enduring connections with some of its new partners. Bainimarama may be alienated and backed into a corner by the West, but, to this day, there reportedly hangs by his desk a portrait of the British Queen.

Friday, October 15, 2010

China currency traded in Fiji

Taken from / By: Google
Fiji Broadcasting Corporation: Fiji and China have discussed the possibility of including the Chinese currency - the (Renminbi) RMB - into the basket of Fiji’s trading currencies.

The issue was discussed at a meeting between Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi in Beijing.

Ratu Inoke says the initiative will help facilitate Fiji’s trade with China and is also part of Fiji’s ‘Look North Policy.’

The two ministers also discussed bilateral exchanges and cooperation.

China will be establishing a Confucius Institute in Fiji and will also explore the notion of establishing sister cities with some of China’s fast growing metropolitan cities.

Ratu Inoke also acknowledged China’s desire to help in improving the public service by offering places to the Fiji Public Service Commission for training opportunities in the China Executive Leadership Academy in Shanghai.

Further, Fiji is now seriously looking at the prospect of purchasing weapons from Chinese manufacturers to assist Fiji’s participation in UN Peacekeeping and Peace building Missions.

Fear of China stepping into Aust and NZ's territory driving push for solution to Fiji crisis

More misguided thinking this week from a former New Zealand diplomat and two Australian academics about the way ahead for Fiji.

Gerald McGhie, an ex-director of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, says New Zealand and Australia's strategy have failed and it's time to change tack, quote: "Australia and New Zealand can impose costs on Fiji but they cannot impose their will."

McGhie goes on to say that if the United States can seek talks with the Taliban, "it’s time to demonstrate diplomatic skill in dealing with a festering and unacceptable Pacific problem". He suggests an immediate return to the table with negotiators approaching Fiji in the 'fa'a Pacific way' with Melanesia leading the powerbrokers.

Quote: "The Pacific Negotiating Group will require a leader.  To date Sir Michael Somare has spent considerable time and much reputation coaxing Bainimarama back into the fold. He should at least have the right of first refusal. Appropriate support for his activities is vital. He must have a new and well-qualified team."

Not to be outdone, two Australian academics have also this week released their keen observations and solutions.

Richard Herr, the author of Time for a Fresh Approach: Australia and Fiji Relations Post-abrogation, of the  Australian Strategic Policy Institute and Anthony Bergin, the research director at ASPI, think Canberra should head back to talks with Fiji's junta post haste.

Herr and Bergin make much of the so-called lost 'brothers in arms' closeness between Australia and Fiji, saying the principled Australia is the only one losing out from its decision to isolate Fiji.

Quote: "Our closest Western allies in the region, the US and France, haven't gone as far down the military sanctions path as has Australia and have maintained routine contact with Fiji's armed forces. Our leading Asian allies, Japan and South Korea, have undermined travel sanctions by allowing all personnel banned by Australia to travel abroad via their countries."

Herr and Bergin go one better than McGhie and try to scare Cabberra back into conciliatory talks with the junta, with the notion China is getting too strong in the region, thanks to disaffected countries like Fiji seeking new alliances. Scary, scary.

Let's hope the old Yellow Peril scare tactic doesn't panic folks in Canberra into rushing to renegotiate terms with Bainimarama. This trio is misguided in thinking that Michael Somare and Co can affect an outcome, or that Canberra and Wellinton should succumb to the junta after four years of consistency.

There should be no negotiating with this illegal government, which continues to have the upper hand because it has the guns and soldiers on its side and because it has oppressed most facets of people's lives via the public emergency regulations and illegal decrees.

The Bainimarama junta has been able to control citizens ordinary lives because it is corrupt to the core and because the hierarchy are profiteers. The regime has bankrupted the country to pay the military, its illegally appointed government ministers and public servants, they who are supposedly making life better for everyone under the Roadmap. 

Things are not ideal in Fiji, but renegotiation is not an option.

Illegal government 'fesses up to 'losing' Independence papers

The set of papers, on which the Pacific nation's first constitution was based, were presented to the Fiji government by the Prince of Wales on Oct 10 1970. 

These included the Fiji Independence Order, which marked the country's release from British rule.

Ms Ikaniwai told Fiji's FBC News that several government departments had been contacted during the long search. She said that several offices that could have held the documents had been checked, but to no avail. 

She said officials had scoured the records and contacted government departments without success trying to locate the document, which was originally handed over by Prince Charles in 1970.

The government has since accepted that the papers have been lost and contacted the British government, which provided a photocopy of Fiji's Independence Order. 

The announcement that the historic papers have gone missing comes during a week of celebrations in Fiji to mark 40 years of independence from Britain. 

The country's illegal leader, Frank Bainimarama, used the occasion to justify a slew of controversial political reforms. 

Since taking power in a 2006 coup, Bainimarama has abrogated the country's constitution, sacked the judiciary, imposed sweeping new controls on the media and said he would not hold democratic elections until 2014. 

Australia and New Zealand remain concerned at the actions and deterioriating relations with Fiji.-Telegraph.co.uk and AsiaOne

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More Australian-based analysis: 'Let's not drive Fiji further into China's arms'

By Richard Herr and Anthony Bergin for The Australia, reprinted by the Solomon Star

Canberra should lose no time in repairing relations with Suva.

Fiji celebrated the 40th anniversary of its independence from Britain last week.

Sitting under the protection of a pavilion, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, ministers and the diplomatic corps were untroubled by the teeming rain that soaked the parading troops and schoolchildren who provided the spectacle for the occasion.

But not all the storm clouds were over Suva's Albert Park that day. Australia's high commissioner was missing from the diplomatic reserved seats, a casualty of tit-for-tat expulsions in the course of the troubled relationship between Canberra and Suva since the December 2006 military coup.

The entire planet is making some adjustment to China's emergence as a rising global power. But
Australia's four-year attempt to isolate and penalise the government of Bainimarama has pushed Fiji more quickly and fully into Beijing's arms.

Arms has a double meaning here; Fiji's President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has just returned from a state visit to China, where he visited a major arms manufacturing plant.

The military sanctions imposed on Fiji by its traditional friends (Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the US) have left Fiji's military with few options for resupply or modernisation.

Speculation is rife in Suva that Fiji will soon decide to procure Chinese sourced armaments.
This would likely be a long-term commitment to the Chinese supply chain.

The Bainimarama government also has a significant military personnel training offer from China.

There's every chance that a substantial commitment could soon be made to a five-year cadet officer training program that would at least equal the pre-2006 levels for Australia, New Zealand and Britain combined.

These developments are a direct result of some of the ill-advised sanctions against Fiji, rather than any efforts by China to discredit Fiji's ties with Australia.

The affection that built up over the years between Australian officers and Fiji's military has been lost.

Senior Fiji officers regret that the brothers-in-arms status that they once enjoyed with their Australian counterparts isn't available and won't be offered to their junior officers.

Our closest Western allies in the region, the US and France, haven't gone as far down the military sanctions path as has Australia and have maintained routine contact with Fiji's armed forces.

Our leading Asian allies, Japan and South Korea, have undermined travel sanctions by allowing all personnel banned by Australia to travel abroad via their countries.

In the process, they have reinforced Fiji's "look north" policy to cultivate new partners to offset the estrangement from its traditional friends.

At a recent meeting at the UN with Fiji's Foreign Minister Inoke Kubuabola, Hillary Clinton, recognised the 2014 date for elections in Fiji is unlikely to change.

The US Secretary of State offered to assist Fiji in returning to parliamentary democracy by that date.

Despite its doubts, Australia shouldn't wait until 2014 to test the sincerity of Fiji's commitment to elections.
That would only make Bainimarama's government feel it has succeeded despite Australia, and not because of Fiji's relationship with an old friend.

Last week's national day celebrations in Suva may have heralded a new focus for Fiji's independence, not from Britain but from Australia.
If this trend is to be reversed, both sides should talk urgently.

Richard Herr is the author of Time for a Fresh Approach: Australia and Fiji Relations Post-abrogation, Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Anthony Bergin is the research director at ASPI.

Chinese flag getting more and more prominence in Fiji

FOREIGN TIES : Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi with Kubuabola.

BEIJING, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- China will boost cooperation with Fiji in various fields to push bilateral ties to a new high, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said here Wednesday.

During a meeting with Fijian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Civil Aviation and International Co-operation, Inoke Kubuabola, Yang said the two countries maintained good momentum in developing bilateral ties with frequent high level visits and increasingly strengthened cooperation since establishing diplomatic ties in 1975.

Yang pointed out that Fiji was an important Pacific island and China and it were developing countries that shared many common interests.

Kubuabola thanked China for its long-term unselfish assistance to his country. Fiji would strengthen ties with China in the areas of economics, trade, tourism, culture and education, among others, he added.

He reaffirmed Fiji's adherence to the one-China policy and congratulated the country on the successful hosting of the Shanghai Expo.

Dictator’s Deputy Secretary for Development Eliki Bomani on NBF Debtors List

Despite laws ring-fencing the National Bank of Fiji from unscrupulous customers, many managed to breach it, running away with thousands of customers’ dollars, and to date, we have no idea if they re-paid their loans, especially those who were identified on the NBF Debtors List of 1996.

Among the hundreds of debtors listed, the dictator’s Deputy Secretary for Development in the Prime Minister’s Office, and former Deputy Secretary for Information, is among them. Bomani, the son of Solomoni Momoivalu, the elected Member of Parliament in Ratu Mara’s time, and who moved to the dictator’s office in 2008, is listed as owing to the collapsed bank $38,124,000.

Ironically, the NBF debtor Bomani (if he has yet to clear his loan) is now overseeing the fencing of the Great Wall of Fiji – the Government House - illegally occupied by Mara’s son-in-law. The ‘Great Wall’ is being built by a group of 20 imported Chinese workers, for the $2.3million funding (kick-backs excluded) is coming from the dictator’s friends in the Chinese Government. 

In a cleverly orchestrated move, to ensure that the unemployed i-taukei youths did not erupt in anger over the imported Chinese workers, he got the Chinese to send a Tai Chi instructor to calm the unemployed of Suva, who are unemployed because of the dictator’s coup.

Bomani says the Government House fencing project is progressing and should be ready for commissioning in January next year. “The walls have gone up and it’s almost complete. The only thing to start in a few days is the laying of the underground cable for the lights. So far, the project is on schedule. With the weather permitting, it should be ready for commissioning in January,” he said.

The fence, made of steel and reinforced concrete, is used for the foundation and columns. Bomani said the fencing project involved three types. The first involved a decorative fencing which would run along the frontage from the Great Council of Chiefs (we thought the dictator told them to go and drink home brew under a mango tree) complex to the entrance to the Botanical Gardens through to Cakobau Road to the British High Commissioner’s residence. “The fencing perimeter will be about 2.4 metres in height,” he said.

The second type of fencing will serve to separate Government House from the Botanical Gardens and the third will cordon off the properties at the GCC complex and behind Government House. Bomani said 20 workers had been brought in from the China Railway Number 5 Engineering Group and were housed in Government Quarters at Domain.

Coupfourpointfive would want to know from Bomani as the ‘Great Wall’ goes up, whether he paid back his $35,000 loan to NBF, which brought down the national bank. He should also be served notice, that no matter how high he climbs in the illegal Prime Minister’s Office, he and others will be pulled down when democracy returns to the country – to answer unanswered questions about the collapsed National Bank of Fiji.

As the English poet Richard Lovelace wrote, Stone Walls Do Not a Prison Make, Nor Iron Bars a Cage. The wrath of the oppressed peoples of Fiji is fast reaching a crescendo point, and no matter how high fence the treasonists are building to hide from the raging mob, it will be torn down, and they and the NBF debtors will be brought to justice in a free Fiji. 

Even a million Tai Chi Chinese instructors will not come to the aid of the dictator or his army of supporters from the raging mob.

Editor’s Note: We will continue to reveal debtors names, which includes those of high chiefs, politicians, Indo-Fijians, Rotumans, Part-Europeans, business houses, including individual supporters of the present illegal junta in Fiji. If you or your family has paid back the NBF loans, please provide Victor Lal with evidence. He can be reached at vloxford@gmail.com 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

China eyes Fiji as a regional telecoms hub

People's China Online, China Daily: With modern infrastructure and a favorable business climate, Fiji is a hub for Chinese foreign direct investment

As the "Gateway to the South Pacific", Fiji is a small country that is thinking big as it bolsters its reputation by attracting major trade and investment from economic giants like China.

As an idyllic island paradise, Fiji has made huge strides in infrastructure development with the help of Chinese investors as Prime Minister Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama boosts Fijian-Sino links.

One of the first Pacific island countries to establish diplomatic relations with China 35 years ago, the country of 840,000 people opened its embassy in China in 2001 and has set itself a series of ambitious socioeconomic goals to become a regional business hub.

Blessed with many natural resources, including large agricultural, fisheries and forestry sectors, the nation boasts a wealth of investment opportunities across its diverse and growing economy.

Throughout the last decade, Fiji has enjoyed consistent export-led economic growth based on strong sales of sugar, gold and textiles.

Ministers in Suva, the capital city of Fiji, have identified China as a key trade partner for their new "Look North" approach - a policy that aims to focus efforts on countries to the north of the country.

The financial blueprint aims to double GDP by 2020, reduce poverty and unemployment, liberalize the financial services sector, boost the tourism industry and focus on renewable energies and the liberalized telecoms sector.

In his 2010 budget address, Bainimarama outlined his strategic vision for Fiji for the next decade. "The 'Look North' plan requires discipline, vision, legal changes, modernization and collaboration between the government, employees, employers, the financial sector and civil society," said Bainimarama.

According to the Chinese Ambassador to Fiji, Han Zhiqiang, China sees a tightening of bilateral bonds and the further development of friendly cooperation between the two countries in economic, cultural and educational sectors.

"As well as the economy, trade, culture, education, agriculture and investments, there is also a growing tourism market that is seeing more visitors from China and has enormous potential," Han said.

Fiji's telecoms sector is one of its most successful industries, with Chinese expertise and technology playing a key role in the development and continued expansion of fixed and mobile phone networks, plus fast and reliable Internet access.

Telecom Fiji Limited (TFL) is the sole provider of local and national telephony services, and owns the country's only public switched telephone network.

Owned by parent firm Amalgamated Telecom Holdings, TFL has a network comprising 55 telephone exchanges.

As an industry pioneer, TFL has invested significantly in state-of-the-art networks and satellite technology that connects thousands of business and residential customers.

"Fiji has a very modern telecoms infrastructure and is fortunate to have the Southern Cross fiber-optic cable that comes from Australia and New Zealand and connects to North America via Hawaii," said TFL Group Acting CEO Sakeasi Seru. "TFL has 150,000 customers, 75 percent of which are residential.

"We offer 100 percent coverage, thanks to our satellite connection that serves the remote areas and can provide companies looking to invest in remote areas with excellent satellite services."

Another analysis on Fiji crisis: is the 'Pacific Way' better?

By Gerald McGhie, Pacific Scoop
Interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s track record does little to encourage those who look to an early negotiated settlement to the current coup/crisis.  But the coup is now in its fourth year and Bainimarama remains well entrenched.  Action to date has not brought him to the negotiating table.

Given the unproductive rhetoric and exhortation from both sides, the stand-off seems likely to continue. Should New Zealand be looking for alternative approaches?

The short answer is “yes” but power struggles, ethnic and land disputes have a habit of  locking themselves into the DNA of Pacific communities. Given the essential complexity of the problem there can be no quick fix or short term solutions to the issues surrounding Fiji.

It is hard to believe that the Pacific, an area noted for its complex procedures of conflict resolution, has not yet produced a formula that all sides can accept. Overtures have been made.  Sir Michael Somare has recalled that at its inception in 1971 the Forum was determined to have an inclusive membership. That principle has underlined his approach to the region ever since.

He has also said that “the Pacific way is not about burning bridges” it is about “going the extra distance, compassion and participatory democracy”.  If there are any lessons to be learned from previous coups, he said, “hurriedly prepared elections and token changes to rules do not ensure real democracy”.

In spite of Somare’s experience and insight, momentum has been lost.  Bainimarama’s sharply worded criticisms continue.  The Forum meets and disperses.

But have negotiations to date been a genuine reflection of the fa’a Pasifika?  Regretably, Pacific Forum countries have an excellent record of producing documents.  Most are quickly ignored particularly the Eight Points of Accountability on Good Governance  and the less useful Pacific Plan.

More durable
But the 2000 Biketawa Declaration has proved more durable.  Somare drew on this document at a Forum meeting in January 2009 when he exhorted members to “constructively address difficult and sensitive issues including underlying causes of tension and conflict”.

Biketawa refers specifically to ethnicity, socio-economic disparities, lack of good governance, land disputes and the erosion of cultural values as continuing areas of concern.  These factors are all in play in Fiji:  Somare’s plea was to engage the interim government fully to help political dialogue succeed.

But for governments to say that they are ready for talks is not enough.  Personal animosities have reached a point where approaches have to be carefully tested. All sides must address three issues before proceeding.  When to talk, what to say and how to say it. But most of all  Australia and New Zealand must take a step back and allow the Pacific countries to initiate and carry out the discussions themselves.

Realistically, Bainimarama is in control and he will not compromise on the Roadmap, the constitutional reforms and the elections in 2014. Negotiations with him will not be easy but if understandings can be agreed and adhered to at least there will be some structure on which to base discussions.

Early contact between the parties would be modest and low key.  A Pacific-based Negotiating Group (PNG) would send an unambiguous message to the interim government that they will address all items on Fiji’s agenda.  For their part New Zealand and Australia would offer a simple statement agreeing that they would be prepared to enter into serious negotiations at an appropriate time but until then Forum contact would be in the hands of Bainimarama’s Pacific colleagues.

These actions are limited in scope and would not at first substantively alter the character of the Fiji government’s relations with the Forum (and New Zealand and Australia) but they would communicate to the interim Prime Minister that all Forum members intend to pursue a different strategy.

That new policy would require a new tone.  Fiji is a proud nation.  Continued denunciations and comments dismissive of the regime would only produce greater intransigence.

Tough talk
Thus Australia and New Zealand must be clear.  Endorsing their own agenda, engaging in tough talk while indicating a readiness to seek negotiations is unlikely to succeed.

More important, relations with Fiji must not be played out in terms of domestic constituency politics in New Zealand.  The Fijian diaspora will know that they stand to gain from realistic negotiations.

The Pacific Negotiating Group will require a leader.  To date Sir Michael Somare has spent considerable time and much reputation coaxing Bainimarama back into the fold.  He should at least have the right of first refusal.  Appropriate support for his activities is vital. He must have a new and well-qualified team.

The UN has experience of dealing with similar knotty problems.  As an expression of goodwill the Pacific Forum nations could make a joint approach to the Secretary General to seek his involvement.  New Zealand and Australia would underpin the negotiations by ensuring the provision of adequate finance and support for the Pacific Negotiating Team.

Neither side involved in the negotiations is likely to achieve all their aims.  They seldom do when the primary challenge is political. But Fiji’s internal disputes, unresolved since independence and before, have to be dealt with by Fijians and the decisions reached accepted by the Pacific and wider community.  The involvement of the United Nations would provide a measure of legitimacy.

Certainly no country in the region will benefit in the long term from a banished and ailing Fiji.  Fiji’s neighbours must be aware of this.

It would be naive to assume that there are no risks or obstacles associated with this approach.  But suspicion now dominates a relationship that has a long history of cooperation.  Australia and New Zealand can impose costs on Fiji but they cannot impose their will.  If the US can seek talks with the Taliban, it’s time to demonstrate continuing diplomatic skill in dealing with a festering and unacceptable Pacific problem.

Gerald McGhie is an independent commentator and a former diplomat and ex-director of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs.

Picture: Bainimarama. Fiji TV pic

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Epeli dreaming about returning to the Commonwealth

By Tevita Sami

The illegally appointed President of Fiji Ratu Epeli Nailatikau says Fiji intends to rejoin the Commonwealth and plans to reopen doors that have been closed to Fiji.

He made the comments during celebrations to mark Fiji's 40th year of Independence.

Is Nailatikau deluded in thinking that Fiji can decide to join the Commonwealth when it wants to?

By saying Fiji intends to rejoin the Commonwealth he is giving the impression that Fiji made the decision to leave the Commonwealth when the truth is it was kicked out.

The Commonwealth, the European Union, the United Nations, Australia and New Zealand - they all asked Fiji to abide by one rule - return the country to democracy as soon as possible.

As a result, Fiji has been shut out of opportunities like the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Commowealth scholarships, millions of dollars in aid money from the European Union and Fiji's two neighbours - Australia and New Zealand.

Frank Bainimarama said Fiji needed to fix up a lot of problems and make preparations before it could go to the polls.

Does a country with less than a million in population really need 8 years to prepare for elections?

With the international community ready to help Fiji return to democracy, Fiji could have easily asked for help and it would have been granted.

Why now, all of a sudden, on Independence day, (which I still don't know why Fiji is celebrating since it's not Independent at the moment with an independent government!) does Fiji want to rejoin the Commonwealth etc?

Does it think that the international community is at its beckon call? Maybe ...

Sorry Nailatikau and Co ... the international community gave you too many chances already.

Since you all are celebrating Fiji's Independence and giving messages left right and centre, my one to you and your gang at the interim regime is,
with the four coups it has experienced over 20 years .... Heck, Fiji would have been better under the Queen!

Small acts of resistance: lessons for Fiji

 International eyes are on China and its human rights record again with the freedom fighter, Liu Xiaobo, winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Chinese authorities have spat on the award, describing it as an obscenity. And this is the country Voreqe Bainimarama wants Fiji to snuggle up to. Read further and be inspired by the acts of resistance - worldwide - that are helping to destroy these illegal, corrupt and ruthless regimes.

The BBC-The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Chinese dissident, Liu Xiaobo, is a reminder of the damage autocracies do to themselves when they clamp down on freedom of speech and thought. 

At a single day's trial last December, Mr Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison after having helped to draft Charter 08, a manifesto for political change in China.

But the world has recognised Mr Liu and his sefless acts. His Nobel prize comes at the precise moment when people right at the top of the Chinese system such as the Premier, Wen Jiabao, are joining the debate about the need for greater political liberalisation. 

The act of official irritability which took away Mr Liu's freedom is becoming more and more of an international embarrassment to China. Now, in every country in the world, his name and cause will be known; and more people in dictatorships everywhere will be emboldened to imitate his small act of resistance.

'Losing game'
That last phrase comes from the book Small Acts of Resistance: How Courage, Tenacity, and Ingenuity Can Change the World. It is written by Steve Crawshaw, international advocacy director of Amnesty International, and John Jackson, a long-term campaigner for human rights and other major international issues.

Suitably enough, the foreword is provided by Vaclav Havel, who helped to draft Charter 77 in the days when the hand of the Soviet Union was heavy on the former Czechoslovakia.
Only 12 years later, after serving many of them in prison, Mr Havel led the entirely peaceful revolution which brought down Marxism-Leninism in the country, and became the freely-elected president. 

Mr Crawshaw and Mr Jackson detail example after example of the way in which governments which deny people their freedom have been brought down by people who are determined to speak and act as though they are free. 
"I'm full of humour and irony, and you're beating me, arresting me," declared Srdja Popovic, a Belgrade student involved in the Otpor (Resistance) movement against the late Serbian dictator, Slobodan Milosevic. "That's a game you always lose." 

He was right. Milosevic was soon chased out of power and put on trial for his crimes.

Symbol of resistance 
Even in countries where it is still dangerous to speak out, people find ways of doing so. Images of Neda Agha-Soltan's dying moments shown around the world.

In Tehran in June 2009, a 26-year-old woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, was shot dead in the street as she took part in a protest against the strongly disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Her dying moments were captured on video and shown around the world.

Her mother had tried to talk her into staying at home, but Agha-Soltan answered: "If I don't go out, who will?"
She has become a continuing symbol of resistance in a country where the government is clearly unable to win the wholehearted support of its people. But not all small acts of resistance are directed at brutal autocracies.

Small acts
Even in countries where the rule of law is strong, governments sometimes behave in ways that are questionable.Just before the start of Ms Gun's trial the prosecution's case collapse.

Mr Crawshaw and Mr Jackson quote the case of Katharine Gun, a young translator of Chinese at the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), where phone calls and messages around the world are monitored.

Although she had been assured by her bosses that she would never be asked to do anything illegal, a senior figure at the US National Security Agency (NSA), which works very closely with GCHQ, asked her early in 2003 to spy on governments like France, Chile and Mexico, which disapproved of the coming invasion of Iraq. 

Ms Gun told a friend, who told a British newspaper. She was arrested, but just before the start of her trial the prosecution case collapsed. She never got her job back, though.

An American naval officer, Lt Cdr Matthew Diaz, was so shocked by the way the US authorities had refused to publish the names of those suspects detained at Guantanamo - thus preventing them from getting independent legal advice - that he copied out hundreds of names and smuggled them to a human rights organisation in New York. 

History remembers
"Our protest will be recorded in the history books, for all generations to see”. So says Yigal Bronner, who was sentenced to six months in jail. "There was nothing else that I could really do," he said afterwards.
That is how people like Vaclav Havel, Srdja Popovic, Katharine Gun and Matthew Diaz feel. Probably it is how Liu Xiaobo, the new Nobel laureate, feels. 

As Yigal Bronner wrote, after refusing to serve with the Israeli army in the Occupied Territories: "Our protest will be recorded in the history books, for all generations to see."
In a free society, the weight of public opinion matters in such cases. In societies which are not free, people have to fight harder and risk more. 

But the world is full of countries which were once dictatorships and are now free and properly democratic, from Argentina to South Africa. And almost always it is small acts of resistance which have brought about the change.

New chairman for Fiji Development Bank Board another coup lackey

Bob Lyon conspired with dictator to drive out Denarau developer and Qarase’s think-tank man Martin Darveniza from Fiji

The illegal Attorney-General and Minister for Trade and Commerce Aiyaz Khaiyum has announced the appointment of Bob Lyon as the new chairman for the Fiji Development Bank Board. Lyon is currently the chairman of the Foundation of Development Corporation (FDC) and the current chairman of FINTEL.

Lyon was appointed chairman of FDC in September 2007. He worked for ANZ Banking Group from 1965 – 2008. The last 14 years were spent in the Asia Pacific region. Following his retirement as Managing Director, Pacific in 2006, he was appointed non-executive Chairman ANZ Pacific, a position he held until 2008. He was also President of the Australia Fiji Business Council.

In appointing Lyon as the new FDB Board the illegal Trade Minister Khaiyum said Lyon will bring in a lot of experience. Definitely, he will, especially by reporting on the regime’s opponents, and helping it to remove investors from the country the regime dislikes.

In 2008 Lyon conspired with the regime to remove Martin Darveniza, the former chief executive of Tabua Investments Ltd, responsible for the overall development of Denarau Island. Darveniza was forced to leave Fiji that year after 20 years with the company. The conspiracy involved Parmesh Chand who was then principal private secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, and is now CEO of the Public Service Commission.

On 10 May 2008, Lyon e-mailed Chand with the heading “Contacts”, and wrote as follows: “Hi Parmesh, Here are the contacts in relation to that matter we discussed.” Although the e-mail is silent on the “matter discussed”, Lyon gave the names and e-mail addresses of the following persons as useful contacts: Radisson- Graeme Woodley; Paul Adams; Golf Terrace Apartments – Ross Porter; Sheraton Denarau Villas – Ian Rodwell and lawyer (Nadi) – Peter Lowing.

Adams is a property developer of Carrus Corporation in Tauranga, New Zealand. Porter was president of the Australia-Fiji Business Council. Ian Rodwell is the founder of the Adcorp Marketing Communications Group, and is also chairman of Denarau Villas Limited (Fiji) in conjunction with Sheraton Hotels in Fiji.

Tabua Investments Ltd carried out the development of all residential areas on Denarau Island. The company is owned by BIL Ltd out of Singapore and has been involved with Denarau Island since 1996. Since its involvement, the company has successfully developed the Sheraton Denarau Villas project and several residential precincts.

During the debate of the controversial Qoliqoli Bill, Darveniza was quoted as saying the following: “Some people believe that efforts should be made to dissuade Government from proceeding, but they have made it very clear they will proceed with this, and this needs to be recognised. Too often in the past operators and developers stood in one corner and resource owners stood in the other. I believe the way forward is to bring them together. It’s very imperative that such a broad-based programme is undertaken. We have to bring the two minds together.”

In 2003, Darveniza was on deposed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase’s “Think Tank Advisory Group”, which also included Radike Qereqeretabua, Y P Reddy, Mahendra Patel and Jesoni Vitusagavulu. When Fiji TV, which was working on the story, contatced Lyon and Chand for comments, the then Police Commissioner Esala Teleni’s goons were sent to Fiji TV, who took the reporter to the Central Police Station and an IT expert searched through the reporter’s computer but couldn’t find anything – the thugs forgot that there are one hundred thousand ways to skin a cat. Fiji TV was forced to abandon the story after threats from Chand and his goons.

On 2 June 2008, Chand had forwarded Lyon’s e-mail to his illegal boss: “Prime Minister, Sir, these contacts would be very important if ever there is an investigation on Martin Darveniza – PC”.

Now, Lyon has been rewarded with another chairmanship, that of the Fiji Development Bank Board.

The appointment of these foreign adventurers reminds us of the words of the Governor Sir Arthur Gordon who had remarked in 1875: “I cannot believe myself that it is a thing to be desired that this interesting and intelligent population (the i-taukei) should be simply swept away from their own land, to make room for adventurers.”

Unfortunately, locals are being swept away from various Boards etc to make room for adventurers like Lyon by the unintelligent dictator and his Talibanistic henchmen Khaiyum, the author of that infamous genocidal “Sunset Clause” against the i-taukei Fijians.

Monday, October 11, 2010

DPP's conviction success a pack of lies

The Director of Public Prosecutions Office claims it has so far had a record year in the number of cases that have been disposed off successfully and they have also had a record conviction rate of 94 percent for the first eight months of the year.

Coupfourpointfive says it is false, misleading, inaccurate and a pack of lies. And we say so for the following reasons:

There has been no proper record keeping in the office for years
There has been no statistics from previous years to match the statistics for 2010
There is no figures for 2000 to 2009
There is no proper records or statistics for Magistrates and High Court cases.

The report says 44 High Court trials:
But it fails to mention how many cases out of this 44 were proper trials, how many were guilty plea's and how many were cases were withdrawn due to lack of evidence
This is misleading, false and lies put together by the current acting DPP (former Traffic Cop and not even qualified to be a senior legal officer).

The report says 152 Magistrate trials:
But it fails to mention how many cases out of this 152 were proper trials, how many were guilty plea's and how many cases were withdrawn due to lack of evidence.

This is misleading, false and lies:
These figures and statistics have only been put together to hide and cover-up the major mess and chaos in the Office of the DPP at the moment.

The figures also forgets to mention how many cases were dismissed due to no prosecutor turning up in court.
Also forgets to mention how many cases were acquitted to due to prosecution not able to prove its case.

This is all a cover-up by acting DPP, trying to show his military masters that he is the right man for the job; he is highly incompetent, does not have any legal understanding of issues and is rumoured to be suffering from double personality syndrome - this has been confirmed by legal officers who said that he has constant mood swings.

The distorted figures have been put out because Aca Rawaya, the acting DPP, is after the illegal Attorney General Aiyaz Khaiyum’s job. 

Departing Fiji Times editor: 'We were always willing to print both sides'

SYDNEY (The Australian/Pacific Media Watch):  Netani Rika, the former editor-in-chief of the Fiji Times, has accepted an offer from the Australian National University.

He will spend time in Canberra writing his account of the almost four years he has spent contesting military government control of the media.

ANU professor of Pacific and Asian history Brij Lal was expelled from Fiji last November following critical remarks concerning the expulsion of the Australian and New Zealand high commissioners. Professor Lal, now an Australian citizen, was born and educated in Fiji.

Rika, aged 44, who is married with three children, said that "doing some reflection at the ANU is something I'd like to do". But before that, he said, "there are certain things I need to put in place before I can clear my mind to do something like that".

He said the period since the military coup of December 2006 had been "my most tiring period of work in my 22 years as a journalist".

Rika said the pressure had been relentless: "In the beginning, there were physical attacks, then legal action, and finally legislation (a Media Decree) that forced the sale of the company."

Rika told
Media, in the first interview since he was pushed out of his job last week, that he had not been tempted to back down from confrontations with the military regime in favour of a quieter life.

"There were always people who said, 'just give it up'. But it was from the start a collective decision that we made at the paper, to keep telling the truth as we saw it," he said. "All the people who made the decisions were locals, and at each stage we revisited the original aim and said we would remain on course. And we did."

The newspaper was recently sold by News Limited (owner of
The Australian) -- a move forced by the new Media Decree banning foreign investment above 10 per cent -- to the Motibhai group chaired by Mahendra "Mac" Patel.

The military regime, which withdrew all government advertising from the paper, was especially incensed by the
Times' description of its ministers as "interim".

But Rika said that when the military authorities in April last year abrogated the constitution, the President stated that the new administration had been appointed on an interim basis. And that had not changed.

"We were always willing to print both sides of the story. But the censors allowed only one side," he said. In such cases, the paper spiked the stories altogether to spare readers being misled.

His deputy, Sophie Foster -- also perceived as inadequately sympathetic by the regime -- went on leave when Rika was asked to resign and appears unlikely to be allowed to return.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Jone Baledrokadroka: The Military in Postcolonial Fiji

CHANGED ROLE: Fiji's coups have politicized the country's soldiers.

Baledrokadroka was one of the participants at the Canberra workshop, Fiji At Forty, held to mark Independence Day. This is the paper he presented.

Fiji’s military has become an all pervasive institution of politics. The military’s traditional hard security role has merged with a politically nuanced human security role. The present state of Fiji’s political instability is related to the role expansion of Fiji’s military since Independence. The expansion has been marked by an over-emphasis on non-core activities such as nation building, peacekeeping and internal security. This has had a deleterious effect on the political stability of the nation.

Why, and how, has this development taken place?
Since cession in 1874 the patriotic adage of For God, King and Country was grafted onto and sat well with Fiji’s colonial and Fijian society. This slogan of British imperialism ethos was fully adopted and adapted into Fijian society as the Lotu, Vanua kei na Matanitu. In the 96 years of British rule this slogan underpinned the colony’s military service through two world wars and the Malayan Communist emergency campaign in the 1950’s. Ratu Sukuna epitomized Fijian imperial loyalty and latent nationalism with his “we must sacrifice blood on the battlefields to become a nation” rallying somber appeal for the war effort.

After Independence Fiji’s civil military relations pattern was a hybrid between Nordlinger’s traditional aristocratic and liberal democratic models. This hybrid pattern since independence cohered well with the ruling Fijian elite in the form of the Alliance party government of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

Since the mid-seventies the military became increasingly used by the Alliance government under Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara in a civic national building role though with a predominantly ethnic Fijian bias. The raising of the Trade Training School in 1974, the Engineers Rural Development Unit and the Naval Division in 1975 saw the military increase to over three times its size. 

In 1978, with Fiji’s first deployment of troops with the United Nations interim forces in Lebanon the peacekeeping role became a force determinant. A detachment was sent to Zimbabwe in 1980 and in 1982 another battalion was raised as part of the Multinational Forces and Observers in Sinai Egypt to monitor the Israeli-Egyptian peace accord. This new role increased numbers to over 2200 regular force soldiers by 1986.

All during this expansion period, recruitment was always kept at over 95% ethnic Fijian. The huge ethnic recruitment numbers disparity was simply put down to the ‘unappealing nature of soldiering’ to Indo- Fijians. In retrospect, a quota system of recruitment should have been done to even up the ethnic numbers balance in the RFMF.

Unfortunately, this heavily skewered ethnic recruitment only reinforced tacit  ethnic elitist political association within the institution. Being overwhelmingly ethnic Fijian, the military was always to be a bastion of indigenous political paramountcy.

In fact, during the March 1977 elections (the second since independence) where the Indian dominated NFP party had won by the slightest majority but were unable to form a government the military was put on alert. The question still remains today, what would have happened hadn’t the Governor General Ratu Sir George Cakobau appointed Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara to form a minority government until the September 1977 elections? On the other hand as informed by a prominent Indo-Fijian, it came as a huge relief that Mara was reinstated for obvious reasons - Fijians would have definitely agitated against the NFP government.

Suffice to say, therefore, the three major troop numbers increases were brought about by local and international political expediency rather than in response to any clear defence role. Hence Nation Building; Peacekeeping and Internal Security became the force determinant for the military.

International peacekeeping exposure to the world’s hot spots- especially the Middle East, has imbued a confident political mediator disposition amongst Fiji’s military officers. Rubbing shoulders with big name politicians, UN officials and Middle East factional leaders of the PLO and Hezbollah was all part of a Fijian senior officers lot during a tour of duty. 

Lines blur as military cosy up to Fiji elite
With the 1987 Rabuka coup many of the senior officers became similarly entwined with the Fijian political elite. Rabuka’s coup shattered the Westminster civil-military relations ethos and explicitly unveiled the fragile nature of Fijian democracy since Independence. It seemed the Westminster model lasted so long as government was made up of the Fijian political elite.

With Voreqe Bainimarama recently emphasizing ‘only the military can bring about change’ the political role of the military persists. The militarization of government since is real evidence of this politicized role. Over 40 military officers are still holding important government posts from Prime Minister, Cabinet ministers, Permanent Secretaries and other postings on boards of various statutory bodies.

In a parallel development since 1998 the recruitment of over 2,000 Fiji citizens for service with the British armed forces has been ongoing. This has had significant economic and social implications for Fiji with remittances reaching an all time high of more than F300million in 2005.

The third factor that increased military numbers was the internal security role that evolved out of the 1987 coup. The size of the military reached 3,600 in December of 1988. The army raised the number of infantry battalions and the number of soldiers in each battalion to ‘effectively control’ the emergency situation, although many saw that emergency as being one the RFMF had created in the first place. An elite counter revolutionary warfare unit was formed to protect against government armed insurgency.

As a consequence of executing a supremacist coup in 1987 against a phantom internal security threat, the military in a convoluted way created for itself an internal security role previously the ambit of the Fiji Police Force. Ironically, in taking upon itself the IS role, like scores of developing countries in the sixties and seventies, Fiji is now a coup prone state. The huge increases in military expenditure and blatant budget blowouts since the 1990’s till today is evidence of a military that has not read the history of coup prone country’s. In these countries, militaries have strangled the economic life in the name of guided development and security.

In many post colonial states, civil supremacy under the aegis of democracy is often threatened by the military’s colonially-inherited legacies. Often, such societies are troubled by severe schisms of a regional or ethnic character. The military, however, acquires a colonially-induced unifying function. And that given its self image as leading nationalists the military is commonly able to rationalize away or sincerely justify their predatory actions. Since they identify with the nation what is to the advantage of the military is also good for the country. It is as almost if coups promote the national interest. 

Western military ethics stress the supremacy of society over the individual, tribe or sub-group, and the importance of order, hierarchy, and division of function in the service of the nation state.  Foremost of this military colonial legacy is the principle that the military commander must never allow his military judgement to be warped by political expediency.

Unfortunately, this principle has been compromised as in the Nigeria and Fiji coups with highly professional armies that are drawn from one predominant ethnic group and do not reflect a unified nation. If governments seem captives of those sub-national forces, the incentive for military intervention may become strong.

Pessimism of military leaders
The degree to which corruption is itself a major cause of military coups is, however, open to question. Despite its prominence in post coup rationalizations, one might suspect that it is a secondary cause in most cases. Perhaps more significant is military leaders' distaste for the messiness of politics - whether honest or not – and a tendency to blame civilian politicians for failure to meet overly optimistic popular aspirations which would be impossible to fulfil even by a government of angels.

Again, this type of thinking may be the result of the realist and rather simplistic mindset prevalent in military leaders that resorts to coercion in dealing with political evils. For the military view of man is decidedly pessimistic and that the man of the military ethic is essentially the man of Hobbes.  Bainimarama’s  2006 ‘clean up’ or good governance coup rhetoric played to such sweeping justification and an instrumentalist view. 

On the other hand military intervention into civilian affairs is not precipitated solely by military groups or elites. Perlmutter found that in most cases civilians turn to the military for political support when civilian political structures and institutions fail or when constitutional means for the conduct of political action are lacking.

The civilians begin to form interventionist coalitions or indoctrinate the military with their political ideologies. Several examples of this process can be found in the Middle East and Latin America and recently in Fiji.

Perlmutter also found that “corporatism is a prima facia case for interventionism and that professionalism is only one guarantor of non- intervention”.  This appears to be the case in Fiji prior to the 2006 coup. The commissioning of a security review white paper by the SDL Government in 2003 further undermined the fragile relations with the Military Commander. The paper recommended among other things, a fifty percent cut in the number of the Fiji Military Forces and a change to the selection process for the Commanders position.

The Fiji military, though a considerably small force, consisted of a highly professional officer corps - a credit to its British military legacy. Since independence the traditional aristocratic- liberal democratic pattern of civil military relations worked well enough. This did not stop the RFMF, however, from overtaking democratically elected governments in 1987, 2000 and 2006.

One way to look at the driving forces of military intervention or non-intervention is through Finer’s disposition/opportunity theory. It's here that Finer identifies the disposition of the military elite – which is bound to its corporate and individual interests - as the push factor. The pull factor is the opportunity that the political ‘crisis’ offers as a key condition for a military political intervention.

According to Finer’s calculus of intervention, the subjective military disposition factor and the objective opportunity factor acting in unison are the most relevant triggers to the likelihood of a coup. The pre-coup interventionist coalitions of Rabuka and the Taukei Movement in 1987, Speight and Nationalist politicians in 2000 and Bainimarama and the Labour Party in 2006 are clear examples.

Today, Fiji’s colonial legacy, and the military self-image fostered during the colonial period, continues to impact modern day politics. The weak division of labour in emerging nation states and the way in which it may exacerbate ethnic divisions that give rise to the military taking over in a mediator role and creating a coup prone or praetorian state. ‘Revulsion against civilian incompetence and corruption’, as many have argued, is a frequent justification for intervention by military forces in newly-independent states. Commodore Bainimarama has often used this excuse for his 2006 clean-up coup.

In addition, the military corporate interest is foremost in a military elite’s calculus for intervention. In many Third World countries military ‘professionalism’ has come to mean not Huntington’s old professionalism of external defence, meaning that a professional armed force is one that is subject to civilian authority, but something quite different.

The new professionalism in Third World countries such as Brazil, Burma, Thailand, Nigeria, Indonesia and Fiji is expressed in the capacity of the military to assume a politicized role and, either temporarily or permanently, to take the reins of state power and dominate government. Finer takes the argument further in two ways:  his disposition and opportunity theory offers an explanation of the push–pull factors that cause the military to intervene in politics; and he suggests an ascending scale of modes of military intervention in politics from working through constitutional channels to overthrowing civilian governments.

I have endeavoured to explain why the military forces have intervened in Fiji’s politics so consistently since 1987 was the natural result of its non core role expansion, the extent to which Fiji exemplifies wider patterns of intervention found elsewhere, the form which intervention has taken at different stages of this story, and the reason for the absolutist character of the intervention that began with the 2006 coup.

In the last four decades since independence, the military through its last three commanders, has indeed become a political animal. And finally having researched the literature on military disengagement from politics in the post colonial era, the quicker the military disengages from politics the better for all of Fiji’s citizens. Vinaka Vakalevu.

Editor's Note: Footnotes not included.
Pictures: PLO leader Yasser Arafat (middle) and George Speight (bottom right).