What Government Could Do to Win More Support; What We May Ask of its Opposition, and Further Comment
SERIOUS READERS ARE URGED TO COMMENT ON THIS POST. I WILL TRY TO KEEP IT CLOSE TO THE TOP OF THE PAGE FOR A WHILE
Anonymous, commenting on a Tuesday’s posting,said...
If the PM and his team are squeaky clean and all the reports from Tonga are just venom and rubbish then it shouldn’t be too hard to change people’s views. He could:
1. Release all the auditor general reports from 2007 to now. They used to be released. We have seen only ones that related to SDL multi party published. This makes people think government is hiding things.
2. Publicise all minister’s salaries and benefits. Explain why Ali is doing payroll for ministers (if indeed she is). After the back pay disaster people need more than a ‘trust us on this one.
3. Release the Roadmap. It’s already done and endorsed by the Melanesian Spearhead Group so why hold it back. Get it published and be held accountable to the specific times/dates and actions.
4. Lift the PER now. It’s continued existence stifles free thought and real discussion. The PER it’s like pouring petrol onto a few burning embers. You get a big fire, lots of smoke and heat. You can’t kill blogs but this government may as well put up free internet kiosks and massive signs “read anti government bogs here”.
And I know these ones are unlikely but Fiji needs true leadership.
1. Donate your backpay to charity. The whole lot. Give some credibility to your original promise that no one in the military will benefit from the coup
2. Promise (and stick to it) that only police will investigate and detain people.
I REPLIED that I agreed with all he said, but I think some part of PER may be needed for the time being, given the tense situation created by Ratu Tevita’s “call to arms” from Tonga.
BUT I would be interested to know what actions and promises Anonymous would expect from those opposed to Government, including the old political leaders.
FOR EXAMPLE, WHAT WOULD THEY DO differently from what they did before? Would they support the People’s Charter? How would they work for a multi-cultural Fiji? What would they do about institutional racism? What electoral system would they prefer? What role would they give to the Great Council of Chiefs? How would they handle corruption? What would they continue that the Bainimarama government has started, and what would they stop?
I find it strange that none of them has even started to answer these essentially democratic questions.
TO WHICH ANON' REPLIED
Some things from this government I would keep (and perhaps the anti-coup/government camp could accept too) are....
1. FICAC – it is needed and will have work to do for a long time. Its success rate is low but its mere presence is changing Fiji. It should not however be a political retribution machine (think Ratu Saki & Imrana’s fish and chip shop)
2. Law Reforms – two many to mention here. They where all overdue for modernising. Cleaning up the lawyers was also a good step (although again some political retribution in this)
3. Smaller cabinet. We should keep a smaller cabinet although I doubt one man (even a qualified one) can do Finance, Sugar and be Prime Minister. But cabinet should definitely be 12 or less.
4. The Peoples Charter. I can assure you the voting was a sham and much of the consultation as well but it is still a reasonably good document. A pity the current government are not being held accountable to it (eg transparency etc) but godd document/guide all the same.
5. One man one vote.
6. All initiatives to stamp out racism.
7. Continue to engage with Asia, China in particular. This is Asia's centrury and Australia and New Zealand no that.
And some things the anti-coup/government camp could do....
1. Stop calling for another coup to remove this regime. If this government falls at the hands of another coup it will be disastrous for Fiji. Tourism will again dry up. The massive negative impact of the 2006 coup was bigger than most expected and the recovery time has taken forever. A coup now, no matter how well intentioned will have exactly the same effect, if not bigger and take a decade to get over.
2. Support an orderly change to a civilian government. Worst case being 2014. Best case being a little earlier.
3. Push not for a coup but for details on preparation for elections. Push for the things I listed earlier.
4. Explain the points above (1 to 3) to the outside world. Particularly those who will listen and are sympathetic to the anti-coup/government camp.
Finally I think the problem with all these suggestions is they assume a will by government to engage and accept different views. It assumes they are genuine about democracy and free and fair elections. They need to take steps to show they are genuine and the real deal – thus my original comments. It takes two to tango and I suggest the man with the gun and all the power should extend the first hand (without a gun in it !)
Hope that helps.