Correcting Two Errors on the Charter Process
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
THREE MEMBERS TO LEAD: http://www.fijidailypost.com/news.php?section=1&fijidailynews=25242
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.