Alarming developments that are taking place in our country should be of serious concern to every right thinking citizen.
First there is the case of huge shipments of Russian arms being brought in surreptitiously. The first consignment arrived in the country mid-January.
Barely a month later, negotiations are underway for a second shipment, we are told. A 10-member training team from Russia is already here to train our soldiers in the use of these sophisticated weapons.
The second alarming development is the brutal manner in which parliamentary procedures, practices and conventions are being unilaterally amended and revoked by the FF government to gag the Opposition and strip it of its rights and privileges.
Changes to Standing Orders bulldozed through Parliament this week can only be defined as fascist in nature. It effectively boils down to the creation of a one-party State in Fiji.
- remove the right of the Opposition to move motions in Parliament on issues of concern. Instead, the time allocated for such motions will now be given to government ministers to push through their propaganda. No debate will be allowed on these ministerial statements.
- remove the right of a member of the public to make a petition to Parliament. Under proposed amendments, a 40% vote is now required for Parliament to accept such petitions
- remove the right of a Member of Parliament to move what is known as a Private Member’s Bill. This means only government proposed bills will be entertained by parliament
- remove all transparency and accountability from the operations of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee by proposing that any MP can chair the committee which under parliamentary convention was always chaired by a Member of the Opposition to ensure proper checks and balances in the handling of public accounts.
These amendments will effectively reduce the Opposition to a window dressing in the House. It has practically been stripped of all its powers – end result is, as mentioned earlier, the creation of a one-party State, in other words –dictatorship or fascism.
Any discerning observer will see an alarming nexus between the two events – ie huge shipments of Russian arms arriving in the country and the simultaneous removal or dilution of the rights and privileges of the Opposition resulting in the virtual creation of a one-party State.
These are dangerous developments for any country. It is particularly alarming in a country with a highly fragile form of democracy where we have already seen massive rigging of the general elections to ensure the totalitarian Bainimarama regime of the past 8 years continues in power. Draconian decrees used to suppress the people in the past 8 years remain in force, despite assurances of human rights contained in the imposed 2013 Constitution.
The clandestine manner in which Russian arms are being brought into the country have grave implications for our national security and the safety of our people. It would not be unreasonable to assume that these may be used against the people, or at best, used to intimidate them into submission.
The totalitarian style of governance witnessed in the Middle East and in communist bloc countries is taking shape in Fiji. This must be stopped.
Our people need to see through the machinations of this regime which is resorting to all manner of strategies to remain in power and to avoid being held accountable for their gross misrule of the past 8 years.
It is all about power, amassing wealth corruptly and taking total control over the country and her people.
The Opposition must do more to expose such nefarious schemes and educate the people about the dangers that lie ahead in allowing such absolutism to take hold in our nation.