Fiji: The Problem that isn’t?

by Dom on December 5, 2010

Fiji, what to do about Fiji….. The regime and the Good Commodore have got to go, right? It’s just not proper for a coup to succeed, especially at the cost of that defenceless tender thing called democracy. And it’s even worse when all the feet-stamping done in Canberra, Wellington and Brussels results in nothing more than Fiji developing better international ties with new friends. Sure, Fiji does seem to be a mess in some ways, but is it really that bad?

So what’s the problem? Yes, democracy is a lovely thing that fills us with warm-fuzzies, and makes the people feel that they have a say in what happens. But is the Westminster system really the best thing for Fiji? Or the Pacific in general? Especially in a highly divided society like Fiji? And do the actions of those in the chamber in Canberra fill others foreigners inspiration? Just to throw a militarised cat among the democratic pigeons, what about the ever-present no-confidence vote and hung parliament, making the people’s choice seem far from the people’s choice?

I’m not here to pick holes in democracy or point out limitations and shortcomings. But when we look around the region, there is evidence, fairly uninspiring evidence.

  • Let’s look at the largest state in the Pacific, Australia. While the ministers condemn the seizure of power by the men in Queen Elizabeth Barracks, they conduct a federal two ring circus. Efficiency and action on addressing what we are told are major issues, unfortunately, is not really something we see a lot of in Canberra.
  • Vanuatu has just had a change of government owing to a no-confidence motion being passed. So, even with the people choosing their leaders, they actually don’t choose their leaders. How democratic is that?
  • Nauru (again, I know….) is making a serious effort to have the records for most elections and the least governance in a yet-to-be-determined space of time. At least in Fiji, ego is put into action that is framed as good for the country. Maybe Nauru could learn a thing from our old mate Frank, Then again, Nauru don’t really have any pressing problems….

But Fiji is bad, and the interim government/military regime needs to hold free and fair elections. So instead of work with Fiji, talk to Fiji, play nicely with Fiji and try to make something constructive happen, the regional leaders would rather stamp their feet and spout condemnation. Australia, New Zealand and the US have all had changes of government since the coup, affording them plenty of scope to engage Fiji. Instead of dialogue, we hear crickets in the sunset.

Here’s a novel example: ignoring the IRA didn’t work really well for the English for many years, but eventually they figured out working together wasn’t such a bad thing. So, the question I ask is this; do many of the other states in the Pacific actually care or believe their rhetoric? If so, try something constructive rather than punitive. If not, which seems more and more apparent, Fiji is the problem that isn’t. We’ll watch this space.

Questions, comments, thoughts, retorts?

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: