Rowan Callick, Asia-Pacific editor | August 22, 2009

Article from: The Australian

A METHODIST national choir competition planned in Fiji today has been cancelled by the military-installed government as potentially subversive.

The new order is remaking Fiji in a manner unimagined even after previous coups. The country’s militarisation is reaching deep into every institution.

The Great Council of Chiefs, the courts and the parliament, core bodies that formerly commanded respect and underpinned Fiji society, have been effectively dismembered, with senior army officers running the remnants.

Even the Methodist Church, formerly viewed as sacrosanct and the church that almost every ethnic Fijian was by default born into, is under siege, with a government-ordained New Methodist Church established as its rival.

Last month the military government banned the Methodist Church’s conference, held annually for about 160 years, claiming it would fuel insurrection.

Then it arrested a dozen prominent church leaders, including the church’s president, the Reverend Ame Tugaue, and general secretary, the Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu.

And paramount chief Ro Teimumu Kepa was arrested for posting a letter on the internet encouraging the people of her Fijian province, Rewa, to assemble for a traditional meeting.

The Methodist ministers pleaded not guilty to participating in a church standing committee meeting in contravention of the public emergency regulations. Government permission had not been approved for the meeting. A pre-trial hearing is set for September 24 and the full trial for November 19.

They were accused of breaching martial law that the military government had introduced in April when it abrogated the constitution, sacked the judges, and said it would not hold elections until September 2014. Since April, Fiji’s media has been subject to heavy censorship, which military commander Veraqe (Frank) Bainimarama has said is shifting the focus to “the journalism of hope”.

The Methodist Church eventually agreed it would not persist with attempting to hold its conference but would continue with a combined annual solevu fundraising by pledges, which usually brings in almost $F1 million ($600,000), crucial for the church’s finances and choir competition, scheduled for today.

But at the last minute, the authorities withdrew permission for that as well, saying people with political intentions had been influential in planning the choir competition.

The military government’s secretary for information, Lieutenant-Colonel Neumi Leweni, said the authorities were asking the church to concentrate on the spiritual enhancement of its members “instead of promoting the ambitions of a few politically minded individuals”.

By contrast, the authorities have granted approval for the New Methodist Church, a rival institution established recently by former Air Pacific employee Atu Vulaono, to hold a crusade at the national sports stadium, which holds up to 20,000 people.

The evangelistic police commissioner Esala Teleni, a former naval commodore, is Pastor Vulaono’s brother.



  1. Cassava Patch Doll Says:

    That’s what happens when those who want power and the money to go with it, try to obtain it deceitfully.

    Unless you win the lottery, the only way to the top if you strive hard enough is through education and plain hard work.

    For those of us born and bred in Fiji, which is a very very small place where everyone tends to know anothers business, any dishonest or disrepectful behaviour is quickly found out.

    There’s no hiding from the truth here, and if the illegal regime think their disgusting behaviour is something to be proud of, then they are more foolish than they think.

    Now that the illegal regime has dismantled all the institutions we hold sacred, it’s going to be amusing to see who takes up residence at the White House.

    If neither of the Epelis are fast tracked to president, there will be some huge loss of face around Suva.

    Curry in a hurry in the face.

  2. LUVfiji Says:

    In my view, Frank would not consider taking up the office of President. That would mean letting go of the real power he holds – the gun! That gun is pointing at him in the head, and he knows it! Should he dare appoint some one else over the man already at the GH doorstep, Frank will get to be the victim of his own doing.

    Ena kena tale na sicini ni nona dakai!

    Folks, I hear from the grapevine, the big announcement is tomorrow 12 o’clock, noon.

    Me da waraka!

    Me da namaka!

  3. Koya na Man Says:

    Franks conspiracy plan to knock out the methodist church is going to prove futile, for many reasons.

    Firstly a belief cannot be imposed, because the mind is the most deceitful thing one can imagine.I remember the the folk stories about the election day we had couple years back, where the people ate nice curry/lovo in one party shed and giving their vote to another party they have pre determined.We fijians are as such and Frank should very well know about this, otherwise he’s dreaming.

    Stop dreaming Frank, we are the champion of sevens rugby, the most cunning code of rugby ever played on planet earth,we will goose,siscors, and side step the cuninngness you are cooking up.

    I say bring it on my friend,this is Fiji where only the chiefs are the predominant power brokers and no one else.

  4. Jean d'Ark Says:

    LF – you would know that better than us!

    By the way, why is your partner in crime – Budhau – no longer helping out with the propaganda war on this blog?

  5. this is navoha Says:

    Cos he has lost the plot-……….like da fijian saying…..o na galu mai sakaraia.

  6. LUVfiji Says:

    hey Jd’A.. c’mon man, y’re above that!

    The day we celebrate the fall of this regime in the restoration of democracy, I will be right there by yr side. Trust me!

    OK.. there was no announcement yesterday. Obviously what I heard was not true. Maybe one day soon, we’ll get to hear something.

    Geez, we’re all in this together, sweetheart 😀

  7. Jone Says:

    Lol! @Jean d’Ark my thoughts exactly SA de de nona yali .. you and Truth kemudrau vukaci koya 🙂

  8. LUVfiji Says:

    Alas.. some of us have moved on..

    Heard of microblogging?

    Then dont even try to follow me on twitter, twit!!

  9. Jone Says:

    Moved on to where

    You still here

  10. Hawaiian Maenamae Says:


    Baci vakaqarai Nikita tiko o iko??

  11. Tuks Says:

    Hey folks!!! interesting development in the Sugar Industry. Mills break downs and poor performances in the four mills etc are part and parcel of the politics played by the FLP thru its subsidisry NFU and their farmers. Interesting how the failed Robin Hood has now turned against the Vore in this twist of events in Choro,s main domain – sugar industry..Lets just follow the developments and see how the snake [Chaudhry] will get Vore to his knees on this one. Voreqe will never make it come a showdown with the master and father of lies in Fiji’s political history. Its a development worth following guys [and gals]…

  12. Cama Says:

    They are both master of lies and deceit.

    They lied everywhere they go.

  13. Tuks Says:

    Cama, I think you hit the nail there on the head. They are both liars and that’s the tradegy we have to deal with in the case of the problems now confronting our lovely Fiji….

  14. Anonymous. Says:

    @ Cama & Tuks.

    What democracies about – let the people decide…

  15. UniStudent Says:

    Does anyone know if Fiji still has any domestic remedies or police complaints processes as to human rights? (I’m guessing someone is laughing in hysterics right now as I get from research that more or less human rights to do with democracy etc are very non existant in Fiji at the moment)

    Basically the human rights comission of Fiji website link is dead…there is no mention of a complaints process on the police website…I have to write a 3000 word moot on this exact fact situation of the ministers being arrested and I can’t find zip nada nut for what remedies they could seek within Fiji…

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