Monday, December 07, 2009

Does the military have a role in Fiji’s deadlock?

Sai's Comments:

  • This is an excellent piece and coming from an ex-military officer who is well schooled in the military tradition and its proper role in a civilised nation.
  • Imagine what Fiji's military status would have been if led by Baledrokadroka?
  • Spoken by one who also have the brains unlike the current crop of officers in the RFMF who have been promoted by default and well in contravention with their level of competence as Baledrokadroka so accurately noted.
  • The truth is we must hold on to this notion that there is just no place for the military in Fiji's politics. The sooner this gem of wisdom percolates into the brain of Voreqe and his military council the better it would be for them and people of Fiji and Fiji's standing in the eyes of the world.
  • Well done Jone Baledrokadroka and the RFMF desperately missed people like you.

Does the military have a role in breaking Fiji’s political deadlock?

December 6, 2009

Posted by Rawfiji news

Jone Baledrokadroka

On this day the Third anniversary of the 2006 military coup, Fiji’s military regime will no doubt be spinning its own mangled propaganda as to its social and economic “achievements” in its “new legal order”. It is as if the military coup d’ etat has become an integral part of Fiji’s political system, rather than an aberrant event.

If we accept coups are an aberration, then Fiji’s political deadlock the last three years marked by human rights abuse, international isolation and social and economic decay, undoubtedly created by the Military, can only be unlocked by the military relinquishing its self assigned political role.

As it is the military blames everyone else for Fiji’s problems- politicians past and present, colonial policies, regional neighbours, the global economic crisis, the Fiji rugby teams failure to do the cibi etc etc but itself.

The military intervention into politics that began in 1987 with the Rabuka coup has spawned the present crop of senior military officers who despite having been given the best international training in the democratic “objective civilian control” theory of civil-military relations choose to flout it. The present military command clique who obviously are overly promoted beyond their level of competence because of the purging of dissenting senior officers, have again since Rabuka and his coup tarnished the honourable profession of arms by pretending to be both soldiers and politicians.

Their claims to be implementing a historical mission and to impose a transcendent virtually sacred ‘common good’ will economically and socially ruin the nation. Regime Propaganda aside, the figures just do not stack up, Fiji with its small economy and ever dwindling skilled human resources, simply needs its larger neighbours.

The Bainimarama cleanup coup of 2006 heralded by the ‘guardians of democracy’ as defending the permanent interests of the nation is incompatible with democratic politics. Under the present circumstances ostensible compliance with democratic procedures, including elections, open rigourous debates, judicial deliberation, media reporting and normal government business masks the permanent threat of ‘veto’ by the guardians’ swords via draconian decrees and a pliant judiciary.

Indeed Fiji has become a ‘Protected Democracy’- an idea dating from the first Spanish American democracy after independence from Spain and resurrected for the ‘transitions’ of democracy in the 1980s and 1990s. In Latin America-indeed a region familiar to Bainimarama having circumnavigated that continent with the Chilean Navy- it meant despite replacements of military regimes by elected civilian governments, there remains the threat of military veto if civilians behave ‘imprudently’ or threaten the nations permanent interests and the institutions bequeathed by the authoritarian regimes of the 1960s and 1970s. This scenario for Fiji’s political future is not as far fetched – I have posited since January of 2006 that Fiji was set to enter a protracted decade of militarized Protected Democracy, Latin American fashion, if the people of Fiji remain docile.

The Military vs SDL government standoff of 2001-2006 and the 5th Dec 2006 coup is the example of this militarized political phenomenon. The threat and execution of military intervention by the ousting of the legitimate SDL Coalition government was premised on the vague notion that the people must be protected from themselves allegedly from government’s ethno nationalism and systemic corruption that might subvert the existing democratic political order. Unfortunately the 2000 coup was the trigger for this unfolding Protected Democracy concept. The promised 2014 elections is a mirage judging by what Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said in the heavily censored media this week that the regime “has put land reform down in its 10-point plan, a schedule of what it wants to achieve by 2020”.

As Alexis de Tocqueville put it with reference to the French revolution, when the “state” personified by public officials, (or a ruling party, the armed forces, or a moralizing faction) presumes a directive and moral mission rather than the more humble task of representation and stewardship, “it is not the people who predominate but those who know what is good for the people, a happy distinction which allows men to act in the name of nations without consulting them and to claim their gratitude while their rights are being trampled underfoot” .

As for the Fiji military regime, it is indeed a discovery of modern days that there are such things as legitimate tyranny and lawful injustice, provided that they are exercised in the name of the people.

How do we get back to liberal democracy in Fiji? The Military officers have to understand in today’s world it is not their place as a profession to run government. The quicker Fiji’s military elite find this out what past military regimes in Turkey, Thailand, Pakistan and Indonesia have found out after decades of military dictatorship, the better for everyone.

More so the past traditional Fijian idiom of “keda nai Taukei e rauti keda ga na veiliutaki kaukauwa kei na kana kuita”- (we Fijians respond to authotarian rule and the fear of punishment), currently the rallying lore of the military elite, is feeble as fantasy, and false discipline to say the least.

Unfortunately this outdated native mantra has been embedded in the thinking of the senior officers who implicitly have confused the people to accepting that they have the right to elect government and the military the right to ousting them when it determined it suited the people. And that sovereignty lies in the military and its regime installed President and not the people.

In fact what has unfolded in the last three years is a reinvention of Fijian Chiefly rule through the military. And the selective use of the old elitist hierarchy with a smattering of right and left wing coup apologists, of whom some have fallen by the way side.

So to somewhat agree with Sir Michael Somare who asserted that Fijian dictatorship is quite unlike Western style dictatorship-Yes, just a good old fashioned Fijian elite power reassertion –if you may.

This assessment may come as a surprise to those victims of past coups who with a vengeance feel that Fijians and their chiefly elites per se deserve to be couped and see the coupists as their hero. In fact quite the opposite is unfolding given that the regime is propped up by a 99% Indigenous Fijian Military.

To my former colleagues in the RFMF you will have to reconcile Bainimarama’s long term personalist rule agenda as documented in April 2004 as RFMF Administration Instruction ‘Military for Life Concept’ and the reality of his misgoverning, cronyism, nepotism and corruption of his regime.

Your gravy train will end and you will be accountable. The Fiji National Provident Fund is the only cash cow that is propping you through your huge military budget which is way beyond a credible threat assessment and force structure analysis in order to buy your loyalty.

To the regime we say, as emphasized by Loveman, in the book, ‘To Sheath the Sword’, “Constitutional and legal reforms will not end militarism or guarantee consolidation of democracy. Such developments depend on many international and domestic factors, long term strengthening of political institutions and changes in military professional socialization’. Your lack of legitimacy to rule has exacerbated your record of failures the past three years which will only be compounded with its lack of political vision.

With the upcoming February 2010 national dialogue forum, the true test for moving the country forward is for all credible participants with the courage of their democratic conviction to call for the Fiji military to sheath the sword and return to barracks for the good of the nation.

We reiterated our call in our first democracy movement meeting this year- history has taught that power will not be relinquished freely by oppressors –it has to be demanded by the oppressed. It is for those participants of the forum to say enough of this cruel hoax such as quixotically unfolding and return the country to liberal democracy.

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