Friday, June 18, 2021





Guest Writer - Rajendra Prasad



We Ba people are sad to lose another icon of Ba, Dick Singh, coming after recent loss of Daniel Elisha. The second generation Girmitiya and Rotary Boys of Ba are moving towards twilight of life, but they leave big achievements and memories, so they never really die. Same is true for Dijendra Singh, fondly know to all as Dick Singh.

The photos here  are by courtesy of FIJI PUNDIT, Thakur Ranjit Singh who last visited Dick Singh at his Clipcott, Yalalevu, Ba, Fiji home on 21 July 2019 after DAV College, Ba Fiji Reunion in Ba.

Thakur was accompanied by Sada Sivan Naicker, another former DAV Student, and National President of TISI Sangam in Fiji.

Salute to DIJENDRA (DICK) SINGH, father of Ba Sports Stadium and initiator of IDC in Fiji 


The author / writer of this tribute, Rajendra Prasad is also a former DAV College, Ba  student. Dick, apart from all his civic and community work, was also a stalwart of Arya Samaj in Ba, which initiated and ran Arya Samaj Schools in Fiji, including DAV. He can rightfully be recognized as Father of Ba Sports Stadium -Govind Park, and initiator of IDC in Fiji over five decades ago.


Courtesy visit by two former DAV Students. Thakur Ranjit Singh (right) and Sada Sivan Naicker, National President of TISI Sangam, and former DAV Student visited Dick Singh (left) in July, 2019 after DAV Reunion in Ba. 

I, with former Ba residents,  Fiji Indian Diaspora and former students of Arya Samaj Schools salute him.


Shat Shat Naman, Om Satgati, Bare Thakurji…you are gone….but not forgotten by Ba where you left your mark…………


Author Rajendra Prasad, former Ba Town Clerk pays a hearty tribute to one of his former mayors of Ba, Dijendra Singh.


It is difficult to find words to pay my heartfelt tribute to my friend Dijendra (Dick) Singh who passed away on Thursday 17 June 2021. Two weeks ago, he lost his beloved wife Prem and he himself had not been well for some time.


My association with this great man went back several decades and I feel privileged that I had the benefit of his wisdom, knowledge, and guidance to raise the profile of Ba as a premier sporting district. Dick was a man of vision and enterprise who delighted in taking big challenges and Govind Park stadium, constructed in 1976, was his crowning glory.

Over twenty-year old family photo of Dijendra Singh with his wife Prem Shila Singh, only son, Divesh Singh (back centre), a Computer Engineer, living in Boston, USA with his wife Rima Singh (back right) and only daughter, Devina Singh (back left), living in Sydney.

He was the Mayor of Ba and when he conceptualized the mammoth stadium project, others demurred but a few, like me, caught inextricably in the swirl, stood by him. Doubters, detractors, and saboteurs comprised the majority but with Dick in command, few had the courage to confront or dissuade him.

Portrait of Dick Singh's late father, DEO NANDAN SINGH, at his residence in Ba 

He was physically domineering, mentally agile and a strategic thinker beyond the ordinary. In 1976, he negotiated and bought exclusive rights for the Council to organize the 1976 IDC tournament for $29,500. It was a resounding success, beyond and above anyone’s imagination. The gross income exceeded $160,000, which covered a substantial part of the loan raised to construct the stadium. What more, the Fiji Football Association then realized the potential for earning income and adopted Dick’s strategies to organize future IDC tournaments.


I served Ba as Town Clerk under several mayors, but Dick was different. His restive spirit meant operating at a heightened pace and I liked the challenge. He was not driven by public opinion but by public need, which meant his public perceptions differed from time to time.


Half - a - century old iconic photo of movers and shakers of Ba. Three former Mayors (L-R) Kishore Govind, Dick Singh and Ba Businessman Vinod Patel in conversation with Z.K Dean, Ba Magistrate, while Ba Town Clerk, Rajendra Prasad gives an attentive ear. Govind Park at Ba Sports Stadium was named after  Kishore Govind. [One wonders whether it should have been rightly named Singh Park to reflect the contributions of Singhs to Ba and Soccer. ]

Whenever I returned to Ba, since immigrating to New Zealand in 1987, visiting him and his wife was always high on the agenda. In the last few years, Dick’s body was failing but his restive mind defied the crumbling body, as he spouted on the unfinished projects!


Rest in peace great soul!


[About the Author: Rajendra Prasad is former Town Clerk of Ba, a founding Trustee of Fiji Girmit Foundation NZ and is author of two blockbuster books about Fiji’s untold history, told from the heart of the author: TEARS IN PARADISE and ENSLAVED IN PARADISE]



Saturday, June 5, 2021




                 Thakur Ranjit Singh


The zenith of Fiji Indians’ organisational leadership in general and their advocacy for identity in particular was reached in an overflowing Malaeola Community Centre on 7 May 2021, with over 1,600 people. This Mangere, South Auckland venue was the celebration of 142nd Anniversary of FIJI GIRMIT REMEMBRANCE DAY. And that is the number of years Fiji Indians have been part of the Pacific – and some six generations on.


FIJI GIRMIT FOUNDATION NZ Trustees (L-R) Sardar Harnam Singh Golian, Sam Achary and Krishal Naidu with the Girmit Remembrance Day cake

After normal salutations and acknowledgements, that is exactly what Krish Naidu, a youthful President of the organisers, FIJI GIRMIT FOUNDATION NZ, advocated.


He very judiciously and expediently chose the right place and time. This was on the stage overflowing with Community leaders, diplomats, Government Ministers, Academics, and a potential National PM, among other politicians in the  welcome Presidential speech. His advocacy was emphatic - and he sounded like a confident sure leader . And this could be summed as the punchlines of the evening:


We are Pacific people. We are not asking for a favour - we just wish to be recognised for what we are.

Fiji Indians needs to be acknowledged as part of an inclusive Pacific community where diversity within the Pacific community is embraced and celebrated. An official recognition is needed from the government beyond the role of Stats NZ.

In his emphatic and forceful welcome presentation with a very attentive audience, Krish Naidu reminded  that the Ministry for Pacific Peoples role is to improve outcomes for ALL Pacific Peoples by bringing ALL Pacific voices, perspectives and understanding into policy. He questioned why Fiji Indian voice was silenced and ignored. 

He emphasised that to be effective, this Ministry must also hear voices of ALL Pacific peoples. He championed the view that Fiji Indians should not be treated as a ceremonial piece. They needed to be part of official policy framework of Pacific people always, and not merely when it suits them. He continued:

The taxpayer funded - ministry of Pacific People is for ALL Pacific People. It is not a ministry for Indigenous Pacific People alone. This bias -  this institutional  and structural discrimination - must stop. And for that, we need real political leadership.

And at that instance, the stage full of dignitaries and politicians erupted in spontaneous applause at mention of “need for real political leadership.” And leading them was the potential National Party Prime Minister, Christopher Luxon.

The stage with some of the dignitaries present on the day: Diplomats, Community Leaders  and Politicians listening attentively to the Presidential speech

Perhaps in body language, the current, potential, and past National opposition politicians on the stage were taunting the Labour Party politicians. This is because Labour Party, from the days of David Lange, were always seen to be close and sympathetic to Fiji  in general and Fiji Indians in particular. 

And appeals from Fiji Girmit Foundation implied that there appeared to be hints of dereliction of duties from some sections of the Labour Government, the Ministry of Pacific Peoples and some sections of the bureaucracy who were collectively or individually not listening or paying attention to their calls and concerns.

Krish Naidu also reminded that  Fiji Indians also featured negatively with issues like diabetes, heart disease, mental health, with certain diseases linked to Fiji and their Pacific lifestyle back in Fiji. He repeated that real gains for the overall New Zealand health system could only be made if diversity of all Pacific people were captured, as this was not currently done by the concerned Ministry.

Human Rights Commissioner, MENG FOON agrees with the advocacy of Fiji Girmit Foundation NZ for Fiji Indians in NZ to be accepted and recognised as Pacifica People, and be entitled to resources allocated to them as Pacifica People.

Human Rights Commissioner, Meng Foon, who was a keynote speaker at the function, concurred with stance of Fiji Indian advocacy. He was hopeful some solution to the issue could be found soon as far as human rights was concerned:

The commission is here to support anyone in New Zealand who feel they have been aggrieved or discriminated against. We also support the fair treatment of all, and this includes in the collection of data which could impact the fair distribution of resources.

He said  Fiji Indian community in New Zealand have recently expressed its concerns - and this was a valid one. The Foundation hopes to find a solution within the framework of human rights and would be approaching them for assistance if no other solutions are found. 

Apart from this crucial issue for Fiji Indians, the evening was a fitting tribute to memory of legacies and heritage of Fiji Indians. A miracle was that it was a free event that was fully funded by the community, with no external support, overflowing with snacks, refreshments, kava and of course very sumptuous dinner and desserts..  This was through enlightened generosity from businesses and individuals in their community which collaborated to salute  Girmitiyas and consequently provided thousands of dollars’ worth of services in kind.


Medal presentation for recognising Fiji Indians over 80 years old for carrying the banner and legacies of Girmit. Fiji Girmit Foundation NZ Trustee, Sam Achary, presenting the recognition medal to one of the ladies. Another lady, Martha Vir, aged 101 was the oldest person to receive Girmit medal. She is originally from Suva and her maternal grandfather was a Girmitiya in Veisaru, Ba,

The theme of the evening was aimed at remembrance and recognition of Girmitiya descendants. Consequently, some 50 Fiji Indians aged over 80 were honoured with  commemorative medals as an appreciation for carrying the flame of the rich Girmit legacy. In addition, the foundation  expanded its vision to celebrate and recognize people and  institutions for their noteworthy contributions, achievements, and services to the community. The category of awards and recipients for the Girmit Legacy Awards included:


Dr. Farzana Goundar, (left) receiving Fiji Girmit Legacy Award in literature and research about Girmit history. Mandvi Singh, a Lawyer and an inspiring entrepreneur presenting Dr. Goundar  the Girmit Literature Award.

Excellence in Community Services and Leadership (Supreme Award) - Sam Achary (Read a separate FIJI PUNDIT article)

Excellence in Grassroots Volunteer Award -  Dinesh Chand (Read a separate FIJI PUNDIT article)

Contribution to Girmit Literature – Dr. Farzana Gounder

Contribution to Arts and Culture - Pooja Cultural Trust

Special Appreciation Award – Kashmir Kaur

Kashmir Kaur (right) was recognised  for leading Girmit partnership with her team in Wellington in their project ‘Fiji Girmit Exhibition - 100 years of reflections’. This successful event engaged youths and spread awareness of Girmit and raised the issue of our identity. Anji-Naidu Khan, (left), Treasurer of the Foundation presenting Kashmir Kaur special Girmit Recognition Award.  

The Foundation wished to promote the importance of 14 May for Fiji Indian Community because it marks the day first Indians arrived in Fiji, which importantly marks the birth of Fiji Indian identity. And Girmit marked their foundational history and they do not wish the new generation to be denied the opportunity to know about their history - and their rich legacy.

Indian High Commissioner of India in NZ, His Excellency Muktesh Pardeshi (Right) presenting Special Girmit Legacy Award for Contribution to Arts and Culture to POOJA CULTURAL TRUST. Receiving on behalf of Trust is Swatna Lal.

Before 2012, Fiji Indians had been living in larger numbers in Auckland for over 30 years, but no such event or organisation were commenced until some visionary unsung heroes initiated this 9 years ago, and now that seed has grown into a fruit-bearing tree. Fiji Girmit Foundation NZ, apart from marking the remembrance has grown into an advocacy body for Fiji Indians and have plans of expansion into  other cities and towns of New Zealand. Christchurch already has a chapter while Palmerston North, Wellington, Dunedin and even Queenstown are expected to have theirs within this year with support of the Foundation in Auckland.


Fiji Indians now stand united and are enlightened about their stolen history and feel proud of their history, rich legacies, and heritage. And this, among others is the reason why they do so well as migrants and rarely, if ever make it into negative statistics.


The overflowing response and audience at Malaeola Community Hall during Fiji Girmit Remembrance Day on 7 May 2021 in Mangere, Auckland, New Zealand.

Over the years, FIJI GIRMIT FOUNDATION NZ has grown from strength to strength, and culminated in the crowning glory in this memorable event on 7 May 2021 in Auckland. The crowning glory of the Foundation was realized by the vision of current trustees, very unlike in many other organizations when the baton was passed to the new generation led by the current youthful Trustee, Krish Naidu to manage and organise future Girmit events - and they rocked.


We salute the Trustees, the Executives, and the organising committee of nine-year-old FIJI GIRMIT FOUNDATION NZ for bringing such a huge, memorable, and noteworthy Remembrance Day in New Zealand.


Our only hope remains for a similar event to be emulated by almost forty-year-old Fiji Girmit Council on the soils where Girmit began - Fiji. And hoping following in the footsteps of elder Trustees of Foundation in NZ, the ageing Trustees of Fiji Girmit Council can pass the baton to the new generation to see Girmit Legacy continued on Fijian soils.


[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a founding Trustee of Fiji Girmit Foundation, a journalist, a media commentator and blogger at FIJI PUNDIT. He has a passion for his forebears and Girmit Legacy and has written many articles on them. This is not a press release of the Foundation but an independent journalistic observation. E-mail:]




Tuesday, June 1, 2021




Thakur Ranjit Singh

[A hui/workshop called in collaboration by the Office of Seniors and The Asian network Inc (TANI) overwhelmingly called for ethnic voices to be heard in policies and strategies affecting them. The ethnic elders/kaumatuas lamented remote control implementation by those lacking understanding, empathy, social appropriateness, and cultural sensitivities  from mainstream bureaucrats sitting in Wellington.

This hui in Auckland provided a grand opportunity to hear from the “horses ‘mouths”, metaphorically speaking. It is hoped the collated outcomes would be effectively utilised, rather than being just another talk shop , that some  seniors felt such workshops have degenerated into.

We are thankful to Wellington for their support and appreciative to the Office of Seniors, Joint Venture and TANI. Please read on for a media perspective…..]


The people behind the workshop. (L-R) VISHAL RISHI, Director, The Asian Network Incorporated (TANI), DIANE TURNER, Director, Office for Seniors and SARAH from Joint Venture.

As Kaumatua Uncle Harding commenced his opening Karakia and blessings, one could feel the cold wintery air seeping through a few partly - open windows into the Beeson and Henderson Rooms of Onehunga Community Centre in Auckland.


This was heralding Aucklanders some cold news on the first day of official winter on 1 June 2021. Uncle Harding, who was born in a small, picturesque settlement in Hokianga, Northland, however  set a warm tone for the day with a very inspiring and energetic talk.


Karakia and Blessings being presented by Kaumatua UNCLE HARDING

This was the venue for a collaboration hui (workshop) organised by The Asian Network Inc. (TANI) with the Office for Seniors  and Joint Venture  where a phenomenally successful and fruitful strategy consultation took place.

This gathering included over fifty community leaders and elders of various depths and lengths which reflected diversity of Aotearoa. And the workshop was equally blessed with the presence of Director of Office for Seniors, Diane Turner and Sarah from Joint Venture, both of whom flew in from Wellington for this important consultative event. TANI’s Director, Vishal Rishi was thankful for their presence, and thanked all for taking time out on the first cold day of winter to attend this important forum.


The Multiracial Kaumatuas/Elders

The hui was intended to hear the voices of key ethnic and migrant communities and learn from their  wisdom to contribute to the National Strategy and Action Plans. These strategies are meant to support Kaumatua/older people to enjoy their life without any family harm in Aotearoa. And the gathering went a long away in assuring that. The hui took  the form of a facilitated interactive workshop and  focused on what needed to  happen to eliminate family violence and elder abuse in our communities, especially ethnic and diverse ones.

Presentation being made to the Multiracial Kaumatuas/Elders

Representatives from Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Korean, Bangladeshi and Fiji were represented along with a number of service providers.

The  hui provided an opportunity to the ethnic community leaders to have their say in the Vision, it's principles and key seven action areas of the strategy. The message there was that there appeared to be a lack of ethnic and diverse views in implementing things for those who needed to have an input in methodologies in the first place. Hence we were honoured to address that shortcoming. 

VISHAL RISHI, TANI Director (left) with SARGEANT GURPREET ARORA, Family Harm Partnership Liaison Officer, NZ Police.

 Vishal Rishi , Director of The Asian Network Inc. (TANI) said:

We will hold more of similar huis or workshops in the future as ethnic communities’ voices are still missing from a number of national initiatives and there are not enough resources allocated to ethnic communities according to the population size. TANI has been actively advocating for putting more resources in prevention spectrum of health rather than an abundance at bottom of the cliff.

This view was also echoed by participants who called for more workshops , seminar, and education campaign for prevention of issues at source. The voices called to attack the symptoms from voices of those who were affected rather than receiving cures from “outsiders”. Among other things it was also suggested to work with Te Whare Tapa Wha Model and recognise and incorporate the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.


Presentation being made to the Multiracial Kaumatuas/Elders by Vishal Rishi

While the workshop notes are being collated by the workshop team, I hazard to present some advance points which I noted as a journalist. These are not exhaustive and are not necessarily official position of the workshop but are mere journalistic observations to raise awareness, our concerns and interest in such initiatives.


Presentation being made to the audience by DIANE TURNER from Office for Seniors

It was observed that in trying to increase the focus on prevention, among others, it was needed to create awareness through culturally appropriate methodology and language , with community led approach, supported by ethnic and social media.

VISHAL RISHI with representatives from Kashmiri Association and Pakistan Association of New Zealand. 

It was heard that government responses could be improved through coordination and cooperation within various community organisations working as a team rather than as competitors. It was also recommended, among others, that workforce needed to be strengthened to respond to family harm through recruitment, training, and promotion of diverse multi-cultural staff. At the same time, the mainstream social workers needed to be educated and coached in cultural and religious appropriateness and sensitivities to provide  efficient, but more importantly, effective services. And such changes , as past experience has shown, could be brought by lobbying through community organisations.


Hui in progress under watchful eye of DIANE TURNER

The manifest or main reasons for this hui is to develop out vision framework and strategic action plans which are being collated. However, the latent and perhaps the greater side-line or hidden functions of such workshops is to bring remarkably diverse and often isolated community leaders in a room where they make personal contacts to work in collaboration with their various respective organisations.

Same thing happened with my Waitakere Indian Association Seniors and Fiji Girmit Foundation NZ hats which I wore, to organise some community-based workshops with contacts that were made. Similar developments also eventuated with others.


Two ladies who flew in from Wellington to a road-clogged Auckland to make this workshop possible (L-R) DIANE TURNER and SARAH

We are therefore thankful to the Office for Seniors and TANI for these very fruitful and productive opportunities. Indeed a day well spent and would further prove rewarding from the final output. Vinaka.


[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a journalist, Secretary of Waitakere Indian Association Seniors, and a Founding Trustee of FIJI GIRMIT FOUNDATION NZ. He is a volunteer grassroots community journalist, who covers community, especially ethnic, Indian, Pacifica and Fiji Indian issues generally overlooked and ignored by the mainstream media, generally lacking diversity, empathy and sensitivity. Thakur runs his blog, FIJI PUNDIT which endeavours to fill this vacuum]

Friday, May 28, 2021





Thakur Ranjit Singh


Fiji has had its share of political uncertainties and instability. Some of this has been exaggerated by the ridiculing of Bainimarama by the Samoan Prime Minister and satire and sensational news stories written by some Samoan journalists on Fiji’s political adversity. 

Samoa has been trying to cash in on Fiji’s handicap by attempting to step into the economic, transportation and regional leadership shoes that Fiji had carved out over the past three to four decades. 

With the amplification and browbeating of failure of democracy in Fiji, Samoa had consequently been projected as a model of Pacific democracy.

However, this myth has been shattered now in the aftermath of upheavals in Samoan Democracy


This article is over a decade old and was initially published in the blog The Pacific Scoop in December 2009.


It is coverage of the Pacific Islands Political Studies Association’s (PIPSA) 11th conference held on 3 December 2009 at Fale Pasifika, University of Auckland.

Two Samoan academics and a former Samoan diplomat and a former member of the ruling party took turns in revealing what was wrong with the Samoan model of democracy which Samoans were reluctant to discuss openly in publicly.


And this was very evident by the forced withdrawal of this article soon after publication. It had to be withdrawn within days because the Samoans who raised the issues got cold feet once they got pressure from “outside” and did not want that published. To protect them after such a long time, I am republishing it with hidden names to protect their identity.


Samoan Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, as seen by NZ Herald Cartoonist on the day of the large red moon on 26 May, 2021 ( NZ Herald Cartoon) 

Samoa’s pride in being leaders promoting democracy, equality and social justice in the Pacific just now remains a shadow. Let’s revisit the problems that were unearthed over a decade ago, but those speakers were not bold enough to publicly uphold their opposition to a wanting democracy in Samoa.


The Conference

On plenary session on democracy in Samoa, a doctoral student and Samoan academic Fiu (real name hidden) spoke on Temokalasi ma le fa’amatai: A true democracy or dictatorship in disguise?


Fiu quoted other Samoan leaders who had likened their Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi to Hitler. He cited incidents of Prime Minister ignoring the wishes and petitions of Apia people to stop proposed gas pipes being laid through their townships and the changing of the roads where changes were brought about without proper consultation or informing the people. Fiu told the conference that:

Former opposition leader Asiata Saleimoa Va’ai wrote that history shows that political parties in the past who have dominated governments for many years have often become dictatorial and communist in their ways, giving the examples of Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Hussein in Iraq and of course Hitler in Germany. This he says is becoming the case with Tuilaepa and Samoa.


Samoa's democratically elected first lady incoming PM was locked outside Parliament by existing PM Tuilaepa, who ignored people's and court verdict to transfer power.

The question was posed whether these comparisons were justified and whether Samoa was under dictatorship or still had a semblance of democracy.

This was answered by the fact that the word “democracy” did not exist in the two most recognised published Samoan dictionaries. Despite the long history of chiefly authority in Samoa, universal suffrage was introduced only in 1990 when all were eligible to vote, whereas, before that only the matai were allowed to vote.


Fiu cites an experience of his recent trip back home where while all appeared to be well post the road change, the road switch debacle has resulted in another ongoing battle between the people of Samoa and the Government at a lower scale. 

Supposedly for the safety of Samoans, the government has passed a law  that all pubs and clubs must close  at 10pm while the business concerns have objected, saying most money was made after 10pm. A strange compromise was allowed which permitted establishments to open till midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, however all music, DJs bands etc must still be turned off at 10pm. While this could hardly be classed as a compromise, the sad part was that there was nothing much the business owners could do about it, illustrating the lack of democratic procedure.


Fiji's PM who has been at the receiving end and butt of jokes of Samoan PM who never ceased to humiliate Bainimarama for not respecting democracy. Now Tuilaepa has become butt of jokes for doing exactly what he used to accuse Fijian PM of doing

Fiu further reported that according to former Samoalive news editor, Cherelle Jackson, the gist of complaint of the people was not on the actual road switch, but rather the way government went about implementing the changes, completely ignoring and disregarding the voice of the people. It appeared that there was no sign of democracy having taken place during the process.


Savea Sanoa Malifa, who had written in the Samoa Observer likening the Prime Minister with Hitler, said that the PM already had complete control over Samoa.

He already owns Parliament, Cabinet, the Public Service, the Church, the business community, all the villages and their happy, itching mayors as well, the public media and the little boys and girls there jumping eagerly to his command - in fact, the man owns practically the whole country- when one man “owns practically the whole country”… and not necessarily under the will of the people, chances are they are a dictator.

It was observed that in absence of an opposition party, Samoa had become a one-party state, contrary to what the Westminster system defines democracy as. It was felt that the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) completely dominated the Parliament, hence anything they say goes. National University of Samoa Vice Chancellor, Leapai Professor Asofou So’o was quoted as saying that:


a disadvantage of the party system is that, when the party in government obtains too much power and has been in power for a long time, parliamentary opposition is rendered meaningless.


This point is illustrated by comparison of Samoan government since the introduction of universal suffrage in 1990 with other long well-established democracies. The available data shows that in the two decades between 1990 and 2009:


United States of America had 4 governments and 4 Presidents

Great Britain had 4 governments and 4 Prime Ministers

Australia had 3 governments and 4 Prime Ministers

New Zealand had 4 governments and 6 Prime Ministers

Compared to all these, Samoa had ONLY 1 government and ONLY 2 Prime Ministers.

Despite Fiji not being a model democracy and despite its current government being periodically ridiculed by Samoan Prime Minister, Fiji had seen more changes than Samoa, with two constitutions, 4 Prime Ministers, four governments and coups.

Fiji has been dubbed a failed democracy by some academics for failing the ultimate test of democracy - SMOOTH TRANSITION OF POWER. Now Samoa, an ardent critic of Fiji remains accused of failing that test. Ironically, Samoan PM Tuilaepa (top) has always been critical of Bainimarama ( above) for not allowing that transition. Now he himself stands accused of doing exactly the same.


In his concluding remarks Fiu summed up his presentation as follows, which is best presented in full:

In concluding, democracy is a clouded concept in Samoa. At the national level, there exists a government that has in general adhered to democratic practices however there have been instances of lately where they have ignored the democratic process in order to implement things they know full well would have probably never passed had they given the people a democratic say.

The irony of all this is that the flagship of so-called democracy, the government, has in recent times displayed obvious anti democratic behaviour, and dare I say, have indeed been rather dictatorial in the running of the country… they only listen when it suits or benefits them. Other than that, the order of the day seems to be dictatorship.

Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, the first Lady incoming PM of Samoa has guts and  resolve to unseat a party which had "stolen" democracy from Samoans for some four decades. But she is denied smooth transition of power by the sitting PM who had been masquerading as a disciple of democracy.

At the village level, indigenous democracy is thriving. Although from an outsider’s point of view, the matai system seems very dictatorial as well as being a body that suppresses individual rights.

Despite the inconsistencies of democracy at national and village level, the one constant is that at the end of the day, barring a military takeover, it is the people that choose their leaders, their Prime Minister, their matai etc, and this process regardless of how other decision have been made, will inevitably be democratic.

Democracy will prevail and if people feel they have not been listened to initially, nature and society work in such mysterious ways that eventually they WILL be heard. I am predicting that the voices of the Samoan people will be heard at the next elections, and that the road switch issue may actually be the undoing of the HRPP party.

Although throughout the past and present, democracy has at times appeared nonexistent, democracy in the end will prevail, and as the cliché goes, “will have the last laugh”............ But then again, anything can happen in Samoa.



Despite Fiu’s prediction, nothing changed in the 11 years since this conference in Auckland, and Fiu would be a professor by now and may recognise his presentation, which 11 years ago, he was too scared to have it published. Perhaps he may be bold enough to come out now.


It took a long time, but it seems democracy will now have the last laugh at the situation in Samoa now.


And Karma is at work with Samoa’s PM Tuilaepa who always took pot -shots and ridiculed  Fiji’s Bainimarama for playing with democracy in the past.

He now finds himself in a deeper chasm of arrogance and has himself become a dictatorial “Hitler” who needs to re-check his use-by date.


Like the tsunami, the change may come with little warning, it has taken long, although preliminary warning shots had been fired in Auckland over a decade ago in this Pacific (PIPSA) conference.

Samoans now await change that they have been craving for decades.


[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a former Publisher of Fiji Daily Post newspaper, and a Pacifica Fiji Indian recipient of Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) and AUT postgraduate scholarship at AUT where he completed Masters in Communication Studies (MCS) with honours. When he wrote this article in 2009, he was still a postgraduate student at AUT, and attended the conference on behalf of Pacific Media Centre (PMC). He currently is  retired and runs his blog FIJI PUNDIT.]