Sunday, February 14, 2016


Lautoka 14:2:2016
[by- Mick Beddoes]
After just 70 weeks into its 208 week Parliamentary term, the Fiji First government has buckled under the pressure and stress of democracy. It has thrown in the towel. It seems the ‘vale ni kuro ni democracy sa rui katakata’ for our Fiji First dictators.
In place of the free and open system of debate centered on accountability to the people, Fiji First has retreated into the authoritarian, bullying mode of governance that it knows so well.
It has been apparent for many months that Fiji First and its two dictatorial leaders, KAI-BAI, hate the entire process of parliament as a means of serving the interests of our citizens and our country. It is unable to withstand scrutiny and function transparently, even under the provisions of the flawed constitution it wrote for itself and imposed on the people.
The Prime Minister in particular is extremely uncomfortable answering questions and often gives the impression that he is not on top of his brief. He has made a habit of being absent from crucial Budget debates, because he probably recognizes that he would not be able to handle Opposition demands for detailed explanations about his portfolios.
But why should he worry? He recently stated for the public record that Fiji has no significant issues to deal with! So if there are no significant issues, why are they so reluctant to face up to Opposition questions and motions?
Khaiyum, Master of the Universe and the real Fiji First leader, has distinguished himself by his know-it-all, bombastic lecturing performances. His over-confidence, based on his self-perception of his invincibility, has got him into trouble more than once. His most recent and grossest miscalculation was his depiction in the House of the Opposition Whip as an ape, complete with grunting sounds and arm movements recognized internationally as one of the most insulting racist gestures.
Never had there been a scene like this in the history of the House of Representatives. It set a new low for conduct by a Member and despite its racist implication, it passed almost unnoticed by the Speaker.
But Khaiyum, again blinded by his own sense of omnipotence, is unrepentant.What he did was a nail in his political coffin. He has won for himself the nicknames of the ape man, or the know it all monkey minister.
Fiji First Minister’s and backbenchers are mere ornaments who must be prepared at all times to do the bidding of their master. Woe betide them if they fall short in the eyes of KAI-BAI.
In its determination to transform parliament into a form of dictatorship Fiji First, directed by KAI-BAI, has launched a series of measures which can only be described as assaults on democracy and the political rights of the people.
For instance, the sitting days of Parliament have been reduced. Fewer debates and not so many bothersome questions.
The NFP members of the Opposition have been booted out of parliament for a month based on a deliberate misinterpretation it seems of the certification of the auditor they used for the party’s financial declarations under Khaiyum’s extremist Political Parties Decree. We’ll show them about democracy, and use our power to turf them out!
Changes have been made to the parliamentary processes that will remove NFP leader Biman Prasad from his chairmanship of the vital Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Hon Prasad was simply too effective in unearthing financial mismanagement that showed Fiji First and its predecessor military government in a very bad light.
The government will now ensure one of its own members becomes PAC chair. That’s a lot safer and more predictable. In the minds of KAI-BAI, this would be a way of avoiding public evidence or suppressing the truth on issues such as the $200 million or so they spent without proper documentation.
A Fiji First chair would also be less likely to ask difficult questions about ministerial salaries involving tens of millions paid through the accounting firm of Kai’s aunt, Nur Bano Ali.
This week the two dictators and their accomplices stepped up their campaign to emasculate parliament. They have curbed the right of the people to express their views on issues through parliamentary petitions through arbitrary changes to the Standing Orders of Parliament they forced through with their majority vote.
They have removed the ability of the Opposition to introduce Private Members Bills. The traditional right of Opposition MPs to move adjournment motions as a device for getting across their party policies and ideas has been scrapped.
Instead we will see a swelling trend of parliament relegated to a mere propaganda vehicle for Fiji First. This is already underway in Question Time which they tactically reduce by filing and making long and boring self-praising ministerial statements to eat up the time. Ministerial statements are traditionally used for major announcements. They use it for ‘self-praise’.
KAI-BAI control Parliament, government and the justice system. They control the electoral system, the military and the police. They have the highest number of MPs with the lowest polling numbers in the house. They openly promote nepotism and favoritism. Corruption appears to be at an all-time high and Ministerial conflict of interest is now the norm. The media exercises self-censorship and some are full time propaganda arms of government.
By Jale Moala

Despite this formidable network of control, KAI-BAI still fear the voices of dissent and are unable to cope with the scrutiny of the opposition through the parliamentary process.
We would do well to remember the words of Sir Winston Churchill who in a speech to the USA 78 years ago on Oct 16 1938 ring true for Fiji today:-
You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. On all sides they are guarded by masses of armed men, cannons, aeroplanes, fortifications, and the like - they boast and vaunt themselves before the world, yet in their hearts there is unspoken fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts; words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home - all the more powerful because forbidden - terrify them. A little mouse of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic. They make frantic efforts to bar our thoughts and words; they are afraid of the workings of the human mind. Cannons, airplanes, they can manufacture in large quantities; but how are they to quell the natural promptings of human nature, which after all these centuries of trial and progress has inherited a whole armory of potent and indestructible knowledge?
Dictatorship - the fetish worship of one man - is a passing phase. A state of society where men may not speak their minds, where children denounce their parents to the police, where a business man or small shopkeeper ruins his competitor by telling tales about his private opinions; such a state of society cannot long endure if brought into contact with the healthy outside world.
The light of civilised progress with its tolerances and co-operation, with its dignities and joys, has often in the past been blotted out. But I hold the belief that we have now at last got far enough ahead of barbarism to control it, and to avert it, if only we realise what is afoot and make up our minds in time. We shall do it in the end. But how much harder our toil for every day's delay!

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