No double standards, please, Mr Key!

  • 8th June 2016
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On the eve of his visit to Fiji, Prime Minister John Key told his country’s media that “his visit was to show support for the restoration of democracy, although it might not be a perfect democracy”.       key

“I am not saying it is absolutely perfect, but there are probably quite a few countries that have a form of democracy we wouldn’t see as perfect,” he was quoted saying by the NZ Herald.

We say: what a patronising statement, Mr Key. It smacks of double standards. Nothing but the best in terms of democracy is good enough for your own country but what is implied here is that for Fiji, the little Pacific Island country, anything short of the standard is quite acceptable.

For your information, Mr Prime Minister, the yardstick for us is not what happens in other countries with sub-standard democracies. We have our own standards – and by those enlightened standards, believe it or not, we think Fiji continues to have autocratic rule behind the strappings of democracy.Our democracy is a FARCE.

We have a parliament but it is a one party rule. The Opposition has few rights and little of freedom of speech.

By the way you say you believe “ absolutely and passionately” in the freedom of the press. But obviously you think nothing of the fact that Fiji’s media is so cowed and intimidated by the regime’s army-backed top guns and its repressive Media Decree that it is often scared to run articles criticising the government and its policies.

You have two of your journalists black banned from entering Fiji and you are so concerned about that you intend to take it up with Prime Minister Bainimarama.

We in Fiji, on the other hand, are subjected to severe constraints on our right to even speak freely. There are serious restraints on freedom of speech in our Parliament. We can’t even call an MP on the government side “a fool” without getting suspended for the life-time of Parliament.

Well … now we understand why the so-called democratic Western nations rushed to embrace Bainimarama’s Fiji so soon after the 2014 general elections- because they are prepared to accept a much lower standard of democracy for us here in Fiji.

They don’t care whether the Fiji elections were truly free and fair or whether those who govern us carry the true mandate of the people. They don’t care that our constitution was imposed on us, without discussion or debate. They don’t care that the draconian decrees of the regime continue in force despite the elections and the new constitution. They don’t care that there is absolutely no accountability and transparency in the manner in which we are governed.

To us these are the yardsticks by which we judge whether Fiji is democratic or not. We want the best for our country even if others are prepared to accept much lower standards for us in Fiji.

Yes, Mr Key we are also passionate about the rights and freedoms of our people. All said and done our fight against a repressive regime will continue, regardless.

But even so, we welcome you and thank the people of New Zealand for their generous assistance in the wake of Cyclone Winston.