Home » Uncategorized » Speak out….Silence is not golden. A military dictatorship, with unknown advisers, is bringing about major changes to Fijian institutions

Speak out….Silence is not golden. A military dictatorship, with unknown advisers, is bringing about major changes to Fijian institutions

“The hibernation of Fijian intellectuals”. 22 January 2014

The hibernation of Fijian intellectuals

Since independence in 1970, this last seven years have probably been the most earth-shaking for indigenous Fijians as a community, yet Fijian intellectuals seem to be in public hibernation.

A military dictatorship, with unknown advisers, is bringing about major changes to Fijian institutions: the Great Council of Chiefs has been supposedly  abolished; provincial governance structures reorganized; the laws of management of communally owned Fijian land and marine resources (some with serious environmental impacts); flagship Fijian companies such as Fijian Holdings Limited have been reorganized; controls have been placed on Fijian churches and villages; Fijian cultural symbols are being changed by decree, without their consent.

Massive changes in economic policy are affecting not just Fijians but all Fiji citizens in: taxation and expenditure of tax-payer funds, privatization and sale of public assets, restructuring of pension funds, controversial approval for new industries such as casinos and mines, a huge increase in public debt that must be paid for by future generations which will be increasingly indigenous Fijian, and much more.

The views of the Bainimarama Regime leaders are prominent every day on radio, television and in the newspapers, with extremely limited coverage given to opposing political leaders.

It is dismaying therefore that there is a deafening silence from Fijian intellectuals  from the universities and the private sector-  with the exception of a few rare individuals such as Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi or young youth leaders like Peter Waqavonovono.

One may well ask, where are the Rusiate Nayacakalaus, Jo Kamikamicas, Savenaca Siwatibaus, Amelia Rokotuivunas and Sir Kamisese Maras, of today?

Hibernating intellectuals?

It is natural that ordinary indigenous Fijians look to indigenous Fijian intellectuals at the universities, corporate entities and non-government organizations for guidance and debate on their major societal issues.

Yet indigenous Fijian academics, corporate types and the plethora of legal professionals appear to be lying low.

In a pattern repeated from the seventies, senior Fijian academics at USP (and now FNU) happily allow themselves to be promoted into sterile administrative work, or export themselves to universities abroad.

Also largely absent are the voices of Fijian senior corporate types from the private and public sectors, currently working in Fiji or abroad, or retired.

Even prominent Fijian intellectual political leaders (of whom the electorates expected better), disappeared out of sight (leaving Qarase to cop the flack alone) or joined the bandwagon.

Are these intellectual leaders (Missing in Action) secretly discussing these issues amongst their communities?

Or are they waiting to see who are going to be the winners, before they jump on the winning band-wagon?

The curse of entertainment and blogging

Is it a coincidence that most of our media organizations (television, radio and newspapers), are diverting the largest part of public discourse into entertainment- sports (rugby sevens), Bollywood and Hollywood, singing competitions, and religious frenzy.

Policy debates are raised quite rarely, and even then in totally innocuous fashion, without the attention they deserve.

One phenomenon of our times, with mixed blessings, is the massive rise of anonymous blogging (by all ethnic groups), where the calm rational voices are totally outnumbered by nasty posts, often racist and violent in nature.

Is the ability to blog anonymously dissipating the energies of Fijian intellectuals, thereby ensuring that they make little attempt to engage in honest public debates using their own names?

The real misfortune is that the anonymous blogs are usually read largely by the “converted” and not those whose minds have not been made up, but are daily being influenced by the media which is currently dominated by Regime propaganda.

I suspect also that even the rational educative blogger is ineffective, since anonymity robs the views of their full effectiveness.

Who will dispute that a public statement  by Savenaca Siwatibau or any other respected Fijian leader, would have a far greater impact than an anonymous Letter to the Editor or a similar but anonymous blog posting?

Of course, having views unpopular with those in power, must come at some personal cost, as it does everywhere in the world.

But are indigenous Fijian intellectuals as a group choosing a totally wrong balance between active transparent social responsibility and self-seeking self-preserving “culture” of silence?

Silence is not golden

Elections will be held within the next eight months and political candidates of all persuasions will be expressing their views in trying to influence the outcome of the elections.

It would be of great help to indigenous Fijian voters (and others) if politically neutral Fijian intellectuals from the universities, private and NGO sectors,  were to actively express their views on national policy matters which will become election issues, whichever political side their views happen to fall.

Silence from our Fijian intellectuals at this critical juncture in Fiji’s history, is not going to be golden. It certainly has not helped the Fijian community so far.


21 thoughts on “Speak out….Silence is not golden. A military dictatorship, with unknown advisers, is bringing about major changes to Fijian institutions

  1. WE learn from Confucius, Analects,c400 bc that ” To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice”.
    Arvind Kumar of lautoka has generously provided us a Fijian conceptualization of this phenomenon. He says it is known as the “lamu syndrome” when for instance “spineless bystanders” fail to act to help a victim.(Fiji Times 27/1).
    I wonder if it is this syndrome that explains why the people of Fiji have failed to act to protest the overthrow of their democratic government and the installation of a military dictatorship?
    I wonder if it’s the same syndrome responsible for the silence of the Fijian intelligensia in the face of the Fijian military dictatorship?
    Is the “lamu syndrome” responsible for turning the people of Fiji into “spineless bystanders”?
    When you look at how people elsewhere have reacted against far more brutal regimes attempting to erode their democratic rights and freedoms, it does make you wonder, doesn’t it?

  2. Fijians will only come and carry out protests and thugery, riots and robbery when they are backed by the state machinery like in 1987 and 2000. When the military or police are backing them.

    On the contrary when the guns are pointed at them, my fellow Fijians will wet and shit in their pants, when ever there is a talk of protests or confronting the mighty indigenous military.

    This is the truth and thanks in advance for all you indigenous guys/girls swearing and prostituting my comments.


  3. @ Adi Torika labalaba, Shanghai
    was the military backing the Fijians in 1987 and 2000 or were the Fijians backing the military ?

  4. France 24 News 27/1 : Thousands staged ‘Day of Anger’ protest against French President.
    In Fiji such a ‘Day of Anger’ protest cannot be staged because apparently everybody loves the President and the Dictator!!

  5. In Fiji every day is a day of happiness and looking forward to new horizons, and praying for our beloved leader Voreqe Bainimarama.

  6. @Anon.

    What do you want us to believe you twister of facts and truth.

    Were the military marching and protesting against the elected government in 1987 or 2000 or the indigenous thugs doing that with many now expired leaders such Veitata, Vesikula, Mara and others and those remaining are already halfway into their graves?


  7. Adi Tori are you praying to God or Baal. I am sure the latter given your support for a person who has committed the worst crime in the country.

  8. @ Ah ci Torika
    what are some of the leaders who were marching with the “indigenous thugs” in 1987 doing in Bainimarama’s “multiracial” government?

  9. Lamusona is the key word here. The intellectual elite in Fiji may be as smart as anywhere else, what they lack are balls – even tiny ones cannot be detected. These jokers love to bend over and take it from the Great Khaiyum. Those who did not want to do this work for ADB, Forum or World Bank furthering their own carriers.

  10. iTaukei intellectual elites prefer to be cautious

    They are watching.

    They are weighing pros and cons.

    Their family members have differing opinions.

    Some things they like and some they don’t.

    Some things they agree with but are cautious of it.

    It isn’t time for them to come out to the center stage.

    But Warden should know this – when they come out he will surely see them.

    So what’s the big fuss in making this an issue?

    iTaukei intellectual elites are respectable people and not like some barking all night and day long. But no effect!

    Leave the iTaukei elites alone for their time will come.

    As for now – first things first.

    My man VB plants the seed on which we are to be governed – and that is respect for one another. Then he becomes PM as expected. Then the iTaukei and other racial intellectual elites discuss finer details of way forward.One that will work for all and caters for all segment of society..

  11. Obviously Fijian elites are just sitting on the fence and waiting for the opportunity to be offered a lucrative post with the current military regime, or a regime to be installed by the people, without making any effort to correct the current situation in the country.

    Perhaps, it is a sign of the lack of good principles and courage among these Fijian elites who are only conscious of their personal gain, or are real lamusonas

  12. @ Tamai Miller shit head

    Hear this borthy – how dare you call all itaukei intellectual elites lamusonas.

    This shows that you are not a iTaukei and not a true Fijian – so you are a racist son of a shit head.

    Fiji Indians, Fiji Chinese and other races.who live in this great country respect elite intellectual iTaukeis.

    However you – who the ‘f’ are you? – come in here and dare call the iTaukeis lamusonas.

    Who the hell are you – you shit face, dumb nut, cockroach!

    You don’t deserve to live here in Fiji for you do not respect the iTaukei

    You mf.

  13. Today’s Sydney Morning Herald article ‘ Turnbull defends ABC after Abbot attacks broadcaster’
    Communications Minister tells national broadcaster politicians “can’t tell them what to write”.(smh 30/1)

    Apparently in a military dictatorship they can .
    Just ask the mob in the Fiji Sun!

  14. ‘Australia,the steroid-soaked neighbourhood bully of the Pacific’ by Jeff Sparrow writing in The Guardian (reprinted in the Fiji Sun Jan 30/1) is precisely the kind of critical journalism and objective,dispassionate reporting that the Abbot government finds unpalatable,objectionable, even offensive.
    With his criticism of the ABC a couple of days’ ago the Australian PM Tony Abbot has made it clear he wants “the Australian media to act as cheerleaders for Australia” (letters smh 30/1). He wants the media to endorse his government’s reactionary political ideology and agenda without critical scrutiny. Now where would that leave the media’s role as a public watchdog?
    The Fiji Sun has been singing praise of this same Abbot government as recently as last week when managing editor Josua Tuwere did an editorial piece applauding “the changing political climate in Canberra under the Abbot government”.
    The political climate has not changed for the better -as Jeff Sparrow’s excellent write up clearly demonstrates.
    But the Fiji Sun has been doing what no self-respecting journalist and independent media would do. It has been acting as a cheerleader for the Fiji military dictatorship.
    It has brought shame upon itself and good journalism.

  15. Here is a letter to editor that has been published in all the major national newspapers in Australia.
    The message in the letter has direct relevance to freedom of press in Fiji . Allow me to share it with your readers.
    “Tony Abbot’s unwarranted attack on ABC’s independence is dangerous. In criticising the ABC for not taking the side of Australia Mr Abbot wrongly conflates the good of the nation with the protection of his government from revelations that may be critical or embarrassing .
    Democracy depends on the media scrutinising the actions of public institutions. A public broadcaster is not meant to be a cheerleader for the government of the day.
    what is in Australia’s best interest Mr Abbot is that our national broadcaster not be starved or bullied into becoming anything less than frank and fearless”
    – Gael Barret, Friends of ABC, Melbourne, Vic.
    The political leadership in Fiji which has promised to return the country to democracy would do well to pay attention to the message contained in this letter.
    And the media in Fiji should heed it as well and refocus its proper role as a public watch dog rather then as a cheerleader for the government of the day, which in our case was deemed by a properly constituted court of law to be unlawful.

  16. To my fellow comrades in Fiji,

    No one is scared or frighten at this moment in history .We all understand that the military is running the government. They have the mandate of the gun. the gun kills ,full stop.

    Once the election is over then the democratically elected government will take over . cleaning up will then start .

    Those that need to go to gaol , will go.

    thieves will be caught and pay back the price.

    Ratu Voreqe has started the ball rolling by removing colonial hangovers like special rental money for selected chiefs only. those money now given to true landowners.

    council of chiefs now gone . too much money spent on this organization now going to rural developments.

    rt voreqe need to be careful with qoliqoli as this should go to landowners immediately. he will loose election if this does not happen before election. some qoliqoli owners in momi and Nabila lately lost $millions due to the surfing decree depriving then of their fair share. this money will go to non-I-taukei business operators now.

    Fair deal for all need to continue .

    Re-distribution of wealth need to continue.

    native land lease need to go up from 6% UCV to 10% then 15% annually and lock up the premium land at max 20%.

    GOD is watching us human beings on earth including Fiji.

    Everyone will reap whatever you sow.


  17. Here is part of another letter in today’s The Australian (1/2) that has a direct bearing on the media in Fiji today.
    “… We and our media are entitled to be critical of our government, our nation and our Prime Minister without fear of reprisal or being silenced. The more the government complains the more you know the media are doing a good job. Instead of presenting counter-arguments, the government is whingeing and whining and attempting to shut down branches of the ABC and threatening funds”.
    – Emma Meconi
    I will take it there is no need for any explanation or elaboration on why this letter is relevant for the people, the media and the current government in Fiji.

  18. Responding to Prime Minister Tony Abbot and his government’s attack on the ABC John Davis questions in his letter to the smh (1/2) : Do we have the courage to face the truths about ourselves [as a nation]? Do politicians have the courage to face criticism?
    As a rule politicians do not have the courage to face criticism, but in a democracy there are admirable exceptions. In a military dictatorship there are no exceptions.

  19. Ahhh the irony, with the obvious lack of intellectuals with these comments. Glad this article highlighted the fear by many that the conversations around the Tanoa and genuine desire for justice has not transcended to those people in power and capacity to say something. Not only are the voices of the intellectuals “deafening” but sadly that also of the church. If irony lies with the intellectuals silence than surely hypocrisy lies with the church….so much for a Christian nation!

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