Leave Ro Teimumu, Ratu Naiqama Alone In Vunivalu Title Row
When the chiefs are silent, it’s a powerful message.
People who have attacked Ro Teimumu Kepa and Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu on social media about their silence on the Vunivalu title row do not know what they are talking about.
In the process these people have insulted the chiefs and their people.
Ro Teimumu, the Opposition Leader and Na Gone Marama Bale na Roko Tui Dreketi, and Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, the Tui Cakau and SODELPA president, have done the correct thing by not saying anything publicly.
They have shown that they respect the rule of law and that no one, including the chiefs, are above the law. Ro Teimumu and Ratu Naiqama have exercised their wisdom and preserved the dignity and respect of the chiefly system as an institution.
One critic, writing under the name, Paula Lagilagi, said the chiefs’ silence was loud and showed “absolutely no regards to the destruction of the Fijian culture.”
The post said the chiefs should speak out on behalf of the confederacies they were leading. It said their silence meant they supported the action of the Police and the military, claiming “no wonder our chiefly system is in tatters.”
Let’s put things in their proper perspective here.
The presence of Police and military on Bau last Friday was in accordance with the rule of law. There was no “thuggery” as alleged by some. They were there to ensure that the law was followed and no one was hurt.
The expression that the chiefly system was “in tatters” because of the joint Police-military action is simply preposterous. It exaggerates its impact and is designed to incite and mislead people. There was no reported incident of anyone getting mistreated. In fact the whole operation ended peacefully.
The three political parties, SODELPA, National Federation Party and Fiji Labour Party spoke prematurely by criticizing the use of armed military personnel to back the Police.
SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka who joined the chorus of criticisms against the operation should know better because of what happened in 1987 and 2000.
Images of the 2000 riots and looting in Suva are still vivid in the minds of people who saw them. There was no sign of the Police or the military. It was a total breakdown of law and order.
It was absolute mayhem and people lived in fear. The subsequent sporadic violence in parts of the country plunged the country into chaos.
We do not want to go through another experience like that.
The chiefs still wield a lot of power and influence among their people as was evident in 1987 and 2000.
The way they exercise their power has an important impact on their people.
In this Vunivalu row, Ro Teimumu and Rau Naiqama must be commended for their wise and principled stand.