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“Why is accountability always demanded of others?” (24 Nov. 2017)


“Why is accountability only demanded of the Government?” (24/11/2017)

My friend Jone Dakuvula gave a presentation at the Fiji Labour Party Conference where he cogently pointed out all the wrong doings of the Fiji First Party, but he totally neglected to point out the very similar wrong doings of his host, the Fiji Labour Party which had quickly joined the illegal Bainimarama Government which had deposed the lawfully elected Qarase Government with the treasonous 2006 military coup.

So also did Father Kevin Barr in his presentation which criticized the Bainimarama Government for its refusal to allow the decisions of the Wages Councils when Father Barr was Chairman following my review of that mechanism in 2005, conducted for ECREA.

Why is it that radical intellectuals in Fiji (and Jone Dakuvula and Father Barr may be classified thus) only wish to hold other leaders to account, but not their own. Jone Dakuvula was similarly blase about the faults of Rabuka and his post-1987 coup Government, as Victor Lal has amply pointed out on his blogsite FijiLeaks which reprinted Victor Lal’s Fiji Sun articles.

Father Kevin Barr has never criticized his colleague Father David Arms (or the Catholic Church in Fiji) despite this Australian citizen’s support of the 2006 military coup and treason so that he could indulge his personal interest (hobby?) in electoral systems. Yet the Methodist Church and its leaders were readily criticized for supporting the coups of 1987 and 2000.

Over the years, the Fiji Labour Party has drawn upon many USP academics to their cause. As a founding FLP member some 33 years ago, I remember that the leadership was not happy when in my presentation at the 1985 FTUC Biennial Conference which led to the formation of the FLP I pointed out that the “blue collar” unions (led then by Jim Smith) had concerns which were not being addressed by the white collar unions (like FPSA).

Neither was the FLP leadership happy when as Chairman of the Policy Committee I requested that the leadership consult the committee before announcing drastic policy changes. I was told by the two FLP leaders (you can guess who they were) that I could leave if I wanted. With no support from my colleagues, I left (just before the 1987 election). For decades thereafter, it always dismayed me that USP academic after USP academic (you can list them if you like) supported the activities of the Fiji Labour Party whose leadership discarded them when they disagreed with The Great Leader on some policy matter. Sadly, the remaining “leaders” in the FLP apparently never objected.

Just as sadly and a great failure of their accountability to their public supporters, these academics  all quietly went away without demanding any accountability from the FLP leadership. Were they just “power groupies” hoping to eventually get into some position of power and influence by keeping quiet about the faults and weaknesses of their Great Leader whose bandwagon they had joined and of whom they had great expectations?

Aman Ravindra Singh is yet another courageous young leader who is challenging those in power but doing so by apparently joining the FLP.

Jone Dakuvula, Father Kevin Barr and Aman Singh might want to think about demanding accountability from the Party whose causes they are choosing to serve with their intellect and courage.

Similar questions may be raised about the many principled persons in SODELPA who will not raise questions about their leader Rabuka, whose many cogent criticisms of the Bainimarama Government are usually targeted at Aiyaz Khaiyum, not at Voreqe Bainimarama  the supposed Leader of Fiji First Party. Of course, Rabuka will be aware that the many possible valid criticisms of Bainimarama can equally be directed at Rabuka himself.  Note also that Rabuka has not ever publicly criticized any of the military officers (current and former) whose support of Bainimarama is vital for the FFP Government. Why has he never criticized Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola his collaborator in the 1987 coup and a key behind the scenes instigator of the 2000 coup as well? Do they all know too much about each others’ personal involvement in the coup and mutiny of 2000? Why do they not hold each other to account?

Witness the constitutional immunity granted to Rabuka, Bainimarama and Khaiyum for unknown and unstated crimes committed in association with the coups. This immunity clearly gives the message to all and sundry that “crime pays” in Fiji, as long as you have the military’s guns on your side (while you innocently tell the public that it is God and anti-corruption principles that inspired your coups).  George Speight did not get the immunity he was promised because the guns (and Bainimarama) left his side in the middle of the 2000 coup.

A similar horrible farce is being played out in Zimbabwe where a criminal thug and his rapacious family has been allowed to “retire” with total immunity and their ill-gotten gains intact in tax havens abroad, while the gullible public apparently joyfully celebrate , despite all knowing that Mugabe’s successor is yet another acknowledged “crocodile” who, with his military backers has already proven himself to be as brutal as Mugabe, and will probably be as rapacious as Mugabe in looting taxpayers’ funds.

As the Fiji 2018 Elections draws near, while listening to budding politicians criticize other political parties and leaders and demanding that they be accountable, Fiji’s public should keep asking themselves, who are these same people NOT criticizing and NOT holding to account?

Postscript 1

There is a much bigger issue here for political leaders (young and old) to grapple with. It is only natural that when responsible citizens who are dismayed with a government in power want to “do something about it”, they turn to Opposition Parties as a vehicle for their activism. Unfortunately, they also in the process acquire the historical baggage of that party or vehicle.

But Fiji’s recent political history should point to one sustainable and principled answer. When some Indo-Fijians were unhappy with the NFP leadership in the early 1980s they began the Fiji Labour Party. When some indigenous Fijians were unhappy with Rabukas leadership of the SVT after the 1999 Elections which he lost, they overnight began a new party, the SDL, which won the 2001 Elections.

Bainimarama and Khaiyum also began a totally new party (Fiji First Party- blatantly swiping another party’s name) which supposedly won the elections- albeit with all the benefits of a repressive military dictatorship, control of the media, control of the elections processes and systems, massive corporate support, and liberal use of taxpayers’s funds.  But they did start a new party, whose foundation is unfortunately the control of the army and the military officers who merrily joined their bandwagon for personal benefit. How long this plundering lasts is anyone’s guess, but the experience of countries like Pakistan, Burma (Myanmar) and Indonesia where the military governments survived and thrived for decades is not terribly encouraging for Fiji and its apathetic public, easily swayed by freebies and diverted by rugby.

I hope to put a post soon on the leadership vacuum and challenges facing our young people (and old).

Postscript 2 (25/11/2017)

I have just read in Fijileaks, some of the comments by Dr. Ganesh Chand at the Fiji Labour Party Convention. His analysis of the current situation is quite correct, except that he lumps all the victims of the Bainimarama Government together:  “They have done that to me, to Mr Chaudhry, to Mr Qarase, they tried doing it to Mr Rabuka, they broke the doors and windows in [Aman] Ravindra Singh’s house, even Father Barr was not spared.”

It is sad that Dr Ganesh Chand does not hold some of these “victims” to account for their clearly shared responsibility, with Bainimarama and Khaiyum, for all the evils that he points out: such as total control of the media, the silencing of the NGOs and unions, weakening of academic institutions; the breakdown of the separation of the three arms of government.

Ganesh fails to mention that the Fiji Labour Party itself strengthened the military government after the 2006 military coup removed the multi-party Government of Qarase (i.e. including members of the FLP and Dr Chand’s colleagues) when the FLP Leader Mahendra Chaudhry joined the treasonous Bainimarama Government and served as its Finance Minister, until he was kicked out by forces and for reasons unknown.

I believe that Dr Ganesh Chand and Dr Mahendra Reddy also were advisers to the Bainimarama Government at one stage and they were personally approved to be the senior managers of the Fiji National University established with Bainimarama’s approval (and of course his Education Minister Filipe Bole). I have not heard Dr Chand previously criticize the senior managers of USP who destroyed its credibility as an academic institution.

While Qarase may have been a victim of the 2006 coup and FICAC, he was not opposed to the 2000 coup (one argument he used then was that “Fijians will not tolerate and Indian Prime Minister”), which brought him in as Prime Minister. Rabuka also has supported coups, not just the 1987 one but also others.

Father Barr also initially legitimated the Bainimarama Government by calling Bainimarama “Prime Minister” in a period when the media was accurately trying to call him “Interim” Prime Minister and justifying the 2006 military coup- that is, until his personal interest, the Wages Councils, were prevented from doing their job by instructions from Bainimarama and Khaiyum. Even the accusation of “crony capitalism” was withdrawn (or apologized for) when Barr was being kicked out of Fiji with colorful language.

The only person who probably would prefer not to be in the “victims” group named by Dr. Ganesh Chand is Aman Ravindra Singh, about whose involvement in coups I know little.  Perhaps Dr Ganesh Chand knows more about him, as he also does about many other wrong things that have gone on in Fiji since 2006 which he has been silent on- even the identity of the few businessmen who he now holds responsible for all the evil goings on.

Dr. Ganesh Chand of all people would know that the business sharks of Fiji (and elsewhere) will side with any Prime Minister who can help them or who will not harm them, and holding them responsible for the evils he is correctly pointing, while ignoring the other powerful agents, is again “rewriting history”.

I sincerely hope that Dr. Ganesh Chand clarified these aspects in his speech, more than is reported in Fijileaks.




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