News and Comments Thursday 18 April 2013

Poker: upping the ante
UFDF UPS THE ANTE** A high powered group of former politicians from the United Front for a Democratic Fiji met in Sigatoka village yesterday to speak against the Government's draft constitution. They said they were invited. The village head said they were given permission but not invited.

While there, they launched a petition calling for a return to the Ghai draft constitution. Nation-wide, they hope to collect 300,000 signatures. And separately, Mahendra Chaudhry,  a leading member of the UFDF,  is calling for a referendum.

The objective of these rear-guard actions is clear.: to undermine confidence in the Government's constitutional and electoral processes among Fijians and the international community in the forlorn hope that they will somehow be returned to power.

The strategy is not new.  One or another, or all at different times,  of the groups represented in the UFDF has opposed the Bainimarama Government every step of the way.

All opposed the coup. The SDL most vocally; Chaudhry's FLP rather more quietly. The high chiefs and the SDL opposed the People's Charter, Chaudhry, having then left (or having been dismissed from) the Bainimarama Government opposed the Roadmap. When Qarase's appeal that the coup was illegal under the 1997 Constitution was upheld by the Court of Appeal, Government had a choice: abandon what it was trying to do and hand over power to those it had deposed, or abrogate the Constitution. It chose the latter.

With the constitution abrogated, the anti-bandwagon grew bigger, and with each of their actions a government reaction followed. Public Emergency Regulations (PER) were passed, media freedom was severely restricted, and a number of politicians, their supporters and prominent unionists were briefly detained by the police.

When the Constitution Commission was appointed Government opponents had a brief opportunity to seek a closer matching of their expectations with political realities. Instead, they denounced the Commission, and those appointed as Commissioners, even including Prof Ghai. They then played a game of hard to get. At first they said they would not be making submissions, later it was "Well, perhaps we will" and finally they all made submissions. They played the same game on whether or not they would participate in the Constituent Assembly until eventually the calling of the Assembly was abandoned.

When they heard on the coconut wireless that the Ghai draft expressly excluded some of the things wanted by Government, they did a cartwheel and then came out in full support of the Commission's draft, even though its recommendations were very, very different from what they wanted in their own submissions.

What brought about this change of heart?  I think what appealed to them most in the Ghai draft were the transition arrangements that could have allowed them to influence outcome before the 2104 election. Unfortunately for them, their very public support of Ghai and condemnation of the Government action overriding his draft and the announcement that it would prepare its own draft put an end to this possibility. There would be no transitional arrangements. The Bainimarama government would remain in power until the first parliament met after the elections.

This pushed Government opponents even more together, and even more into open conflict with Government. What is more, the lifting of PER and the relaxation of restrictions on the the media, and on meetings, movement and association,  provided them with new opportunities and, consistent with their earlier strategy, they have continued to oppose every Government action.

The formation of the UFDF and its latest move to launch a petition  has upped the ante, and increased the risk of a return to government clamp downs.  The UFDF does not say what it wants for Fiji.  It cannot, because each faction wants very different things. All it can say is what it does not want, and this is never a strong base from which to move forward. There must be better ways of promoting s more inclusive democracy that banging one's head against a brick wall.

Meanwhile, PNG has offered $40m to help run the elections, the EU and NZ have also offered assistance and several chiefs, most notably the Tui Macuata,  have called on the people to support the Bainimarama Government.  See also the next item.

** A gambling term. If you up the ante, you increase the stakes (the money on the table) and you also increase the risk of losing it all.

DRAFT WILL END THE RACE-BASED SYSTEM. The mata ni tikina of Nailaga in Ba, Jeremaia Tuwai, says it is time to move away from the race-based system and the playing the race card in the country. While speaking in Lautoka at a draft constitution consultation session last week, Tuwai said that for too long they have been misled by people.

He said the people of Nailaga commend the draft constitution and firmly believe that this is by far the best draft constitution written. Tuwai said the i-taukei people for long have been followers and have been misled but things will change now.

The reaction of Dr Tupeni baba of the UFDF to Tuwai's statement is interesting.  He dismissed it, saying there are no substantive comments and if someone has to talk from Ba, it has to be Tuwai’s chief, Adi Laite Koroirau.

So a tikina (district) within a province is not entitled to an opinion unless it has the support of a higher chief?  If this sort of attitude also applies (as I think it does) to the collection of iTaukei signatures for the UFDF petition, is Tupeni saying that ordinary iTaukei should sign or not sign according to the command of their chiefs?  And if so, what does this say about the sort of democracy he wants for Fiji?

LESSENING THE LIKELIHOOD OF FUTURE COUPS. Asked whether the draft constitution will prevent future coups, the A-G said the draft constitution proposes making the PM also the Commander in Chief of the RFMF, and this should lessen the possibility of future coups.

McCULLY'S YES AND NO on Fiji's "progress."


FIJI-PNG RELATIONS. Trade increasing, and PNG is inviting Fiji investment.  The PM is currently on  a state visit to PNG.


Joe said…
Croz, this is a "cut & paste" from Nirmal Singh's FB, which sums it up pretty well:

"The opposition parties have got together to “eat” their common enemy, Frank, and once they finish with him they will “eat” each other – further eroding peoples trust and confidence in democracy and its values. There will be no sustainable democracy in this country if we continue to have these leaders around us. It’s time for them to hand over the baton of leadership to younger generation and disappear in political wilderness."
Say no to dictators said…
Is it not for the people of Fiji to decide who they want as leaders, not Joe, Croz or any other junta groupies, paid spin doctors, or thugs with guns? And for the people to do this (as is their right) elections must be free and fair and not under the gun by treasonous military thugs and in an environment of threats and intimidation?
As for immunity for those who have committed treason and horrendous human rights abuses (including murder and torture) - rubbish.
Joe said…
They are still at it. Getting 5000 legit signatures was a big ask a month ago, and now, they are confident of getting 300,000 signatures in a short span of time. Thats just about a touch more than 50% of registered voters. It really is a joke isnt it? I wonder if they will publicise these signatures for verification. Will there be an EVR identification number next to each signature?

If they are so confident of getting 300,000 signatures in such a short span of time, it effectively means that they have already won the 2014 election. So, the big question is, why dont you run for the election? What are you scared of?
Joe said…
Yes you are absolutely correct in saying that it is for the people of Fiji to decide, and they will. As for the immunity provision, it has been in existence since 1990, and it is here to stay, whether you like it or not. The election will surely be free and fair, and under the 2013 constitution. There wont be armed soldiers at polling booths, place the tick next to the name of the candidate of your choice freely.
Anonymous said…
Do Qorvis actually pay you for this total bullshyte?
Anonymous said…
Why is it when people put their opinions forward and they are in favour of the current regime, someone like you think they are being paid by Qorvis? How about arguing against it with facts to convince people rather than "cheap shots".
Joe said…
It is called "vacuum". If I was them, I would be asking LQ about stealing iTaukei land in Momi, and MC about accepting a lower bid of $68M vs $110M from a US company in the mahoganygate, at these UFDF meetings. These crooks have actually stolen from their own people and blamed someone else for it. The 2013 constitution does not suit these people because of transparency and accountability being incorporated in it. The Ghai draft and 1997 cons is like a "blank cheque" for them.
Ha Ha Ha said…
@ Joe
Are you Mrs Croz from Horowhenua or is the old facist fool just talking to himself?
Joe said…
Isa, dont have facts? I actually feel sorry for the state of mind you are in.
Anonymous said…
What about the lies, deception and fear spread by the politicians. I am all for democracy and elections but the lying and fear mongering has to stop. For too long the politicians have stoked this fear for their personal benefits. Native land is the big example; we need Singapore style media laws......
Joe said…
Beddoes is attacking MSG now. Nothing better to do for your own country dickhead? An opposition leader in any country is an alternative PM. You were there by default Mickey mouse. You dont even have the credentials to be in parliament, let alone opposition leader. Is there any other solution to move the country forward other than carrying on about Ghai draft and 1997 constitution? We live in a time known as 2013 Micky my boy, and its time for you to retire gracefully.
John F said…
Beddoes is a fat loser. He will never get his snout in the trough again.
Mark said…
> You dont even have the credentials to be in parliament, let alone opposition leader.

To say nothing of Beddoes' extensive contribution to this nation in various capacities over 50yrs of service, there is one credential that matters above all else in parliament: the vote of his constituents.

And you? Either show us what you have contributed to Fiji or scurry back to the shithole you came from. And stay there.
taxman said…
Hmmm, how can I attack this fallah Beddoes? I can't attack his position and his ideas so ummm.... oh I know.... I'll call him names like we used to do in kindergarten. That was always very effective.

BTW John, you must be excited that the school holidays are coming soon... two weeks of fun for you and your classmates.
Joe said…
Who are you trying to lecture on the old electoral system. Any kailoma can win that seat of Beddoes. Who cares what he has done in the past, the big question is, what is he up to now? Attacking MSG to masipolo Aus & NZ. What I have contributed to the country is personal. May be if you pulled your nose out of Beddoes' rear and support the current govt to move Fiji forward, you have done your good deed for Fiji.
Anonymous said…
Still sniffing? cant answer Joe? Bloody no hoper !!!! Lai vei vutu mada kei beddoes

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