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Roko Tupou Shares Her Take On Visitor, Vulagi Controversy

Views expressed here are that of former Opposition MP and lawyer, Roko Tupou Draunidalo, and not of the Fiji Sun. Last year, I wrote two opinion pieces. They were based
28 Aug 2022 10:12
Roko Tupou Shares Her Take On Visitor, Vulagi Controversy
Former Opposition MP Roko Tupou Draunidalo

Views expressed here are that of former Opposition MP and lawyer, Roko Tupou Draunidalo, and not of the Fiji Sun.

Last year, I wrote two opinion pieces.

They were based on the back of concerns raised in Parliament by the Assistant Minister for iTaukei Affairs and Attorney-General.

They referred to a High Court of Australia case Fairfax Media Pub­lications Pty Ltd v Voller; Nation­wide News Pty Limited v Voller; Australian News Channel Pty Ltd v Voller [2021] HCA 27 (8 Septem­ber 2021).

It was also on the back of similar statements from Australian lead­ers and international cases regard­ing the curtailment of hate speech online,

To show that hate speech is not free speech, the Fijian slang comes to mind e duidui (it’s difference).

Leaders of liberal democracies and their highest courts have al­ways curtailed hate speech through legislation and court judgments.

And in light of the racist and hate speech posted on the Facebook page of Sitiveni Rabuka’s latest political party (his fifth so far but that is fine, as we’ve not had a stable democra­cy thanks to him) – I am pleased to rehash some of those sentiments against hate speech here.

First, to the objectionable parts of that Facebook post from the old/new political party that has delu­sions of winning the next General elections.

Marginalised iTaukei?

One of their popular, young pro­visional candidates (formerly with ADB and alumni of Leadership Fiji) wrote what I read to be that the iTaukei were being marginal­ised in Fiji while the ‘visitors’ (or vulagi) to Fiji who are not leaving any time soon (referring to the Indo Fijian community or com­munities other than iTaukei) are flourishing.

So, the ‘visitors’ are flourishing while the iTaukei are marginal­ised.

The definition of hate speech includes ‘speech or writing that expresses prejudice against a par­ticular group, especially on the ba­sis of race, religion..’

Hate speech

As I pointed out in an FBC inter­view this week, that hate speech posted on Mr Rabuka’s party (PAP) Facebook page is exactly the kind of hate thinking and speech that justified the 1987 and 2000 coups which the leaders of the 2006 coup/elected leaders 2014 and 2018 have been winding back through the 2013 constitution and other legisla­tions and policies.

I also told FBC in an earlier in­terview that the NFP (subservient party to PAP) will not be making any courageous statements of principle on the matter as in my humble opinion, Mr Rabuka is their leader.

Whatever the NFP says or does has to be right with Mr Rabuka.

This is not imaginary guesswork on my part.

I know, I was there and knew what was coming when Mr Rabuka was about to execute his coup in June 2016 on the then leader of SODEL­PA who was elected at the 2014 Gen­eral Election.

In any case, the NFP have a MOU with PAP that also says that in the most unlikely scenario that the two parties form government, Mr Rabuka will be Prime Minister.

And soon after I told FBC that NFP will not be vexing their lead­er Mr Rabuka, lo and behold an NFP lawyer and stalwart helpfully writes an opinion in their newspa­per to say that we should all calm down about that hate speech from PAP (NFP leader) because there are other more important things to discuss.

NFP could not wait to get out of the stalls to start downplaying, jus­tifying and/or washing away the sins of the PAP hate speech.

And I could not disagree more with that attempt.

That hate speech from PAP is not made in isolation as referenced earlier about 1987 and 2000.

Further, the very same perpetra­tors and supporters of those two political upheavals that Fiji is still paying for and winding back today are the leaders and supporters of PAP and NFP today.

That PAP hate speech therefore has extra force and meaning.

And you have as deputy leader of PAP, a young leader who did not want a rare Diwali day falling on a Sunday to be celebrated on a Sun­day.

It is one thing if the hate speech, ignorance and tired old ideas are coming from the older (unreform­able) leaders, but another thing altogether when coming from their younger leaders which is yet an­other example of how much dam­age 1987 and 2000 did to our coun­try.

Damage that we all have to lend a hand to fix so that our children and grandchildren can have a much brighter future.

The fact is that Fiji’s greatest as­sets are its people.

And hate speech that relegates almost half of the population to ‘visitors’ or vulagi or second, third, fourth class citizens perpetuates thought and action which hacks off half of our national potential before we even get to doing any­thing as a nation.

Imagine a 400 metre Coke Games race and we are in a race with our neighbours and other countries around the world, for investors, technology and development- and before we even get to the race lineup, we have shot off one foot. That is what racial discrimination against almost half of the popula­tion does to Fiji.

But far more important than any economics is the humanity of the matter.

For people that pray a lot and at­tend a lot of church services, racial discrimination and hate speech are anathema.

Like chalk and cheese, rain and sunshine.

We should not be explaining this in the 21st Century.

Nazi Germany

The horrors of Nazi Germany from the 20th Century should still be in all of our minds.

Millions of Jews including chil­dren were sent to gas chambers to die because Hitler and Nazis were of the view that they were ‘inferi­or’ or not belonging like ‘visitors’ and vulagi as how they were propa­gated and meant to be conveyed in 1987 and 2000 to justify forced mi­gration, assaults including sexual assaults and evictions from native leases.

The many forced migration which Mr Rabuka recently labelled as positive things of his doing for the Fijians who left because they now flourish in liberal democracies.

Clearly, there is nothing more im­portant than discussing and work­ing to eradicate the thinking be­hind various PAP hate speech.

Ensure Fijians are equal

We need to ensure that all Fijians are equal so that it matches all of the prayers offered and churches attended in Fiji by all Fijians of all faiths and to have both national legs to run the economic race.

We cannot sit idly and lightly dis­miss PAP hate speech which has in the past put various races and com­munities in Fiji in various classes of citizenship in the 1990 and 1997 constitutions.

That is, the concerns and fears are not theoretical, we have lived it here in Fiji and I believe at least 99 per cent of Fiji refuses to go back­wards to those days that have cost Fiji the loss of many Fijians in the saddest (and evil) of circumstanc­es and also billions and billions of dollars which we are still paying for today.

Let me conclude by going back to those articles I wrote last year, where foreign prime ministers, deputy prime ministers, com­munity leaders and their highest courts have railed against hate speech, misinformation and the al­gorithms that promote them.

Hate speech harms citizens

Hate speech which also harms their citizens today as individuals and misinformation that has un­thinkably turned the two leading liberal democracies (USA and UK) upside down with president Trump in the USA (culminating in the at­tempted coup of January 6 2020 and current issues of stolen fed­eral documents for espionage) and Brexit in the UK (billions of lost dollars guaranteeing more auster­ity and hardship for their poor).

So much harm from mere words overseas and in Fiji and yet NFP wants us to dismiss it and discuss more important things. If NFP was a shining light of alternative policy, we may listen to what they consider more important.

But endless whining as they have without any effective policy state­ment or advocacy under the lead­ership of Mr Rabuka (through So­delpa and PAP) from mid 2016, we should not waste our time on their petty but dangerous words and in­stead work even harder towards ensuring that Fiji is a modern state of equal citizens- as a very basic of good governance.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 

Views expressed here are that of former Opposition MP and lawyer, Roko Tupou Draunidalo, and not of the Fiji Sun.

Last year, I wrote two opinion pieces.

They were based on the back of concerns raised in Parliament by the Assistant Minister for iTaukei Affairs and Attorney-General.

They referred to a High Court of Australia case Fairfax Media Pub­lications Pty Ltd v Voller; Nation­wide News Pty Limited v Voller; Australian News Channel Pty Ltd v Voller [2021] HCA 27 (8 Septem­ber 2021).

It was also on the back of similar statements from Australian lead­ers and international cases regard­ing the curtailment of hate speech online,

To show that hate speech is not free speech, the Fijian slang comes to mind e duidui (it’s difference).

Leaders of liberal democracies and their highest courts have al­ways curtailed hate speech through legislation and court judgments.

And in light of the racist and hate speech posted on the Facebook page of Sitiveni Rabuka’s latest political party (his fifth so far but that is fine, as we’ve not had a stable democra­cy thanks to him) – I am pleased to rehash some of those sentiments against hate speech here.

First, to the objectionable parts of that Facebook post from the old/new political party that has delu­sions of winning the next General elections.

Marginalised iTaukei?

One of their popular, young pro­visional candidates (formerly with ADB and alumni of Leadership Fiji) wrote what I read to be that the iTaukei were being marginal­ised in Fiji while the ‘visitors’ (or vulagi) to Fiji who are not leaving any time soon (referring to the Indo Fijian community or com­munities other than iTaukei) are flourishing.

So, the ‘visitors’ are flourishing while the iTaukei are marginal­ised.

The definition of hate speech includes ‘speech or writing that expresses prejudice against a par­ticular group, especially on the ba­sis of race, religion..’

Hate speech

As I pointed out in an FBC inter­view this week, that hate speech posted on Mr Rabuka’s party (PAP) Facebook page is exactly the kind of hate thinking and speech that justified the 1987 and 2000 coups which the leaders of the 2006 coup/elected leaders 2014 and 2018 have been winding back through the 2013 constitution and other legisla­tions and policies.

I also told FBC in an earlier in­terview that the NFP (subservient party to PAP) will not be making any courageous statements of principle on the matter as in my humble opinion, Mr Rabuka is their leader.

Whatever the NFP says or does has to be right with Mr Rabuka.

This is not imaginary guesswork on my part.

I know, I was there and knew what was coming when Mr Rabuka was about to execute his coup in June 2016 on the then leader of SODEL­PA who was elected at the 2014 Gen­eral Election.

In any case, the NFP have a MOU with PAP that also says that in the most unlikely scenario that the two parties form government, Mr Rabuka will be Prime Minister.

And soon after I told FBC that NFP will not be vexing their lead­er Mr Rabuka, lo and behold an NFP lawyer and stalwart helpfully writes an opinion in their newspa­per to say that we should all calm down about that hate speech from PAP (NFP leader) because there are other more important things to discuss.

NFP could not wait to get out of the stalls to start downplaying, jus­tifying and/or washing away the sins of the PAP hate speech.

And I could not disagree more with that attempt.

That hate speech from PAP is not made in isolation as referenced earlier about 1987 and 2000.

Further, the very same perpetra­tors and supporters of those two political upheavals that Fiji is still paying for and winding back today are the leaders and supporters of PAP and NFP today.

That PAP hate speech therefore has extra force and meaning.

And you have as deputy leader of PAP, a young leader who did not want a rare Diwali day falling on a Sunday to be celebrated on a Sun­day.

It is one thing if the hate speech, ignorance and tired old ideas are coming from the older (unreform­able) leaders, but another thing altogether when coming from their younger leaders which is yet an­other example of how much dam­age 1987 and 2000 did to our coun­try.

Damage that we all have to lend a hand to fix so that our children and grandchildren can have a much brighter future.

The fact is that Fiji’s greatest as­sets are its people.

And hate speech that relegates almost half of the population to ‘visitors’ or vulagi or second, third, fourth class citizens perpetuates thought and action which hacks off half of our national potential before we even get to doing any­thing as a nation.

Imagine a 400 metre Coke Games race and we are in a race with our neighbours and other countries around the world, for investors, technology and development- and before we even get to the race lineup, we have shot off one foot. That is what racial discrimination against almost half of the popula­tion does to Fiji.

But far more important than any economics is the humanity of the matter.

For people that pray a lot and at­tend a lot of church services, racial discrimination and hate speech are anathema.

Like chalk and cheese, rain and sunshine.

We should not be explaining this in the 21st Century.

Nazi Germany

The horrors of Nazi Germany from the 20th Century should still be in all of our minds.

Millions of Jews including chil­dren were sent to gas chambers to die because Hitler and Nazis were of the view that they were ‘inferi­or’ or not belonging like ‘visitors’ and vulagi as how they were propa­gated and meant to be conveyed in 1987 and 2000 to justify forced mi­gration, assaults including sexual assaults and evictions from native leases.

The many forced migration which Mr Rabuka recently labelled as positive things of his doing for the Fijians who left because they now flourish in liberal democracies.

Clearly, there is nothing more im­portant than discussing and work­ing to eradicate the thinking be­hind various PAP hate speech.

Ensure Fijians are equal

We need to ensure that all Fijians are equal so that it matches all of the prayers offered and churches attended in Fiji by all Fijians of all faiths and to have both national legs to run the economic race.

We cannot sit idly and lightly dis­miss PAP hate speech which has in the past put various races and com­munities in Fiji in various classes of citizenship in the 1990 and 1997 constitutions.

That is, the concerns and fears are not theoretical, we have lived it here in Fiji and I believe at least 99 per cent of Fiji refuses to go back­wards to those days that have cost Fiji the loss of many Fijians in the saddest (and evil) of circumstanc­es and also billions and billions of dollars which we are still paying for today.

Let me conclude by going back to those articles I wrote last year, where foreign prime ministers, deputy prime ministers, com­munity leaders and their highest courts have railed against hate speech, misinformation and the al­gorithms that promote them.

Hate speech harms citizens

Hate speech which also harms their citizens today as individuals and misinformation that has un­thinkably turned the two leading liberal democracies (USA and UK) upside down with president Trump in the USA (culminating in the at­tempted coup of January 6 2020 and current issues of stolen fed­eral documents for espionage) and Brexit in the UK (billions of lost dollars guaranteeing more auster­ity and hardship for their poor).

So much harm from mere words overseas and in Fiji and yet NFP wants us to dismiss it and discuss more important things. If NFP was a shining light of alternative policy, we may listen to what they consider more important.

But endless whining as they have without any effective policy state­ment or advocacy under the lead­ership of Mr Rabuka (through So­delpa and PAP) from mid 2016, we should not waste our time on their petty but dangerous words and in­stead work even harder towards ensuring that Fiji is a modern state of equal citizens- as a very basic of good governance.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj



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