Sunday, March 15, 2009

Discuss role of military: Brij Lal 3/15/2009

Unless the role of the military is publicly discussed, there can be no assurance of democratic rule in Fiji, says Constitution expert Brij Lal. TOTALLY, TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU, SIR.

Professor Lal was concerned the agenda for the President's Political Dialogue Forum, agreed to by political leaders, excluded discussion on the role of the military. WHY WERE THE OTHER POLITICAL LEADERS SO SCARED TO VOICE THE PEOPLE'S CONCERN?

"This is a glaring omission because unless the role of the military is publicly discussed, there can be no assurance of democratic rule in Fiji. I know it is a sensitive subject, but ignoring it will not address the fundamental problems in Fiji," said Professor Lal.

On Friday political leaders met for the second time to discuss and agree on an agenda for the proposed PPDF.

Reforms, election and the People's Charter are on the main agenda of the Forum.

The meeting agreed the agenda of the PPDF would be the democratic experience in Fiji and parliamentary reform, electoral reform and General Election and the Peoples Charter.

Prof Lal warned a set agenda would not be welcomed by the United Nations and Commonwealth, who had been requested to facilitate the PPDF.

"The Commonwealth and the United Nations will not sully their reputations by getting involved in a sullied process. The Commonwealth communiqué is clear: it wants the dialogue process to be open, transparent and unprejudiced about the final outcome. They will not come in to endorse a pre-arranged agenda," he said.

While political leaders agreed the UN/Commonwealth assistance was appreciated they felt Fiji must be left to decide its future on its own accord.

"That is true, but the involvement of the international community is absolutely vital when the atmosphere for full and free discussion in Fiji is compromised with threats and arbitrary searches of the news media. Any coerced solution will simply not work, and international standards will have to be observed," Prof Lal warned.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Democracy and the military

Our world history demonstrates that most coups that happens in coup-stricken countries are usually staged by that country's military. It is obviously the case for our beloved Fiji.

The main difference would be in these coups is - who really has the mandate of the majority of the population to support their military in overthrowing their democratic government and for which reasons.

Take for example Turkey, it is widely known that the military in Turkey holds itself "as a bulwark against political Islam and what it would regard as surrender to terrorism." This means the military maintains that they are here to protect the ideals and values of secularism, which espouses democracy and make sure that any elected government does not stray from the foundations set by Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, making Turkey the only Muslim country that has democracy, freedom of speech and an international lifestyle. One BBC news reported controversial artist Bedri Baykam adding, "That is not a coincidence. It's because of Ataturk's ideas and the Turkish army's care and attention."

But after four military coups even army supporters like Baykam says, "
"We do not want any military coup d'etat, because that would take us 20 or 30 years backwards. But we also don't want an Islamic coup, because that would take us 1,000 back. Between 30 and 1,000, I would prefer 30."

You see there are really clear cut choices that citizens make when it comes to their government. Because issues are different in different countries, to have coups or not should be dependent on the fact if we are really suffering a total economic or political meltdown and if our democracy, freedom and liberty is on the verge of non-existent.

But when military leaders use their gun-might to stage coups citing lame reasons like alleged corruption, which later is turned to all sorts of excuses, lies and personal agendas, then for me it is becoming like an "Islamic coup", which takes us back 1 000 years.

Therefore, for our current military to rest their laurels on the achievements of highly-regarded past comrades, is a "slap in the face" for those who really tirelessly and with determination and commitment brought upon that image for the preservation of our democracy and freedom.