Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fiji’s Military Leadership –A Legacy of Moral Bankruptcy

by Free Fiji - 24, December 2009

With the Military, especially the infantry arm, claiming the vital ground-often the highest tactical ground in battle, is supreme. Many a gallant soldier has lost his life in this martial endeavour down throughout the ages. The phrase, ‘to claim the moral high ground’ is a metaphor to this often bloody glorious act.

Since independence much national stature-the very symbol of nationhood have been placed upon the shoulders of Fiji’s military leaders and its small but renowned military force. Indeed, an iconic and latent power transfer of righteous colonial rule embellished with the regimentation of native naivety through its chiefly hierarchy. Colonial indirect rule was embraced by the Fijian elite hoping that the Sun will never set on the British Empire and its own privileged manna.

Happily after independence liberal democracy was to be the untroubled though fixed compromise so long as it returned the old political status quo. Since Mara and his Alliance government what has unfolded has been a legacy of military coup d’ etats that has left the Fiji Military Forces adrift of lawful martial standards and in a state of ethical confusion. It has forever lost the so called ‘moral high ground’ of military professionalism – a predicament of its own making despite it laying the blame elsewhere.

Who then in the military is responsible? In the military the old truism is ‘there are no bad soldiers, only bad officers’ -meaning to imply, don’t blame the led but the leaders for all its stuff ups. Who in the military of today is responsible for its moral and ethical decay? For the record let’s look at where it all began and the list of SNAFU’s perpetrated since.

Colonel Paul Manueli was the first localized RFMF Commander in 1973 who after five years at the helm, retired in 1978 for a cushy job with an oil company. A veteran of the Malayan communist insurgency emergency campaign, he would have been revered by stalwarts of military apolitical correctness hadn’t he returned to adorn the front benches of the racist Rabuka government and be embroiled in the NBF scam as Minister of Finance. He commissioned the 1998 Defence White paper as the Minister of Home Affairs that gave the RFMF naval division a grandiose ‘blue water’ Navy pretension.

His choice of Bainimarama to head the RFMF, as recommended by the incumbent Commander, Ganilau is still captivating the world some eleven years after his wisdom of choice – now a full blown military dictator. Manueli still holds the ceremonial though powerful advisory office of Colonel of the Fiji Infantry Regiment-the keeper of regimental traditions and military culture and values. Brigadiers Nailatikau (more confusingly now the Commander in Chief as President) and Ganilau both hold the ceremonial titles of Colonel of the 1st Battalion and 3rdBattalion in a similar capacity though respectively under Manueli’s titular overview. They all no doubt sit basking in the glory of the Bainimarama regime and amongst them have carte blanche veto rights and privileged mouthpieces to the ear of power in the Military elite, Government House and more importantly to their prized charge on the fourth floor of government buildings new wing- their Frankenstein disguised as Mother Theresa.

After Manueli sprung Nailatikau, Rabuka, Ganilau and Bainimarama- do we need to outline their moral bankruptcy and ethical confusion as military cum political leaders? I rest my case.

Merry Christmas and more to follow next year…

Kai Colo

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