Ratu Tevita Changes Colours: No Applause for Courage


Chameleon lizard (Chamaeleonidae Tevitae)
The claims and demands become even more incredible. A chameleon would blush. 

Ratu Tevita, who fully supported the 2006 Coup and was at one time referred to as Bainimarama's right hand man, now says soldiers were duped in supporting the coup.  Well, if this was so, he played a major part in duping them in 2006 and continued to do so for the next four years.

What’s more, having fled Fiji leaving his colleague Pita Driti to face the music and his wife and children to make do, he has made  a  direct appeal over the internet to the soldiers he used to command to rebel.  

Using the "race card" he once deplored as it was used by the SDL government,  he again referred to  PM Bainimarama as a hand puppet for Fiji's attorney general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum who he says is the regime's real powerbroker.   This is absolute nonsense. The PM could remove Sayed-Khaiyum even more easily than he side-lined  Ratu Tevita and Driti.

Retrospective remorse —  liu muri
He attempts to recover from his past involvement by saying he believed in Bainimarama until he  “realised that it was terribly wrong" and says he’ll “answer to the people for his actions in the future.”  This may sound good to the uninformed but nothing has changed in Bainimarama’s basic position and the only relationship change is that Bainimarama chose to listen more to Sayed-Khaiyum than to Ratu Tevita.  This retrospective remorse is called protecting your back.

The event most likely to have affected the relationship was the Abrogation of the 1997 Constitution in April last year.  At that time Ratu Tevita might have been able to rally support against Bainimarama but he chose not to do so, most probably because he still supported Bainimarama or possibly because he was unsure of support.  Either way,  calling from Tonga for the army to rebel is to lead the battle from a hill at  the rear, and it's far too late.  The call will be taken  as treasonous, adding one more charge against him if he returns to Fiji. 

No fair hearing
His claim that he fled because he would not get a fair hearing before a Fijian Court is not very convincing, though his unknown advisers may have thought so. Despite accusations to the contrary, the Fijian judiciary seems to be dispensing justice fairly.  Ratu Tevita was charged and released on bail. The State opposed  his bail saying that he was a flight risk!   He could have been denied bail and sent to jail to await proceedings on 31 May. Had the Court heeded the Government prosecutor, he would not have been able to go fishing off Kadavu, as he is said to have claimed.  

There have been other  cases of judgements going against Government. Several Government prosecutions have been thrown out by the judges or referred back  with the judge admonishing the prosecutors not to waste court time.  

His claim that the courts are swayed by government is, of course,  contempt of court   So, if he returns to Fiji,  that will be another charge he will face. 

Ratu Tevita’s claim that he and Driti uttered only mildly (seditious) criticism in private it not plausible.  How mild they were is shown by his subsequent far-from-mild statements from Tonga, and if they were really private we would not know of them. He was either exceedingly naive, or he was putting out feelers and trying to foment rebellion, and this is sedition or worse.

Australia NZ should “use more force to bring this regime down”
For a man who previously had few nice words to say about either Australia or New Zealand, in other circumstances his appeal for more sanctions would come as  a surprise:

"Australia, and New Zealand too, what are they waiting for?” he asked.  Can't they see that everything they've done, the sanctions and cutting Fiji off, haven't done nearly enough to hurt the regime. They need to show themselves to be regional powers and use more force to bring this regime down." 

Regional powers … Force, Ratu Tevita?  Against soldiers under your former command?  If you are really inviting two foreign powers to attack Fiji, just how much more treasonous and irresponsible can you become?  

No applause for courage
I see Auckland’s Prof Hoadley thinks your defection may encourage others to follow. I doubt it. Those wishing to defect or withdraw from public life have already done so.  Your example is more likely to be condemned than applauded in Fiji because you could have stood trial, and it certainly won’t be applauded as the courageous act of a chief and a soldier.  

I see also that PM John Key has removed your name from our travel ban list. This is good. It may make unnecessary the extradition order served on Tonga and prevent further bilateral embarrassment. It will give you access to other safe havens once you leave Tonga.  Perhaps your wife and children will be able to join you — and your friend Pita Driti if he is not found guilty, as you, by your subsequent actions, have shown you would have been, had you remained in Fiji. 


Code of Conduct said…
No one offers himself for 'future accountability'. This should always apply in the "here and now". When we turn our backs to all who have sustained us and then remonstrate about 'a change of heart' - what does it say about us and about all who travel with us? One is undoubtedly judged by the company one keeps. A fundamental tenet of proper conduct at all times for all people in good standing. For too long in Fiji, some have chosen to mix with low-life scoundrels and still require respect. They are completely misguided in this.
Trev said…
Croz, you mention that Bainimarama has not changed his basic position so cannot be a cause of Tevita suddenly realising that it was terribly wrong. However, maybe there have been some recent changes that have caused the action by Tevita and Driti.

1) Equal distribution of lease monies 2)Surfing decree 3) Changes in the positions on several boards 4) A reduction in the cosy supply deals from certain companies to the government and military

All of this has reduced the income, power and influence of the chiefly elite. Some of them must be pretty upset with this hit to their wallet and influence.

I wonder if what we were seeing with Driti and Tevita was something that we have all seen twice before in Fiji. Disgruntled chiefs and maybe businessmen convincing senior/middle military men to do their dirty work and reverse the decisions that where hitting them where it hurt most.
On the side said…
If you listen to ratu Mara's latest ramblings (hop over to C4.5) he really isn't making much sense. He was fishing and needed rescuing and no one helped him escape - oh please. Fiji may be in desperate need of a alternative to Frank but Ratu Mara is not that person and not from Tonga.

Frank's orginal speaches where pretty bad and full of lies and double speak. He still pretends he was forced to take over government and that he is somehow following a presidents mandate. He also claims all are equal under the law when clearly they are not (he threw out the law when it was a threat to him). Despite all this at least Frank has been consistent. His comments all the way back to 2000 are pretty consistent. Frank is still a hopeless public speaker which is why he is rarely interviewed or answers questions but at least he knows that and he has actually improved. Also he is not shy about having a go and can recognise that the AG (as unpopular as he is), is a very hard worker who gets things done.

Putting Ratu Mara in charge would be like taking Fiji back to post 2006 coup confidence (read zero) plus losing another 5 years. The country would be stuffed.

Fiji will need great leaders in the future but they won't be military people involved in coups. They won't be ex-military people claiming a change of heart. In the meantime the best bet is to try and keep Frank accountable for a election in 2014 and one that is free of military interference and one where no one involved in this governemnt (especially military) can stand in a new government. Thats the best outcome we can hope for.

With the Pm's track record for broken promises it is easy to think this may not happen but we must try and make sure it does.

Ratu Mara leading some sort of alternate government would actually make Frank look visonary by comparison.
Very serious allegations said…
I'm not sure that you taking on the role of prosecutor, judge and assessor regarding the guilt or otherwise of Ratu Mara helps the cause of Bainimarama's regime and yourself? To me it just confirms the chance of this brave soldier getting a fair trial in Fiji under the current justice arrangements is very bleak indeed.
Ratu Mara has made some very serious allegations against the regime, and the military appointed AG and the self appointed PM' in particular. I'm sure that you, and strong believers in the rule of law like Mr Gates and Me Pryde would want this information available to all who believe that those behind this coup, and the allegations of serious human rights abuses, need to be thoroughly investigated?
Therefore as a potential key witness in finding out what is really behind this coup, and who is guilty of treason and other serious crimes, he should be treated with support and respect - nothing less is acceptable for those of us who see the rule of law, democracy and good governance as critically important for any nation to move forward?
Anonymous said…
Well I guess if it is OK for Frank to change colurs (remember he didn't like coups...now he thinks them normal, legal and necessary.) Well his coup anyway, apparantly he do not like the idea of anyone else pulling a coup like he did.
Anonymous said…
China needs to join NZ, Aussie and USA to demand immediate Fijian democratic elections supervised by UN and these Countries. China should stop playing regional Politics and help the poor Fijian Citizens to return to a Democratically elected Government. China needs to show support for democracy in the Oceania Region and stop trying to buy influence with Governments and Military so it can Rape the Resources of these Pacific Nations. An immediate return to democracy is needed for our lovely Fijian Neighbours. To stand by and do nothing at all would be absolutely criminal.
Cloud Cuckoo Land said…
Any illusion Anon may have that China would consider calling for democractic elections in Fiji associated with USA, NZ and Australia - supervised by the UN - is completely "off beam". What possible interest would China have in such an ill-thought through idea? We should have valued democratic principles more when the opportunity was around. In lieu, we chased racism, self-interest and the alienation of public funds to our own pockets. Business leaders chose to corruptly run public-owned companies as though they were their own medium of despotic operation. This might have been okay in China. But there is nothing democratic about it!
Delivering Denmark? said…
Are we planning on "Delivering Denmark" in 2014? Francis Fukuyama is now having another look at 'democracy' in the light of the Arab Uprisings and after 'The End of History'. Denmark is chosen because its journey from tribalism to the rule of law and to institutions which promote the role of the individual and accountability within the State are of relevance and democratic importance. But....there is "Something rotten in the state of Denmark" observed Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. What precisely was he getting at? Does it have a familiar smell? And what of China? Fukuyama alludes to China's 3rd century BC functioning State but not a whiff of democracy about it.
Liu Muri said…
The Great Council of Chiefs and the Methodist Church, which Mara names as reputable organisation standing up for democracy have been the biggest culprits in erosion of democracy in Fiji. The apolitical GCC sold its soul during Speight’s coup and sided with ethno-nationalism, proving that it was a spent force, not worthy of any reverence, as they then believed that indigenous superiority meant overriding of all other human rights. They even discounted democracy in favour of indigenous rule for Fiji in perpetuity. So I cannot see how they can now stand up for democracy which they saw as foreign flower in 2000. Similarly, the Methodist Church and Christian organisations in Fiji had been using the pulpit to spread the sermon of hatred and denigrate Indo Fijians as heathens, non-believers and idol worshippers. They openly committed sedition behind the Sulu of the padres who masqueraded as neutral while being politically nationalists and supporting Qarase’s SDL. Both these organisations deserved their wings to be clipped for abusing their respective honourable roles.
I would not expect Mara to appreciate this, as his father (may his soul rest in peace) had also not been as great an advocate of multi racialism as history makes us believe.

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