Sir Michael Somare tells his side of the story
That sound you hear is heads being scratched

Bainimarama's actions ‘normal’ – Somare

IN THIS SECOND part of an interview with Sir Michael Somare by the ABC’s Philippa McDonald, the PNG prime minister looks at his country’s relationship with the pariah regime of Fij's military backed leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

PHILIPPA MCDONALD: Fiji's interim government is very happy to see you at this Engaging With Fiji meeting. Why have you come along?

SIR MICHAEL SOMARE: I came along because there are MSG [Melanesian Spearhead Group] leaders, there are four of us. We were invited to take part in the Pacific discussions on our environment, our sustainability, our economy, because things are happening right now, for example, climate change, for example, mining underwater, fishery resources to discuss how we can best preserve what we have. Our resources as you know.

The islands one major resource which is fish. Islands also have reefs, islands have marine ecology, and the discussion of course stem from the early start when Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, was talking about how can island people survive and it is all about this. Yes, we have come as MSG countries. We're not raising any issues on MSG. We will be discussing how we should go on the next forum, which the prime minister of Fiji will attend and this is the place for it in Vanuatu.

Here we will exchange ideas and say how can the Pacific people come together and that is one way of coming together is you have seminars. You can have it under the United Nations charter it also provides for countries, differences. You not a member of the Commonwealth and you are not a member of an organisation, as individual countries, as sovereign states, you can enter into discussions because there are some things, resources like commonality and resources like fishery resource, reef ecology of the marine, issues like that, so we took part in that one.

MCDONALD: Are you supportive of Commodore Bainimarama? After the coup there has been no elections and there are not going to be elections until 2014. Do you still support Commodore Bainimarama?

SOMARE: We have made it quite clear in the forum, we want to see democratic government in Fiji, but the way Bainimarama has gone round to bring about change in Fiji, and making marks, making future Constitution of this country, getting the Fijians together. It is quite normal here.

If you have been to Africa and you see those countries that are run by military are different. He is doing what is best for Fiji people. That is what he believes and he has done that. We all have gone through now. He has been there for almost four years now. He is running the country, country is surviving.

He is looking at the economic base, how can he sustain the development of Fiji. Tourism industry is booming. Talking about it, there are more Australians and New Zealanders on this soil here and they not being tampered, they not be followed around like you do in other dictatorships, military regimes.

MCDONALD: Australia has expressed deep concerns about human rights in Fiji, about the deterioration of the rule of law, about lack of media freedom. Do you agree with Australia's criticism of Fiji?

SOMARE: Australia has got its own right to criticise Fiji. It would be better for us in the region. We playing our cards differently, because we believe that we belong to the region, we are Melanesians and it’s our tradition to help each other. If our enemy’s down, we are there to celebrate and say right, get up and walk and we are merely following Melanesian tradition on how to help each other in bad times and the good times.

And what we've done here is four of us from MSG, Melanesian Group’s leaders have decided to come, but the person who made the commitment is not here, he's Foreign Minister is here and we have been discussing issues that will come up in the forum later on.

But here we are concentrating on a launching of Pangea* and I think that is a vision, some of the visions I shared with my friend, my very good friend, the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and that's one important reason why I am here and also to give encouragement to Fiji to say that we have not forgotten you, we're still around. You sort out your house, join us later if you want to.

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

* Pangea World’s mission is founded upon the principles and credentials of the TCR economic-development model ("Tourism for Conservation through Research"). TCR is a vision and art of crafting and distinguishing a strategic union of an economic or business, frontier scientific research, and proactive natural and cultural conservation. [Gobbledegook from the Pangea website]


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Reginald Renagi

Papua New Guineans are embarrassed by our PM's recent comments, as they give the impression that what the military did was normal.

This inference might one day come back and haunt the Chief.

Trevor Freestone.

Maybe Somare should have a forum with his own people in PNG instead of big noting himself in Fiji. I suggest the main topic could be "How do we get out of the mess I have created?"

Colin Huggins

Peter - I read very carefully the report from the ''Fiji Times. Now where would Somare like to plonk the continent of Australia and the two islands of New Zealand as well as New Caledonia, Tahiti, American Samoa, ot forgetting Hawaii, and the Mariana Islands?

Of course he could go the full hog and reposition, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and Taiwan. Has he considered the coastline off Africa, in the Indian Ocean, or are we to be moved to the mid and upper Atlantic.

We, the countries above, will stay - Somare will not and the sooner the better.

Colin Huggins

Interesting news, Peter. Obviously Somare has no idea that the French still seem to have New Caledonia and Tahiti, and the Americans (USA) have American Samoa.

Last time I looked these three places were still in the Pacific Ocean?


Somare is also reported by the 'Fiji Times' as saying Australia and NZ don't really belong to the Pacific Islands community.

"Australia and New Zealand are in the Pacific Ocean but they regard themselves as different from little island states. I don't consider Australia and New Zealand as Pacific island people."

Bailey Joshua

I think Bainimarama has done a good job and let him and his cabinet do what he they think is right for the people and not dictate by another country like PNG.

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