Faith in the Future by Rodney V. Cole

Rodney Cole has a life-long association with Fiji and the Pacific Islands. He was born in Suva,  educated at  Suva Boys' Grammar School and was later District Officer in Lau, Lomaiviti, Navua and Suva, and Secretary for Finance in the colonial government.He was from time to time a member of the Legislative and Executive Councils and Council of Ministers, Financial Adviser to the Fijian Affairs Board, member of numerous boards and committees including Chairman of the Fiji National Provident Fund and Alternate Governor for Fiji of the Asian Development Bank, and  he held a Commission in the Fiji Military Forces. 

‘O thou of little faith wherefore doest thou doubt’ (Matthew 14.30-31).  Who will remember the plaque placed by the RNZAF on the rock breakwater at the Laucala Bay seaplane base to confound those doomsayers who said it would never survive the war! It survived well beyond the war. 
 
Much the same could well apply to those who continue to carp against the current Fiji Government ‘s oft stated intention to hold elections in 2014. Leading among the doubters are the so called ‘Fiji experts’ , kai valagi such as  Howard-Jones  (‘I did not accept at face value Bainimarama's intention to hold elections in 2014.’) and  Dobell (‘If the Supremo does hold elections in 2014 (a big if))’. And the academic ‘Fiji think-tank’ at the Australian National University.


This constant diatribe against the aims of the Bainimarama Government has little effect, any more than demands of the Australian and New Zealand Governments and less plausible bloggers that elections under 1997 constitution be held immediately. 
 
No-one who subscribes to a definition of democracy that envisages a ‘state of society characterised by the formal equality of rights and privileges’ (Macquarie Dictionary) can comfortably accept a military coup as justifiable unless perhaps it is a means to an end. No more than they should be able to accept that the 1997 constitution meets the criteria of equality. 
 
The Fiji coup makers have repeatedly claimed that their intention is to establish a true democracy based on the principles set out in their People’s Charter. Only time will tell whether trust in this document is justified: the test will come in 2014.
 
But surely the time has come for those who wish well for the Fijian community to accept that calling for armed insurrection, constant irresponsible blogging and demands to return to the status quo pre 2006,  are unlikely to persuade the military to change stated intentions. 
 
Surely the time has come for the ‘Fiji experts’ and the expatriate community who share their views to realise that their demands are counter productive, serving only to harden the determination of those who hold power in Fiji not to waver from their stated intentions. 
 
Surely Fiji would be better served if these ‘experts’ were content to exert what influence  they possess to hold the army to their undertaking to adopt and implement a truly democratic constitution, and all  that this implies, at least by 2014 or earlier if humanly possible.


Those who condemn the military do so, not for seizing power ‘through the barrel of a gun’, but for failing to surrender power and return the country to the pre-coup, racist, state where true democracy was but a fa├žade. Clearly these people lack faith, faith, yet to be justified, but none-the-less faith in the military to stand by their commitment to establish a more egalitarian society.
 
In writing as I have, I do not intend to hide behind a cloak of anonymity and am prepared to be labelled as a colonialist living in the past,  but I do truly believe that the common people of Fiji deserve the right to determine their own fate and not have it driven by outsiders with little knowledge and understanding of the real Fiji. Faith that the military can deliver a true democracy can only hasten their determination to do what is right and just – if they ultimately fail the people then be it on their own heads.

Comments

Anonymous said…
So true Rodney, I have spent almost my entire life in Fiji, like you no one can ever call me a plastic one.
All the fancy so called academic logic will not change the mindset of this radical change. What!! someone actuall trying to make the change, not a change, get me. Basic, but truth hurts, for many the hurt is in the pocket.Lip service take take, no give, maybe a little, take more, get it. All talk about while I dont support the manner of the takeover, I support the reasons why. Well i support everything about this. 2014 is a timeline you have to look at OK..Qori. Take it or leave it...get it.
Its so easy for people who have lost the easy life to make noise, I like to call it withdrawal time/period. But you know a change is gonna come, oh yes it is, I was born by the Rewa River, Ha Ha
Like my kids say, WHATEVER!!
I was in the forces during the Rabuka coup, I made the only choice I could, and accepted it, we survived, but nothing changed. This time we can see the change almost emmediately, sa mosi na ulu, dont worry take aspro. Segai this is for real. NO PAIN NO GAIN....
pasifika said…
Thank you Mr Cole for your faith in the real Fiji based on your knowledge through life experience of what the real Fiji is like. A yawning gap clearly exists between your views and that of NZ journalists and politicians with their superficial views dressed as opinions of great moment.

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