Email from a university colleague

How are we holding up?...'Under duress' is probably the most appropriate response. Thank you for the
thoughts and wishes. (rec'd 5/24/2000, 5/25 Fiji Time)

Under Siege (written 23 May 2000)

It is Tuesday morning and the fifth day of being under siege.

All my family is physically OK. The wave of destruction and looting that swept through town from the top of Waimanu Road right up to Pizza Hut on Victoria Parade, stopped just when extra police arrived to control the chaos. This is small gratification, considering the number of families who have had their investment either destroyed or severely set back. Total estimation was 162 shops looted; 3 or 4 shops burnt; 30 million dollars worth of damage.

But when you talk about damage, it is not the financial damage that comes to mind first, it is the delicate trust and respect that exists between our various ethnic communities that has been tragically shaken.

Speight, purporting to represent the views of the indigenous community, has attempted to throw out the 1999 Constitution, which was aimed at respecting the needs of our multi-racial community. Whilst it now appears that he does not have the total support of the indigenous community, there are those die-hard racists and some opportunists that support him.

It is now an accepted fact delivered by the newspapers and other media that Speight is a bankrupt con man who defrauded millions from the Australian Police force before being deported back to Fiji, where he promptly defrauded Heath, an insurance company he was appointed to manage. He was about to face a long jail sentence in Fiji, and the rest is history.

We are very thankful of the leadership of our President at this time and are hoping that the Great Council of Chiefs meeting today will resolve the current impasse on the negotiating table to have the hostage MPs released. The issue of the ethnicity of our future Prime Minister is the key issue (and has been for some time).

On Sunday morning, I tried to soak up ‘normality’ from the quiet and peaceful environment. This was shaken by the steady stream of army vans and police cars hurtling up our small street.

Today is a little better. I am looking through the window and all vehicles so far have been civilian. We are all supposed to start ‘functioning’ again today; buses and taxis are running and everyone is supposed to start work, though schools remain shut. I shall escape to my verandah for a hot drink and a ‘think’.

Yours under siege, - anonymous

Note: Portions of this letter have been edited to protect the identity of the writer.

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