Fijian PM is Frank in his message to Morrison

By Karam C Ramrakha

Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, in his first official visit to Australia, signed Vuvalu (family) Partnership agreement in Canberra on September 16, covering economic, security and enhancement of people to people links between Fiji and Australia.

The Fijian PM’s visit comes on the heel of last month’s meeting of Pacific Island leaders in Tuvalu where there was widespread discontent with Australian PM Scott Morrison’s indifference to urgently tackle climate change by commitment to rapid emissions reduction and putting a stop to new coal mines.

The world wakes up today to the fires in Brazil and to the plight of ”˜primitive’ peoples whose habitats and future is now under dire threats. We are interfering with Mother Nature, not marching in step with her. What Mother Nature has taken ages or aeons to build we seek to improve in one fell swoop.

The shortsighted immediate goal is exploitation, profits, unearned income (where possible) and damn the consequences.

Yes, as a Pacific Islander who was born as such and who will die as such despite all other trappings and pleasures, I say that  the Imperial Powers undervalue and underestimate the Pacific Way of life.

The Island leaders  have not forgotten a jibe between Tony Abbott and Mr Dutton picked up on the microphone in the past that their countries provide “fruit-pickers” to Australia.

Mr Bainimarama was frank in his comment on the high-sounding ”˜Vuvalu’ Partnership, which, he said, was taken more seriously in Fijian culture as the bonds that bind families are considered sacred and unbreakable connections. “The relationship with Australia had not reached that level yet,” he said.

The elephant in the room is China which now dominates commerce as Chinese money and means are pouring into Fiji. Frank will now try and play Australia against China. Thanks to some help from Sam Dastayani (and possibly Gladys Liu) China is also busy penetrating Australia and attempting to influence public opinion to accept its territorial ambitions.

In Fiji, the shops are no longer Indian, Gujarati or European but slowly Chinese are taking over. Not that I commend such a takeover but with the Chinese who come without women of their own the locals are easy takings and easy pickings.

As for Frank, he is slowly losing i-taukie (indigenous) support despite all he has done for them.. roads, infrastructure schools, free education.

In the last elections, Sitiveni Rabuka came back to claim the lion share of i-taukei votes. The Brits or likeminded rulers have always pitted the i-taukei against what they deemed to be the wily Indian. Frank, to his credit, has not played that card. But the division is  there.

The only sop that Scott Morrison can offer Fiji is relaxed migration to Australia if not open migration. People in Fiji enjoy a relaxed and charmed way of life and many would use dual citizenships to good effect. Besides, Fijians make excellent migrants, hard working, intelligent and above all well-versed in Australian values.

Frank quintessentially remains a coup leader despite his successes at the polls, despite his giving people of Fiji a common name, despite his removal of all discriminatory laws and one man, one vote, one value Constitution.

Frank, of course, is so beholden to China today that  he will not take any step that might put him out of step with that country. China brooks no compromises and it is My Way or the Highway with Beijing.

On the other hand, United States, despite lip service, does little to help develop Fiji’s resources or infrastructure. This is one area where Mr Morrison can help Fiji: develop its tourism resources and become partners as the country’s deep water resources are among the world’s best.

A message or advice from ScoMo that God helps those who help themselves is not likely to bemuse Frank as with Timor Leste and Australia’s attempt to take advantage of this little territory will linger in Frank’s mind.

Karam C Ramrakha, Putney Chambers, 36 Pellisier Road, Putney NSW 2112, Australia. Email:

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