Samoa's PM talks about Fiji politics and Ratu Tevita Mara
Updated June 15, 2011 17:08:29
Samoa's prime minister has strongly criticised academics who think the sanctions against Fiji should be removed.
Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi also thinks that Fiji's soldiers should be given a "holiday" from serving with the UN.
Tuilaepa who's in Australia for a week-long visit, made the comments in Melbourne today.
The Samoan prime minister also says that he would not have a problem with a visit from fugitive Fijian, Ratu Tevita Mara.
Ratu Tevita fled to Tonga rather than face charges of sedition.
In a public address on YOUTUBE, Ratu Tevita stated he will tour the region to give his version of events in Fiji.
Pacific Beat asked him if he would welcome a visit from Ratu Tevita.
Presenter: Geraldine Coutts
Speaker: Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa
TUILAEPA: I don't see any problem there. I have been talking a lot about the situation in Fiji and I believe and still believe that the Fijians will eventually solve the problem and I think this is one of the processes towards that solution and I sincerely hope that when it comes, that it comes peacefully.
What I hear from Tevita seem to suggest that as it happens in dictatorships, eventually common sense will prevail and people be keen to realise that they have to solve their own problems themselves. It has happened in many, many country. It happened in Vietnam. It happened in Indonesia way back in 1967 with much instability brought up by the Communists in Indonesia. And, of course, Indonesia has solved its own internal political problems and I believe that that will happen also in Fiji. Eventually people will come to realise that the dictatorship was wrong and I do hope that they will solve it peacefully one way or another.
COUTTS: But Ratu Tevita Mara would be welcome in Samoa?
TUILAEPA: I don't see any problem why we should not.
COUTTS: Some are saying, and I wonder what your attitude is, that they feel that Ratu Tevita should go home and face the charges?
TUILAEPA: I think he has already made his decision that he will. One must remember also that when you talk about justice in Fiji, the only kind of justice that can be taken very seriously is justice where the rule of law prevails under democratic system. There is no democracy in Fiji and I cannot believe that justice as we know it can be metered out so when we talk about Tevita going back and face justice that means justice when the proper political system of democracy exists in Fiji. Therefore, I don't think he will get a fair hearing now and I tend to agree that Tevita is proposing to do it at the right time.
COUTTS: How do you know that if you haven't spoken with him?
TUILAEPA: Well, you have just mentioned it and I'm only responding to your comments. It is a situation that is extremely funny, funny in the sense that we have a country that a dictator seized and set aside its Constitution which is the highest law of the land and therefore it is ridiculous for a dictator who does not recognise the need for a Constitution who breaks all the laws of the country should be keen to talk about justice. And therefore if anybody were to talk about bringing Tevita into face justice the Commodore should be the last person to push for that.
COUTTS: Well, what steps do you think should be taken now? Others are calling for Australia and New Zealand to do away with the sanctions that they've got in place at the moment, because they say it's not working, mainly because of the duration, the continuing situation?
TUILAEPA: All those people who called for that, including the academics in Lowy Institute are ignorant of the political reality in the Pacific. They're also ignorant of the social aspects of life in the Pacific. You see that kind of view of looking at the Pacific in those terms is being dominated by the situations in Africa, where you'll find hooligans roaming, killers, murderers, roaming the countryside and killing people who go out. The villagers who try to make a living out of the land. There is no such thing in the Pacific. In the Pacific, we grow our own food. There is no hooliganism and we have plenty of bread fruits, plenty of taro, plenty of food from the sea to eat. So what goes in the government may not be affecting the people in their ordinary lives. They still have plenty to eat, except of course the odd one who gets a job who may be deprived of cash revenue, regular wage to buy such necessities such as bread, an occasional one, but you can of course grow your own food and that is when the ordinary people may take a long time to realise that things are impacting on their lives and to me, the sanctions are not enough to shake the people, to realise that the kind of government that is ruling their lives is not the right one. It is causing havoc, the treasury is empty and the government is extending its illegal activities into the use of national provident fund and that is why the Commodore has been trying to travel overseas to try and see if there are governments that may extend credit to pay for the military. Because so far as he has money to pay for the military, he's OK. But the reality of the situation is dawning on the Commodore that the business of running a country is not as simple as he thought it to be. So to me the sanctions should be increased.
COUTTS: How so?
TUILAEPA: This is to ensure that the government is pressured.
COUTTS: What kind of sanctions would you like to see imposed?
TUILAEPA: I can only mention the sanctions, because the sanctions are already applied at this stage. I am merely responding ...
COUTTS: Are you calling for additional ones, are you calling for additional ones?
TUILAEPA: I am only responding to the comments that the present sanctions should be removed. I think that is a very stupid view.
COUTTS: OK, but do you think there should be additional sanctions?
TUILAEPA: There should be additional sanctions. The reason is so that once the people realise that the sanctions are making their lives difficult, then it will motivate them to take the necessary action. We must always remember that in the islands, almost everybody is related to everybody else. There are ordinary people whose sons are serving in the army and those sons are not oblivious to the deprivation that may come and in cases where cash is required. But in as far as food is concerned, there's no problem on that.
COUTTS: But what additional sanctions do you think should be imposed?
TUILAEPA: Well at present, there is travel. There has been much talk about the international organisations to become more and more involved as well as Great Britain. I am thinking of the situation where some kind of international action can be made to give a compulsory holiday to Fijians serving in the United Nations army. So as a kind of hit back to the Commodore that if you do not see your way clear, then there are many, many other different kinds that can be invoked.
COUTTS: Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, thank you so much for coming to Melbourne and joining us on Pacific Beat today. Thank you.
TUILAEPA: Thank you very much.