Bula vinaka, Namaste, Hello. My name is Ratu Tevita Uluiviti Mara. I am a son of the late revered, admired, first Prime Minister and once President of Fiji, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. Before I begin I want to thank Tonga for their help and support at a difficult time. They gave me a home when I most needed one; they have fed me, too well. My heartfelt thanks go to his Majesty King George, his Government and the people of Tonga. Malo and Vinaka Vaka Levu.
I would like to thank the organizing committee for inviting me here to speak at the Pro-Democracy rally. I am sure a month ago I was the last person you would have wanted to see here. I understand, as I was a senior member of the Bainimarama regime. I know I have a long way to go to gain your trust. I know that only when have I answered to the Fijian People for my actions in 2006 will I be worthy to stand before you.
I know now that a military coup can never be justified under any circumstances. In 2006 I did not know that. I believed we were embarking on a noble vision to build a better Fiji. I thought it was noble to eradicate racism, to eradicate corruption and to build a true democracy. In the original plan, Bainimarama was not to be PM; we were to hold elections inside of a year. However, as you know, he became PM and we did not have elections that year. Nor did we hold elections in 2009 or 2010 as he promised both Fiji and the international community.
In 2008 Pita Driti and I could see that the direction of the country was not the promised one. We were no longer following the vision laid down by Bainimarama. We started to question the decisions being made by the regime. Our questions became more and more vocal and we became the voices of dissent in the Military Council. It reached the point where we were both sent on leave and finally charged.
It became apparent that Bainimarama had only one advisor, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum. In fact Khaiyum was not an advisor but a puppet master. Someone who told Bainimarama what to do. And like the puppet he is, Bainimarama would obediently follow the instructions of the man pulling the strings.
The two of them have stolen freedom of speech from the people of Fiji. Last year, at a bar in South Korea, I allegedly said to a junior officer, “This Government is F-all.” The junior officer reported me and won himself a promotion. I found myself charged with sedition. As a result, I have found my true voice and have and will say a lot more about the F-All government in Fiji.
Bainimarama and Khaiyum are in the process of destroying the Fiji we know and love. Firstly, let’s talk about the economy:
a) The economy of Fiji is smaller now than it was in 2006. We’ve gone backwards.
b) The sugar industry has shrunk from 330,000 tons in 2006 to only 130,000 tons this year. Backwards.
c) Investment is at its lowest level ever. Backwards.
d) Poverty levels have nearly doubled in the last 5 years. Backwards.
e) Their latest ploy is to reduce the FNPF return from 15% per annum to 9% per annum. Backwards. Why? So they can borrow money from the FNPF at a cheaper rate, and cheaper for the regime means ripping off the pensioners of Fiji. As in everything they do, the puppet master Khaiyum and the Solicitor General Pryde will write a decree so no one can challenge this criminal decision in the courts.The Judiciary in Fiji is no longer respected or trusted:
a) When a regime abrogates the constitution because they don’t like an Appeal Court’s decision, that tells you they have no respect for the Rule of Law.
b) When the first decree they pass mandates that no decree can challenged in the courts, that tells you they have no respect for the Rule of Law
c) When the regime’s legal advisors write judge’s rulings, that tells you they have no respect for the Rule of Law.In 2006 we were told that we were embarking on “a Clean UP Campaign”. We were going to end corruption and bring to justice those politicians, civil servants and business men who had stolen money from the people of Fiji. We saw the foundation of FICAC, but instead of routing out major corruption, Khaiyum uses it as a way to intimidate the business people of Fiji. We see him use FICAC time and again to charge anybody he does not like with petty crimes and then appoint a judge who will give a verdict the regime wants.
All the time FICAC is working on petty fraud we see Bainimarama and Khaiyum lining their own pockets.
a) We all know about Bainimarama and Khaiyums’s salaries of over $700,000. I don’t think it is a coincidence, this week Khaiyum disbanded the organization that monitors and controls government pay, The Higher Salaries Commission.
b) We know about the massive government road building jobs that were awarded without tender
c) We know about the Land Bank which gives the PM the ability to lease land at one price and pass another amount on to the land owners
d) We all know about their jet set lifestyle as they travel the world at our expense. In contrast the people in Fiji are getting poorer and poverty is increasing.
This dictatorship has created a new order in Fiji. One where Bainimarama and Khaiyum rule with their cronies whilst the rest of us suffer. Bainimarama has not delivered any of its promises.
a) Instead of a true democracy we have a true dictatorship
b) Instead of ending corruption we have 2 new pigs with snouts in the trough
c) Instead of a happy, vibrant, unified Fiji we have a subdued, frightened and divided Fiji.
d) Instead of a distinguished and respected leader, we have a PM who personally beats up women
We all want to change the regime in Fiji. We all want to see democracy return to Fiji. With your support, and the support of pro-democracy movements around the world, we can help the people of Fiji to bring about change. We can bring democracy back to Fiji. Those of us that cannot go home whilst the puppet and his master are in power will be going home soon.
We will isolate the regime internationally, regionally, and in Fiji. Piece by piece we will remove all their support.
I will embark on meetings around the region and tell the leaders of the regional countries the truth about Fiji. And not the glossy lies spun by Sharon Smith-Johns.
I will meet leaders globally and plan on meeting senior officials here in Canberra, Auckland, Washington, London and Brussels. I will meet with the UN, the Commonwealth, and the ACP. I will unveil the truth about Bainimarama and Khaiyum to the world.
We have already started spreading the message in Fiji. We can see we are having an effect. But we need your assistance. We need you to talk about the true situation every time you are in touch with Fiji.
a)Tell the truth by phone,
b) Tell the truth by text,
c) Tell the truth by email,
d) Tell the truth by letter.
Above all let the people of Fiji know what is really going on in their own country because Sharon will never do that.
We need to build the confidence of the people back home, so tell everybody you know to do the THUMBS UP FOR DEMOCRACY! It is a small first step but one that will give the people the strength to take bigger steps in the future.
Everyone here is working on a roadmap towards democracy. It will be published soon but first we need to coordinate the plans and actions of the pro-democracy movement worldwide and within Fiji. Unlike the dictator, we will publish our roadmap.
I want to make it clear we need to make this change by peaceful means. We will use passive resistance and civil disobedience. There will be no violence.
I can assure the people of Fiji the military will not shoot. There have been many discussions informally at the camp and the soldiers know that shooting is not an option. Even if Khaiyum orders his puppet to order the soldiers to open fire, THEY WILL NOT FIRE ON CIVILIANS. They know it is wrong.
We will have democracy, we will have a new government and we will have them soon. Thumbs up for Democracy!
Pictures courtesy of the Sydney-based magazine, Drum Pasifika