Sunday, December 13, 2009

Future Scenarios for Fiji

by Sai Lealea

In thinking about how Fiji might be able to chart its way out of the present bleak political situation, I thought an exercise in future scenario planning could offer a number of plausible stories that could guide the development of a pathway to stable democratic rule.

Borrowing from the South African "Mont Fleur" experience during the transition from minority white rule, four similar future scenarios emerge that are applicable to Fiji if we project a 10 year future to 2020. The four scenarios provide alternative views of Fiji’s future and identify some significant events, main actors and their motivations and convey how Fiji relates to the world.

The year takes into account the current regime's plan to have elections in 2014 and so the scenarios cover the intention to have in place an "elected" government.

As is the process in future scenario planning, the key question asked of the future scenarios or stories is: How will the plan to return Fiji to democratic rule go and whether the nation will be successful in securing a stable future?

I plan to develop these scenarios further, but in brief the four stories are:

· Extended Interim Regime – no election in 2014 as regime bides its time to effect changes or entrench its rule. Disastrous for the economy and as negative impact bites, unrest will grow so crack down increases. Fiji is further isolated. No end in site.

· New Military Endorsed Government in Power – some form of state sponsored election fraud occurs and government officials, like in Zimbabwe, used as agents and supervised by military personnel already in senior government posts. All law and order and enforcement agencies, FICAC, Crown Law, Justice and Military, Police and Prison service will play an active role in elections, overseen closely by regime figures.

· New Government in Opposition to Current Regime – elected under a “new constitution” it opposed. Begins to reverse current regime’s policies and seek return to previous constitutional order. Sets in place process to prosecute 2006 coup perpetrators. Inherits a collapsed economy and citizens’ demand for relief increase manifold. Overseas aid and assistance provide some relief but is insufficient. Increase in social expenditure only bleeds the economy further. Military intervention highly likely using the widespread suffering and chaos as an excuse.

· Return to Democratic Rule is Successful via a Negotiated Settlement – Military returns to Camp. All the regime’s decrees and policies to be reviewed and those of merit to be extended. An exercise in national reconciliation and healing akin to a Truth Commission is put in place and facilitated by neutral external experts. Question of Immunity be subject to national referendum including the future of Fiji’s military and promulgation of any new constitution after a constitutional review. Regional and international partners drafted in to provide security where required especially in lead up to referendum and national election. Economy starts to mend and slowly takes off.

There are clearly three dark prophecies that are plausible futures for Fiji. The last one does offer hope and no doubt presents a possible way ahead. As part of story telling, these 4 stories could be refined further and shared widely for feedback and discussion.

At this stage, the intention should not necessarily be about making a choice but refining the scenarios and testing the assumptions and driving factors involved. Feedback invited.


Rachelle Munro said...

I am a student of Scenario Planning and am very interested in the ideas and implications for your homeland that you posited in this posting. Do you plan on including other stakeholders in your work as you move forward in fleshing out the scenarios? As you know, the Mont Fleur scenarios and other such endeavors often encompass a wide variety of stakeholders in the SP process. According to an account by scenario planner Adam Kahane: "all were committed in their own ways to building a better future for their country. From starkly different perspectives, they built a shared map of South African reality" (see:

R. M.

Sai Lealea said...

Yes it is my dream to have a wide variety of stakeholders to flesh out the stories. I certainly derive inspiration from reading Adam Kahane's work on Mont Fleur. I would therefore be keen to seek sponsorship to enable further work to be done on this as I see it as absolutely critical in charting a way forward for my beloved country Fiji.

Dr. Mere Tuisalalo Samisoni said...

Sounds wholesome to me Sai that we are working with expertise and professionals who are accountable.
Lets move with like minded people, Suli (FTCM, Australia), Tawalili of DFFM (US) and us ( SDL Fiji). I will send this to my people. Keep in touch.

saqani warrior said...

Bula Sai!

Scenario 4 I think is the best solution to get this illegal regime out of its mess; we should develop it further to ensure that all those "strong holders" of the 5/12/2006 MUST never come back again to lead our beloved country...I am a strong believer in the 2nd coming of the Lord Jesus Christ,and this regime is locking us all to see the best of this country before HE returns!


Sai Lealea said...

Vinaka Saqani Warrior.

One of the key ongoing question to resolve in this scenario will be the place and role of the Military. On the basis of first principles, key points to consider are:
-Do we have an enemy that will threaten Fiji as a nation and if so who?
-Is the threat external or internal?
-Is it a threat in the nature of law and order, breach of economic zones, keeping the peace, and enforcing laws?
-If there are no threats to Fiji as a nation (i.e.strategic threat) is there still a need to have a military, if so what should be its role, size and structure?

Comments to Consider:
- Peacekeeping and internal security appears to have become the 2 principal functions of the Fiji military in recent times.
- Peacekeeping has become important for governments over the years as a revenue earner which does not serve the purpose of strategic threat to Fiji as stated above.
- Over time, the market for peacekeeping will be affected by private security firms and coalition of nations. Fiji may have to be part of a wider Pacific coalition force thus reducing its individual involvement as currently. Even if Fiji wants to corner this market, by continuing to offer its peacekeeping services, the military threat to future Fiji governments will continue unless weapons and arms are only taken on outside of Fiji and offloaded before returning to Fiji. NZ and Australia could then be used as staging posts for military training for Fiji soldiers destined for peacekeeping duties. This will also mean that only the Police will be the agency internally with majority holdings of arms and weapons since after all, threats to Fiji will largely be law and order and patrolling of economic zones. This option will be a win-win by continuing with a revenue source while removing the threat posed by readily available arms and weapons for the military to carry out coups.

Again as I stated, these would be factors to consider as we flesh out the scenarios and involve a diverse range of stakeholders who must all be committed to a better future for Fiji. Vinaka.

saqani warrior said...

Very well thought Sai on scenario 4; my next question will how can reduce the no. of the military personnel in Fiji...everyone especially the native fijians seems to have that ego of joining the army!

It seems to me there is something wrong with our current educational curriculum in FIJI, which tends to encourage military training (cadet) in most schools...before its was only QVS and Natabua now almost all schools in Viti Levu are doing cadet training...

vinaka saqani warrior

Sai Lealea said...

Good point Saqani Warrior.

That question should be answered in relation to the threat assessment & analysis referred to earlier. As in management, "form should follow function". My thoughts are:
- Police more than able to deal with internal threats.
- Maintain an engineer corp in the military with a role in rural development. In fact I even argued some years back (letter to Fiji Times) that if they're good enough, could even compete for Government construction/building contracts using a semi-corporate business model. We're therefore taking advantage of their training and skills to reap multiple benefits without threat of arms.
- If peacekeeping still an option for revenue purpose, my suggestion in earlier post for infantry. In terms of size, A STANDING ARMY WILL NOT BE NECESSARY AS RESERVE CORP WILL DO. Again this option removes arms/weapons threat to execute coups.
- Extra military personnel could be redirected to border protection (customs/fisheries patrol).

Again keen to fully flesh this scenario out.

saqani warrior said...

A well thought analysis scenario Sai; a very interesting point you've raised - semi-commercial business military engineer corp, which could tender for govt and private construction works...utilize the soldiers skills...a reserve military force is good option to maintain Fiji military's historical one of the few VC medal nations in the world...rather than a coup nations of the world....I think Sai, these people who carried -out this illegal activities (coups) have some big personal problems like jealousy of govt, greedy for power & money, self-interest and have no reverence to the Lord Jesus fact if they really care for Fiji and its people it will never do such thing...BUT again the Good Lord Jesus Christ has allowed these things to happen...and my question is WHY??,...i SOMETIMES ASKED the Lord in my prayers WHY LORD? have allowed these things to happen in a country that acknowledge and fear something wrong that you want us to do it RIGHT????; these are some of the thoughts that always come into my minds...but I have faith in HIM that he will surely lead us away from all these mess...


Sai Lealea said...

Saqani Warrior,

As a christian, I too have always wondered about the Lord's plan for Fiji. But as we both know, His plan and timing are not the same as ours NOR is it for us to wonder or doubt. I too pray for Fiji all the time and am equally fortified in the belief that if we do our part in the physical, The Lord will do his in the spiritual hence the contribution of ideas to salvage Fiji from its current position. We all know Fiji deserves better and especially its people.

My thoughts on the military are designed to:
-prevent the availability of arms for them to execute coups;
-yet utilise their professional training/skills for the benefit of the economy; and
-ensuring credible protection of Fiji's national security.

For a small nation, Fiji does not need a large military as is the current case. It is sucking up resources that could be better used elsewhere.

As you asked, so what exactly are the motives of the coup plotters? Only they know, and we can also speculate with the information we have. That is why a kind of Truth Commission would be useful to also serve as a reconciliation forum among coupsters and victims.

As I said, these thoughts need to be further fleshed out. Vinaka.

saqani warrior said...

Bula Sai,

Amen!...Glory be to Him!...He is indeed the source of aspirations, power, inner peace and strength...I share yours thoughts on the military...we do not need a big military size like what we have right now...

we must assist in the prevention of:
- arms for them to execute coups;
- BUT utilize their professional training/skills for the benefit of the economy; and
-ensuring credible protection of Fiji's boarder-line national security; as you may aware of the latest fearsome IGUANA found on Qamea Island very recently...there is proper boarder-line security in Fiji (24hrs); anyone from offshore can sail in his yacht to any small Fiji islands at any time and steal or leave something that may damage our beautiful environment & marine life....

I totally agreed with you that Fiji does not need a large military as is the current case. It is certainly sucking up resources that could be better used elsewhere and contributes to the high national debt level...which stands at around $3.8 billion now

Certainly a kind of Truth Commission would be useful to also serve as a reconciliation forum among coupsters and victims;

Sometimes it is very hard for me to think how I can forgive these coup people & the damages they've left to the people of Fiji...BUT then His mighty name always RING A BELL on my ear, If he can died on the cross to forgive my sins more than 2000 years ago Who I am NOT to forgive these sons & daughters of His...YES WE MUST RECONCILE with these people and bring them out of the darkness...BUT what about the VICTIMS how can we HELP them especially when most of them want blood for blood?????????????

Sai Lealea said...

Saqani Warrior,

For the integrity of any reconciliation, victims will have to be compensated and have their day in court. The State must see to this.

Equally, victims's sense of hurt and loss must be directed towards a contribution in refining the scenarios as they have a story to tell and they must tell in their own voice and passion. Others must listen deeply without questioning its veracity.

Out of that we could then work with them on the dream they have of Fiji for the future so they feel it is also their dream and not just that of a government. This is what the Mont Fleur model could offer in refining the scenarios. Hopefully people like you could be part of such an exercise in exploring pathways to move Fiji out from where it is now to where it deserves to be in the future. Vinaka.

saqani warrior said...

Vinaka Sai,

Sounds meaningful to me and I think people like you and me must work together to ensure that this path of truth commission is set-up once and for all to save the mess we are in right now...

this AG person is talking too much and I think most of the IG policies/decrees are his his thoughts and I really don't like this person because if he was really a decent lawyer then he should not be advising VB of the pathway he is taking right now...the path of destruction should I say...censoring the media will not help the public to know the TRUTH of whats happening in the government of the day....WHAT EXACTLY ARE THEY TRYING TO HIDE TO THE PEOPLE OF FIJI???...this AG sold two residential lots at Berry road from Tappoos at an exorbitant price of $810,000 and in return tappoos is the only duty outlet legally allowed for tourists to shop at and claim VAT refunds...this is outrages Sai...the poor landowners of the country are mislead to think that the 10% increase in the land rent is enough to keep them happy while girmitis like the AG reaps the cake...sometimes I think these people running the IG are building their own empire....makes me very sad...

Sai Lealea said...

Saqani Warrior,

You have pointed to examples of greed and corruption by the IG which has become the hallmark of their illegal rule. All the more reason for us to keep up the pressure while actively seeking a way forward. Their day will no doubt come and they will answer for it.

We are seeking support from the Commonwealth and UN for assistance to engage widely in fleshing out the scenarios as an exercise in future mapping. The exercise could even be held at various locations as long as there is a wide variety of stakeholders. And you will know, there are certainly supporters for each of the scenarios.

The goal would be to engage over them through deep talking and listening to first refine the scenarios so the contrast among them become prominent and emphasised. Ideally, the best option for Fiji would then emerge as obvious.

The problem in the Charter exercise was its "problem focused and set agenda" such that people came to it just to validate their position as there was no open talking and listening. People need to tell their stories in human terms first before we seek resolution and then a way forward.

That is what scenario planning is about and with the UN and Commonwealth assistance, we just might be able to get it going. With good luck and The Lord's blessings pray it comes about for the sake of our beloved Fiji. Vinaka.