Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Double Talk, Tears and Deception in Kadavu

Saying one thing while meaning another is called double talk and people in Fiji are hearing a lot of this in the lead up to the elections.

Take, for example, three incident during the recent visit of SODELPA to the island of Kadavu. 

Incident 1. Double Talk.  Elsewhere, Fijians are bombarded with news from all the political parties, but according to islander Lemeki Nabua the SODELPA visit  was an "eye opener". Apparently, people on Kadavu  had only been “hearing what the current government has been doing.”

 “Don’t get us wrong,” he said. “We are appreciative of the assistance that government has provided for us”, but  “development is the responsibility of any government in return for revenue earned from VAT on goods and services.”  

He thought Government should have consulted the people before passing new laws, expressing concern about the removal of the Fijian Affairs Scholarship which leaves “parents struggling to send our children to tertiary education.” ¹

In other words, Lemeki is covering his back. Thanks to Bainimarama, no thanks to Bainimarama. He's betting a dollar each way, so he can’t lose on the election outcome. But it's obvious he'd really prefer SODELPA. . 

Incident Number 2. Tears. It was also in Kadavu that Ro Teimumu burst into tears when speaking of supposed threats to Taukei land and customs, and the hardships people had faced, for the first time, under the Bainimarama Government.

“The struggles that people said they faced like the removal of the Fijian Affairs Board scholarships, the cost of living, fears and pain over the abolishment of the Great Council of Chiefs were just too much for the party leader to take in. Overwhelmed with emotion, the hall broke in silence briefly as the villagers saw Ro Teimumu crying.

Incident Number 3. Deception.  Not to be outdone, Laisenia Qarase explained that the election ballot papers would not include party names and  symbols that would have helped voters to identify the various candidates. Instead, they would have to vote by candidates’ nominated numbers. 

Qarase was responding to queries from the elderly who doubted they could memorise the numbers of the various party candidates (sic!)  they wanted to vote for. 

Qarase did not tell them they would not be voting for various party candidates. They would vote for only one candidate and have to remember only one number.

In these ways,  Taukei voters are left confused, concerned about the supposed threat to their identity and wellbeing as Taukei, and suspicious of the Bainimarama Government’s past actions and future intentions.  

Normal election tactics? Perhaps, and they may well be successful, but some voters will be wishing SODELPA would address real issues and real threats that affect all Fijians.  There is no threat to Taukei land.  It is better protected  now than ever before.² There is no threat to any religion and no threat to anyone's cultural identity.

¹ Scholarships are now non-race based but there's a "topping up" provision to allow for gross under-representation. 
² See Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum's detailed comments on land in the Constitution and in the Land Decree.


Marc Edge said...

Does MINFO write these?

Anonymous said...

Get a life Marc Edge. You are a pest in Fiji. Go and do something useful. By the way, MINFO wrote this on my behalf.

Anonymous said...

Marc Edge you just can't help yourself aye.

Anonymous said...


on a separate note how about the double standards of FijiFirst. They claimed FijiFirst was different to Fiji 1st but now have lodged a objection to One Fiji saying it is to similar to FijiFirst and could be confusing. Lets see how independent the elections office is.

Anonymous said...

What I know of Mark Edge as a student is that he's a third grade academic and utterly incompetent. His writing is as notoriously simplistic as that of a high school student.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations again Marc. You stirred up pooncie thikwit so much he responded three times! He must be sitting too much on his boney butt?

Cin Cin said...

'....There is no threat to Taukei land. It is better protected now than ever before.² '....

Really Croz? This is up there with your tired line that no development occurred in Fiji prior to 2006 or that no government minister had ever visited a village or electorate until the arrival of Frank and company.

The constitutional and legal arrangements relating to native title, set down in the 1970 constitution and essentially unchanged until 2009, were robust, transparent, were accepted by all the major political parties, and served landowners well.

How did you arrive at the conclusion that Franks arrangements are superior? The old legislation was more than adequate.

Anonymous said...

You are wrong as the first response was me and the other could be the second person; so responded three times? There's a Tui Advert in NZ, "Yeah Right".

Anonymous said...

Cin Cin-
If the arrangement was so robust prior to 2009, how do you explain the dealings that my mother's people in Momi had to endure? i.e swapping of a prime native land to crown then freehold land. Whilst I was overseas when this occured under Qarase's government, my relatives received "peanuts" for the deal.

Anonymous said...

Cin Cin-
In addition, there have been "talk" of other landowners in Nadroga who got the "short-end of the stick" when it came to their land dealing with pre-2006 governments. For example, landowners along Baravi where Rt Naiqama Lalabalavu was invoved. What frustrates me is the fact that all cases of such shoddy dealings involves fijians against fijian landowners. Three cases comes to mind, Momi, Baravi and Denarau case.
And yet I'Taukei politicians jump up and down just prior to elections blaming our Indian brothers and sisters. Since their arrival to Fiji in the second half of teh 1800s, I have yet to hear them steal or claim an inch of Fijian native land.

Anonymous said...

The protection of customary land is perfect under the current legislation. The most trusted person in the entire nation (the PM) makes all decisions on land bank issues. The real protection lies in the provision that his decision cannot be challenged in court. This is normal practice in all truly democratic countries where decisions of the Commander in Chief are final.

Cin Cin said...


I was alluding to the constitutional arrangements, such as the oversight role of the Senate and the veto power of the nominees of the GCC, none of which will exist in a single house legislature that will occur in the next parliament.

The incidents you talk about, although allowable under the legislation, certainly didn't satisfy all parties and on the surface appear to be poorly handled, though I thought that Qarase has explained the Momi dealings reasonably well.

Franks so called Land Bank could be an ideal vehicle for avoiding future questionable land swaps
but no, Frank and kaiyum couldn't help themselves, they had to throw in a clause disallowing any judicial oversight, as is per normal for them. How you or Croz think this makes for a 'better' system than the one that existed previously, well who knows?

Anonymous said...

@Cin Cin

Don't put words in my mouth by assuming that I agree with Croz that the system under the 2013 constitution is better than the previous ones because I am still trying to dissect the variation before I make up my mind.
Rather than just approaching it from the legal perspective, I am also trying to understand how I'Taukeis could do such things to each other. The bottom line is Qarase's explanation talked about the fact that the transaction was not allowed to be completed given the 2006 coup and no one will ever know what the outcome would have been without the illegal takeover by Frank and RFMF. The mere fact that Qarase's government "facilitated" the changing of title from native to crown and to freehold in the first place should not have happened, period.

Anonymous said...

Cin cin-

By the way, would you revert the current arrangement under 2013 constitution back to the old version even if SODELPA wins the election?

Food for thought said...

Here is a thought.....
There are 4 registered parties other than FF. Another 3 in the pipeline. With a min 5000 members each you can expect 35,000 votes for parties other than FF. If each party memeber can convince just 7 people (partner/children/friends/parents) to vote for their party (candidate) thats 245,000 votes and starting to look like some serious competition to the military backed jugernaught that is FijiFirst. Frank has stated he will win every seat...I don't think so. He has also stated he will not form a coalition. This I think is another lie - he will if he needs to. His track record on promises is very low anyway. Its the one thing that makes him look like a real politician. Anyway the big question is how will he cope having to debate in parliment against other parties even if (as likely) he wins the majority ?

Cin Cin said...


fair point, I will drop the assumptions.

The practice of changing native title to crown to freehold makes sense if there is, among other things, a strong business case ( or a 'National Interest' argument in the case of infrastructure projects) , no net loss of land area to landowners, all parties are in agreement and the transaction is transparent - particularly the financial arrangements that follow. I'm not sure why the Momi deal is always held up as an example because such transactions occurred prior, such as during the construction of the new Queens Rd highway in the 1970s.. And yes, there have been some shoddy outcomes - is it the fault of the legislation or intra-Fijian politics and greedy chiefs at play? I don't know.

As for reverting back to the previous system - it was preferable mainly in that the arrangements were, by and large, accepted by the electorate at large. With the exception of the ALTO leases, I can't recall the arrangements around native land ever being seriously challenged.

But you also then get into another argument - the 2013 Constitution vs the pre 2009 Constitution. And then the debate over the role of GCC comes into play. And then the imperfections in the electoral system - it goes on and on.

Anonymous said...

@Cin Cin- Vinaka for the explanation appreciate you sharing that piece.

I guess the reason why I brought up the Momi case was for the mere fact that I have maternal links to the area. And whilst I do not have the details of what occurred or the arrangements at a higher level (National/Strategic) at that time by all stakeholders (incl the government who facilitated the transaction), from what my local relatives tell me is that the 2006 Frank coup was not the reason why they got the short-end of the stick. They absolutely dislike Naiqama Lalabalavu who was the Minister then and who they all thought as a Fijian chief would have had their best interest at heart. Whilst the landowners have to take some blame for agreeing to the deal with lots of promises (which did not all eventuate), I have to "cut them some slack" due to naivety in totally trusting the government to take care of their interest first. In short, they regret the deal and the tikina including the other neighboring tikinas such as Wai are not going to vote for a party that has Lalabalavu nor Qarase's involvement.

Cin Cin said...

And you can't blame the landowners for taking that stance. I suspect they won't be the only ones.

SODELPA will probably continue to raise the land issue - it seems to be working for them and as long as they can continue to sow the seeds of doubt they won't back off. Like a lot of people I wish they would also announce other policies but it would appear that they are happy to leave that to the other opposition parties. And strategically it may make sense - let each party concentrate on what they perceive as their core strengths - though they do run the risk of scavenging votes off each other.

On the other hand, and despite the Fiji Sun polls, FijiFirst is vulnerable in a number of areas that the opposition parties may yet pick up on and target. For example Frank bangs on about 'Old politicans' - if Kubuabola isn't an 'Old politican' then I think we need to re-write the dictionary. Anyway, that's another debate.

Anonymous said...

Crocodile tears were shed in Kadavu. The mother of all con.

Anonymous said...

I have to give it to her for being "on the money" in terms of using emotions-we I'Taukei's love that sort of drama. Infact, I could go a strp further and argue that its does certainly cloud our judgement.