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We Need To Learn From History

We Need To Learn From History
Xu Qinduo, a political analyst and senior fellow at the Pangoal Institution
September 12
10:15 2014

The outcome of this general election will show whether we have learned from history.

Are we like the proverbial child who, after getting burned several times, keeps playing with fire?

Or are we like the prodigal son who, after recognising the error of his ways, decides enough is enough, it’s time to do the right thing and be happy.

This is the choice in this general election. Do we hang on and keep doing what has hurt us in the past? Or do we change, chart a new Fiji, and do away with old practices that have shackled us in the past?

In the 1987 general election, a politician once told a parable in his campaign meetings. He told a story of a dance organized as pre-release activity for patients in a mental institution. These were patients who had been assessed and had ticked all the boxes signifying that they were ready to be absorbed back into the community.

The dance was the final test. A male patient kept picking a certain female as his dancing partner. Halfway through the evening, the female patient turned to him and said: “Stop picking me all the time. They might think we are still crazy. Pick someone else.”

His analogy: You know the Alliance Party had not served your interests well in the past.You are crazy if you keep picking them.

In this election, voters will have to decide which political party offers the best package to see them through the next five years. The choice is clear in this election. It’s between FijiFirst and SODELPA. It’s the politics of change versus politics of old.

The other day I sat with a iTaukei man who, at the initial part of the campaign, was impressed with FijiFirst and what Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama was doing in terms of development. He was leaning towards voting for FijiFirst.

This time, he looked serious, withdrawn. His body language showed a different person.

It was obvious he had undergone some kind of transformation. He asked: “Is our land safe? They have the power to take away our land. Everything iTaukei has been systematically stripped like the Great Council if Chiefs. There is danger we (iTaukei) could lose everything. Then what will happen to our future posterity”

I asked him: Have you read the Constitution?

He was quiet. I asked him: Do you believe everything they (politicians) tell you?

It was evident he had not read the Constitution but he had believed what some politicians were saying.

I told him “go and read the Constitution and decide for yourself.” On his request, I quoted section 28 of the Constitution and explained that it protected iTaukei land and ownership rights. Any changes to the land laws require 75 per cent of MPs saying yes and 75 per cent of registered voters  approving them before they can happen.

“You can interpret it the way you like but what you see and read is what you get,” I told him.

This man’s response indicates:

1) Politicians opposing Mr Bainimarama have a powerful messaging technique that is getting across to the target audience, the iTaukei

2)           Land and other iTaukei issues are still dear to  the hearts of the iTaukei.

This is part of the old politics. It was employed in the past by politicians to secure votes. Throw race and religion into the mix and you get a powerful cocktail.

When iTaukei voters interviewed after voting in pre-polling said they were voting for a government that would secure the future of the iTaukei race, were they referring to FijiFirst or SODELPA?

It coud go either way. Some will see that the Constitution protects the iTaukei race. Others will join other conspiracy theorists in seeing sinister motives in the Constitution.

The bottom line is  based on this question: Whose policies will stimulate economic growth and promote unity, peace, tolerance and love.

Whichever party fits the bill, will lead Fiji for the next five years because people are sick and tired of political turmoil.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

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