INDEPENDENT NEWS

On The Right: George Speight's Demise Cheers

Published: Tue 1 Aug 2000 07:23 PM
A couple of weeks ago, that Helen Clark threatened to resign if her boy Parekura Horomia wasn't promoted to Cabinet. Unfortunately Labour didn't take the opportunity presented, and Horomia was duly elected.
My disappointment at this however was tempered by the recent news that the South Pacific has managed to get rid of another know-all so called 'leader'.
Yep, the Fijian army has finally grown a pair and arrested George Speight. The self-righteous prat is finally behind bars.
To say I'm surprised would be an understatement of massive proportions.
Since the coup began, the army has shown little interest in bringing Speight and friends to justice. They have instead been treating him as if he had a right to be heard. And he would, had he not taken over Parliament, seized power from a democratically elected Government, trashed the country's TV station, caused a ton of violence which resulted in the death of a policeman, and called on other indigenous races to rise up and wreck havoc on the Olympics. And that's only the tip of the iceberg.
Even though Speight has now been arrested, it might be wise to take this with a pinch of salt. He is being detained due to his breaching of the Muanikau Accord. Speight is in trouble for carrying weapons on his person, not for anything else. He will likely get off early and go back to his trouble-making ways.
What the President and army should have done from the start was to treat him in the same vein as the world treats any hijacker, suicide bomber etc. You do not give in to their demands. And you certainly do not allow the media to have access to them. Speight's ugly mug was on TV every night, telling the world just how noble his cause was. We got to see just how ‘intelligent’ this businessman was, especially when he thought our PM's name was Jenny Craig (okay, I had to laugh at that).
The question has to be asked, how the heck was Speight allowed to be treated with this much respect? The more attention that was paid to him, the more powerful he became. While the army sat around and twiddled their thumbs, his supporters increased in numbers and got increasingly violent. Even after the Muanikau Accord was signed, the rebels seized several locations and took hostages. The blame for all this can be laid at the feet of not only Speight, but also the ratings-hungry media and the spineless Fijian army.
In addition, army chief Lt. Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini only acted after an indigenous Fijian school was taken over, raising question marks in this columnist's mind about his real motives. His words: "If this is all done in the name of indigenous Fijian aspirations, then it is a shame on us Fijians if we let this carry on."
Others that have displayed pro-Speight tendencies are New Zealanders like Tame Iti and Ross Nepia Himona. Iti, known as the only Maori radical to have a completely Maori name, went over and offered his personal support to the terrorists. With Speight's knowledge of foreign affairs, he probably thought Iti was the King of Tonga.
Himona's editorials at maorinews.com have been full of anti-European rhetoric and little else. He suggests everyone ignore what's happening in Fiji. Just like we did in East Timor. Enough said.
Meanwhile, for weeks Phil Goff and Jenny Craig (sorry, couldn't resist) have been on the news every night giving us their thoughts on the Fijian situation. Quite frankly, it was all a waste of hot air. What is needed is action, not words. The Government has to treat these terrorists with the disdain they deserve, and are yet to receive. At the same time, any sanctions they impose must not hurt the ordinary people - they have already been the victims of too much.
On the whole, the last couple of months in Fiji have been characterised by politics of the worst kind, that of opportunism and populism. Now that things have settled down for the time being, the real issue might be dealt with: a democratically elected Government has been deposed and not reinstated, and the country’s Constitution has been ripped up. Call me a pessimist, but it is unlikely in my view that Fiji’s problems will be solved anytime soon. After all, it took ten years for Fiji to have democracy restored last time; how long will it take this time?
ENDS

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