News­pa­per col­umn calls for Aus­tralian in­ter­ven­tion here

Fiji Sun - - Election Countdown 2018 - by Ne­mani De­laibatiki ne­mani.de­laibatiki@fi­jisun.com.fj

Anews­pa­per col­umn call­ing for an Aus­tralian-led re­gional force to in­ter­vene in Fiji is shock­ing peo­ple who have read it. It was pub­lished by the Fiji Times group’s weekly iTaukei news­pa­per

Nai Lalakai last week. The call is made in an as­ton­ish­ing opin­ion col­umn by a Ratu Isireli Ve­sikula, de­scribed as a lawyer and a PhD stu­dent re­search­ing recog­ni­tion of cus­tom­ary law in Fiji. He claims such an in­ter­ven­tion is needed to nor­malise and bring back democ­racy in Fiji.

FACT

The Fi­jiFirst party has a le­git­i­mate and over­whelm­ing man­date to gov­ern given by the peo­ple in the in­ter­na­tion­ally praised and en­dorsed 2014 elec­tions. Fiji is peace­ful and pros­per­ing.

Ratu Isireli’s Nai Lalakai col­umn also con­tains the dis­cred­ited racial claims of a type the Fiji of to­day has moved far from. It is tan­ta­mount to in­cite­ment for the iTaukei to be sus­pi­cious of and fear “In­di­ans” and “Mus­lims” in par­tic­u­lar. All this as the coun­try be­gins look­ing to the 2018 elec­tions. Ratu Isireli warned the

iTaukei to be wary. He said one of the new things he had seen here was the pres­ence of sol­diers “from Com­mu­nist coun­tries”. He listed In­done­sia, Rus­sia and China. His claims are ab­surd and the fact they have been pub­lished now as a col­umn in the Fiji Times’ Nai Lalakai are as­ton­ish­ing. For ex­am­ple, the claims on Com­mu­nist troops be­ing here do not even stand the most cur­sory scru­tiny.

FACT

In­done­sia is a democ­racy with a mul­ti­party gov­ern­ment that in­cludes an elected leg­is­la­ture and pres­i­dent. In­done­sian mil­i­tary en­gi­neers are cur­rently here tem­po­rar­ily to re­build Queen Vic­to­ria School which was se­verely dam­aged by Cy­clone Win­ston. They are here as part of In­done­sia’s con­tri­bu­tion to the Adopt a School ini­tia­tive by the Gov­ern­ment.

FACT

Rus­sia is a multi-party democ­racy with an elected pres­i­dent and leg­is­la­ture. Rus­sia re­cently do­nated new arms and mil­i­tary equip­ment to the Repub­lic of Fiji Mil­i­tary Forces.

This fol­lowed a re­quest to help bet­ter equip and pro­tect our in­ter­na­tional peace­keep­ers working in in­creas­ingly volatile Mid­dle East ar­eas. Rus­sian train­ers were here tem­po­rar­ily to train our train­ers in their use.

FACT

There are no Chi­nese troops here. Chi­nese mil­i­tary del­e­ga­tions have vis­ited from time to time as part of our on­go­ing co-op­er­a­tion with a coun­try with which we have long had close diplo­matic re­la­tions. Just as do coun­tries such as Aus­tralia.

Ratu Isireli claims the dis­man­tling of iTaukei in­sti­tu­tions and the weak­en­ing of cul­ture and tra­di­tions.

FACT

iTaukei cul­ture and tra­di­tions are in­tact. Only the Great Coun­cil of Chiefs has been abol­ished be­cause it had be­come a hot­bed for politics to keep cer­tain elite in their priv­i­leged po­si­tions at the ex­pense of the or­di­nary

QUES­TION NOW

What will be the con­se­quences of the pub­li­ca­tion of such out­ra­geous and po­ten­tially in­flam­ma­tory writ­ing by one of the coun­try’s ma­jor me­dia com­pa­nies?

In­done­sian mil­i­tary en­gi­neers be­gin re­con­struc­tion works at Queen Vic­to­ria School.

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