Thursday, July 18, 2013

How Everyone is Expandable in a Dictatorship

Tuiteci (right) heading to court handcuffed to fellow offender
Captain Tuiteci
By Sai Lealea

As original supporters, sympathisers and hangers-on of the Bainimarama dictatorship continuously fall away on the way side, one thing is eminently clear - that no one is untouchable and that eventually, fate has a way of paying things back, and with a handsome regressive interest, in the case of key Bainimarama supporters.

This reality was brought to the fore this week when the once 2006 coup high flyer and former military officer, Seremaia Tuiteci, was being ingloriously dragged into court handcuffed to a fellow offender to answer to a string of charges. How high indeed the mighty fall? And for those who wielded power with a punitive streak at the height of their rule, the shattering thud when they fall must surely ring as a good and timely reminder to those diehards who persist in hanging on to the coat tails of the Dictator Bainimarama and his lackey officer, Khaiyum. Compare and contrast in the attached pictures the high and low of Tuiteci’s fortune in climbing on the Bainimarama bandwagon. We are of course all aware of others who have left the regime, either willingly or abandoned for disloyalty, or for attempting to turn the situation around but failed.

Often it is in the nature of a dictatorship that there is no singular binding philosophy that underpins the loyalty and commitment of both leaders and followers. It is even worse when you have a mediocre leader like Bainimarama, who is thoroughly incapable of moulding and maintaining a unifying narrative, about the military coup. One only has to recount the moving feast of reasons for the coup – from clean up campaign, to unfair electoral system to politicking chiefs et cetera. We also know Bainimarama’s personal agenda of avoiding arrest for the murders of CRW soldiers and wanting to have his term as commander renewed.

In essence you have a clear case of half baked, make it as you go reasoning for the coup, which then opened up opportunities that were never possible for those in the thick of it. That may explain the naive motivations of those who jumped in early in the piece, then abandoned the ship when they discovered other sordid reasons. Others within the military itself who realised the dark side to the regime and attempted to reverse matters but failed, because by then, the evil root of opportunities had taken hold and had started to engulf both the minds and ego of opportunists.

When you’re a low rank officer able to leapfrog others to a much senior rank, then parachuted into a senior civil service position you’re thoroughly unqualified for, of course you will be thanking your stars and practising how often you will be repeating your platitudes of “yes sir” to the Dictator himself! There is no incentive of letting go of the juicy bone between the big molars of your teeth, even harder to dislodge it after a few more raise in salary gets thrown your way.

Yet the very reason for the lack of a solid philosophical rationale for the coup will be its undoing. Todate the regime has been ruling as if in a made to order form. It is picking its friends again based on convenience, opportunism and with an eye to being accepted. Why else would you run all the way to far flung parts of the globe without any semblance of common values and history other than to spite your traditional allies and while at it, want to be seen as exhibiting independence and respecting sovereignty? Joining the Non Aligned Movement and forging links with communist nations and pariah regimes suggest desperation. All it confirms is the abysmal lack of foresight and strategic appreciation as to the reality of global diplomacy and the role a small nation like Fiji can play in order to benefit its people.

The final irony of it all, confirming the absence of a solid rationale for the Bainimarama dictatorship is the need to rely on those whose fortunes, institutions and structures he had systematically destroyed. Whether by design or default, Bainimarama has since come back to seek political restitution with native Fijians, and those in rural areas. These are the very group he had targeted, ridiculed and brutalised. Chiefs and their institutions have been deformed and recast in a manner thoroughly disrespectful of their role in Fijian society and the implications will reverberate over the years and generations. Fijians have a long memory and will wait for the most opportune time to repay Bainimarama and Khaiyum in kind.

Just like Tuiteci’s spectacular fall from grace, Bainimarama and all his henchmen, will face the same fate. Having meted out untold suffering, brutality and terror on Fiji and its people, their fall is eagerly awaited and when it does, thoroughly deserving. The Fijian language provides such a rich collection of sayings for such eventuality and my favourite would be: 
 “Eda dui seva ga na bua eda tea.” (You pick the flower that you plant)

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