Mahendra Chaudhry

Prime Minister of Fiji (1999-2000)

Mahendra Chaudhry is the leader of the Fiji Labour Party and a former Prime Minister, who was deposed in the coup d'état of 2000.

Mahendra Chaudhry

Miscellaneous quotes

  • "I was born here. I am not a foreigner here. I have every right to fight for this country. We are not going to subjugate ourselves to a constitution … signing away all our rights and agreeing to be slaves."

"The Legacy of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara" - Memorial Lecture, Waterfront Hotel, Lautoka, 27 August 2003

  • "There is absolutely no doubt that our future as a nation, lies in drawing strength from the richness of the cultural diversity that surrounds us, for in that alone lies our sustainability and viability as a sovereign state."

"Diwali is an integral part of Hindu culture" - speech at Diwali celebrations in Ba, 2 November 2002

  • "It is part of our identity as Hindus and the Festival of Lights is today a celebration of the beauty of our culture, our Hindu values which, let me assure you, are second to none in the world."
  • "We as a community have become so immersed in rituals and hundreds of paraphernalia when it comes to religion that we are no longer aware of the real wisdom of Hinduism."
  • "This nation made a mistake the first time it granted amnesty to the perpetrators of the 1987 coup. The trust and confidence we showed then was sadly displaced. This time around, we must take a hard line attitude to those who think they can overthrow a democratically-elected government with impunity. We have to stamp out this coup-culture that has developed in Fiji." (20 May 2005)
  • "It is disgraceful that the Prime Minister should deceive Church leaders to get their support for the Bill. He then had the audacity to mislead the nation by claiming that the Bill had the support of Christians." (Commenting on allegations made by Roman Catholic Archbishop Petero Mataca that Qarase had misled church leaders about the true contents of the legislation).
  • "It is wrong for others to be asking for forgiveness on behalf of those who had committed the crime because it is not right." (29 June 2005)
  • "The current provisions in the Bill purporting to promote reconciliation are seriously flawed. There should be clear provisions for those appearing before the reconciliation commission to admit the truth under oath and to divulge all that they know about the events of 2000." (2 August 2005)
  • "Without [the coup perpetrators] divulging the information they have, there can not really be any reconciliation. It will merely be a vehicle for them to escape justice as is the provision in the current Bill. There is no compulsion on them to come and tell the truth to the Commission about what actually happened, who were behind it, who were the key figures?" (2 August 2005)

Comments on Fiji's high emigration rate (19 June 2005)

  • "If the trend continues, Fiji will be left with a large pool of poorly educated, unskilled work force with disastrous consequences on our social and economic infrastructure and levels of investment."
  • "A lack of good governance, political instability, declining law and order situation, racial discrimination and lack of opportunities are the major reasons driving people away from Fiji."

Speech at a farewell function for outgoing United States Ambassador David Lyon, 15 July 2005 (excerpts)

  • "All too often, problems are left to simmer until too late, with disastrous consequences to the people who become victims of the excesses committed on them by self-centred and self-serving leaders."
  • "To hide behind culture or tradition to justify anarchy is a gross insult to the very people whose culture or tradition may be paraded to glorify criminal conduct."

Message to the California Fiji Festival 2005


The California Fiji Festival, held in July 2005, was a get-together for former Fijian residents living in California. These excerpts are from a greeting Mahendra Chaudhry wrote in the festival's souvenir magazine.

  • "I firmly believe that you all should identify yourselves as Fijian Americans, Fijian Canadians even though this right of being called a Fijian is denied to us (except the indigenous people) in our homeland of Fiji."
  • "It (North America) has drawn heavily from the strength of each community of its people to build the richest and the most powerful nations on earth. You are privileged and fortunate to be in a land that recognises and rewards individual talent and enterprise."

Address to the conference of the Fiji Labour Party, Lautoka, 31 July 2005

  • "These coups did not bolster indigenous rights as claimed by its perpetrators instead they left us a legacy of a shattered economy, lost opportunities, racial rivalries and tensions, political divisiveness, unprecedented levels of poverty and unemployment and so on - yes that is exactly what the three coups have reduced our nation to."
  • "The 18 years since 1987 brought us nothing but bad leadership and bad governance. "
  • "Viewed against such a backdrop, there is creeping anxiety about the future of our nation, characterised as it is by deep communal divisions and a disturbingly high rate of out-migration of our skilled people."
  • "You have the choice to be governed by those who aim to keep us segregated in racial compartments so they can continue to enjoy their privileged status in society, at your expense."
  • "If you as the voters exercise this choice then you must remain content with whatever has come your way in the past four years under the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua rule. But no, you must indeed be prepared to face even worst times because under the SDL there will be more instability and divisiveness. The economy will dip further, more and more people will be leaving our shores and the resources of the indigenous people will continue to be shamelessly exploited by bureaucrats, unscrupulous politicians and their collaborators for their own gain."

Interview with Fiji Live, 22 August 2005

  • "I have always held the belief that Fijians must be integrated into the mainstream of national life. You can't keep them isolated from the other communities and from the mainstream of life and expect them to progress."
  • "The status quo is not good for the ordinary Fijians. It is good for the elites in society but not for the ordinary Fijians. This is why you have not seen the ordinary Fijians progress much in the last 35 years since independence. It needs a change in policy and strategies for the development of the grassroots Fijian people."
  • "A more individual approach to society must be taken. That is an incentive based system which will ensure that given the appropriate training, guidance and advice they will progress through such are system as other communities have."
  • "You can still fulfil your traditional obligations but the contradiction in the system between the communal approach and the free market approach needs to be addressed."
  • "Culture is also something that can not be stagnant."

Reaction to Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's address to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in Nadi, 31 August 2005

  • "It is these double standards that have and are still keeping the ordinary Fijian shackled to a now outdated system of feudal control, thus contributing to their poverty and misery, whilst certain chiefs and a large number of Fijian elites continue to substantially increase their wealth at the expense of their poorer subjects."
  • "The rule of law must apply equally to everyone, irrespective of status in society or class divisions it is this equal application that is the bulwark of modern democracies."

Reaction to Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's address to the Fiji Employers Federation in Nadi, 4 September 2005

  • "It was the FLP that was committed to reducing the cost of doing business and started by lowering the cost of utilities, and requested the commercial banks and lending organizations to reduce their fees, charges and interest rates. The FLP also moved to reduce public expenditure, which saw a saving of $96 million in its year in office. It was also the FLP, which lowered interest in Housing Authority home loans from 12 per cent to 6 per cent for those on lower incomes. It was the aggregate effect of this and a range of other measures of tight fiscal control, investment in key growth areas and a firm hand on curbing corruption that saw the economy record an unprecedented growth of 9.6% in 1999."

Fiji Day address, 10 October 2005 (excerpts)

  • "As a nation we have not progressed much, particularly after 1987 when we had the political upheaval. Last 18 years since has been a sad story where we have seen a nation which was happy, prosperous, and united flight back to poverty, misery, and division."
  • "The last 18 years has been spent standing and trying to catch up on things, and as we were getting out of that we had another coup in 2000 so we were thrown back again several. That is how I see this day: it is a day of honest reflection and if we want to move the nation forward than we have to really determine the way, learn to read ourselves to the problem that we have and particularly the people who cause this problem."

Parliamentary speech, 14 November 2005 (excerpts)


Source: Fiji Times, 15 November 2005

  • "The message in the last five years, in particular, has come through loud and clear: We need to get together as a nation. If we are to surmount our many problems, if we are to realise our full potential as a nation so that the benefits of developments are passed on to all and sundry, then we must reject racist and fundamentalist forces."

Parliamentary speech, 2 December 2005 (excerpts)


Source: Fiji Times, 3 December 2005 (on allegations that funds had been raised for him in the Indian state of Haryana, but had not been delivered).

  • "At no time did I ask Shri Chautala to launch such an appeal which he did at a public meeting in Haryana and in the course of my visit to India following my release from captivity."
  • "My detractors here are engaged in a propaganda that I have received the money and used it for my own purposes.
  • "My anger about the whole episode is that Shri Chautala should exploit the feelings of the ordinary and poor folks of Haryana who are emotionally tied to me and to the people of Indian origin in Fiji and play on them a game of deceit for self enrichment."

Christmas message, 22 December 2005 (excerpts)


Source: Fiji Live, 22 December 2005

  • "Christ’s message is universal: To do good, to care for the poor, to love one’s neighbour, to serve honestly and with integrity."
  • "I’m sure that with tolerance and understanding of each other’s cultural identities, compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves and a passionate commitment to all that is fair, socially just and honest we can build a united and prosperous society in Fiji."
  • "But first we must get rid of the bigotry, the fundamentalism and the misconceptions that continue to threaten to keep us apart as a nation."

New Year message, 22 December 2005 (excerpts)


Source: Fiji Times, 02 January 2006

  • "The Government's determination to push through the controversial Amnesty Bill has created deep divisions in the nation, and leaves behind indelible impressions of an administration that backs lawless elements in society."

Quotes about Mahendra Chaudhry

  • Laisenia Qarase, Prime Minister since 2000: "(These protests) are led by a man who has been convicted by the Suva magistrate’s court for causing the death of a person. Mr Chaudhry himself was convicted sometime back for manslaughter and he was released from prison only three days after serving his sentence on a CSO (Compulsory Supervision Order)." (accusing Chaudhry of hypocrisy for campaigning against the early release of politicians jailed for their part in the 2000 coup).

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