A Bucketful of Negatives by Guy Thellfell

"Guy Threllfell"
Guy Threllfell is a pseudonym. Hence my choice of the illustration. He is strongly anti the Bainimarama government though he says he was  once a supporter. His interepretation of past events and his choice of references would suggest this is not so. I think he is just being polite. 
I felt his views  warranted a full article even though most of his arguements have been taken up by others and have appeared many, many times on the anti-blogs.  I invited him to bring his ideas together, to itemise the Baiimarama governments pluses and minuses, and offer his ideas on the way forward.  The best way to present his views with some comment from me seems to be by publishing our correspondence, so here it is.  To maintain integrity of sequence I have published his "rough"  and "tidied up" article, and apologize in advance if I've left out part of the exchange.  Guy welcomes your comments. I hope you will focus on the way forward.
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2012 9:37 AM
Subject: Ro Temumu Letter
I have attached a copy of Ro Temumu's letter which you said you had problems accessing.
On another note I was very disappointed that you dismissed Victor Lal and Russell Hunters article about Bainimarama's attempted coups in 2003-4 saying there was no evidence. When the evidence was posted online you chose to ignore it.
In addition you have ignored the Board of Inquiry report on the 2000 coup, which at the very least raises questions Bainimarama needs to answer. Again there has been silence.


I thought the Lal-Hunter argument for a 2004 coup weak. I have not seen the report or proceedings of the Board of Enquiry.  If it’s not too much trouble,  could you send me via email.
Best wishes,
Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 12:16 PM
Subject: Re: Ro Temumu Letter

The Board of Inquiry report is called 1st_meridian_report_rfmf_opt2 small.

There is no conclusive proof of Bainimarama's involvement but it does raise a number of points that would imply that he was involved or he was very incompetent. The main points it raised in my mind were.

1- Frank personally brought Ligairi out of retirement 3 weeks before the coup. Ligairi was marched the CRW troops into parliament and then was their leader in parliament.
2- The RFMF supplied rations to the CRW soldiers throughout their time in Parliament
3- The CRW soldiers continued to get paid throughout their time in parliament.
4- A senior officer took Leave forms for CRW soldiers in parliamnet to sign so they could be excused from normal duties.
5- Bainimarama says he supports the aims of the coup
6- The CRW continued to take arms out of the camp 36 hours after the coup.
7- 2 separate officers informed Frank there was going to be a coup.
The President Ratu Mara questioned Frank whether it was wise to travel as there was a possibility of a coup.
8- Bainimarama refused to appear in front of the Board of Inquiry.

You will also note Shane Stevens was not involved in the coup but he later lead the mutiny against Frank. In fact it was he who removed the remaining CRW weapons from QEB so the soldiers in parliament could not get their hands on these weapons. Stevens led the mutiny because he believed Frank was behind the coup and then backed down leaving Shane's fellow CRW soldiers out to dry.

In terms of the Lal Hunter piece I think you will find Ratu George Kadavulevu's letter most illuminating. There were a number of resignations of senior colonels in early 2004 including Kadavulevu because they did not support Frank's wish to take over the government by force. You will also see reference to Frank's less than noble motives for wanting to take over the Government.

I, like you, was a supporter of Frank. The coup had happened and the only thing for it was to move the country forwards. However it became clear to me in 2008 that we were going nowhere and Bainimarama was not going to achieve any of his early stated aims for the coup.

After the abrogation of the constitution in 2009 we saw human rights eroded very quickly and the longer Frank and Khaiyum have been in power the worse the situation has become in Fiji.

I applaud Frank's attempts at creating a racially free Fiji. I also applaud some of his attempts to reform the country. However, so many of those attempts have just been rhetoric and the actions have never been attepted or failed. (On that note I will send you a letter sent by Tevita Mara to the American Samoan congressman. It incluides the letter Frank sent to him in 2007 and it is very revealing to see that Frank has failed in just about every one of his stated aims.) Fiji is in a far worse state now than it was in 2006.

I am afraid for some time now we have been at the point where the aims no longer justify the means.

I know you think you are well informed and you have your finger on the pulse. But you named informers are all supporters of the regime. For others you discount as unreliable

If you lived in Fiji, you would notice the difference in life here. There is a growing resentment here at the failings of Frank. The racial calamity that Ro Temumu talks about is not a threat but it is a reflection on the growing frustration felt by many in this country. I can assure you there is no playing the race card by the senior chiefs and Ro Temumu is right it is the chiefs who are calming things down at the moment.

Frank did well kissing babies and being seen around the flooded areas but what really matters is how the rehabilitation is conducted. Let us see what happens in 2-3 months time when the poor people in the West are still suffering because there is no money to help them.

In times gone by the chiefs would have been at the forefront of sorting things out in the villages because they had the funds to do so. But now because everyone gets the same there is no central fund in the village any more. This will take a long time to sort out.

I think I understand your motivations for the way you run your blog site. But I think the it is becoming ever clearer that Frank is not the man he says he is. He is certainly coming across as someone who cannot be trusted.

I did not support Qarase and I have always been suspicious of Chaudhry but right here right now a government of national unity created by those 2 would go a long way to getting Fiji back on its feet.

Yours Guy


From: Croz Walsh
To: Guy Threllfell
Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 3:58 PM
Subject: Re: Ro Temumu Letter

Guy,  Thanks for your several pdf attachments.  I was familiar with what most of what Mara and Silatolu had to say which have received some mention in earlier posts.  The most interesting document is the Board of Enquiry report. It would seem all the parties involved were not well organized.  The RFMF involvement in supplying rations and continuing pay is quite incredible but nothing suggest Bainimarama knew what was happening.  In fact, Tarakinikini and Vatu intended to replace him and Macuata chiefs wanted him to stand down.  The strongest accusation against Bainimarama is that he should have been better informed.
You have told me where you think the Bainimarama government is going wrong but you do admit some worthwhile actions. You seem more conciliatory than your exchanges with Graham Davis and others on Grubsheet would suggest.  Would you consider writing a short pluses and minuses account of the Government’s actions since 2006, and a longer helpfully realistic of what you would like to see from now in assuming, as I do and you don’t, that elections will be held in 2014?

Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 9:39 AM
Subject: Re: Ro Temumu Letter
I think you are being very kind to Frank by saying he was just lacking in information. If he was not involved in the 2000 coup then he was grossly incompetent.
1-      He reemployed the man who led the coup just three weeks before it happened. That was at least a very bad error of judgment if not highly suspicious.
2-      The rations and the pay issues were discussed many times at the camp as you can see from the BOI. Frank must have known what was going on.
3-      In one meeting at the camp Frank says he supports the aims of the coup. That has to make you question his motives but how does that sit with the anti racist stand he takes today.
4-      Frank knew the coup was coming before it happened and still he went to Norway. That is definitely not lack of information that is a considered action on his part.
5-      Frank refused to appear before the Board of Inquiry despite 3 requests. He also refused to be interviewed by the police on the 2000 coup
I said I applauded his attempts and went on to say most have either failed or just been rhetoric. Even in his attempt at creating a racially free Fiji he is actually causing more harm than good. His methods are distinctly un-Pacific Way and they cause resentment and are actually fuelling racism amongst the people.
The regime saw the GCC as racist and opposed to them and so they just killed it off. No discussion, no consultation. Whether you like it or not it was part of the constitution that Bainimarama swore to uphold. He had just announced the constitutional consultations and he does something that is totally against the constitution.
We all know the GCC was a creation of the British. However, it still remained one of the longest serving Fijian institutions of all time. It was part of the culture of the country. The indigenous people of Fiji held it in great respect and reverence. Its destruction is seen as a direct attack on their way of life and an institution that looked after their interests.
Now there is no doubt in my mind it needed to be reformed, but to destroy it totally is very unpopular with the indigenous people.
There is a buildup of frustration with this regime. Sharon has done a very good propaganda job of papering over the cracks and making the regime look all good and shiny and Bainimarama a hero of the people. But dig down past the photo opps you see in the Sun and on FBC there is a simmering rage and resentment bubbling away.
The indigenous Fijian feel they are under attack, their rights, their powers are being stripped away. Oddly they don’t blame Frank, they blame Khaiyum. They feel they are being attacked by an Indian. It may not be the truth but it is the common perception.
Previously politicians have exploited the race card. But now it is not the politicians but the people themselves who are giving voice to these frustrations. When Ro Temumumu talked about calamity, it was not a threat but a warning because these feelings are building and there is no way for them to be expressed.
I mix with all races and am proud to say I have good friends in all communities in Fiji including in the regime. But over the past 6-8 months I have been getting regular questions from the Indian community about whether they are safe in Fiji. They can see the frustration building and they are concerned about what happens if it reaches boiling point.
So yes I applaud Frank’s attempt at making Fiji race free but he is going about it in such a way that he is exacerbating the problem. That I am afraid is the problem of so much of what he and Khaiyum are doing. They try to sort something out, they gazette a decree but it has consequences none of them ever considered. In a democracy new laws get debated and discussed endlessly so all sides are considered. Here Khaiyum sits down and writes something with no consultation and we have a new decree. It is not surprising there are unforeseen consequences.
So yes I say again I applaud the attempt in some area of moving Fiji forward. But unfortunately every attempt moves Fiji forward one step but it goes back at least 2.
If you would like I will write a piece on Frank’s stated aims in 2006 and whether he has achieved them, but I warn you now the positive column will be fairly empty.
From: Croz Walsh
To: Guy Threllfell
Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 5:37 PM
Subject: Re: Ro Temumu Letter

Two short pieces, the pluses and minuses 2006-early 2012 and a where now piece to 2014 and after, would be welcome. Croz
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2012 1:36 PM
Subject: Re: Ro Temumu Letter
I am happy to do one piece. It will compare Bainimarama's reasons for carrying out the coup in 2006 and whether he had made good on those promises or whether he has improved the situation from when Qarase was in charge. I will use the letter sent by Bainimarama to the Samoan Congess man as the basis for Franl's reasons for the coup unless you have anpther list of reasons you would like me to use.

I want your reassurance that you will publish it even though you may disagree with the conclusions.

I will abide by your blog rules and not be rude or use foul language. However, I will refer to Bainimarama as a dictator and his cronies as a Junta or a regime.

From: Croz Walsh
To: Guy Threllfell
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2012 4:08 PM
Subject: Re: Ro Temumu Letter

Guy.  Thanks for the offer but this is not what I asked.  I asked (1) for your assessment of the positives and negatives since 2000, and (2) your opinions on the way forward both of which would be breaking new ground.  Your offer sort of approximates (1) but seems likely to be mainly a repetition of what is already known or debated about what has been, much of which has  previously appeared on this blog and far more extensively on the anti-blogs.
My offer still stands. If you feel you only have time to write one, I would prefer (2).

From: Croz Walsh
To: Guy Threllfell
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2012 5:50 PM
Subject: Re: Ro Temumu Letter

Guy, Perhaps we should forget the articles but publish this letter with a brief explanation of how it came about. What do you think?   Croz

Here is a tidied up version of my letter. I look forward to seeing it on your blog site.
Subject: Re: Ro Temumu Letter
To be honest Croz I am struggling to think of any positives so I had better pass on option 1.
My thoughts on 2014 are probably not printable by you. I believe that Bainimarama and Khaiyum cannot risk losing power because as soon as they do they run the risk of being imprisoned for treason. As we are currently seeing ex dictators and their lackeys are being prosecuted even after they were granted immunity. I know from my friends in the military they are only too aware of that.

I think the Consultation process will be a sham. It will be dressed up but at the end of the process we will end up with a President with executive powers, which will be Bainimarama. He will have the right of veto and will be active in the appointment of the PM and may well have influence over policy.

Qarase and Chaudhry will be ineligible to stand because they will have criminal record by 2014.

The military boys are already getting ready to become politicians. Mason Smith and a number of others are lining up their new careers.

We will have an interesting 6 months as we will see if there is true freedom of the press and how the regime stands up to criticism. At the moment they cannot take criticism without responding and we are seeing incredibly stupid remarks from Tikoitoga as a result.

My worry is that Bainimarama will realize that he is not as popular as he thinks. As the truth comes out and the people here the opposing view to all the propaganda we have been fed the people of Fiji will turn against him. In 2-3 months time when very little flood rehabilitation work has been done because of lack funds then people will forget about the pics of Frank kissing babies and start questioning why they are not getting the help they need. Then we will see censorship reimposed and the end of the dreams about 2014.

I have said for a long time we will not see economic growth in Fiji whilst Frank is in power. I have been proved right so far and I can see nothing to make me change my opinion.

I live here Croz, as I said before I have friends in all communities. Even senior military officers, civil servants, ministers, ambassadors, chiefs, indians europeans, academics, business people and rural villagers. I am not telling you this to boast but to tell you I am well informed. At the right moments you can get members of the inner circle off message and they are as concerned as I am about the direction that Fiji is moving.

The most hated man in Fiji is Khaiyum and he is hated by most of the Inner Circle. They are concerned in the direction he is taking Fiji. Bainimarama may be PM the policy maker is Khaiyum. Khaiyum has the power and it was he who got Driti and Mara removed from the military. They went up against him and they lost. But be aware there are many others who are just waiting for half a chance to remove him.

You will probably mock me and say I am spreading disinformation like C4.5 but this is the reality of Fiji. I grew up with these people or at least their parents. Fiji is a very small place and everybody has an amazing capacity to get on but what I have written here is true or at least based on good information.

If you want me to write up my view on the way forward I am happy to do so but it starts with what happens when the regime has gone and how we get back to normalcy as quickly as possible. Fiji cannot move forward under Bainimarama.




QED said…
Essentially correct in most respects. The template for governance in Fiji is 'busted'. The entire enterprise needs to be recast with a brand new set of leaders, educated, street-wise and who, above all, are worldy-wise and understand macro and micro economics: not just theory but in practical terms. Racism is bad economics: so an espousal of the opposite is mere lip-service. Outcomes are what matter: growth and jobs into a forseeable future. Do we want to look like Spain? One in four now out-of-work. And Casinos will not solve this situation. Not in the least.

Are we suggesting paragons of leadership who do not exist? Quite likely. But we must understand the realities. We must discard the continual lying and the mendaciousness of all who surround us. Their mendacity stems from their continued overdraft of public money to support their 'beyond the pale' policies. Policy does not fit the bill because the modus operandi is essentially arbitrary and plucked out of the air. No testing, no coherence and no results.

The once gracious land we called home is being torn up and shredded, uglier by the day because ill-suited (sic) persons are calling all the shots. QED
Oversimplification Plus or Minus said…
@ Croz

It is overly simplistic to say that a + or a - sign should apply to the scenario now. It is far too complex and recent revelations make certain that the way forward must reflect and incorporate this complexity in checks and balances at every level of any Way Forward. The Constitutional Commission and its constituent parties will be aware and mindful of this. They have sufficient experience of life at every level not just in Fiji but in a variety of very challenged countries where terrible crimes have taken place. Not to say that they have not also taken place in this country also over a protracted period of years. But they are not as 'spectacular' as elsewhere and have been largely ignored or are yet unknown.
Paula said…
Fiji is in a very difficult spot and it will take a lot to establish a democratic society. Let us assume that Bainimarama makes up his mind and decides to stand in the 2014 elections. He has to form some kind of party, which would have to have a senior leadership recruited mostly from the ranks of the military, perhaps with a few of his inner circle civilian supporters. Let us further assume, that the elections will be free and fair with credibility achieved through international election monitors. The party program would have to be aligned with Bainimarama’s reasons for his 2006 coup: no corruption, no racial discrimination, no dirty politics. It is very unlikely that by 2014 the Fijian economy has improved significantly. The latest data on direct foreign investment and on the sugar sector are not encouraging. The controversy over projects such as the casino, mining in the highlands and the Waila city will not go away, investors will continue to rate Fiji’s sovereign risk as very high. In other words, the economy stupid will not play along. At present, only the tourism sector is doing reasonably well, but this sector is also the most vulnerable to and is exposed to a variety of risks including a global economic slowdown, weather, disease and political instability. In a nutshell, there is a high probability that projections of ADB and World Bank will come true and Fiji’s economy will lag significantly behind its neighbours. There will be a large number of disgruntled young people with no chance of a job.
It is generally accepted that an incumbent PM can try to please the electorate with populist measures such as price controls and hand outs, but these things are un-sustainable and cost a lot of money, the regime simply does not have. Assuming further that the regime will have to let some opposition such as FLP and SDL stand, their campaign would mostly point out that economically things were not so bad before the 2006 take over. Their claim will be supported by the figures of ADB etc. Even if not allowed to contest an election Chaudary and Qarase still have the ability and capacity to offer a perspective for economic recovery. So the FB Party will have to hammer the race and corruption issue. Assuming that for an election to be credible, opponents of the incumbent would have to be allowed to question his actions in the past, what would they say? Most probably things like ‘PM you always talk about transparency, but you still have not disclosed how much you pay yourself and how? And what about a race free society that regulates entry to local entertainment facilities along the lines of ethnicity and nationality? And what about your claim, PM that no soldier would benefit from the 2006 coup? And what about the role of the military in the new Fiji? Will they stop interfering in politics? The list of embarrassing questions is potentially a very long one. In a nutshell, the outcome of a free and fair election is by no means clear.
The alternative scenario is rigging the election. To do this, without the whole world knowing would, however, be rather difficult. The prospect of FB losing is a real one. So we need some sort of immunity for FB and his men, possibly enshrined in the new constitution, which will be developed before the election and not by an elected government. Even with such immunity in place, there would be no total guarantee for FB and his regime. Which brings us back to the question of what the military would do, should an elected government decide to go after the perpetrators of a coup. There it is, the big elephant in the room that nobody seems to willing to talk about in the constitution process. Fiji’s future hinges on nothing more but the role the military is willing to accept in a future society.
Racist agit-prop on social networking? said…
@ Paula

Fiji's 'very difficult spot' was demonstrated quite clearly this week with a saddening episode related to the coming Miss World contest.

While our own view is that such contests are now outmoded anachronisms in the modern world where gender equity and equality should be promoted, it is surely more than regrettable that the entire world may now see and read through a variety of media 'Fiji Racism' running full throttle?

The female lawyer allegedly in the midst of this outburst is, we are given to understand, the former Hon Secretary of the Royal Commonwealth Society of Fiji. An organisation of some standing and good repute in which we take some interest. Her position goes back to 2007. So it may by now be considered to have expired? It will most definitely never be renewed as long as our direct interest in the RCS of Fiji continues. We would expect anyone holding an honorary position by nomination and election to uphold the principles upon which the Commonwealth of Nations was founded as an institution. The Head of the Commonwealth is Her Majesty The Queen. Racism, racist agit-prop by social networking does not fall within the remit of the Royal Commonwealth Society in any one of 53 member countries. Indeed, it is expressly prohibited.

This is a demonstration, not of wilful ignorance (the lawyer is admitted to the Fiji Bar), it is tantamount to a criminal offence under the Crimes Decree #44 of 2009This person may yet be found to be 'aiding and abetting' a crime of racial hatred by conspiring with others?

We would suggest that the Fiji Police Cyber-crime Unit take a closer look at what has been said on Facebook and consider carefully their response. They should note the letter in today's Sunday SUN newspaper on page 9 by one Rakesh Chandra of Nasinu. Our call for investigation will be lodged directly with the Fiji Police today. We do not 'do' social networking and have not read the posting ourselves.

Crimestoppers Fiji takes a close interest in cyber crime. We have twice attended conferences in Australia which have also taken a serious approach. Let us be completely transparent!
For Fiji said…
The coup is the worse of the two evils, but the reality is that it happened, and we have to move on, and hope for the best in elections in 2014. Qarase made unforgivable errors (just as Chaudhry did in 1999) and both do not deserve to govern (if they return, we deserve the people we elect).

Qarase, as a hardened ultra-nationalist, surrounded himself with like people - birds of a feather.... Takiveikata was, but one, plotted the mutiny because he was left out of the power equation. Callously and deviously used young soldiers and his vanua. How much longer are the likes of Guy going to turn a blind eye to people like Taliveikata, who are the real problem in society?

Don't insinuate Indians are to blame; some Fijians are their people's own worst enemy.

Qarase Govt was woking on one discriminatory Bill after another, when there really was no need to. Not satisfied that Indians were leaving the country in droves and were no longer a political threat, the Qarase mob seemed bent on oppressing, humiliating (famous Indians like weeds comment) and pushing the Indians out to sea. Fijians should, of course, be first among equals, but the core problem is greed, hatred racism, selfishness among leaders while pretending to work for common Fijians and proclaiming Christianity - examples abound.

I repeat - the indians are a spent force. their numbers will continue to decline. This demographic rend was evident long before the 1987, but misrepresented by politicians and media. The country is in Fijian hands. Stop demonising Indians, they are leaving and will continue to leave. There will never be another Indian PM. Full stop.

Qarase mob continue to demonise Indians in the hope of upheaval because the longer Bainimarama is in power, the lesser their chances of retaining govt. Mere samisoni has been charged for plotting to burn suva. What for? who will benefit? Ordinary Fijians? Or Qarase mafia?

The country is better of having elections in 2014 than an uprising today. all efforts should be directed towards supporting elections 2014, which is he best way out for the country rather than bleating on and on about the corrupt, racist Qarase regime whose arrogance combined with stupidity is partly responsible for our problems.

If only Qarase had been a better leader for all his subjects, things would have been better; a united Fiji would have stood against the coup. Problems arise when as PM you have one eye on the country and one eye on how you can remain in power in perpetuity and use your position to improve your financial stock by meddling with shares in Fijian Holdings. There were just too many sharks in powerful positions who stod profit by exploiting racial divide - I do not have to go into the details - its all there on the record.
Guy Threllfell said…
I am confused by your comments.

1- You keep associating me with Qarase when I have said nothing in his support. I share one thing in common with him and that is that Bainimarama should not be leading Fiji.
2- I am not sure where I have insinuated the Indians are to blame. I do not think Indians are to blame. However there is a perception amongst many that Indians are heavily involved in this dictatorship and that is because Khaiyum is seen to be driving the policies of this dictatorship.

If I thought the elections in 2014 will be free and fair I would support them wholeheartedly. However, I believe we will have the government that this regime wants. I believe Bainimarama will be installed as President before the elections in 2014. The military all know they are vulnerable to court action the moment they are not in control. It does not matter what sort of immunities have been granted because they can all be overthrown in court. That’s why the military will never give up power willingly.
Anonymous said…
How I hate the perception game. There is a perception that the Indians are behind the dictatorship? Come on. There are many who are outspoken opponents of the government. The more times you repeat a false perception, do you change the truth? Is Khaiyum driving the policies or is his role to ensure implementation? Enough racism Mr ' Guy'. Racism is in the hidden message in your comment. The image portrayed? That Indians are the manipulators, the clever and scheming mynah birds behind the inept Indigenous Fijian.

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