Killing Me Softly

By Crosbie Walsh

The  quickest, easiest and most deadly way to kill an idea is to subject it to ridicule, and the best way to ridicule something is to take it to its extreme.

Thus, if you really wanted to ridicule the Bainimarama government and so undermine its support, the best way to do so would be to take its most dubious and unpopular regulation, the Public Emergency Regulations, and apply them with total rigidity. It seems this is exactly what is happening.

PER was introduced after the Abrogation of the 1997 Constitution as a targeted means to deter specific Government opponents. It is now being used as a shotgun that affects everyone.

Under PER, if ten of more people wish to gather, for whatever purpose, they require a permit. Police Spokesperson Theresa Ralogaivau is most precise about this. She says it applies to "any gathering." And it can take two or more weeks to obtain a permit.  I discussed the procedure in an earlier posting.

So, as one reader put it,  "if there's a wedding, or a birthday party at home, a funeral, a university seminar (oh yes, they have to get permits) ... or a gathering of 20 people waiting outside of the Westpac Bank at 9.25 am waiting for it to open ... all need a permit. How bloody ridiculous!  Laugh!  It's the only way to survive this government."

Surely this cannot be so. Common sense alone would make some types of meeting exempt. But if there are exemptions, no one knows what they are.

One would never have thought that a family wishing to hold a Ram Naumi gathering at home (Ram Naumi celebrates the the birth of Lord Krishna Ashtmi) would require a permit. But yes they do.

One reader's neighbours, who wished to celebrate Ram Naumi,  were told by the Commissioner Central's office that everyone must comply with PER, and they also needed to bring a consent form signed by 15 residents in the area and authority from the nearest Church (sic!) to apply for a permit."  Had I not known the reader well, I would have thought he was fantasising.

But getting a permit, difficult as it may be, still doesn't mean a meeting will go ahead. Permits can be revoked.

This is exactly what happened on Saturday when the National Council of the Fiji Trades Union Congress started to meet. The meeting followed close on the heels of a discussion with the International Labour Organisation delegation so one assumes they wanted to discuss that meeting. They did not have a chance. Their meeting was abandoned after police intervened and dispersed delegates, saying the permit to hold it had been revoked. There is no appeal against PER. There is no opportunity to confere with a higher police authority or subsequently to the Courts. You just do what you are told by the men on the spot.

I recognize the many good things the Bainimarama government is doing, and salute their stated intentions on multi-culturalism and a fairer, more democratic Fiji, but I have repeatedly called for more dialogue, more civilian participation in government, and  for the lifting of PER.

We were told PER would be lifted once Media Decree was in place. That was a year ago. Since then I have have been reliably informed on at least two occasions that PER was about to be lifted soon. But nothing happened other than that its application became increasingly arbitrary and bizarre.

I dread to think what will happen if this Government is replaced before 2014 by the so called "pro-democracy" people but if it does happen, they will have only themselves to blame.

I also hold my government in part responsible for the oppressive isolation and non-constructive dialogue  that month by month  has made a more inclusive Fiji Government increasingly difficult to achieve. The jackal media has also played its part in misrepresenting the Fiji situation. The media and the government must share some responsibility for this avoidable imbroglio.

But I cannot go along with this idiocy.  Bainimarama's enemies could not do a better job of sabotaging his endeavours. The useful purpose PER may once have served has passed. It must now be seen as a mindless and needless instrument, applied with total disregard for the normal freedoms of ordinary Fijians. Who on earth is Bainimarama listening to?

There will be no further postings for a few days until we see how things pan out.  I need time to think. 

Readers may care to comment, and encourage others to follow suit.  The comments could then be sent to the PM for his consideration.

Killing Me Softly With His Song
                              (For Voreqe Bainimarama. Some verses are more apt than others)
Listen to Roberta Flack

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

I heard he sang a good song
I heard he had a style
And so I came to see him
To listen for a while
And there he was this young boy
A stranger to my eyes

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

I felt all flushed with fever
Embarrassed by the crowd
I felt he found my letters
And read each one out loud
I prayed that he would finish
But he just kept right on

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

He sang as if he knew me
In all my dark despair
And then he looked right through me
As if I wasn't there
And he just kept on singing
Singing clear and strong

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me

He was strumming my pain
Yeah, he was singing my life
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly
With his song

Comments

Reast said…
Croz,

Sounds like you got sucked in by the military governments statements and forgot to look at what is happening on the ground. No real change in the las couple of the years. PM, AG and team do as they please. There will no more be an eletion in 2014 than the military will reform, being multi racial or reduce spending. These thing just won't happen.
Simione said…
Dear Croz.
What an interesting, perhaps sad, piece.
I have followed all the blogs in Fiji for some time, and actually have appreciated your enthusiasm and commitment to tell all the news in Fiji.
I began this coup hoping for the best.
I remember Fiji in 2005 when it was booming.
There were all sorts of tourist developments finally about to happen, and Fiji seemed to be on the cusp of realising its potential, like Tahiti or Hawaii, but friendlier and always much more human.
I realised though that the benefit was for the few... lots of new "Ratu-mobiles" on the streets but the ordinary folk left behind... hotel workers getting peanuts while the tourists were charged premium prices.
I sat one day catching up on work while the kids were happily entertained by the ever smiling employees, and watched the tv debates in Fiji´s parliament.
I saw Mick Beddoes give an impassioned speech urging everyone in the government to set up a rota for going out to the islands and reaching out to the grass roots to see how they could be helped.
The honourable parlimentarians just jeered and laughed at him.
At the same time we went out to Kadavu to visit villages we had known since younger days. They had deteriorated badly with fun and pride being replaced by sad, subsistence living.
From then we vowed to try to do something to help. I haven´t succeeded but then the coup brought everything to a halt.
I thought initially it could be good. I thought it could level the playing field and help Fiji advance.
It hasn´t.
It has all gone steadily downhill.
I have never written, never protested. I have my in laws to think about in Fiji, and clearly intimidation and worse has been used to keep people quiet.
I read the People´s Charter and found it all quite promising... altruistic perhaps, but nothing much to criticise except the vague future role of the army.
It is clear to me now that this Government has failed everyone and that the main players are just in it for themselves.
As a European, I am just appalled by all this business of the Per catch-all restrictions. Without being sensational, evryone knows that this is the tool that got Hitler into power and kept the Syrian regime for a long stranglehood on power and the freedom of the people.
Last time I was in Fiji I was even cautioned that I could be locked up under this act for protesting against an over zealous LTA official.
It´s not just that.
It is the complete lack of transparency. It would be so easy to put everyone´s minds at rest and to find belief, as one of your contributers said, if they just publish the governments financial dealings, the salaries, the distribution from their junk bond sales.
I give up. I don´t know what will happen, but it cannot go on like this. I know the other blogs exagerrate but I end up reading them with hope that change will come.
I cannot do anything; it´s not my country, just the land I married into, so I don´t have the right to a voice.
But it all leaves me profoundly sad as the Fiji I have known and loved for 30 years is no longer the proud, happy place it was and should be. It is not free.
Dictatorships are always defeated eventually, and it is such an outmoded form of Government.
Let´s hope that this government opens up fully, changes its secretive mind set, abandons Per, begins inclusive talks together in the Pacific way, and sets itself back on the track to democracy. If not it is five wasted years and worse to come.
Best regards,
Simione
Anonymous said…
Dear Croz.
What an interesting, perhaps sad, piece.
I have followed all the blogs in Fiji for some time, and actually have appreciated your enthusiasm and commitment to tell all the news in Fiji.
I began this coup hoping for the best.
I remember Fiji in 2005 when it was booming.
There were all sorts of tourist developments finally about to happen, and Fiji seemed to be on the cusp of realising its potential, like Tahiti or Hawaii, but friendlier and always much more human.
I realised though that the benefit was for the few... lots of new "Ratu-mobiles" on the streets but the ordinary folk left behind... hotel workers getting peanuts while the tourists were charged premium prices.
I sat one day catching up on work while the kids were happily entertained by the ever smiling employees, and watched the tv debates in Fiji´s parliament.
I saw Mick Beddoes give an impassioned speech urging everyone in the government to set up a rota for going out to the islands and reaching out to the grass roots to see how they could be helped.
The honourable parlimentarians just jeered and laughed at him.
At the same time we went out to Kadavu to visit villages we had known since younger days. They had deteriorated badly with fun and pride being replaced by sad, subsistence living.
From then we vowed to try to do something to help. I haven´t succeeded but then the coup brought everything to a halt.
I thought initially it could be good. I thought it could level the playing field and help Fiji advance.
It hasn´t.
It has all gone steadily downhill.
I have never written, never protested. I have my in laws to think about in Fiji, and clearly intimidation and worse has been used to keep people quiet.
I read the People´s Charter and found it all quite promising... altruistic perhaps, but nothing much to criticise except the vague future role of the army.
It is clear to me now that this Government has failed everyone and that the main players are just in it for themselves.
As a European, I am just appalled by all this business of the Per catch-all restrictions. Without being sensational, evryone knows that this is the tool that got Hitler into power and kept the Syrian regime for a long stranglehood on power and the freedom of the people.
Last time I was in Fiji I was even cautioned that I could be locked up under this act for protesting against an over zealous LTA official.
It´s not just that.
It is the complete lack of transparency. It would be so easy to put everyone´s minds at rest and to find belief, as one of your contributers said, if they just publish the governments financial dealings, the salaries, the distribution from their junk bond sales.
I give up. I don´t know what will happen, but it cannot go on like this. I know the other blogs exagerrate but I end up reading them with hope that change will come.
I cannot do anything; it´s not my country, just the land I married into, so I don´t have the right to a voice.
But it all leaves me profoundly sad as the Fiji I have known and loved for 30 years is no longer the proud, happy place it was and should be. It is not free.
Dictatorships are always defeated eventually, and it is such an outmoded form of Government.
Let´s hope that this government opens up fully, changes its secretive mind set, abandons Per, begins inclusive talks together in the Pacific way, and sets itself back on the track to democracy. If not it is five wasted years and worse to come.
Best regards,
Simione
democracy said…
Substitute "softly" with "democracy" and this could be the PM/AG/Militaries new song. Not there offical line but certainly what they play in their cars and sign in the shower at night.
Gay said…
I am sorry Mr. Walsh, but this is all totally exagerated and a load of garbage. It is for meetings only, and we all have to get a permit S.P.C.A. meetings, any kind of business meeting. We all go along with it and it is all fine, and always granted, because they know that we are honest. The whole thing started, and was necessary and still is necessary, because of the deception of the Methodist Church meetings, and other shit stirrers. They must be kept an eye on, while we are getting Fiji cleaned up from garbage of people like them. Also, Commodore Bainimarama's name is Voreqe. You mis-spelt it.
Anonymous said…
Section (5) of the PER decree says any meeting of ' three or more persons---' . Not 10 people.

So technically, a union's key officers, president, secretary and treasurer also need a permit to meet to discuss routine matters!

Meanwhile Boards of corporates meet all the time without permits.
yea yea said…
Sounds like I need a permit to have dinner with just my wife and kids (7 or us). I be in all sorts of trouble when my wifes famiy dops around (add 13 more people) and my cousins (17)...thats before any friends or my neighbours.

Actually not many Fiji families are 3 poeple or less so we all need permits just to be a family. I'm a methodist so does that make it harder for me ?
noddy said…
CW
I think you are overreacting and need to remember the all the good stuff this government is doing, and if you cant do that remember all the bad stuff the last one did.
Snowy said…
Lets lift the PER Croz, sure..and have a march the next day! thats what you've implied by lifting the PER and permit requirement! once thats done and there's a march, you can start a new blog when there's a new coup! So, wish wish for it! you will start all over again!
Slow learner said…
Croz
Are you a slow learner? perhaps if you hadn't tried to delude yourself that a military junta is a 'government' you may have come to the conclusion that you now have like any normal person in a nomrmal time frame?
Keeping the faith said…
Bula Croz,

Sorry to see you so dispirited. Yes, there are days when I also despair of the regime. Simione is right. It's the stupidity and lack of transparency that's so depressing.

What I would respectfully ask you to consider during your next few days of reflection is the alternative.
Who could better run the country at the present time? Would an immediate return to democracy make life safer and more prosperous for ordinary people? Would it produce a fairer, more equal Fiji?

The latest figures show that the country has turned the corner economically, with projected growth this year of more than one percent after three years in negative territory. This is only slightly lower than in the last year of Qarase, a remarkable achievement considering our isolation from our nearest neighbours, sanctions and the rest. Imagine where we'd have been if Australia and NZ had been supportive instead of trying to bring us down? Fiji's foreign reserves have also hit $1.5 billion or four and a half months imports, the best position for a long time.

So one thing is certain. This is not a corrupt government raiding the public till for its own purposes. On the contrary, you could argue that it is strengthening the economy even as it delivers more services to ordinary people than any government in living memory. So it deserves credit for that.

Let's also remember the context in which emergency rule was introduced. Everyone old enough remembers the indigenous thugs who went around beating and terrorising people during the previous coups. These people haven't gone away. They've just gone to ground because they live in fear of the military.

The regime is clearly concerned that without the PER, there's a distinct threat to public order. Given the events of the past, who's to say that isn't the case? We don't know what intelligence they have about their opponents. The fact is a lot of ordinary people no longer have to fear for their personal safety and the security of their homes and possessions. Isn't that the most basic human right?

I think you should never lose sight of the fact that this is the first government to genuinely try to break down the racial barriers that divide us in Fiji. It is also delivering services to a lot of people in rural areas who were badly neglected, as Simione concedes even as he lashes the regime.

I would urge you not to abandon us but to keep up the pressure on the regime on those issues that you feel need attention. Yes, there is much to be annoyed and frustrated about. But I think you need to take a deep breath and look at the overarching issues of racial equality and a fairer democracy in 2014.

Croz, you have been a wonderful advocate for a better, fairer Fiji and we need you now more than ever. By all means, go and play some golf and think about the big picture. But don't abandon the ideals you've always upheld - Fiji " the way it could be". Vinaka.
No fangtasy! No waving........Just drowning! said…
@ Croz and "Fangtasizing".....

Our dogs and cats will answer for our fate because they will share it: that is if they survive to tell the tale.

No vaccines or medicines are now available for them just as Nadi Hospital has little else but pethidine to cure any ache or pain.

There is of course a significant message in all of this. It is the message of Solzhenitsyn and it is as true today as it ever was: Great Leaps Forward lead instantly and inexorably backward and that is because along with the dogs and the cats, the humans and most things that breathe, Freedom dies too and Liberty is Life!
Anonymous said…
Bula Croz,

You have now caught up with how the vast majority of businessmen in Fiji have felt for quite some time.
Except for those directly sucking on the teat, everybody else now hates the bastards in power but are caught between that and no political alternative, so theres is hate and there is fear of the future, because we can't see one.
The greater of these two evils is in the knowledge that there is no potential new political leadership, and even less possibility of any showing itself in the present enviroment in addition to what very little time that will be made available before the elections.

It is clear as Fiji water that the elections will only serve up more shit for the people of Fiji for another 5 years of crap.

Nobody who lives outside Fiji, who has never lived in a country under PER will ever understand what it will do to a principled person.
Having been brought up on freedom and then to have it taken away is like a cancer that grows and grows, burns, and blinds one to anything else that may be considered good.

Past good deads lie in a fog in the review mirror, all proposed good deeds are put in the top draw at home with the washed sox and underwear.
At work, carved into the desktop, is the PER.

The only solution for Fiji is we need to drown all runts in the litter, we may loose a few innocents, but the vast majority of runts in our country are just trouble.lol
OK, bit extreme,lets just put them on Makoqai Isl, where they can have their own Republic of Short People.

So lets start donating names for citizenship to the new Republic of Short People.

Shall I start the ball rolling:
Our friends; In no particular order:
Chaudhry,Bale,Speight,Yabaki,Stevens,Bakosa, Reddy, Mua, Kubuabola,Pflieger, Bainimarama, Ah Koy, .....lmao

To give them inspiration they will have a memorial on the island to past runt world leaders:
Stalin, Ghandi, Churchill, Napoleon, Muldoon.!
and those with honourary permenent residency..
John Howard, Kevin Rudd....
Anonymous said…
Bula Croz,

You have now caught up with how the vast majority of businessmen in Fiji have felt for quite some time.
Except for those directly sucking on the teat, everybody else now hates the bastards in power but are caught between that and no political alternative, so theres is hate and there is fear of the future, because we can't see one.
The greater of these two evils is in the knowledge that there is no potential new political leadership, and even less possibility of any showing itself in the present enviroment in addition to what very little time that will be made available before the elections.

It is clear as Fiji water that the elections will only serve up more shit for the people of Fiji for another 5 years of crap.

Nobody who lives outside Fiji, who has never lived in a country under PER will ever understand what it will do to a principled person.
Having been brought up on freedom and then to have it taken away is like a cancer that grows and grows, burns, and blinds one to anything else that may be considered good.

Past good deads lie in a fog in the review mirror, all proposed good deeds are put in the top draw at home with the washed sox and underwear.
At work, carved into the desktop, is the PER.

The only solution for Fiji is we need to drown all runts in the litter, we may loose a few innocents, but the vast majority of runts in our country are just trouble.lol
OK, bit extreme,lets just put them on Makoqai Isl, where they can have their own Republic of Short People.

So lets start donating names for citizenship to the new Republic of Short People.

Shall I start the ball rolling:
Our friends; In no particular order:
Chaudhry,Bale,Speight,Yabaki,Stevens,Bakosa, Reddy, Mua, Kubuabola,Pflieger, Bainimarama, Ah Koy, .....lmao

To give them inspiration they will have a memorial on the island to past runt world leaders:
Stalin, Ghandi, Churchill, Napoleon, Muldoon.!
and those with honourary permenent residency..
John Howard, Kevin Rudd....
Jon said…
No the current government is not perfect. But then no government is (to all people anyway). Everyone has different opinions and agendas so there will always be people complaining. However, the main point that must be remembered is that the alternative is 100 times worse. The previous "elected" government was filled with racists and/or thieves. Corruption was rife and an unelected, autocratic body called the Great Council of Thieves, sorry Chiefs wielded way too much power.

Those crying out the loudest to remove the current government and stop their reforms are the ones who have lost their gravy train. They care nothing for Fiji in general but only to return Fiji to what it was before, or even worse (actually achieve the 2000 coup objectives).

Croz, please continue as your great work. Support and highlight those areas of the government that you have common goals (non-racist country fair for all). But also continue to highlight where they are doing a bad job. Your word counts far more than all the anti-gov blogs put together. Remember despite some comments that this government does as it pleases. They have made changes to decrees in the past, or withdrawn them, when pointed out unintended consequences. I still believe they are trying to do the right thing.
Future said…
Forgetting the performance of this government for a moment the real thing that worries me is the future. The PER is designed to take us to "elections" but to ensure that no new leaders or political parties emerge and that the old ones remain dead and burried. That is the only real reason it is in place. That way FB and team will walk home in a election in 2014. Don't for a min believe the military will return to barracks - they intend to be a important part of government for a long time. And the PM ? Of course he will stand in the election and continue as PM. Why wouldn't he ? He is enjoyig the power and the money. He can't afford to become a ordinary citizen because he would face trial eventually. And he is not going ot let that happen...it was one of the reasons he carried out the coup in the first place.
scrac said…
Previous governments may have been worse but that is no reason to accept this government. Their actions to maintain in power and control are unacceptable. People have been killed at the hands of the military (even the Navy bosso's fists), they have used their power to seek retribution on people they don't like. We have no other choice to assume they pay themselves what ever they like (otherwise they would disclose it yes ?).
croc of shot said…
I will beleive the "racial harmony" line when I see FB making changes to his military make up.

And I will believe FB is a true leader worthy of our support when he starts keeping promises. A good start would be revealing his salary and benefits so we can see he has not benefited from the coup.

I would like to hear FB interviewed on a wide range of topics. I would like to hear him talk about the his key portfolios - sugar and finance (not prepared statements) and what change he is leading in these.

I would like to hear FB debate with other leaders on topics like the PER, media censorship, new constitution.

I would like to see FB travel less, accept fewer appointments and concentrate on his portfolio's and taking Fiji to democracy.
Here to stay almost said…
Many of the arguments on this site seem to centre around 'this government is better than the last one' and therefore lets accept their flaws, errors, restrictions.

I don't subscribe to this argument. Quick frankly with as much power as this government has they could being doing a lot lot more. How much actual reform has taken place in the public service nearly five years later ? How better is the sugar industry now (it's not). Why has investment declined every year.

This government has it easy. They don't have to debate issues, they don't have to get budgets approved. They don't have to work with unions. They control the media. They 3,000+ standover me at their disposal. No government has ever had it easier.

They can make up any law they like overnight and sign it off the next day. They don't have to talk to unions. They can ignore civil groups. They control the reserve bank. Even if the courts are independant they decide what goes to them. They can use FICAC to beat opponents into the ground for years.

So I agree this government has done more than previous governments but they have had it way way to easy. They could have done 5 times more in the first two years.

And the big problem ? There rate of reform is slowing down already. More and more time is being spent on self promotion, travel and vanity exercises. They actually beleif they are the best thing for Fiji. They want to stay, they want to keep paying themeselves without checks and balances. They like this life. They will stay - that is there number one priority !
scorecard said…
The military led government is better than the previous government. But to judge them against that is setting the bar far too low.

I sugges we judge them against their own stated objectives after the coup in early 2007.

Fix the sugar industry - Fail

Wipe out corruption - Pass maybe even a credit

Fix the economy - Fail

Return fiji to democracy - Fail

Open transparent government - Fail

Remove posverty - good efforts but Fail

No one in the military to benefit from the coup - Fail

Election in 2009 - Fail
ha ha said…
For taking Fiji's union leaders to their knees and kicking their asses this government deserves our support.

For stomping on the SDL and now Labour parties they deserve our support.

For taking their guns and doing what had to be done they deserve our support.

Staying in power beyond 2014 - they deserve support.

Unions are done with, finished. Next they could cull all those academics at the univerities (they are paid by public money too).
Miaw said…
Agree with Jon's comments .
White Frangipani said…
@ Anonymous Re "To give them inspiration they will have a memorial on the island to past runt world leaders:
Stalin, Ghandi, Churchill, Napoleon, Muldoon.!
and those with honourary permenent residency..
John Howard, Kevin Rudd...."
NO WAY John Howard - Australia has got so much to thank him for. He was one of the greatest leaders Australia has had and the reason why Australia is so prosperous today. The present Oz Government is on track to undoing all the good from the previous years.As for this particular posting - The Fijian Government probably needs better PR so that the public are being informed more fully about the reforms and progress taking place. Do the travel bans mean that many good capable people living in Fiji would not want take up the PR challenge? Someone with good people skills needs to. Fiji is on the cusp of change. Surely even those who oppose the present Fijian Government don't want to revert to the past?
Anonymous said…
Fiji's problems are so complex that one might as well reach for a simple answer.
....short people come to hand, after all check out the size of our cabinet, they can all fit in a cabinet.

What will we reap after what has been sown by Frank & Aiyaz?

Who will be the new broom master, to sweep all the decrees out the door.

Will there be a backlash? You can not predict.

After this crowd, whether it be 2 years or 30 years , all bets are off.

Who can go wrong in Australia, they sit one big open cut mine.

Without mineral wealth and nice beaches and surf, their yobs would be burning down center of town just for fun.
...as it is they just vomit over everything...like icing on the cake.

Popular posts from this blog

Lessons from Africa

Fijian Holdings Scandal: Betrayal by their trusted sons

The Ratu Tevita Saga, Coup4.5, Michael Field, the ANU Duo, and Tonga