Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Fiji's Yellow Bucket

from w.
Fijivillage Yellow Bucket occasionally gives a quirky, realistic, sometimes irreverent, take on the political and social life of Fiji. Lately they have been quiet, simply simmering the ingredients as the plot thickens. Anyway they are back with a take on how people in Fiji are looking of events. The ‘yellow bucket’ refers to a plastic bucket used for kava drinking I presume and the author/authors are anonymous. I am only using extracts from the article.

The Bucket is Back By fijivillage Feb 16, 2007, 17:25

…….. The first challenge is to come to terms with the magnitude of change, the reality of military rule and what that entails. Yes we know there is a civilian administration in place tip toeing within the boundaries of the constitution (this assumes the broadest possible interpretation possible of the blue book) but the fact is what Commander Frank wants he gets. For those of us brought up in the tradition of Fijians vs. Mahend politics this new Fiji order takes some getting used to. The military has been particularly strategic in this regard. Under the guise of emergency legislation they have left the media (with a couple of early exceptions) alone but have instead targeted those critics of the regime using “incitement” to validate what has on some occasions been some pretty tough treatment we understand however that this may be about to change.But lets get back to the basics lets strip away all the buzz words and slogans and delve into what this is really all about. 36 years of indigenous Fijian rule (with a couple of momentary lapses) created a Fijian elite that dominated public life. While there were the occasional scraps and some fell in and out of favour, power was essentially shared within this group maintained via democratic and when necessary military means.

(section deleted – as it’s too long but gives the background of Fiji since 1987)

The scale of change that has taken place presents issues here. There is a large group of displaced, disgruntled and in many cases financially desperate former politicians and public servants who now sit wondering how they and their families are going to survive. As any student of revolutions will tell you resistance is usually born in the disgruntled educated middle classes who then provide leadership to the masses.

YB understands a couple of attempts (and we are not talking about the democracy protests) have already been made by this newly disenfranchised group to stir up dissent with little success.So what is the mood of the masses? Right now the ordinary Josefas and Jigneshs are still confused. Survival is their main priority with school fees to pay there is no time to worry about politics. But they are adding up the pluses and minuses and the tally currently looks a little like this. For Jignesh the pluses are increased security (the aggressive clean up of criminal elements is appreciated by all), the whole multiracial tone of the new government, increased access to “guvment” in a whole range of new areas previously sealed off, removal of the blue print, the fact that Mahend is in power and they like the sound of the whole “clean up” campaign. Minuses largely center around worries about the economy, job security and the impact it could have on his personal bottom line but in general he supports the coup and ousting of the government.For Josefa the pluses would once again be increased security (there is a BUT coming), the clean up (unless one of his relatives is affected) and possibly talk of changes to NLTB land rental distribution. As a Fijian he is used to “guvment” and more particularly politicians delivering or at least promising to deliver the goodies although many have waited for years. These can range from simple assistance to get a licence or FNPF money to more direct hand outs often at a very basic level. For the moment he is testing the army and waiting to see how they perform. Underlying this however is a reluctance to get involved in politics. He is aware that he has been manipulated in the past by nationalist politicians and isn’t going to be fooled again so would have to be given a very good reason to take action.Minuses would be more significant then his neighbor Jignesh. He probably voted SDL initial anger at their ousting has now passed and for the moment he can live with it. He will be skeptical but not surprised by the corruption claims and waiting for proof.Top of the minuses will probably be concerns over the military’s jack boot approach to stomping on dissent particularly if relatives have been targeted. All this adds up to a general sense of apathy not particularly for or against just watching and waiting.But the “jack boot” approach does, for the moment, represents the biggest threat to maintaining a tranquil transition. It does appear that the military is now moving to shift strategy with the lifting of travel bans, this we understand will be accompanied by a general softening of the military’s aggressive stance re criticism and freedom of expression. Once again we hear that there is a feeling within the armed forces that now is the time to start sampling public opinion. Also they are aware that human rights abuses get in the way of international relationships and with the crucial EU aid review looming it is time to repair the image.

You do get the sense that we are now entering into the third phase of this process. The first being the initial take over and clampdown, the second a consolidation process aimed at securing power and ousting opposition elements. The third is one of starting the process of delivering on the promises. This means getting down to the business of government and this is where the Commander is faced with critical choices that will determine ultimate success or failure.

(and so on)

Read the whole text for yourself anyway.

An excellent discussion on reactions in Fiji to the Four Eminent Visitors report (supposed to be FOR YOUR EYES ONLY but who in Fiji worries about things like piracy of tapes, copyright material, etc.) is on Ms Vakaivosavosa’s blog site. The whole text of the 20 page report is on the net already anyway on another site.

No comments: