Reflections on the Political Crisis in Fiji

Edited by: Brij V. Lal, Michael Pretes
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May 19, 2000. Fiji’s democratically elected multiracial government is hijacked by a group of armed gunmen led by George Speight, and held hostage for fifty days. Suva, the capital, is torched and looted as Speight’s supporters gather on the lawns of the parliamentary complex, dancing, cooking food, celebrating the purported abrogation of the constitution that brought the People’s Coalition government to power. The country is plunged into darkness yet again, enduring the pain of three coups in a period of just thirteen years. The process of healing and reconciliation, symbolised by the enactment of a new Constitution, unanimously approved by Parliament and blessed by the powerful Great Council of Chiefs, lies discarded, as winds of ethnic chauvinism sweep through the countryside, damaging the fragile fabric of multiculturalism that was carefully constructed by so many over many years. The economy is on the brink of collapse, investor confidence has vanished, and the best and the brightest are seeking succour on other shores. Fiji falls victim, yet again, to the prejudice and greed of a section of its people.

This book gathers together a handful of memoirs of those tragic events in Fiji. They were written while the gun was still smoking; personal, anguished reactions of people from all walks of life, concerned about a country they all love but deeply distressed by the developments there. They are first reactions. They will in time become essential building blocks for a larger interpretive framework of academic analysis about origins, processes and impacts. Straight from the heart, these memoirs will be remembered as the people of Fiji and their friends elsewhere contemplate the wreckage and ruin brought about by that act of madness in the month of May 2000.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Dec 2008
First edition © 2001 Pandanus Books
ANU Press
Law; Social Sciences: Politics & International Studies

PDF Chapters

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  1. (PDF, 56KB)
  2. The Sun Set at Noon Today (PDF, 70KB)
  3. An Historic View of Fiji (PDF, 53KB)
  4. Refections on the Civilian Coup in Fiji (PDF, 53KB)
  5. An Analysis of the Current Political Crisis in Fiji (PDF, 43KB)
  6. Constitutional Order in Multi-Ethnic Societies (PDF, 41KB)
  7. Thoughts on Fiji’s Third Coup D’Etat (PDF, 57KB)
  8. On Being Fijian (PDF, 61KB)
  9. Outcasts of the Pacific (PDF, 42KB)
  10. Race, Speight and the Crisis in Fiji (PDF, 47KB)
  11. Peace in Fiji (PDF, 44KB)
  12. On Reconciliation (PDF, 37KB)
  13. Two Countries Called Fiji (PDF, 66KB)
  14. Living in Unusual Times (PDF, 62KB)
  15. Who Will Pick up the Pieces? (PDF, 39KB)
  16. Fiji Villagers’ Bus Trip to Freedom (PDF, 43KB)
  17. Guns and Money (PDF, 47KB)
  18. Conversations at Mahendra Chaudhry’s Home (PDF, 42KB)
  19. Fiji’s New Western Confederacy (PDF, 51KB)
  20. The ‘Ghostly Smell’ of Indian Coolies too Strong for Speight (PDF, 43KB)
  21. The Race Bandwagon (PDF, 62KB)
  22. The Strange Saga of Speight’s Siege in Suva (PDF, 75KB)
  23. Chaudhry’s Last Public Address before He Was Made Hostage (PDF, 63KB)
  24. Confidential Draft and Statement of 22 May 2000 (PDF, 48KB)
  25. Statement to the Commonwealth by the Fiji People’s Coalition Government (PDF, 52KB)
  26. Statement to the Members of the Commonwealth Ministerial Group (PDF, 53KB)
  27. Statement of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma on the Armed Seizure of Government (PDF, 55KB)
  28. A Public Statement by the President of the Methodist Church in Fiji (PDF, 49KB)

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