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Fiji: Bloggers react to police commissioner's ‘crusade’

Bloggers in Fiji are commenting on the police commissioner’s recent outburst recorded by television cameras at a meeting with Indo-Fijian officers warning them with termination if they continue to air their complaints directly to the media.

The problem began when an unnamed Indo-Fijian policeman was quoted in a Fiji Sun story explaining his discomfort with the largely pro-Christian crusade commissioner Esala Teleni is undertaking to reduce crime. The unnamed policeman also alleged officers converting to the New Methodist Church — a breakaway group run by Teleni’s brother that is very active in the police crusades — are being promoted before others.

In December, Teleni said the crusade to fight crime and other evils was God’s plan for Fiji, “irrespective of race, religion and culture.” Teleni said he never forced people to attend the crusades and invited members of all religions to take part.

Religion, it has been argued, can be a dividing wedge in Fiji society. Indigenous Fijians mainly practice Christianity; a majority of Indo-Fijians are Hindu, although a sizable Muslim minority exists.

After reading the Fiji Sun story, Teleni called some Indo-Fijian officers together where he warned them to support his policies or, “I can sack everyone sitting here today and I can recruit another 200 Indian officers” in comments caught by a Fiji One camera. The police are presently looking into how the television camera could have picked up Teleni’s speech even though it was stationed well outside the building. (Here is a clip of the newscast.)

In parting words to the Indo-Fijian officers, Teleni said (according to the transcript):

“No one is going to deter me and my Jesus. I never talk about your religions. I never discuss your religions because I respect it. But at the same time you must respect my religion. You do not go to the press.”

After the meeting became public, an unnamed “senior” police officer in attendance told Fiji Live the anonymous source of the original Fiji Sun article was not a high ranking Indo-Fijian — and my not even have been Indo-Fijian. He himself felt no obligation to attend the crusades, yet he supports them because they instill police discipline. The senior officer also said other high-ranking Indo-Fijian police officers have no problems with Teleni.

Fiji’s population consists of 60 percent indigenous Fijians and around 37 percent Indo-Fijians. But that’s not always been the case. Between 1879 and 1916, Britain, the former colonial rulers, imported more than 60,000 people from India to work in Fiji’s sugar industry. By the time Fiji gained independence in 1970, Indo-Fijians made up nearly two-thirds of the islands’ population.

In 1987 the country witnessed its first government led by a majority of Indo-Fijian politicians, only to have it deposed by Sitiveni Rabuka, then a colonel in Fiji’s military. Rabuka claimed he was on a “mission that God has given to me” to save the Fijian race and convert Indo-Fijians to Christianity. Shortly thereafter, Indo-Fijian outmigration (along with some educated indigenous Fijians) began in earnest.

Teleni, a former Naval officer, was made police commissioner a few months after Frank Bainimarama took power in a December 2006 coup to eliminate what the self-appointed Prime Minister saw as a corrupt government bent on ruling through discriminatory policies against Indo-Fijians.

Bainimarama plans to modify the country’s constitution, which since 1997 has established the “paramountcy” of indigenous Fijian interests over other races, and change the electoral system that partitions seats in Parliament on race and codifies political power to indigenous Fijian institutions like the Great Council of Chiefs, a hereditary body that appoints (with Presidential approval)14 of 32 members of the Senate.

Anyway, to the bloggers.

Calling for Teleni to be removed for his remarks, Raw Fiji News argues that the Bainimarama regime merely pays lip service to racial harmony.

Frank’s military regime has dismantled everything Fijian in their bid to demolish Fijian behaviour they think is detrimental to their junta rulership. They have publicly pitted against the Methodist Church that many indigenous Fijians relate to as their religion.

And now, we see the spiritually pumped up Police Commish, Teleni, wallop his Indo-Fijian senior staff for what he claims is their disloyalty towards him. His claim is based on religion – that gooey word that refers to the exaggerated and artificial faking of the emotions by Teleni to try and intimidate his staff.  

So what kind of religion is Teleni in that is prompting him to segregate his Indo-Fijian staff like that and even to the extent of swearing at them to emphasize his anger? The Jesus he quoted to be the one he is worshipping is definitely not the Jesus reflected by Teleni’s unholy way of teaching his staff.

Teleni’s TV performance is a direct representation of what his New Methodist church is reaping from the rotten seed they’ve been sowing.

How dare Teleni address Fiji’s Indo-Fijian Police senior officers like that!

Why pick on Indo-Fijians only Teleni? They are not the problem in the Police force. You are!

Talking Fiji argues Teleni is not the only member of the government to be anti-Indo-Fijian.

Last night’s Fiji TV footage of Teletubby Teleni berating senior Indian Police officers must have come as something of a shock to the Indian community in Fiji.

Teleni was about as racist as one can get and its out there now in the public domain for all to hear.
References in his speech to Indians as ”you people” betray his exteme contempt for the Indian community in Fiji.
So much for the multi-racial Fiji much touted by the military since they took power in 2006.

So now you know.

The military were never really interested in racial unity at all.

They used the Indian community to bolster their support for their illegal takeover and now that they have no use for them, the Indian community is being discarded like a used condom. 

I’m sure after last night, the Indian Community are wondering if they made a mistake and backed the wrong horse in 2006.

Well duh!

The blog at the Solivakasama Worldwide Movement:

Yadra [Good morning] borggers, well ketepoka [big stomach] Teleni where is your god??? You should learn to choose your words wisely because the garbage you spewed out is very unbecoming from someone claiming to be called by god to be Commissioner of Police. The funny thing ketepoka, is that you and your god seem to be the only ones who think you are fit for this position because everyone else does not think so. The good book says, ‘you will know them by their deeds’ and your deeds ketepoka definitely betray you! SWM urges the Indo-Police Officers to stand up to ketepoka the pretender and uphold the rule of law!

On the other hand, IG Fiji says those criticizing Teleni by hypocritically preaching racial harmony should look themselves in the mirror.

Jesus was the reason Teleni said what he said. If a man feels that he has been blessed by Jesus, then so be it – it brings him peace of mind and inner comfort. Or perhaps the bloggers have no value for Jesus and consider his works a curse? It would certainly seem to be the case as the bloggers have taken the words of Teleni to a new and twisted level. We standby Teleni's words and we agree that the Indian police officers are a dangerous lot. They are backstabbers and have done this to other Commissioners. They have an inner circle whereby they discuss how to topple their superiors and usurp power. The Indian police should certainly be sacked. These are the same grog-doped cigarette smoking lazy men who stroll around the street trying to get bribes from everyone. We believe the Commissioner should sack all these men and find others to replace him – others who are loyal and do not question the authority in a disciplined force.

In addition to this, the media continue to show their true colors by running to all the anti-govt. idiots and asking them for their comments. In the end, all the people in this country got to hear was how bad a person the Commissioner was. Why not talk to other members of the govt.? Why not go out in public and ask them what their views are? The answer is obvious – it would have spoiled their slanted hypocritical stories. To worsen the situation the media ended up talking to the most racist man in Fiji – Ted Young of the SDL. This was the crowning moment of the media's inefficiency and stupidity.

[Note: The SDL party headed the governing coalition that was forced out of power during the December 2006 coup.]

real jack, who posts at Fiji Board Exiles, says Teleni’s outburst shows that he cares.

…the other option was for him to have simply started cutting heads.

he didn't have to do this – he could have just said, “right then….this is the list of guys lets start with the termination letter for name No 1 on the list” – and he could have just sat in his office pulled out his red pen and started crossing names off the list.

instead he calls a meeting at Nasova, gets in his car and travels all the way there to have his outburst at the officers – he didn't have to go to all that trouble.

the outburst may look irrational and temperamental but those officers, if they are smart will see it and understand that this is a guy we can work with – he can go ballistic like this and tommorow we can talk again – and thats good. we can talk to this guy face to face – and he is not going to cut us out behind our backs – he has a problem he tells it to our face – we have a problem we tell it to his face – we know where we stand with this guy.

they should not take it negatively.

Let’s end with a critique of the role the media played in this situation.

Wendy, from Babasiga, thinks the television journalist should not have been listening to a meeting he was barred from.

She also had this to say:

Teleni (who seemed a nice guy when we met him during his studies) is in trouble with his espousing of New Methodist shouting style and mixing up religion with policing. Selectively targeting the Indo-Fijian policemen was certainly a provocative decision.

Media critic Crosbie Walsh was much more worried with the press coverage after the meeting story broke. In a post labeled “Anything to discredit the Interim Government…,” he says the “crisis” was blown out of proportion by Fiji’s media.

From Fiji: The Way It Was, Is and Can Be:

There is no question that Teleni's outburst did him no credit (and no question that personal and religious freedoms must be protected) but the media also cannot escape responsibility. They started the fire and fanned the flames over what would appear to be a relatively minor incident — and much of what they reported would seem to be incorrect.

To play a responsible role in a Fiji where its opponents use every opportunity to discredit the Interim Government, the media must at least check its sources — the original sources, not those of an “unnamed” someone printed by another newspaper — and do what it can to douse unnecessary heat.

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2 comments

  • Frank

    This is proof positive that the military dictator ruling Fiji makes personnel decisions based on who supported his coup and not ability or qualifications. Teleni has no concept of what it takes to be a police officer. His “Christian Crusade” is a joke. While Christians are attending this “Crusade”, their homes are being burglarized by crooks who thank Teleni for the opportunities.

    Policing requires a top down loyalty to those working the streets, doing the work. They are the ones actually talking to the people, they are they ones that know the neighborhoods and how best to serve. Unfortunately, Fiji police are hampered by a “Man the Police Station” mentality and seldom actually patrol the streets where they would get to know the people doing the crimes.

    The upward loyalty, so desperately sought by Teleni, would come based on sound policing decisions by management. Never does it come by berating officers. The raising crime rate in Fiji is evidence that there is no plan for how to police the population. The person at the top has no idea how to direct the officers. Personal religious beliefs have no place in police work, nor does a man whose sole training was in the military.

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