With Malicious Intent

Ro Teimumu Kepa’s recent epistolary outburst simply demonstrates to the wider public about the real state of race and politics at the very highest levels of itaukei leadership in Fiji. It further underscores the very short distance that she and her coterie have travelled intellectually and ethically in spite of all that has happened since that fateful day in May 1987. Some readers have taken umbrage at Professor Crosbie Walsh’s careful exegesis of Ro Teimumu's  letter on this blog, not over questions of interpretation but on a false moral equivalency, that somehow criticizing the Chiefly council is equivalent to endorsing the current government in toto. 

I  think that Croz’s incremental approach to deformalizing the GCC while understandable is nonetheless too timorous within the context of the political situation in Fiji. Be that as it may, the issues that Croz raises in his analysis of Ro Teimumu’s letter as well as those by Graham Davis are worthy of an extended and robust argument on this site as well as all others that believe in a better future for Fiji.

Her letter followed an earlier diatribe in November 2011 concerning civil servants makes no contribution to policy, law, economics, theology, international relations, nor does the author exhibit any political knowledge or cultural understanding. A lack of expertise in any of these areas does not preclude one from mutual discourse, or none of us would be here, but for crying out loud, shouldn’t we demand that individuals who publicly engage in politics like Ro Teimumu have some awareness of statecraft?

But that is precisely the reason why there is such a vociferous backlash from the elite itaukei class she represents. They don’t have to know anything about statecraft or the tedious work of nation-building, or how the global economy works, or the long-term effects of labor mobility, or comparative advantage, or government financing, or monetary policy, or investing in human capital, or human rights, or democratic accountability, or religious pluralism, or separation of powers, or all the minutiae of governance and public administration. The chiefly class simply through the privilege of birth feel entitled to rule in perpetuity over the lives of people they have neither the interest to know or really give a damn about.

This may seem harsh, but let us pause for a second and consider what has been intimated by Ms. Kepa in her dissimulated missive. What kind of person who unambiguously proclaims about the verities of her faith threaten calamity on a largely poor, fairly defenseless minority group in a letter to the Prime Minister of the Country? How is it possible that the great defenders of multiculturalism like Mr. Madraiwiwi have not publicly repudiated such an appalling declaration by one of their own?

The deafening silence once again reveals to the embattled minority community that the elite itaukei leadership will never relinquish the politics of exclusion and irredentism as long as it serves their goal of maintaining political and financial control. The Methodist Church by virtue of its charter could be expected to speak up for the marginalized and the defenseless, but here in Fiji, it acts as a legitimizing agent for the racists and the intolerant. The ignominious role that the Methodist Church has played in Fiji’s political troubles by giving cover to the worst elements will one day be written along with the opportunists, enablers and sycophants.

Both Croz and Graham have done a great public service in highlighting the fundamental struggle that is going on in Fiji as it moves towards an uncertain future. But the ghosts of the past will almost certainly cast a long and ominous shadow across whatever path Fiji takes, the greatest of which is the Council of Chiefs. Ro Teimumu's dispatch can either be understood as a final coda of a dying institution and a remembrance of things past, or for what it really is— a shot across the bow and a harbinger of things to come. For the sake of all people in Fiji, we should do what we can to make sure that it is not the latter.

Sudarsan Kant


Cin Cin said…
.@ sundarsan'......They don’t have to know anything about statecraft or the tedious work of nation-building, or how the global economy works, or the long-term effects of labor mobility, or comparative advantage, or government financing, or monetary policy, or investing in human capital, or human rights, or democratic accountability, or religious pluralism, or separation of powers, or all the minutiae of governance and public administration....'

Could you clariify here please - are you talking about the GCC or the present regime? I can't recall any members of the GCC claiming expertise in any of the above - I know, surely a lapse of humility on their part - but you have described the qualities of the regime very well.
Who will fight? said…
Well said but I'm surprised that no-one in public life in Fiji seems to have been prepared to criticise Ro Kepa. Is it because they don't want to give her comments credibility or are they fearful of become targets themselves? Or do they accept that the "calamity" dog whistle is inevitable and not worth addressing? There's no point in Croz or Davies running this stuff from outside the country. The campaign against stirring up racial sentiment has got to come from within. Perhaps it will if Ro Kepa does formally re-enter politics. It will be interesting to see how this can happen. If no-one can stand for one race in the next election, who else is going to support this woman? No non-indigenous person surely.
Blatant racist attack said…
This blatant racist attack on Fijians and their culture is an indictment on all indo-Fijians. Such attacks by Kant and other junta supporters such as him, will never be forgotten.
Racist intimidation said…
Blatant Racist attack? Yes, on Indo Fijians, not on i'taukei or what you call Fijians because you don't accept that anyone has a right to the title. I find the tone of the last posting deeply offensive. When you say something "will never be forgotten" it is an implicit threat. Croz, you should have blocked this. It is not freedom of speech, it is intimidation.
Sechi said…
@blatant racist attack
eh? Are wah?! Ro Teimumu is promising that the Indo-Fijians will be visited by a racial calamity if the GCC is not re installed, and Kant is the racist? Wake up and smell the coffee old boy.
Ram Sami said…
@ Blatant racist attack

Your comment is typical of those who do not have the intellectual capacity to enter into a logical argument about the views expressed, so conveniently raise the racial angle.

You forget it is a itaukei prime minister who has disbanded the Council of chiefs.I have not seen any large assembly or demonstration by itaukei protesting at this move. Presumably they are busy celebrating a more equitable distribution of the lease monies!!
My Oh My !! said…
To Blatant racist attack:
Did you and I read the same article? You see I'm not a very good reader, so I would appreciate your letting me know where in the article I might find the attack on Fijians and their culture?? Appreciate it also if you would let me know if Mr.Kant represents all indo-Fijians. You see I'm indo-Fijian but I never asked him to speak for me?? Much thanks.
Islands in the Stream said…
@ Blatant racist attack.....

No one ethnic community is singled out for racist attack in Fiji. All vulnerable, target groups are set up for it at one time or another. That is the nature of instability and it can lead on to acts of terror. That is precisely why our language must be measured and carefully considered at all times. The inculcation of fear through immoderate language to large audiences (the use of pulpits?)is a contributor towards an unstable internal climate. No matter from whence this language may come. It is far too easy for those situated outside Fiji to forget in their comfortable, insulated living-rooms how easily mis-construed their remarks may become in a pressure-cooker situation where innocent people may set-upon without warning. The attacks are politically-motivated, only infrequently opportunistic. So they qualify as acts of terror by any modern definition. They may be summoned up at will and with consummate ease. We all have a duty to be on guard against this at all times less the innocent suffer for our mistaken use of language. If we choose certain words (in English or a vernacular language or dialect) then we have an obligation to define and to explain our use of them, the context in which we make them and the outcomes we expect. There is no room or place for 'Woolly-Headedness' here. In twenty years or more, surely we have learned at least this?

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