DAWN OF INDEPENDENCE: TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF THE AVATARS
Chapter 10 On the Way to the Political Trenches
Returning to Fiji in 1968, the newly opened University of the South Pacific snubbed him that ended his hope of becoming the first local citizen to fill a lecturing position in Politics. He then moved on to appointments as a Divisional Welfare Officer in the Government Service, Deputy Town Clerk of Fiji’s capital, Suva before joining the University of the South Pacific in 1981 as a Research Fellow conjointly with the position of ‘Lecturer-in-Charge’ of Social Policy. Subsequently, he takes on the role of a trade unionist. In the backdrop of these administrative, academic and trade union pursuits, the author portrays the compartmentalised political developments that heralded the birth of Fiji Labour Party of which he became one of the founding Vice Presidents.
Chapter 11 Birth of Fiji Labour Party
In this chapter, the author traces the origins of the inception of Fiji Labour Party, profiles his involvement in its formation, his role as a candidate in the Suva City municipal elections and his growing disenchantment with the Party. He ruefully relates how the hope of nurturing a multiracial political entity was jettisoned soon after as its elitist leaders fell prey to grasping political power. The intellectuals left the Party in droves. In the apocalyptic General Elections of 1987, although the Labour Coalition won the elections, it lost the battle as it descended into an Indian dominated party. The irony was that of the 28 seats won, it had only seven elected native Fijians who all gained ministerial positions. The author blames the shenanigans of the Fiji Labour Party for the first two coups in Fiji in 1987.
Chapter 12 Fiji in Turmoil: A String of Coups
This chapter describes the unfolding drama of the first Coup and how the Indians stood on the brink of ethnic violence had it not been for the protective cushion provided by the armed forces. With the coup leader imbued with Christian fundamentalism, a little fanning of the raw cannibalistic/militaristic psyche of the natives, would have raked a disastrous result for the Indian people. The armed forces had gained a measure of foothold in the governance of Fiji. That was the beginning of the politicisation of the military. The coup culture had begun.
Chapter 13 the Evolving Coup Culture, and the Leadership Crisis: What Lies Ahead?
This chapter charts the circumstances of three more coups in Fiji and choreographs the principal political enigma facing multi-ethnic and multi-religious nations in their drive to use (or misuse) democratic tenets to achieve racial and/or religious group domination and personal political agenda. It focuses on the tilted power equation, leadership crisis bedevilling the two major races and the antagonistic religious and economic matrix that together promoted and reinforced political and social instability in a nascent nation.
The coup de étāt, the first in the South Pacific, continues to derail the ephemeral politics of Fiji. Since 1987, Fiji’s operative governance was usurped on five occasions. Each such incident has contaminated the psyche of the interest groups into buttressing the emergence of an undemocratic coup culture.
Substantial proportion of the fault lines in Fiji’s politics can be attributable to Fiji’s Indian leaders. While the obstinacy and delusion of the native Fijians in invoking their perceived ‘paramountcy’ is misplaced in a democratic framework, the Indians’ sense of insecurity and their gullibility in political one-upmanship has caused untold misery to Fiji Indians as their numbers decline and they disperse as fugitives in different countries abutting the Pacific Ocean. The displaced Fiji Indians in countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States bewail their tragic loss of socio-political dominance and indulge in a nostalgic form of cultural ‘auto-voyeurism’ through the lifeline of religious rhythm and/or social intoxicants. Their absorption as minorities in a dominant Caucasian milieu is bound to be frustratingly slow and depressingly cathartic.
As Fiji transitions itself from a militaristic dictatorship to a democratic framework; from the pitfalls of race-based constitutions to the sanguinity of a ‘one man-one vote’ electoral system; and from denominationally focussed society to a proposed secular constitution; the author charts out the obstacles that lie ahead. He predicts the shape of the political construction that may emerge under dramatically altered socio-political conditions. Does the coup-ridden experience of a tiny island-nation in the Pacific, once touted by the former Pope as ‘the way the world should be’, has lessons for the Western powers, in particular the neighbours, Australia and New Zealand?