Correcting Two Errors on the Charter Process

We recently ran a series of critical but helpful short pieces  by a reader who called himself Thinking ... Not Sleeping which is now also published in Na Sala Cava for your further comments.  

In #7-8 of the series Thinking ... Not Sleeping who was a participant in the People's Charter discussions made two statements that I found puzzling: he claimed that John Samy had written  the Charter, and that the public voting was a "complete joke."  I referred these two statements  to a knowledgeable and very fair-minded friend in Fiji who was also involved with the Charter.  I have added the sub-headings to Vatu's reply:

John Samy did not write the Charter

As one who was involved perhaps more than this correspondent on the People's Charter, in my view John Samy would disagree with this person's view if he is referring to the Charter and the whole ‘State of the Nation and Economy Report’ of the NCBBF on which the PCCPP is based.

Both were the collective work of a whole range of people and one only has to skim through the SNE Report to realise that it was not the work of one individual, although it would be true to say that John led and inspired the process. There are other people living in NZ who contributed their ideas to the work on the Charter (at least one of them used to be a very senior civil servant in the NZ government) who would also disagree with your correspondent's shallow comment about the Peoples Charter. I recently met in Fiji a retired NZ civil servant who used to be head of the PM’s department in NZ no less, who thought highly of the People's Charter: and he is one of the few Kiwis who really understands the situation here as he once worked in Fiji.

Voting on the Charter

“The voting on the Charter was a complete joke” your commentator claims. He gave one example to base his judgement on. But what was not a joke is that close to 65% of people of 18 years and over support the PCCPP. There would have been some abuse as mentioned by your correspondent but the voting was by and large free and fair on clearly defined issues. All the ballots were checked after the vote to further weed out any doubtful ballots and these papers are still being kept in case someone wants to challenge the vote in a court of law.

Charter a good starting point for international dialogue

If Australian and NZ diplomats were listening to people like your correspondent, no doubt they would have confirmed their own predilection to dismiss anything supported by the Bainimarama regime as fraudulent and not worth taking seriously.

This would be a serious mistake, as the vote on the People's Charter was a vote by the ordinary people of Fiji for the very principles and practical policies that the international community had been demanding to be done in Fiji,  and it was a major strategic mistake by the Australian and NZ governments to have dismissed the PCCPP as a fraud and not a practical basis on which to dialogue with the Bainimarama regime.

These governments have run out of options now on which to base a practical policy for engagement with Fiji, especially now that most of the MSG States have taken positions on Fiji that are contrary to the Pacific Islands Forum position. It is not too late for the Forum to reconsider the People's Charter as a possible basis for dialogue with the Bainimarama regime, even so.

A reader has supplied

these useful links on the  composition of the National Council For Building A Better Fiji that produced the People's Charter. Vinaka, White Frangipani.

Scroll down to today's earlier posting.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Charter process

Well of course JS would disagree. However
with the Military so involved with voting
process intimidation was always going
to happen. Even with good intentions
people would have felt intimidated.

Also what where people signing to
accept exactly ? Many thought they
where agreeing that the constitution
was the the ultimate law.

The military and this government can
not quote peoples acceptance of the
charter when they themselves have totally
ignored an important part of it.
Anonymous said…
The next time some one from Government bangs on about
the charter why don't they insist the
constitution be put back in place ?
After all that was part of the charter.
Anonymous said…
The PM and his military men and supporters love talking about the charter but always selectively ignore where they have moved in the opposite direction. Example 1 - they tossed out the constitution and example 2 - what about all the bits on free speach etc.

They love it when it suits.

Same thing for fair process and accountabilty.

Only if it suits.

Other just ignore it. No probs we still have the guns.
Radiolucas said…
And once again, the regime has an issue with free speech and due process - by circumventing public scrutiny and the media, any "good" work that they might have performed are veiled behind the suspicion that it is all lies intended to advance the regime and deny the truth of the matter - whether or not in fact it is true.

Ridiculous really but the regime and its advisors have never really been particularly open to criticism and until they grow enough to allow their ideas to be tested by open debate and discussion, their ideas are by and large worthless in the eyes of the people and the international media.
Australia Incorporated said…
Let me get this right. According to coup apologists the voting in the elections which democratically elected the Qarase government was wrong, but the 'voting' for the so called people's charter was ok? Oh pulease, spare us the spin!!
Anonymous said…
Little validity in the Charter Support Claims

Like Thinking…Not Sleeping I was also involved in the charter but at working group level.
We where given a draft on day one and despite much discussion very little changed when we saw the final. What was frustrating is several people including myself spent a lot of time on preparing for the meeting only to find our paper got lost, where not discussed or the real decision makers where not in the room. I can only comment on one working group. However in the end it is a reasonable document. I was very impressed and somewhat surprised that support for the constitution made it in (see below) but I guess at that point military where confident they had it all covered and could somehow trash government and pretend the constitution was still in play.

On the validity of voting for the charter I can quote you hundreds of examples just like Thinking…Not Sleeping. The very fact that it was the military who took the charter to everyone to get it signed was the first mistake. This is the same military that had dealt very seriously with people who had said anything negative against the coup. The ballet was not secret or controlled.

Lets however take a very, very generous view and assume a large part of the population support the charter. What exactly was it they where supporting ? I encourage everyone to read the original document. It is a fairly idealist manifesto and on first read not a lot offends. After intro and a jingle it states we…..

“Affirm that our constitution represents the supreme law of our country, that it provides the framework for conduct of government and the people”

So assuming the validity of the charter voting, the majority of people voted to respect the constitution and rule of law. Sorry, there goes any argument that the charter is guiding this government or that it is there mandate from the people.

Croz – It’s hard to be positive when the lies and manipulation from this government continue. They quote governance and transparency when it suits and ignore it completely when it does not. The charter now looks like a bit of a cruel hoax that many of us gave our time to.
Anonymous said…
We are constantly told how the the two elections that put LQ in power where rigged and now we are asked to believe the charter was endorsed under a fair process. Oh please, what rubblish.

Croz - you are a academic, please ask a colleague to shed some profesional light on the process that took place. It was nothing more than a PR exercise.
Big talk, no action said…
Croz, I just don't understand your preoccupation with the Peoples Charter and concern about what anyone thinks about it. Yes, it's continually being invoked by the regime as the cornerstone of its claim to legitimacy but there's still no real sign of tangible progress towards its formal implementation. You can have all the high-minded statements you want but if you don't actually do anything, is it any wonder that people are cynical? I refuse to bother with any of this until I can see overwhelming evidence that the regime plans to keep its promises. We were meant to start a process of genuine consultation eight months ago. What's happened? Zip, zero, zilch.
Anonymous said…
Can I draw your attention back to the roadmap Croz for moment please.

If it does exis why would the government not release it ? The Natadola meeting endorsed it so why not make it public ?
Croz said…
@ Charter Processes ... JS? Presumably John Samy. He was not the source of my information.

@ Anonymous 1 .. Yes but the Constitution would have been amended to remove its race-based provisions. This also was part of the Charter.

@ Anonymous 2.. Don't forget that it was the Australian judges Appeal decision that led to these results. I do, however, share your concern and that of ...

@ Radio Lucas ... regarding the absence of more open debate.

@ Australia Incorp... Both were flawed but from all I've heard from responsible people on the spot, the Charter was really approved by most of those who voted for it.

@ Little validity ...See note above. I agree with your comment on governance and transparency but do not think the Charter a cruel hoax. Many parts are being worked on as my posts show. (See Roadmap in Search this Blog).

@ Anonymous 3 ... I think the 2001 and 2006 Elections flawed because the electoral system under which they were held (unequal electorates, communal voting, preferential voting) and the actual electoral irregularities. The Charter process was less flawed.

@ Big talk .. Much is being implemented (see this blog on Roadmap) but electoral and constitution reforms, that seem to most concern some readers, will have to wait until 2012. Some dialogue is going on but I'd like to see more, and earlier.

@ Anonymous 4 (why don't people use pseudonyms!) ... I agree and have urged the Mininfo to request its publication.
Australia Incorporated said…
Croz
Do you actually know what a military coup is?
Anonymous said…
M.B.N

Croz - A number of times you have dismissed
the court of appeals decision because it was
"Australia judges". I don't think this
is fair or consistent. I don't see you
dismissing the current judges in Fiji
because they are shrilankin ? They where
the appeal judges at the time.
Joe said…
"Little validity in the Charter Support Claims" says:

“Affirm that our constitution represents the supreme law of our country, that it provides the framework for conduct of government and the people”

Based on the above statement, the charter should be declared null and void because we dont have a constitution. Those who signed, did so affirming that the constitution is the supreme law of the land. I dont think anyone anticipated that "decrees" will replace the constitution.
Anonymous said…
Give up Croz - no one supported the removal of the constitution, ruling by decree or removing of basic freedoms by PER.
No one approved the coup and no one in fiji has approved a roadmap - how could they when no one in fiji is even able to read it.
Corruption Fighter said…
I've got to hand it you Croz - the doors to your open mind are all on one side of your head!

You say you asked "a knowledgeable and very fair-minded friend, who was also associated with the Charter" about the voting process for the charter.

Are you seriously saying that the answer you got by asking one person should over-ride the deep suspicions expressed by Thinking ....Not Sleeping, not to mention many others. Who was this one person that he or she can speak with authority on how a process was carried on simultaneously through-out the country?

Compare this with the voting in the 2006 elections. The Commonwealth Observer Group had representatives all over the place and access to top officials in order be in a position to express an opinion. Yet you seem to think that one person who you think is "knowledgeable and very fair-minded" is in a position to assure you that the voting for the Charter was all above board.

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