By RAJENDRA CHAUDHRY
Former Philippines President Corazon Aquino, once famously said: “I don’t have any formula for ousting a dictator or building democracy. All I can suggest is to forget about yourself and just think of your people. It’s always the people who make things happen.”
As I have said on countless previous occasions, it will be the people that will decide Fiji’s future and not a despotic dictator whose mental state has been subject of much debate and conjecture for a few years.
Once change has come to Fiji, Bainimarama will have to face justice, together with Khaiyum, Nazhat and other persons who aided and abetted the act of treason as committed on 6 December 2006 and confirmed by the Court of Appeal on 9 April 2009.
So far, through one act or another these persons have avoided being sanctioned for crimes against the State and are understandably scared to face the same system of justice that it has and continues to mete out through its pliant judiciary on other citizens.
They say that justice is a train that may be delayed at times but always reaches its destination. It is also said that a person sows what they reap. This is very true for Frank Bainimarama – a murderous, treasonous and thieving dictator who usurped parliamentary democracy on 5 December 2006. Since then he has used every means available to cling to power despite his original claim that there would be no benefit to any military officer after the 2006 putsch. We all know that turned out to be the first of many lies. Almost all tiers of the administration in Fiji today has senior military officer to carry out the wishes of the intellectually challenged Bainimarama.
To date, Bainimarama has violated all civil service protocols in appointing his anointed ones to positions of authority. He has ordered the beatings, torture and imprisonment of persons and prisoners.
He has sought to make laws to consolidate his hold on power and in that has been assisted by other persons such as Khaiyum and Sharvada Sharma. The PPRD is one such example.
He has shown open contempt in trashing the Yash Ghai Peoples Constitution and got Khaiyum, Sharma and Nazhat Shameem to write a constitution to serve his agenda of killing off political parties, removing the GCC and the Church from constitutional recognition.
His attack on the GCC and the chiefly system would earn him the uncontested title of traitor of the Fijian race and his attack on the right of the Church to participate on the national political debate would suggest a person who is scared of opposition from organizations which have a sizeable political huge following.
His persecution of Pita Driti and Roko Ului Mara shows that Bainimarama is vindictive, a sign of extreme insecurity, a disloyal soldier and a traitor to the military doctrine of standing by each other. He had also done similar acts of treachery against other senior military officer pre 2006 coup.
Under Bainimarama’s direction thousands of civil servants were retired prematurely, FNPF funds borrowed to the hilt, exorbitant external borrowing without proper checks and oversight. The result has been the tripling of national debt from 2006 to 6 billion dollars. The absence of the Auditor General’s Reports from 2006 means no one can accurately assess the level of State borrowings. With defaults this figure will increase substantially. Strict repayments of the debt also mean funding would be diverted from areas such as education, health, welfare and infrastructure allocations.
The sale of State assets and an increase in indirect taxation will be the revenue collector to address the issue of the irresponsible borrowings. To this end, the Permanent Secretary for Finance Filimoni Waqabaca has much to answer for as other persons and certain financial institutions. The allegations of collusion between government officials and certain organizations will be the subject of interesting post Bainimarama investigations. No recreant official nor offending organization will be spared.
Any Government is the trustee of the people. In all matters of national importance, especially where rights, obligations and public funds are concerned require the sanction of the people. Bainimarama has openly denied the right of the people to have a say in such matters.
By restricting the media to report openly and freely, haranguing political parties and politicians, abrogating the 1997 Constitution, employing convicted murderers in the civil service, and employing unqualified immediate family members in statutory organizations; Bainimarama has tried to create a culture of ruling by propaganda and fear rather than submitting to the will of the people, who seek a government that has its mandate and represents its views.
It was Demosthenes who said: “Every dictator is an enemy of freedom, an opponent of law.” Bainimarama is the perfect example of this. His lust for power, his intolerance for opposition and his greed in stealing from the public coffers for himself is a conversation that is privately heard amongst many in Fiji and elsewhere. An interesting and apt line from the Hindu book of scripture, the Bhagvad Gita succinctly sums up what many think of Bainimarama’s actions: ‘“Hell has three hates: lust, anger and greed.”
However, as has been and no doubt will be said for many years to come, that: “One must sleep in the bed that he has made.” The Bible also talks about the consequences of one’s actions. In the book of Matthew, the relevant verse (26:52) reads: Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
Bainimarama is to retire from the military at the end of February 2014. He has indicated a desire to enter politics and has been using public funds and government officials to campaign for him. This is a blatant abuse of government rules and regulations. Further, instances of vote buying are now more obvious than ever as a desperate Bainimarama seeks to shore up electoral support. His approaches to key regime supporters such as Hafiz Khan and Dixon Seeto have been met with polite refusals and I am reliably informed that privately Dixon has told more than one person that Bainimarama has next to no chance of winning an election.
The resurgence of the SDL and FLP as well as NFP under the banner of UFDF and the news that Rewa High Chief Ro Teimumu Kepa will lead SDL is a harbinger of the political truths that will greet Bainimarama when he gets out on the hustings.
Many see the leadership of Ro Kepa as a uniting influence and a reassertion of the chiefly system into the political landscape of Fiji. Ro Kepa’s personal attributes and which includes a steely determination to advance Fijian and national interests has already rattled Bainimarama. It has demonstrated to him and others that the chiefly system has the ability to weather heavy storms and still come out unscathed.
Recent and past news of Bainimarama making funding for development for villages contingent on political support has raised the ire of many Fijians and others who believe that development is the duty of all governments irrespective of political affiliation by citizens.
However, the greater worry for Bainimarama is that in the event if he were to politically succeed he would be at the mercy of the military, which under his helm redefined the term coup culture. He has thus become a maker of his own predicament.
Once he resigns as army commander, Bainimarama’s greatest current security, the military, will be his greatest threat, whether he wins or not.
Moreover, and given that Bainimarama will never win free and fair elections, it will be the police and the military under the direction of a lawful government that will be responsible for his arrest and transportation to the halls of justice.
He may then recall Isaiah 10:1-3: “Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey! What will you do on the day of punishment, in the ruin that will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth?” Thomas Jefferson summed it up another way: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”
2014 is the year of change. Justice will be delivered to Bainimarama and his thugs, goons and co conspirators and there won’t be any exceptions or favours or negotiations. As was said by George Washington: “The administration of justice is the firmest pillar of government.”
We must ensure that justice is done to those who have done injustice to a whole nation.
Bring the election on!