Ghosts of Speight Coup: Why Savua Enquiry should be made public?
Part 1: Ratu Mara named Savua and Rabuka as key players in 2000 Coup
Subsequent to failed George Speight coup on 19 May, 2000, there had been a great deal of speculation as to who was that mysterious person who was supposed to take over from George Speight once he had completed the takeover of Parliament. Speight was a last minute fall guy recruit in this whole equation. But it appears, this supposed leader misread the mood of Fijian military which refused to support Fijian nationalism unleashed by Speight and his rebels in 2000. Upon failure to get support of Military, this mysterious person got cold feet and failed to surface. There are speculations as to who this purported “actual” 2000 coup leader was. From information that surfaced later, fingers point to the then Police Commissioner, Isikia Savua, when the Police force was seen as a spent force and were caught with its pants down. An enquiry, called SAVUA ENQUIRY was held in camera, (private hearing) headed by Lauan, Justice Sir Timoci Tuivaga which cleared Savua of any wrongdoing. Many likened Savua enquiry to a sham, kangaroo court and fraud on the nation. This author also believes. I therefore present my articles by Liu Muri published in the Daily Post for people to get an insight and appreciation into Fiji’s turbulent history, and why military needs to have a tight control to contain ethno-nationalists who cry for democracy now but never respected it in 2000 and 1987 coups.
TUI NAYAU STABBED IN THE BACK
Subsequent to Speight coup and his removal and escape to Lakeba, a TV interview he gave has been very revealing. If you heard the Tui Nayau correctly, Fijians have surpassed the Indians in skills of stabbing in the back. He implied that he was stabbed in the back by the very people he relied upon to give him advice and protection.
Sir Vijay Singh spoke about this very well in an article he wrote about removal of Ratu Mara as Fiji’s President subsequent to Speight coup. “Fijian leaders cannot evade a legitimate question that non-Fijians are entitled to ask: ‘If, despite all your proclaimed piety, you can conspire to do one of your most illustrious sons and high chief what you did to Ratu Mara, how we can trust you to be any kinder and gentler to any of us?’
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN BETRAYED THEIR CHIEF
Fiji’s name has been tarnished as far as reverence and respect for Chiefly and Westminster system is concerned. All the President’s men stabbed in the back of not only the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Fiji Military Forces of the Republic of Fiji Islands, but also the most revered and highest living Chief in Fiji at that moment. And who did this? The very people who should advise and protect the President and their Chief?
ATTEMPTED COUP HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE
And what a convenient scapegoat – the Indo-Fijians. Successive ethno-nationalist and so-called saviors of Fijian race and coup-makers have used Indo-Fijians as scapegoats for their treasonous acts. And we have so many fools and gullible people who believed this charade.
And as Sir Vijay had said, Ratu Mara’s interview cleared the red herring of inter race relations and established the fact that all this had to do with internal rivalries and animosities within the Fijian society. What it also did is to raise doubt about the findings of the kangaroo court that cleared Commissioner of Police from any wrong- doing. Late Tui Nayau had named Commissioner of Police, Isikia Savua as one of the major suspect in plotting, aiding, and abetting in the coup.
For those who do not know, Fiji Police under Savua lost all credibility after Speight coup in 2000 when rebels and criminals started taking over police posts and humiliated law - enforcers until the military took charge. During that time, my paper Daily Post drew a cartoon depicting the sad situation of police. When a farmer in Dreketi, Vanua Levu was asked about helplessness of police, he pointed towards his freshly castrated bull and said ...”my castrated bullock has more balls than the police force..”.The person who contributed to degeneration of the once proud police force to comparison with bulumakau sele, badhia bail or castrated bullock is none other than the then Commissioner of Police, Mr Isikia Savua who has been cleared by a tribunal held in camera and headed by the former Chief Justice, Sir Timoci Tuivaga, son-in law of Dr Tupeni Baba.
In light of so much interest generated by Ratu Mara’s revelation that cast a black slur on the Savua inquiry, for sake of public interest, we will revisit Savua inquiry and some of the questions and issues raised that remain as mysterious today as the day Savua was cleared.
WAS SAVUA INQUIRY A CHARADE?
Senior police officers and concerned citizens are appalled that the Commission of Inquiry has cleared Commissioner of Police, Isikia Savua of his involvement in the takeover of parliament and subsequent events.
The Commission of Inquiry, headed by the then Chief Justice Tuivaga had been asked to carry out full investigations by concerned groups - but it has obviously failed to do so.
From the first day of the inquiry we had warned that the inquiry was merely to cover up his actions, rather than expose them. The inquiry was aimed at presenting to the international community the view that the interim administration, then led by now ousted PM Qarase, was committed to bringing those involved in the destabilization and overthrow of the government to justice. As Qarase and his interim administration got recognition from many countries, the perpetrators of the May takeover were beginning to be let free.
Some confidential information is released in public interest to show a clearer picture in mucky waters. We have known from day one that the Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the Commissioner of Police was a fraud. It was headed by Justice Tuivaga - a person who has come under attack from legal sources in Fiji and internationally for facilitating the abrogation of the constitution and for continuing to frustrate legal challenges to the abrogation of the constitution. His sympathies with the Speight and his group were well known. He was one of the few people who welcomed Speight to the Suva golf club before his arrest with a great big public bear hug!
WAS THE INQUIRY NEUTRAL AND IMPARTIAL?
The Tribunal included close relatives of Savua. The report of the Tribunal was submitted to the Public Service Commission - a commission that was hand-picked after purported abrogation of the constitution. At all stages of the inquiry, sympathetic and supportive elements have assisted the Commissioner of Police to walk away from his crime scot-free.
Police officers who wanted to make submissions were therefore rightly concerned about their own safety had they gone ahead and made direct submissions. Indeed, we fear for safety of those few that did have the courage to make submissions.
All in all, the inquiry was part of a deliberate and orchestrated campaign by the Interim Administration to hoodwink the international community about its commitment to bring those involved in the armed takeover of parliament on 19th May to justice. The Savua Act - featuring one of the key actors in the May 19th takeover ended with expected results-favouring the criminal elements. However, nobody predicted Ratu Mara’s interview in April 2001 in which he named Rabuka and Savua as a key players in the whole mayhem.
SAVUA’S INVOLVEMENT IN THE PARLIAMENT TAKEOVER
Citizens of Fiji were deeply concerned and indeed shocked by the events that unfolded after the terrorist take-over of Fiji's Parliament on May 19th. In my view, it is clear that the Police Force and its commander failed to discharge its constitutional obligation to uphold the rule of law and the constitution during the period leading to the takeover of parliament on May 19th, 2000 and subsequently.
From the information made available to the Inquiry it was clear that:
(i). The Police Commissioner Isikia Savua was directly involved in the destabilization campaign leading to the march that occurred on 19 May, 2000 and in supporting subsequent events.
(ii). The Police Commissioner was a key player in the grab for political power that commenced with the armed takeover of the Parliament on 19 May, 2000.
(iii). The Police Commissioner authorised and provided the support of the Police Force through selected police officers, by providing Police Force resources (in raiding Muaniweni farms) including arms to the terrorists who held the People's Coalition Government hostage since May 19th until their release 56 days later.
TO BE CONTINUED in PART 2: Savua’s dereliction of duties, neutralizing the riot bus and failure to use it when needed.