It’s a sun-filled, fun-filled destination for thousands of Australians. It’s where you’ll find footy clubs bonding boozely at the end of a long season, honeymooners strolling hand in hand along the beach and families on cheap-as-chips holiday packages draped on sun lounges and splashing in pools.

Fiji – like Bali – is a value-for-money getaway hotspot that’s become like a home away from home.

Trouble is life isn’t so free and easy for the locals. They live in the iron grip of an iron-willed man named Frank Bainimarama. The rugby loving Commodore Bainimarama grew impatient with what he saw as the clumsy, damaging ruck and maul of democracy in the island nation and punted the Prime Minister and his government cohorts out of power.

The Commodore took the helm.

Since then – and while the tourists keep on coming – Fiji has become a political pariah, frowned upon from afar, admonished by close neighbours Australia and New Zealand and sliding down a slippery slope into economic quicksand. The constitution’s been trashed, what Frank says goes and a team of his censors patrol the national news media pulling anything that may be construed as critical or unfavourable.

And Commodore Bainimarama grows more confident that Fiji his way is the right way.

Now the normally taciturn Bainimarama has granted us wide ranging access to his world and his ways. Foreign Correspondent’s Philippa McDonald has just returned from an assignment in Fiji that netted surprising candour from the controller-in-chief. Oh, and some defiance as well.

MCDONALD: You are a military dictator.
BAINIMARAMA: I am a military man but what does dictator mean to you ?
MCDONALD: You do have a very tight grip on Fijian society.
BAINIMARAMA: Yes but is that what dictatorship is about? Because if that’s the case most of the countries in this region have dictators.

With the Commodore fending off international pressure to expedite elections and return his domain to democracy, this is a timely and compelling insight into a powerful man feeling anything but isolated and a nation struggling under his rule.

*** read the full transcript or view via video on previous posting


  1. peni Says:

    Bai is a blockhead and that’s all I’m saying? Listening to him answer a simple question, can really drive a person, to the nut house!

  2. Maramanite Says:

    Baini is a court jester, a joker, so there are two ways we can respond to his interviews- get mad and throw something at the TV (not recommended) or sit back, relax, and let the jester entertain us. Remember the song, “I started a joke that sent the whole world laughing, but I didnt know that the joke was on me..” : for being the stupid dumbass of a wannabe PM.

  3. Maramanite Says:

    Its all coming out now-
    1)it hurst like hell not to be recognised as PM, which is why the Fiji times has to go;
    2) many prank calls are being made swearing at ministers and threatening them, etc so all telephones to be registered.
    Ha ha, one thing is for sure, this is the most paranoid,flimsy, superficial group of people ever to force-line the reins of power. Just give it up if you cant take the heat.

  4. Joefa Black Says:

    That is the problem when all he knows is star board and port side on a boat! Ulu kau viavia bloody macawa!!

  5. hari Says:

    Bainimarama is a racist in the first degree-that’s all I’m saying!!

  6. veda Says:

    Hey Hari, Bai could wipe his slate clean by offering the New Zealand Government our help in sending in the Fiji Military Forces and Navy to help in the Clean up in Christchurch and Wellington. I’m sure the Government is not going to trust the FMF but offer our help anyway or give them some money its a good show of our humanity!

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