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Coup in Fiji

Note: This forum follows an earlier one on the possibility of Rotuman independence. To see opinions expressed in that forum, click here.

The recent developments (The Coup) in Fiji will no doubt have initiated some discussions amongst Rotumans throughout the world on the issue "What is the Future of Rotuma Island and its people?" If we continue our allegiance to the Government of Fiji, what 'plan of thoughts' are our leaders taking? I say 'plan of thoughts' because for every plan of action there lies behind it a 'plan of thoughts'.

I write this letter to open up an opportunity for discussions and sharing of thoughts, and one never knows, a plan of action could materialize from this forum. Also one can never foretell the future--one may become a future leader of our island, one day! The key here is that all sharing of ideas and thoughts must be focused on the issue: what is best for Rotuma?

I do not know yet what the plan of action is beneficial to Rotuma--maybe you do. But I know for a fact that there are only two plans of action our country:

1) Either Rotuma continues its allegiance with Fiji as is, or
2) Rotuma discontinues its association with Fiji.

I also know that plan of action #1 is the easiest one to execute. But it is not always, in real life situations, that the easiest way is the most beneficial. You know, one cannot explore the horizon by just standing on the shore, and Rotuma cannot progress by just 'resting on the beach'. Great orator Henry van Dyke once commented: "It is only by THINKING about great things that we come to love them, and it is only by loving them that we ...(Rotumans) are impelled to SEEK after them; and it is only by seeking them that they BECOME OURS. Lets face it--if there are no thoughts, there will be no action. And where there is no action, there is no life, and no life means BEING ALIVE but no plans--no future. I know my country, Rotuma, has a future and I thank God Almighty for He is in control over all things and that includes Rotuma's plan of action.

Keeping this in mind, I would like to start with this discussion by saying Rotuma should take the second plan of action.

Happy sharing!

Mata Inoke

Just a reality check for those Rotumans who advocate a split from Fiji etc...

Tell us, who lives and sweats and dies to keep our country running (note that I don't differentiate Fiji from Rotuma!), why should we split from Fiji? If it wasn't for the chiefs of Kubuna, Rotumans would be NOTHING!

I don't understand people who seek refuge in other countries and still interfere in our daily lives!

I can give some good examples of Rotumans and their friends who have made our race look like a bunch of greedy, selfish and ungrateful apes!

Malo Vaurasi

GPO BOX 11707
As a reality check I ask this question: "Do the Fijians consider us on the same level as them, politically, socially and legally? There are many examples which show that we are not so lucky. Let us not kid ourselves into believing the slogan "Viti ke Rotuma." Perhaps we should put this to the test and suggest that the country be now called: "Fiji and Rotuma Islands." Let us see if the Fijians will put their money where their mouths are. How about a meeting like the one on the western side to push for us to be the Fifth Confederacy, just to up the ante a bit.

Secondly, I think it is neither right nor fair to say: "If it wasn't for the chiefs of Kubuna, Rotumans would be NOTHING." If one understood the historical and legal factors that led to our 'special arrangement' with Fiji before and after independence one would be more careful in making such a sweeping statement. Further, saying that "we would be nothing," in my view, ignores disrespectfully the many unselfish and tremendous contributions of Rotumans, both past and present, at home and abroad.

I think the point being made is that this is an opportunity for us to make a difference to our standing in this 'special arrangement', both legally and in reality. Let us not let it pass without further consolidating our position. Whether it be secession as some suggest or something in between, let us be constructive and do something. For what it's worth, I am willing to start with my suggestions above.

Thirdly, to suggest that this is solely the prerogative of those who live at home is, in my view, a very blinkered and destructive outlook on how we could work together. Rotumans who live abroad have a very worthwhile contribution to make. Don't forget many, if not all of us abroad, have legal as well as social rights and obligations in respect of land and other matters in Rotuma. Let us not stifle healthy, well-meaning and constructive discussion.

Finally, I for one sought refuge overseas, as has been suggested, to give my children the opportunities that I never had. Out of sight but certainly not out of mind. I believe I speak for most of the Rotumans overseas on this point. Hopefully, our children will continue our contributions to our home island in a bigger and better way. So please do not shut us out. We can make a real and valuable difference.

Sosefo Inoke

Wow! I am calling a time out. You know like what they do in a basketball game where the coach makes that "T sign" with both hands... If there is wisdom, one can discern the underlining issue: "What can one do to HELP Rotuma? (Through sharing of thoughts that may result in a plan of action)--not running the affairs of Rotuma and certainly not to interfere in others' daily life.

Malo, life is full of CHOICES and it is THREE DIMENSIONAL in every aspect, regardless in whichever way you look at it. I will elaborate on the above capitalized words, for your benefit.


It saddens my heart to hear from a learned person that I had known and respected; because CHOICES extend as far as small things like "the choice of words to express opinions." As I read your reply, I know you had missed the 2nd and 3rd dimension of my thought process. Here are the dimensions 1) Location, 2) Heart, 3) Creed and Colour. Your reply reflected insufficient time put into a thought process, resulting in the execution of an action plan; fired from one dimension--the dimension of "Location;" and you are right on! We, the "refugees" (I quote "those who seek refuge in other countries") should never and can never interfere with your daily lives, let alone running the affairs of your life or Rotuma--any class 3 pupil can tell you that--because of distance. Your admission that you cannot understand, is obvious. A poor plan resulting in a not so nice "shooting" to kill.(remember George and his gang with their plan)


Let me explain the 2nd dimension: A HEART that has the love and care for Rotuma can sing out the song "out of sight but never out of mind." The heart of love will extend a helping hand regardless of location. It overcomes even the 3rd dimension--Creed and Colour. An Indian from India will help a Rotuman in Rotuma when there is love in his heart. Oh! by the way; a Rotuman in Fiji can not help a Rotuman in Rotuma if there is no love in the heart. You see, born a Rotuman will always be a Rotuman (not apes) and the only way to distinguish one from the other is the size of the chamber in ones heart that houses "love"...yea "hanisi." And out of this chamber of love flows wisdom. This is what Rotuma needs the most--wisdom that flows from a heart of love. Because when there is love there is unity and Rotuma cannot progress without unity; and unity should be seen, even when Rotumans share their thoughts by the choice of words. Opinions may differ but they can be expressed in a loving way.

Hey! remember life is full of choices to make and with every choice comes a risk. Always look at life, even what you read, in 3 dimensions, maintain a heart of love and make the choice; the worst choice of ALL is the choice of not to take a risk.

Malo, are you suggesting that Rotuma make the choice of not to take the risk? or are you implying that Rotuma is not yet ready to make the choice to take a risk? If it is the latter, then let's start by discussing "What can one do to HELP Rotuma make the CHOICE. It is good to take a reality check but better still--be real!

Happy sharing.

Mata Inoke - Canada

Malo, I am not surprised at your outburst. Words will always reveal your true identity. Many a times, we are no better than those whom we have condemned and cursed.

A twisted heart will be exposed by ones lips to the ends of the world. There is a Rotuman song that goes like this, "Te ne huga hoi, pepnuju tae la fora." Why not direct your comments at Mata and not generalize. The "unreasonable" people whom you have labeled as 'a bunch of greedy, selfish and ungrateful apes' are also fellow Rotumans and I guess in your point of view, we are all Rotumans, but some are more Rotuman than others - Sad news!

Progress is good! I quote George Bernard Shaw; "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself." Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man".

Let us not judge people by what they can do, but rather what I can do. If you know in your heart that you have done so much for your people, than, bless your heart! because you reap according to what you sow. Bearing in mind, Malo, many Rotumans overseas still have their links intact to Rotuma; they hold Fiji Passports; their hearts and minds are still of Rotuma even when they are abroad, and are so much willing to help Rotuma in some way, and I can give you some v-e-r-y good examples too.

It is always a good question to ask oneself, "What should I do to make myself a better person." Stop the cursing and share the positive. Let's try it out, it will surely make a good difference.

There will be peace in the valley for you. For all Rotumans abroad that have been offended by Malo's (my first cousin) reply, I apologize on his behalf.

Let's make this Forum a truly happy and honest sharing place.

Nina Inoke

141 Sifton Avenue
Fort Mc Murray
Alberta-T9H 2Z6

To Malo Vaurasi: A reality check. Are you a Rotuman? married to Rotuman? if not, in my opinion you are a megalomaniac! Malo, what about these quotations:-- "...people who seek refuge in other countries..." and "Rotumans and their friends who have made our race look like a bunch of greedy, selfish and ungrateful apes!"

My impression of what you said is that it is the most low down statement for a Rotuman to label another fellow Rotuman. You might as well call your fellow cosmopolitan countrymen "KAISI".

I am a Rotuman born in Fiji and live abroad for the good of my family and will always be Rotuman, and hope one day my children will share their knowledge in engineering and computers etc for our future generations.

The above statement "Coup in Fiji" is there for an open discussion, so please don't discredit others.

I myself personally would like to see Rotuma Island ruled by a country that is willing to help, or to file an application to the United Nations. Now! But that is up to the people in Rotuma Island. Also why does Rotuma have to stay attached to Fiji? The economy of Fiji, led by George Speight and an inactive government, is heading for a zero target.

Bad News--- Fiji has been voted out of the Commonwealth Nations again. Now what you think of Rotuma?

May God bless you all and live with a positive attitude.

Rocky Peters
Alberta, Canada

To Mata, Nina and Rocky. Thank you for sharing your views and for being most civil about some of the negative thoughts thrown your way. Keep up the good work.

Rotuma, you have taught your children well!

Margy (A proud Rotuman first, rest of the bloodlines 2nd)

I apologise for my outburst, to all our people out there. I did not enter into this forum with the right heart as it was correctly pointed out. It was not directed to anyone in particular. Nothing takes away the contribution each Rotuman has done here and overseas and I respect that. I'm sorry that my inability to articulate my thoughts constructively have offended. To Mata, Nina and family please accept this apology.

Malo Vaurasi
Suva, Fiji Islands

Malo, apologies taken and I thank you.Gou aier'ak ne 'os haikainagaga 'e toto, te mafol paut - a' ti' se' se 'is famor Rotuma. 'E reko 'os hai'elega 'e 'os nohnoho ma te ag'esea." Le'ts look forward and live the life of a Rotuma, examplified by our elders ('Os temam fua).

I am glad that, so far, what springs out from all these sharing of ideas and opinions, is the common theme that - " We all, WILL to have, the Best for Rotuma and it's People ".; and where, there is a will, there is also a way, too! If we can all keep this in mind, then the discussions through the Forum may bear fruit, some day. Happy sharing and God bless you all.

Mata Inoke
Rotuman Government, A personal viewpoint

by Sosefo Inoke


Now that things have settled in Fiji and there is talk of a constitutional review we should take this opportunity to express our views on what position Rotuma should hold in the new government and what rights we as Rotumans need protected.

I was a member of the committee that made submissions to the last constitutional review and my view is that we left it a bit late to start discussions. This time we should start now.

Who should have a say?:

It is my firm belief that this is not a matter for those in Rotuma only. It is for all Rotumans all over the world because it affects all of us by virtue of our ancestral links to those who live in Rotuma as well as to the land and culture.

I am not saying that those of us who live outside of Rotuma should have a say on what happens in Rotuma on a day-to-day basis. What I am saying is that we must have a say on the blueprint, if you like, on how the island is to be governed.

Present Position:

The present position as far as governance of Rotuma is concerned has not changed significantly since we have been annexed to Fiji. We were elevated somewhat in the race hierarchy after the coups of 1987 but in real terms no significant advantage was gained. Whatever gains that were made were lost in the last constitutional review and resulting constitution.

In the last constitutional review our submission was for a separate department to be set up within the central government for Rotuman affairs. It was not accepted and no reason was given. It seems that we were classed the same as the Rabi Islanders, which was exactly the point we were trying to make that we are not. The emphasis was different then and I guess we were not convincing enough to the Constitutional Review Commission that Rotuma is a special case.

The emphasis will be different this time, it seems, so we should put our best case forward.

On this point please hear me out on what I think.

Right to Self-determination:

There is no argument that Rotumans are a separate and unique indigenous group within Fiji. Legal recognition of this fact can be traced to the cession of the island as a separate colony to Great Britain in 1881.

Rotumans therefore have the right to self-determination in respect of their culture, land and governance. It is a universal human right protected under international law. It is a right and not just a privilege.

How can we achieve this within our present arrangements with Fiji? My view is that Rotuma should be allocated a separate budget every year by the Fiji government for the development of the island and its people. The Council of Rotuma or whatever government is set up in Rotuma should decide for itself how it would use these funds.

This is nothing more than the exercise of our right to self-determination in accordance with international human rights standards.

These new responsibilities will require some rearrangement of the present governance of the island.

New Government:

I believe the present arrangements are not truly representative of the views of the Rotumans and secondly, the necessary checks and balances are either nonexistent or ineffective.

We need to decide for ourselves how we are going to be governed. What sort of executive, parliamentary and judicial systems are we going to have in Rotuma?

Constitutional protection:

We need to have these matters set in a Fiji constitution. Our right to self-determination need to be given such protection. If it is not given constitutional protection governments may and can erode it away whenever they want. We do not have the political power to prevent it. It is too risky and uncertain to leave it to the good will of politicians.

Final remarks:

These are only some of the matters we need to start thinking about and to do something about. Do not leave it too late.

Let us not be frightened to ask for what we are entitled to as of right. We owe it to future generations to at least ask. Unless we do we may not get what we deserve.

What do you think?

- - o 0 o - -

I fully agree with Sefo Inoke about Rotuma having a separate department and budget within the Government of Fiji, but with an area office in Rotuma. Initially the Fiji Government would allocate a certain amount of money per calendar year to our department and then it will be up to us to decide on priorities on Rotuma relating to services, personnel, projects or equipment, or whatever issues arise. Thereafter it will be the responsibility of the Fiji-based head/administrator of the department to request allocations of funding from the Ministry of Finance on a yearly basis.

I live and work in Aberdeen, Scotland, and this is how the national health services operates in the UK. Each hospital have to determine their own capital priorities and send a business proposal to the Executive Office seeking funds for the following financial year. In all cases hospitals get their full funding. Any emergency monies required by hospitals, e.g. to pay for medical treatment in another hospital, essential building work, replacement of medical staff, also has to be costed and another funding request made to the Executive Office. Of course this is only one of the sources of funding for the hospitals here.

This is just an example of how a separate budget for Rotuma could operate but obviously there would be other ideas that would be worth considering. I hope this makes sense.

Jiurie Makarite Frary
Scotland, UK
Some of us who live in Fiji know only too well the lost cause of the 'Viti kei Rotuma' coinage, at least I do. The coup has at least made us question our situation. Be mindful that a lot of those in so called high positions owe their positions to the present set up. Whether the benefits have trickled down to the ordinary Rotumans in Fiji and Rotuma is the million dollar question.

Sadly a lot of Rotumans in Fiji have much to learn about the intricacies of the situation. The 'culture of silence' is prevalent amongst our people. To silently accept a situation that has relegated Rotumans to followers is very unfortunate.

It's great to hear contributions and views from our people overseas. That's what Rotumans in Fiji and especially in Rotuma need.

Rosie Lagi

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