Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr and NZ’s Murray McCullay are at the forefront of ridicule and venom by Fiji pro-democracy supporters. But the reality is that these Ministers take advice from, and have been misguided by, their respective Foreign Affairs departments and ministry. DFAT (Australia) and MFAT (NZ) have got it wrong about dealing with Fiji and their decisions suggest that their long serving strategists and so called experts don’t fully understand Bainimarama and his illegal junta’s needs and objectives. Subsequently, Australia and New Zealand’s status in the Pacific has drastically diminished in the eyes of Fiji pro-democracy supporters, the oppressed people of Fiji, Fiji political parties and neighboring Pacific island states. Their advice on Fiji is also highly unlikely to change with a change in Government – new bosses but same advisers.........
Maybe now is a good time for Bob Carr and Murray McCullay to reorganize and refresh their so called experts in foreign affairs who are comfortably entrenched in their cushy and highly overpaid lifetime jobs while not producing effective results and outcomes.
In fact, Fiji is now more aligned and in debt to China with her easy low interest loans. China also stepped in to pay Fiji’s bills. Without this helping hand from China Fiji would have defaulted in her repayments in 2010 and ended up insolvent and a failed state, all as a direct result of Bainimarama and Khaiyum’s illegal actions, corruption and mismanagement of Fiji and its resources.
Now future generations of Fiji will be repaying these loans well after Bainimarama and Khaiyum are long gone. Meanwhile, more and more Chinese immigrate to Fiji. And some argue that they will soon become the new threat to native lands – first it was the unscrupulous Indian businessmen wanting access to native lands for next to nothing. Next it will be the Chinese with their unscrupulous businesses wanting land leases for 160 years, tax exemptions, and the right to bring in 30,000 of its own workers – as per the case in Samoa.
But why do Fijians need to put up with all these corrupt activities. They don’t. The Bainimarama junta is illegal. Bainimarama’s own appointed court ruled that the Bainimarama coup of 2006 was illegal. Coupled with Bainimarama’s crimes that include treason, murder, sedition, corruption and fraud there is no way Bainimarama can escape from going to Naboro prison. Not under any truly fair and freely elected government of Fiji. It’s just a matter of when he goes to prison.
The people of Fiji, in over 7,000 submissions, voiced their objection to any form of immunity being given to anyone involved in any past and future coups. Those senior officers who mistakenly supported Bainimarama in the coup are all too happy to face the courts for their part in the coup. But Bainimarama knows he is guilty so needs to find an alternative method of being granted immunity for his crimes. To achieve this Bainimarama and Khaiyum are trying to trick and fool the people of Fiji into supporting their illegal constitution (which does far less for the protection of native lands and indigenous Fijian rights than what Bainimarama and Khaiyum says it does) and vote them into power at the next elections. If this fails, than Bainimarama will be forced to grant immunity for himself and his supporters by forcing it on the people. It is either immunity or bust for Bainimarama. This is brinkmanship but there is no other way for him and his parasitic group of supporters and relatives - unless China offers all of them residence in China, with all their stolen millions from Fiji.
The Chinese government has no problem supporting Bainimarama’s aim to illegally rule Fiji by force so long as Bainimarama continues to support China’s communist party internationally. Bainimarama also offers the Chinese an opportunity to flex its economic muscle against the Americans for growing control of the Pacific. Besides the Pacific island nations who receive low interest loans from China, Australia is also dependent on China buying its resources. The American economy is also in debt to China.
So why would Bainimarama then want to align himself with Australia and New Zealand with their strict requirements for transparency and accountability? To align with Australia and New Zealand, with their righteous and goodie-goodie attitude and strict requirements, also implies a hidden path, somewhere along the way, that leads to Naboro prison for Bainimarama and his supporters. But having the support of Australia and New Zealand would provide the illegal Bainimarama junta with some form of legitimacy. At this stage, the Bainimarama junta is more than happy to only receive whatever aid Australia and New Zealand are willing to provide but aligning with them is not a viable option.
So why is DFAT still attempting to attract Bainimarama over to them given that China is offering better support and more than what Australia and New Zealand can offer. Their approach needs to change - its not too late.
Australia and New Zealand should have been more assertive in their original objection to Bainimarama’s coup and more assertive and committed to supporting the pro-democracy groups. Instead they did what some would call as indecisive or half-hearted. They didn’t appear fully committed against the Bainimarama coup. Fiji’s last democratically elected Prime Minister Mr Qarase asked for help to stop the coup, but none came. Instead only soft sanctions and lots of rhetoric were applied by Australia and New Zealand that had no negative impact on the real supporters of Bainimarama’s junta.
It seems that the actions by both DFAT and MFAT were ill-conceived and misguided and not grounded in any proper strategy for dealing with Fiji. Their actions included:
So what is DFAT and MFAT’s objective? Their advice led to Australia and New Zealand pussy footing around and refusing to help Fiji, and then refusing to engage with Fiji after the coup or to apply strong sanctions that would have forced Bainimarama to the negotiating table, as it happened with Rabuka after the 1987 coup. All goods and services to and from Fiji were suspended by Australia and New Zealand, which almost crippled Fiji but it forced Rabuka to hand back power over to a civilian government. So why wasnt this tactic applied again. Surely with the backing from the Government these actions could have been applied again and any problems that were encountered in 1987 could have been dealt with via emergency legislation, etc.
These tough actions weren't applied in 2006, citing legal issues and not wanting to hurt the poor people of Fiji. MFAT’s representative in Fiji was more concerned with the amount of NZ goods being exported to Fiji reaching over $312 million. Therefore, taking a tougher stance would jeopardize this revenue for NZ so he was, understandably, not for “hurting” the poor Fijians. However, the poor people of Fiji were already suffering from high unemployment, a poor economy, devalued Fiji dollar, more Government corruption, an increase in prostitution and robbery to help make ends meet, and increased poverty as a direct result of Bainimarama’s treasonous actions, corruption, theft and mismanagement of Fiji’s resources.
So maybe now is a good time for Bob Carr and Murray McCullay to reorganize and refresh their so called experts in foreign affairs who are comfortably entrenched in their cushy and highly overpaid lifetime jobs while not producing effective results and outcomes. And replace them with contemporary minded and results oriented strategic thinkers.....Food for thought.