#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Pro-regime journalist accuses Rewa chief of 'playing the race card'

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pro-regime journalist accuses Rewa chief of 'playing the race card'

Australian journalist Graham Davis' attempt to diminish the Rewa Chief, Ro Teimumu Kepa, following her second letter to Fiji's illegal leader, Frank Bainimarama, sees him predictably accusing her of 'playing the race card'.

In an article which appeared first on his blog and then pro-regime publications including the Fiji Sun and Pacific Scoop, Davis infers Ro Kepa is provoking unease and makes out there is 'wide concern' about her use of the word 'calamity' in the following comment to Bainimarama: "The revolutionary changes you are making cannot be made without the involvement of the GCC. Any calamity between the races or even between indigenous Fijians themselves can only be resolved with the involvement of the GCC."

Davis' stories appeared under the heading 'Paramount chief deals the race card' and 'Paramount chief deals the 'skeletons' race card'. It is published here and will be followed by a response from Fiji's pro-democracy movement. Ro Kepa's letter is at the end of Davis' story.

By Graham Davis

A titanic struggle looms between the old and new orders in Fiji for the hearts and minds of the indigenous majority – the i’taukei. It’s a struggle that will determine the future for all Fiji citizens and on present indications, the portents don’t look good. Because the old order – the i’taukei chiefs – seem determined to make race the centerpiece of their campaign, to mine all the old prejudices that have retarded independent Fiji’s development right from the start.

The evidence for this is an astonishing letter to the self-proclaimed leader of the “New Order” – Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama – from one of the country’s paramount chiefs –Ro Teimumu Kepa – in which she raises the spectre of “racial calamity” in Fiji. The phrase has sent a chill through the ranks of non-indigenous Fijians, which comprise 40 per cent of the population. Because however much Bainimarama assures them of a bright multiracial future, the old racial skeletons are being rattled at the apex of indigenous society.

Ro Teimumu heads one of the three indigenous confederacies – Burebasaqa – and carries the title Roko Tui Dreketi, which she inherited on the death of Ro Lady Lala Mara, the wife of the founder of modern Fiji and multiracial standard bearer, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. From her base in Rewa, outside Suva, Ro Teimumu appears to have embraced the mantle of warrior chieftain – the Boadicea of the South Seas – taking it upon herself to confront Bainimarama head on.

Her immediate casus belli is Bainimarama’s sudden and unilateral decision to disband Fiji’s Great Council of Chiefs (GCC), depriving it of its previous status in national life and abrogating its power to, among other things, appoint the country’s president. Chiefs high and low are in revolt, not only over their loss of status and Bainimarama’s lese majeste but also a loss of income as the government bypasses them and channels funding direct to the grass roots. It’s damaged both their pride and their pockets. And many Fijians wonder whether Bainimarama – who’s emerged as the ultimate exponent of the “crash through or crash” brand of reform – may have finally overplayed his hand. In any event, he’s now been dealt an unwelcome racial card.

In her letter -in which she provocatively addresses the Prime Minister as “Voreqe”, his indigenous Christian name – Ro Teimumu describes his decision to abolish the GCC as “ a serious error of judgment”. “Despite the shallow criticisms against the role of traditional chiefs, they are the stabilizing factor for Fiji and they have helped to control the ethno-nationalism and facilitate conciliation in ethnic relations in Fiji”, she states.

Ro Teimumu continues with a broad attack on a central pillar of Bainimarama’s rule – his multiracial agenda. This includes a level electoral playing field when promised elections are held and the use of the term Fijian to describe all citizens and not just the indigenous majority. “The obsession to remove racial issues from the governance of this country is short-sighted and ill-conceived, for ethnicity is a fact of life”, Ro Teimumu says. “The revolutionary changes you are making cannot be made without the involvement of the GCC. Any calamity between the races or even between indigenous Fijians themselves can only be resolved with the involvement of the GCC”, she declares.

In the Fiji context, such a statement from one of the three most senior chiefs in the country has very serious implications. Is Ro Teimumu signaling that without the formal involvement of the chiefs in national life, racial calamity is inevitable? Many will note her choice of the word calamity. Racial stresses, even tensions, have long been a fact of life in Fiji. But racial disaster involving great distress and great suffering – the accepted meaning of calamity? Nothing can be more designed to provoke unease and erode community confidence.

The wider concern is whether this statement has the potential to incite racial hatred and trigger racial conflict in the vanua – especially those areas of indigenous life over which the chiefs still hold great sway, however much their power has been eroded. In the immediate aftermath of previous coups, a wave of home invasions and bashings descended on Indo-Fijians living in certain parts of the country. Some of it was described as institutionalised violence, in which the authorities allegedly turned a blind eye to flagrant human rights abuses. Bainimarama has promised the country this will never happen again. But can the racial minorities in Fiji ever take him at his word when a paramount chief invokes the spectre of a “calamitous” reprise?

Ro Teimumu is a formidable opponent – resentful not just of Bainimarama’s truncation of chiefly privileges but from having been a minister in the pro-indigenous SDL government that he removed at gunpoint in 2006. Far from going quietly, she’s been a persistent critic of the regime ever since, forging close ties with the leaders of that other pillar of opposition to the Bainimarama regime – the Methodist Church. In 2009, she was arrested for defying the military’s ban on the Methodist Church holding its annual conference. She offered to host it herself in Rewa village and was charged with inciting disobedience when she encouraged church members to attend. Since then, relations between the GCC and the Church have become even closer. The Methodists have strongly criticised the abrogation of the GCC and both cast themselves as the sole remaining bulwarks against Bainimarama’s perceived threat to the indigenous way of life.

Ro Teimumu’s latest missive to the prime minister was the second within days and followed a letter of protest over what she termed the environmental threat posed by the proposed Namosi copper mine outside Suva. That can fairly be cast as the legitimate right of a traditional chief to safeguard the interests of her people. But raising the prospect of racial conflict in an already volatile wider environment? Even on prominent anti-government blogs like Coup 4.5, Ro Teimumu’s comments have generated a wave of criticism. One correspondent there termed it “the last gasp of the old order in Fiji” and said even talking about racial calamity made her “unfit to hold any responsible position in national life”.

How the regime will respond is yet to be seen. But Ro Teimumu has emerged as arguably the most potent opposition leader in Fiji – the principal standard bearer for the chiefs, the Methodist Church and the many thousands of traditional indigenous Fijians they still claim to represent. The old Fiji versus the new.


The Letter:
(click on page to enlarge)


Anonymous said...

Graham Davis.
There appears to be a misprint. Quote "It’s a struggle that will determine the future for all Fiji citizens and on present indications, the portents don’t look good." This should read 'look good'.

Who is this Graham Davis. Is he a Fiji citizen? What is his blog site? What credentials does he have to comment on the Fiji situation? Now I know of him I would like to take him on 'face to face' as he clearly does not believe in democracy.

Anonymous said...

Cheap shot by Davis.
If you know indigenous Fijian history and culture , you'll know where Ro Teimumu Kepa is arguing from. ( Too long to try and delineate here)

Anyway it's understandable that Bainimarama's dog Davis has got hold of this one and he'll shake it until the cows come home.

He even pushes it to the limit by saying that the statement has "sent a chill through the ranks of non Fijians".

Why don't you Davis and your Hero bainimarama put these non Fijians at ease by making the military 40% Indian.
You have the power to do it now, so why not do it now.

Otherwise all your talk about racial equality is all bullshit.

-Valataka na Dina.

Anonymous said...

I think it's true. I don't know why she used the word "calamity". After everything that has happened in the past, non indigenous people are worried. There's no racial tension in Fiji these days so why stir it up? Happy to hear argument against Davis but he is right. Paramount chiefs should not talk like this.

Give a dog a bone... said...

Davis was born in Fiji as a Methodist talatala's son ( can you believe it?) so he's entitled to say what he likes. We are also entitled to disagree with him. It's a country not a private club.

Calling him a dog doesn't help because whatever you say, he can bark and he can bite. This was on the front page of the Fiji Sun so it will have been read by far more ordinary people in Fiji than anything here.

We've got to get smarter and counter these arguments more effectively, not attack the person. Where are the stories giving the other point of view? Davis is only effective when he's the only voice.

I hate to say it but the calamity word should never have been used. Give a dog a bone and this is what you get. Ro Kepa gave the regime dogs a tamani-sized bone and you can be sure it will be dug up from now on every time she opens her mouth.

Anonymous said...

Valataka Da Dina, an Indo-Fijian like me cannot understand why you want 40 per of other races in the RFMF. We'll only be taking the jobs of the i'taukei who need them. Anyway, only a few of us are interested. I hear Bainimarama wants more Indians but can't get them to apply. My Fijian brothers are much better at it so why make a fuss. Just like we are better at running business. Equality doesn't mean this kind of thing. It means respecting our strengths and treating each other with respect. This is the real new Fiji, isn't it.

Anonymous said...

Valataka. "give a dog a bone...until the cows come home". Your talents are wasted here, bro. :-)

Doviverata said...

Graham Davis is nothing but another/disguised voice of the Regime.

I was just reading another lie/deceit of Bainimarama at FBC: http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/1588/old-politicians-only-bring-in-old-politics-pm

All this while they were working out how to suppress the pressure that was people who know what he and Khayium is are up to. And these people are Qarase and Chaudhary.

Point to be noted, people:
1. The regime know very well that Qarase and Chaudhary are a major threat to him in the due elections
2. He is using the so-called decree, where Khaiyum and his bitch and their minion can tear to shreds any body's self respect and dignity.
2. He knows 90% of the people are so stupid that they will believe him

What do you have to say for this one Bainimarama? Yeah, go running to khaiyum and ask him so you can come back and reply....or will this take you weeks or months to choose your words carefully and reply.

you people are just raping the country while Fiji Sun, Radio Fiji and Graham Davis, are ready to give you head...

Anonymous said...

Once again a pro Frank puppet Davis has played too much into that just one statement in Ro Teimumu's letter and tried to create havoc out of it!

This foreigner who bows to Frank and Khaiyum misses the whole point of the letter that the GCC has been and always will be a part of the Fiji Government system whether Davis or Khaiyum and Frank like it or not.

The "calamity" which has been singled out by Davis and others who are puppets of Frank and Khaiyum was used in a positive sense that the GCC was a stabilising factor in the existence of the present day Fiji and the future Fiji! It does not say that there will be "racial calamity" if there's no GCC! What a biased view from one who calls himself a Journo and a son of a Methodist Minister!

All I see from his article is someone who wipes Frank's and Khaiyum's arses everytime they shit! Period.

Anonymous said...

So Ro Teimumu.. My take is only the Chiefs can decide who gives life to a coup.............Good because I don't care.. I am on my way to Australia. Had enough .. wasted 30 years of my life in Fiji not going to waste another 30 more.

Anonymous said...

Only one 'calamity' and that is the one we have on our hands right now.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know What Davis has to say on things like CRW murders, The beatings of detainees at barracks, Francis Kean getting a get out of free jail card and so on.

Anonymous said...

New Order my foot. How many times should it be told that all these political reforms are all bullshit. This idiot is merely trying to show the world that he is doingh something good for Fiji to cover his past misgivings. Davis you should concentrate your writing in calling for this idiot to be charged and convicted for the gruelling murders of the CRW soldiers in 2000. He is wishing that his reforms make him look good and that will see peoiple forgetting all his evil doings in 2000.

Joel said...

I agree with Graham Davis, she like the rest of the lot is fighting for her status and perks back..enough is enough!! Go look for a proper income stream like the rest of us..

Anonymous said...

The 'race calamity' was the main reason why the first coup took place, and the subsequent ones. And Voceke and Aiyarse contributed to this by abolishing the GCC. In fact it was Aiyarse's contribution to this calamity. Sadly though, it will never go away, the racial tension will always be a contentious issue. That element in Fijian society has been in existence since the Indians arrived in Fiji. Sad but true.

No scoop said...

Calamity Davis is exactly what he is accusing the Gone Marama of doing: inciting and stirring. Unethical, man.

Pained Aussie said...

Perhaps a chiefly title for Davis since he so he itchy to be part of the action - give him Chief Whorewhore since he so willing to defend Chief War War

Anonymous said...

BLV or No BLV Fiji must move on,Sa rauta mada na viavia marama se Turaga.Na gauna qo,saga ga me da vuli vinaka,lotu vinaka,veilomani,veiwasei vakalevu! Na gauna qo o koya ga e tawa na nona taga e Ratu se Adi....kena i balebale sa na Ratu talega o Kumar,etc...Rokotui Dreketi o Bhika...Na boselevu vakaturaga e vere ga vaka Bau,sa rauta mada! Duri ga na Western Confederacy sa i koya!

Aussie Cobber said...

To those saying A-okay for Davis to have an opinion - really? Isn't he writing as a journalist, albeit one born in Fiji. Shouldn't he still be adhering to professional standards? I would've thought these were brettpy basic ... balance, fairness and impartiality.

Anonymous said...

Here's a sceneario....

A Commoner wonders how he could earn a few extra dollars so he can buy his children decent sandals to wear to school as they walk the hard gravelled roads.

A Chief's child gets dropped off to school in a 4x4.

It's about time the chiefs stopped filling their own pockets at the expense of common people.

Fiji will do better without the Great Council of Thieves.

Fair go cobber said...

Aussie cobber, this is an OPINION piece not a news story and Davis can say whatever he likes. In the Fiji Sun is was also called OPINION. So instead of peppering him with veka, why doesn't somebody else offer their OPINION???? Or are we pro-democracy people like the ones we're trying top get rid of? Trying to suppress people's OPINIONS. Lay off Davis. He knows a lot more than you give him credit for. It's a disgrace that some people here want to have a website just for their OPINIONS. That's not democracy. That's the dictatorship we're trying to get rid of!!!

Doviverata said...

Hey Anon 6:51

Its is for people like you to throw shit at others. In my 37 years I have never seen any chief dropping off their kids in 4x4. Mostly because the chiefs kids and the commoners' kids mix around each other well. Secondly, most schools are near or towards the working distance from the village.

Thirdly, as you say, a commoner wonder how he can buy sandals for his kids,i dint realize that morons like you were still...morons. How many commoner in the village did you see drink grog, sleeping late in the morning, lazing around, or just doin nothing.

And how many have you seen working, and saving for them kids. Our indian brothers do that, but us? How many of our itaukei brothers have saved for their kids? How many Itaukei parents punish their kids for not studying?

Point to note: this illegal govt, and previous govts have always marginalized the indians, they have been pushed away, one good example is in the govt. Yet the indians manage to save. All the high positions are headed by the itaukei, except the places where the actual brain is needed such as ministry of health. The itaukeis are paid very well, yet next monday they come kerekere for some cash from an indian.

I am an itaukei myself, and it makes me sad to see people like anonymous 6:51, only think what they are told to think. You of all other people need a leader more, than others. Yet you say GCC is thieves....seems like khaiyum and bainimarama really made you suck them balls..

Anonymous said...

'Calamity Davis', I like that! I think I'll start using that. Maybe he will, too.

I'm glad to see Calamity's column appearing on a more respectable blog site. Although he often decries the commentary on C4.5, at least his views are given a full airing here. Croz Walsh could learn something here, and so could all of those who want C4.5 to censor out contrary opinions. The idea behind a free press is to let all ideas contend in the marketplace of public opinion, in the expectation that people will eventually learn to recognize the truth when they read it.

I confess that I used to enjoy reading Calamity's articles. I found them a bit skewed, but a healthy antidote to those, mostly in Australia, who actually believed the claptrap that the attempts to isolate Bainimarama's regime were really working. He debunked claims of chaos on the streets and added some context to Fijian race relations, the sometimes unhelpful role of the lotu and the chiefs, and the two-dimensional portrayals of Bainimarama and his agenda.  

But then Calamity became over-invested in his subject. He increasingly displayed confirmation bias and a loss of objectivity -- a natural reaction, in some degree, to the personal threats and calumny directed against him in commentary on this website. Now I'm afraid he's completely lost the plot. He can't even bring himself to confront the revelations of the Board of Inquiry report, because it gives the lie to everything he wants to believe about the 2000 and 2006 coups and the real nature of this regime.

I assume Calamity quite enjoys his special access to Bainimarama, and perhaps he thinks he really 'gets' him. Maybe he relishes his notoriety and simply chalks it up to the hazards of what he thinks is 'edgy journalism'. Being invited to pontificate on the media before an essentially captive audience strokes his ego, which must be pretty bruised by the bashing it takes, especially from this quarter. Perchance he really is embarrassed, as he should be, by front-page coverage in today's Fiji Sun. 

But I'd like to think that Calamity wouldn't stoop so low as to knowingly prostitute his journalistic ethics. He's confused and deluded, but I would be deeply disappointed to find him in the same category as Sharon Smith Johns and Peter Lomas.

I preferred the old Graham Davis. Calamity, you're better than this.

s/ Dakuwaqa 

Joeli said...

Anon@6.51. Jealous morons like you are the problem. Perhaps you'd Ike to say that directly to a chief, but no you don't have the guts to do that, let alone telling it to a native Fijian. Only cowards hide behind the safety of a computer screen and hurl derogatory comments like that. I challenge you to use your real name instead of anonymouse.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dakuwaqa 12.46am
and as for the others criticising the critics of "calamity davis" and saying he is entitled to his opinion . . . well, so are Davis's critics entitled, especially when Davis is so far off to be "confused and deluded" or writing to support the ragime and their crimes instead of supporting the oppressed people of Fiji.
There is NO excuse to support these criminals on any subject.
Thats my opinion.
-Sydney Tourist

Anonymous said...

Frank is Fiji version of James Ibori from Nigeria. James Ibori is getting prosecuted in London.

From the moment he was elected he set about enriching himself at the expense of some of the poorest people in the world. His greed increased exponentially during the course of his governorship, as did his arrogance."
Under Nigerian law, Ibori was immune from prosecution during his two terms as governor, making him feel "untouchable", the court heard, and he used the opportunity to "systematically defraud" the public.

Doesn't this sound familiar?

Anonymous said...

Is this letter intended for the PM or for Teimumu's followers? It seems she is trying to get some support and money like she is used to from us commoners. Looking for sympathy and trying to play on emotions for her personal gains again. Go work and earn your money Teaimumu.

Anonymous said...

Calmity or kalema ci its us that got us here-for all who supported Rabuka and every other coup after that! Job well done. Crying now about Frank well we should have opened our mouths earlier, balming the indo-Fijians or Chinese or who ever is norm cause we iTaukeis are the innocent party, ask the Chiefs most are dead and gone .Ask the tawavanuas like Rabuka he doesn't seem to know whats going nor understand whats happened-after all he only 'believed in the cause not the means" pity he didn't say that in 1987! We are suffering from Gods will because of our "liu muri ways! Still don't get it go read the Bible this time with an open mind not as some fanatasy Story Book! We reap the seeds of what we plant! Still don't get it-a balance always has to be maintained in this Universe-we are been taught to rethink what we started! Still don't get-well you might just never will??

Anonymous said...

Davis should comment on the "New Order's handiwork" as explained by Rabaka's mother.He should spend his time looking for justice for her instead of wasting his time with a traitor.


Just saying said...

@1.56am Why work hard when you can be a star the easy way?

Anonymous said...

Rabaka's case was solved and soldiers are in prison already for that..isn't it??