Ratu Tevita Changes Colours: No Applause for Courage
|Chameleon lizard (Chamaeleonidae Tevitae)|
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.