A Most Curious Letter: Ro Teimumu to "I Voqere", Part III

Recently breaking news is that during the floods ethnic Fijian villagers killed cattle belonging to their Indo-Fijian neighbours who could only stand by and watch. The video is in Hindi but the faces and tone tell all. 

Here is an opportunity to demonstrate the "reconciliating"(sic!) and "bridge-building" roles claimed by Ro Teimumu. Local and village chiefs could hand the culprits over to the police after they have been "traditionally" admonished.  She could also make a statement on behalf of the GCC. Thank you, FijiToday for bringing the incident to my attention.  

Far more extensive crimes, of course,  were committed by Tailevu villagers in the aftermath of Speight's 2000 Coup (see below) but then as now the Great Council of Chiefs and local chiefs did nothing. 

My claims of GCC and chiefly inaction are based on what is published or generally known. If they are doing more behind the scenes, my general argument stands but needs to be toned down.  My apologies to individual chiefs who are the exceptions.

In Part II we examine paragraphs 11 to 18 of Ro Teimumu's letter to the Prime Minister on the abolition of the Great Council of Chiefs.

In P11 Ro Teimumu claims that "Any calamity between the races in Fiji or even between indigenous Fijians themselves, can only be resolved with the involvement of the GCC."
Comment. This statement comes very close to being a threat. Government is being told to involve the GCC or face the consequences.

But the GCC had a dismal record during previous calamities. Most of its members were silent or backed the first Rabuka coup in 1987, and instead of joining other citizens in the period after the coup when things appeared to be returning to normal, they did nothing then or after the second coup in 1987. Nor did they raise their voices against the racist and discriminatory provisions in the 1990 constitution that restricted the positions of President, Vice-President, Prime Minister and almost all senior government posts to ethnic Fijians, provincialised Fijian electorates, penalised Western and urban iTaukei voters by making their votes of less value than Eastern and rural iTaukei voters, and —unsurprisingly— strengthened the GCC.

They did nothing to allay the fears of Indo-Fijian population who were emigrating in large numbers. They did nothing to deter the thugs who burnt businesses in central Suva during Speight's 2000 coup, and they  did nothing to stop villagers in Tailevu attacking Indo-Fijian farmers, many of whom fled and had to be accommodated in refugee camps in the West.

On no occasion, in 1987 and 2000,  did they condemn the overthrow of the democratically elected governments of Timoci Bavadra and Mahendra Chaudhry. At that time many said the democracy they now claim to favour, as their power base is threatened, was a foreign flower.

Their efforts at reconciliation on 25 May 2000, which promised an amnesty and addressed the plotters' concern that "the President and the Prime Minister, together with other (unspecified) senior government positions shall always be held by indigenous Fijians and Rotumans" was rejected by Speight.

So much for their influence,  And now, this font of "peace, stability and unity" is threatening to mediate  another, future,  calamity.

P12 Listing the GCC's "major decisions" will be considered separately tomorrow.

In P13 Ro Teimumu says that chiefs (she does not say the GCC!) have facilitated the "creation of economic and education democracy for indigenous Fijians" and "helped bridge the ethnic divide."
Comment. The only way I can interpret this claim is by assuming Ro Teimumu is referring to the schooling and business initiatives in her list of "major decisions" taken by the GCC (see Part IV tomorrow). She seems to think they gave iTaukei a sort of educational and business parity with other races which has helped race relations. And so they may in the longer term —but there have been  few signs to date.

Her remaining paragraphs repeat  her previous claims on the national importance of the GCC. If they are accepted, and I smile,  the GCC would continue to have more power than the British nobility and Ro Teimumu would be the "Queen" of Fiji.  P18, like P11, is a scarcely concealed threat.

P14. Bainimararma's path is "only meaningful if it involved the GCC" and is "firmly backed up with the respect for the rule of law."

P15. "The destiny of our beloved Fiji can only be meaningful with the involvement of the GCC and the leaders of the other races."

P16. Quotes her late sister Lady Litia Lalabalavu Mara, the wife of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, on the importanceof the GCC.

P17.The GCC and their role in society "lives forever in the hearts of the people who have the intentions needed for good governance of our nation."

P18. "Voreqe,  You have made a serious error."

(signed) Ro Teimumu Kepa

I have previously stated that in my opinion the GCC should not have been abolished, The decision should — and still can —rest with the forthcoming Constitution Assembly.  If the GCC confines its activities to its traditional role of advising governments on ethnic Fijian matters and resolving vanua issues, it can still play an important part in the future of Fiji.

The abolition was a tactical error by Government that has provided fresh ammunition to anti-Government elements. But if those elements read Ro Teimumu's letter carefully, they will see there is little in it for ordinary Fijians. The letter is about chiefly power and privilege and a right to interfere in all processes affecting the nation, a role normally confined to governments.

My final comments on Ro Teimumu's"curious letter" will be published tomorrow, Thursday.

Comments

FDN said…
Croz,

If you must leap to the defence of the unelected and self-appointed Prime Minister of Fiji, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, at least spell his name correctly.

In three postings you have misspelt his first name as "Voqere".

Goodness gracious, Croz, you are in grave danger of making us coconuts look better educated than you.

And we simply couldn't have that, could we?

FDN
Finally! said…
Congratulations Croz. A devastating critique.These people must be defeated in their attempts to revive the racial bogey or no-one has a future in Fiji. The rewriting of history is incredible. Peace and Stability? All the chiefs have brought is privilege, division and incitement. I never thought I would see it but ordinary people are rebelling. This IS the last gasp of the old order.
We are all now said…
Croz
We are all now 'Fijians'? Why are you differentiating between Fijians and indo-Fijians with your racist comments? You and your 'other' Fijian junta supporters can't have it both ways.
seeker said…
Lets no forget Ro Teimumu visited George Speight during the 2000 coup as these images show , with other GCC members.

Find the video.
Anonymous said…
Croz please show this photo on your website. We may hear a little less about the "calamity- preventing" GCC and chiefs?
Anonymous said…
@seeker, and Croz would say in the same circumstances that VB met him as well , presumably with that logic he was also in collusion with speight?? This is apparently the 'melanesian/pacific way'. On one hand there is need to draw links to slag off opponents, on the other isn't this the pacific way of resolving issues? I am not sure it ever resolves anything but does create an opportunity for long-winded meaningless discussion where you are left with no idea who your friends or enemies are.
Guy Threlfell said…
@Seeker
Let's not forget the RFMF under the command of Bainiamarama continued to pay the CRW soldiers the whole time they were in parliament.

Let's not forget the RFMF under the command of Bainimarama sent rations to the CRW soldiers everyday they were in parliament

Let's not forget Bainimarama as commander of the RFMF recalled Ligairi from retirement to lead the CRW only 3 weeks before the coup in 2000. Liagairi led the CRW soldiers into parliament and commanded them for the duration of their hostage taking in Parliament.

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