Tupeni Baba's Racist Views on Indo-Fijians


The incredibly confused and racist views of  Tupeni Baba, former Professor of Education at USP,  former Deputy PM under Chaudhry in the FLP-led Government, founder of the New Labour Party in opposition to Chaudhry, currently a member of the SDL party, who is still looking for a political home.   In this email to political friends he tells us what he thinks of Indo-Fijians.  It provides a good example of how a person's perceptions are distorted by their prejudices. 

"Let me just comment briefly on the Indo Fijian situation For them politics is life, it is the only way forward apart from education.They will mortgage their farms and pay for the fees of their children but politics is the leverage through which they can access all the other conditions they cannot access otherwise.

"As a  group that are already been broken up by colonisation and when they came through the 'Girmit' they crossed the 'kala pani' or muddy water(ocean) which means that all their cultural and caste identities have been  stripped off them.They are therefore no longer constrained by any 'vakavanua system' and it works both ways for them.Their suicide rate is very high but one ting  is clear, they know they cannot rely on anybody and they will try anything that works for them.

"This is why come elections, they will band together make up any of their differences because they know, its the one continuing hope for them.

"In Fiji today, their Parties are divided. FLP is badly broken, all the Leaders except Mahen Chaudhary and his sons are with the father.Kris Datt has finally decided to break out and is the process of  forming  a Party. He is 'testing the waters' and trying hard to attract others who had been disillusioned with the old FLP like Poseci,Atu Bain and others.They are trying to get me back but that is no longer possible. KDatt is also looking to us to take him in, but we should not at this stage, do anything. Let him stew in his pot a little while!

"The trade union wing of FLP (Felix and co) is looking another way.They prefer to keep the 'FLP brand' but the question now is who is going to tie the bell on the neck of the Cat(Mahen Chaudhary)?They are scheming MC's downfall and once that is done, they will resuscitate the FLP.When that is done,'all hands will be on deck' including KDatt,Poseci, Mahen's friends and all the crowd and survivors of the Titanic ship.The Party can be revived within a month with resources from overseas as well as  brain work from overseas.

"The appearance of division and chaos at the moment belies the plotting and the planning and of course the scheming  that is going on.Mr Jai Ram Reddy recently visited them. He would have advised them what strategy to take and when Mahen is 'handcuffed'  by the Court and prevented from participating,the rebuilding of the Party will start and that will be the call for 'all hands on deck' 

"At that point, everything and everybody will be 'brothers and sisters' again' and that can take no more than a month.They do not need to 'take the tabua' around to call everybody back. Every body knows the drill....

"The script is already written, right down to the catch cry; it is in the Holy Book-the Gita.When the catch cries are heard such as: 'We must do our duty' or 'It is in our Karma' so we must do it for our future....!When you hear this, you know they are ready...

"What about us, are we ready?

"Sa dri yani!
Tupeni"

Comments

Gutter Press said…
Crosbie, I trust that you’ve verified that this (presumably electronic) message is complete, unaltered and is from Dr Baba – not someone who purports to be him.

If you haven’t, then I suggest that you carry out the necessary checks. If you’re able to confirm the veracity of the message and its origin it would be helpful if you would then elaborate why you find Dr Baba’s comments ‘incredibly confused and racist’.
Confused racist said…
Sad to read this from Tupeni, once a strong, steadfast, fair-minded person who stared down both Rabuka and Speight. Tupeni feels, perhaps rightly so, hard-done by the FLP and mahen, and is lashing out at all Indians. It is unfortunate he is rubbishing genuine efforts to revitalise FLP into a truly multiracial party after is was destroyed by Mahen.

It is unbelievable how he is playing down the divisions in the indians community and political scene. It is truly daft coming from an academic. With this kind of simplistic and prejudicial analysis, one really has to question the quality of academics in Fiji, even long-serving ones.

The worst thing is that Indians are a spent force politically but people like Tupen continue to have a go at them, and will not be be satisfied until they pushed out to sea. All manner of ills are blamed on Indians. Fijian community needs to seriously ask why they have highest crime and jail population, and lagging in education, despite owning all resources and holding the levers of power and dominating civil service since independence.

Is it the failure of parents, chiefs, their politicians, church? Or are Indians to blame? Indians are a convenient scapegoat. But the problem with scapegoats is that you never get to the root of the problem, let alone tackle it. Hence the problem is never solved.

Once Tupeni was an ardent critic of the elite Fijians with snouts in the trough who were responsible for their community's lack of progress but now as an SDL membership card holder he has become part of the eilte and defender of the elite.
Anonymous said…
Gutter Press:
Judging from the tone of your comment it is implicit that even if verified you will still consider Baba's statement not to be confused and racist. May I throw the ball in your court and ask why you consider it to be not the case?
Croz Walsh said…
@ Gutter Press ... I have checked. It is authentic.
Gutter Press said…
Anonymous, I'll wait until Crosbie takes the time to verify (hopefully from Dr Baba) that the statement is indeed Dr Baba's before I comment further.

If he does, then I'll be happy to elaborate. Until then, there's not much point.
Anonymous said…
Remember 1987 after the Rabuka coup when iTaukei from the West of Viti Levu, those who had lived peacefully alongside indo-Fijians and knew them best, protested that they were going to separate fron the East and form their own government in the West? Remember Rotumans calling for a complete separation from Fiji? Could these calls to break away be a harbinger of future events once there are no scapegoats? Will we become another Rawanda, or Somalia, or Zimbabye who blamed all their problems on Whites?
Saraswati said…
Blessed are the children whose parents will mortgage their farms to pay for their education.
Gutter Press said…
Anonymous, Crosbie says it’s authentic - although I still have my doubts, which I’ll elaborate on shortly.

However contrary to your assertion that I don’t consider the comments racist, you might be surprised to learn that I do. Numerous phrases such as ‘as a group’ and ‘all their cultural and caste identities’ and ‘they know they cannot rely on anybody’ etc are clearly stereotypical and therefore mildly racist in nature.

The idea that ‘everybody [ie Indians] will be brothers and sisters again’ is a confused fallacy since it’s obvious that deep political schisms have existed in the Indo Fijian community for many years. The poor showing of the NFP in the 1999 elections was a historical blip that was more to do with the vagaries of second choices in the proportional representation system, than Indians voting en masse for Labour.

However, I still believe that the comments in the article are not those of Dr Baba, for precisely the reasons given by ‘Confused Racist’: “Tupeni, once a strong, steadfast, fair-minded person who stared down both Rabuka and Speight” and “It is truly daft coming from an academic” and “Tupeni was an ardent critic of the elite Fijians with snouts in the trough who were responsible for their community's lack of progress”.

It’s true that people, especially politicians, change but this is a sea change in ideals from a man who is held in high regard.

Finally, the other reason that I’m not convinced these words were written by Dr Baba is the appalling tone and confused, rambling thought process. English might be Dr Baba’s second language, but he’s a skilled politician, a University Professor of Education and someone who is fully aware that when he writes, his words and thoughts are immediately part of the public realm. As such I believe when making his private thoughts known he would have been far more circumspect than the article portrays.

The only other possible alternative that I can think of is that if, indeed, these are his words then, as an older person, he might showing the first signs of dementia. If so, then bearing in mind that’s an illness that could strike any of us, he would deserve our sympathy.

Given Dr Baba’s pedigree in politics, academia and society, I would expect Crosbie to have made a full enquiry to eliminate the possibility of the last alternative before publishing his criticism of Dr Baba.

Nevertheless, in a slightly different vein, if it’s possible for Crosbie (or anyone) to think that a once well regarded academic could change so much for the worse, why is it impossible for them to think that Qarase and Chaudary would likewise be unable to change - but for the better?
Who Opened the Zoo said…
I also have some doubts. The remarkable lack of erudition would suggest that the writer is not a professor of education. Secondly, I find it difficult to believe that Mr. Baba would write an email to his "political friends" when it is quite unnecessary. Aren't these "political friends", presumably including SDL members, most likely already committed in their dislike for Indians? So what political benefits would he obtain by preaching to the choir?

But then, Mr. Baba, like Mahen and Qarase, is just another two-timing politician who might just be contemplating a new race-based party separate from the SDL now that the SDL boss is courting Baba's nemesis, Mahen.
Anonymous said…
Blessed are the children whose parents pour money in churches and not in schools. Their blessing - don't sweat wait for Govt assistance - have more free time, criticizing and condemncing Indo-Fijians and blaming them for their poverty. Tupeni Baba is a disgrace, a person who ran with the hounds, preached multiracialism, blamed the chiefs and indigenous elites and when grounded, high and dry, he is now attempting the very group that he criticised and condemned. He is a desperate man, hoping that the SDL hyenas would rescue him. Failed academic, failed politician and now a confirmed racist!
Anonymous said…
When I first met Tupeni,I could see his darker side and I said to my friends that he was no friend of my people.and we
all should watch him.
His articles points out to the Machiavellian mischief by planting of divisional politics of mistrust not only amongst Indians but also of planting politics of fear in the Taukie community.
Anonymous said…
Well put Dr Baba, I am are Kai Viti since I was born in Fiji I shall always call myself that I am of Indian ancestry, I can clearly see your point as others might not, I have met you as a boy during the 87 elections a few times after when you drove my dad and I from Lautoka to Suva, on that particular I learnt a lot from you about your views and the one point I did get very vividly is you call how you see it...I don't think you have any hatred in your blood I know you're not a racists and i know that you are a great man...you have always taken the fight to your opponents and in every case you change your stance to better combat your opponents for the greater good.

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