Friday, May 15, 2015

Death of Democracy in Fiji

Elation and hope following election in Fiji last year, has now given way to doom and pessimism as the Bainimarama government continues its dictatorial ways.
This behavior was evident well before the new parliament set. Rules for running parliament and MPs pay were unilaterally set by the regime without the input of other political parties or their elected MPs.
Once parliament began, the bias of the Speaker in controlling debates and the questioning of ministers in favour of the government became a regular feature. At times, it seemed she was protecting ministers, especially the inexperienced and blundering PM from constantly making a fool of himself with silly responses to Opposition questions. Even worse, when the government regularly uses its majority in parliament to deny full disclosure and debate on key topics. Public submissions on proposed legislation are often railroaded when they're critical of government. Parliament sitting days appear seldom to keep government away from scrutiny by the Opposition.
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Having taken numerous trips overseas to observe how other parliaments operate, one hopes the Speaker will begin to be neutral and run parliament herself and not be permanently at the behest of her party's calling. Sadly, her recent rulings provides little indication things have changed for the better.
Out in the electorate, voters in last year's election are discovering the true lack of transparency and integrity in the government. Audit reports from the last 7 years revealed rampant misappropriation and illegal use of government funds by the military regime. The promise of free services were often delayed, withdrawn or even priced. So called iconic projects, such as the Denarau Casino or Waila City, are nowhere to be seen!

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Denarau casino? Where is it??
Put together, all the above points to the real and enduring lack of trust in the government and its machinery. There appears two rules applying in how government conducts its affairs. When you have a Minister for Local Government, with a pending court hearing allowed to even be in parliament, is a pointer to how low things have gone in Fiji.
When the SG advises Police to require permits of the Opposition when meeting its constituents after the government had done so, is naked abuse of power and intimidation.
In a sense, the conduct of government in Fiji simply mirrors the character and mindset of its political leader, Bainimarama. His vision for Fiji is enforced unity instead of harnessing the richness that its diversity presents and embracing the place of its indigenous people.
That vision has dictated his approach in government. And that is "tis Bainimarama's way or tis No Way" Sadly for Fiji, that is not the Democracy they thought they voted for last year.

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