Thursday, 25 September 2014

1. What is the New Role for FijiFirst in Government?

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A democratic government requires very different skills from a military-backed government. Bainimarama's remark today about working with "some of the liars I met on the campaign trail" was an unfortunate lapse into his old style. This statement and the extract from his address at the Stadium are more encouraging.

This is first of four postings on new roles. Your comments are most welcome.
  • What do you think Government's priorities should be? 
  • How can they best meet the Opposition's concerns and include them in decision-making?  
  • Use the  words "PRIORITIES" and "OPPOSITION"  and list your opinions.
  • Please ensure you use your real name or a pseudonym in commenting.

Part of the PM's address at the Westpac Stadium

While I’m sure that the supporters of other political parties are disappointed, I want to say to them that this is how parliamentary democracy works. I also want to say to them that I intend to govern for all Fijians. I will be your Prime Minister too. Because I passionately believe in One Nation, One Fiji and that everyone has a place in it, whoever you are, wherever you come from and whoever you voted for.

In this election, an overwhelming majority of Fijians have embraced the principal of unity that binds us all together. We are strong as a nation. In fact, we have never been stronger.

An overwhelming majority of us have turned our backs on the politics of division and embraced a united future. We have chosen the path of fairness and justice. The path of equal opportunity. To the minority who are still caught in the past, I say to you, please come and lets all move forward together – we must have an inclusive Fiji in which no-one is left behind.

I am the Prime Minister of all Fijians, for all Fijians. The days of pandering to special interests groups, elites and certain areas of the country are over. Now, the days of meeting the needs of ordinary people and their families will continue and with renewed fervour. We intend to ride the current wave of economic growth that is certain to now increase even more. We will use this growth to meet the needs of all Fijians – to improve services, create more jobs in particular for our youth and continue with building more and better infrastructure.

The next phase of our reforms will build upon what has already been started but we will take it quickly to another level. These include overhauling the Civil Service to streamline it, make it very professional and far more efficient.

We went to the nation with that message of service, of delivering what people need to improve their own lives. And I intend – in the new Parliament – to redouble our efforts to provide service to every Fijian in every part of the country. We have a vision of a prosperous, modern and inclusive Fiji and we intend to achieve it.

I call on every Fijian – no matter who they voted for in this election – to join me on that mission, to work hand in hand to make Fiji truly the way the world should be.

This is a victory for all Fijians. This is when history will record that as a nation, we embraced a new future. I passionately believe that the future must be based on unity, equality, compassion and love. And I am deeply touched and grateful that so many of you have shared my vision and put your trust in me to take our beloved nation forward.

As well as forming a Government, I will be travelling to New York in the coming days to attend the United Nations General Assembly. There, I will tell the world what we have just accomplished in Fiji. It will be a landmark occasion. Because I promised the nation of Fiji and the international community that I would take Fiji to the first genuine democracy in our history and I have kept that promise, thanks to the support of the Fijian people.

But this is not the end of the journey. It is only the beginning. Today we rededicate ourselves to making Fiji Great, the pre-eminent Pacific Island nation and one respected the world over. It is a future that we owe our young people. It is a future that we owe ourselves.

As I have said all through this campaign, there has never been a better time to be Fijian. And with God’s blessing, even better days lie ahead. Because we have never been more united or more committed as Fijians to finally fulfilling our destiny.

May God be with us as we strive to build a better nation for all Fijians. May God bless Fiji.

Vinaka Vakalevu. Thank you.


  1. "This is a victory for all Fijians. This is when history will record that as a nation, we embraced a new future. I passionately believe that the future must be based on unity, equality, compassion and love. And I am deeply touched and grateful that so many of you have shared my vision and put your trust in me to take our beloved nation forward."

    This is "The Message" that the international community should take notice of. Fijians have been craving for this for decades. You can slap us with travel bans, trade bans, etc etc, well shove it up your rear, we survived, and we now have a leader leading this nation in the right direction without interference from you mongrels.

  2. His of the cuff comment is more reflective than the carefully crafted speech of the real PM. Let's see how he goes in parliament. I've seen very little change in him in 8 years - always he orders military man and never open to others ideas. An alternate view is a enemy and you seek to destroy enemies. Let's hope I am wrong.

  3. I don't know why parliamentarians in Fiji should be expected to behave any differently than those in other countries. Parliaments of the Westminster tradition are designed to produce governments which govern and oppositions which oppose. Even the shape of the chamber(s) stresses this characteristic. Since the nineteenth century at least parliaments have been largely rubber stamps for executive decisions, especially when governments are composed of one party or party coalition with a clear majority. As for PM Bainimarama doing something exceptional or undesirable in calling his opponents liars, this is standard practice among today's politicians across the world except perhaps in parliament itself where procedure requires MPs to find other ways of saying the same thing. In Australia, the opposition Liberal-National Party coalition and their acolytes constantly called PM Julia Gillard a liar, a witch and a range of comparable terms. Now the position has been reversed and liars is the daily tag placed around PM Abbott and his ministers. So a bit less hypocrisy and a bit more recognition of what is now universal would be a starting point for assessing the new parliament in Fiji.

    1. Scott, We agree on many things but not on this. "Universal" where? One size does not fit all, and the Australian (and, for that matter, the Westminster) example is what Fiji had before the 2006 Coup.It perpetuated the divisions of race, religion, region, status and class.

      The single most important issue in Fiji today is how to build a robust nation, and nation-building will probably remain the first and most important issue in Fiji for some time, for without a a commonly accepted view of what constitutes a nation, with shared values on how to live together in a multi-cultural space, democracy cannot flower. .

      If an overseas example is necessary, Singapore most fits the bill. A small poor, island state deeply divided by race transformed itself, through its own type of democracy, into a modern state where the living standards of this generation could not even have been imagined at Independence in 1965.

      Fiji, of course, does not have to copy Singapore, but in seeking to creating a modern nation, it is in for the long haul. and it certainly will not be helped by following the adversarial politics you mention in Australia. I prefer the NFP's approach: they will work with SODELPA AND the Government. Government also needs to work with them.

    2. Your use of Singapore is instructive but perhaps not for the reasons you suggest. It has been effectively a one party state, a so-called Socialist Democracy since the split with Malaysia in 1965. Opposition politicians are rarely elected and are more likely to be harassed and persecuted, jailed or encouraged to leave the country. Almost 50 per cent of the seats at each election are uncontested. At the last 2011 election the two successful opposition parties won one seat each in an 87 seat legislature, so the governing Peoples Action Party faces no substantial opposition in parliament which is little more than a rubber stamp. At the 2011 election all the presidentail candidates were ethnc Chinese and former members of the People's Action Party. Since 1959 all three PMs have been ethnic Chinese, with former Fabian Harry Lee, later the first PM Lee Kuan Yew in power from 1959 to 1990. The current PM is Lee Kuan Yew's son and with father looking over his shoulder as a member of Cabinet, is just as intolerant of dissent as the father was. Any extra-parliamentary opposition is ruthlessly crushed and/or coopted.
      Singapore has retained capital punishment and has one of the highest rates of execution in the world. Many forms of personal freedom are prohibited to ensure that the city state is a sanitary state. Homosexual acts between men are still a criminal offense though thanks to some very courageous campaigning by opponents of this form of criminality there are at last signs of change.
      Since you do not give dates I'm not sure when Sinagpre was supposedly a poor state deeply divided by race. Perhaps you are thinking of Malaysia, an equally repressive country. The major political division at Independence in Singapore had nothing to do with race: both major blocs, communist and socialist were led by Chinese and the battle was over the future direction of the country's political economy. The 1964 and 1969 so-called race riots in Singapore were primarily an over-flow from the rise of ultra-nationalism in Malaya/Malaysia with the first leading to Singapore leaving/being pushed out of the federation with Malaya.
      As for living standards, even in the colonial period the basis of Singapore's wealth was its prime location in the world's maritime and defence shipping lanes. Since Independence its governments have continued to benefit from the country's position in the Strait of Malacca where many ships travelling from and to the world's fastest growing economies refuel, revictual and refit. The authoritarian reign of its governments have suited all the major exporting and importing countries who depend upon easy and reliable passage through the Strait. Its military importance to the western allied countries remains.
      Lee Kuan Yew has always justified the repression in the name of nation-building, which also seems to be your reason for using the country as an exemplar for Fiji. Our disagreement on the appropriateness of authoritarian rule to attain higher living standards for some is fundamental. As numerous commentators have said since Fiji's election, there is more to democracy than the holding of elections. On many scores Singapore is not a democracy. Any judgement on Fiji is still out. It is not a matter of Fiji copying Singapore but of what democracy in Fiji will consist when Singapore provides an example of what not to welcome.

  4. If Banimarma continues his dictatorship style and polemical rhetoric he is going to increase the ideological power of ethno nationalism and Christian mobilization against the precise ideology of equality which other parties like the NFP presented as the best way for Fiji. This will reduce the desire and tendency of the ideology of equality and democracy among a large segment of the population.

    Banimarma may have been able to make popular this ideology but he does not exhibit or at least is not exhibiting the democratic virtues or even political orature to convince the Fijians of equality and mutual dialogue for the opposition party and in his engagement around the practices and views of religion and indigenity

    If he continues, there will be greater ethno-nationalism in upcoming elections and Fiji's future

    1. Totally disagree - the racist groups masquerading as nationalist would have a far bigger impact if the PM had not taken them head on. Just look at the Methodist Church which is dilebrately spreading lies to push their beliefs. In a secular state they have all the rights to do as they please and need to respect others right to choose what they believe in. The church continues to tell people that praying to Jesus would not be allowed in a Secular state.

    2. Onboard, I agree with your first statement.

      It seems to me however that the Methodist Church is going through much the same process as the nation; the current leadership is much more moderate (though still a bit confused about what a secular state means, judging by Rev Bainivanua's various statements ) but some of the circuit ministers may well be saying silly things like worship won't be allowed. They certainly were a while ago. Nonetheless there is progress amongst the Methodists as elsewhere - this will all take time.

    3. Ronaldo might care to check the language used by politicians in a mature democracy like Australia against their opponents as part of their 'political orature'. Ex PM Paul Keating was well known for his use of colourful language when describing his opponents. Calling political oponents 'liars' as Frank has done is the same descriptor used by the current Liberal Party when they were on the Opposition benches e.g. PM Julia Gillard was branded a LIAR...Tony Abbott referred to her as JULIAR! A former Labour politician (Mark Latham) once described his opponents in parliament as a 'conga line of suck-holes'.

      I agree with Onboard that Frank had to stand up to the ethno-nationalists including the Methodist Church. Ethno-nationalism in Fiji is fuelled by the lies peddled by politicians. SODELPA used lies to create fear amongst the indigenous Fijian community. Frank should every tactic available to expose the LIES.

  5. DOs:

    Do look into Manifestos of other parties and identify good ideas that can be implemented.
    Do form working committees to look into those serious concerns highlighted by various parties and identify how these can be improved/addressed.
    Do form working committees to look into issues relating to the iTaukei and identify alternative ways of addressing or strengthening appropriate issues.
    Do create more policies that can attract landowner participation in business and the utilization of land – if consistency in supply is a challenge then consider introducing quotas for farmers in supplying products.
    Do create schemes that can attract Church groups that have large parcels of land and may like to utilize it for business.
    Do identify systematic issues raised by the Auditor General and monitor its rectification.
    Do strengthen systems and processes and address the needs of those Units responsible for checking these - as they may have been neglected for years or not created at all.
    Do put in place a Risk Management framework in all Ministries.
    Do review the Budget process so there’s time for Ministries to readjust their Budgets in case their initial requests are reduced.
    Do consider introducing Performance Budgeting so PSs’ performance can be properly measured and is made public
    Do ensure that Annual Reports do mention both what was planned in the beginning against actual achievements.
    Do ensure that prior to the introduction of new initiatives an Accounting team ensures that systems and processes are properly drawn out and the implementing Ministry is consulted and trained.
    Do ensure the personnel are not overloaded with work due to new initiatives.
    Do computerize more Govt systems and processes
    Do make more statistical and financial information publically available – esp. On the various schemes

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