CHANGE- FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE?
By : Sachin Anand Balram
For the past couple of months, I have not written anything on this blog. I have been sitting on the sideline. I have been watching and reading about the activities of party leaders. I have been listening to the mantras of all major parties. And, I must say that I have been both impressed and saddened. Impressed by the way each party leader and contestants are just beating on and vilifying Bainimarama and Khaiyum. The opposing party leaders are hell bent in trying to show how these two dictators have made the country worse than what it was eight years ago. There is certain element of truth in that but in politics, in order to win the debate; one has to show how things can be changed for the better.
I am saddened by the fact that the leaders have not propounded any good, logical and constructive arguments as to how they can bring about change for the betterment of the entire country after dumping Bainimarama and Khaiyum. This aspect of the debate cannot be ignored. If one cannot show how the country will be better-off with their ideas and programs then might as well, let the “status quo” reign for next five years.
I have noticed that the voters are not responding to message of change being propounded by the party leaders. I think the voters are sending the counter-message of resistance to any change.Hence, polls after polls are showing that Fiji First Party will win the election with hands down. This is also my opinion and I do know several thousands will disagree with me.
Let me now justify the argument that Fiji voters are resisting change. It will be a major factor why Fiji First will win this election. Unless the opposing party leaders quickly come up with some brilliant ideas how to derail Fiji First to Fiji Last party, I think the outcome of the election result is already written on the walls.
The Feeling of Surprise, Surprise! – It is well known fact that decisions imposed on people of the country by new leaders and parties are usually resisted. For many thousands who will vouch that they have been better off under Bainimarama/Khaiyum regime, it will be very easy to say “No” to any change. As I have mentioned in my previous articles “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know “will be their saving grace.
The Sense of Loss of Control– Change takes time to adjust and re- focus. It makes people think that they have lost control of important things in life. It is not just political as who has the power. Our sense of self determination is often the first thing to go when faced with potential change. The older we get the less change we want in our lives. So, it stands to reason that older voters will vote for Fiji First Party in large numbers.
Everything Will BeDifferent – Change is meant to bring something different. The question is – how different? Human beings are creatures of habit. Routines become automatic but change jolts us into consciousness. Too many sudden changes and radical ideas can be hard to accept for lot of people. Thus, it is important that leaders avoid advocating change for the sake of change. Bring to the table some new ideas/programs as to how to improve the economy, how to get more jobs, how to eliminate poverty and so forth.
Concerns About Competence– Can the new governing party fulfill its promises to the people or is it just talks? This will be the question voters will be asking as they enter the polling booths. It is my perception that voters have an inkling that lots of freedom will lead to more violence, more unemployment, and more price hikes of goods, more poverty and more social problems in the country. These fears will have to be ostracized from the minds of the voters.
Ripple Effects– Just like tossing a pebble into a pond, change creates ripples, reaching distant spots and ever widening circles. The ripples disrupt government departments, important ideologies and plans for the future that the present government may have in the pipeline. This kind of negative thought process will be present in the minds of the voters as they cast their votes.
Past Resentments-They say “the ghosts of the past are always laying in wait to haunt us “. As long as everything is steady, they will remain out of sight. But the minute you rock the boat for something new or different, the ghosts spring into action. Old wounds re-open, resentments of the past are remembered and despised. Voters do not want to see this happen down the road because it is going to affect their lives. This is one of the reason why we need fresh faces, dynamic new leaders who do not have baggage of their past political lives.
The leaders of the five parties vying to defeat Fiji First party must remember that as the auspicious day of September 17, 2014 election draws nearer, it is certain that change will be resisted by thousands of voters. Change can sometimes hurt. This is well known fact. For example, when new technologies replace the old ones, jobs can be lost, prices can be raised and investments can be wiped out. When new people are appointed into new responsible positions, they bring with them their own philosophies, ideologies, party politics and try to harmonize with their assigned duties. This can have adverse effect on people. It can lead to uncertainty, inefficiency and lead to chaotic situations affecting the lives of thousands of people from all walks of life. To overcome these fears embedded in the minds of electorate, it is incumbent upon each candidate to demonstrate to the voters that change will be good for them in enhancing every aspect of their daily lives.
Hence, the best thing the party leaders can do when they want to argue for “change” is to be honest, be transparent, and be specific about future plans; articulate with facts and figures. They must demonstrate certainty of process with clear, simple steps and timetables for each ideas/programs being advocated. Just by slandering, vilifying, nitpicking and showing the worst side of Bainimarama/Khayuim regime will not cut the mustard. Fiji has undergone some major changes in its short history. The first major change was when itaukeis ceded Fiji to the British in 1874. This was change for the better. The British rule when analyzed in totality, was not a bad thing for Fiji. Then in 1970 Fiji went through another major change when it gained independence. I am not quite sure that this was the right thing to do in 1970. We should have waited for another decade or so. If we took a poll today, I am certain fifty per- cent will say, Fiji was better off to remain under British rule and the other fifty per-cent will say, ever since the independence, the country is much worse off. Then in 1987 when Rabuku totally de-moralized the country by orchestrating first coup. Dictatorship regime was repeated by three more coup- mongers. The consequence being the entire country got into deeper trouble. The country got from worse condition into deplorable economic, social and political turmoil. Time is ripe to get out of this quagmire, pain and agony. The bleeding needs to be stopped on September 17, 2014.
In the premise, the monumental task for the new aspiring leaders is to convince the masses that change will be for the better. Change will bring about progress and prosperity. Change in government will improve their lives. Electorate of Fiji must become angry and hungry for change. Time is now for the masses to wake up. Scream for change from dictatorship to democracy should be coming from the lungs of every men, women and children of Fiji. Let the wind of change blow through the beautiful islands of Fiji from Yasawas to Lau Group, from Lautoka to Lakemba and from Suva to Savu Savu.
In conclusion, the famous quote by Martin Luther King Jr., comes to mind wherein he had stated,
“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability but
comes through continuous struggle. And so, we must
straighten our backs and work tirelessly to gain our freedom.
Let freedom ring “