The People's Charter Stands Tall

Head in the sand
A little while back Radio Fiji published a story that "civil servants who conducted consultations on the People's Charter told the people (of Wainiika village, Cakaudrove) government would build their village hall if they show their support for the Charter." The anti-government blog  Fiji Today hailed the announcement as something that had "sneak(ed) past the censor." Maybe. Perhaps there was no censor. Perhaps the Bainimarama government does not condone such behaviour.

On the basis of this story the blog then accused the government of "using corrupt practises to get a majority vote for the People’s Charter." The Permanent Secretary for Provincial Development Col. Inia Seruiratu blamed the civil servants, not the government, and deplored their action saying it was corrupt.

More recently, Coup4.5, the blog that we toss coins over in the traditional ANZAC game of Two up (heads it may be true; tails it's probably wrong) offered its opinion that the Charter was merely a "cut and paste of (the) Development Plans and State of the Nation reports" that preceded the Bainimarama Coup. If this were true, one must ask why then do they not support it, and instead applaud Ro Teimumu and Ratu Naiqama who oppose it?

This is not the time to recall the billboards in the West in 2001 and 2006 that warned of bloodshed if the Fiji Labour Party  became the government. Two wrongs do not make one right.  But it may be time to recall the overwhelming support given to the People's Charter, despite the active opposition of the SDL, the Great Council of Chiefs,  and the leaders of the Methodist Church.

The National Committee for Building a Better Fiji (NCBBF) Report to the President, including the finalized draft People's Charter, was submitted on 15 December, 2008. This Report may be accessed by readers through the  People's Charter website or  Google, and a link is provided on my blog, but here, I wish to draw readers' attention to two key points in order to show just how out of step with what their people really think  Ro Teimumu and Ratu Naiqama may be.  They may claim to speak "for" the people (that is their chiefly way. The people do not normally speak for themselves) but  a very large number of ordinary people did speak for themselves on the People's Chareter. The chiefs wer not listening.

1) As at 10 December, 2008, of the 533,783 people in Fiji aged 18 years and over, the People's Charter process had outreached and consulted a total of 424,660 or 80% of the adult population.
Of the 424,660 contacted, 372,311 responded by completing the Response Forms. Further, of these 372,311, some 342,592 (92%, or 64.2% of Fiji's total adult population aged 18 year and above) affirmed their support for the Charter.(Page 5, 19-21);

2) Page 28 of the Report stated that" those who have remained steadfastly opposed to the Interim Government mounted a vigorous campaign to discredit and derail the Charter undertaking"; that this notwithstanding, " it is the people of Fiji who are seeking change and, under the People's Charter, have committed themselves to change for the better.This commitment by the people has been expressed freely and without intimidation" ( emphasis added).The measures put in place to ensure transparency and authenticity of the Charter consultation process are outlined on p.18 of the Report.

It would take a large number of over-zealous civil servants and a fair number of Wainiika villages to detract from these numbers.


People Chatter said…
We learnt from Wikileaks that over lunch, in December 2008, with the American Ambassador John Samy expressed disappointment about the INTIMIDATION used to get people to endorse the Charter.

We also learnt this month that either the Government or Civil Servants were offering bribes to get the support of villagers.

It is clear the IG was trying every trick to get support for the People’s Charter.

It is also clear the Regime is using the same tricks to get the support of the Provincial Councils.

Having said the above there was nothing in the People’s Charter to oppose. It has every wish that every civilized country could possible want. What is worth opposing is that the dictator is taking Fiji further away from the ideals of the Peoples Charter every day.

I seem to remmeber it included a lot on good Governance, transparency etc. etc. etc.
yea yea said…
....and the first part of the charter recognised the constitution as the ultimate law in Fiji.

Sorry Croz, I know i am covering old ground but this government can't pick and choose which parts of the charter they want to use. There was no....

"Vote for the charter AND the military's right to ignore any part of the charter" option. If there was it would have been those who felt pressured to sign it who supported it. I certainly felt pressured when men in green uniforms came knocking.
huh huh huh said…
A good question often asked but never answered is why the Military government claim the charter is guiding them then IGNORE major parts of it. For example where is the transparency and good governance on the PM's pay and the military's spending ? Oh thats right the charter is for everyone except government who consider themselves above it. They still do as they please, when they please. They spend as they please. Even are serious criminal actions (mansluaghter) they carry on as if nothing happened. I'll have the charter guide me when the government have it start guiding them !
Anonymous said…
....the people of Fiji have committed themselves to change ? Did they actually have any choice ? No.
In the room said…
Where is John Sami. It would be good to get on the record his thoughts as the major architect. Does he think it was a fair process and did it give the military to rule until 2014 ?

I was at the meeting where he declared the coup illegal and then went on to say he was helping because some one had too. The military pounced on him and quickly he said he was misquoted. Rubbish. Everyone in the room heard him. The chamber presidents, punja's, patels etc. They where all there.
sara'ssista said…
And i would like to revisit the issue that this regime has no mandate for change. The idea that poeple are visited in a villages and told that you are either with us or in the way, does not translate to me to 'overwhelming support'.The idea that police had to be even present astounds me, but reaffirms to me that people were pressured , even subtly, to give support or shut up, no different to a union vote where there are no secret ballots. We were all well aware of the veiled , or not so veiled threats about opposition to this regime and it's policies. What choice was there again? Were they taking suggestions? It was a fait accompli.This was not consultation, it was 'our way or the highway'. (BTW were there any independant observers in this 'outreach program'?)
Try hard Croz said…
You are a sad individual, and I must say I feel sorry for you. Bainimarama has as much chance of being in a shopping centre display as the dictator gaddafi - increasingly likely by the day. You have a nice weekend old boy.
Croz Walsh said…
@ People's Chatter and others ...

These words received from John Samy two months back run contrary to your accusations:

Hi Croz,

I have just sent you the fuller text of the McGann wikileaks story.

You will note that his story is dated 22 December, 08.

The NCBBF submitted its Report including the Peoples Charter to the President on 15 December, 08; and I left for Auckland the next day.
The lunch to which McGann refers, we had in late October. By that time the consultation process on the PCCPP was well underway. You will recall that the mainstream media in Fiji was quite hostile to the whole Charter process, and tended to exaggerate on the negatives. In the Secretariat, we exerted the extra effort to deal with issues as they arose, including that of the role of the army.
I stand by the Report that was submitted to the President of Fiji on 15 December, 08 especially that 63% of the adult population of Fiji had expressed their support for the Peoples Charter.
Knows and Knew Better! said…
Two areas in which John Sami falls down:

1. First, he was paid by the Fiji taxpayers to perform a task which they were not consulted on.

2. He permitted allowances to be paid to those who sat on the Charter Exercise. This ought never to have occurred. How were they paid? What monies were employed? Then, individuals 'bickered' about the allowances and it was always obvious that they would. One or two individuals did without them. A very sound way to go!

Gravy Trains funded by taxpayers will never secure a constitutional settlement. Not without the full consultation and concurrence of those who pay. This is modern constitutional thinking as you, Croz, very well know.

Send them all away for a PPE and start again! John Sami knows and knew better.
Proud Fijian said…

Firstly Anti-Ig quote Wikileaks that john Sami had said people were forced to support.

When John Sami had himself responded to this Wikileak claim - the same people turn around to question john Sami's credibility.

Never win - 63% support Charter, 2 more polls have the same percentage of numbers supporting current regime.

Better than NZ National Party's 49%.
People's Chatter said…
Samy does not deny saying that intimidation was used to get that result. In fact he has worded his statement very carefully.

In the grand scheme of things it would be a very serious breach of protocol for McGann to make up a conversation in his reports back to Washington.

On that basis i think the Wikileaks article is right. If you can get Samy to refute Wikileaks then I will believe him.

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