Prime Minister, Please Help Us to Believe You

Steps to the 2014 Elections: Suggestions from a Reader
  
A reader,  Side Lines in Viti Levu, is worried about 2014  and thinks Government is not receiving sufficient feedback with the Public Emergency Regulations  in place. PER makes Government less aware of public concerns.  He is not anti-government, though he's unhappy about some things done and not done.  He's prepared to support Government if it is genuine about elections in 2014.   The PM says he's open to pro-Fiji suggestions. This overseas-based vulagi thinks balanced pro-Fiji comments like this need to be heard by the PM and those close to him:

The only thing we have that separates [PM Bainimarama] from other dictators is a promise he will have elections in 2014. I do hope he keeps that promise and that he holds everyone around him accountable to that goal. There are many things I don’t like about this military regime. They have made many mistakes and broken many promises but no progress is ever made without compromise. I can forget and even forgive the mistakes and sins of the last four years.

Now what about that promise of an election in 2014 ?

I personally need a lot more than that promise. I hope that the PM is genuine in this promise. If he is genuine I think it would be easy to demonstrate that to the many doubters like me. He also needs to convince the rest of the world. Here are some simple things he could do fairly quickly. (with my last posted ideas now in the dustbin I will keep it to only three this time).

1. This week - Publish a public confirmation that elections will be held in 2104.  A letter to the people of Fiji published in all the papers would be a great start. This letter should be signed by the PM, his government ministers and most importantly all of the Military council.

2. With in two months - Publish an actual Roadmap to democracy and then report quarterly on the progress made to that Roadmap. Have the road map progress audited by an external overseas agency. I don’t want to hear another speech. I want to see an actual plan on the steps, dates and times to take Fiji to free and fair elections. Sure, public service and government enterprise reform is important but I want to see the Roadmap that covers the detail on the move to democracy. At the moment people can see some economic and structural reform in Fiji but no evidence of any progress to democracy.

3. Before Christmas 2010 – Have the framework in place for a genuine political dialogue forum. This should include the appointment of a reputable chair and invite list with no pre-conditions on attendance. A key task might be agreeing on the new constitution.

At the same time as taking these steps I would like to see the PM being more involved in the running of his portfolio. I recently heard him speak in the north and it was very clear he was none the wiser on how the sugar industry worked than when he took power 4 years ago. Back then it was understandable (life spent as military man) but now as sugar minister he has to emerge himself into the detail and get on with the task of fixing it.

I also think the PM and his cabinet are getting too comfortable. The PER is creating a very sheltered world for government. They don’t need to work hard to have the answers. They don’t need to understand the detail so they can debate big issues. The PER makes them believe there own BS. They are becoming extremely sensitive to overseas critics simply because they now never hear any at home. The PER removes a critical ingredient in anyone’s success – FEEDBACK.

I worry that….
If this government can carry out structural and economic reforms and the economy turns around (this is a big if) then the PM will claim that his coup has been validated, his style of running Fiji works and that elections are not necessary. We should keep moving forward with him.
OR
If the economy has not turned around and structural reform is not completed then the PM will defer the election under the claims Australia and New Zealand have stopped progress so he needs more time.

Prime Minister, Please help us believe you.

Editor's Note . The original comment is slightly abridged. For original, see comments to Forum Mistake post.  Sidelines is actually not asking for anything very different from what Government is doing or says it will be doing.  He asks for a unequivocal  public statement from all concerned that elections will be held in 2014, come hail, snow or tsunami.  It would be a positive move to repeat this assurance since some people, including investors and overseas governments,  are still doubtful.  
    And he asks for an overlap between the current physical and social infrastructure Roadmap and the intended dialogue on the later constitutional and electoral reforms. He asks that these processes be started, and that I think is a reasonable request. Government clearly has reservations about how inclusive the dialogue and the elections should be.  I think it would win support by declaring its reservations and the reasons for them.


WEEKEND READING. Allen Lockington's column, Timor Leste and China: Warning for Australia, From Paramountcy to Equality: Yabaki, Citizenship Education in (UK) Schools.

Comments

Simple, Powerful said…
Suggestion 1. is very simple and would carry a huge amount of symbolism. It would great to see not just the PM but the military council who pull many of the strings behind the scenes make this public and written committment.

Will the PM and Military rise to the occaison ?
Alternative said…
Bainimarama has been very clear: he will NOT give the power to a government which is "not prepared".

If no good government can be formed in 2014, there will probably be no elections.

But there is a nice alternative to that situation if everybody is ready to make a little compromise: let's give some permanent powers to the military in the new constitution (say a veto?) and hold elections soon.
sara'ssista said…
Outstanding comment and suggestions
No more coups please said…
@ alternative

There is nothing to suggest this military government was "prepared" to govern, in fact they pretty much made a mess of everything in there first three years. It is only now they are starting to get a few things done. Now they have thrown out the rule book and silenced all critis.

Giving the military any veto power now or in the furture is a very dangerous idea. What we need is the exact opposite. The military should never be above the law. Unfortunately this is the problem we have now - they believe they have some sort of vito.

I'm practical enough to know they won't remove themselves overnight but if this PM or any future military wants any sort of legacy it needs to be the day the military stood up and said coups are not good for the country, the military is not above the law and the military reports to the government of the day, not the other way around.
Moving forward said…
There is no way Fiji will survive another 4 years of this dictatorship. It is on the roadmap to economic ruin and international isolation.
warnings for Australia said…
Can't wait to read this rubbish. You really have lost the plot croz.
Focus on your goal - helping Fiji move forward!
. said…
@ Warning for Australia ... Never jump the gun. It is not my warning.
Pointless and boring said…
I agree with "Warnings". This is utter tosh. "Please help us believe you Prime Minister". Come off it! You either do or you don't. Initially, Bainimarama gives a "cast iron guarantee" that there'll be an election in 2014. Then he says he may not be able to if Australia and NZ continue their opposition to the regime. That sets off a revolt even amongst some of his own people, who've backed him on the proviso that he sticks to his word. So he goes back to saying that the 2014 deadline still stands. This guy is totally flaky across a broad front. So how will it help anyone for him to put his "promise" in writing in a formal government announcement in the Fiji Sun? Is your worry wort correspondent going to be placated by that? If so, this guy/gal really has a problem way beyond his/her desire to spoil my weekend with a bout of personal hand wringing. It seems that too many people have forgotten an old adage bordering on the cliched - that actions speak louder than words. Flaky Franky can promise all he likes but the only test that matters is whether he eventually delivers. And right now, there are far too many reasons to suspect that he won't. As another old cliche has it - only time will tell. All of which makes these tortuous ramblings a total waste of space.
Plea for openness said…
Croz, re the debate about anonymous contributions: You'd do a lot more for transparency and free expression by reverting to your previous habit of allowing unfettered comment without blogger approval. If you're worried about inappropriate content, you can always delete items that don't meet your standards after the event. Since you've become gatekeeper, it does beg the question how many contributors are cut off at the pass. I know you instituted this regime after a concerted campaign of sabotage involving identity theft. But what used to mark you as different from the anti regime blogs was your policy of openness and I think you should give it another try. If you aspire to the moral high ground, you've got to occupy it. Or in this case, re-occupy it. How about it?
Alternative said…
@ no more coups please

Just a little precision: I didn't suggest that the Military government was "prepared" to govern, certainly not! I was just using Bainimarama's phrasing. "Not prepared" means "Not prepared according to Bainimarama".

I totally agree with you that giving a veto the the military is "dangerous". Actually, to be honnest, I don't like my very own idea...;-) But I think this is the most "acceptable" bad idea I can propose.

In most countries, power is split between the "executives" (civil servants, etc.), the "legislative" (judges, etc...) and the "administrative" (our dear politicians) We certainly do not want to see politicians to name civil servants, or to influence judges, just like we don't want to see the other way around.

Due to it's small size and special characteristics, Fiji could have another "subdivision" of power: the Military. They would have ONLY the right to apply their veto to any bill. After 3 vetos, the country goes back to the polls. Period. The Military would be independant from the administrative (Bainimarama will name himself his successor, just like in a monarchy)

I think the advantage of this proposition is that the 2014 deadline (or any other deadline) to change permanently the mentality of all politicians of Fiji (that's utopy) so that the next governments will always "be prepared" to govern becomes irrelevant.

By giving a veto to the Military, we can find a quick way out of this mess.
Hope said…
@ pointless and boring

Actually if you read it point 1) is asking for a written commitment. Which is harder to go back on especially if a group of people sign it not just PM. We want to know the military council are also committed. Yes symbolic but important. 2) Is an action and an important one. 3) Is also a action,

I agree PM could just ignore his promise like he has many times before however don't throw out the idea. He says se is committed and we are asking him to step up. A simple action TODAY, more action in the months ahead.
Radiolucas said…
Good idea, but wishful thinking and in any event - would you believe Frank if he gave us a "promise" - like so many others that have been broken?

Still, a promise is better than nothing at all for us. We need something more than Frank's usual marketing speak and idle pronouncements about "moving Fiji forward".

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