It Takes Guts, But More than Guts is Needed
By Crosbie Walsh
Accused and convicted last year along with another three others for spraying political graffiti at several locations around Suva calling for violent action against the Bainimarama government, he faced up to the Attorney-General at a public consultation at Rishikul last week and asked very blunt and, at first glance, reasonable questions on immunity, the Ghai draft constitution and the elections.
Asked to elaborate by Coup 4.5, he said he cannot accept the Bainimarama Government because it is illegal. His focus seems to be on what he sees as infringements that limit political participation. He seems unconcerned about the positive things Government has done with which, in other circumstances, he may agree. He wants to believe in free and fair elections but doubts this is likely given the "hindrances placed placed by way of law on political parties." He wants broader participation in the political process, and questions Government's claim that it has nationwide support for its reforms, but then, curiously, he asks which "NGOs, religious groups and others" support Government.
This, of course, is the major obstacle to public participation, and indeed to democracy, in Fiji. Most of the people and organizations that speak out against Government represent the views of the old Fiji, with its racial divisions and personal agendas. Indeed, Jagath concedes as much in his statement to Coup 4.5:
"While they [the political parties] are struggling to bring out the truth [sic!] to the public due to the prevailing conditions in Fiji today and the obstacles placed upon political parties, they are finding it difficult to play their usual role [sic!] as political leaders" (my emphasis).
"What are our (sic!) leaders doing, he asks:
"We currently have the political leaders who are issuing statements every other day screaming for democracy, claiming the current administration is not legitimate while abiding to every single decree thrown at them which is clearly confusing the general public."
Here he is again. Back to his old graffiti days in 2011, calling for violence. He goes on to say he wants a "principled approach to address all the issues which you yourselves as traditional leaders are raising.." But it is unclear what the principles are.
All he calls for is a change of tactics: Stop playing the Government's game, he says. In calling for a referendum on the draft constitution (and possibly on the future prime minister) you are accepting the illegal government's process. And what happens if the public vote in support of government?
Aha! A possible win? So the Government must have some support."Aren’t we [the leaders] going to become a laughing stock? Most of all a scenario as such goes ahead with a referendum and any possible win by the current administration will make their whole process legitimate and firm as a rock."
But we should be grateful to him for exposing the total lack of direction by the old leadership other than returning things to how they were, as has been commented upon several times in this blog:
"As political leaders you need to change your game plan, come up with a road map for new Fiji, how are you going to remove the current administration and adapt your road map, how is it going to affect the people in Fiji as a whole, how are you planning to address their issues and most of all who are proposing as the next possible administration whether it is interim or otherwise. This is where you confuse the people and also show them that you do not have a plan A or B or C.
"If you are unable to come up with a road map for Fiji, then we as people of Fiji would accept the known devil than the unknown angel as the only leadership we can see with at least some plans. If you do not have a clear roadmap then how are you going to get the international community on your side as by the looks of things the only thing they care now is elections? They are eagerly waiting to the current administration to be legitimized to join hands openly and go on their usual business."
No wonder Coup 4.5 asked him to elaborate on the opinions he expressed to the Attorney-General — and no wonder the A-G dismissed them, prior warned by Jagath's behaviour of his deeper purposes. Forward to the past, by any means.