News and Comments Monday 14 May 2012
I encourage readers who have not already done so to scroll down to my article on the Commission. It provides a good background to the constitution and electoral events that will unfold in coming weeks. It is no exaggeration to say the future of Fiji will hang on the outcome. See also Graham Davis's comments in Grubsheet.
* General voters, a miscellanea of citizens who are not Taukei or Indo-Fijian, have traditionally voted with Taukei government parties and have been significantly over-represented in past parliaments. While representing 2.9% of the population, they had three MPs (4% of the seats) in the 71-seat parliament in 2006. And Mick Beddoes's UPP vote represented under 2% of registered voters.
THE PUBLIC ORDER AMENDMENT DECREE. The Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum,in response, said: "The Public Order Amendment Decree plays a central role in protecting free speech and encouraging civic debate. It is in place to address overt acts of racial and religious vilification – which we have seen in Fiji's history – and to promote true dialogue among all Fijians. Any groups seeking to meet peacefully, without intentions to “[prejudice] peace, public safety and good order and/or…[engage] in racial or religious vilification" has not and will not be prevented by law from meeting." Adding, “It is the responsibility of media to accurately represent the realities of laws, regulations, and the media environment in Fiji”.
--Based on MOI.
PACIFIC'S FIRST AGEING POLICY. Government and the UNFPA on homegrown policies to meet the needs of Fiji's elderly. The policy was announced in August 2011 and runs until 2015.
TUPOUOLA TERRY TAVITA, a constant critic of the Fiji government, is editor of the Samoan government newspaper and a close adviser to the Samoa PM. In this article he is taken to task by Graham Davis and, significantly, by PasiMA's Lisa Williams-Lahari for his racist attacks on journalists with whom he disagrees. Graham writes: "How ironic that someone who campaigns so loudly for democracy in Fiji appears to have the racist traits that Frank Bainimarama is working so hard to eliminate." A special thank you to you, Lisa.
THE BIG PARTIES, the SDL and FLP, have had little to say so far on the Constitution Commission although there has been a meeting of the two leaders, but FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry says the electoral process should be independent of government. He was commenting on what he called the "discarding of the Office of the Supervisor of Elections." I have been unable to confirm Chaudhry's allegation (can any reader verify?) but it is possible the Office's work has been put on hold as attention is directed to the work of the Constitution Commission.
OVERSEAS VOTERS? 'Basa' writing in FijiToday has raised the interesting issue of overseas voters which many countries allow if their citizens resident overseas have also spent a specified amount of time at 'home.' Check it out here.
MISS FIJI FOOTNOTE by Graham Davis