Thanks to Bloggertracker for bringing to our attention this excellent piece from Victor Lal courtesy of yesterday’s edition of the Fiji Sun. It’s well worth the read bloggers, an excellent food for thought.
How about that John Sami..?? The SV team challenges you to take a long moment to look deep within yourself… or even in the mirror perhaps… and convert your charter farter budget into the establishment of a coup museum for our beloved Fiji. A coup museum would certainly be far more effective in breaking Fiji’s coup cycle than pushing your utopia fantasy through some charter.
It’s time that we look hard and long at our demons (and ourselves) and say : NEVER AGAIN!!!
Hands up (after me) any volunteers to help run the Fiji Coup Museum!
It’s time for $2.4m coup museum
6/19/2008, Fiji Sun
By VICTOR LAL
The interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama was reported as saying that he was really interested in finding out when the Australian High Commission staff would be leaving the commission complex because he was trying to find an alternative site for the museum, presumably to relocate the historical Fiji Museum.
Although it would be sad to see the High Commission complex become vacant, but if it did before the next general election, the complex should be immediately transformed into a $2.4million “coup museum”, a museum that is really needed to remind and educate us of the opportunistic and destructive power of the coup culture in Fiji, and of the various personalities and institutions who have made it possible for the continuation of that coup culture in the country.
Maybe, the Interim Government should acquire a complex as soon as possible for a new permanent coup museum, instead of wasting the taxpayers $2.4million on building a better Fiji which sounds attractive on paper but will not achieve its desired purpose.
It would be really worthwile to have a museum on the 1987, 2000 and 2006 coups – a self reflective mirror for the present and succeeding generations, even if those involved in the various coups might feel that the museum could turn out to be a “name and shame” outfit of their own roles in the coup culture.
The coup museum will be better than even a truth and reconciliation commission, which is generally a novel experiment in healing the wounds of a fractured nation but it is not a permanent reminder of the destructive impact of coups on the country, and its citizens.
The proposed museum, I believe, will have a far greater impact on transforming Fiji and the attitude of the Fiji Islanders to coups and coup personalities than all the projects and publications put together that might flow from the deliberations of the National Council for the Building of a Better Fiji and the so-called Peoples Charter, which is itself a by-product of the 2006 coup.
The coups are like a newly built factory, which creates jobs, but where no tests are required as long as one is willing to shamelessly fly the flag on behalf of the coup leaders, and to shove down the nation’s throat their own manifestoes, agendas and visions of Fiji. Some of yesteryear peoples who might have been running in their cheap “Made in China” pyjamas, suddenly find themselves being driven around in Pajeros, flying around the world to attend global meetings, or ending up as ambassadors and high commissioners around the world’s capitals..
Why is there a coup culture in Fiji? Unbridled opportunism is the major catalyst for coup culture in Fiji.
People are willing to sacrifice ideals and principles, and have no qualm or guilt in taking up jobs of their fellow citizens, many unceremoniously thrown out by coup makers and supporters.
Every coup has produced a new crop of the so-called “saviours of the nation” – and in the process the coup culture is repeated over and over in Fiji. These “coup riders”, who do not have to have their CVs vetted by the general public, end up in the “driving seat”, claiming to have a dream to build a better Fiji but in reality are lost in a delusion.
Whatever reasons are or had been advanced in the execution of the coups in Fiji, there is no denying the enormous damage the coups have inflicted on the nation, individuals, institutions, and the economy, just to mention a few examples.
The museum could contain all the three constitutions: 1970, 1990 and 1997 Constitutions. It should have the takeover speeches of Mr Rabuka, George Speight and Commodore Frank Bainimarma. It will enable the citizens to judge for themselves the character and intention of these three figures.
Here is one item for the museum, as recorded by Hansard reporter Serei Moucavu on 19 May 2000, when “strangers” walked into Parliament, while Mr Chaudhry’s deputy prime minister Dr Tupeni Baba was speaking.
“At this point (10:45 a.m.) several heavily-armed strangers (one wearing balaclava) stormed into the Chambers and jumped over the Bar shouting: “Sit down, sit still and remain calm!”). As the Hansard reports:
MR SPEAKER (Standing up) What is this?
STRANGER NO 1 This is a civil coup. Hold tight, nobody move!
MR. SPEAKER Yes?
STRANGER NO 1 This is a civil coup by the people, the taukei people and we ask you to please retire to your chamber right now, Mr. Speaker. Please co-operate so nobody will get hurt.
STRANGER NO 2 Tose ike; o iko toso mai ike! (Move here; you, move here!) (Speaking to the other strangers) Dua me toso mai ike. Dua me tu mai kea. Totolo! (One to move here, one to stand over there. Quickly!)
STRANGER NO 1 Hold your seats.
STRANGER NO 2 Dabe! Dabe I keri! (Sit! Sit there!)
MR. SPEAKER (Still standing) Na cava: what is this?
STRANGER NO. 1 This is a civil coup, with arms and ammunition, by the people and for the people. Please just tell them not to get up!
MR. SPEAKER It is an illegal act, you know that!
STRANGER NO. 1 Mr Speaker, please, we do not want anybody to get hurt. Please do not make things difficult for us or I will be forced to use this (brandishing a gun). Would the Members of the Opposition leave the Chamber with the Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER (Still standing, and pointing a finger at Stranger No. 1) If you have to shoot anyone in this House, you shoot me first!
HON. RATU I. KUBUABOLA (opposition leader). (Still seated) No, we will not leave without our Speaker! (At this point, Stranger No. 2, fires two shots towards the ceiling of the Chamber)
(Mr. Speaker leaves the Chamber with the Leader of the Opposition and Opposition Members. All the doors to the Chamber are immediately closed and guarded by the armed strangers. Government Members and six Parliamentary staff remaining in the Chamber)
“The House was unceremoniously adjourned at 10.55 a.m.,” the Hansard records.
The museum could also contain quotable quotes, which would allow the public to judge for themselves the sincerity of all those who are claiming to be working in the best interest of the nation.
There are some who have been arguing that death should mean death for the treasonists.
And here is a quotable quote from Justice Michael Scott, who sentenced George Speight on 18 February 2002: “George Speight, the sentence of the court upon you is that you be taken from this place to a lawful prison and thence to a place of execution and that you there suffer death by hanging and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul.”
Within hours, Mr Speight’s sentence was commuted to life in prison. Besides the photos and pronouncements of the key personalities and political parties, the museum could contain manifestoes of the various political parties and many other exhibits et etc, as the museum proposal is under discussion.
In any case, the NCBBF can continue its work in cyberspace, as its website is up and running ( I strongly recommend that it set up a monitor to record the number of hits it is getting a day, to gauge the nation’s support for its projects, instead of wasting its time bashing the media).
The NCBBF does not need the $2.4 funding and a secretariat to map out the future roadmap for Fiji, nor pay John Samy $12,000 a month (what a school teacher gets in a whole year) or $100 to those attending its meetings.
All these monies could be used to bring school children, their parents and the teachers, and the people of Fiji (and tourists) for educational tour of the coup museum, instead of spending it on administrative and office expenses of TASS, salaries for mainly the local staff and a few consultants, advertising and public relations, consultation, feedback and community outreach activities, and administrative and organisational costs for the meetings of the NCBBF, the 3 NTTs and the 9 Working Groups (WGs).
So, please, give the $2.4million to us instead, to set up the coup museum, which will be a first of its kind in the world. The museum could be administered by “The Coup Foundation of Fiji”, with possibly the father of the coups, Sitiveni Rabuka, as its patron, if he agrees to serve on the board.
George Speight could be included once he has served his time, and as for Commodore Frank Bainimarama, we will have to wait until his own fate is decided in the foreseeable future, although he and his Ministers claim to have obtained immunity from the President.
However, we must ensure that no one is paid to set up the museum, or afterwards, for I am sure that those who love and deeply care for their “coup coup land”, would be willing to come forward as volunteers and run the museum free of charge, bringing their own roti and curry from home for lunch.
For I have never understood how could anyone in post-coup Fiji claim that he or she has joined the interim regime to move the country forward, and yet put a price tag for their services, and that includes the interim Cabinet administrators, styled “Ministers”, as if their services are indispensable. Its utter nonsense.
There is convincing evidence that the Peoples Charter for Change had been drawn up in New Zealand and transported to Fiji to be rubber-stamped by the interim regime. According to John Samy, in January 2007 he and one Francis Narayan travelled to Wellington, at their own initiative and expense, to meet senior officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to express their concerns about New Zealand’s not only hard, but hardening stance towards Fiji.
“We felt that New Zealand and indeed Australia and the international community should look at ways and means to assist Fiji deal with its fundamental problems, rather than to isolate it.
Towards the end of February last year, when the Interim Government was working on its Road Map for the restoration of democracy, I was contacted by Minister Chaudhry. It was then, and remains now, my clear understanding that the invitation for my involvement originated from the Prime Minister; that Minister Chaudhry contacted me only upon the express request of the Prime Minister.”
Curiously, I was flipping through some old e-mails from my regular contacts in New Zealand and came across a few relating to John Samy and the Peoples Charter.
At the time the e-mails were sent to me, there was hardly any discussion and dissent on the Peoples Charter, so the sections on Mr Samy and the Charter had escaped my scrutiny.
Since then, I have been able to establish that Mr Samy and Mr Narayan had met up with a NZ Labour MP and had discussed the proposed Peoples Charter. One e-mailer had claimed that Mr Samy had circulated the draft charter to some of them, telling in May last year that he was doing “this for the Military Government of Fiji”.
The e-mailer alleged that Mr Samy told them that he would eventually head the charter task force.
“He even told us that we could go to Fiji together and earn expatriate salaries while working for charter task force”.
The e-mailer claimed: “The advertisement later in Fiji for the head of task force was a farce, as it was a foregone conclusion that the job was already earmarked for the architect of charter (John). John and Francis Narayan went around to some Parliamentarians in New Zealand urging them to support Frank Bainimarama and the Charter. John boasted to one of the NZ Labour MPs that he has a direct line to Frank Bainimarama and he can talk to him any time he wants. The Labour MP later told me in disgust what John and Francis told him.”
Another e-mailer notified me in June 2007, “John Samy has helped draw up a concept of building a better Fiji. But they cannot do so by ignoring SDL and Qarase, as they represent a large chunk of Fijian voters. There still appears to be feeling of vindictiveness against SDL and this may not be fruitful- it will cause resentment and possibility of violence.
What is worrying is that all those people in top positions who have lost their gravy train will not be sitting idle, as history has told us in 1987 and 2000.”
In May 2001, Jone Dakuvula, then with CCF, responding to my attack on the CCF, had concluded a lengthy opinion as follows: “I am confident that his (chairman of the Indian summit, Dr Biman Prasad) will be preferred by those who support CCF to that of someone (i.e. ME) who has been away from this country for many years.”
I wonder if that also applies to his new boss at NCBBF, John Samy, who left Fiji after the 1987 coups. I suggest that those drafting the Peoples Charter should close shop and turn their charter into a political manifesto, and fight the general election – contesting seats from provinces which have voted against the Peoples Charter.
And the $2.4million is handed over to The Coup Foundation of Fiji for the proposed coup museum, which will be a lasting moument.
The views expressed are those of Victor Lal and not that of the Fiji Sun. -email: email@example.com.