Beyond the Gibberish, Possible Crusher Sabotage

Commonwealth Gibberish
Crosbie Walsh

I don't really know why the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group¹ needed to meet in New York to discuss Fiji over the weekend. It said little and achieved nothing. The CMAG expressed its concern about the "lack of progress made toward the restoration of civilian constitutional democracy in Fiji[and hoped Fiji would take]the necessary steps to enable the restoration of its full participation in the Commonwealth as soon as possible."

Photo: See footnote 3, below.

But Fiji has made it abundantly clear -- for over a year now -- that elections would not be held until 2014, and it has given its reasons. The most that can be hoped for is the lifting of the Public Emergency Regulations, increased civilian involvement in government and more dialogue, with political dialogue starting before 2012. Why didn't CMAG push for this approach?

The CMAG "reaffirmed their solidarity with the people of Fiji." They said they were ready "to assist Fiji in appropriate ways on its path back to constitutional democracy, consistent with Commonwealth values and principles.”  And they reaffirmed the Commonwealth's "continued efforts to engage in constructive dialogue with the Fiji government and other stakeholders, particularly through the Secretary-General’s Special Representative [Sir Paul Reeves], and encouraged such engagement in good faith to continue." Sounds reasonable but there was no moderation of positions since the last time they met.

What does this gobbledygook² mean?
The CMAG thinks the situation in Fiji before the 2006 Coup was an unimpaired democracy. They do not recognize any of the worthwhile policies and actions of the Fiji Government. I do not know what they mean by "solidarity with the people of Fiji." It could mean anything, or nothing. They think an early election is the way to resolve Fiji's deep-seated problems. They will only assist when elections loom. They will not relax sanctions or urge others to do so, even though they are hurting ordinary people in Fiji and making economic recovery more difficult. They will continue to follow the lead of Forum countries,led by Australia and New Zealand. There is absolutely nothing new in their statement. But to assume, as some readers have, that this was a statement separate from that of the EU that also continued its sanctions last week, is, I think, a little naive. All such statements are clearly taking their lead from the Pacific Forum that is taking its lead from Australia and New Zealand. Hear one and you have heard them all.  The only country slightly out of step is the US where Hillary Clinton has signalled she wants fresh engagement with Fiji.³

Beyond Gibberish: What could have been said? 
After acknowledging the "positive" legislation passed in recent months and logistical work being done by the Elections Office, CMAG could have defined more precisely what they mean by "progress" with a proposed timetable (and inducements) for each major step. For example, the immediate lifting of PER, a larger and more representative Strategic Framework for Change office, more civilian representation in Government at all levels, the commencement and conclusion of dialogue on the Constitution and electoral reform, more open discussion in the media about these issues, and finally the elections.

And what could Fiji have done? Fiji could have provided the Roadmap timetable and said that with overseas legal, advisory and  financial assistance --and the lifting or progressive easing of sanctions-- Fiji should be able to bring everything forward six months (and electoral dialogue 12 months).  This would result in  major political dialogue starting late next year -- with public informal discussions earlier -- and the elections being held in late 2013 or early 2014. 

The art of diplomacy is compromise but it takes two to tango.

¹The CMAG comprises Australia, Bangladesh, Ghana (chair), Jamaica, Maldives, Namibia, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu.
² Gobbledygook=bureaucratese, a kind of doublespeak. Doublespeak=meaningless speech that consists of nonsense syllables mixed with intelligible words; gibberish.
³ United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told Fiji's Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola that the US wants dialogue and partnership with Fiji.

CRUSH SABOTAGE? With mill boilers at Rarawai, Labasa and Lautoka sugar mills all breaking down within the span of only a few weeks, Permanent Secretary for Sugar Manasa Vaniqi is wondering whether sabotage is involved. He thinks the breakdowns are too common to be a consequence of old machinery.

“We are not blaming anyone but based on the reports that we have been receiving there seems to be a consistent breakdown on that particular area of the boiler. And people are not fixing it. And we are going down to the bottom of that one, the investigation is ongoing and we are waiting for the report.” The mill engineering upgrade programmes are achieving nothing.


Noble leader or Rougue dictator said…

Nice to see you some comment on Fiji could do as too often your comments seem to be about what everyone else should do.

Fiji really needs to take the lead on this. Everyone has said they are open to discussion so they have a ready audiance. The bringing the elction date forward by 6-12months is a good one raised by several bloggers in the past on this site. I know for a fact that the PM/AG have rejected this and have certainly not put it on the table in any discussions. They should. They should lead with this to say they are serious about finding a way forwar with the international community.

I understand as 2014 approaches the PM is already uneasy about the fact he has given the current time frame. He is more likely to delay again rather than bring it forwars. It might help if former PM's and labour/SDL supporters are in jail. The PM will use everything in his power to make this happen. And he has a lot of power.

Even then the PM can't be confident he will win a election so he has to make sure he still holds all the power. That is why he is leaving a very short window for new constitution and dialoge. He wants to maintain some executive authority - effectively the ability to direct and or ultimately remove any future governments that offend him. Re-opening the various cases against him is obviously something he also wants to avoid as well as any new case in his role in this coup.

The outside commentators, EU, US, CMAG are of course all right. Nothing has been done on taking Fiji to democracy. In fact the Fiji government have admitted as much by saying they will not start to do anything until 2012.

The biggest immediate roadblock is the PER. What exactly is the public emergency in Fiji right now ? The Pm would have us believe everything is normal in Fiji, great progress is being made of reform and everybody supports the changes, the road map etc etc. So where is the emergency ?

The answer is there is no emergency but the PER makes live easy for the PM and military. It's all about having the ability to crush opposition without worrying about the law. It's all about have a secutity blanket to hide under for any poor behaivor or actions by the military. It's all about stopping the church and unions.

To the public the PM could drop the PER immediately. In private disussions he could suggest bring elections forward 6-12 months and get the ball moving on meaniful dialogue.

Rogue dictator with only self interest...or genuine leader with noble aims. Well lets see how it plays out ?
Croz Walsh said…
Reposted from "Seven Anonymous Comments ..."

Blame someone else said...

Here we go again....when the Sh!t hits the fan blame someone else. This must be 101 basic training for RFMF.

The chairman and CEO have both gone. Now the Sugar minister needs to take some accountability as well. Oh that's right he is off swanning around the world...again.

A series of breakdowns at sugar mills around the country has raised suspicions within Government of sabotage inside the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC).

Government’s suspicions stemmed from the fact that mill breakdowns around the country were of a similar nature.

Speaking to the Fiji Sun at Navutu Village, Naitasiri, yesterday Permanent Secretary for Sugar Manasa Vaniqi said in all the breakdowns reported so far, the mill boilers were affected.

The latest, he said, was at Rarawai where an explosion involved the boiler.

“I must admit that we’re very suspicious with the chain of breakdowns in all our mills and all involved the boilers,” Mr Vaniqi said.

He said the chain of breakdowns had been happening despite the presence of the team upgrading the mills.

We’re going to the bottom of this and tough action will be taken if the need be,” Mr Vaniqi said.

Blogger Croz Walsh said...

@ Here we go ... You have to admit it is strangely coincidental. If you really wanted to hurt the economy and expose Government for its supposed ineffectiveness, can you think of a better way? Or do you think Government's opponents are too principled for such actions?

And the Permanent Secretary made it quite clear he was not blaming anybody (as you would have it). He was expressing a suspicion, not a fact.

Sep 30, 2010 6:20:00 PM
Jeke said…
Maybe these blighters do not understand the difference.

Tis the end result of being spoon fed by supremacist governments.
Commonwealth support said…
Not sure where you are coming from with your comments on Commonwealth/CMAG? Like the EU, US, Australia, NZ and many others they have been consistent in maintaining their 'solidarity' and support for the people of Fiji (Fijians and Indo-Fijians) as we continue go through the current difficult times without a democratic government and freedom. As a Fijian I welcome the solidarity from these organisations and nations. They have supported us when we needed it and will continue to do so in our time of need. Through their assistance and support we will hopefully return to normality sooner than later?

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