I have just started a short visit on business to Fiji. This is my first visit since January 2007. There was no noticeable difference at Nadi Airport. There appeared to be fewer tourists on the streets of Nadi and the smaller shopkeepers seemed more desperate for a sale than previously. The range of goods for sale and the quality has decreased. The tourists seem to be in groups and often with local guides. There is a lot less of the casual individual shopping that I remember. Nadi town seems tatty. My rental car was newer than I expected but I was not long out of Nadi before I realized the roads were worse than before. My three local colleagues had on the previous visit held different views on the Coup and the Commander. All of their views have changed. My Indian Nadi Manager who was a strong supporter of the Commander and Mahen is now desperate for elections no matter who gets in. He just wants stability and an economy that does not include him feeding an additional 6 family members. His family has been hard hit by job losses. He admitted being worried I was coming to Fiji to shut down the Company as he is aware it is losing money at present. He is hopeful there will be a strong leader that both races could support. He (surprisingly) would like to see the previously elected Cabinet run the country for six months without any changes while an election is held. He has worked out that a first past the post type electoral system would disadvantage his race. He believes that the President should still be appointed by the Fijian Chiefs but be a figurehead like most people thought he was and have no power.
My Suva Fijian Manager who was a strong SDL supporter has now become a Charter Supporter. He believes that this is the way forward for Fiji but is strongly opposed to calling all people with Fiji Island passports “Fijian” He has several relatives that have lost their jobs but have gone back to their villages so he is not directly affected. He has a poor understanding of the importance of the constitution as he remembers it was changed before so why not again. He does not support the Commander but believes he has the countries best interests at heart. He would like elections soon as he sees elections as the only way to get better water supply and law and order. He blames US Australia and NZ for the drop in his quality of life since the coup as they have withdrawn their aid.On discussing recent events further it became evident that Suliasi had only local newspapers to base his opinions on while Anish had access to the internet and a wider range of local opinion. I had the unusual position of the Indian trying to convince the Fijian that the coup was wrong.
My Fijian CEO who was fairly unconcerned about the coup in 2007 is now obsessed with it. He can quote the latest blogsite postings and is extremely depressed about what it is doing to his country. He has been involved in politics before and is aware of the long term damage it is doing to Fiji. He was quite abusive to Suliasi and Anish was mediating between the two of them.
Basicly what I have found is a totally and radically changed three people.
Well people a perfect example of why we blog as the mainstream media hs been gagged by the illegal government.