Another of Victor Lal’s pearls of wisdom

This is yet another excellent piece by Victor Lal which SV says deserves a post of its own. Vinaka to blogger pestcatcher for catching this piece for SV.

Keep blogging in your thoughts ragone on the bizzare cycle of coups that have befallen our beloved country. Always remember dear bloggers that your opinions, thoughts or even ‘unholy’ vakasama’s are still valued here at SOLIVAKASAMA so pls continue to say it like it is.

SOLIVAKASAMA allows you an important avenue to fully exercise your freedom of speech and expression; and speak your mind freely without fear of being taken to the QEB for God-knows-what! SV allows you to hold on tight to that freedom of expression that Bainimarama and his military junta robbed you and this nation of, on 6 Dec 2006.

So please let’s keep expressing our thoughts and ideas, in our collective effort to peacefully thwart the regimes plans, regain our freedoms and restore the democratic will of the people in its rightful place.

Ni blog on ragone!

By VICTOR LAL

“The interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, or more precisely, his shadowy advisers, has once again blamed the raced based electoral system for the “mess” in the country. While launching the draft People’s Charter, Bainimarama denounced the “sad and dismal record” of every parliament since independence. He said the past parliaments had exploited the race based electoral system for narrow sectarian interests.
The Commodore could have added that a leader of one of Fiji’s largest political parties, and one of his own recent interim cabinet minister, had become a secret millionaire by exploiting the outcome of the election results under the same race based electoral system.
But one principal institution that Bainimarama omitted to mention at the launch, and the one which he had effectively relied upon in the 2000 and 2006 coups, is the office of the President, for at the end of the day all roads lead up to the Government House in the event of a coup or a constitutional crisis. The way forward, we are repeatedly told, also rests on the outcome of the President’s Dialogue Forum, with another deposed Prime Minister and secret $2million millionaire Mahendra Chaudhry advising another coup victim PM, Laisenia Qarase, to drop the idea of getting back the pre-coup SDL-FLP government.
“I have been through three coups, two of them where we were democratically elected and we were never given that power back again. So Mr Qarase should learn from this and drop the idea that he will get his government back,” Chaudhry said.
He added that Qarase should learn from the past and stop opposing the interim
Government’s initiative, but instead join the President’s Dialogue Forum so there is a collective view on how to take the nation forward.
What Chaudhry, like his $2million lie to the people of Fiji, did not tell his supporters in Nasinu recently was why and how the current President Ratu Josefa Iloilo refused to return Chaudhry’s Peoples Coalition Government to power after the 2000 coup? And what role did the President’s office play in encouraging the coup culture in the country?
Responding to Bainimarama’s attack on past leaders, Qarase said Bainimarama’s comments were derogatory and insulting to the hundreds of men and women who were elected to previous parliaments. He said these leaders served our country loyally and with distinction. “Such distinguished parliamentarians include Ratu Sir George Cakobau, Ratu Sir Edward Cakobau, Ratu Sir Penania Ganilau, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, Mr A.D.Patel, Mr S.M.Koya, Mr Jai Ram Reddy, Mrs Irene Jai Narayan, Ratu Sir Josaia Tavaiqia, Mr Sitiveni Rabuka, and many others,” said Qarase.
I do not know about the Commodore’s dealings with past politicians but I had personally interacted with Koya, Reddy and Mrs Narayan during their term as politicians, and have charted their contributions to the political and constitutional development of Fiji. But I personally knew the great Fijian leaders, the two Ratu Cakobaus, Ratu Ganilau, and Ratu Mara because my late father was an Alliance Party “apparatchik” who lived and breathed for their political survival until his untimely death in 1984. He, however, did not live to witness, and mercifully so, the role the paramount chiefs, Mara and Ganilau, played in post 1987 coups.
If I were to reflect and pass judgment on their legacy as politicians, I am sure my late father will churn in his graveyard. I had personally campaigned for Ratu George Cakobau’s election to Parliament in the 1970s before he became the Governor-General of Fiji, but I had never envisaged that one the day I would be called upon to pass judgment on his governorship.
But the call was foisted upon me when I came up to the University of Oxford for further studies, where I also comparatively analysed the 1977 constitutional crisis in Fiji and the 1975 constitutional crisis in Australia under the watchful academic guidance of one of the world’s leading constitutional and electoral experts, Dr David Butler, with help from Sir Zelman Cowen, the former governor-general of Australia.
Sir Zelman had replaced Sir John Kerr following the dismissal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. From 1982 to 1990, Sir Zelman was Provost of Oriel College, Oxford. After the 1987 coups, Ratu Mara would personally blame Dr Butler for allegedly persuading him to accede to the contents of the 1970 Constitution of independent Fiji, which guaranteed Fijian political power. However, the correspondence between the two men before independence, which Dr Butler made available to me after Ratu Mara’s death, tells a very different story of Fiji’s constitutional road to independence in 1970.
In March 1977, a constitutional crisis broke out following the general election which gave a narrow electoral victory to the National Federation Party, led by Koya, One significant event marked Ratu Cakobau’s tenure as Governor-General. As the NFP quarrelled among itself, Ratu Cakobau called upon the defeated Prime Minister Ratu Mara to form a minority government, pending fresh elections in September, which saw Ratu Mara’s Alliance Party return to power in a landslide win.
In a public statement, Ratu Cakobau defended his actions in appointing Ratu Mara as caretaker prime minister. Although Ratu Cakobau’s actions were unquestionably constitutional, they were controversial, for as I noted, based on secret Alliance Party correspondence etc, he was blatantly motivated to protect the privileged position of his fellow paramount chiefs, and most possibly, his own governorship, a pattern discernible in the 1987, 2000 and 2006 coups. I concurred with another of Dr Butler’s constitutional colleague Professor David Murray, who had written: “Even if the action of the Governor-General have produced convention about his power which could be justified in the particular context of Fiji, the way this was achieved did not enhance the credibility of the Fiji’s Constitution.”
Ratu Penaia Ganilau, who succeeded Ratu Cakobau, was confronted with a far greater constitutional challenge after the 1987 coups. Again, he was concerned with his own political survival, as recalled by the coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka, and which I have commented upon in detail in my book, Fiji – Coups in Paradise. Here are the exchanges between Rabuka and Ratu Ganilau at the Government House.
Rabuka: “Sir, I have just taken over the Government. I have detained all Dr Bavadra’s team. They have been taken up to camp, where they will be detained until we find suitable accommodation for them.”
Ratu Ganilau: “What have you done?” Rabuka: “I have suspended the Constitution, or abrogated the Constitution, and that means, Sir, that your appointment as Governor-General now ceases to exist.”
Ratu Penaia: “You mean that I have no job?”
Rabuka (now speaking in Fijian): “Yes, Sir, but I would ask that you stay here with full pay an all your privileges and honours that go with your office, until we ask you to come back as President.”
As we know, Ratu Penaia came back as President, with Ratu Mara as Prime Minister, and the two set out, with the help of other Fijian nationalists and the military, to impose the 1990 Constitution, which reduced Indo-Fijians to second class citizenship until the formulation of the 1997 Constitution. In 2000, George Speight surfaced, and tried to do a copycat Rabuka, and once again, the fate of the nation fell on the new President Ratu Mara. He resisted the coup but capitulated by dismissing the kidnapped Chaudhry government to save his own presidency, only to be finally swept away himself from power, “a coup within a coup”, although he later resigned after a court ruling to save the nation from further trauma and hurt.
His successor and present incumbent, Ratu Josefa Illoilo, took over Government House, only to find himself accused of perverting constitutional democracy. On 14 March 2001, Ratu Josefa dismissed Chaudhry and proceeded to appoint Ratu Tevita Momedonu, a member of Chaudhry’s ousted government, as Prime Minister for 24 hours to legalize his next move. He then dissolved Parliament on Ratu Tevita’s advice and reappointed Qarase as caretaker Prime Minister. In his analysis of the events, Chaudhry described Ratu Tevita as “a puppet Prime Minister” and the whole appointment for a day was farcical and it made a mockery of the constitution.
Chaudhry also went on to berate the President himself: “The constitution requires the President to be appointed by the Great Council of Chiefs in consultation with the Prime Minister. In the next questionable move Ratu Josefa Iloilo, placed in office after the coup and who the Appeals Court declared to be in an acting capacity only, convened a meeting of the Great Council of Chiefs, and got himself appointed President.” What all these events clearly meant, he claimed, was that Fiji’s post-coup authorities had no respect for the rule of law.
Now, Ratu Iloilo is a subject of a new legal challenge to his authority, following the 2006 coup in which Bainimarama ousted the SDL-FLP multi-party cabinet of Qarase, and is now pushing for the acceptance of the People’s Charter to move Fiji forward, and the President’s Office to act as a mediator between the quarrelling parties. The President’s own actions leading up to and after the 2006 coup is being justified by his supporters in terms of “reserve powers” in the Constitution.
The Fiji Human Rights Commission, in one of its reports justifying the coup, wrote: “When assuming executive authority on December 5, the Commander cited the doctrine of ‘Necessity’ as expressed in the Fiji cases of the State v Chandrika Prasad, Yabaki v The President, and the Pakistani case of Musharaf. In these cases the courts established the parameters within which ‘duty of necessity’ could be invoked by the person de facto or de jure claiming to exercise the ‘reserve’ power of the head of state or sovereign. According to case law and constitutional texts, ‘reserve power’ can only be exercised by the purported or actual sovereign or head of state in order to preserve the life of the state. It is an extra-constitutional and temporary measure. The question of constitutionality or even legality with respect to ‘duty of necessity’ does not arise as the act done is often claimed to be necessary for the survival of the constitution, that is, for the legal foundation of the State itself.”
The late Sir Vijay Singh, in his submission on behalf of the CCF v the President, had claimed that “the President arrogated to himself a role and powers far beyond that which any Head of State may lawfully claim in a Westminster system of parliamentary democracy”. “Worse still, the President clearly sat in judgement and allowed extraneous matters to determine his course of action,” said Sir Vijay. The Court of Appeal has not been kind to the President’s Office either; and we are waiting to hear what verdict will be pronounced of the President’s role in the 2006 coup.
But it would be correct to ask why the Commodore and the NCBBF did not begin their journey by examining the role of the presidency, past and present, in the “sad and dismal record” regarding the rule of law, democracy and constitutionalism in Fiji. And whether a new and legitimate government should “reserve” the right to begin impeachment proceedings against the President and all those involved in the 2000 and 2006 coups. The ghost of Pakistani military strongman and former President Pervez Musharraf’s resignation should hang over the presidency and the interim regime. The general resigned after threats of impeachment for indulging in repeated illegalities since seizing power in 1999, the year Mahendra Chaudhry came to power after winning a general election, and prevented by the presidency after the 2000 coup, to lead the country until the next general election then due in 2004.
It is time for an independent Commission of Inquiry into the link between politics, the people and the presidency in building a better Fiji. The People’s Charter is not the right document to provide the answers. “Something”, to quote Hamlet, “is rotten in the House of Denmark” – the Government House, which rumours have it is being prepared for the arrival of Commodore Frank Bainimarama as its next occupant”.

The views expressed are those of Victor Lal and not those of the Fiji Sun. Mr Lal is the author of Fiji: Coups in Paradise – Race, Politics and Military Intervention. E-mail: vloxford@gmail.com

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10 Responses to “Another of Victor Lal’s pearls of wisdom”

  1. Na Dina Says:

    Rotten to the core …the Prezzies wife, PS, ADC, butlers, security guards and even driver in Hummer are all into Vore’s sham. Keeping the old fart breathing on oxygen cylinders and from keeling over until he is safely jettisoned after the Qarase court ruling(won) is the only plan left and Vore to be Prezzie! Impeach! Impeach! Impeach!

  2. Peace Pipe Says:

    With the benefit of hindsight and intellect Victor Lal produces very credible insights on the reality of the situation in his analysis in a discernable write up. By providing such information we can see clearly the bluffs in vore’s statements and the ulterior motives and cover up going on in the present facade. Just imagine this, President Frank and 1st Lady Mary in the white house or whatever you call the presidential residence. Is Frank the fool really gunning for that post like many are speculating at the moment? It would reveal the vile nature of the weasel as the ultimate opportunist.

  3. NaVoreEnaVoreGa Says:

    The moral of this story is? Always ignore the pig because if one decides to wrestle with it, the pig will have fun but one will only walk away covered in mud.

    Seriously though, Vore is a serial idiot who grunts nothing but nonsense.We would do well to ignore anything he says and to keep rejecting all the coup garbage which they intend to force on ordinary citizens.

    Chaudary should be reminded that his name is on a list of candidates at a cell block at Korovou which has a clear view of Beqa.That day will surely come.

  4. newsfiji Says:

    Peace Pipe: Ofcourse Voreqe is gunning for President! How else can he continue his luxurious lifestyle?

    The facts for all previous Governor Generals, (fijians only), Presidents (except for Rt KKT Mara) including this present one, is that they got no $$$ to take care of themselves till they DIE.

    That also goes for all aspiring Presidents eg. Voreqe & both Epeli’s.

    Shame – they can’t get decent jobs anywhere else – vaya any qualifications – NOT!

  5. IslandBoy Says:

    Digression please folks – PSC has announced Peter Wise to take over from Banuve Kaumaitotoya at Ministry of Tourism & & etc.

    Is this a sign that things at the NCBBF Secretariat are unravelling?

    Or does Filimoni Kau get promoted? I suppose he deserves it as a reward for compromising his morals and kissing butt for so long.

  6. pestcatcher Says:

    I notice that Dr Richard Beyer has been appointed permanent secretary of agriculture – isnt this Brit a british citizen, and if so, is it possible for him to ebcome PS in Fiji? Solivakasama can u find out – remember, he was the one who tried to exploit the hsitory of cannibalism in Fiji to market his product cannibal chutney (AS) in 1998

  7. Billy Says:

    Back to Pressie’s office, no wonder Finau T is daringly bold in her condemnation of all anti-Charter groups, she is GS to Soqosoqo vMarama whose President is Lady Pressie. Na leqa gona ni tabetabe qo, sa da mai ca na kena vo, ka ra mai rawataki mai yaso!

  8. Adi Kaila Says:

    Dr. Richard Beyer, a UK citizen, is a prominent food technologist in the Pacific and considered a leader in food preservation in the region.

    Maybe he could preserve that spineless voreqe so we can identify a mindless despot from an early age. I was going to suggest that he turn voreqe into chutney but he’s better off as he is – plain old manure for the ethanol plantation.

  9. Billy Says:

    I rather fear the amount of poison already in the old manure, ..all tavioka will die if it doesn’t kill him first. .. self destruct .. or suicide.. Hitler style?

  10. NaVoreEnaVoreGa Says:

    I am an associate of Dr Beyer.what a pity this guy has stooped to the lowest levels.I think he should be put on the hit list.

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