Well put Kamal.
“I DO not want to say there is anything positive about the 2006 coup. But one good thing that we could say is that it has made many people better understand and appreciate the concept of democracy.
It is quite something to hear those who condemned democracy in 1987 and 2000, become its ardent champions in 2006. They include the Methodist Church and SDL leader Laisenia Qarase.
The Qarase government was not faultless as its divisive policies, squandering of State resources and reckless spending gave impetus for the coup.
But to his credit and leadership, Mr Qarase did offer the country the best opportunity in a long time to chart a new path by inviting the Labour Party to be a substantive part of government.
This was torpedoed by Labour leader Mahendra Chaudhry. History will judge him harshly for this”. – Biman Prasad – Professor of Economics and Dean of Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of the South Pacific.
These were part of Dr Prasad’s concluding remarks of his keynote address delivered at the 3rd Biennial Delegates conference of Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions (FICTU) on September 27. The theme of FICTU’s conference was “Democracy First”. Dr Prasad was correct in pointing out that the Methodist Church, members who later joined the SDL and Mr Qarase respectively condoned the 1987 and 2000 coups.
The familiar dialogue of coup apologists is: “I support the cause but not the method”. In other words, the Methodist Church in 1987 and 2000 and Mr Qarase in 2000 supported the overthrow of the Bavadra and Chaudhry governments respectively, agreed the basis of raping democracy to entrench Fijian political supremacy, but did not agree with the method, which is overthrowing democratically elected governments at gunpoint.
Democracy was described in the aftermath of the first three coups as a foreign flower and a facade, especially by Professor Asesela Ravuvu.
In the aftermath of the 4th coup on December 5, 2006, which removed at gunpoint Mr Qarase’s SDL/Labour Multiparty government, the understanding of democracy rightly changed from a facade to the ideals that need to be strictly adhered to by the people and the government they elect.
In other words, the will of the people under democracy has to be respected at all times, no mater what the outcome after general elections.
While the Methodist Church, Mr Qarase and other pro-Fijian and pseudo-democracy supporters of the first three coups started realising the value and importance of democracy, those who were victims of three coups and champions of democracy in 1987 and 2000 were jubilant after Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama executed the 4th coup.
Those who supported the FLP and Mr Chaudhry hailed Commodore Bainimarama as a saviour. This was especially the case amongst the Indian community. Principles were buried, values distorted and well-known personalities embraced Commodore Bainimarama as God-sent.
I vividly remember our citizens giving refreshments and food to soldiers manning checkpoints during the State of Public Emergency declared immediately after the coup.
Nasinu mayor Rajeshwar Kumar and a few of his fellow FLP town councillors in December 2006 distributed food parcels to soldiers manning checkpoints in the Central Division as a gesture of gratitude. Mr Kumar told Fiji Television’s One national news residents like him could sleep peacefully at night with their doors homes open without fear of being robbed.
Such was the euphoria because for them it was a case of three wrongs making a right.
Essentially the firm belief was that the Indian community had been victims of three coups, therefore nothing was wrong if the Fijian community and the government they elected was overthrown. The scales, heavily lop-sided and tilting towards pro-coup views, shifted slightly towards democracy in the later part of last year and now the realisation is fast sinking in that coups do not solve problems but exacerbate them into untold misery and suffering of people of all walks of life.
I remember two workers employed in the construction industry seeking my views on the coup in July last year. When I asked them why, they replied that soon after the coup they too were euphoric and firmly believed that all their problems would disappear immediately, but were beginning to doubt the real intentions of the interim regime’s leaders, including their own political boss M P Chaudhry, who was then Commodore Bainimarama’s Robin Hood and given the responsibility of performing his miracles on the economy and the sugar industry.
Just like people use the theory of comparing apples with apples when it comes to deciding on what product to choose, I used faeces to describe coups, saying it was an act of treason. I told them, “I can understand why you two felt jubilant because you felt that since Indians were victims of three coups, it is okay if the Fijian community is punished through a coup”.I told them as far as I was concerned all the four coups are like faeces and they stink. They agreed with me.
I added, “You two believed that the first three coups produced intolerable stench because the Indians were victims, but the 4th coup did not stink as much as the previous ones because it was executed against Fijians.
But does it mean that while you strongly condemned the stench emanating from the first three coups and disposed it you can bear with the stench emanating from the 4th coup and afford to leave the faeces lying around?” They replied “No” as it could cause a disease outbreak.
I agreed and told them it had to be also disposed as well because “faeces is faeces” whether it stinks badly or not. The stench from the 4th coup is now flowing throughout the country.
Was democracy, parliamentary governance and constitutional rule overthrown to get rid of corruption as claimed by the perpetrators?
Was the coup a clean-up exercise?
This claim has been put on the back-burner by the regime.
The latest change of tune by Bainimarama that he cannot say when elections will be held confirms the long held view that coups in this country have been executed for one reason only power grab at gunpoint.
The 2006 coup is no different. There is simply no justification to overthrow a democratically elected government. In fact, Mr Qarase had acceded to Commodore Bainimarama’s demands after his meeting with him in New Zealand. But those demands themselves, even if they had not been agreed to by Mr Qarase, were simply no reason whatsoever to depose a government by force.
Nothing can change the fact that the 4th coup on December 5, 2006 was an act of treason, exactly like the 3rd coup on May 19, 2000, the 2nd coup on September 25, 1987 and the 1st coup more than 21 years ago on May 14, 1987.
There is no other way to describe coups resulting in the rape of democracy and constitutional rule”.
Fiji Times 6 Oct 08