International Reports Not True: US Resident

 A Report from Fiji
Jim Bandy: ALSO Island, Udu, Vanua Levu
 Commodore SSCA, Director ALSO Island Ltd.

My wife and I have been in Fiji since 2001.

We continue to hear via the international news things that we do NOT find true in reality. The current Government, we believe, is a making a serious attempt to clean up corruption and give all Fijian Citizens equal rights. These are monumental tasks as corruption ran very deep and previous governments have promoted limited rights for anyone other than Indigenous Fijians: Indo Fijian, European or Vulagi (anyone other than Fijian or Indo Fijian).

While on the surface it may appear to be a religious or racial problem, it really runs much deeper than that. The Church: Methodist, Muslim and Hindu (to a lesser extent) have seized the issues for their own purposes. Even within the Church it is the leaders that are using the issues for their own purposes: power and gain. The rank and file people are not so prejudiced. The Fijian culture of chiefly inheritance and status along with the cultural trait of non-confrontation makes it easy for the chiefs and ruling class to take advantage of the situation to secure their power, position, gain and actions. This culture is so engrained that it is very difficult to get the people to challenge it in any way.

The current situation is better than it was and there is a strong feeling by many that the current Government is the best thing that has happened to Fiji.

I have recently spoken to civil servants, citizens (both Indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian) and several business owners, who privately state that they believe the current Government is attempting to make things better and do right, much more so than any previous Government. The Government is causing things to happen, following up on contracts let, ensuring quality work, holding people responsible and keeping promises made. This is even being felt by the rural people. Criminals and wrongdoers are being held accountable. Projects are being completed. People in positions of authority that use their power for personal agendas are being relieved. All of this has got to make things better in the long run.
So for visitors to Fiji things are definitely better!

I believe you are safer and your rights will be looked after more forcefully than prior to December 2006. Yes, there have been cases where people are asked to leave or been deported, but while I do not have direct inside information I have learned enough to believe there was probable cause in most cases.

For the yachties I would advise that this government has made new rules that makes it easier, not necessarily more convenient, for you to visit and cruise. On the other hand they are serious about their rules and expect you to follow them.

There is a strong residue of corruption to weed out and it is going to take a long time and strong measures to clean things up. There are many unresolved issues from Independence; many caused by British colonialism. But, I believe we are moving in the right direction. (I have become a dual Citizen, US, Fijian).

My hope is that this report will in some small way encourage people and yachts to visit Fiji. It is a beautiful and welcoming Country. I ask that you not be put off by the tainted reports in the international media. Unresolved issues, yes; but civil unrest, dangerous, no! Things are better now than they have been and are improving!


Anonymous said…
Bully for you, Mr Jim Bandy. You are unknown to me personally but everything you have to say rings true. The Truth,it has appeared, has not featured too highly in the past almost four years. One must ask why? We need more Jim Bandys to now come out and speak the truth as they see it. Can it ever have been right (or true?) that people born in Fiji were denied their birthright to surf waves on reefs which were far off-shore and which were held hostage to overseas interests and their paid-Fiji based retainers? This was most obviously a denial of natural justice: it has now been righted. Yet, just yesterday stake-holders in the previous unjust situation (one which would never have been contemplated or permitted under the Constitution of the USA) were complaining that they had "lost millions" at the Tourism Fiji Forum. Well, our response to such people is this: you should come to understand and fully realise that you made millions for well over a decade at the expense of other people's birthright. Now have the grace to acknowledge that justice is being done. We are.
Racist Attack said…
This article is blatant racism and a vicous attack in Fiji culture and religion by this palagi. Is Jim Bandy from Also Island saying that international reports of a coup in Fiji and human rights abuses including murder by Fiji military are untrue?
This man is a disgrace!
insidious coups said…
Is Mr Bandy aware his article is being used in an attempt to justify a coup?
Not Racist said…
Racist attack... can you please highlight which word, sentence or paragraph was racist. I have reread the article and cannot find any part that appears racist at all. A common theme of the anti government comments of late has been to make outrageous statements and accusations. Sounds like desperation to me.
Anonymous said…
"I believe you are safer and your rights will be looked after more forcefully than prior to December 2006."

What I see around me in Fiji right now is a lot of iTaukei women pregnant, low wages and an economy not doing so well. This will generate more poverty in the long run. Poverty will bring frustration. Frustration will bring...?!?!? Eh.
Radiolucas said…
@ Racist Attack

JIm Bandy's view is clearly a minority view in Fiji, based on the views of certain members of the community that view Fiji's right to fair and free elections, freedom of speech and other commonly held rights, as being perhaps "too complicated" for the everyday person - so they must have their rights suspended for a period - "to fix it" - so it can all be perfect when they get given their rights again. Part of the "white man's burden".

It is insulting. It takes away the people right to self government. What is worse is that it comes from a man from the United States, a country born from the fight against imperialist rule and for individual liberties.

The key is when Jim Bandy writes: "I believe you are safer and your rights will be looked after more forcefully than prior to December 2006".

I am not sure how he comes to this bizarre conclusion, other than a mere assertion. Most government's do things in their term, good and bad. But then we get to punish them by voting them out and/or putting them in jail.

Having a military take away all rights and take all power from the people does not lend much credibility to this argument, nor much comfort to anyone - who is to say that the regime, which has promised much and delivered nothing - will do what it has promised and return Fiji to democratic rule in 2014?

The issue to the argument on corruption is this:

1. There are many repeated claims that the "previous government was very corrupt". None of these claims have been substantiated. Even if they were, in part true (all government in inherently corrupt in my view) - why is a military dictatorship better at fixing the problem?!?

2. There are further claims that this government is "pursuing a serious attempt to stamp out corruption". How? Through nepotism, cronyism, rule by decree, abrogation of the constitution and a suspension of the free media. This, coupled with the international tantrums of a leader who barely understand's his own mandate (never mind explain it to others). Not exactly a poster-child for a responsible form of government.

So should (you) tourists come?

Yes. By all means come. (Lord know we need the money.) Tourists ARE safe in Fiji, not because of the regime, but in spite of the regime because we are friendly and caring people. Not, as some would have it, a collection of inherently corrupt cretins who cannot think for themselves.

But if tourists do come, they should know the situation in Fijian politics and know that the taxes you pay are being used, to a large degree, to fund a military government which refuses to allow the people to engage in meaningful discussions or input into our future.

That is a great shame and it is something that tourists, the people, and the wider international community, need to continue to pressure the regime for. Why? Because there is not incentive for an illegal government to give up it's power without being held to account for it's promises.
Anonymous said…
When the cocksure get going, they sure get going! Time for some intelligent doubt?
Radiolucas said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Red Dragon said…
@ COMMENT DELETED & Radiolucas:

It was possible to guess that the Bertrand Russell quote would bring forth the filth. However, the issue at stake is serious and so obvious that it is worth an effort or two t rise above the lowest denomination of thought. Jim Bandy is obviously a hard-working and well-intentioned person. Now he will fully understand what has to be contended with in Fiji: the wilful and deliberate denial of basic rights to citizens and residents which elsewhere in the world are taken for granted. A denial of a parity of esteem. Democracy of itself anywhere demands and requires the concession of rights to 'the other': 'palangi' 'vulagi' call them what you will. When Alexis de Tocqueville spent his time in America (so newly independent through a War of Independence with Britain), he was struck by many aspects of the liberty and freedom available to all and sundry. So unlike his own country, France, which had been through a most violent revolution and culling of not only the King and Queen but of large numbers of aristocrats (of which he was a surviving number). Notwithstanding the good intentions of the new US republic, there were still slaves, gross injustice continued towards indigenous 'Red Indians'who were rapidly being dispossessed. It might behove Radiolucas and those who share the thread of thinking shown there to consider how and why the US Constitution evolved to become a living and breathing instrument of freedom and liberty for all US Citizens? A beacon of liberty for the world. The machinery in place through the US Supreme Court ensures this and reviews it continuously through the decisions made there. May the Fiji Supreme Court do likewise! And may Jim Bandy and those who think like him be freely and fully allowed to say what they believe is just and right. They are investors in Fiji and they allow Fiji to become viable economically. Their rights as resident investors and citizens by choice must and shall be protected at all times. Their courage in voicing their opinion must be lauded and given recognition. Those who disparage them should review with humility their misplaced, cocksure opinions and look to the history of democracy.
Anonymous said…
@ Radiolucas

The view put forward by Jim Bandy is NOT clearly a minority view. Demonstrate that it is. You have not done so in your argument so far: not at all. It is a view for the Intelligent Doubters: not one for the Cocksure (viz Bertrand Lord Russell above)

"I repeat...that all power is a trust - that we are accountable for its exercise - that, from the people, and for the people, all springs, and all must exist".

(Benjamin Disraeli - 1804-1881 PM of GB and a jew)

Tell us Radiolucas how it is understood that the two spuriously-elected Qarase governments which were funded in every detail by the people of Fiji, accounted for this trust? In December 2006, the then Prime Minister turned his back on the people who paid him and ran away. Later, only a month later, enquiring about his publicly-funded pension. So, what description would you give to this exercise of democratic leadership? It hardly accords with Plato's Philosopher King? Chiefly courage? Guardian of the sovereign state? Please enlighten us and tell us clearly why democracy of this kind must be restored and all the profligate paraphernalia pertaining to it. After all, even the 'palangi' 'vulagi' pay taxes and expect something of benefit to their interest in return. That is the Way of the World in the 21st century.
True Blue said…
@ Radiolucas "All government is inherently corrupt in my view..."

A most interesting and revealing observation. Do please go on...argue this further. This cynical frame of mind bears greater examination. Most governments lend themselves to corruption: MOST. To ensure that ALL are not corrupt, eternal vigilance is required.

"The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance". ( Speech on the right of election of Lord Mayor of Dublin 10 July 1790).

This is indeed a white man's burden if no one else is prepared to take it up. Where were those prepared to take it up in 2001? And again in 2006? Tell us, please do. Encourage and assure us that in 2014 this burden of eternal vigilance over democracy (that it should not disassemble into tyranny) will be vigorously assumed by each and every citizen of Fiji: Fijians who will fight and defend liberty on all fronts because THEY ARE EQUAL UNDER THE LAW. This what a Parity of Esteem means in practice. Anyone want to challenge this? Feel free - after all, democracy in the making means just this.
Walker Texas Ranger said…
Radiolucas and corruption:

By exposing your ignorance with regard to the evidence for corruption (past and present), you appear to suggest that it never existed? Is that your intention? Then you throw in a Red Herring - a well known trick in logic (viz: the late Antony Flew's Thinking about Thinking). Professor Flew's little primer should be compulsory in each School of Humanities, Politics and Economics in Fiji. It teaches us to detect these illogic moves and root them out.

The evidence for corruption not only in the past governments of the last twenty years but now too is: ample and not anecdotal. You must be blind or wearing blinkers not to suspect, see or to glean evidence. We are surrounded by it daily. Some of us are not looking hard enough. What will it take "pour encourager les autres"? To twist an elbow or two. Displays of ignorance lead to suspicions. Consider this carefully.
Invictus said…
Radio Luka.

The truth be known yours like your ilks are minority views.

I am very pleased with such progress thus far.

Go get a life boy.
MJ said…
@ Radiolucas

The current government was the only government to establish an independent anti-corruption body, even though it was a requirement of the 1997 constitution. Many have criticised FICAC, but no previous elected government put anything similar in place when they had the opportunity. Why is that I wonder?
Jon said…
Radio Lucas

Despite a few sweeping generalisations in your comment, I believe that you're largely correct - particularly with regard to your point about the ability of people to think for themselves, and the military's inability to allow them to do so.

I would be interested to know if those writers who so obviously disagree with you see themselves in the same light as they seem to paint others. Namely that they are too naive, ill educated and easily led to be granted the ability to vote for the representative of their choice?

Alternatively, if they 'know' people in government used to be inept and corrupt, did they or would they, consider running for office themselves? Or would they prefer to always leave it others?
Radiolucas said…
@ Red Dragon

I am not sure how your reference to the US war of independence and civil war struggle relate to Fiji - are you in any way suggesting that Fijian society bears some similarity and that the regime is the modern day Abraham Lincoln?

Furthermore, I agree with you that the power of democracy lies in process - the process of law and the process of the State. If you don't agree with the State, you have some option of expressing your opinion on a regular basis. Jim Bandy should be allowed to express his view, good on him. But you see the irony when I say that I sure as hell cannot - because "criticising" the regime is illegal and I don't want soldiers coming to visit me for "reeducation" on this point.
Radiolucas said…
@ Red Dragon

I am not sure how your reference to the US war of independence and civil war struggle relate to Fiji - are you in any way suggesting that Fijian society bears some similarity and that the regime is the modern day Abraham Lincoln?

Furthermore, I agree with you that the power of democracy lies in process - the process of law and the process of the State. If you don't agree with the State, you have some option of expressing your opinion on a regular basis. Jim Bandy should be allowed to express his view, good on him. But you see the irony when I say that I sure as hell cannot - because "criticising" the regime is illegal and I don't want soldiers coming to visit me for "reeducation" on this point.
Radiolucas said…
@ True Blue

Argue it further? How? You are correct, eternal vigilance is required against tyrants and those who threaten your freedoms.

I suspect the thrust of your argument is that the military are our "custodians" of our rights and freedoms - though as the well-used latin states: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who watches the watchers?)

What benefit are you getting from the taxes you pay? The same as always: (i.e. the work of the civil service?) It is disingenuous to suggest that there is some "miracle" from democracy that you hope that the regime will produce.


I don't agree that the Military is inherently better at "watching" corruption. They are as bad, or worse, than any civilian government: they are answerable to none, no elections, no free media, no comment.

How does this help any fight against corruption? Does having guns help?

@ Invictus


@ MJ

FICAC is a great idea. However it did exist in another form for the civil service. FICAC simply extends that to the public. I have no idea why a previous government didn't put something together earlier. I wonder if FICAC will investigate the military? Perhaps not. I think the sword swings both ways on that one.
Invictus said…
Radio Gaga.

So what exactly is your point again?

Apart form the loathsome bleating you are known for.

Get on with it boy.
Radiolucas said…
@ Jon

Yes, making a generalisation about anything is problematic simply because they are generalisations - the exceptions always prove the rule - perhaps a human instinct to label and categorise?

It is hard making an argument that to give power to the people, you have to take it from them. It is exactly what colonialists did to Fiji and seems to be reintroduced as a "new" idea. Hardly.

I also agree with your comment re the talent drought as to politics - it seems the same in most countries - but it does take a smart person, with a determined and strong personality to deal with politics and diplomacy. Perhaps you should give it a go? Fiji needs more talent these days.

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