On Election Candidates by Masi

In an earlier article "Leadership and Ratu Sukuna" (click here) Masi considered leadership qualities. In this article he asks about leadership in the forthcoming 2014 elections.

The Government has ‘opened up the national floor’ for discussion and debate on a new Constitution for Fiji, preparatory to national elections in 2014. And who do we read about in the media, or see on ‘Fiji One’ discussing these matters?"Why, only an aged cohort of politicians and speakers: Qarase, Beddoes, Chaudhary, Yabaki, Rae, and even Bainimarama? All of them past the 60-years milestone.When hearing them speak now or reading what they have said, all of us roll our eyes and ask the rhetorical, “Not them again.  Why don’t they give up?”

Ask yourselves: ‘Why not them ‘again’? Why should they give up? Answer: They are there ‘again’ and not ‘giving up’ because no-one else is standing up. Look around us. Our Fiji National University and the University of Fiji are bulging at the seams with students – the cream of our nation’s crop. These two institutions, and the regional USP, offer courses in governance, transparency, law, justice, politics, many of which are fully subscribed. USP has been offering such courses for more than thirty years. Yet where are the national speakers younger than 50 years of age who stand up to speak on governance, nationhood, tolerance, human rights, community well-being, justice, equality?

What is the use of learning about these things, and excelling in exams and assignments on those topics, if for the rest of their lives former students place what they learned into a closed book? So often we hear the expression “Walk the Talk”. Yes – why don’t we? We find it far too easy to lay ‘blame’ for what ‘is going (or went) wrong’ at the hands of the Government, of the over-60s politicians, of the chiefs. Isn’t it time we look at ourselves?

In every conversation I’ve had on Fiji’s future since the lifting of the PER and the invitation to discuss the new Constitution, my colleagues have always shaken their heads and made remarks that collectively say this: “We don’t want to have them here again. Look what they did to us [Fiji] the last time they were in charge!” How true.

 Pasted to my work desk is a quotation which reads:What frightens me is not oppression by the wicked; it is the indifference of the good.” Believing it was a Martin Luther King Jr quotation I looked it up in Google. It isn’t. Yet from among the recorded statements of that great leader, I selected two that are its close neighbours: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” and “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

 Where will Fiji be in three years’ time? When the last vote is counted in two-and-a-bit years’ time, can you think of anyone else who’ll be there? Anyone younger than, say, 55 years of age? Will it be just the same as it has been for the past thirty years? Or will this Pacific country of Fiji, that has so much to offer in its people and its beauty, be led by

Maybe would-be candidates hold back from putting their name forward because each believes that (a) they are not ‘good enough’, or (b) they do not ‘have permission’ (from a chief) to do so, or (c) simply believe that what the well known people in Fiji are already offering is leadership. Ah me.

Within one week of the electoral rolls opening in Papua New Guinea for that nation’s June 2012 elections, more than 4,000 individuals had put up their hands as candidates [source: Radio National, Australia]. For its population of 6.5 million, that works out at 1,625 candidates per million people (all ages). So if we extrapolate that to Fiji’s population of, say, 830,000, we could have 1,349 candidates from which to choose – all shapes and sizes, persuasions, skills, beliefs and abilities. We would begin with what we have and be inspired by the diverse patterns that emerge. Now wouldn’t something like that be lov-er-ly?


The banality of evil said…
How can the truly good be indifferent? There is an error in understanding here.

However, Hannah Arendt made the very true observation around the time of the World War Two horrors:

"The banality of Evil".

It was a warning to us all in the future. A timely piece of advice.

Yes, evil is often commonplace. It is evident at work always in the silence of so many through fear. This is not just sad: It is an outrage. You do not witness silence now in Syria? You listen to the screams of the recently bereaved and the relatives of the massacred. Banality is written all over the face of the Syrian Leader. His pointing and gesticulating index finger, his stubborn, curved thumbs are all signs of an evil-made-manifest. Those staring yet little-revealing blue eyes.

What does it take to face impunity full-on? Does it require immunity? Was Adolf Hitler to be given immunity? He was ultimately destroyed from within himself but millions perished first. Many of his associates killed themselves too. The rest were handled by The Nuremburg Tribunal and Europe spent more than two decades in recovery.
The lesson of the fearsome, thought-defying ...... said…
Some amplification of what was said by Hannah Arendt (1906 - 1975 American political philosopher)of Adolf Eichman, responsible for the administration of the Nazi concentration camps (Eichman in Jerusalem 1963 ch.15)

"It was as though in those last minutes he was summing up the lessons that this long course in human wickedness had taught us - the lesson of the fearsome (NB the use of 'fearsome'), word and thought-defying banality of evil."

"Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core".

"Under conditions of tyranny it is far easier to act than to think" A Certain World 1970)

Take your pick. But evil must be confronted. The determination of what is and what is not evil and also criminal demands judgement through testing of the evidence. Lies are the greatest test. Therefore, perjury must always be one of the signal evils of our time. Lying in a court of justice in front of a judge and witnesses, thus peverting the course of justice, must never be permitted to succumb to impunity. Perjurors require punishment - always. They are never to be seen to be permitted immunity from prosecution. The maximum penalty is now seven years in prison.
Financing candidates from taxpayer funds? said…
Shall we have a box to tick on perjury when candidates for election are assessed?

How shall we assess the financial standing of potential candidates? It cost around an average of $25,000 up for candidates standing in an average-sized constituency back in 2006. Some, known to us now, put up around $200,000 to ensure success.

After six - seven years of imposed austerity, who will be able to afford this from their own sources of finance? Will they seek financing from others? If so, whom? How may we be assured that they do not lie about their source of finance?

All this has to be handled and handled well. How much time do we have to ensure that it is? How much time to grow an economy which may sustain electoral candidates through the process?

The world economy does not augur well. So how shall the local economy? No wonder the young are shying away. Politics is a costly and deadly under-taking especially now. Leaving the coast clear is not an option either. Perhaps the State will find it necessary to finance all candidates? Taxpayers' money will have to be found. What do the taxpayers' have to say about that?

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