Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi on Political Choice

Published in the Fiji Sun. May 19 2014.

Political parties need to adopt a combination of approaches to attract broad support, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi says. The Roko Tui Bau and former vice-president said that in this way parties will also maximise their strength in Parliament.

“The efficacy of the traditional approach will depend on the audience and what will work in one context may not be as successful in another.”

Ratu Joni was also present during the Social Democratic Liberal Party visit to Bau Island last Wednesday. The delegation was led by its leader, Ro Teimumu Kepa.

“I believe the vanua itself must retain some distance from all political parties and allow its people freedom of conscience and association, because the vanua like the lotu encompasses everyone within it irrespective of political affiliation.

“The ordinary iTaukei voter will support a political party for all sorts of reasons including belief in their manifesto, having a connection with a candidate or candidates (whether kinship, professional, religious, ethnic, military or otherwise), party affiliation. Whether appealing to iTaukei identity and a sense of victimhood over events since December 2006 will attract majority iTaukei support is an open question.”

He said: “SODELPA officials explained frankly how they perceived iTaukei concerns over land issues had been compromised particularly in relation to the iTaukei Land Trust Act being made subject to the provisions of the Land Bank Decree.“However, what impressed me most was the absence of rancour and invective displayed towards the government. I thought it an encouraging sign.”

On whether he agreed that a majority of iTaukei votes will be split by SODELPA and the proposed FijiFirst party, Ratu Joni’s answer was affirmative.

“I agree because both political parties require a majority of iTaukei support for a strong performance as they form 58-60 per cent of the population. SODELPA are appealing to iTaukei identity and the proposed FijiFirst party is asserting its multiracial and multicultural credentials.

“However, I also think the Prime Minister will move gradually towards the centre and acknowledge iTaukei concerns as the elections draw closer,” he said.

“Tui Macuata is a vice president of the proposed FijiFirst, a tacit acknowledgment by the Prime Minister and FijiFirst of the influence the vanua continues to have.”

Ratu Joni said it would take a generation or more to bring about the changes in ethnic perceptions the Prime Minister has sought to foster in the last eight years.

“Although he (Mr Bainimarama) will probably attract significant support among the youth of all communities- many of them believe Fiji’s political history began in December 2006.”

Ratu Joni admits that it would be difficult to predict the outcome of the September polls.
“People are reluctant to say what they really feel and in all our communities there is a sentiment of telling others what they wish for fear to avoid giving offence. “The utterances of support community leaders often offer in public need to be considered in that light. It is not necessarily being inconsistent or disingenuous – it is the way we relate to those in power and authority,” he said.


USP Student said...

Croz, I am a 26 year old university student who has never had the privilege of voting. You take your democratic freedom for granted. My family and many others have suffered under this illegal regime. You have no idea how this regime have affected me and my extended family.

You come to Fiji and see what you want to see. Next time, I will show you around and you can hear from my family and friends.

We need outside help. You continue to support this regime no matter what they come out with.

26 years old and never voted. I have no confidence in the elections process. Fiji is a bitter and divided place now more than ever. There was no necessity. The coup was unlawful. The Court of Appeal had no vested interest. Gates certainly did.

I hope you never lose your freedom in a wonderful democracy such as NZ. Imagine if tomorrow you woke up to a totalitarian state with media suppression. Where the courts are run by an outsider who could not accept the decision of a higher court.

UFDF make no sense. FF do not deserve a mandate. Where is our hope? It certainly does not sit with the AG.
I am enjoying a short stay in Sydney, paid for by my generous relatives here. They are also paying for my Uni and providing food money for my family. I am one of the lucky ones. You are lucky too, Croz, but you take too much for granted. I wish you could stand in my shoes for 1 day.

I awaited you comment on your previous post but it was not forthcoming. I have been posting on a friends computer in Sydney, someone I met in Fiji. I cannot blog in Fiji. Please respond. I know you love Fiji. Do you love its citizens like me. I have two days left to share my thoughts. When I go home I lose that freedom. Please help us. Use your blogsite to assist the people not the PM and the AG.

Anonymous said...

Why can't we have a leader such as Ratu Joni in Fiji? A man of undoubted integrity, intelligence and compassion for his people.

Anonymous said...

It will take some time for Fiji to recover from this disastrous coup and evil regime before a return to proper democracy and leadership like Ratu Joni. The poorly led Fiji military is a cancer on the nation of Fiji and until the military and the police force return to professional leadership they will remain corrupted like the judiciary. If you look closely you will see that figurehead positions are filled by Fijians, but look closely at any positions of real power ....pick the Fijian. The judiciary in particular, needs a real clean out. most Fijian institutions are useless or gutless - look at the military, GCC or Methodist church - totally ineffectual. they (and their kids) are paying the price for their own stupidity - while others fill their pockets.

Anonymous said...

A bleak picture indeed, but I agree that the judiciary is corrupted in a major way. And many, many of our best people have been pushed out of their jobs and out of the country and now work for international or regional organisations, foreign private companies, development banks such as ADB and other governments.

Anonymous said...

Ratu "bob each way" is a weak and vacillating figure who mostly speaks in riddles. Bugger him.

Anonymous said...

Dear Croz
You posted a real good piece not so long ago. Would you be so kind updating us on what of your points below have been heeded by the regime:
Bainimarama and Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum must declare their incomes and assets.
Outstanding public audits must be conducted and the results made public.
More assurances are needed on land: the land bank, leases, minerals, foreign participation.
Foreign-funded NGOS should be able to conduct voter education subject to monitoring by the Electoral Commission. The Bainimarama Government cannot be seen as the only educator.
Government must be seen to be assisting a level playing field in the lead up to the elections. One possibility would be the appointment of a leading political opponent to the Electoral Commission (similar to the Leader of the Opposition in the 2013 Constitution).
The police must finalise their investigations into alleged abuses.
The military and police should be warned against "over reactions" in the lead up to the elections.
Fiji First needs to repeat that some decrees will be revisited after the elections, most especially the Essential Industries Decree.
Government and Fiji First should invite public discussion and debate on Government's record. For example, on race and citizenship, language, land and environment.
Women, youth and ethnic minorities must be seen to be protected in law. A woman's and youth wings could be established, similar to SODELPA.
The sustainability of the infrastructure loans must be further explained.
Government should urge Australia and NZ to ask the Commonwealth and EU to resume their full assistance for the sugar industry.
The public needs to be better informed on Fiji's new international relations and shown how they may benefit the country.
Fiji First needs to widely publicise Government's multicultural work. For example, Taukei and Hindi languages in schools.
Fiji First should welcome dialogue and listen to opposition arguments. My reader said, "A clear statement by Bainimarama that he welcomes constructive policy debate with everyone."
Most especially, Government should reconsider the requests for more details on the voting card.
Fiji First must stand on Government's record and not stoop to mud slinging with its opponents.
Fiji First must ensure it has a well balanced list of candidates, with many well known and respected across Fiji.
Fiji First should perhaps float ideas on possible new structures for provincial and municipal councils, and advisory committees to replace and enlarge on the responsibilities of Senate.
Consideration could perhaps be given to releasing George Speight after the elections. Ask what peoople think.
Fiji First should say who (which parties) it would be prepared to work with in government.

Generally, those supporting Bainimarama and Fiji First need to be more flexibility and more willing to listen to contrary views. It will take many years to rid Fiji of the antagonisms produced in the wake of the 2006 Coup, but the first steps towards reconciliation can be taken now — by Government.

Anonymous said...

Ratu J mandraiwiwi was part of Frank Government weren't he? Then he started taking advice from NZ and giving them internal information from Fiji. So he was sacked. Now how can he be trusted?

Patriot said...

Bula Ratu, Pray that you and the parties that you support will become part of the political leadership. People are not afraid now. The corrupt elite with its beautiful, eloquent, promising speeches will not be able to sway the votes this time around! Ohh, sir, with all due respect, the people only care about a secure future not if the elites need to be leading them! Frankly they couldn't care less... The nation will move forward. Like it or not I do not see the old Wiseman returning! When the incumbent wins, that will be end of all the forced ingrained racial divisions. If you are holding on the thin string of hope that the older generation will be voting for their kinship heroes, I think you need to see the educated, suit wearing Ratu's commenting on the loss of support and their demise. Chiefly Nostalgia is not that helpful!! Look at the mirror sir and recognize that change is beyond your control. People will choose the right PM. As for the SODELPA, their only hope is fear...FEAR....fear of someone else taking your plate of goodies! Now that is what will force the poor to make the choice! But time will tell...I know where my vote will go...I hope you and the other hopeful sidewinders prepare a cute speech post-election ;)

Anonymous said...

Like Rabuka, Ratu Jone is a master at speaking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time. Thats why we in Fiji (like Thailand) need straight shooting military types to step in and guarantee stability when civilian leaders cannot even agree to disagree!

Crosbie Walsh said...

@Anonymous. Please use a pseudonym or your real name. No. Ratu Joni never supported the Bainimarama Government (though I'd like to think he supported many of the things they are trying to do). He was the Deputy Chairperson of the Great Council of Chiefs. I met him for the first time when he launched my book "Fiij:an Encylopaedic Atlas" just before the 2006 Coup.