People's Charter Pillar 1: For Discussion

My thanks to the reader who suggested a regular weekly posting on each of the eleven pillars of the People's Charter that will enable all readers to consider each pillar carefully, offer their opinions and comment on what has been done —and what yet needs to be done—to implement them. Here in the first week is Pillar 1. Please use the opportunity to comment and exchange opinions with other readers. Please try to comment over the next seven days. Pillar 2 will be published next Saturday.
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Postscript. I have added Chapter 1 of the State of the Nation paper 
on the recommended electoral reforms  at the end of Pillar 1.

PEOPLE'S CHARTER
PILLAR I
ENSURING SUSTAINABLE DEMOCRACY AND GOOD
AND JUST GOVERNANCE¹

Critical Problems and Issues:

A fair and just Constitution is the basis of good governance. However, a Constitution that divides the people and separates them, which does not provide for equal opportunities, can be neither fair nor just. The world community, in declarations and treaties expressing the highest ideals, has opposed racism and injustice. We the people of Fiji are all too aware of the harm racial division has to our country. We declare, through this Peoples Charter, our commitment to a Fiji free from all forms of discrimination.

Democracy must be entrenched in our Constitution in accord with our pledge to rebuild a Better Fiji for All: one nation, one people with a common identity and shared destiny.


Fiji’s electoral system is racially discriminatory and undemocratic. The United Nations Convention on Discrimination and the Right to Universal and Equal Suffrage requires each individual vote to be
equal in value. The current communal system of representation entrenches inequalities, by not providing one value for one vote, has contributed to the “coup culture”, and the consequent ethnic-based politics that has impeded our national development. We commit ourselves to a free and fair electoral process, that promotes one people, one nation and one identity.

We acknowledge that democracy is more than just a matter of voting. Effective democratic governance must place the people at the centre. We, therefore, affirm our commitment to secure a more transparent and accountable process of government. The peoples eyes are the eyes of the nation; their ears are the ears of the nation, and their voice, the voice of the nation. To perfect democratic governance in Fiji, we, the people, must be free to see, to hear, and to speak on the affairs of our country.

In the wake of the coups since 1987, Fiji suffers the stigma of having a “coup culture”. We must put an end to the cycle of coups.

The Way Forward:

The following key measures and actions must be taken with due priority and urgency (For the detailed recommendations and proposed implementation actions, see the Report on the State of the Nation and the Economy) :

A. Reform of the Electoral System:
♦ abolish the communal representation system as provided for under the Constitution and the Electoral Act 1998, and replace this with the use of a common roll system for all
future elections.
♦ establish a fair system of voting so that all the interests and wishes of the people of Fiji can be represented in the Parliament as expressed through free, fair and honest elections and for this adopt an Open List Proportional Representation (PR) Electoral and Voting System.
♦ incorporate specific anti-discrimination measures into Fiji’s electoral laws to ensure no person is discriminated against by political parties on the grounds of race, religion, gender or circumstance.
♦ remove the mandatory power sharing arrangement as provided for under the current Constitution.
♦ reduce the voting age from 21 to 18 years of age.
♦ maintain compulsory registration and abolish compulsory voting.
♦ promulgate an AntiDiscrimination Act.
♦ the electoral system be removed from the Constitution and enacted as law so that it may be amended and reformed from time to time according to the will of the people. However, the fundamental recommendations of nonethnic voting, equal franchise and Proportional Representation be enshrined in the Constitution.

B. To ensure good and just governance, including greater transparency and accountability, and to combat corruption:
♦ The government be fully accountable to the people of Fiji through Parliament and its procedures. These include:
A robust and effective Opposition, able to fully scrutinise the programmes and policies of government.
A Parliamentary Committee system that has the resources and capacity to consider matters before
the Parliament in a non-partisan manner in the interest of the people and the nation.
The people have access to Parliament through their petitions and proposals and that these receive
appropriate and due consideration.
♦ The Parliament of Fiji must have the capacity to adequately carry out executive and administrative oversight of governance through its own or constitutionally created independent statutory agencies.
These include: an independent and well resourced Ombudsman’s Office with broadened powers of investigation; an independent and well resourced Fiji Human Rights Commission; an independent and well resourced Auditor General’s Office; and an independent and well resourced Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC).
♦ The Government must publish timely public reports with adequate details so that the people of Fiji are aware of what is being done in their name and with their taxes.
♦ Enact Freedom of Information legislation and establish a Media Tribunal.

C. To end the cycle of coups:
♦ Adopt and apply a thirteen prong principles-based strategy including reforms addressing ethnonationalism, leadership, good governance, human rights and national reconciliation.

Ending the Coup Culture: 13 Key Principles
1. Remove the political, economic and social conditions for coups and strengthen the
sanctions against coups.
2. Build genuine national reconciliation through dialogue, forgiveness and appropriate
conflict resolution mechanisms for groups and individuals affected by coups.
3. Redefine the role of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces to bring it closer to the people.
4. Transform the role of public leadership.
5. The Courts to be empowered to penalise including orders of dissolution of political
parties that engage in activities that breach important values of the Constitution.
6. Improve ethnic relations at the personal, communal, institutional and national levels.
7. Enlarge public accountability for national security.
8. Implement electoral reforms.
9. Strengthen the accountability and transparency of State institutions, the private sector
and civil society organisations in particular to enhance their adherence to the rule of law.
10. Establish civic programmes to raise public awareness about the injustice and illegality
of coups and issues of democracy and good governance.
11. Reform institutions and rehabilitate individuals and groups which are most prone to
being implicated in coups such as ethno nationalists and religious fundamentalists.
12. Ensure a separation between religion and state.
13. Facilitate greater public participation in all aspects of governance.

Realign the role of the RFMF to include Human Security:
Enhance the RFMF–community development partnership by strengthening its developmental role
to ensure that its professional, technical and social potential is fully realised. This to be achieved
through the implementation of the National Youth Service, and in areas such as conservation of
biodiversity, basic infrastructure rehabilitation and development, especially in the rural areas through an expanded Engineering Corps; and provision of security services.

D. To redress the law and order situation:
♦ reduce overall criminal offence rate;
♦ reduce crime rates against women and children;
♦ reform laws that impede the combating of crimes;
♦ enhance enforcement capacity to address crimes including sophisticated crimes and cross-border
security issues.
♦ reduce prison population through measures such as alternative sentencing, community service, and restorative justice.

¹ I have made minor formatting changes to the original text to make discussion easier. For example, use bold subheadings and underlined test, the use of A-D, and the tabulation 1-13.
  
FIJI: THE STATE OF THE NATION AND THE ECONOMY EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 

Chapter 1: Reform of the Electoral System
  • The nationwide consultation process and the work of the three NTTs and nine WGs,
    identified weaknesses in Fiji’s constitutional arrangements and political system —
    particularly problems with the electoral system — as one of the most immediate and
    urgent set of problems lying at the heart of the nation’s malaise.

    The race-based architecture of the current electoral system and the patent unfairness of the outcomes it has delivered in the three elections since 1997 is a major reason for the growing disaffection with the current constitutional arrangements. The retention and indeed the increase in 1997 of the proportionate share of communal seats in Parliament, together with the use of the Alternative Voting system, strengthened extremist elements and weakened the forces of political moderation. As a result, political life has been polarised: members of Parliament elected from communalroll
    seats have little incentive to take account of, or care about, the concerns of other communities. This lack of incentive has encouraged some politicians to exaggerate communal and religious differences for their own narrow political purposes and to promote the belief among their followers that the only objective of electoral competition is to aggrandise the position of their own community at the expense of every other. The end result for Fiji, as a nation, has been a lessening of trust between communities which in turn has led to an increase in religious and racial intolerance, even hatred, as demonstrated in the rising incidence of violence and religious sacrilege.

    In short, the electoral system under the current 1997 Constitution appears to have lost
    credibility and legitimacy among many of Fiji’s citizens. There is strong demand for a new and fairer electoral arrangement.

    The Case for Electoral Reform
    For reasons of practicality, democracy has always taken the form of representative
    democracy where, on the basis of free and equal suffrage, people elect representatives to decide on the nation’s priorities and use its resources for the common good. But
    elections must be free and fair to make democracy work properly. They should also
    operate in a way that tends to unite people around visions of a common good that do not exclude some citizens.

    In 1996, the Reeves Constitution Review Commission linked the perpetuation of ethnic politics to the electoral system when it asserted that:

    The people of Fiji need to make a conscious choice about whether they wish to
    take a decisive step away from the communal system that has made ethnic
    policies inevitable since before independence.’

    The Reeves Commission’s conclusions on communal representation are as relevant today as they were in 1996. In fact, given Fiji’s recent past, there is now an even greater need to completely eliminate communal representation. Retention of the communal voting system reflects a lack of commitment by Fiji to international conventions like the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). These international standards favour a strong commitment to the principle of equal suffrage and a move toward systems that do not place restrictions on the grounds of race. Furthermore, international conventions on indigenous rights contain the proviso that the application of indigenous rights should not be detrimental to the basic human rights of other members of society. Since the enactment of the 1997 Constitution, there have been two more coups in Fiji and continuing political instability which are, in large part, a consequence of a communal voting system that segregates Fiji’s communities. Communal voting has not achieved either the objective of drawing the country closer together or of protecting the interests of the identified ethnic groups.

    Further, there has been significant demographic change since 1987: Fijians are now a clear majority of the population. This change has invalidated the reason once advanced for the retention of communal voting – the need to protect the interests of a minority indigenous race. Clearly, a new approach is needed for Fiji that eliminates race-based politics.

    Seven standard criteria were used for assessing the fairness of the electoral system. The criteria are :
    (i) legitimacy of the transfer of power from the people to Parliament (one person,
    one vote, one value delivering electoral outcomes that are seen to be fair and
    reasonable);
    (ii) accountability (elected representatives are held to account for their actions),
    parties issue manifestos or stand on platforms that provide them, once elected,
    with a mandate for their policies;
    (iii) the representativeness of Parliament (parties or social groups are elected to
    parliament in proportion to their votes or numbers in the community – sometimes
    called “social mirroring”);
    (iv) the system’s simplicity;
    (v) the system needs to promote neutrality, and finally; and
    (vi) the system’s acceptability in the form of popular support by the people.

    Fiji’s current electoral system does not meet these criteria. Nor does it meet the specific need within Fiji for an electoral system that bridges ethnic differences rather than exacerbating them. The outcomes are not considered to be fair and reasonable: for example, the failure of a party such as the National Federation Party (NFP), to win a single seat in Parliament despite receiving significant electoral support in three
    successive elections, is not a fair outcome. The suffrage is not equal because there is a great disparity between the values of a vote in different constituencies.
    In 2006, for example, there were 3,340 registered voters in the ’iTaukei’
    seat of Namosi but 19,044 registered voters in the nearby ’iTaukei’
    seat of Nadroga/Navosa. The average number of registered voters in 17 provincial Fijian constituencies was 9,521 but the average number of registered voters in six urban Fijian constituencies was 15,930.

    As noted above, the legitimacy of the current electoral system is also suspect in terms of human rights. These factors taint every other aspect of the present system since electoral outcomes cannot be trusted to exact appropriate accountability or give genuine and fair guidance on the appropriate mandate to be implemented by Government. The effective representation of the diversity of Fiji is largely defined by race and its impact is distorted in consequence. In addition, the present system has demonstrated itself to be far from simple as there have been unacceptably high numbers of invalid ballots at all elections held since 1999.

    In considering the options for reform, the NCBBF considered the separate elements of the present electoral system in order to identify particular points for change. The key elements so identified were:

  • Which method of election should replace the present alternative voting
    system?
  • Should communal seats be retained or replaced by the use of common rolls for
    all seats?
  • How should constituency boundaries be drawn to ensure representative
    government and one person, one vote, one value?
Given the objective agreement to eliminate race-based politics, a consensus was reached that the first two questions were intimately linked. Retention of communal seats was seen as being incompatible with the elimination of race-based politics. No citizen should be compelled to identify his or her race in order to participate in voting, the most important political act of citizenship. Nevertheless, the system that is adopted must assure the fair representation of Fiji’s ethnic diversity. Following a comprehensive examination of the options, the NCBBF unanimously agreed that some form of Proportional Representation (PR) electoral system is desirable in Fiji.

The independent Electoral Commission also reached the conclusion that Fiji needs to
move to a proportional representation system in order to secure fair and just electoral
outcomes.

The NCBBF also agreed that the issue of equitable electoral boundaries would be heavily influenced by the decision on the type of PR system chosen. After considering the three main variants of the proportional representation system (namely, single transferable vote (SVT); mixed member proportional system (MMP); and a simple list system) the NCBBF opted for the open list system on the grounds that

(i) the intrinsic fairness of this system would strengthen the legitimacy of Parliament (ii) it would increase the accountability of political parties to the electorate; and, moreover
(iii) by allowing voters to select an individual candidate from the party list some personal accountability was offered as well.

Other major advantages are its close reflection of the actual vote (i.e. social mirroring) and its relative simplicity of operation.

Accordingly, the NCBBF recommends the:
  • abolition of the communal representation system as currently provided for
    under the Constitution and the Electoral Act 1998,
  • the use of a common roll for all future elections,
  • the adoption of a Proportional Representation (PR) system (using the open list variant), and
  • the implementation of these electoral reforms before the next general election,which should be held as soon as is practicable.

The NCBBF also considered some ancillary issues. It proposes a relatively small number of large constituencies to maximise the proportional benefits of a PR electoral system. It recommends the repeal of the mandatory power sharing arrangement currently provided for in the Constitution; the reduction of the voting age from 21 to 18 years; and the abolition of compulsory voting.

A number of other issues relating to the electoral system, such as the term of Parliament, the size of Parliament, whether the Constitution should be amended to allow referendums in Fiji, the eligibility of citizens living overseas to vote; and the role, size and composition of the Senate, were also canvassed and are to be taken up in the countrywide consultations on the proposed electoral reform package.

The NCBBF also considered some ancillary issues. It proposes a relatively small number of large constituencies to maximise the proportional benefits of a PR electoral system. It recommends the repeal of the mandatory power sharing arrangement currently provided for in the Constitution; the reduction of the voting age from 21 to 18 years; and the abolition of compulsory voting.

A number of other issues relating to the electoral system, such as the term of Parliament, the size of Parliament, whether the Constitution should be amended to allow referendums in Fiji, the eligibility of citizens living overseas to vote; and the role, size and composition of the Senate, were also canvassed and are to be taken up in the countrywide consultations on the proposed electoral reform package.

Comments

Cicero said…
A fundamental and underlying principle of Good Governance and Democracy is:

That government is funded by taxpayers both individual and corporate.

That government has no money of its own other than that derived from taxpayers or donors.

That accountability and transparency are to be applied to the use of Public Money.

There is now other tenet of Good Governance which is more empowering than this.

Yet, the taxpayers of Fiji appear to incompletely and inappropriately comprehend this principle. They have failed to understand it since 1970. They have frequently confused Public Money as being Private. Surely, it is now time that they do?
No engagement with dictators said…
Mr Yabaki

Thank you for your rather interesting views. I found the paper rather descriptive, repetitive and quite convuluted. The lack of any real critical analysis of the underlying causes of coups in Fiji (the military and its lack of effective leadership) is rather disappointing.
Reading your 'paper' has reinforced my view that the future of Fiji under the continuing control of a militarised state, is very bleak indeed.
As for any dialogue with dictators, in Fiji or anywhere else. The response is simple: No way.
I suggest you keep 'going north' to see where that takes you. As an Australian taxpayer I have no interest in Fiji under the present regime other than a place where we can have discounted and heavily subsidised holidays in the sun.
Anonymous said…
A fair and just constitution must be based on extensive consultation with every section of the populace in the language they understand in a sufficiently comfortable timeframe such as at least one and a half years or even two years before adoption, to allow for revision of views. Perhaps a note on this could be included in the preamble.
Croz Walsh said…
@ No engagement .. In your haste to criticize, you read only one-half of the paper and then made your comment on the wrong posting. "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."
Anonymous said…
There should be provision in the Constitution for the proper representation of women to reflect their level of education, positions they occupy in employment and contribution to development in the nation. A quota system has been adopted in several Pacific countries.
Sloane Ranger said…
@ Anonymous and the Quota System for the representation of women....

We have no doubt now that the quota system for women will have to be introduced in Fiji. It has been successful in several countries formerly under dictatorship. Most remarkable is Spain which was a notoriously 'macho' counry under the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco and now has a high representation of women parliamentarians and women ministers. Spain might not have achieved this without a quota. Norway has a quota for the representation of women on all corporate boards which are funded by public money. Thirty-five per cent of board members MUST be female. I would go for higher than this in the Pacific Region until it becomes obvious and not just apparent that 'women bear all the children of this world and hold up Half the Sky' (Ancient Chinese Proverb). Women now must take on their rightful role and they must be allocated an equality of influence in the corridoors of power. All donors of aid and assistance should take note that they also are on notice for having consistently refused to take seriously the role that women parliamentarians and corporate board members should and must take up. The Pacific Women Parliamentarians' Conference held at the then Fiji Mocambo in Nadi in March 2000 mouthed all these platitudes and paid lip-service to them. They were all tossed out of the window on May 19 2000. Subsequent Canberra-enforced elections did nothing to further the rightful role of women in Fiji or elsewhere in the South Pacific region. The elections were subverted to obviate this as in most other outcomes. This is a battle about power and influence. It is time for the dynamic to rapidly change. Never again shall any male board member remunerated from public money sit on ten corporate boards and be Chairperson of three! And the Fiji media played on while this was in process? Never a word was uttered?
Anonymous said…
Sloane Ranger - I absolutely agree. It's common sense that there should be political will and affirmative action on the representation of women in all decision making bodies. Men cannot think like women and women cannot think like men so to get the proper balance in decision making both should be well represented.
Analysing the Inputs Eleven Years On said…
The Women Parliamentarians' Conference at the Fiji Mocambo Nadi March 2000

How many of us were there? How many of us remember what was said? How many of us were from New Zealand and Australia, Pacific Partners? Yet, it is clearly recollected from my perch as an observer, nothing that was proposed, considered came about. It could not come about because on 19 May 2000 all hell broke loose in Fiji and all the women Parliamentarians were taken hostage for a period of 56 days. This was not only an outrage perpetrated upon the nascent democratic process in Fiji, it was an absolute refutation of the rights of all women in Fiji: parliamentarians and voters alike. The very constituency of the democratic process was scorned, the representatives in Parliament terrorised and the entire Nation plunged into darkness and uncertainty for months on end. The economy came close to being entirely trashed - wrecked for some spurious ideology that has no place in the modern world. Development was set back decades, the currency was shot to pieces, people left in droves and they left within a week. When it came time to attempt to build things up again from the ruins, where were the women? Those Who hold up Half the Sky? Not to be seen. If ever there was evidence of Lese-Humanity, this was it. The Voice of Women in Fiji was stifled just as it had almost been snuffed out within Parliament. Those who established the first Pacific Islands Women Parliamentarian's Conference of 2000 - eleven years ago this month - need to ask themselves some searching questions about their intentions and their motivation. They need to analyse and engage critical thinking about where it all led? How much did they truly understand the culture and environment in which they worked? For the status and standing of Women in Fiji and in the wider Pacific has progressed very little since then. Something went critically wrong with the Inputs, as business would have it. What do we intend to do about that now?
Anonymous said…
Local women in particular are very sensitive to an intimidating environment as currently under the PER and cannot restrategise until it is lifted. Meanwhile programmes for International Women's Day on
8th March can provide opportunities for exchanging views with the police expected to be in the audience. The PER must be lifted soon to allow democratic processes to be initiated by civilians.
Holding up Half the Sky! said…
@ Anonymous

If women allow themselves to 'remain sensitive to an intimidating environment' they will remain under-represented and improperly "put upon" for ever. This is a displacement activity-speak? High Time that women throw off their cultural barriers and stand up for themselves and they take a rational and modern stance towards "No taxation without full representation". Now this is an argument which requires some education and some smart thinking. This is not beyond our capacities? High time to do things differently! And International Women's Day is tomorrow.
Purely an INFORMATION PAPER! said…
The Public Accounts Committee Presentation dated 22 September 2006

In front of me sits this report which was described as "purely an information paper". Oh Yes? Since when was any report from a Public Accounts Commitee to be purely "for information"? Anywhere in the democratic and accountable world a report from a Public Accounts Committee - a Standing Committee of Parliament - is the most important document with regard to the justification and explanation for the spending of Public Money. So what went wrong here? It is high time we revisited these matters. We have to learn from them why so much went wrong and why. PURELY INFORMATION? Ask the questions that count - then ..Act.
Critical Recipes said…
A recipe for International Women's Day 8 March 2011.....

Put the Pacific Women Parliamentarians' Conference March 2011 and the Public Accounts Committee 'Purely for information paper' in a bowl, whisk them briskly, then let them stand awhile. Hey Presto! You have a brilliant recipe and a strategy for full accountability and failed transparency. Many more such recipes may be concocted with very little effort in any kitchen in Fiji. The ingredients are all at hand? Sprinkle in some hope.
Anonymous said…
Fiji's coup culture requires research by university students and included as a course in the appropriate discipline at our tertiary institutions asap. Has there been any progress on initiating reforms within the Methodist Church ?
Anonymous said…
croz - Can the comments on the wrong page be brought down.
Croz Walsh said…
THESE COMMENTS WERE ON WRONG POSTING. BROUGHT DOWN AS REQUESTED.

Charter chatter said...

Croz,

I suggest you start the charter discussion with some of the first words in that document which reinforce that the constitution is the supreme law. The pm and military conveniently forget this point. On the one hand they point out that people supported the charter (the validity of this claim is a argument for another day). Well if the majority did indeed support the charter why has the pm ignored it ?

The reality is it is referred to when convientinet and ignored when not. The pm threw out the very thing that the charter acknowlegedged was our supreme law - our constitution.

Mar 6, 2011 8:56:00 PM
Delete
Blogger Croz Walsh said...

ALL READERS. Please make your comments on Pillar 1 of the Charter in the weekend reading, not here.

@ Charter Chatter ... Note the above. Note also that it was a reader's idea to discuss the pillars, not mine, so I have no intention to lead discussion. But in reply to your comment, many people would agree Bainimarama tried to follow the Constitution despite serious misgivings about parts of it. Witness Pillar 1 of the Charter that calls for changes to the Constitution because of the unfair and undemocratic electoral system that was written into the Constitution. Any further attempts to follow the Constitution were clearly made impossible with the June 2010 Court ruling. Hence its abrogation. But I'm telling you nothing you did not know already.

No more discussion here, please.

Mar 6, 2011 11:21:00 PM
Delete
Anonymous The Divided Nation said...

What a pity the so called 'people's charter has had no input from the people?
In the divided nation so far those against democracy have the guns. It will change when those who support democracy and freedom have their share of the guns. Watch them run down the cassava patch then. This war has a long way to go and that is why Bhaini is having sleepless nights...tik...tok...tik...tok...

Mar 6, 2011 11:27:00 PM
Anonymous said…
@ quota for women representation in parliament means that we are regressing. Why on earth do we want to do that? In 1999 more women members were elected into the lower house and also nominated into the upper house. These women got in on merit with the support of women voters, women groups and the various constituencies who supported women, they didn't need a quota system to be elected. The same occurred in 2001 and again in 2006 with no quotas allocated. I advocate to do away with any quota system for either gender because it disqualifies equality. It is time to have a woman prime minister in the next election and there are a number of good quality women out there who would qualify.
Anonymous said…
Divided Nation - There was input into the Charter from a selected group of people - mostly professionals - for each of the pillars followed by consultation with citizens in different parts of Fiji. Let's be smart and engage with the military if we don't want them to be our leaders forever.
Anonymous said…
Bloggers,

Sorry I don't get it. The coup was to remove racism (communal seats, race based voting etc) and many readers are suggesting we allocate seats based on gender. That to my mind is as bad as racisim. Individual and parties should run based on what they beleive in not their race and certainly not gender. The smart parties will have a range of government ministers representative of all all people (race and gender)>
Anonymous said…
In 1999 more women were elected into Parliament thanks to the financial support of UNIFEM. Political parties in the past have paid lip service only to the promotion of women candidates and please look around. How many boards of corporate organisations of their own enlightened initiative have women members - hardly any. Who are the women members of the FNPF board, Housing Authority Board , FEA etc etc. True some women will prefer to become members of Parliament on their own merit only but what we need is a consistent and critical number of women to make an impact in decision making. At secondary school and tertiary level, young women in many instances perform much better academically than young men. But when it comes to politics the dynamics change for whose advantage? Certainly not for the greater good of all. Another good reason for having a quota for women - 30% ? - is the need to block the entry of too many underqualified male candidates. A quota system, which is working fine in even some developed countries acknowledge the value of women in the life of their nation.
Anonymous said…
@ anon speaking on divided nation.

What makes you think the military is prepared to give up power ?

I know they are talking three possible

1. Defer the election (more hints today saying some villages don't want it)

2. Craft the new constitution so they maintain ultimate power (hey there is a reason why no dialogue has started)

3. Commander run in the election (and use all his military power to ensure he is elected) he will continue as commandor and PM

4. Commander as the new Predident with more powers under the consitution.

Basic truth is they don't want to give up power and don't beleive in democracy.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous above - If the Military are considering the four options you have listed a good reason would be that there are just too many pessimists and cynists like you around who ignore the positives they have achieved. Villagers know too well how they have been used by democratically elected leaders and may not mind more years of military rule because of the real difference they have made to their lives.Fiji's coup culture has thrived on the exploitation of villagers who may need more tme to strengthen their capacities to think and act independently of political sharks.Bainimarama off course cannot live forever and democratic rule will surely come. We have enjoyed it in the past and will surely do so in the future. Now is the time to work on getting the Constitutional formula right.
Gender equity in governance said…
@ Qualified women candidates for boards and for Parliament and the application of a QUOTA...

If a quota system for the representation of women on boards funded from taxpayers' and public money is sufficient and timely for Germany under a remarkable woman Chancellor, Angela Merkel, it should be good enough for us. The essential thing is that all must be qualified to present themselves, have experience and most importantly of all THEY MUST BE HONEST & DILIGENT. It is also good enough for Norway, has been discarded in Spain now that they have a more than equitable representation of women. It stands to pure common sense: women are half the population: in Fiji they are slightly more than half according to the last Census. No publicly-funded company or indeed the country (which is run on Public Money) should have women insufficiently making decisions. THIS IS FUNDAMENTAL TO GENDER EQUITY AND TO BALANCED AND PROPER GOVERNANCE. It is the minimum standards that must be set. A Publicly-funded company might have a majority of professionally qualified women? But it must have at least one-third - 35% is the norm where this applies. Watch Germany - Europe's largest country with 80m population. It's economy is booming. Economic prosperity will never be achieved in the absence of gender equity.
A failure of ethics & judgement said…
Gaining Power and Influence and rooting out the corrupt:

It is more than obvious surely that women may be just as corrupt, grasping and greedy as men? Marieta Rigamoto has now been exposed in the Agriculture Scam Case in Suva. She was Assistant Minister for Agriculture in 2001. Women who allegedly conduct themselves in this manner are a 'Blot on the Landscape' and yes they do provide a regressive dynamic for women's progress. After the efforts of UNIFEM in 1999which we remember well, why betray all that was done to enhance our representation? Such women must be held fully accountable for their alleged abuse of office and misuse of taxpayers' money. Where was the required judgement and ethical standard required of any Government Minister remunerated by public money?
Anonymous said…
Latest news to hand is that on the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day the Australian Government through
AusAID is donating $500,000 over two years to the World YWCA Power to Change Fund specifically to help young women in the Asia Pacific become future leaders.Now that's political will and affirmative action. The current president of the World YWCA is Australian.
Imprimatur said…
@ AUSAid donation to the YWCA of $500,000...

While giving appropriate thanks to AUSAid, one might comment that we look forward to the day when AUSAid will feel obliged to donate to the YMCA to ensure that male leaders achieve equity in leadership following years of governance by qualified women! That will be the true test of change. Men on the back foot because they failed to upskill themselves thinking that being male alone was sufficient? There is no point in being hierarchically qualified if you do not know the role of GDP in the economy and where it should be to provide JOBS FOR ALL. It should be no less than 6% annually as it is now in Vietnam and in Brazil. These are the developing economies in which to invest. How many male leaders today know this? Do they watch or listen daily to the economic and business news? Why does the Fiji Times newspaper STILL not display commodity prices daily? They were asked to show the gold price back in 2005. Now the Gold Price is an indicator of Global Inflation: as it goes up the US Dollar goes down. This is vital to our understanding.
BAND AID said…
Political Will & Affirmative Action...

Throwing money at problems is insufficient in itself. No one wishes to begrudge any money that may be useful. However, unless it is well used, honestly accounted for and - above all - does not pay expensive consultants who claw back for themselves money they have paid already in taxation, then it is not good enough. That is obvious and common sense. Fiji has been receiving aid for years. What difference has it made which is more than cosmetic or band-aid? If this sounds ungracious, it is not. It is a valid and quite appropriate question and should have been asked years ago by all mature and responsible women.
Anonymous said…
Band Aid - agreed, local NGOs have a long way to go as far as accountability of funds is concerned. However, it is possible to work in partnership with those with credible records.
Anonymous said…
Should ability to read and understand policy documents written in English be a minimum requirement for future parliamentary candidates ? Another minimum requirements could be a track record of membership in committees and decision making bodies and having adequate private income.
Mauritius - the Way to Go? said…
@ Imprimatur....the role of healthy and adequate GDP...

Are we aware that Mauritius, a tiny island in the Indian Ocean with just over 1m inhabitants, has had an annual growth rate of at least 5% for years? Economist Joseph Stiglitz (a Nobel Prize Winner) points to the Island of Mauritius as somewhere that even the USA might learn from. 87% of all Mauritians own their own homes. Mauritius has diversified its economy in the past twenty years while Fiji was busy have bouts of political instability (politely put). Focused on politics and ridiculous displacement activity. Mauritius knows where it is going and it has worked on Land Reforms since 1988 to ensure that sugar and other agricultural commodities were viable and profitable to the entire Nation. What more can be said. They deserve their economic success. They are a democracy and thriving in uncertain times.
Anonymous said…
No to quotas or regulation for the participation of women in decision making roles at any level. Self motivation is the best form, together with the belief to bring about positive change. A female PM in the next election is the only way to get Fiji back on track!

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