Correcting the Negatives that Some See in Every Situation


A reader writes: "Where is the long promised CCF Report 'Scratching the Surface'? Your readers will be interested in its findings concerning: i) Current Fijian attitudes to the VKB  ii)General perceptions of Justice under the illegal regime and iii)Disinclinations to report witnessed crimes under the present administration.

My Response
This is a typical anti-government comment. It accuses me of hiding something, and then misreads what the media reported on the CCF media release.There's none so blind! I reported the media release, spent three days studying the full survey report, published Part I  of Preparing for Democracy last Friday but held back  Parts II and III to give prominence to responses to the Constitution Process announcement.

To answer his questions:
i)  The survey asked one question on the Vola ni Bola and 80% of  iTaukei responded that
"only the indigenous people could be Fijian.” I argue in my article that this response could have confused "Fijian" with "citizen", and that it contradicted other questions on the citizen topic.  It could, however, be taken by itself. In which case, 80% of iTaukei thought that only those registered on the VNB were iTaukei. Technically this would be correct but only with respect but land-linked claims.

ii) The one question on this topic was "Do you think the quality of justice has improved in your community in the past year?" Some 94% said No. My reader took this to mean they said it had got worse. Not so. Not improved means worse or unchanged. If the same question were asked in my community, I'd be surprised if less than 94% say No — and they wouldn't be blaming the government. The question was not well worded because it produced an ambiguous answer.
iii) 40% said they would not report a "personally witnessed" crime and 60% said they would, but there's no way of knowing whether this is any different from 5 or 10 years ago. And many village people prefer to handle their own offenders rather than reporting them to the police. 

There is nothing in the CCF report that  even vaguely suggests opposition to Government. To the contrary: Government should find the report most useful in its future citizen education programme.

Parts II and III will be published tomorrow, Wednesday,  and Thursday.  I urge all readers to read them carefully.  The underlying meanings and importance of the CCF survey cannot be understood by sticking needles into a haystack.


Anonymous said…
Off topic Croz but some very very positive comments from professor Ghai. I do hope he can stay the course. My only worry is the PM/military government take offence to something he says or does and send him on his way. He will have to be very careful and government show some flexibility for the first time. Recent media reports suggests they might just be able to do that.

Professor Ghai has been appointed by the regime to oversee consultations and drafting of a new document to be signed off by the end of February next year.

The former UN Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia and veteran of 15 constitutions says Commodore Frank Bainimarama’s plan appears thought through, responsive to various concerns and provides a good balance of input from ordinary people and experts.

But he says Fiji’s laws should be restored to a state compatible with the guarantees of the Bill of Rights under Fiji’s 1997 constitution.

He also says the role of the military must be addressed.

“A s the process begins it could be very important to have mechanisms for expression of different views and attempt to develop some consensus. I think that can only be done if every group feels free to express its views.”

Yash Ghai’s appointment has been generally welcomed.

But some regime critics doubt his independence, pointing to his involvement with a key regime member Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in the interim Attorney-General’s student days.

Professor Ghai says he’s taught thousands over 50 years and refutes he’s been compromised.

“I have been working in Kenya. I’m a Kenyan. The Attorney-General and the Chief Justice until recently were both my former students and I was constantly criticising them in public for their lack of integrity, corruption so just because a person has been a student, it doesn’t mean that I lose my sense of fairness and transparency and the other values that I have lived all my life by.”

Professor Ghai takes the road of pragmatism in reply to critics who say the whole process towards a new constitution is illegal after the regime’s dumping of Fiji’s 1997 constitution.

“To say that that constitution is in force and we don’t need a new constitution is to turn a blind eye to realities. We have a situation where there has been military rule for a while and the only way it seemed to me to return to a democratic system is to engage the whole country in a process of dialogue, consultations, finding some consensus. There is no guarantee that if this process weren’t to start that the old constitution would somehow in a magical moment spring to life.”

Yash Ghai is confident the process will be open and transparent and that the regime will honour its commitments.

But whether he stays the course in Fiji will perhaps be the ultimate test of a process some have labelled merely a charade.

In 2004 he stepped down as head of Kenya’s Constitution Review Commission, frustrated at delays in enacting that country’s constitution.

This Sally Round

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Anonymous said…
One step forward two steps back !

No special role for Army, says Tikoitoga but the military will stand by and support Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama totally in whatever decisions he makes about the country.

In other words they are loyal to a man first and to hell with the law/process or the peoples will. And i gues that loyalty is well founded given pay rises and general benefits RFMF have enjoyed over the last 5 years. Especially the perks for those now in government roles as well.

The right answer should have been we will have no special role, we will remove ourselves from public life and we will accept the people view. But sadly no.
Walker Texas Ranger said…
Reporting a witnessed crime? Five to ten years ago? In our experience, it did not happen even when murder took place in broad daylight at a popular beach not far from Nadi. November 2004 - eight years ago. A young British visitor to Fiji was brutally run over on the beach by a four wheel drive vehicle. When the driver saw that he was still alive, he turned around and came back to stab him with a screw driver. There were people on the beach at that time.

No one reported this crime. Those who came to assist and take him to hospital did later and the people at whose property he was staying did also. Otherwise, there was silence. No one served a term in prison for murder or attempted murder and certainly not for "a double dip at murder". Reporting crime was discouraged and now it is even more so because those in positions of influence in Tourism Fiji have encouraged impunity by insisting that "all is well" with violent crime.

All is not well with crime in Fiji and it never will be so long as those who see horrific acts in broad daylight simply wander off home and pretend that nothing has happened. This approach to crime is sick. It is dysfunctional and destructive of civilised living.

Eight years later, we have more evidence coming to light. We intend to pursue this and to have justice eventually for a British visitor to Fiji whose interests were subsumed in a mistaken, misguided insistence upon 'putting on a good show' rather than an insistence that justice comes first: for visitors and locals alike.

So the tourist numbers what cost to Law & Order? An imposed pretence which is dishonest and a silly, naive and false representation of our product: Fiji the Way the World Should Be - because We Say So!
Restoration of our Bill of Rights said…
Restoration of the Bill of Rights under the 1997 constitution?

Professor Ghai, who has of course spent many months in Fiji long ago, is to be commended upon a suggestion that our rights should be addressed as a pre-requisite to approaching the consultation process which he will chair. Not only would such a restoration aid a full and candid exchange of ideas and views: it might also assist us in the reporting and the attainment of the due process required for the charging and the eventual conviction of violent criminals, acts of terrorism by home invasion and the inculcation of civic responsibility and duty to require of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Police Force accountability in prosecution. We are talking of the restoration of the rule of law at every level. It must be an integrated process, cohesive and with demonstrable integrity.

Then we may count on the Fiji public to come forward: to reduce crime through confident reporting and to address our entire constitutional future.
Romeo said…
@ One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Tikoitoga was responding to the question " what role will the Army take in the constitution consultation process".

His answer is "NONE". As citizens soldiers are entitled to individually engage in the consultation process, in much the same way they will be entitled to vote.

If the broader question of "what role will the military will play in society in the future" was put to him, then your proposed response is apt i.e. "we will have no special role, we will remove ourselves from public life and we will accept the peoples view".

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