So now, after months of anticipation, the waiting is over. We no longer have to rely on blogs, polls and angry voices to guess at what the people of Fiji think. They have told us, in no uncertain terms, that they want a Bainimarama government to lead the way for the next four years. Three out of five voters voted FijiFirst, 60% of the vote, much more than SDL's 44% in 2006 or New Zealand's National Party's 48% on Saturday. A decisive victory with 32 of the 50 seats in Parliament, and the Speaker to be appointed, in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.
Setting the tone
But this leaves two out of five voters who did not vote for FijiFirst which resulted in SODELPA winning 15 and the NFP 3 seats. How all the leaders of these parties act over the next few days and coming weeks will set the tone for the rest of the country, and those in Fiji and overseas who have, over the Internet, been vocal on the Fiji political situation.
The country needs to heal the wounds of division and move forward with a government responding to the needs of the people and a principled opposition helping it on its way, and keeping it honest. It does not need any more tantrums from the likes of Mick Beddoes or Mahendra Chaudhry who tried, unsuccessfully, to besmirch the election process. The Opposition needs more spokesmen with the dignity of Ro Teimumu and the silence of Biman Prasad.
Blogs and Facebook roles
The blogs and Facebook pages also need to reconsider their roles. If they are to play a useful role in reconciliation and help all those in power —and in Parliament— focus on the major issues facing the nation, the publishers and editors will need to reconsider their priorities.
They must encourage constructive debate and discussion and delete all personal, sexually crude and pointlessly negative comments by their readers. My impression, from reading some of the comments on my blog, is that some readers see the blog as a form of entertainment where they can anonymously express views and insults that they could never express if their name was attached to their statement. The time for this sort of comment has passed. From now on, it can only hurt Fiji.
The future of this blog
I am not sure how I will proceed with this blog. There are many sources of news on Fiji. What is lacking is considered discussion on specific issues; discussion that would be helpful to government, the opposition, business, the unions and other NGO policy and opinion makers. What also may be lacking, as time goes on, is feedback from the people on what is being discussed in Parliament. If you have any ideas how the blog could serve these purposes, please let me know.
Meanwhile, I would ask you to do three things:
1. Slide your mouse to the right side of the page, and click on the RSS icon and enter your email address so that you automatically receive blog postings and comments.
2. Answer the survey "Confidential Survey on You ....." posted on 17 September. It is completely confidential and your answers really will help me to write a paper for the book that Dr Steve Ratuva is editing. The world is changing so fast with the ever increasing influence of the internet, and so little is known more about the effects of the social media on political opinions.
3. I invite your comments on what I think is the most important issue facing Fiji as this moment in time: A divided Fiji and how to heal the wounds. What is your advice to Bainimarama, Ro Teimumu, Dr Biman Prasad, the NGOs, and those who write on blogs?
I'm sorry but I'll no longer accept "Anonymous." Those days are over, and the use of "anonymous" does not help discussion. Please write using your real name or pseudonym before posting by clicking the down arrow next to "Comment as" and then clicking on "Name/URL". Just write your name. You do not need an URL.
Note also as indicated above, I will "delete all personal, sexually crude and pointlessly negative comments" by readers, hoping that all blogs will do likewise.
Thank you for reading this.