Come and say bula to the junta!

Fijiisland
Ah, Fiji. The world’s premier coup tourism destination. Thailand tried to wrest our northern neighbour’s crown a few months ago, but Fiji’s marketing department’s been working overtime, and the former stomping-ground of Colonel Rabuka is now back in the headlines where it belongs. And so it should be. In no other country could 1000 troops mass on the streets amid worsening tensions between the Prime Minister and the army, and one of the military commanders suggest we “come to Fiji for a holiday“.

I could go to Fiji for a relaxing week of lying on beaches, worrying whether the country was going to be turned into a military dictatorship. Or, I could go to Yemen, which is the world’s new terror training hotspot, apparently. Really, it’s a toss-up.

I can imagine the new tourism campaign now:

Fiji, it’s coup d’tastic!

Get tanked in Fiji!

Beautiful one day, armed insurrection the next!

Fiji, where you can feel like a king! (BYO weapons and anti-Indian rhetoric)

and my favourite

Say bula to the junta!

(Yeah, I used that in the title as well, but if the Fijians can recycle their political instability endlessly, I can certainly reuse my cheesy gags about it.)

No wonder Fiji’s own Air Pacific, “your island in the sky”, says “Book online today! Great specials available for a limited time only.” I’m not sure about their claim that Fijians are one of the friendliest peoples in the world, though. Certainly not to each other.

And hey, on Pacific Blue, you can get a return flight leaving tomorrow for just $368 (excluding taxes.) Go on, I dare you.

Former Radar editor (in other words, the best of the best) Joel Gibson is on the ground in Suva, interrupting a leisurely life of sunning himself and swilling kava to bring us the latest. His most recent update says that the President’s in hospital – an excellent place to be if you are caught in the midst of a storm of controversy. Ask Sheik al-Hilaly.

But then he reports that “Life on Suva’s streets appeared to be normal today.” Well, it’s a relaxed place, even on the verge of a revolution.

And the Fijian army’s done its best to calm things down. (Well, other than that whole 1000-troop parade thing, of course.) As Captain Esala Teleni said, “Let me reassure you and everyone that, contrary to rumours, we are not here to conduct a coup. Forget it. We are not here for that.”

So when his boss, Commodore Bainimarama, says it’s him or the Prime Minister, I guess he’s just referring to who gets to be first in line to stand at the airport saying “Bula!” to all the tourists who’ll be arriving over the weekend.

And hey, as Joel says, DFAT has “stopped short of urging people to reconsider their need to travel.” So it’s not nearly as dangerous as, say, Baghdad.

What’s more, there are two Australian warships off the coast in case evacuations are needed. In fact, I’d only buy a one-way ticket if I were you. You’ll probably get a free harbour cruise home!

Dominic Knight

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