Opinion

Truth, The First Casualty Of Dirty Politics

Lies, Misinformation reaches unprecedented proportions. Fueled by some politicians and the social media, hatred and bitterness in anti-Government rhetoric drive opinions into uncharted territory in the national conversation.
26 Aug 2019 21:50
Truth, The First Casualty Of Dirty Politics

Opinion:

Lies and misinformation dominate public conversation, a random survey in parts of the West reveals.

Speaking to people of all races from Ba to Lautoka, Nadi and Sigatoka, I discovered a disturbing resurgence of hatred and bitterness that was prevalent in the last two general elections.

The feelings are generated by lies and misinformation from certain politicians and social media, particularly in anti-Government rhetoric.

In Ba, despite Government assistance to help a group of landowners commercially develop their land, most in the group are suspicious because they had been brainwashed by some Opposition people not to trust the Government.

One of the more level-headed landowners said: “I cannot understand the mentality of some of us. This is a wonderful opportunity, our first big break.

“No other government has helped us like this. I have told my fellow landowners to put politics away and let’s focus on the opportunity before us.

“The same old politics is still there. They think the Government is coming to take our land away.

“We are going to lose our rights and the future of our culture is at stake.

“The iTaukei are disadvantaged by the policies of this Government, some claim.

“These are all false, all lies and these are the reasons why we the iTaukei are lagging behind.

“We have to wake up and open our eyes or we will miss the boat.”

The same sentiments were expressed in Lautoka, Nadi and Sigatoka.

Religion

Religion has also been dragged into the ring.

Some Hindus were suspicious of Government programmes because the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is a Muslim even though he attends a lot of Hindu religious events and reaches out to other religions and cultures.

The anti-Muslim rhetoric is also coming from some iTaukei.

These perceptions are based on unfounded claims, just pure lies and selective criticisms.

When truth becomes the casualty of dirty politics our progress as a nation is in jeopardy.

No genuine and sustainable democracy can survive if it is based on dirty politics.

It will eventually lead to serious fragmentation.

Racism, hatred, bitterness and division will take us down the slippery slope to political turmoil, which we saw in 1987 and 2000.

1987 Coup

Lest we forget, in 1987 Sitiveni Rabuka led the country’s first military coup that overthrew the democratically-elected Government of Dr Timoci Bavadra, a prominent medical doctor and high-ranking Ministry of Health official.

First, Mr Rabuka said that the coup was to end street demonstrations by the racist iTaukei Movement protesting against an Indo-Fijian dominated Government.

Later he said that the coup was to restore iTaukei political supremacy.

That should have been amended to say chiefly political supremacy.

Dr Bavadra was an iTaukei commoner from Viseisei, Vuda.

It was therefore ironical and even hypocritical that the coup was said to have been staged for the sake of iTaukei interests.

Was Dr Bavadra not an iTaukei? Or did he come from the wrong province or confederacy?

Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and Mr Rabuka both represented Tovata. Dr Bavadra came from Burebasaga.

Was the first coup designed to keep the leadership in Tovata hands?

Is this the sort of politics that seems to be creeping into SODELPA’s internal power play?

No right-thinking Fijian wants to go back to this old-style politics.

It has become irrelevant and has no place in modern Fiji under our 2013 Constitution.

My findings in parts of the West show that we could slide back to a dark and horrible past if we continue to allow lies and misinformation dominate our national politics.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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