What if I'm Wrong? UPDATED.
It says that, whatever your minor
█ A "fairer Fiji with more assistance given to the marginalised and equal citizenship for all races" under FijiFirst
█ A "divided Fiji where old privileges are restored and where the rights of ciizenship are influenced by race" under SODELPA.
I am saying vote FijiFirst and don't waste your vote by voting for any any of the minor parties. This could put the "old gang" back in power.
And before some smart opponent says I am breaking the 48 hour blackout, this is is not a new article. It is a clarification of an already published article that opponents have deliberately distorted, and used to their advantage during the blackout period. The blogs Solivakasama, Fiji Today, Fiji Leaks, Fiji Democracy Noiw, and Fiji Media Wars have published new material during the blackout and have broken the Electoral law.-- Croz
A Personal Confession
When I started this blog in May 2007 it was to offset the distorted reporting of NZ journalist Michael Field, and I was writing mainly for an overseas audience.
Politically, I considered myself neutral with a slight leaning towards the Bainimarama government because of the bad press it was getting overseas and in Fiji where the media reported the Bainimarama government once and each of its political critics once, disadvantaging government 4:1.
Since then, as I read about what the Bainimarama government was doing and talked to a wide range of people in Fiji, my position gradually changed. I still reported both sides and criticised the government when I thought fit, but I had definitely started to move towards supporting Bainimarama. But the support was by far from total.
I reported and criticised the infringements on media and trade union freedom, the imposition of PER, the failure to accept the minimum wage recommendations of the Wages Council, the Public Emergency Regulations, the occasional arrests and detainments, and the failure to consult with Fiji's "high fliers" when consultation was sorely needed. More than once I said that the rigid authoritarian stance of Government was causing it to lose the support of "middle Fiji".
The process, of course, was not just due to Government intransigence. The travel restrictions imposed by Australia and New Zealand resulted in fewer civilians putting up their hands for senior civilian positions, and military officers with military mindsets took their place. The Opposition also played its part by keeping up a constant barrage of disruptive, negative comment on almost everything Government did and, sadly, as time went by, respectable and well meaning NGOs such as the Citizens' Constitutional Forum joined them.
After the Qarase v. Bainimarama Appeal Case 2009
What had started so promisingly with the People's Charter was brought to an abrupt end when the Appeal Court ruled in favour of Qarase and declared the Bainimarama Government illegal. For a moment all that had been achieved since 2006 appeared about to be lost. A "failed coup" would result in the return of the old regime to power.
Government's reactions to the challenge, most especially PER and decrees restricting personal freedoms, lost it the support of many who might otherwise have supported the regime for the work it was doing in other areas, notably in empowering ordinary people and rebuilding a long neglected physical and social infrastructure.
To make matters worse, a number of government-initiated judicial actions seemed personally charged and vindictive. And its failure to have public audits and reveal salaries laid it wide open to further charges by the Opposition.
The "middle" ground had all but vanished. You were either for Government, despite its warts, or against it. I moved further towards the side supporting Government.
The move was a push and pull affair. I was attracted by many of he things Government was doing, not least by its down to earth consultations with grassroots Fijians. As many of them commented, this was the first time a Prime Minister or a Cabinet Minister had ever visited them, listened to what they had to say, and done something about it.
I was pushed further in this direction by the barrage of mainly unsupported and unsupportable accusations and claims by those in the Opposition. The anti-Government blogs also played their part. Here was vindictiveness in the extreme. Time and time again their claims and accusations were shown to be untrue, but they were never corrected or withdrawn.
As the election campaign got under way the choice seemed —and seems—to be between the stated aims of FijiFirst and SODELPA. Between a fairer Fiji with more assistance given to the marginalised and equal citizenship for all races, and a divided Fiji where old privileges are restored and where the rights of citizenship are influenced by race.
Was I being carried away by Government rhetoric?
But then I received an email from someone in Fiji whose opinions I respect and who had once supported Bainimarama. He suspected I was being carried away by the Government statements on citizenship and race and raised questions about Bainimarama's personal motives, and his alleged support for the Speight Coup in 2000.
He wrote of his ruthlessness against his critics and enemies, saying these were indications of the future under an elected Bainimarama Government when he saw a worsening of the "climate of fear" and restrictions on people's freedoms. He thinks Bainimarama wants power for power's sake, and everything else is a smokescreen.
What could I think? How could I answer? One can only suspect motivations. They cannot be proven until after the event and most times not even then. One can only look at a person's record, weigh up and balance the positives against the negatives, and consider the alternatives.
Bainimarama's record is that most of his policies are aimed at making Fiji a better place to live, but he's a military man and he definitely has a very short fuse. For the past eight years he has been working in a situation where he has been able to exercise excessive power with few restrictions.
Parliament will be a different environment
Parliament will be a very different environment. If FijFirst wins and Bainimarama forms Fiji's next government, his power will be limited by law. To continue the work he has started, he will need the support of the majority of those in Parliament. There will also be times when he needs the support of members of the Opposition. Bainimarama is normally a friendly person who enjoys being with people. I am optimistic that this positive side of his personality will be used to good effect in Parliament, and the "short fuse" kept in check.
I wrote this to my friend:
"I'm very disturbed by your letter. You may, of course, be right on the motives of Bainimarama and those who support him, but I can only hope you're wrong. Realistically, the election outcome will favour either FijiFirst or SODELPA. SVT and SDL may not have been vindictive but how many thousands of ordinary people, mainly Indo-Fijians, suffered as a direct result of their policies? Let's leave it there, my friend. Only the future will tell."To which my friend replied:
"Croz, I will be very happy to be proved wrong about Frank should he win this Election."