The Military in the Civil Service: CCF Press Release for Discussion

Lack of a succession plan

The Citizens Constitutional Forum notes the recent appointment of senior military officers within the civil service raising questions on how these reflect on the succession plans put in place by the Public Service Commission and the growing militarization of senior government positions.



Last week, PSC announced the appointment of Lt. Col. Inia Seruiratu as Acting Permanent Secretary for Provincial Development and National Disaster Management, Major Ilai Moceica as acting Commissioner Northern and Major Ned Taito as CWM Hospital general manager.

While the intention of these appointment’s may well be to address the current needs within the various Ministry’s and Departments to hasten public service reforms, it may well be more change-effective if these are made with the current career civil servants who can see real opportunities to step up into such key positions and be champions of relevant sustainable reforms, said CCF CEO Reverend Akuila Yabaki.

“During a transitional period it is prudent to appoint those with the relevant experience in specialist positions as this would set in motion long term plans, post 2014, to increase and maintain the desired and expected standards of performance and services delivery.

The CCF notes that the Public Service Commission should move towards implementing the recommendations under Pillar four of the Peoples charter for change peace and progress which highlights the need to separate the PSC’s constitutional and statutory powers and strengthen its independence and to consider the issue of good governance in key leadership roles.

Reverend Yabaki stresses that, “for a successful transition, it is vital to instil public confidence, not only in the appointee’s but in the appointment process and the appointing authority as a matter of practicing good governance”.

The CCF is a non-government organisation that educates and advocates for good governance, human rights and multiculturalism in Fiji. We are not aligned with any political party.

Comments

Avatar said…
Being a small country with limited resources Fiji cannot aford to adopt the template of Western industrialized nations that draws a distinction between the civil and military societies, and promotes the view that there is a competition between them. To do so is very much part of the 'coup culture' in Fiji i.e. setting up one section of the population against the other because of ethnic, class, professional, religious and other callous and self serving reasons.

The size of the cake in Fiji is small and every sector of society needs to pull together to advance the national interest. The current paradigm being promoted in Western societies, and especially Australia and NZ, is the Whole of Government (WOG) approach. It requires harnessing all sectors of government working together to adavance the greater good. Its all about about optimising and using resources efficeintly.

In this way was a senior Australian Army officer put in charge of the recent Queensland Floods disaster relief. Why? Was not a civilian suitably qualified? In the aftermath of WW2, why was Dwight Eisenhower put in charge of the Berlin airlift? Was there not a civilan candidate available?

Yabaki should educate himself on the military education system before opening his mouth. There are many officers who have an undergraduate degree and others still who have post graduate qualifications that outshine what some of their civilian counterts in the Public Service have. They also have a greater exposure in serving in various overseas conflict or post-conflict situations.

Just because they are in uniform does not mean that they cannot serve the country just as loyally and effectively than some of their more lazy civilan counterparts who feel they are not accountable to anyone! - what about those civil servants posted in Lau who racked up huge debts/dinau's at the local village Co-operatuve shops and absconded without paying their debts?

This idea that one section of the community, because of their vocation, is better suited than others with parallel and more effective qualifications, give rise to a sense of entitlement..even a sense of grandiosity...i.e. that only people who wear a white shirt and a tie and who don't have to put their lives on the line ...or settle their debts when they are posted eslewhere...that only this class of people (and preferably Methodists to boot)are the only ones capable of effectively running the affairs of the nation.

So, in a purely economic sense, it makes a lot of sense for Fiji to utilise or optimise whatever best talent is available. You dont have to be a doctor to run a hospital!

I would have thought a good understanding of modern management principles etc are essential prerequisties for the job. Some of the military officers so named have attended staff colleges and have equivalent university education etc. They have served with distinction in various parts of the world are are equal to their civilian counterparts when it comes to qualifications and experience eg Baledrokadroka, Naivalurua, Teleni ...and even Mara etc, have certain qualifications that could be usefully employed. The problem is the politics, not their individual qualifications per se, have disqualified them. That is the malaise that is affecting Fiji at this time. >

I think the Rev Yabaki, when casting aspersions on other professional organisations like the military etc, should sit back and reflect on the role the Methodist Church (aided and abetted by the GCC etc) has played in the coups we have suffered over the years.

Blaming the military in Fiji solely for coup behaviour, conveniently overlooks the role civilian organisations including political parties, the Great Council of Chiefs and the Methodist Church etc have played in suborning elements within the military to engage in coup behaviour.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Avatar ... You will see I have removed the personal remarks. I hope you will also see that your argument is just as valid and far more persuasive without them. I would welcome an article that expands on these comments, detailing the work military appointees are performing in their several civil roles with perhaps some mention of their qualifications and other qualities. If you trust me, email to croz.walsh@xtra.co.nz. If not, send as a comment in the usual way and I will pick it up from there. Oh, and have a whiskey and not too much wai on me!
Anonymous said…
@Avatar

I absolutely agree. May I add that because the current regime is under pressure to complete projects by 2014, and because they naturally continue to be wary of the 'liu muri' factor among civil servants, their best option is to appoint their own. Military officers currently in civil service positions, in my opinion, seem to be doing very well. They have the advantage of being able to apply military discipline to their work, the lack of discipline being a common weakness of civil servants past and probably present. The need for reform and the slow pace of reform in the civil service attests to this.
Anonymous said…
@ Avatar & others

Lets assume that the military has the lions share of educated, motivated, honest and capable people (I disagree but will go along with you on this). If this is true and they all have ambitions to run the likes of hospitals and sit on boards then i have a easy solution.

1. Let them resign from the military and take on these roles - having beaten all other candidates based on merit.

2. They will then have to compete for these roles and be reviewd based on their performance only.

3. Do not replace them in the military. We can save money and reduce the risk fo future coups without stree on families beause they will still be employed.

4. Conflict of interest eg loyality to PMs command and that of their portfolio's will be gone
sara'ssista said…
'a senior australian army military officer put in charge', notice the difference, we tell them what to do, and why, when and how...they are accountable to a civilian government,they don't have a history of overthrowing civilian elected governments, even the one's they don't like or disagree with. Our miltary are representative, significant representions of minorities and aborigines and they actually encourage this. BTW our military has bipartisan support and a popular mandate.
pasifika said…
Assuming that military officers in civil service positions will be replaced by a democratically elected government after 2014, and assuminng that the current military regime has projects to complete by 2014, is there need for paranoia on their appointment to such positions ? Not so unless it is assumed that they will be in such positions for life.The military is currently in charge and we cannot tell them what to do.
Our history is different from those of other countries. Why is it assumed by some that histories of other countries must be similar to theirs? Is that not crass racism ?

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