The Tragedy That Is Fiji

Of all the economies in the South Pacific Fiji has the most potential and the most chance of achieving sustainable strong economic growth.  It has an excellent tourism potential plus manufacturing and agriculture.  It is relatively close to the bigger markets of Australia and New Zealand.  Its military has a great reputation which allows the armed forces to do well from UN peace keeping contracts.  And it is the main campus for the University of the South Pacific.

Yet inspite off aall this potential Fiji is heading fast to being the next failed state in the region, and globally, another Zimbabwe.

I have known our soon to be expelled acting High Commissioner Caroline McDonald well since 1980 when we first worked together in the Pacific Projects Section of the Development Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Few people had greater affinity with the people of the Pacific than did Caroline then, and I am sure that today she is feeling for the average Fijian, because she knows that it is the average Fijian who is going to suffer from the foolery of the military goon who is currently calling the shots in Fiji.  There is no way that Caroline would have done anything to warrant the treatment that has been dished out to her in recent days.

As I have commented before, I know the new Government here wanted a fresh start with Fiji and Murray McCully was prepared to go that extra mile to try and restore order to our relations with this important neighbour to the North.  I certainly supported this initiative and felt it unfair that Fiji  seemed to be being treated in a more heavy handed way than other countries in the region that have transgressed important democratic principles – Thailand is one example.

Thanks to this idiot Commodore Bainimarama we can kiss any chance of an improvement in relations in the short term.  Longer term we need to solve this problem.  New Zealand would be failing this region and the world if we allow Fiji to become a failed state.

So what do we do?  Trade sanctions?  No, these will simply harm the average Fijian, plus they would be WTO illegal.  We need to be more sophisticated.  I suggest the following as a start:

  • Maintain the existing sanctions on travel (they are clearly impacting on Commodore Bainimarama and those supporting him);
  • Throw the diplomatic book at Fiji – unless we have a reversion to a full democracy fast Fiji should be tossed out of the Commonwealth.  I presonally wouldn’t mind making an example of them in the Pacific Forum context also.  All aid should also be cut;
  • Lets seek international agreement to full military sanctions against Fiji.  No more military sales will be allowed and the UN should cut all peace keeping contracts with Fiji or Fijians;
  • Australia and New Zealand need to tell China and Taiwan to behave in our back yard and not do anything to undermine our politicaal sanctions – who do China and Taiwan want more as a freind?  Australia/New Zealand or Fiji?
  • Lets do everything we can to undermine Commodore Bainimarama at home.  Lets beam anti-Commodore Bainimarama radio and TV into Fiji 24 hours a day.  Lets saturate the web with pro-democracy messages targetted at the Fiji people.  And lets offer some exciting carrots should Fiji be willing to overthrow this clown Commodore Bainimarama and restore full democracy.

We could go further but the above is a good start.

Every New Zealander can do their thing also to help.  A good place to start would be to holiday elsewhere next winter.  Giving your full support to Murray McCully and John Key on the diplomatic front would be pretty helpful also.

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3 Responses to “The Tragedy That Is Fiji”

  1. Whaleoil Says:

    I’m afraid that won’t work Charles much and all as you would like it to.

    You see the Fijian and Indians on the ground in Fiji think the Commodore is doing a great job.

    You have a combination of Fijian nationalis, and stick it to the big countries attitude here.

    Far better would be to help the Commodore instead of finger wagging and tut-tutting which is what you propose. That sort of attitude has got us a long way thus far hasn’t it.

    It is time to try something different. How about we help the Fijians conduct a census, something tht hasn’t been done in years and essential before an election, how about we help them establish an electoral commission, draft a meaningful and non-racist constitution and encourage discourse.

    But no, I suspect you will get your wish and then absolutely nothing like what you hope for will ever happen.

    Contrast our attitude over Fiji with Pakistan, Clark feted the dictator Musharraf, Thailand, Clark signed a FTA with the Military Junta, China, has occupied a sovereign nation and annexed it, has no democracy to speak of and you clapped you hands together for the FTA.

    It is truly sad that our bombastic ways have come to this…..oh and one last thing, we can’t even contemplate force, we have no navy, no airforce and their soldiers are very well equipped plus we would only be serving to entrench the Commodore.

  2. Bubu Says:

    Thank you Charles – brilliant synopsis.

    I can’t agree with Whaleoil, and beg to disagree with Whaleoil’s rather sweeping statement about the Fijians and the Indians on the ground approving of Naval cadet Bainmarama.

    We, the people on the ground, are fed up to the teeth with this idiot who has taken us as a country backwards at a far greater rate of knots than when he ran away from his duties through the tapioka patch from the line of fire in early 2000.

    There is an extremely sinister plot afoot in Fiji to divide and rule us native Fijians. The plan is to weaken our traditional institutions and ourselves as a united people. It is working too, much to the detriment of our people who cannot see this happening because they are forced to confront hand to mouth living. In the end and worn down enough, they will say yes to anything.

    As long as the Fiji Freedom Group is afloat and able to work, we will fight tooth and nail to stop this deliberate assasination of our culture and the repression of our rights.

    NZ and Australia are right to be doing what they are doing because Bainimarama and the people who are pulling his strings are not reasonable people. You cannot reason nor negotiate with them … their logic is illogical in terms of being worldly. They are truly naive in the ways of diplomacy and the meaning of co-existing in the world truly has escaped them…. unfortuantely this kind of thinking is seen on the ground here as part and parcel of a generation of young men who have seen only suspicions and trickery and brute force in a life in the army and in war torn regions of the world.

    They have been forced to swear allegience to Bainimarama personally and not to the Fiji Constitution – a very dangerous precedent – and those that refused to do this were asked to leave and some even arrested with fabricated evidence and accusations thrown at them.

    Bainimarama has become extremely irritated with the sanctions because they are working very well – he cannot go to see his family in NZ , and his wife cannot go shopping in Melbourne or in Auckland. The pressure has been put upon him by members of his regime who have family in NZ. My goodness – everyone n Fiji has relatives in NZ it seems !

    Now the time has come to ask all NZ’s and Australians’ NOT to holiday in Fiji , as the tourism industry’s taxes is the last bastion of income for the Military. We are prepared to sit this saga out and to suffer its consequences until we bring this regime to its knees !

  3. fijitoday Says:

    Any attempts in Fiji to raise any issues with the Interin Government by Democracy Supporters result in threats to not only the people concerned but their family. The taking up of Democracy Supporters to the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in 2006 resulted in injuries to women amongst others.
    The women were made to lay down on the parade ground and the soldiers were marched over them. This sent a clear message that no opposition would be tolerated. People in Fiji today are scared and will look around and over their sholder before talking about what has .happened

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