Will this Election Be Won on Lies?

Will This Election Be Won On Lies?


Go to the towns, markets or sports arenas, the people of Fiji are one happy lot, the writer says. Photo: Paulini Ratulailai
by Rajendra
Prasad
(Rajendra Prasad is the author of Tears in Paradise – Suffering and Struggles of Indians in Fiji 1879-2004)
I spent a week in Fiji (9th to 16th July) and saw a nation on the move to claim its place among the democratic nations of the world. On September 17, 2014 Fiji will go to the polls to elect its first Parliament after the military coup of December 5, 2006. It will be held under the new 2013 Constitution, which is strikingly different to all the previous constitutions. The 1970, 1990 and 1997 Constitution advocated ethnic voting whereas the 2013 Constitution has removed this provision and every citizen of Fiji is now on one roll.
The basic precept of such provision is “one person, one vote, one value” for all. Equality and dignity of every citizen is the rallying cry of this Constitution. Remarkably, a departure from the norm has gone down well with the majority of people except those who exploited ethnicity to rob their way to power. Ethnic voting kept the nation divided, giving way to racism to flourish. Multiracialism and multiculturalism existed in name.
There are those who laud the Bainimarama Government for the changes and work it has accomplished in eight years of its rule. Many believe that Fiji’s rotten democracy needed drastic measures for drastic change. The Fijian democracy was a cover for autocracy to prevail by the chosen few who benefitted from the state of anarchy that became the core character of the nation.
The Bainimarama Government, though unelected, has given the nation a new taste of what democracy, equality and dignity entails. At least the common citizen feels that he/she is part of a modern, secular, inclusive and equal society and not ruled by racist bigots. Interestingly, security of indigenous land is never an issue except in the period preceding an election.
It is used by the racist bigots to camouflage truth, because it fires the emotions of indigenous people on a non-existent threat and they vote en-masse to their so-called ‘champions’. Yet, it has been revealed that, when in power, they had insidiously converted land at Momi and Denarau to freehold.
Land issue
But let us dispassionately review the land issue. Let there be no illusion, it is implied that such threat comes from Indo-Fijians. They have been in Fiji for 135 years and in this period they have not appropriated an inch of indigenous owned land. However, many had leased such land but when the leases expired or upon extra-legal action taken by landowners, largely at the instigation of their leaders, they vacated such land without resistance or demand for compensation.
Today, most of such land is lying fallow, compounding the poverty of landowners whose rental income has ceased forever. Further, since independence for 36 years (1970-2006) the iTaukei elite have been in power for 35 years and yet they did nothing to liberate their people from poverty but always blamed Indo-Fijians for it.
Bizarrely, they pursued policies to marginalise and dispossess Indo-Fijians so that the two communities gained parity in destitution when they should have promoted the prosperity of both to economically benefit the nation.
The current Government is advocating prosperity for all and equitable sharing and distribution of resources. Rental income will no longer be shared by others, as in the past, which left peanuts for the landowners. They are now being encouraged to lease their land through the TLTB or Land Bank to enable them to receive regular rental income. Indeed, productive use of land resources by landowners themselves or tenants is in the best interest of everyone. God gave this vital gift to humanity to use it for its livelihood and prosperity. Those who own such resources should not squander the opportunities that abound.
Christian state
Land and religion in Fiji comprise the most volatile fuel to kindle the racial conflagration. Religion is now also being dragged by the advocates of racism in a desperate bid to win the election. Most, if not all, project themselves as devout Christians. Yet, Christianity is a religion that is anchored to love. Christianity without love equates to heathenism. Indeed, there is no point in declaring Fiji a Christian State when those who advocate it hold the sword of violence to achieve their goals and objectives.
Indeed, Christianity could have been effectively used to rout racism in Fiji; instead it has been used as a weapon against the lost who shun it as a religion bereft of love, tolerance and goodwill. They also rightly claim that today, in Fiji, more Christians are in prison than those whom they label as pagans. Could this also be attributed them, as iTaukei poverty is?
Leaders’ wealth
Corruption was the fastest growing industry during the era of democratic rule in Fiji. It is not to claim that it has vanished but it is being addressed. Much maligned Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum have declared their assets, which gives startling comparison to the wealth of leaders who were Prime Ministers of Fiji except Rabuka who had the harvest but was not astute enough to hold it in his granary.
Fiji Way
Go to the towns, markets or sports arenas, the people of Fiji are one happy lot who relate well with one another. There is happy and respectful exchange of greetings and hearty banter, followed by laughter that is an evolving as Fiji Way, replacing the meaningless Pacific Way. Letters to editor columns carry the same spirit and not the nasty ‘snarling’ of the past. Indo-Fijians follow the Fiji 7s team with same fervour as the iTaukei, including Indo-Fijian women. Bollywood has also infiltrated the iTaukei hearts and minds, drawing them to the TV screens and rigid following of their favourite programmes.
Go through the iTaukei settlements and it is not unusual to hear the Bollywood beats echoing, as they do from Indo-Fijian homes. This medium is also enhancing race relations, which is also transforming hearts and minds of Fiji’s peoples, as they realize and accept they are one people and Fiji is their home.
However, Fiji can only become the utopia of our dreams if there is political harmony. Indeed, democracy in Fiji was a label without the basic ingredients of equality, justice and dignity.
Democracy that is reconfigured to pursue racial discrimination is not democracy but tyranny. Both form and content comprise its inseparable limbs.
Worldwide such autocratic democracies abound and it usually entails the tyranny of the aristocracy, propped by the Armed forces, against the majority. Fiji has had a parting of ways between the two on December 5, 2006 and a new era in Fiji politics began, much to the disgust of the ruling elite who had a long reign, using it to restore it to power whenever it was lost, as in 1987 and 2000. With this detachment, a new era in Fiji politics began, which will culminate in first democratic elections on September 17, 2014. The field is open and those deposed in 2006 and their associates are back with their ideologies and banners to retake what they considered to be their birth right. Truth, morals, ethics and principles will become the immediate casualties, as victory at any cost becomes the name of the game.
What amused and also saddened me was the sheer lack of remorse and moral conscience of some of the leaders, convicted for abuse of office or violation of laws, as they campaigned for their political parties.
Sometimes, it is beyond the bizarre, as one person, a recent arrival to the mainland from Vanua Levu told me that the Government was wrong in fining Chaudhry F$2 million, as he was paying the farmers evicted from their leased land $28,000 each from the funds he held in Australia!
He genuinely grieved that now the poor farmers cannot be helped because the Government had taken all the money in fines. I was gobsmacked by the naivety of the person whose seriousness in his belief was inscrutable.
Will this election be won on deceit and lies or will it be won on truth and understanding? Only time will tell. God Bless Fiji!
Feedback: newsroom@fijisun.com.fj

Comments

Anonymous said…
One of the most balanced article I have read in a very long time. Comments on land issues and christian state is right on the button.
Anonymous said…
Only a fool would believe the "wealth" reported by the AG and PM. In fact the number was so low you would have to question their ability to manage anything. To have worked so long and saved so little suggests men with no idea how to manage money and men with every reason to take over a country. Or as most believe they have shifted their money elsewhere so to appear clean. This makes sense because if they had so little why would they have not disclosed it 2, 3, 5 or 7 years ago ?
no lies said…
Here are some truths (not lies) that we dont like to talk about
Who put Qarase into power - answer FRANK
Who could have restored a elected leader in Mahen after the 200 coup - answer FRANK but he chose not to
Who put Mahen & 2 labour ministers into poer after his military coup - answer FRANK
Who cleared Mahen any wrong doings regarding his offshore money - answer FRANK
Who put two trade unionists and now political apponents into high paying board jobs after the coup - FRANK
Who put successive unseccuful police chiefs in place - FRANK

At what point does FRANK have to admit fault for some of the past ? When he talks about the old politicians he is talking about people he put into positions of power and supported when it suited him
Anonymous said…
"No lies" you sound like a frustrated Pakistani who blames America for their misgiving.
Racist scumbag Jyoti Prahiba said…
The personal attack by the racist scumbag INDO FIJIAN Jyoti Prathiba today in the junta rag the Fiji Sun cannot go unnoticed. Her attack on the elected PM of Fiji Hon Qarase, and respected Fijian Woman is disgraceful. This INDO FIJIAN racist is an enemy of the Fijian people. For the Fijian military to allow such an attack says a lot about the state of Fiji and its armed forces. God save Fiji from these racist scumbags.
Anonymous said…
Taste your own medicine So Help Me God Party....
Anonymous said…
Wait a minute. Why blame the Fijian Military for comments by JP of the Fiji Sun when the RFMF had nothing to do with what she composed and posted herself under her own name? Please leave the military put of your political posturings, you one eyed and ignorant 'scumbag'.
Anonymous said…
Lets face it: Khaiyum and his Rear Admiral have been totally honest when they declared their assets held in Fiji. 90% of their income has, however, been directly transferred to overseas accounts in Dubai, Hong Kong and the Cayman Islands.
Anonymous said…
Conspiracy theorists at their best again or in this case, "Coconut wireless" is alive and kicking.
Anonymous said…
Or so you can dish it out but can't take it in return? JP was just stating the obvious in her article, at no point did she condemn Fijians. She was talking about the issue i.e Qarase and Asenaca Caucau are racist; which is absolutely right. Your so called "respected Fijian woman" called or referred to Indo-Fijians as "weed" but she lives in the States where all races are equal under their democratic values.
Drau Vi ga kei Qarase and Caucau macawa na nodra lotu (Qarase being a lay-preacher), sega tiko na loloma.
Anonymous said…
O ira na kai ISIRELI era se veivaluvaluti tikoga qo en vuku ni nodra vanua era vakabauta ni solia vei ira na Kalou....Please we need to respect each others views, how many fingers pointing back at you. Humility & Self control is needed especially at this trying time before the election. We are the i taukei....... Let us stop the devil who is trying his best to divide us !!

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