Friday, 8 December 2006

Bainimarama: A patriot? Or a nut?

Joe Bennett suggested this morning that Commodore Frank Bainimarama is either a patriot, or he's nuts. I think that pretty much sums it up.

We do know he's acting illegally, that is, unconstitutionally. We do know -- or at least it's been said, including this morning by previously deposed PM Mahendra Chaudhry -- that corruption is rife in Fiji, the "Qarase Government was seen to be condoning that," and Bainimarama claims to be cleaning it up. Chaudhry, Fiji's first ethnic Indian Prime Minister, "told Morning Report that while this latest military coup is illegal, a better future can be negotiated for the people of Fiji." But it seems to me that we need a lot more information than we presently have to form the conclusion that the Commodore is a patriot, although I'm more than willing to countenance that argument.

A friend makes the case in his favour (I've cleaned up his argument just a little):
What sort of mickey mouse constitution makes Mr B go cap in hand to a bunch of Chief 'Indigenous Rights Racists' ie., the Great Council of Chiefs, in order to call for 'no confidence' in a PM who seeks to set one of the Racists' mates free?! That constitution be damned!

Mr B is standing up for the principle of equality before the law that supersedes the conventions of politicians; there are some things that should be beyond the vote -- life, liberty, the pursuit of property and happiness, these equal rights for all -- and Mr B is standing up for those rights and for justice! [exclamation marks deleted].

If the constitution was just then he would not need to act as he has! He's risking his neck for the sake of equality of rights for Fijian Indians! He's a hero! Democratically elected racists ought to fear such a righteous army commander And the Libz contitution allows for him to disregard the state when it is in violation of the people's valid rights!
Now, it's true that the Libz Constitution for New Freeland allows (and I agree wholeheartedly with the principle) "that whenever any government becomes destructive of [our legitimate] rights, it is in rebellion against its citizens, who may then remove it and institute new government." And it's also true that the US Declaration of Independence declares (and I agree wholeheartedly with the principle) "that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed ... with certain inalienable rights," and allows (and I agree wholeheartedly with the principle) that "whenever any Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it..."

But here's the kicker:
1) That right only exists, says the Declaration (and I agree with the principle wholeheartedly), if and only if the abolition of a Government destructive of those ends is effected in order "to institute new Government, laying its Foundations on such principles" as those briefly outlined above.
2) The authors of the Declaration (with whom I agree wholeheartedly) recognised that "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes," and accordingly they laid out in the Declaration itself the "long Train of Abuses and Usurpations [designed] ... to reduce them under absolute Despotism" against which they declared themselves to be acting. Vague talk about "corruption" is very far from such a declaration.
And, 3) it's by no means clear (to me at least) that this is the basis on which Commodore Bainimarama is operating anyway.

However, 4) the reporting of the reasons for the coup has been very far from comprehensive, at least in the reading that I've done. As such, I'd be happy to hear arguments along the lines of my friend's argument above. Is the good Commodore a patriot, a defender of equal rights, or is he just a nut?

LINKS: Former Fiji PM Chaudhry willing to help military - Radio New Zealand
Proposed Constitution for New Freeland - Free Radical
The unconstitutional Bainimarama - Not PC

RELATED: Politics-World, Constitution



Anonymous Maurice Winn said...

Since Helen Clark is dead against Bainimarama, in the absence of information, my guess is he is a good guy. The thinly-reported other information I have seen makes me think he's a good guy too. So far, all he has done is do what all governments do = take power at the point of a gun [including New Zealand's which continues to confiscate my property against my will at the point of a gun].

His previous effort in Y2K seems to have been good.

8 Dec 2006, 09:13:00  
Anonymous george said...

A patriot who has deliberatly chosen a very risky path. He has come out to nip something in the bud which has a much greater potential to destroy Fiji. Look up the Qoliqoli system which empowers the chief drones to apply their own standover taxation on anyone using a beach, catching a fish or being on land [public or otherwise] in their area. It also further robs Indian ethnics who have been there since the 1870's.
Locals accuse Qarase of being a crook, legitimising other crooks. No wonder Helen Clark is flapping, the very idea of someone not rolling over and allowing rotten politicians to do what they want and not allowing post facto legislation absolving them of crime.
Stuff democracy in those terms. Go for them Commodore, youre a brave man.

8 Dec 2006, 10:03:00  
Blogger Dragon Maci said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8 Dec 2006, 14:12:00  
Blogger Kane Bunce said...

The deleted post was mine (sign in error). It read:

Mr B is standing up for the principle of equality before the law that supersedes the conventions of politicians; there are some things that should be beyond the vote -- life, liberty, the pursuit of property and happiness, these equal rights for all -- and Mr B is standing up for those rights and for justice!

I think wrong. Bainimarama has trampled on the right to free speech. You can't stand for liberty by doing that.

And, 3) it's by no means clear (to me at least) that this is the basis on which Commodore Bainimarama is operating anyway.

It is clear to me it isn't. The way he told the newspapers and TV news not show any dissent against him or support for the disposed PM and the way he said he'll stop people protest against him make is clear he doesn't. Such acts are a breach of the right to free speech. You can't breach one right and be fighting for rights. As soon as you break one right in the "fight for rights" rights are no longer truly your goal even if you think they are. It's true that his real reasons aren't clear, but it's also true that rights are not among them.

So, in short, he's a nut, not a patriot. Joe Bennett was right when, in the piece you referred to, he said he thought Bainimarama is probably a nut.

Since Helen Clark is dead against Bainimarama, in the absence of information, my guess is he is a good guy.

Sorry but that is not justification. Helen Clark was dead against Suddam Hussein? Would you say that made him a good guy?

8 Dec 2006, 16:02:00  
Anonymous Tim Wikiriwhi said...

In reply to Kane,
I say you ought not confuse Bainimarama's reasons for his actions, with his modus opperandi. He is obviously not a Libertarian, but a military man who is obviously short on Many aspects of Libertarian Ideals, but is desirous of keeping trouble to a minimum and this transition blood free.
He seeks to cap protests that might escalate into violence, and free speech and bad media that he perceives could insight violence. (And the Natives are getting restless!)
We Libertarianz may see this as unwise yet well intended.
Libertarians need to be able to see the essentials of issues and grow balls enough to support non-Libertarians when they imperfectly do what is right.
“There is none righteous, no not one… for all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God”…what I mean by this is… to paraphrase Barbara Branden, “We must graduate from the school that perfection is the price of admiration”….This is wisdom!

I also add the point that no one complained when he took out Speight!
There is a definite relationship to the Speight issue here that makes Bainimarama's actions very understandable...not mad at all.
Also this Coup is the complete opposite of Rambuka's and the Speights which were a destruction of Democracy for the sake of Racist indigenous rights whereas Bainimarama's coup is one for Equality!

8 Dec 2006, 16:38:00  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Bainimarama: A patriot? Or a coco-nut?

I think that he is the latter, which is actually true.

Hey, all of you posters here, leave my fellow coco-nuts alone.

8 Dec 2006, 21:03:00  
Anonymous Tim Wikiriwhi said...

Reply to Falafulu fisi:
We Libertarianz care about you "coconuts", and are very sad about the racism that is destroying Fiji. We mourn the fact that like Zimbabwe and New Zealand, that Racist socialist doctrines of indigenous rights (propagated by the U.N) have torn this tiny nation in two.
Let me ask you if your comment regarding Bainimarama is based upon any solid evidence of his madness, or is it simply based upon a personal prejudice against Fijian Indians?
I suspect the latter...but if I am wrong please give us the reasons for your statements.
Do you believe in the superiority of indigenous Fijian rights over Fijian Indians?
This is your opportunity to win support for your position.
We Libertarianz wish nothing but peace and prosperity for Fiji, and are here to talk about how this might be achieved, the issues involved in this conflict, and how we might help.
Regard’s Tim Wikiriwhi

9 Dec 2006, 11:50:00  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Tim whikiriwhi said...
[Let me ask you if your comment regarding Bainimarama is based upon any solid evidence of his madness...]

My comment was to have some fun, and nothing else.

9 Dec 2006, 17:16:00  
Anonymous kaiviti said...

Your friend appears to be under a delusion. Bainimarama is no hero, nor is he particularly rational, judging from his claims that he was sent by God to “clean up” Fiji. According to sacked police chief Andrew Hughes, he’s merely the latest frontman in a power struggle between sections of Fiji’s elite that has been going on since the late 1980s. Local commentators have noted that some of the characters Bainimarama has appointed were also given roles after the 1987 coup, and among those keen to help the military set up an interim government are people who were instrumental in the 2000 coup. For example, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, who has claimed the role of “mediator” between the military and the GCC, was one of the group (including Bainimarama), who press-ganged Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara - his father-in-law - into resigning in 2000.

It may be significant that one of Mara’s daughters, Adi Koila Mara Nailatikau, despite being held hostage in the 2000 coup, refused to condemn Bainimarama’s actions on Radio NZ last Tuesday. Some members of the traditional Fiji elite perhaps feel entitled to rule, and are willing to turn a blind eye as to how they get there. Others appear to be motivated by the adrenalin of power rather than principle, like the party-hopping Poseci Bune:

Shakespeare would find plenty of dramatic inspiration in Fiji!

There may well be corruption, but that is nothing new. What WAS new was the volume of investigations that Andrew Hughes had underway. Bainimarama had reason to fear the growing enthusiasm for investigations because of his role in 2000, particularly the brutal execution of rebel members of the army who tried to stage a mutiny in November 2000, in which Bainimarama was almost killed (Rabuka is currently on trial for his role in this).

Lately Bainimarama’s made statements that make it clear he will do the same to any other soldiers who defy him. He’s no defender of liberty; he’s a thug.

On the positive side, there have been some brilliant defences of media freedom in the Fiji press, and the television station stopped news broadcasts altogether in protest at the military’s attempts to censor the news. This coup is rapidly coming unstuck thanks to widespread opposition from many people and institutions in Fiji, including the Great Council of Chiefs, though the latter probably won’t hold out for long. I suppose another positive aspect is that ethno-nationalism was not used a rallying cry for this coup. Sadly, I expect there is worse to come when the military realises they have failed to pull it off and have to face the consequences.

9 Dec 2006, 23:53:00  
Anonymous Pacific Empire said...

I agree with Kaiviti's comments, as I explain further here.

11 Dec 2006, 01:22:00  

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