The military coup, Fiji’s fourth since 1987, has been widely condemned as a siege on democracy and our democratic institutions. But there is another point of view, as expressed by academic Dr Sukhdev Shah in an article published in the Fiji Times of 4 Dec 2006.
Shah, lecturer in economics at the University of the South Pacific, refers to the Commander’s clean up campaign as indicative of a brighter side of the coup. He makes the following points vis a vis the current situation in Fiji:
- The three bills the Commander wants thrown out “log stock and barrel- no negotiations, no tinkering, no adjustments: If the Qarase government professes itself to be legal and democratic, the substance of the Unity Bill is outright illegal and its intent unabashedly undemocratic, ” Shah said.
- Why are the perpetrators of the 2000 coup still holding high positions in his government while Commodore Bainimarama’s actions are being portrayed as seditious.
- Why did Australia not send its navy and commandos to rescue the democratically elected leadership of Fiji hel;d hostage by the thugs for nearly two months?
- Why did New Zealand do nothing to mediate the dispute between the warring parties in the 2000 crisis, as it is doing now?
- The other two Bills, the Qoliqoli and the Indigenous Claims Tribunal, “are more damaging to Fiji’s long term interests and its standing in the community of civilised nations than anything ever conceived by an evil mind, with self destructive instincts to the core”. Reports of harassment of resort and hotel owners by local thugs posing as qoliqoli owners and of fights between qoliqoli owners, are “alarming, specially for a country so much dependent on tourism dollars for job creation and fuelling economic growth on the hilt of foreign investment”.
- If the Qoliqoli Bill has such deleterious consequences, why would the international community, or any one with Fiji’s well being at heart voice support for a person or government hell-bent on spearheading the passage of the Bill while demeaning the intent of one who has the courage to stand-up against such an evil?
- Even if his intentions were not quite so honourable, the side effects of the Commodore’s clean up campaign “would still be profound and earth shaking in terms of helping to pomote fairness, justice and equality and assuring protection for every one irrespective of differences in appearance and beliefs.
- This change of environment will help lift Fiji’s economic fortunes ….
- He believed the threat to the Commonder’s endeavours will not be from Qarase and his companions “who have lost all moral authority to govern and be trusted” but from indigenous Fijians and the church leadership with the most to lose from liberalism, secularism, inclusion, integration and a humanistic approach to uniting people …”