An opinion piece by Suliasi Daunitutu, president of the Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement in Australia
Fijians at home and abroad are observing with profound interest how the next two years will unfold. After the purported abrogation of the 1997 Constitution, FDFM has been the voice of opposition to the illegal regime that we believe is also the voice of the oppressed populace.
Evidence gathered over the past two and half years from expatriates and locals shows clearly that the Military has a firm grip and part in the running of the nation, making it the most politicised institution in the country.
Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga (instead of Sharon Smith Johns, the Permanent Secretary of Information) in a recent public announcement on Fiji Radio, showed that the military is the intimidating figurehead that Frank Bainimarama and Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum will use for the complete subjugation of opposition and consequently the acceptance of their enforced rulings.
Now, at the doorsteps of the ostensibly first ever free democratic election, the signs are not supporting the pair's claims of racial and electoral reforms but more importantly as Bainimarama proclaimed, 'the coup to end all coups.'
The Gone Marama Bale na Roko Tui Dreketi clarified her views not to be intimidating or provoking (as interpreted by Graham Davis) but because of the direct implication on the Fijian people. This, in my view, translates into their racial reform being unrealistic to the indigenous interest.
That, already, is omitting a vital ingredient from their racial reform brew and one of Fiji’s three Confederacies through their paramount chief has found the beverage tasteless.
I have detected some enormous cracks in the foundations that they are laying leading up to the election in 2014, due to lack of consultations or consultation restrcited by boundaries and limiting stakeholders to freely voice their opinions. That will only result in bubbles and holes appearing in Fiji’s future which will verify Bainimarama’s claims of 'coup to end all coups' as a figment of imagination in 2006, which is even more unrealistic now.
In Bainimarama’s response to Ro Teimumu’s letter, he said that “chiefs had responsibilities to their people but when it comes to the national level, the government takes over.” Where is the link that will bring the Fijian’s voice to the government, if the GCC is not there - or how will they show discontent of a particular ruling if there is no link between the Fijians and government? How will they form a similar body that will accurately disseminate the government’s intentions to the Fijians given the fact that whoever is conducting this duty will be seen in the Fijian’s eyes to be talking down to the chief or giving orders to the people and their chiefs?
To make a long story short, the chiefs can tell the people to ignore the government and here lies the “fact” about what Ro Teimumu believed.
Father Kevin Barr, People’s Community Consultant, has published an article in the Fiji Times in which he mentioned the “prophetic role of the Church.” This in definition means “the church must raise its voice in criticism whenever the values of human dignity, justice, freedom and community are at stake".
To read this from a frontline supporter of the regime, is evidence of more cracks and bubbles in the secular state non-negotiable proposed Constitution. Mosese Tikoitoga publicly announced that they have the Methodist Church in their sights. So, is Father Kevin Barr trying to tell Bainimarama that the Church has a spiritual or advisory role to play in his new democratic Fiji?
Is Tikoitoga foreseeing the likelihood of the undeniable involvement of the Church and has held aloft the intimidating figurehead of the military, or is the secular state non-negotiable element another enforced aide-mémoire? Or is Father Kevin Barr just trying to defect and support his Methodist brothers. I myself think he’s had enough of the lies and deceit.
CMAG has voiced their concerns about the restrictions on the media, unions and people in general. So, how will that sit with Bainimarama as the head of the Constitution Commission, Professor Yash Ghai, has the exact same view and demanded that decrees be lifted before consultation starts?
From what we have witnessed about Bainimarama‘s reaction to demands, the outcome, I am positive will not be the transparency or inclusiveness of the consultation and neither is there a chance of compromise.
If these important factors of consultations are not observed, there will be more cracks and bubbles appearing in the formulation process and I am confident that the policies made, will not be conducive to good governance. This will result in the Constitution not supporting the downward pressure of discontent, dismissive behaviour or just simple rejection of regulation.
I am certain that we will reach that stage in our history which I know will not be too far away, only because Bainimarama disrespected the rule of law and some have condoned the act .... some even taking advantage of it. I hold the view that the Fijian will tolerate to an extent, but they will also respect their structure as it defines them.
To dismantle it without respect of its purpose and history is the biggest bubble that will weaken the regime’s foundation. Ro Teimumu had a valid point and Graham Davis doesn’t understand the complexities of our culture and the regime yearning for legitimacy to keep it in power and most importantly for Bainimara, because he needs to stay out of jail.
Fiji, a predominant Christian country, is now torn between faith and fear, disorientated by intimidation and forced to believe that disrespecting the rule of law can be right. If the Son of God respected Human Law enough to the point of total submission and death, which God are we Fijians really worshipping?