- INTELLIGENT RESISTANCE -
Free. Fair. Fearless. Intelligentsiya is made up of Fiji Islanders who are libertarians in their own way and who cherish the free flow of news, ideas and information and will peacefully resist any attempts by the country's military rulers to stifle free speech. intelligentsiya will also bear witness, report and discuss human rights abuses by the authorities.
Back at his Namadi Heights home, Sitiveni Rabuka with his six-year-old grandson Waisale Rabuka yesterday.
First coups leader and former Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, arrived back from New Zealand yesterday confirming he is keeping his options open for next year’s elections.
He believes that he still has a lot to offer to the people of Fiji.
“If given the opportunity, I think I can still hold my own with the people,” Mr Rabuka said.
Mr Rabuka had disclosed his continuing political ambitions during an interview with New Zealand’s TV3.
The National Federation Party president Raman Pratap Singh was quick to welcome him into the fold if he wished.
He said: “If the party appeals to him, then he is most welcome to join us as a member. Of course, we have our policies regarding party candidates, but he is most welcome.”
Mr Rabuka acknowledged that Mr Singh was the only party leader that did not reject him outright.
On whether he will join the proposed party to be led by Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, Mr Rabuka’s answer was a resounding “No!”
Mr Rabuka said: “The good thing now is everybody has seen what I did, what Frank has done, what Lai did, though Mahen did not perform long enough for people to really know but they saw him there for one year, they saw him being disruptive as an opposition member and in all his career.”
Crime of treason Over the weekend, Mr Rabuka was part of the University of Otago Foreign Policy School programme.
A New Zealand media report said former New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji, Michael Powles called Rabuka a criminal who had taken part in a crime of treason.
Mr Powles was quoted as saying: “It is something that makes me angry that he is here …. He is the person who let the genie out of the bottle.”
Mr Rabuka’s response was: “Well that’s democracy at play.
“He saw the list of speakers, if he didn’t want to come, he shouldn’t have come. He should have shown his protest by not coming.
“That is democracy at play. I was invited and I went and that is Pacific protocol which he does not understand,” he said.
“We don’t go and criticise a host because of his guests, it is not Pacific culture and this man has not understood Pacific culture.”
First time voters appeal To appeal to first time voters, Mr Rabuka said much will depend on party opportunities and promises like education.
“But education is not everything it’s what the educated people will do after education; these two must go together – the development of the labour force of the country, the human resource development and also the employment opportunities.
“You have to widen the labour market, increase the labour market to be able to absorb people coming out of schools. Whoever provides a good programme will pull it.”
As for the current government, Mr Rabuka’s view was they are not doing enough for education and they have not grown the labour market where people can be employed.
Rising expectations Quoting from the book by entitled, Man on horseback, Mr Rabuka said the perfect climate before a revolution is the rising expectations of the masses and the failure of the Government to deliver.
“For Government, they have given us the bait they’ve sweetened everything for most people. They are now hopeful. The people expect more things to come and it doesn’t happen.”
Mr Rabuka believes the new government after the election will have the most difficulty because they will no longer be a dictatorial government but a parliamentary one.
“There will be a lot of discussions, not only in Parliament, but on the streets and also in the newspaper.”
Declaration of Assets While Mr Rabuka had reservations at first, he later said: “In a way it is good because now party supporters will know who they are.
“So it’s a good thing that people should be financially independent, people in leadership should not be broke. They should be strong people who can stand on their own and not put their hands up for bribes.”
Effectiveness of UFDF On the United Front for a Democratic Fiji, Mr Rabuka said: “Why didn’t they just register as one party? Under one umbrella it will probably give rise to their own differences, particularly the selection of their candidates.
“Going against a party is not the way to fight an election. You tell the people, we are going to do this. You don’t try and destroy the other people, you just stand on issues.”
Elections While some critics have been pessimistic about next year’s election, Mr Rabuka said we should go ahead and encourage each other to fight the elections.
“Let’s be positive about it. Big things will happen when we get to elections. Let’s get to elections first. One step at a time.”
What he has to offer “Just advice to those who will be running. All I can offer is my gift is that I act in love, I accept that some are stronger than others. I’ll do whatever I can to give them a good life, doesn’t mean that I’ll make it easy for them – but to give them the feeling that it’s worth fighting to have a better standard of living.”
“The character of each person got to come out, a nation of principled and strong characters.”