Just what is going on in Fiji? Why have the Pacific Forum, the Australian and New Zealand Governments, the Commonwealth, the EU, the USA and in recent times the UN, been unable to shift the intransigent military régime in Suva?
In recent times the Commodore has addressed the United Nations. His self-justificatory speeches, resorting once more to the blame game, don't seem to convince anyone. We have to wonder how much, within his own coup-supporting ranks, the perception of unreality has gained ground. Now, it would seem, that justifying the 2014 time-line to elections is necessary in order to "get the economy moving again". The approach of the régime leader, or rather of his advisers and what we can imply of the muffled murmurings of his elite "team", seems to suggest that "economic management" is now the issue and the junta moves into a new phase of post-coup justification, a new phase in what they say is building the Fiji of the future.
One wonders how long this avoidance of reality can last. As one commentator on a "rogue" blog put it: "How many more ex post facto justifications will the failed regime put forward before they face reality?"
We would agree that the Commodore and his elite show an incredible ability to ignore criticism. But now that the UN is in the process of turning its back on Fijian military peacekeepers, one has to face the consequences and the December 5th 2006 coup has almost completely undermined the well-earned international standing of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces. Whatever else the Fijian senior military intended by their taking over the Government and so much of Fiji's public administration, their switch now to "economic management", is merely a bizarre distraction from the evaporation of international respect for the RFMF.
That evaporation is something the region as a whole ought to regret very much. But this is the result of a presumption by senior military, and those supporting them, that by forcing out the elected government, by closing down the Fijian Parliamentary process, by abrogating the constitution, they were "necessarily" reconstructing .... what? Reality? They apparently thought they could reconstruct the preconditions for just governance, just like the Committee for Public Safety had presumed in the aftermath of the collapse of the Ancien Régime. They seem to have confidently dismissed the Government of Laisenia Qarase &co on the presumption that all Fiji would fall into their hands once they had taken over. Napoleon thought that with Moscow taken, all Russia would capitulate to the "necessity" of his rule. Poor darling. Those who aim to reconstruct reality, after their own deconstructive efforts based upon their own presumption, find it ever so hard to face facts after it becomes patently obvious that reality is biting them hard. As the Raw Fiji blogging commentator says, "Failed military strategies in the light of the emergent military reality now move on to equally failed economic strategies in the light of persistent economic reality."
Clearly, for economic management to promote deeply rooted economic flourishing, a nation will require a just political order. It's no use trying to attract investment from abroad as long as the régime has a "road map" to democracy that tells potential regional investors that the public-legal stability of any future elected government will be in place because the military demand it. That's not stability folks. That's instability. A military is not a Government. The Queen Elizabeth Barracks is not the Fijian republic in microcosm. The military might want the nation to be ordered like a barracks. But they are two different things.
That's why a new political order, with a new constitution, will not be brought about by mere military finesse, nor will it only be "looking forward" to the future. Consequently the "new régime" - when or if it arrives - will also have to have some account of how it connects to what has been going on with Frank Bainimarama &co at the helm. It certainly seems as if he wants to stay for as long as it will take him to become recognised as a "necessary" part of Fiji's "new era". And that is about as close as one can get to identifying the cause of Fiji's slide into the turbulent political swamp.
The "road map" of Commodore Bainimarama &co seems to have become bogged down in its implicit attempt to insist on enforcing an interpretation of Fiji's recent history upon the nation. They would make the two coups (Dec 2006, Good Friday 2008) into "necessary" stepping stones to Fiji's future. And what the Commodore and his supporters don't seem to understand is that no Government can provide justice for its people if it is bogged down by its own demand that the republic establish a new order on the basis of its own self-serving interpretation of its own actions.
And a healthy economy always needs the interventions of Government in the interests of public justice. For the current illegal régime to suggest they are able to "fix" the economy ignores many things, including the need for citizens to be able to freely co-operate in national reconstruction, as well as the need for a climate generated by the harmonious working together with all the peoples of the region.
So with this situation in mind, let us try to focus upon our own regional responsibility? How should we, Christians living in Australia, respond? Do we not need to reassess our place in the world - are we not called to believe that Jesus Christ calls us to a ministry of mercy in our region, for the true healing of broken lives, in the setting right of broken human relationships? Dare we reconsider our citizenship of the South West Pacific region to deepen our awareness that Fiji's "coup culture" might also be a result of our Christian negligence, our failure to "do those things which we ought to have done" for decades past with respect to supporting and encouraging the lives of those with whom we share this part of the world? Is "reconciliation" going to take on a regional character for us as we ask Jesus Christ, through His Spirit, to show us how to live justly here and now? Will we, in this part of God's earth, confess Christ's Kingship and rise to the challenge of Fiji's slide to us as citizens of the region? We cannot simply develop our rhetorical critique of the evident injustice. Somehow we have to learn to be citizens of the Kingdom of God in this region and thereby reach out to love our neighbour as ourselves.
Nurturing Justice is written by Bruce Wearne, Point Lonsdale, to encourages a sustained Christian political contribution by seeking justice in the gentle and merciful rule of Jesus Christ, the ruler over all of the earth's political regimes.
October 2009 © The contents of this email are copyright. Documents may be photocopied or retransmitted in their entirety but not otherwise reprinted or transmitted without permission. "Nurturing Justice" is a project to encourage Christian political reflection based upon wise and loving civic participation. Comments are welcome and should be sent to email@example.com