Some Chiefs Beg to Differ

Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara
Opinion by Crosbie Walsh

Ro Teimumu is the sister of the late Ro Lady Lalabalavu Mara, the wife of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, and the head of Burebasaga, one of Fiji's three tribal confederacies. 

With SODELPA's campaign increasingly focused on issues such as putting God back in the Constitution, restoring to Taukei the exclusive use of the title "Fijian", the restoration of the Great Council of Chiefs, and accusations that Bainimarama is stealing Taukei land, many  people could may think that Ro Teimumu Kepa is  expressing the concerns of all chiefs.   

But even within her own family this is not the case. 

Her nephew Ratu Tevita Mara certainly supports her now but initially he supported Bainimarama and is thought to have been the officer in charge of the beating of women NGO leaders in 2007. But  then he plotted against Bainimarama and dodged a charge of treason by  fleeing to Tonga where he is now on the King's personal staff.   

Her niece  Adi Ateca Ganilau, Ratu Mara's daughter, and husband Ratu Epeli Ganilau also initially supported Bainimarama (Ratu Epeli was in Bainimarama's Cabinet), but fell out after Adi Ateca made a blistering attack on Bainimarama at a Lau Provincial Council meeting for what seemed to be mainly personal reasons.  She said Bainimarama had always been against the Mara family.

However, another of Ratu Mara's daughters and Ro Teimumu's  other niece,  Adi Koila Nailatikau is married to Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, the President of Fiji, and he very definely supports Bainimarama.  

Ratu Seru Epenisa Cakobau

So also does their cousin Bauan chief Adi Litia Cakobau, the daughter of former Governor-General Ratu Sir George Cakobau.   All these chiefs are descendants of Ratu Seru Epenisa Cakobau who ceded Fiji to Queen Victoria, and none of those supporting Bainimarama think FijiFirst is a threat to Taukei interests.

Neither, obviously, do the three chiefs —Ratu Peceli Rinakama, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and Adi Laisa Tora —who are Fiji First candidates, or the other 27 FijiFirst  candidates, including Bainimarama, who are Taukei.  

Nor, incidentally,  does the former General Secretary of the SDL party, SODELPA's predecessor, Ema Druavesi, who now supports FijiFirst believe a FijiFirst government would be any threat to Taukei interests.  

With so many Taukei leaders supporting FijiFirst, Ro Teimumu's claim must be seen as an appeal to the Taukei elite who no longer enjoy special privileges under the Bainimarama Government, and to a large number of less educated and tribally-orientated Taukei who are likely to believe her. 

The Bainimarama Government had its shortcomings and many of these have been discussed in this blog, and there is no way be can know the motives of all those standing for FijiFirst.  But the same can be said of the Qarase Government and those standing for SODELPA.. 

The real issue  before voters in this election is not between a totalitarian regime and a democracy as some observers claim. The real choice is between a party that promises to treat all citizens equally and fairly and a party that pays lip service to equality but more frequently hints at  Taukei paramountcy.  


Anonymous said…
The Qarase government never had to use poorly led thugs with guns to forcefully take over a legitimately elected government unlike Bainimarama. And on the matter of the Fiji military under bainimarama and tikoitoga - have the I-taukei soldiers who surrendered to islamist terrorists been released yet? If not, why not?
Anonymous said…
GO FIJIFIRST, seriously sodelpa should take a hike, we don't need them and their racist, unintelligent, dragging Fiji back, depressing, lame, pessimistic, self serving bullshit. Running a country is not the same as running a confederacy. Fiji is a multicultural country of people who don't need your annoying divisive comments, who don't need your adorable economic policies that are not in anyway going to grow the economy, who don't need your confused perspective on Christian values and who most definitely don't need your smart asses talking that bullshit like you think we're all dumb enough to believe you.
Anonymous said…
Because terrorists don't give a shit whether you're Itaukei, Indian or whatevernese, they just look to gain from hostage negotiations which can be a long process because they're terrorists. I see people are trying to turn that into some kind of conspiracy on the government. SDL didn't use poorly led thugs,they used their expert, world class, state of the art ability to convert racism and cow dunk into action which was what fueled the 2000 coup. Good to see some things never change.
Anonymous said…
AnonymousMonday, September 8, 2014 at 11:51:00 PM GMT+12

Flick me your address and I will send you a couple of boxes of tissue.
Anonymous said…
Bula Vinaka. I couldn't put it any better in a "blunt" manner although I think in this case been blunt is the only way. I belong to the Burebasaga Confederacy (on both sides of my lineage) and have been very active in everything that my "vanua" asks me to contribute towards either monetary, consultant, advisor and so on. Whilst I will respect Ro Teimumu as my traditional leader and anything to do with the vanua, I am somewhat embarrased with her performance politically especially when she talks about divisive policies and in the "same breath" talks about multi-culturalism, vibrant Fiji, etc.
I had the pleasure of completing some papers with her at University in the early 90s, so I did expect more from her.
Cin Cin said…
Croz, you really need to drop this obsession you have with SODELPA - your blog increasingly reads like a FijiFirst pamphlet. Yes, SODELPA is one dimensional, yes they have run what appears to be an average campaign and yes they may well be out of touch with what many voters, of all races, actually want. But some voters are going to vote for them - just as some voters have bought the line of 'equal citizenry and fairness.
Divisions in Fijian politics is hardly new, particularly amongst the chiefs, and I am surprised you think its a recent phenomenon.
Anonymous said…
I dont know what that means?
Crosbie Walsh said…
@ Cin Cin ... Thank you for your advice but it is not an obsession. I've tried in the past to be even handed but with it now very clear what SODELPOA stands for, I have no choice but to oppose it. And the only party that can do this and become the next government is FijiFirst. NFP and PDP are alternatives but they have no chance of forming the next government, and a vote for them could very well favour SODELPA. I know that chiefly divisions are not new. My point was that Ro Teimumu was not speaking on behalf of all of them and many do not agree with her rhetoric about FijiFirst's threat to indigneous rights. Best wishes.
Cin Cin said…
Or perhaps a grand coalition of all opposition parties would force them to moderate their views? Given where the polls appear to be heading its not beyond the realms of possibility.
Or is it that after 8 years of pretty average governance some voters may just be tired of being told what to do and may use the privacy of the voting booth to actually vote the way they want to. You and I may disagree with the outcome but isn't that what democracy is all about?
Anonymous said…
Anonymous 2.56AM "SDL didn't use poorly led thugs, they .... fuelled the 2000 coup." How did they do that? SDL didn't come into existence until 2001.

Oh, now I get it - time travel. Genius!
Anonymous said…
Yours seems to be a narrowly pessimistic view. You support FijiFirst because, to you, it seems to be the only electable alternative to Sodelpa's desire for indigenous rights, which you also oppose. Presumably you've written off the other parties on the results of very narrow opinion polls. FijiFirst stands for the enforcement of decrees that were formulated without any reference to the people of Fiji. Sodelpa, at the other end of the spectrum, stands for the dismantling of many of those decrees under the guise of indigenous rights.

On the other hand the NFP and PFP stand for going back to the Fiji people and, by referendum, determining what the majority want regarding the more contentious decrees.

You may feel that FijiFirst is the best of only two poor options which is why you're one of their cheerleaders. However the lead up to the 1999 election should show you how inaccurate opinion polls can be - the whitewashing of the SVT/ NFP coalition was a surprise to many.

My earnest hope is that one of the moderate parties, NFP, Labour or PDP are elected and stick with their promise to use referenda to determine their stance on controversial national issues like national names, GCC, use of 1997/ 2013 Constitution and last, but by no means least, punishment for treason
Anonymous said…
It is really disrespectful to suggest that our leader's wish to win all seats in parliament will not be fulfilled. SODELPA cannot have a single seat as all they would do is sabotaging the rapid progress that our AG's great Fiji First Party has in mind for Fiji. Our great leaders have determined that SODELPA is racist, corrupt and incompetent outfit, Croz has confirmed this determination and thus, SODELPA should be removed from competition. It is only the deep seated democratic spirit of our great leaders that has prevented the elimination of SODELPA and it is now up to the electorate to vote for FFP.
Anonymous said…
Just an issue that needs to be talked about:

Will SODELPA accept a non-iTaukei to be PM suppose if it formed a coalition with NFP or PDP as its junior partner?
Cin Cin said…
If SODELPA was the senior partner, why would they? Nothing to do with race or religion, the senior partner would probably reserve the right to choose their own PM.
Crosbie Walsh said…
@ Anonymous 1800PM.. You are correct in thinking I have some reservations about the Bainimarama Government's record but for the most part their policies have been well directed, and I think FijiFirst will act in a far more collegial manner when they face the realities of Parliament. I would like to see the moderate parties well represented in Parliament if, and only if, it does not give SODELPA the chance to become the government or bring a FijiFirst government down in Parliament. Unfortunately, at the moment none of them seem likely to cross the 5% threshold and a vote for them could, in effect, be a vote for SODELPA. I have no problems with referenda on major issues and, indeed, changes to the 2013 Constitution will require one. Unless, of course, SODELPA wins and scraps the 2013 Constitution which raises another issue: Tikoitoga has promised to protect the Constitution!
Anonymous said…
It is really surprising to see how bold Indians and other races have started to voice their opinion and thoughts and claiming we as Fijians are racist. When we receive you like you are our own. We allowed you to build mosque and temple when its against our believe. but if you do the same in India and many Muslim nation we will be killed. Yet when we have given so much of ours to be shared with you, you still want more and to the extent that you boldly talk about chiefly household with no respect at all. What those who are speaking so boldly must understand is that our patience and kindness as a Fijian race can only be push so far. and when it reaches it pick its not people like Groz Walsh or those who make comment from the safety of overseas who will suffer oh no, who do you think will?? Have some respect.
Anonymous said…
I mean SODELPA to be junior partner.
Reason for asking is that FLP 'liumuri' Tupeni Baba and MC became PM. iTaukeis didn't like it hence coup.
Anonymous said…
The mere facts that 10 people have been brutally murdered by Bainimarama's officials without any justice at all being done is enough to say no to Fiji first. I question if Walsh morals do feel the same way. Any right minded normal human being surely cannot just look the other way and support a murderer using the excuse that it is for greater good. For a murderer is a murderer end of story.
Anonymous said…
They have been pushed too far already. Fijians are under attack at home and abroad. This fascist blog is full of racist attacks on Fijians and all they stand for.
Anonymous said…
Anon @ 4:55PM ...welcome to democracy bro. Chiefly households should not get involved in politics in the first place coz like all politicians, they will be tested, harangued, harassed, made fun of etc. I was hoping Ro Teimumu & Ratu Naiqama would stay out and remain neutral as heads of their respective 'vanuas'. I was saddened that they did not, knowing that they would, as politicians, be pilloried and made the butt of jokes etc in the rough and tumble of democratic politics. The fault lies with them, it was their choice, they know that some people (their subjects) will resent their chiefs being pilloried and it has the potential to destabilize things. In accepting to contest the elections they have placed their priority in the fortunes of their political party, not the 'vanua'. So they too must bear responsibility.
Anonymous said…
Crosbie, it's a little mischievous of you to mention that Tikoitoga has promised to protect the constitution since we both know that he is somewhat ignorant of his responsibilities – for example his comments concerning Rabuka’s utterances and his lack of protection of the previous constitution.

Of far more importance is the fact that the 2013 constitution (which is presumably the one he promises to protect) makes no mention of needing military protection. Section 131 deals with the military’s responsibilities and section 154 deals with how the military can respond to threats – by making a recommendation to the Prime Minister that a state of emergency be declared.

You and I know that the Constitution can only exist with judicial, not military, protection. The question is – does Tikoitoga? Given his past record, probably not.

As far as your other comment concerning representation goes, I'm disappointed since it shows you are trying to hold two mutually exclusive positions. Having written that a strong opposition is necessary in a healthy democracy you now say, in effect, that you would not like to see it strong enough (by virtue of alliances) to challenge the government.

I find that you hold a bewildering number of contrary positions, especially when it comes to accepting the possible implications of votes that will have been freely cast, and am a loss to understand why.
Anonymous said…
So what was the problem with Tikoitoga's utterances?

I thought Rambo was being irresponsible by implying that Muslims in Fiji would be endangered if a rescue attempt failed or if Fijian soldiers were hurt in Syria. More than 30 Fijian soldiers lost their lives in Lebanon and no religious group in Fiji were harmed. So what is Rambo talking about? Typical Rabuka, he opens his mouth before engaging his brain (if he has one).
Anonymous said…
What is really sad is how conveniently people forget about the blood, the sweat the humiliation that the indians suffered during indenture,
AnonymousWednesday, September 10, 2014 at 4:55:00 PM GMT+12 <<== you are sick mate, take a look at history and see what indians have endured for fiji