14 Years Today After 1st Military Coup
Issue No: 758 14 May 2001
Today May 14th marks the 14th year since the first military coup in the country.
The coup, led by third ranking and little known army colonel, Sitiveni Rabuka, deposed the democratically elected government of Dr. Timoci Bavadra. Dr. Bavadra led the Fiji Labour Party.
The coup ushered Fiji into a new era of hate, intolerance, stagnation, racism, instability, and poverty. The country and its people suffered immensely for most of the 14 years. But it elevated the profiles of coup conspirators like Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Jim Ah Koy, Apisai Tora, Viliame Gonelevu, Taniela Veitata, Meli Vesikula, and a handful of others. While some of the conspirators passed away or left, the first 3 named here remained to plot other coups. These politicians usurped power and watched the nation slip by day by day. Corruption, nepotism, and lawlessness became the order of the day. These provided fodder for some businesses to grow and acquire mega-status in Fiji.
Poverty escalated to over one-third in the country. Unemployment reached its highest level. Destitution and other social problems escalated.
Twelve years since the coup, the people saw hope in the Fiji Labour Party again and voted it into power overwhelmingly. The new government began addressing each of these problems with determination and vigour.
But the defeated forces featuring the same elements who threw Fiji into the status of a banana republic on 14 May 1987, with the financial assistance of corrupt businessmen and defeated politicians from Bavarda's then partner the National Federation Party, struck again last year. Again they destroyed a government led by the Fiji Labour Party and western Fijians.
They have succeeded in transforming Fiji into the most unstable nation in the Pacific, riddled with violence, racism, lawlessness, crime, corruption, nepotism, greed, poverty, and social problems of an immense scale. A true banana republic.
Qarase gives another $4,000 Issue No: 756 13 May 2001
Regime Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has dished out another $4,000 as a gift.
This time the gift was to the Suva committee of the Rotuman community. The gift was reportedly from his personal funds.
Giving the gift, Qarase urged the Rotuman community to protest their heritage.
Muttu Swamy no more Issue No: 757 13 May 2001
Veteran Labour politician and Member of Parliament, Muttu Swamy passed away this morning in Ba.
Swamy reportedly fell ill after the Fiji Labour Party National Council Meeting yesterday afternoon. He was taken to the Ba Mission Hospital and admitted. He died at 3am this morning.
Swamy, a founding member of the FLP, represented Labasa Indian Communal Constituency in the Parliament. He entered the Parliament for the first time in 1995 when he won a by-election in Labasa. Swamy was an avid debater in the Parliament. He was also the Treasurer of the National Farmers Union, and campaigned hard for the Sugar Cane Growers election held last Saturday. He was 65.
Swamy was held hostage with the other government members for 56 days when the terrorists took over the Parliament Complex. Hostages say that Swamy was a tower of strength for the other hostages. Apart from three other hostages, Swamy was abused the most by the terrorists. Despite his age, Swamy remained firm and "continued to provide courage to the other hostages".
Rabuka proposed to be PM or Army Commander Issue No: 755 13 May 2001
Former Prime Minister and military commander, Sitiveni Rabuka wanted to become the Prime Minister, or failing that, the Commander of the military after the terrorists took the government hostage.
Writing his weekly column today, veteran journalist and Daily Post Acting Editor Mesake Koroi states that when the government was held hostage, "Rabuka approached Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and threw the bait that he should appoint him as Prime Minister. But Ratu Sir Kamisese did not bite. That's when Rabuka threw his second ace asking to be appointed the Army Commander in the absence of Commodore Frank Bainimarama who was away overseas."
Koroi says that the now deposed President "almost gave in but finally decided against it".
Koroi also says that Rabuka finally "got his pound of flesh" when he got the military to ask Mara to "stand aside".
Rabuka is alleged to also be behind the 2 November failed mutiny and attempted coup. It is believed that Rabuka was ready to take over as Commander if the mutineers had succeeded in killing the Commander that afternoon.