Political Round Up Saturday 5 July

Voter education poster
  • Salaries - campaigns - manifestos - accusations of racism 
  • Land warning - wooing the elderly - new parties - corruption - after the elections 
  •  Latest political poll - political will to make things happen
The most interesting news of the week was the required declaration of the PM's salary, his assets and liabilities, and those of other FijiFirst officials. I will wait a little for reactions before writing anything myself, but already SODELPA general secretary Pio Tabaiwalu has said the declaration "needs some scrutiny" and Mahendra Chaudhry has claimed it was "substantially reduced" on what the PM was receiving in April 2010, but how he knew we do not know.  What we do know, however, is that MC's assets must be "substantial" if he could pay his recent fine of $2 million. He declared them as $3.2 million.  Not bad for a labour party leader.

FFP will start its election campaign in the coming week, though some would claim its started a long time ago with the PM not losing an opportunity to win votes in every classroom and telecentre opening speech.

SODELPA is also likely to make its manifesto public during the week, and that should redress some of the ethnic-leaning concerns Ro Teimumu expressed in her AGM speech at Lami last week..

She is, of course, correct, in saying it will be a long time before many people stop voting on ethnic lines but she could have set the ball rolling had she paid more attention to issues affecting all Fijians and not just Taukei. Hopefully, the SODELPA manifesto will provide detailed guidelines on what the party will do on unemployment and the cost of living if it is elected to government in September, and not limit itself to criticising the Bainimarama government on what it has and has not done. 

Another ethnic-related incident was the interpretation put on the PM's retort to NFP leader Dr Biman Prasad that if it wasn't for him you, an Indian, wouldn't be standing there (or something similar). Biman and others took this as evidence of underlying racism; I thought it a reasonable prediction of might have happened to Indo-Fijians had the previous government's policies not been halted by the 2006 Coup.

For my part, I see no racism in the Bainimarama government's policies. To the contrary, much good work has been done in the areas of education, common citizenship and the abolition of ethnic constituencies.  But I'm disappointed more has not been done to redress ethnic imbalances in the civil service, police and military.

In a related matter, the Citizen's Constitutional Forum issued a warning during the week that the controversial issue of Taukei land ownership and use should be calmly discussed by all concerned, and not be used to instill fear into Taukei landowners,

I thought the advice both wise and timely, but doubt those who have used the race-land cards in the past will listen.  However false and damaging to national unity the accusation of a government or Indian "land grab" may be, it wins votes among among the uneducated, and SODELPA  has no intention of losing their vote.

Both FFP and NFP wooed the elderly during the week. Government announced an increase in pensions from $30 to $50 a week early next year payable to those over 70 with no other income.  The NFP said it would restore the retirement age to 55 (from 60) and provide retirees who had been forced to retire earlier than they had wished with "appropriate compensation."

Two "new" parties hope to register soon: Jagath Karunaratne's United Freedom Party that had its initial attempt declined, and the previously registered One Fiji party. Jone Dakuvula wants the Court to reconsider its ruling on the deregistration of the party.

I am not sure whether the proliferation of small parties is a "good" thing for democracy in Fiji. Their chances of winning a seat is poor. They require at least 5% of total votes. The real contest will be between FFP and SODELPA, and their possible running mates. Voters should be informed by the smaller parties  which of  the bigger parties they would be prepared to support should they win a seat  in Parliament. Voters should also be aware that a  vote for the smaller parties could well be a vote thrown away.

The guilty verdict on former general manager of the NLTB (now)iTaukei Land Trust Board,  Kalivati Bakani, on five counts of abuse of office reminds us it will take some time to root out old cases of corruption.  He admitted to using extinct mataqali funds and government grants without the Board's approval to finance a private company.

The warning about what happens after the elections by Reserve Bank Deputy Governor, Arif Ali, was also timely.   He said a stable government was essential for the economy, and stability meant  that if a party other than FFP became government it should not reversing present government policies and incentives too soon because that would affect business confidence and investment.

The latest Fiji Sun/Razor Research poll (Week 19, 28 June) produced some surprises, and I'm unsure of the cause. They could represent the beginning of new trends, or simply be the result of a changed sample which seems the more likely reason given that those registered to vote flipped from 75% the previous week to 63%. I wonder if the pollsters ask those questioned whether they are old enough to vote.

Voqere Bainimarama retained his high placing (73%) as preferred Prime Minister. Ro Teimumu and "someone else" came a distant equal seconds on 7%, followed by Biman Prasad (6%), Mahendra Chaudhry (4%) and Felix Anthony (3%). But FijiFirst dropped from 74% to 59% as preferred political party and SODELPA from 12 to 8%. The other parties made small gains (FLP and PDP 5 from 3%, , and NFP from 5 to 8%). The largest drop, that adds some credibility to my query about sample change is that those who did not know or were unsure increased from 4 to 15%.

Opinions were almost equally divided on whether the coalition between FLP and SODELPA would last. 55% said Yes and 45% No.

One constant in the polls is the personal popularity of the PM. The possible reason comes from an unlikely source, Tongan politician and a founding member of the Tonga Pro-Democracy Movement 'Akilisi Pohiva: Bainimarama has the political will to make things happen.

“He has been able to make things happen," he said,  "and take development to the people, which had not happened for years. He had the will to make things happen, to make reality of things that were planned over the years.”

The Bainimarama-Government came into power through the military takeover but "the fact remains that positive changes, especially in infrastructure development in rural areas plus services including free education, senior citizens’ allowances for monthly shopping and bus fare concessions, have been made."

"Every government needs to have the political will to implement positive changes that will help a country move forward...now and then governments need a push to make things happen", he said. Click here for the full article.

Comments

Anonymous said…
It is really a good thing that there is no racism or discrimination in the current government. And I disagree with Croz take that more could or should have been done to remove "imbalances". The military is for Fijians for three simple reasons: a) no intelligent person would join the army, b) Indians are not brave enough to take the heat of the battle. Imagine how they would squirm if somebody needs to be re-educated at the barracks c) why would you put on this terrible green garb if you can be a businessman, a lawyer or a doctor?
Crosbie Walsh said…
Anonymous..I take it from this (and your other anonymous comments on almost all my recent postings) that you think this kind of forced satire is funny and easily understood as satire by all readers. Does it not occur to you that they may think you are making a serious statement? Read as a serious contribution, some would think you support Baiimarama,and if they do, what you write would have backfired, inverting your purpose. If you really want to be anti-Government, I suggest you address each issue directly, if possible with some evidence to back up your opinion.
Anonymous said…
Having served in the RFMF myself for several years, the problem is that not enough Indians are presenting at the recruiting stations in the first place. Go count the number of Indians presenting for recruitment, then do your sums as to the percentage of Indians recruits presenting viz a viz the percentage of those accepted. Then compare this with the i'taukei numbers. You will find that the percentage of those accepted for enlistment correlates to those presenting for interview.

This bald statement that the Army is discriminating against other races and Indians in particular is nonsense.

When I was at secondary school, my Indian classmates preferred to go do study bookkeeping rather than join us learning how to march and handle weapons during School Cadet sessions.
Crosbie Walsh said…
Anonymous 6:02 pm. I fully agree. BrigGen Tikoitoga made the same point when I raised the issue with him the last time I was in Fiji. I think government and the military will need to go out of their way to interest many Indo-Fijians but it is possible more could be attracted into, say, officer training in communications. And a more ethnically balanced military would be good news for Fiji.
Sham military constitution said…
Croz
I would be interested in your unbiased views on this frightening comment in the junta rag the Fiji Sun by the dictator Bainimarama.
"It was easy for them to talk about changing the Constitution, he said but he was reminding them that the Constitution was made by the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), under his command."
If this is not an admission of a corrupted and sham constitution, what is?
For once let us have some decency and integrity from you in your response Croz?
Anonymous said…
I live in california and a friend called me today if i could accompany him to a fundraising for SODELPA leader Kepa in santa Rosa. I said no thanks, today is independence day and I am not wasting any money on some lying politician from the old country.
Crosbie Walsh said…
@ Sham ... I don't recognize the quote. Would you please give me the hyperlink or date or heading and I'll try to follow it up. M eanwhile, the quote marks indicate it's what the reporter said he said. They appear not to be Bainimarama's exact words.
Crosbie Walsh said…
@ Sham ... I found it. But I have no idea what he meant. Sometimes what he says is translated into English, and often not very well. But whatever he said, the Constitution was not make by the RFMF,, although there's little doubt they would have been among those consulted. . The draft was worked on by a team of people, comments were invited from the public; it was then recommended by Cabinet for approval the President. ,
Anonymous said…
What absolute rot! Do you actually have any honesty or integrity?
Anonymous said…
Croz, the RFMF have a range of specialisations (or Corps as it is referred to) which soldiers and officers are open to enlist in. These range from Signals (your Communications), Engineers, Transport, Catering, Ordnance (or military logistics), Pay Corps, Medical & Dental, Infantry, Military Police, Legal etc etc. Then there is the Navy with its range of special skills. None of these areas seem to attract the Indians into enlisting. The point is that the RFMF is a voluntary force and you cant force people into military service in Fiji. If the Indians don't want to enlist thats their choice and we should respect that.

Insisting on a racial quota is one possible solution. But we come back to the basic point; Indians in Fiji do not see the military as offering a career, and that there is more money to be made in the civilian world. The idea of racial quotas is a thing of the past - like previous racially-based Constitutions in Fiji which only served to divide more than they unite.

Anonymous said…
Nice one qorvis?
Anonymous said…
What bullshit! Indians would do anything for their livelihood. The military, police and civil service are all indigenized and military has been deliberately kept exclusively indigenized because it was a formed by the ruling elite to retain their political dominance in the event Indians gained political majority and formed the Government. It happened twice in 1987 and 2000 and the FMF duly restored the ruling elite back into power. Then it discovered that the so-called champions of iTaukei were racist thugs and turned its guns against them and they just vanished. If it wasn't for it, then the mobs would have been released yet again to loot and burn Suva, a ritual followed in previous coups, in the name of indigenous paramountcy. It was belated realization by the FMF and in due time the truth will show how Indians have been made scapegoats for indigenous impoverishment when the real culprits were the chiefs and associated iTaukei leaders. The problem is that people like you do not even know your own history and sinister forces that have shaped it. You do not even know the viciousness of your corrupt and viciousness of your leaders. See Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, multimillionaire, Rabuka had access to fortune but instead chose women. Qarase multimillionaire within 6 years. They all professed prosperity for the iTaukei but used them to enrich themselves. But must admit Chaudhry beat them all - he became multimillionaire in just one year's prime ministership!!!
Anonymous said…
Hey cool it bro..I am not even a indigenous person...so that shoots your whole bullshit theory out of the water!

Your argument is full of emotional and non-sensical hyperbole! Once again, we see the ingrained 'Indian as a victim' thesis coming to the fore here.

The issue is why Indians have not joined the Army in Fiji.

I guess you have to go back to WW2 when the Indians in Fiji refused to defend Fiji against the enemy.

How do you explain that dastardly blot on history?

Does that explain the inner loyalties of a community who still refuses to join the military?


Crosbie Walsh said…
@ Anonymous 6:00pm. Whoa there! Everything has a context. The refusal of Indo-Fijians to join the war is not so simply explained. It was a time when the Indian Congress (Gandhi, Nehru) were calling for independence and Fijian Indians supported them. A small number in India joined the Japanese, thinking that would bring them independence, but Indian troops in much larger numbers fought in the British army.
Anonymous said…
Sorry Croz for confusing you. I am indeed a staunch supporter of our great PM and his AG. They have done a great job in eradicating poverty, racism and corruption. They have instigated Fiji's first great revolution and they have shown kindness, compassion and first and foremost strong leadership underpinned by innovative legislation. They will no doubt be rewarded hugely at the forthcoming elections and win a land slide. This land slide will have to be removed by RFMF's corps of engineers.
Anonymous said…
Croz, Fairfax have completely broken the law over the arrest of the person today and court appearance. Why is this fellow Mike Field allowed to remain unpunished?
Anonymous said…
Mate Michael Field is hell-bent on writing anything negative about the regime in Fiji. His views are distorted with unbalanced reporting. Whilst some of his points are arguable at best, he will never write anything good about the regime for one sole reason only; that is because he is barred from entering Fiji. Now what really irritates me is how stuff prints his garbage when they know fully well that his opinion are biased? Yes, he does have the right to air his views but to do so with biased reporting consistently makes me wonder whether that's really responsible publishing let alone reporting. I am not a coup supporter but by jolly this regime has done some bad things and some good things too. Accuracy in reporting is important but then again media in NZ like other developed countries are controlled by certain elements within governmental strata and powerful people. It's either they are for the National Party led government or the opposition. The good thing is here in NZ people have travelled to Fiji in droves and have experienced first hand what is happening on the ground-bad or good. I can't wait to see after the election what "garb" will this guy Michael Field feed the kiwis.
Anonymous said…
In addition, to my contribution above, here in NZ people in government departments use media to leak information to bring government or opposition down. The recent debacle over the Malaysian expat is a classic example. Yes, media is an excellent medium to keep everyone honest but they need to be fair and accurate in what they are reporting not using it for their personal vendetta like Michael Field. By the way, he regularly reports negatively on NZDF too not just Fiji.
Son of a cowardly dictator said…
Like Father like son:
Frank Bainimarama's army soldier son has appeared in court charged with assaulting his beauty queen wife.

It follows rumours over the weekend Meli Bainimarama had stabbed wife of less than year, Hosanna Kabakoro, during a domestic incident.

Pissant coward Meli
Bill wadely said…
Yes Indeed Croz, at the time in Fiji there were calls by some Indian politicians for Fiji Indians to support Subhas Chandra Bose and his pro- Japanese 'Indian National Army'.

Indeed, everything has its context...in the context of Fiji and race relations this was a pivotal moment that has since shaped Fijian views on Fiji-Indian loyalties. Sure the Indian Imperial Army has a very proud record of service; but you cant offset that against what happened in Fiji in WW2 as they were two totally different sets of circumstances.

Accept it as a historical fact - that it has left an indelible stain in the minds of many in Fiji and gave succour to racial stereotyping, as unfortunate is indeed it is. If you want to discuss Fijian politics, and why Fiji Indians are not presenting in large numbers at military recruitment depots, you have to wonder about all these things. Am I being problematic or politically incorrect in raising these historical facts?
Bill wadely said…
Coz, I am posting my real identity here in support of posting by Anonymous above. I live and work in Rockhampton, QLD. My father fought the Japs in WW2
Anonymous said…
What she sees in Meli confounds me. He is a spoilt brat who is unemployable. He couldn't get past the rank of Private in the Fijian Infantry. But his Dad is the Generalissimo in Fiji, and thats all that matters I guess in the 'New Fiji' that Frank and Aiyazz are promoting.
Anonymous said…
What has Meli's actions got to do with what his father is doing? Does that mean all fathers of prisoners should be blamed for their kids actions? Meli is a grown up and is answerable to his own actions and in this case, he bashed his wife which is not acceptable in any way or form. He should be dealt with accordingly by the law/judge. But to blame his father's political vendetta through the "use of gun" just does not wash with me, sorry. Two different issues.
Anonymous said…
She has been charged with the more serious offence, which suggests that she may have initiated the incident.
Anonymous said…
Unfortunately anti-regime bloggers with tinted glasses are going to see the wife charged with more serious offence as another "form" of regime intervention by the regime. You just have to read Rajendra Chaudhry's Facebook page to see how some even "supposedly" educated people have directly drawn the line without any substantiated facts nor evidence. The poor Fijian judge Ratuvili has been called all sorts of names etc for allowing Meli to be bailed which I thought was a normal thing when one awaits a trial unless the court deems the accused to be a serious threat etc (e.g murderer, driver-by shooters. Makes me wonder if these people are the ones that feed Michael Field with the crap he writes.
Anonymous said…
@Bill wadely

Whilst there could be some form of racial stereotyping by other people (maybe Fijians included) about the imbalance between the I'Taukei and Fijians with Indian origin in the Fijian Army, my personal experience as an ex-RFMF officer who used to be part of the recruitment and officer selection board I can assure you that within the organisation itself there is no such deliberate "move" to maintain the imbalance. In fact, in some quarters of the RFMF it is the opposite where there is genuine interest in wanting to recruit more Fijian-Indians because of their IT and Accounting talents. I had the privilege of commanding two Fijian Indians on one of my missions and they were good soldiers. What striked me during the one-year stint was how the I'Taukei soldiers/officers alike treated these two men (through my own observation/indirect observation through reports and soldiers/officers from other countries). They were almost "idolised" or in Fijian language "vakamenemenei" but certainly not cotton-wooled. They gained everyone's respect including mine and were subsequently accorded treatment they deserved.
The imbalance is caused by two reasons in my experience. Firstly, not a lot of them turn up to enlist or go through the soldier selection process and the Regular Officer Selection Board for Officers in direct comparison with I'Taukei. Secondly, the small number of our Fijian brothers and sisters with Indian origin are also faced with the same selection process that I'Taukei have to be selected against. As a result not all of them make it, just like how most I'Taukei get dropped or fail the selection process especially at Officer level. Whilst my experience was in the early 90s (before I left RFMF), I suspect it is still the same today. I have decided to contribute to this thread because I think it is important to let people know that certainly within the organisation there is no deliberate move to maintain the imbalance despite what some reporters and academics insinuate through some one-sided analysis of theirs. Vinaka Bill (and salute to your father for his contribution during WW2)
Anonymous said…
Meli is an adult and is responsible for his own actions just like Ro Teimumus daughter who came with her here to the USA in 2009 and decided to overstay until today.
Anonymous said…
Michael Field get his stories from C4.5.
Skinny Meli said…
Another excellent article from Michael Field. With a cowardly bullying father like the dictator bhaini no wonder little skinny Meli has form in bashing women? Was she pregnant?
Bill wadely said…
Thank you Anonymous. You have just confirmed an earlier posting (Anonymous, Sat 5 Jul, 6:02pm above) that there is no such discriminatory policies in place in the RFMF to favour i'taukei over other races presenting for recruitment. Goven your experience I accept your explanation as fact.

But how do you explain former senior RFMF officer's like Jone Baledrokadroka of the ANU publicly making a big issue of the fact that the RFMF is 99% i'taukei and that it is reflective of RFMF recruitment policy?

He seems to be sucking up to his academic supervisors in the ANU (no names mentioned.but one of them is an expert on the Fiji Indian 'diaspora'). Why should a (former) senior RFMF officer like Mr Baledrokadroka seek to make capital out of something that, as you say, is patently untrue?
Anonymous said…
@ Bill Wadely,

I have read some of Mr Baledrokadroka's assertions and attended one of his public seminars in Brisbane where he presented on the RFMF, I have found him to be rather shallow. He made the remarkable assertion that the coups in Fiji (B) were a result of Fiji's peacekeeping service in Lebanon (A). In so doing he made the critical mistake of putting the A & B together and after looking at B came to the simplistic conclusion that B should therefore be the result of A...hence his simplistic thesis!!!

Perhaps Croz can explain how one can earn a PhD remaining ensconced in the ANU's Menzies Library for five years pouring over secondary material, with no original research, no primary material gleaned from field work to inform his conclusions etc. Is is that easy to gain a PhD from the ANU?
Anonymous said…
Young Meli was just having a bad day! Give the guy some space! His haemorrhoids were playing up again!
Anonymous said…
@Bill Wadely,
Thanks Bill for the reply, after my attempt to clarify that no such policy exist in the RFMF. Before I attempt to answer your question in regards to Jone Baledrokadroka's public assertion through publicity via ANU, I wish to reiterate that as a staff officer in the RFMF, I never came across such a policy nor was "ordered" by the President of ROSB (usually a full colonel) to carry out selection based on race.
Now that takes me to your second question, in regards to the former Colonel making public statement about the existence of such policy. Short answer is, I don't know why he has decided to make such a BOLD statement unless he knows something that the rest of us Officers who were actually on the ground making the selection didn't know. Bottom line is when candidates undergo the selection process two Officers (Lt Col and Major) make up a small selection group usually concentrating on what is termed as a syndicate during selection. These two officers make their mind up on who they deem to have met the criteria from their syndicate after carefully observing all members of their syndicate being put through various tasks. They then put these names forward in a round the table discussion made up of other MTOs in the presence of the entire board where these names are finalised. It is important to note that during the entire selection, these candidates are only known as a designated title such as A1, B4 or D2 and this is undertaken so that names are not used but rather their designated identification so selection would be based on how they fared according to the criteria rather than their race, name or title (chiefly for example). This is the process that is utilised by our Australian and NZ military counterparts. So to anecdotally state that selection is based on race even if such policy existed in the military is almost impossible. Now, unless you have the ability to remember the race of approx 40-100 candidates and what designated identification they each have then maybe you could do what he is portraying to be the case.
Whilst I do not want to go down the road of crucifying the Colonel with my assumptions about what he has publicly stated via publication at ANU in regards to this issue, I will say that he didn't leave on good terms with the current regime and I am not going to discuss who I think is in the right nor wrong; it is beyond me that someone of his seniority would make such an unsubstantiated statement. I am against the coup and do not condone such actions but as an ex-officer I think it is imperative that regardless of my stance now, truth must always be told.
Anonymous said…
Vinaka kemuni. I respect and accept your explanation.I have always respected the RFMF officers from way back. I will tell you that back in pre-coup days of 1987, I worked in the Civil Service and we had a very good relationship with the RFMF through their Chief of Staff at that time (no names mentioned) who was a top-class military officer with impeccable credentials. He had a university education, had charisma, was widely respected by his troops...led them in combat in Lebanon & Sinai but because he was only part i'taukei his Army buddy shafted him and took over the government.

Rambo actually said in his book 'No Other Way' that he resented the Chief of Staff at the time because he was not fully 'i'taukei.

So, if we are to believe Rabuka, deep within the military there is this racist and informal bias and prejudice against non i'taukei people joining up. Thats the issue that has to be confronted.
Anonymous said…
Bula vinaka kemuni. Whilst Rabuka said that in his book, "No Other Way", it is his perception and his personal experience including his own resentment towards the former Chief of Staff (whom I have a lot of respect for). It does not mean that the entire institution is like that. That is very much part of any culture or even a wider society where certain individuals dislike other races. It is prevalent in all societies but the good thing is the number of people who appreciate other human beings despite color,race or creed outnumber those individuals such as Rabuka. I have colleagues here in NZ who dislike Maori and vice-a-versa. But that does not mean my current institution condones that let alone have a policy to practice such thing similar to what has been publicly stated by JB in RFMF's case. Some individuals in the RFMF may harbour such resentment just like anywhere else in Fiji but its not a collective approach.
Proud Fiji Indian said…
b) Indians are not brave enough to take the heat of the battle. Imagine how they would squirm if somebody needs to be re-educated at the barracks .....WELL MY DEAR IGNORANT ANNONYMOUSE,
History records 2.5 million Indian soldiers in the second world war, greatest number of volunteers in recorded history to date. Had they not sacrificed for the King of England then, you'de be speaking Japanese or German depending on which hemisphere of the globe you live in, also read how many Indian soldiers are in battlefields globally ,especially in Congo ,Somalia and many other fields of battle today, You are an uneducated, ignorant idiot who needs to read more and travel the world to cure your idiot mind. Incidentally, if you are ever allowed to visit the RFMF officer's mess, you will see a German Naval ensign from the german navy ship that was captured by Fiji Indian sepoy's near Makogai

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