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Turning a Blind Eye – Fijians in the Bainimarama Cabinet

July 9, 2013
Many indigenous Fijians struggle to understand the motivations of fellow Fijians who have been propping up the Bainimarama dictatorship by serving in its cabinet. At best, they are regarded as being blind to the politics of it all, a contradiction both in term and practice, and only interested in salvaging the national interest. At worst, they are blatant opportunists who have no moral fibre in their being and care less for the regime’s repressive and dictatorial rule.

The desire to serve in a dictatorship often has its attractions for those who share in the goals of the regime and owe personal allegiance to the dictator. In this category we can easily place all the military appointees currently serving in the cabinet. As well, those with links to the military through marriage are also included.

As Fijians, the key question for them is how they could stomach in all conscience, the regime’s attack on the Fijian institutions, tampering with how their lands are administered and the humiliation of other chiefly institutions. The thundering silence from them confirms to all their whole hearted support for those un-Fijian actions and policies of the regime. At worst, you wonder how they could hold themselves as Fijian when being party to the desecration and ridicule of their own heritage and that stigma will inevitably follow their offspring. Their continued membership of the cabinet and support for Dictator Bainimarama is clear indication they place a far greater premium on institutional and personal loyalty than to their own heritage. It is a personal decision for them having weighed the merit, they have only their conscience and spiritual maker to answer to.

The more interesting group are civilians with no discernible links to the military regime or personal loyalty to its treasonous commander. This group often parrots the dictum that they are only interested in returning Fiji to normality – a case of salvaging a burning home! For them, it does not matter that the regime has usurped power at the point of a gun, terrorised citizens, abused human rights and suppressed freedom. Nor does it prickle their conscience that fellow Fijians have been brutalised and suffered irreparable harm from the policies and decrees of the regime. They are willing to turn a blind eye to all that while they beaver away to “do their part for Fiji.” In essence they regard the means (treason) as justifying the end (return to their notion of democracy).

Nevertheless, this group of civilians undermine their noble cause when realised that jumping into bed with the dictatorship was also a leg up opportunity for them. Most if not all of the current civilians, were either retired or failed politicians. Regrettably, a once reputable civil servant has been seduced by the trappings of a ministerial salary, driven vehicle and security detail to ditch a position in a place of learning.

For the rest of their lives, this group will have to wrestle with their decision and the stigma of providing a civilian face to a military dictatorship. As Fijians, they are also guilty of supporting policies that has brought about so much division and hatred among fellow Fijians while they remain compliant and silent to the will of the regime.

For those among them with vast experience and education, it defies belief that they remain silent in the face of great upheaval in Fijian society. How can they not be affected by the numerous attacks on Fijian institutions of State and practices by the regime they’re part of? How easy for them to rationalise such attacks against the desire to achieve normality? Or has the trappings of a ministerial salary inflicted a numbing sensation on their collective conscience? It is no wonder that accusations of lacking moral fibre, integrity, conscience and raving opportunists have often been used to describe their enforced silence on matters so personal to them and their heritage as Fijians.

The decision to join the Fiji dictatorship cabinet is generally straight forward for those with military links as they share the same goals, experience and background. They agreed, supported and abetted the usurping of power through treason and eventually will have to answer for it with their treasonous leader.

Civilians who joined the bandwagon faced a far more interesting path, having to weigh their decision against their personal conscience and belief in an outcome that may yet be unattainable. Their judgement has pinned their personal integrity and reputation deep in the clutch of a dictatorship that has no qualms of suppressing freedom and abusing human rights. As Fijians they have become party to the humiliation dished out to Fijians and their institutions by the regime while their thundering silence continues unabated.

Source – S Lealea Blog; Posted by Rusi Varani for SWM
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