The Head that Wears the Crown

By Karam Chand Ramrakha* 

How does the saying go? Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. So far Fiji’s PM  Bainimarama has enjoyed an untroubled run.  He has the country firmly under his thumb. Dissenting forces, or areas of possible dissent, have been neutralised. For once no one is cursing the Indo-Fijians for Fiji’s problems. The two coups of 1987 and 2000 were based on a supposed Indo-Fijian takeover of Fiji and were claimed to have saved the embattled indigenous Fijian race. 


But  Bainimarama’s agenda is different. Graham Davis, a Fiji-born journalist, when accused of supporting a coup, summed the position thus:
“I believe there’s a fundamental difference between the coups of 2000 and 2006.
The former was supposedly a coup to uphold indigenous rights but, in fact, seems to have been carried out by a group of opportunists pursuing the spoils of office. What’s the evidence for that? That indigenous rights weren’t under any threat. It was a smokescreen for a much more grubby lunge for power. The coup of 2006 - on the other hand - was to uphold the notion of a multiracial Fiji against what the military believed to be a clear and present threat.This was the legislative programme of the Qarase government that would have created two nations - one for indigenous Fijians and one for the rest.”

I endorse his remarks. 

To seek to achieve that goal  Bainimarama has had to pull out all stops and, for the time being, stifle or silence all dissent . It began, of course, with parliament itself. As we see in Australia today, parliament continues to reflect a nation evenly divided. 
Qarase had won a majority with a blatantly racial approach to i-Taukei Fijians to vote on racial lines. He denied this, of course, but a tape recording of one of his speeches caught him out. Qarase persisted with that blatantly racial agenda. He sought to declare all sea and shores of Fiji as indigenous land; he wanted the 2000 coup perpetrators “reconciled” and thus forgiven; and finally he wanted every i-Taukei outside Fiji to have a vote. 

After months of warnings, including a brokered “settlement” conference in New Zealand, Bainimarama acted on December 6, 2006. He would go on to neutralise the Fiji Law Society, the Council of Chiefs and finally the Methodist Church. 

There has been unrelenting pressure on Bainimarama to hold elections. He does not want those who I may call “the usual suspects” to end up in parliament. Fundamental to Bainimarama’s success is loyalty of the military - the only single political force that remains in Fiji. Speculation abounds. The world powers - USA, UK, EU, Australia and New Zealand - are pressing him for a return to civilian government. 
Bainimarama originally promised elections in 2009, but has extended this date to 2014.He does not want any of the “old guard” to come back to parliament nor does he want any racial discrimination. Frank wants one-man, one-vote, one-value. Equality for all. Very high and noble motives..

The European Union is somewhat neutral to the Fiji regime. China is silent and  is one country which shuns political decisions in cases such as Fiji. China is there to lend a helping hand, but excites the envy of other nations who shun Fiji. But the West is suddenly becoming strident despite showing some signs recently that Bainimarama should be accommodated and “understood.” 

The recent drama, where a soldier accused of sedition, was spirited to Tonga in a Tongan vessel which brazenly entered Fiji’s waters, shows double standards. Unlike Julian Moti (Fiji-born former Solomon Islands’ Attorney-General) who was hunted like a fugitive by Australia, this soldier Ratu Tevita Mara has been made welcome in Tonga and Australia where he was invited to deliver a speech. Suddenly the Machiavellian doctrine that the enemy of my enemy is my friend is being invoked. 

Why did Australia give Ratu Ului a visa? On what basis? Australia is very selective in choosing who will come to Australia. Unlike Julian Moti, Roko Ului was actually a fugitive from Fiji’s judicial and legal system. 

Remember the American CIA ? As one of its operatives confessed to a Fiji journalist, “The purpose of the CIA is to foster unrest in the rest of the world.” Yes, indeed, while the rest of the world is squabbling and disunited Uncle Sam rules. Remember Indira Gandhi’s wheat sales to USA which paid her in Indian rupees. Yes, rupees which could only be spent in India. The CIA used that money to bribe and destabilise. Mrs Gandhi cancelled the deal. Remember Kwame Nkrumah. The CIA admits it had him killed. Nkrumah’s crime: he could have united Africa. 

So Australia and New Zealand are playing the same CIA game and marching to its beat. Divide and conquer. Conquer and divide. We will watch how the Ratu Ului drama pans out. Tonga once conquered eastern Fiji. Ma’afu, the Tongan chief responsible, is buried  on Ratu Ului’s home island in Lau.

But I doubt the modern day Tongan will be able to shatter Bainimarama’s dream of a free Fiji with equality for all. 
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First published in the Fiji Sun. Slightly edited. *  Karam Ramrakha, a lawyer admitted to practice in Fiji and New South Wales, draws on his experiences as a former Fiji parliamentarian and one of the “Founding Fathers of Free Fiji” to analyse recent events. He now lives in Sydney.

Comments

Rodney said…
Vinaka vinaka KC - we didn't always agree but for once we as seem to be on the same side. Stay well
Rodney
Anonymous said…
@Ramrakha- the notion that you were a one of the 'founding fathers of Fiji' is not only laughable but a fiction of your imagination. The old "guards" of the legal fraternity like you,the late Vijay Singh and Koya did not do much for Fiji except to line your own pockets and simply wanted enjoy the limelights of been a Politician. Guys like you squandered an opportunity to set an example for the future Indo-Fijian Politicians for Fiji. Your ingenuity and dishonesty made the general Fiji population at large to distrust Indo-Fijian politicians, some who had a lot to give to Fiji. Personally, I rather you keep your opinions to yourself as the new generation who know the past a bit do not want to repeat history.However, I believe in democracy and freedom of speech and you are entitled to your point of view, no matter how myopic it is.
Anonymous said…
@Ramrakha- the notion that you were a one of the 'founding fathers of Fiji' is not only laughable but a fiction of your imagination. The old "guards" of the legal fraternity like you,the late Vijay Singh and Koya did not do much for Fiji except to line your own pockets and simply wanted enjoy the limelights of been a Politician. Guys like you squandered an opportunity to set an example for the future Indo-Fijian Politicians for Fiji. Your ingenuity and dishonesty made the general Fiji population at large to distrust Indo-Fijian politicians, some who had a lot to give to Fiji. Personally, I rather you keep your opinions to yourself as the new generation who know the past a bit do not want to repeat history.However, I believe in democracy and freedom of speech and you are entitled to your point of view, no matter how myopic it is.

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