Keen observers of politics in Fiji are intrigued by a mysterious element of the Fiji Sun/Western Force poll this week that showed a collapse in support for the Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, and showed that for the first time, most Fijians expect him to lose the 2022 election. One of the questions was: “Who would you like to see as next Prime Minister?” But there’s something very strange about the list published in the Fiji Sun, that appears to have been doctored from the original document.
Here it is and take a close look at it. Frank Bainimarama is still at the top of the list, followed by Sitiveni Rabuka, Aseri Radrodro, Mahendra Chaudhry, Savenace (sic) Narube, Biman Prasad and then someone called “Others”. The typeface is clearly different from that of the other names. So there seems little doubt that the original has been tampered with.
Surely “Others” would come at the end of a list like this. In other words after Lynda Tabuya, Ro Teimumu Kepa and Lenora Qereqeretabua. That would be standard practice the world over. But here is “Others” sandwiched between Biman Prasad and Lynda Tabuya. Which is very odd to say the least.
Could it be that “Others” is actually Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum – the Attorney General and “Minister for Everything”? The AG doesn’t appear anywhere else on the list and it is very odd that he would be excluded as the de-facto number two in FijiFirst. Call me suspicious but let me outline one plausible scenario.
We know that in the lead-up to the last election, the AG used his control over the Fiji Sun to suppress opinion polls that showed the opposition closing in on FijiFirst – one of many errors of judgment that took the government to the brink of defeat. Did he instruct the Fiji Sun to cover over “Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum” with “Others” to save him from the humiliation of an opinion poll that would spell disaster for his hopes of succeeding Frank Bainimarama? It sure looks like it.
Western Force produces the opinion poll. But horror of horrors, it shows the AG coming in at number seven on the list of preferred prime ministers. And in an even greater horror, coming in behind his arch enemy, Biman Prasad, over whom he obsesses.
Call me suspicious again but when the AG has form in suppressing a Fiji Sun poll, the old journo in me smells a rat. So here’s a direct question for the AG: Did you instruct the Fiji Sun to alter the poll results to replace “Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum” with “Others”? And here’s two others for the Fiji Sun: “Did you receive an instruction from the AG to make the alteration and more pertinently, did you do it? Or did you do it on your volition to save your editorial master from embarrassment?”
Whatever the truth – and don’t expect to get it from either party in this highly improper relationship of theirs – “Others” is in very big trouble if only four per cent of Fijians prefer him as Prime Minister. The sun is setting on a less than brilliant political career. But you’ll read it last in the Fiji Sun.