Was anyone really surprised that Bill 17 was passed, that Bulitavu crossed the floor or that TLTB supported the very Bill that could see their eradication? Not really. The Fiji First method of madness had been clear from the start: Put forward a half-cooked idea, get their ‘yes’ men to support it then arrogantly fend off all voices of dissent no matter how reasonable.
In this case, they put forward the arrogant Bill 17, got in key support from their own party members including TLTB’s CEO who was probably in their back pocket anyway then bulldozed their way into getting the bill passed completely disregarding the voices of legal experts and 30,000 Fijians who asked them to listen. We had hoped that they would hold off passing the bill and instead set up a standing committee. However, they pressed on regardless under the cover of covid and our successive Olympic wins in Japan. Are we really surprised? We shouldn’t be. The writing was on the wall the day Bainimarama took power in the early 2000.
“No military personnel will benefit,” he had said on TV. Yet hours later military personnel were being sworn into office. Once he had surrounded himself with sufficient ‘yes’ men, he then paraded to us his know-it all puppet master. Back then we were affronted daily by their callousness and arrogance to the point that we became desensitised as a nation. They lulled us into thinking they were the saviours and in a desperate stupor we voted them into government again. However, the villain in this article is not the Fiji First government. They are simply the party that flung the gates of Hades open. It is us the who kept choosing to go in.
You see the real culprits in this messy soup are us the Xennials. We were the newly arrived young graduates and workers into Fiji’s job market. Alumni’s of our respective schools, we stood silently as Bainimarama and Co wriggled their way through Fiji. We chose compliance instead of collectively practising civil disobedience. We were lawyers, doctors, teachers, civil servants who opted to hold on to our newly minted jobs hoping that this tyranny would pass. Now we’ve born children who will inherit a country that we messed up during our watch.
Bill 17 was just a culmination of our complicity. We watched as people like Ratu Tuisolia, Professor Warden Narsey, Mr. Weleilakeba and Mr. Meli Benuci were disposed from their positions. We looked the other way as some of our classmates tortured young men like Sakiusa Rabuku and we stayed silent as the other half fiddled with our laws under the guise of their endless gazettes. This is our doing. We didn’t throw out full support behind the older generation before us, we just gladly took over their posts when they were forcibly removed.
Now we are in our forties and sadly some of us are still as unbothered as we were back then. Yes, you may argue that we had to toe the line to keep our jobs but what if we had worked together and mobilised against this tyranny that’s thinly veiled as a political party? What if? But we were too busy being an unbothered generation afraid to disturb the status quo. Now we fight amongst ourselves saying Bill 17 is harmless, that its purely an administrative change to streamline the consent process but we all know that what is harmless to us can be lethal in the wrong hands.
This is a plea to our generation for us to throw away the thirty pieces of silver we had sold ourselves out for. Let us take back our dignity and vote in people who will consult, listen and act according to the will of the people. Unless we are willing to work together to remove them than we will have repetitions of things like Bill 17 and the continual rise of the tabetabe ‘Yes’ men.
Au sa vakamamasu kivei keda na noda. E sega ni dodonu me da saqati ira na wekada na idia. Me da saqata ga na mataqali lawa kei na vakatulewa malumalumu e sa vakaraitaka na matanitu nei Bainimarama e na loma ni vica na yabaki ni nodratou veiliutaki.
With the elections next year lets use our vote wisely.