March 22, 2013

Time for action on Fiji

Last updated 05:00 22/03/2013

Apologists for the illegitimate Fijian government led by Frank Bainimarama have melted away as the regime's true thuggishness has been exposed.

In the years following Mr Bainimarama's seizure of power, many gave him the benefit of the doubt, deluding themselves that he was genuinely concerned about breaking the dominance of the Fijian elite and protecting Fiji Indians from discrimination.

But in the murk of Fijian politics, it seems no agenda is pure. Whatever his motives at the start, Mr Bainimarama has morphed into a stereotypical megalomaniac.

In the unlikely event that anyone still believed in him after he intimidated the media, suppressed dissidents, repeatedly postponed elections and tore up a draft constitution (partly paid for by New Zealand), then the ugly truth must have finally dawned when Mr Bainimarama defended the police thugs shown on video beating up two prisoners.

There can no longer be any doubt that Mr Bainimarama is the Pacific's Papa Doc. Which raises the question, what can we do?

We can certainly no longer look the other way and pretend it isn't happening. Neither can we expect that normal diplomatic tut-tutting will cut any ice. Mr Bainimarama is impervious to such gestures and grows more arrogant by the month.

On an individual level, New Zealanders can protest by not going to Fiji for their holidays. The smiling faces on tourist posters can't disguise the reality that Fiji is an oppressive police state, run by a tyrant who is contemptuous of human rights and the rule of law.

But acts of individual conscience are not enough. New Zealand and Australia should be thinking hard about putting the squeeze on Mr Bainimarama by applying economic sanctions.

The argument against such sanctions is that they penalise the innocent. Jobs will be lost and people may go hungry. But that argument didn't stop the world from blockading South Africa in the apartheid era, and it worked. Mr Bainimarama has shown he is immune to anything less.


Anonymous said...

Why punish the people of Fiji for their leader's sins? Your suggestions would only result in the Fijian people suffering even more. The population would then come to hate Aus/NZ, which would only strengthen Frank's hand and tighten his grip on power.

Keep The Faith said...

I don't think you could be further from the truth Anon.

People are already suffering now, and it will get worse. Why, I just read on Fiji Board Exiles that the Air Bus extravaganza is going to cost 1.2 Bill all up which is almost the operating expenditure for running the 'guvment' in 2013 ($1.5 Bill) and half of the total expenditure ($2.3 Bill). Who's going to pick up the tab for that?More importantly what will taxpayers and superannunation forfeit for the regimes glory? Because from where I'm sitting, short of Fiji inheriting a gold mine today, this is going to be extracted from taxpayers and voters by way of reductions to basic services -- roads, health, education, welfare -- which are basic service expectations of any taxpayer upon their Governments.

Furthermore, rural communities are being weaned towards become beholden to the 'generous' assistance of the regime using taxpayers money, being siphoned off from urban taxpayers.

So, No, Aust/NZ don't even RATE as being relevant to this debate and the regime needs to know that as of 7pm Fiji Time, 21 March 2013 - they just lost the election.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but I don't follow your logic.

Indeed, it is true that all Fijians are likely to suffer from the poor economic decisions made by the regime.

But if tourists stop going to Fiji, the dramatic rise in unemployment would further worsen the lives of all Fijians. Your concerns about extra taxes and deteriorating service quality be nothing compared to what we'd see if tourism ceased. People wont be paying additional taxes, as you worry about, they wont be paying taxes at all since they wont have jobs.

So, with even higher unemployment in urban centres, and the economy in tatters, severe civil unrest would be likely. Perhaps this is the 'squeeze' you're talking about?

If Bainimarama is half as power-hungry as we think, he wont be squeezed easily. With control over the media, he could easily argue that all of Fiji's problems are a result of the mass unemployment resulting from Aus/ NZ's actions. Those who disagree continue to face the prospect of dealing with his security apparatus.

In your response to my original message, you wrote, "... No, Aust/NZ don't even RATE as being relevant to this debate..."

If Australia and New Zealand aren't relevant, why were Australians and New Zealanders urged to cancel their holidays to Fiji and why were the two governments urged to apply economic sanctions?

Anonymous said...

you right keep the faith.
sometimes we have to take some medicine to get well.
i dont think u have to be an accountant to see that this huge debt will be a real burden and dont get these financiers are ruthless if there is default.