Pacific Scoop

Exposing the Fijian nationalists’ ‘bogeyman’

Fiji's old Parliament ... target of the original coup in 1987.

Fiji's old Parliament ... target of the original coup in 1987.

Opinion – By Crosbie Walsh

Just as parents in the West used to warn their children, “The bogeyman will get you” to enforce compliance, extreme ethnic Fijian nationalists use “The Indians will get your land” bogeyman to justify the 1987 and 2000 coups, condemn democracy as a “foreign flower,” demand the President and Prime Minister must always be Fijians, and oppose all of regime Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s intended reforms.*

Their real purpose, of course, is not the protection of Fijian land and custom, but the protection of power and privilege for the sections of the Fijian elite of which they approve.

The fears, of course, are quite unfounded, as the nationalists know full well. Eight Acts of Parliament protected Fijian, Rotuman and Banaban customary rights, and the 1997 Constitution ensured there was no way of amending these acts unless the overwhelming majority of Fijian leaders wanted change.

The acts in question are the Fijian Affairs Act, Fijian Development Fund Act, Native Lands Act, Native Land Trust Act, Rotuma Act, Rotuman Lands Act, Banaban Lands Act, and the Banaban Settlement Act. The Constitution’s Chapter 13 on Group Rights states any change to any one of these acts requires a (a) parliamentary bill, to be read three times and passed by the majority of members on the second and third reading, and (b) approval by at least nine of the 14 Senate members nominated by the Bose Levu Vakaturaga, the Great Council of Chiefs who were then appointed by the President.

So even if the other 18 members of Senate (nine nominated by the PM, eight by the Leader of the Opposition, one by the Council of Rotuma) voted for change, which was extremely unlikely, the GCC-nominees could prevent it.

With a Lower and Upper House overwhelmingly Fijian (as they are likely to remain whatever the outcome of the present political situation), even the most minor change not wanted by Fijians was just as probable as seeing a real bogeyman. Is it any wonder the Constitution was not translated into Fijian!

* The Interim Government has no intention of removing these laws, although changes may be made to the operation of the Native Land Trust Act to permit a fairer distribution of land rent moneys, and the powers of the GCC are likely to be removed.

Dr Crosbie Walsh is a retired professor and director of development studies at the University of the South Pacific. Full article and links on his Fiji blog.


  1. Mark Manning, 1. September 2009, 14:08

    Firstly, Frank Bainimarama is not the elected Prime Minister, he is a Rogue Commander who took control illegally, of an Elected Government because he was about to be arrested for Sedition and his links to the murders of 5 C.R.W. Soldiers in the 2000 coup.
    He has no mandate from the people of Fiji.

    Secondly, Parliament no longer exists consequently, nor does the constitution, so there is no longer any protection under the Law, of anything, including Indigenous Land rights etc.

    Thirdly, the GCC no longer is functioning in it’s rightful capacity because of Frank Bainimarama’s treasonous act on the 5th. of December, 2006 and therefore, cannot oppose any challenge to the Land Ownership or other Laws which were previously protected by the Parliament etc.

    Fourthly, Frank Bainimarama, is not a man to be trusted in any capacity, especially when you consider his track record and the fact that his motivation for the coup, was to save himself from a probable prison term.

    And last but not least, this article is hogwash, full of lies and deceptions and only a mentally retarded person would believe it !

  2. luveiviti, 1. September 2009, 16:33

    Whoever came up with the notion that Rabuka coup & Speight coup & even Baini’s coup are all race based needs their heads checked.

    One do’nt need to be a political analyst to see what the motives were. This article says it was for the elite Fijians. We say wrong again. It was designed for a selected few & GCC was not even a part of this as a whole. There were some corrupt elements who were not even of Chiefly births that misused & abused this aspect all beacuse they were educated & had strings to pull. This Baini coup is just another classic example as it represents another elite group who either failed to make the mark in the last elections or are so sucking up to the gun men!! The rest is history.