Saturday, February 28, 2009

Warped logic - By KAMAL IYER
Saturday, February 28, 2009

On Thursday Fiji was treated to a lecture about religion and principles by a former Fiji citizen now living a few thousand miles away from the motherland he left permanently - mostly for the very reason(s) since the start of the coup culture in May 1987 - that he tried to defend as being tolerable in Voreqe Bainimarama's banana republic after the fourth coup on December 5, 2006.

He was trying to tell Fiji Islanders that racial bigotry and racial intolerance are perfectly legitimate when practised by Bainimarama's regime because the coup leader's vision is to eradicate racism and discrimination against Indians - the unholy traits he accused the deposed government and other leaders of preaching and practising.

Now perched in Auckland, New Zealand, Thakur Ranjit Singh defended Police Commissioner Esala Teleni's racial bigotry through his column Racism and Religion published in the Fiji Times.

Mr Singh, whose credentials state he is an Auckland-based journalist and political commentator, lamented the fact that it took Mr Teleni so long to do what has not happened in the civil service.

Therefore, Mr Singh basically believes Mr Teleni did not belittle or humiliate Indian police officers and the entire Indian community when he called them liumuri, lamu-lamu and lamu-s..a. According to him it was "verbal whipping and privileged and confidential communication between a superior and his subordinates".

Mr Singh went on to berate the media and particularly Fiji Television and accused it of eaves-dropping.

He seems to have forgotten his journalistic ethics and the fact that as a former publisher of Fiji Daily Post he too was privy to exclusive news stories that were explosive.

They were factual stories never intended for dissemination to the public, but in keeping true to his profession as an impartial journalist, he allowed publication of such stories written either by reporters of his newsroom, or columnists like England based Victor Lal who now writes for The Fiji Sun or through weekly Sunday opinions under the title of Aage Peeche - written by Thakur Ranjit Singh himself.

As a former administrative officer of the National Federation Party I can vividly remember Mr Singh coming to the NFP headquarters in Tamavua some time in April 2001 requesting the then NFP general secretary Attar Singh for a tape recording of Jai Ram Reddy's radio programs and copies of his speeches during the 1999 general election campaign to be used for his weekly column.

Mr Singh also ignores the fact that pictures tell a thousand words.

Has he forgotten a Fiji TV Close-Up program where television footage of a march on May 19, 2000 was shown to prove his allegation that his fellow guest on the show SDL MP Simione Kaitani was participating in it?

Or does Mr Singh believe that exposing Mr Kaitani's participation in a racially-oriented march is blasphemous but Mr Teleni's racial diatribe and inflammatory insult against Indians is like music to his ears and should have won the Oscar Award for best music instead of A.R Rahman's scintillating and electrifying score for Slumdog Millionaire?

The rest of Mr Singh's convoluted theory made no sense.

Mr Singh lectured Indian police officers to show loyalty to their superiors saying "loyalty to their employer or maalik has been the heritage passed down the generations by our girmitiya forefathers who delivered for most ungrateful employers to make Fiji a great nation".

This lecture is equally as insulting as Mr Teleni's racist venom.

In a message posted on Indian Newslink to mark the 126th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in Fiji (>) Mr Singh while also commenting on the Rajendra Prasad-authored Tears in Paradise book, stated that the atrocities committed against the girmitiyas in Fiji by the colonial masters "was not accidental but criminal acts by the British and Australians".

He accused the British of "abrogating their responsibility of caring for Indians, thus leaving a community wounded, aggrieved and alienated".

If Mr Singh, four years ago, was incensed that our forefathers were not recognised for their contribution to build Fiji into a great nation, why does he now demand Indian police officers be loyal to their maalik (Teleni) despite being wounded, aggrieved and alienated by the Police Commissioner and Bainimarama's regime?

After all what else can he lecture Indians about except ordering them in the name of Hinduism to be loyal and tolerate racial insult?

Not surprising from a man who told the nation through Fiji Television's Close-Up program that human rights violations (which must include beating, torture, detention and the three deaths of Fiji citizens at the hands of soldiers and police) were part of an evolving democracy.

* The views expressed here are exclusively those of the author and are published by this newspaper on that sole understanding.
Racism and religion
Thursday, February 26, 2009

+ Enlarge this image

In the spotlight ... Commissioner Esala Teleni.
FIJI Police Commissioner Esala Teleni's dressing down of subordinate officers has caused a sensation in the Fiji media. The flowing of metaphorical crocodile tears in defence of the human rights of Indo-Fijians from opportunists, NGOs, politicians, community leaders, blog writers, media commentators and media organisations could fill and overflow the Suva Olympic Pool.

What a load of hypocrisy and what a bunch of aage picche and liu muri hypocrites. They are now jostling and competing to defend Indo-Fijians and their religious freedom which they ignored all this while.

My issue is not what Teleni did but why he took so long in doing it. If all heads in Fiji's civil service took out non-performing and disloyal civil servants and verbally whipped them into reality and performance then Fiji would have more responsive and better-performing civil servants and hence, be a better place. Those who have dealt with them know the nightmares of getting things done because of malua fever and the slackness inculcated by a very protective and blinkered trade union movement.

The frenzy created by the Fiji media was like sharks feeding on juicy blood oozing from the thighs of Yaqara bulls. The main culprit for this was the Fiji media in general and Fiji TV in particular. What has been eaves-dropped and reported on is one thing, but how it has been distorted, sensationalised and misinterpreted is another.

What Teleni said to his subordinates was in normal terms privileged and confidential communication between a superior and his subordinates.

Would Fiji TV dare to eavesdrop, record and publicise morning meetings and communication by its news editor and staff who are dressed down or given feedback for non-performance? Can they catch similar editorial dressing downs at the Daily Post, Fiji Times and Fiji Sun? During my days in the media, I have seen editors who have been ruthless and demanding and heard references such as "s..a levu" and worse ones directed at non-performing and lethargic reporters who miss deadlines and fail to deliver.

Remarkably, they tended to get desired results. Would they ever care to record how the National Farmers Union and Fiji Labour Party leader dresses down slack farmers' leaders and MPs in his caucus meetings? Has anybody heard again of FLP dissenters and those who failed to tow the line? Have they ever recorded how local business bosses abuse their workers in the name of feedback? Have they ever recorded the rich and mighty abusing their house-girls and gardeners?

If they had done that then what Teleni said to his non-performing and disloyal officers was like a Sunday school sermon.

I do not know where the case of religious persecution, forced conversion and racism come into it.

You do not try to convert the police officers who have the best of Ramayan, faag and Kirtan (hymn) mandalis (group) in virtually all police stations and even hold national conventions which have been honoured by more than one police commissioner. I have recorded and sung faag with some of the officers and attended their Ramayan and prayers. You would be wasting your time if you think you can convert them. They are the strongest pillar of Hinduism around Fiji and if anybody feels that such superior-subordinates talk would shake those pillars of belief are insulting the intelligence and beliefs of such loyal officers. No, they could never be coerced to change their faith.

However, if they have been bypassed for promotion or undeserving Christian officers have been promoted on race and religion over Indo-Fijian officers, as has been alleged now and done under past regimes in abundance, then Bainimarama would have to take strong action if he wants to count on Indo-Fijian support and sympathy.

Otherwise, there would be no difference between the regime of Teleni and Savua. As the officers are mostly Hindus, they need to realise that Christianity in the country has been hijacked by politicians and other wolves in sheep's clothing who used the pulpit for racist and fundamental activities by sowing hatred and seeds of discord between the Christians and "Hindu heathens who worshipped idols and images".

For this reason the spirituality function of Christianity has been dominated by these dishonest Bible-bashing hypocrites for their racist agenda. Many criminal activities, sexual offences and other major social problems stem within Christian communities and it is a manifestation that the good values have failed to reach the common grassroots followers. Hence, the intention of Teleni and the police in its crusade is understandable and even acceptable and commendable.

Many Christians in Fiji have failed to walk the talk on their religion and if that can be achieved in this way, it should be supported by Hindu officers. It is voluntary anyway and their support should be forthcoming, in line with the teachings and spirit of Hinduism.

Hindu is an all-inclusive way of life, not necessarily a religion. They say "Ishwar Allah, Christ tere naam..." (Lord thou are Hindu Ram, Christian Christ and Muslim Allah) and Hinduism is one of the few religions which believes this and allows it to be preached in its temples. They do not label any other belief or believers as heathens, infidels worthy of destruction or persecution; they believe we are all children of God, belonging to a huge family. Through diverse streams and rivers, we flow into a big ocean.

Hindu and Indo-Fijian officers need to take a leaf from the teaching of the Ramayan where comparison is made between sandalwood (chandan) tree and a venomous, poisonous snake. The snake would strike at the sandalwood branch, which will not get poisoned by the venom but bestow its sweet fragrance on the ferocious cobra. In the same respect they need to support the crusade which intends to inculcate good values in Christian police officers and Christians they come in contact with, without them feeling pressured to change their faith. If they fail to support it, they are undeserving as Hindus. If they are proved to be disloyal and found to be in breach of their code of conduct, then they deserve to be fired.

There is nothing racial about it. I note that all sorts of people in all shades and colours came out defending Indo-Fijians. What a pleasant surprise!

Fijians have been beating Indo-Fijian fishermen, stealing their fish and livelihood but nobody came to their rescue. Our temples and praying places are destroyed and burnt but all those jumping now were asleep then. In many cases, people have been robbed violently, thrown out of their house and generally persecuted but there was little support, if any at all. The most unusual support for Indo-Fijians came from Ted Young. This gum-chewing former MP was cheering for racist SDL MPs when we were called wild grass and camels in tents but now he seems to be shedding crocodile tears for Indo-Fijians. This is the height of hypocrisy and the worst case of political expediency.

Where were these champions of Indo-Fijians when, under a very blatantly racist regime, deserving Indo-Fijians were bypassed and cleansed from the civil service? Where were they when a deserving person such as Chandra Shekhar was denied the position of CEO of LTA on a trumped-up charge to ensure an Indo-Fijian never got the post? It has been so even to date. Where were they when, it has been common knowledge, that many Cabinet ministers, MPs, diplomats and permanent secretaries have downgraded their first class ticket to use for their family or used the savings which has been considered their entitlement? But only Brian Singh was the sacrificial lamb and his post promptly given to a non Indo-Fijian in a great deal of haste.

Even Fiji's justice system failed to give him the justice he deserves. Where were the champions of Indo-Fijians then? Except for Wadan Narsey, who else spoke about or stood up to fight against racism in denial of Dr Rajesh Chandra the position of Vice Chancellor of USP during the past regime?

I see racism and religious persecution when I see one. As usual, I will be the first one to stand for my oppressed community. In this instance, I do not see any at all.

If Hindu police officers fail to show loyalty to their superiors, then they have failed to understand the meaning of Hinduism. If they fail to follow the directives of their employer, then it is classed as insubordination and summary dismissal will be deserving for such people. They need to appreciate that loyalty for the employer or maalik has been the heritage passed down the generations by our girmitiya (indentured) forefathers who delivered for most ungrateful employers to make Fiji a great nation.

For all those who came out of their shell, bure and belo to support Indo-Fijians, thank you, vinaka vakalevu, dhanya vaad.

I must congratulate the interim Government for achieving the unachievable. The despise and opposition to the regime appears to be so intense that support for Indo-Fijians has come from sources, especially the media and NGOs, that hitherto were unprepared to take on such a crusade. Thanks, it appears Fiji is on the path of becoming a better multiracial country, after all. Mission accomplished, frankly, speaking.

* E-mail:

* Mr Singh is an Auckland-based journalist and political commentator.

* The comments are his own and does not reflect the view of the Fiji Times.

No comments: