Begging to Differ: Hallmark of Democracy

My publication of the Fraenkel-Davis discussion on ABC has attracted a large number of comments which, of course, is excellent.  It is excellent because they come from different perspectives and most are well informed and honestly expressed.

It is precisely this sort of public discussion that is so very much needed in Fiji, but which for the moment is unfortunately not possible because of the PER regulations and Government’s apparent unwillingness to really listen to others who also want a better Fiji.  One can only hope that they will come to recognize the dangers inherent this position before it is too late.
I have singled out three comments because they illustrate a different approach to logic (by “Sitting n the fence” and Graham Davis) and the importance,  shown by the comment from “Bushmoko”  of not limiting one’s view of the present to a  a single or even multiple current “snap shots.” A longer, broader perspective is always necessary.
“Sitting on the fence” echoes the opinions of several others. He wants to  see what he considers to be consistency of argument.  Anything less is unclear.  And consistency is shown by total agreement  or total disagreement.  Anyone who agrees with one thing but disagrees with another is inconsistent and unclear, Thus, if I may speak for Graham Davis, we both don’t like coups but we both like some of the things the coup-makers  say they are trying to achieve.  We both like democratic elections but we both are unsure how democratic the 2001 and 2006 elections were, and we both condemn the racist actions of the Qarase elected government, actual and intended.  

Sitting on the fence said...

Croz, Thank you for your update. Mr Fraenkal's stance seems clear and consistent. He is against the coup and he is against the military regime and its actions. Mr Davis' stance on the other hand is less clear. He is against the coup (I think) but he is not against the actions taken by the coup regime? He appears to be sitting on the fence and I'm not sure what it is exactly he stands for? Could he clarify his confusion?

Anonymous Graham Davis said...
"Sitting on the fence", I don't think there's any doubt where I stand but in the interests of clarity, let me make myself perfectly clear.

I believe every coup in Fiji has been an unmitigated disaster in dividing the country, damaging the economy and robbing Fiji of its potential to be a beacon for other Pacific nations.

But the 2006 coup was very different from the previous three. It wasn't to support the notion of indigenous paramountcy. It was to support the notion of a multiracial Fiji - the only way, in my opinion, that the country has any viable future at all.   

Whatever people like Jon Fraenkel say, the Qarase government had embarked on a legislative program to provide indigenous Fijians with important additional advantages over other races in Fiji.    

The fact that this program hadn't been implemented before Bainimarama struck - as Dr Fraenkel keeps arguing - is neither here nor there. Does anybody seriously believe that the SDL wasn't planning to implement the Qoliqoli Bill, free the 2000 conspirators and try to extend native title over land? The argument is nonsense.

 Enter Bainimarama. Now, I don't like what he did, which was to plunge Fiji into yet another crisis. I also don't like the PER, the muzzling of the media or the apparent attempt to destroy the trade unions. I also think the government could be doing a lot better in several other areas, such as being more transparent about some of its decisions.

    But one thing is certain. I detested the SDL's program even more. It was a racist government that was intent on governing for one race and, in the process, disadvantaging every other citizen. It had - at its core - indigenous supremacists who'd been at the heart of the George Speight conspiracy of 2000, notably Konisi Yabaki, Savenaca Draunidalo and Simione Kaitani.

So I accept the primary reason Frank Bainimarama has always put forward for mounting his coup, which is the preservation of the multiracial ideal in Fiji and the introduction of a level playing field for all citizens.

That doesn't make me a supporter of the man or all aspects of his program. It makes me a supporter of the core principle on which he took a stand. In my own mind, the distinction is quite clear, even if it isn't to the likes of Jon Fraenkel. I am not a "Bainimarama supporter" or a "coup supporter" but a supporter of a multiracial Fiji. 

It is Dr Fraenkel - I would argue - who hasn't made clear what he stands for beyond being opposed to the Bainimarama regime and opposing any notion of Australian and New Zealand engagement with Fiji.
Does he support the SDL? Well, he supports its right to contest the next election in Fiji, despite its belief in indigenous paramountcy. And he has allowed himself to be photographed with Simione Kaitani -one of the principal coup makers of 2000. 

Dr Fraenkel still hasn't given us an account of this extraordinary event. So I would argue that it's him, not me, who has the explaining to do.

Bushmoko made this comment:
I suppose experts like Fraenkel would have you believe that cloaked in any mantle of democracy, that suddenly Fiji becomes some paradise.

The fact remains that the 1970, 1988 and 1997 constitutions imparted frameworks that were essentially racist and allowed the ethonationalists to prey on i'taukeiQarase simply ignored the requirement for opposition members to sit in cabinet and that only emboldened the ethonationalists to continue to pursue their agenda. Frankel conveniently forgets that George Speight was a child of the 1997 constitution. 

 The system was broke and the patches didn't work. That's the simple fact. Going back to that system is to revisit the past. It wont work plain and simple.

 There is no other solution than in so far as possible to try and remove the racial element in the voting system. That doesn't mean that there needs to be a diminution of the rights of the i'taukei, but it would mean that any ethnonationalist inclined to pursue his personal agenda (power and influence) can only do so by political compromise with politicians of another colour,class or creed and therefore be subject to greater transparency. One of the primary problems with the Qarase regime was that the coterie in cabinet were unanswerable for their actions because nobody knew what they were up to.(especially how they were getting their cash)

 By removing the racial element you remove the ability of the ethnonationalists to undermine the system for their own venal agendas and the fact is, it is this group that have caused most of the problems in Fiji in the last 30 years. I hope that one day we can look at a group of politicians who are acting in an inappropriate manner and both observe that they consist of all racial groups and also be able to say what do you expect of them, they're politicians ! then at least we will have made a start.


John Adams said…
And all along I thought Great Leader executed the coup because there was a serious possibility of his being charged in relation to the killings of the mutineers - thanks to Mr Davis for enlightening me. Great Leader was only thinking of a multi cultural Fiji....yeah, right.
Tate said…
Well current PM is not a racist but we certainly don't know where or how much money he is getting. A reasonable guess is it is more than his last salary as only commandor so he has broken every promise he made post coup now.
Anonymous said…
The Qarase Govt was on a mission to consolidate the ethnonationalist agenda, pursuing racist policies that were designed to entrench their hegemony. In it, Qarase saw his own security to retain his power,perk and privileges. The steamrolling of interests of others, defying the rule of law and granting freedom to the coupmakers through legislative means was gross violation of democratic principles. The victims of his evil machinations had no means or ability to resist but the unexpected resistance from the Army has given them hope that the ultimate outcome may be best for everyone. Multiracial Fiji is the demand for the silent majority but has been hijacked by the vicious and vocal ethnonationalist minority. The volume of their hitherto raucous and sonorous voices have been subdued since the Bainimarama coup. They had derived their strength, energy and pomposity from the unanimous support that they had derived from the Queen Elizabeth barracks in the past! They had never expected resistance from the Army, one of their own, and they had not expected that one day this compliant servant would turn the guns against its master. In the real world, it does happen and many masters have reformed after receiving the unexpected but essential jolt. Let us hope that it works for Fiji.
Time for honesty said…
Surely it is time for some honesty and integrity in this debate. This coup is not about multiculturalism. That is simply a smokesecreen. It is about power and control. The Fiji police were just about to arrest Bainimarama and put him before the court for the allegations of torture and murder of unarmed CRW soldiers in custody. This fact is not going to go away, and eventually it will be brought before a legitimate court of law.
Back to 'multiculturalism', if it was about that, why hasn't the person who perpetrated the coup, the military commander, taken immediate steps to impose 'multiculturalism' on the organisation that is comprised almost entirely of i-Taukei? The organisation that has repeatedly brought the nation of Fiji to its knees. If there is one definate outcome from this latest coup, it is that the reputation of the Fiji military is now completely tarnished. The organisation is a blight on the nation.
Clutching at straws said…
"John Adams" and "Time for Honesty" seem determined to introduce the ultimate of red herrings into this debate, with their claim that Bainimarama executed his coup to forestall being charged with the killing of the 2000 mutineers.

Come off it, you guys. Do you really think the rest of us are that stupid? Even if Frank had personally killed one or several of the mutineers - and there's no evidence that he did or these idiots would surely produce it - he would have been well within his rights as military commander.

When the first wave of mutineers had been subdued, Bainimarama would have had no idea how far the conspiracy extended. The security of the state was at stake and he would had no choice but to crush the rebellion with all the force at his disposal.

You could argue that in his position - and given the Speight coup earlier in the year - he'd have been justified in shooting the lot of them. What if this had just been the start of a concerted effort to take out the military and political elite? What would have happened to the rest of us?

The mutineers would surely have kept killing until they had achieved their objectives. As Bainimarama has said before - "these guys came in to kill us. What did you expect us to do? Kiss them on both cheeks?"

Far from wanting to punish Bainimarama, we should all be eternally grateful that the mutiny was crushed. Fiji would be a very different place had it succeeded. The anti regime forces are always clutching at straws. And, boy, this is easily the longest of them.
Walker Texas Ranger said…
@ Time for honesty

In the face of serious organised criminal enterprise the luxury of argument concerning democracy or any other form of government appears self-indulgent. We have now spent ten years while we permitted those with 'sick' and greedy agendas to embed themselves in this country and no NGO/Government Planning Committee,taxation-paid institution or especially the Fiji Media were prepared, sufficiently informed or of the necessary political will to confront them.

Some of them now own hotels, resorts and presumably have the intention of increasing their ownership to other areas of the Fiji economy? Some of them repeatedly lie in our courts and have been witnessed doing so: Acts of Perjury.

Do we believe that a Dialogue for Democracy will improve this situation or prove a distraction? If the former, then advance the process of dialogue as quickly as possible and remove the PER so that we may point fingers with evidence at the corrupt people who are still taking over Fiji. They are being ably assisted in their efforts by those with conflicted interests (all undeclared of course) within the 'status quo' or the Current Set Up. Does not matter much what you call it. It is time to provide names and networks. They can be provided.

We shall never stand by or idly sit on any fence while this endures: unchallenged, colluded with and benefitted greatly by anyone with challenged leadership qualities. This is 'anarchy by other means' and we shall confront this continual and covert corruption wherever it is found. There will be responsible and honest leadership without undeclared conflicting interests.
Without it there is no future for democracy or any other form of governance. There is only confusion and 'Dog eat Dog'.

The country's future is still at stake while people sit on fences and permit egregious and gratuitous lying to succeed in Fiji's Courts. What a travesty of justice this is. How are we able to sustain it? Unless, of course, we are part of it?

Let all Fiji based Non-Government Organisations take note: your comfort zones are to be given the serious jolt they richly deserve. Your funders and aid-providers should also be informed: you have together permitted serious organised crime to persist and to prevail and you have been papering over the evidence. To whose benefit? Your overseas nationals come into this window and they run networks on the ground. Laundered money funds these networks.

Time now to stand up for what you know to be just, honest and right.
SOE said…
@ John Adams....

Your energy might be more usefully channeled into how organised crime is to be handled? What resourcing can be mobilised against it? How urgent it has become to put it "On the run".

Any ideas?
Milit said…
@ walker and SOE

No matter the topic you always bring it back to organised crime, NGO not doing their job and tax payers money.

Could I ask you to

1. Give some real examples of actual organised crime in Fiji

2. Name the NGO's who support it (or are not doing enought)

3. Highlight exactly what you think which NGO should do

4. Name people who are responsible

Otherwise your posts remain braod statements with little fact.
Military juntas never succeed said…
It does not matter how many facetious arguments are put forward, the EU, UK, US, Commonwealth, Forum,Aust, NZ and other free and democratic nations are never going to accept Bainimarama or legitimse his military junta. This will never happen. Perhaps the junta should give some serious thought to returning to democracy and engaging with the above on the terms very clearly and simply laid out. If they don't, Bainimarama and his junta will just have to accept the inevitable.
SOE said…
@ Milit (an odd choice of pseudonym?)

Ample evidence is available. Names are available. Alleged breaches of the Crimes Decree are known and clearly described in serial complaints.

These complaints have been made to the relevant authorities. Yet, these Smooth Operators continue their activities. They continue them because they have powerful associates and they pay off all those who will stand in their way.

Get it?
Anonymous said…
The situation of a "State within a State":

Those who know about serious organised crime (SOC) also know that it may develop to a place where it becomes quite literally "A state within a state".

Were we to be sufficiently interested and urged to take this state of affairs on, we would not talk about 'broad statements with little fact': we would address the ample evidence that has already been given to us in multiple places. Evidence which has to be acted upon if we are to have any credibility. Never take the efforts of volunteers for granted. They are after all the ones with "unconflicted interests"

Self interest is only too apparent. And self interest is failing the people and the state. In the meantime, a 'state within a state' prospers. Is this what we consider a desirable future for our children and our grandchildren?
sara'ssista said…
@ Clutching at straws ...'far from punishing Bainimarama' ...we should have shot him and the mutineers,as a lesson to all. And we are in a 'different place'...a military dictatorship that jumps at shadows, arrests methodists, beats lawyers, abuses women detainees and tries to gaol unionists, lectures everyone on what they should be doing and how they should feel and can't bring itself to even be honest about their own pay packets. Was this the plan?
Emerging into daylight said…
@ sara'ssist.....

Whatever the plan was or still is, the organised criminals are gaining on us. Daily they are emerging into the daylight to show themselves. Who encourages them and gives them licence to perform? That is what you should be asking.

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