Posts Tagged ‘Democracy’

The Tragedy That Is Fiji

December 24, 2008

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.