Elections Only First Step to Democracy


In an article published on Friday, Lowy Institute's Jennifer Hayward-Jones, after noting Fiji's critical importance to Australia's regional security,  assumes a Bainimarama election victory on Wednesday and spells out what she thinks Australia should do to help "restore" democracy after the election. 

She lists strengthened inter-parliamentary links so that Fijian MPs can learn from their Australian counterparts; strengthening Fiji NGOs and civil society so that they can  hold government to account, an independent judiciary with new judges appointed from Commonwealth countries, and a free media for which she does not mention any Australian assistance.

Ms Hayward-Jones is writing for an Australian audience. I doubt she would be so outwardly patronising if her intended audience were Fijian. But it has clearly never crossed her mind that Australians could learn something from Fijians about the various meanings of democracy. Or that perhaps her white liberal definition of democracy is inappropriate and too narrow to fit non-Australian situations.

She writes about restoring a "democracy" where the value of votes were grossly uneven, where grassroots "civil society" was deliberately kept in ignorance; where racial paramountcy benefiting a selected few and not democracy was the election issue; and where the media not infrequently felt free to inflame racial tensions and do nothing to educate people to live in a multi-racial society.

She is right in saying the elections are only a first step to democracy, but wrong in her narrow definition of democracy.

The underlying principles of a democracy relate to creating and maintaining a society where its leaders are primarily concerned with the well-being of the people. It is about upholding their basic rights to shelter, nourishment, respect, fair employment, education, health services, assistance in old age and help with disabilities, and with unleashing their individual and collective creative potentials.  This is what justice is about in a democratic society,  

It is about a media, a judiciary and an education system that reinforce these aims.

It is about what, over two hundred years ago, President Lincoln was talking about in his Gettysburg address: 


"That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Government of, by and FOR the people?  The Qarase government was found wanting on all three accounts, and SODELPA promises no better. 

The Bainimarama government was not "of" or "by". It was a dictatorship. But it did more than previous governments "for" the people. And in a parliamentary environment it can do much more.

Vote for a Bainimarama government on Wednesday, and when the elections are over do everything you can, as a constructive member of civil society, to keep the Government honest. 

Comments

Anonymous said…
NFP should look into a coalition with Fiji First. I am sure they can come to a common understanding. No coalition could put Sodelpa into power and all the voters of NFP will suffer the wrath of a racially biased government unless they like being slapped in their backsides. Fiji labour party would have made a perfect ally but Chaudhary's big head is more important to the nation. I saw him as a great leader once but now he portrays a bitter person who is trying to fool the farmers and illiterate to vote for him. I saw his interview on Aina on FBC. This guy is fool of shit. All these Indian parties are the very reason SDL came to power. Fighting amongst each other as if they are going to win the election. By making coalition with sodelpa these indian parties want to call themselves weeds once again..not Fijians. They want to pay $2 - $5 to go to public beaches. Wait when they release George Speight and he comes to visit Chaudary at his doorstep with some flowers.
Anonymous said…
Jennifer Hayward-Jones needs to talk about Australia first instead of worrying about Fiji! If democracy is such a wonderful form of Govt than why are the Aborigines in such dire circumstances in their own country! The way the Howard Govt just got up & re-hatched the law of the land to suit their own agendas to take over the Indigenous communities in rural areas bringing in the military & police as if this was South Africa! But then what can you expect from the Aussies good at preaching to others about democracy but pretty well ignorant that the vote was just given to the Aborigines in last 50 years! Prior to this they were just considered as part of the native scenery. Fiji will learn and find its own way to becoming a democracy not get it imposed from those who think they know better- how long did you relatives in England take to realise their needed to have a democracy? Maybe in a few years time China will have proved to Fijians that it 's better to have a Chinese style of Govt- after all China is doing pretty well with it's form of Govt ?
Anonymous said…
Has Jenny Hayward-Jones looked at how the Australian parliament is functioning at the moment? What does she think Fijians will learn - how to tell porkies?
Voters' dilemma said…
Indo-Fijians have been let down badly by poor leadership. Mahendra Chaudhry is simply trying to exact revenge from FijiFirst for being sacked as interim finance minister. He was very quick to support the coup and join the interim government. As soon as he was kicked out, he took on role of champion of democracy. What a hypocrite. Mahen is still angry having to part with $1million fine for tax evasion. So is son Rajen Chaudhry, who has been running a bitter campaign against FijiFirst. Rajen is another opportunist using the garb of indigenous rights to score political scores for his father and incite racial tensions. For an unemployable lawyer living off funds collected in the name of FLP supporters, Rajen sure has a lot to say. Get a bloody job Rajen. Stop living and profiting off the people - like father like son indeed. I hope FLP voters will give Mahen a nice kick in the butt for deceiving them and lining his pocket with millions collected overseas.

NFP's BIman Prasad too is a major disappointment. Instead of being pragmatic, he has taken the moral high ground. His campaign is full of negativity. He is like a snake oil salesman offering miracle cures and financial rewards to voters if NFP comes to power. His utopian claim that everything will be okay once democracy is restored is laughable. This professor is behind in his reading. He has a very poor understanding about the complexities of democracy, especially in the Fiji framework. On the radio talkback show Biman was more interested in trying to impress listeners with his Hindi. Biman simply does not have the stature of AD Patel, Siddiqe Koya or Jai Ram Reddy. He is the worst NFP leader in history. Last time he was leader only for a day. NFP made a big mistake choosing him as leader. He was better off as a mediocre academic.

PDP's Felix Anthony is another ex-coup supporter. From various reports, it seems he and other union leaders formed cliques to maintain their lucrative jobs and sometimes short-shafted union members. Now they are after more perks as parliamentary representatives. Having done such a poor job as union leaders, how can they serve the people honestly as members of parliament?

Voters need to think and choose carefully on polling day.
Cin Cin said…
'....The Bainimarama government was not "of" or "by". It was a dictatorship. But it did more than previous governments "for" the people. And in a parliamentary environment it can do much more.....'

For all their faults, I'm fairly certain that those so called 'previous governments' did manage to do their share of nation building. Things like roads, bridges, hospitals, airports......all those everyday things that didn't suddenly appear overnight in 2000. You are falling into the same trap that Frank has fallen into - repeat the same lie enough times..........


Anonymous said…
Well done, Croz, you are beginning to make sense. Keep up the good work.
Anonymous said…
I don't know why you give this woman credence. She has been consistently wrong about Fiji all along, a prisoner of having been an Australian diplomat with the same prejudices as all of them.

Unfortunately, I think the NFP is going to do a coalition deal with SODELPA, not FijiFirst. The NFP President Tupou Draunidalo is a closet indigenous supremacist who shares the SODELPA agenda. The rest of them have been marginalised.
Anonymous said…
Cin Cin, once an idiot, always an idiot. You are totally un-evolved. Blind Freddy can see the difference the Bainimarama Government has made in Fiji.
Anonymous said…
The person you call an idiot writes better than you.
Cin Cin said…
@anonymous 6.20

Like many others, I tend to notice the difference the Bainimarama govt has made to Bainimarama et al. Even Blind Freddy couldn't fail but notice.
Anonymous said…
-Ms. Hayward-Jones and the Lowy Institute are about as independent as Osama bin Laden. Well, almost.
Ms. Hayward-Jones (hereafter H-J) ought to do her uninvited preaching to Australians and her government. Informed people in the Pacific islands have a longish memory: they remember the RAMSI affair in the Solomons. They also remember how Julian Moti, QC was relentlessly and illegally persecuted as the High Court of Australia recently decided he was. Informed people in Fiji do not forget Australia's interventionist tactics in 2006 when Australia tried to infiltrate as rapid deployment force into Fiji to interfere in its domestic affairs. Remember the Australian helicopter that went down in the Koro Sea/
Fiji needs to continue to build and strengthen its relationship with China.
Fiji ought not to let itself to be seduced by Australia's offer of "small gifts and silly privileges."
Fiji needs to continue to strengthen its army in order to defend its sovereign, territorial integrity from countries like Australia and New Zealand, both now driven by Monroe Doctrine inspired interventionist tactics for which the US is famous.
'Arc of instability' arguments' are deeply embedded in H-J's thinking.
Fiji should take a lesson from Lord Palmerston's dictum of long ago: Diplomacy [and foreign policy] is not about making friends or creating enemies. It is about protecting interests.
Bainimarama has shown the way. He has to stay the course. Voices from the Australian peanut gallery like that of Ms. H-J's (and that of the right wing Lowy Institute) are hardly independent. Ms. H-J has a right to exist--as the Rabbi says of the czar in Mostel's Fiddler on the Roof-- far away from me and Fiji.

As for freedom of speech and the press Ms. H-J ought to have the Lowy Institute practice what it preaches: give full coverage to opinions and critiques that differ from hesr.
Anonymous said…
@ Cin Cin

Whilst I agree with you that things like" roads, bridges, hospitals, airports.." did not just suddenly appear in 2000, you have to acknowledge the fact that although this government came through the power of the gun, they have undertaken development at a rate no other government has in the past. I grew up in a village in Nadroga and for 30 years (which saw various governments come to power either through being elected democratically or coups) none carried out any development in the village. This government has and it occurred when there was a huge flood. Frank and his entourage were in Lomawai village the very next day and guess what? Not only did they repair what got damaged the following week, they also upgraded the primary school which I attended 37 years ago which had been lying idle despite the promises made to my grandparents, parents, uncles and aunties prior to every election ONLY to be let down. What really frustrates me is some of these politicians throughout the years were from Nadroga and some were relatives. After we gave them our votes, they never turned up until the next one. Yes, we learnt our lesson and voted for the next I'Taukei. Again, same old story. There are similar stories like this all around the country.
Now, I am a non-coup supporter but I believe in giving credits where its due. In this case, Frank and Co have carried out developments unprecedented by any other governments which has touched the "grassroots" like my family.
Sa dri yani.
Ratu Naita
Anonymous said…
Noticing differences is a good start Cin cin but being fair and seeing all the differences is another "kettle of fish". keep noticing you might learn sometimes.
Anonymous said…
Crosbie, you use Lincoln as a personification of the concept of government of the people by the people and for the people? What parallel universe do you inhabit?

Some of Lincoln’s own words:
“Much as I hate slavery, I would consent to the extension of it rather than see the Union dissolved, just as I would consent to any GREAT evil, to avoid a GREATER one.” (Peoria, 1854)

“I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” (Inaugural Address, March, 1861)

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery.” (From an 1862 letter to Horace Greeley, written during the Civil War)

“What I would most desire would be the separation of the white and black races.” (Speech at Springfield, IL, July 17, 1858)

“I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races [applause]; that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality….I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race…I will to the very last stand by the law of this State, which forbids the marrying of white people with Negroes.” (The Lincoln-Douglas debates, Charleston, IL, September 18, 1858)

“There is a natural disgust in the minds of nearly all white people, to the idea of an indiscriminate amalgamation of the white and black races….A separation of the races is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation….Such separation, if ever affected at all, must be affected by colonization….I am not in favour of Negro citizenship….” (The Lincoln-Douglas debates, Springfield, IL, June 22, 1857)

“Negro equality! Fudge!! How long, in the government of a God great enough to make and maintain this universe, shall there continue knaves to vend, and fools to gulp, so low a piece of demagoguism as this?” (From Fragments: Notes for Speeches, September, 1859)

How on earth do Lincoln’s words devolve in your mind into government of the people…? Do you REALLY not understand that coups are undertaken, not because of a moral indignation or for a ‘greater good’. They are about power and money.

Bainimarama’s coup, which was ostensibly to ‘root out corruption’ and has morphed into ‘equality for all’ is similarly just about power and money. But you, a learned academic with sufficient time on your hands to carry out thoughtful analysis, have descended to the level of electioneering puppet without the wit to have researched that Lincoln is an appalling example of the concept of government 'by the people'.

Given Bainimarama’s proclivity for also moving his mouth one way and acting another, the fact that you feel he is also worthy of esteem is beyond words.
Cin Cin said…
We obviously have the same problem then anonymous.....
Anonymous said…
The one good bit of news in all this is that the election decree makes it a crime to continue electioneering after today. So this article will, hopefully, be the last of the abysmal bits of electioneering that you've taken it upon yourself to foist on us.

Hopefully Monday - Wednesday's articles (if there are any, seeing as how you may now feel 'your job is done') will go back to less politically charged pieces and this blog will look less like the Fiji Sun it has come to resemble in recent months.
Anonymous said…
How amusing that you should call for people to vote for Bainimarama whilst at the same time highlighting Lincoln’s words “The people…are the rightful masters of both [government] and courts. Not to overthrow the Constitution. But to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution…”

So, you’re asking us to vote for a man who we should then overthrow because he perverted the Constitution? It’s commonly acknowledged that Fiji uses coups to change governments in lieu of voting but you’re now subscribing to that? You’re a funny guy.

Vote by all means, but vote for anyone who hasn’t been a politician or in the armed forces before. Those have all been the lowest form of parasite on the barnacled bum of the Fijian voter.
Anonymous said…
I don't doubt your sincerity, but you have to also consider that this crowd has had 8 years (ie two normal terms of government) in which to carry out this development. And, crucially, it has been able to do so with NO parliamentary opposition. Previous governments have been hamstrung in that regard which leads me to a point I've made before. A benevolent dictatorship is probably the best way to govern a country.

However, as I've also said before, absolute power corrupts absolutely and it's now time for either a change of decision makers or for the present people to get in with a minority government which will require them to bring coalition partners on board.

If FijiFirst gets voted in with an overwhelming majority then that would be the will of the people and all would have to live with that. However if it were to be the case then I would be reserved about Fiji's future economic and political stability.
Cin Cin said…
Hear hear. As an occasional visitor to this blog I have usually enjoyed the views of Croz, without always agreeing with him. And he gives as good as he gets.

But recently some of the posts have been getting a tad tedious. The most recent extract from the author of 'Tears in Paradise' for example. Most of us appreciate that many Indians have suffered unduly as a result of all the coups bar, apparently, the most recent. Many of us have witnessed it, and some of us were not impressed.

But they weren't the only ones. There are itaukei who have left Fiji, who are not members of the elite that Croz keeps on banging on about, and who were victimised for merely speaking out against this current regime.

Indo Fijians may be the more identifiable victims bit they certainly aren't the only ones.



Anonymous said…
Spot on Croz! Not a government of or by the people but for the people. The selflessness and humility of Khaiyum and Bainimarama are unparalleled in todays selfie world. For the first time Fiji has full equality and a government that is supported by the majority of the people. It is a bit like A. Hitler. He also brought good things to many people, others were less fortunate. But he was elected by the people. Go Fiji First!
Anonymous said…
Agree. Frank Lowy, one of the richest men in the world (Google Westfield Group), a known Zionist, former member of the Haganah, funded and sits on the Board of the Lowy Institute along with several of his relatives and close friends. Independent? Hardly.

Jenny Hayward-Jones--wasn't she the woman who did a lot of the dirty work in the Solomons for RAMSI, Australia's undercover arm for intervention in Solomon Islands domestic affairs? She worked for the Australian Foreign Affairs and Trade Department at the time. And Ms. Jones probably had a hand in the the now notorious Julian Moti, QC affair, recently adjudicated by the High Court of Australia which found that Mr. Moti was persecuted by the Australian government including abducting and illegally taking him from the Solomons to Australia where he was incarcerated and humiliated. I would not trust Jenny Jones further than I might kick her..
Anonymous said…
Ms. HJ typifies old colonialist attitudes.
How dare there brown (black in case of Solomon Islanders) not listen to us White bawanas from Australia. They have succeeded to some extent. Fiji said "Up Yours!'.
Anonymous said…
Aren't this facist blog and the junta rag The Fiji sun the same thing?
Anonymous said…
You've inserted a redundant 'a' in bwana, old fruit.

Furthermore, ascribing old colonialist attitudes to a 'Ms' HJ is rather inappropriate. It's 'Mrs' or 'Miss' amongst us old colonialists. Toodle pip, my good man.
Anonymous said…
Oh dear. Nevermind the slaughter of the Jews? This is a bit unbelievable to me.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the spelling lesson mate. We natives are so uncultured. Correct me if I am wrong but I thought the proper Australian word was "root" rather than Miss or Mrs.
Anonymous said…
I say, old fellow - it appears that you've conflated the word 'colonialists' with the word 'colonials'.

We old colonialists would never address a lady in such crass terms as you've mentioned. Whereas a colonial, especially from the antipodes, might refer to the fair lady in such a regrettable manner.
Anonymous said…
I respect the view that with a parliament, especially its public oversight role, the government should act better. However, I am concerned parliament may not be given an oversight role and held a limited legislative function. With hundreds of decrees passed since 2006, the govt can rule virtually w/o parliament. Parliament's terms of reference will be voted and agreed in the first couple of weeks past elections. With its record on freedom of political opposition, public oversight.... I don't believe FB, if elected, would allow parliament to do its work - particularity if he does not get an outright majority.
Anonymous said…
Shiela perhaps?
Compared to NZ Australia is such a small hearted country ----see how they treat the refugees.
it has habit of trying to bully Pacific Island countries. I am glad Fiji had the spunk to stand up to them and their trade union cohorts. The colonialist attitude is perhaps derived from their Englsh genes. How dare the brown man stand up to me. Reminds me of Churchill's opinion of Gandhi!
Anonymous said…
Ah Gandhi. A wonderful brown man. Above reproach in all things. Especially those nasty, carnal, concupiscent things. Those nasty, carnal, concupiscent 12 year old things.
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/thrill-of-the-chaste-the-truth-about-gandhis-sex-life-1937411.html

"Throw me another choir boy, vicar. This one's split."
Anonymous said…
You missed Anon 12:38's irony.

But, on a different topic, slaughter of the Jews? What about the slaughter of over 60 million in all, which was around 2.5% of the world population. Why pick out one particular religious group which, if demographics are studied, didn't suffer nearly as many deaths as has been claimed since the late 1960's.
Anonymous said…
Sorry my error. Should have said criminal genes coming to the fore. Throwing stones at your betters are we "old fruit"? Don't even mention choir boys; it will bring down the fa├žade of church--from Motherland to Australia. And also Aussie tourist trade in Bali! Try yoghurt.
Anonymous said…
Try yoghurt? I shall bow (but not too low) to your evidently superior knowledge old friend. Is strawberry or banana the flavour de jour?
Anonymous said…
So many long c-words -colonialst, colonial, conflate, concupiscent! There are other shorter more expressive ones, sometimes very fragrant.
Brevis esse laboro: obscurus fio--I was talking about the culture in yoghurt. You do have a rather one track mind old chap.
I do not expect the "keep Australia white" types to grasp the concept of satyagraha; though the original inhabitants might.
Anonymous said…
Ah, a poet no less.

Your first sentence's allusion to your Satyagrahian’s raison d'etre is akin to rose petaled words leaving the scent of their caress on a downy cheek, such is the subtlety with which you express yourself.

I see in you a soul mate of many who use conversion rather than coercion to meet their needs.
Anonymous said…
Old Chap
Its been joy talking to you.
Poetry? As Bertold Brecht wrote "the bitch is in heat again....." We having an election so let me go and be proctalgia fugax to some of our politicians. Such a shame these brown idiots dont listen to the sahibs from down under and are voting Bainimarama into power.
Have a good day. Bye. Auf wiedersehen.
Anonymous said…
As you say, it's been fun to extract the urine from each other without descending into abuse.

Whatever happens in the election I hope that Fiji as a whole benefits over the coming years as, like you, I have a vested interest in it doing well. Quite voreqely I don't care who the party of the day is, so long as business benefits and, thereby, the population does.

Au revoir, totsiens and hamba kahle
Dea R said…
We are getting the best deal possible - 8 years of benevolent self appointed government doing great work for the country and its people; and now same party getting democratically elected to continue country's progress for the next 4. Win win for country indeed. Alls well that ends well.

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