Saturday, November 7, 2009

Let's Be Frank About Fiji...

It's hard to know just what more can be done about Fiji.
Since it's independence in 1970, Fiji has had four coups d'etat, became only the to be suspended from the Commonwealth (was reinstated and later suspended again), became the dumped from the Pacific Islands Forum...and borne the military yolk for 13 years.
Despite the travel posters' big "Bula!" smiles, it's not a happy place. Quite apart from its political upheavals, Fiji's had constant simmering dissent between ethnic Fijians and Fiji-Indians (labour imports in the 1870s), this tension "supposedly" the cause of the military actions.Gee, nobody understands me!
Both NZ and Australia - major Pacific geopolitical players seeking a return to peaceful democracy - have increased pressure by reductions in trade, aid, and travel permits for regime-associated persons. But just this week, Fiji's dictator Frank Bainimarama expelled both countries' envoys, supposedly for interfering in judicial appointments. He still maintains both countries totally misunderstand his "mission to bring democracy to the nation" (er, that's the same "mission" that's delayed promised elections numerous times, blown the economy, imposed heavy media censorship and slowed anti-regime websites, right??!!).
So what options remain? Suggestions include a tourism boycott, stopping sporting contacts or total trade suspension...through to ridiculous notions of military blockades or even invasion!
Any pressure must hit the regime, not the population. Perhaps the solution lies in the will of the people themselves – only they know the true effects of the infrastructure deterioration, the mortal risks in any uprising, the downstream impact of a true bi-cultural administrative change. But if the majority of Fijians actually buy into Frank's racist agenda, then maybe they're happier to 'tough it out' with him.
Either way, there's not going to be much "Bula, Bula!" (good life, health and happiness) in the lovely Isles Of Smiles for a long time to come...

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