News and Comments Thursday 24 May 2012
|Bau Island - Google Earth|
Bau chief Ratu Joji Kadavulevu Cakobau has called on all iTaukei to support Government’s Roadmap to Democracy. In an interview at Mokani Village in Tailevu he said the Prime Minister had already announced the process of formulating Fiji’s new Constitution.
“We must make good use of this golden opportunity and for the protection of our culture and tradition. We must make our submission to the Constitutional Commission on how we want these two important issues to be protected in the new constitution,” Ratu Joji said.
Some people, he said, were already attacking the constitutional process. He said this was a “waste of time”. He said the iTaukei people should be united in making sure that their interests were taken care of in the new Constitution.
The former senator said while Fijians must all champion equality, there were things that the iTaukei people should protect. However, this would mean that all provinces meet and discuss what should be submitted to the Constitutional Commission. He said the Prime Minister had announced that the new Constitution should be relevant to a new and modern Fiji.
Ratu Joji said Government had promised the constitutional process would be inclusive and that all Fijians be given access to the consultation process. The Prime Minister had also announced that Government would ensure that adequate transportation is provided to citizens—in particular in the rural and maritime areas—to attend the consultation forums and meetings.“We should take advantage of this opportunity in order for our voices to be heard,” he said.
-- Based on Maika Bolatiki in the Fiji Sun.
Ratu Joji is a son of the late Ratu Sir George Cakobau, the Vunivalu (or high chief) of the powerful Kubuna confederacy, by his first wife Adi Veniana Gavoka. The Vunivalu's position has been vacant since 1989 but a new vunivalu could be announced this coming Friday. The two candidates are Ratu Joji and Ratu Epenisa Cakobau, the son of Ratu Sir George by his second wife Adi Lelea Seruwaia Balekiwai. Both are the great-great grandson's of Ratu Seru Epenisa Cakobau, the paramount chief who ceded Fiji to Queen Victoria in 1874.
AUST, NZ HELP VOTER REGISRATION. The overseas experts will join a logistical expert from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces in creating a deployment plan for the electronic voter registration period scheduled to begin on July 3. The team will be headed by Major Isoa Loanakadavu, who will be joined by William Hogan, an Australia-based electoral operations consultant with the United Nations, and Mark Jones, manager operations at the Electoral Enrolment Centre in New Zealand. The team will work in collaboration with the Canadian electronic voter registration firm CODE, Inc. Government opponents have said the operation should be independent of the Attorney-General's office to ensure transparency, and the Aust and NZ Governments had insisted on direct contact with CODE, Inc. The arrangement seems transparent and there is direct contact with CODe.
Government has purchased 380 electronic voter registration units at a cost of $3.9M. Some 640,000 people are expected to be registered at 1,150 centres over a period of eight weeks. The registrations, that will prevent double voting, will be carried out by the same Elections Office the anti-blogs only two weeks ago had claimed had been disbanded! Another concern, expressed by former politicians, is that the exercise is headed by the military. The Attorney-General said, "This is purely a logistical exercise, this is purely to get the job done ... It does not mean ...that you are somehow sophisticating [or] altering the system, [or that] somehow the RFMF is going around planting a bug."
TWO KIWI VISITORS VIEWS ON FIJI. These words by Stephen Franks, prominent lawyer and former ACT MP, on his recent visit to Fiji: “I met no one who wanted the undemocratic chiefly rule back or the demagogic Indian Labour Party. Unprompted, different people told me of their respect for Bainimarama, including an Indian tourist operator, two taxi drivers, two long term expat business people from Europe, several indigenous Fijians, and some Tuvaluan Fijians.
"They like Bainimarama’s even-handedness among the races, his hostility to corruption, and the relative efficiency of the military governors in their districts. They respect the obstacles he’s faced. Of course they’d prefer freedom and functioning democracy, but they cannot see a way to it. So in the meantime they are grateful that their dictator is benign."
The other visitor was the Editor of the National Business Review, Nevil Gibson, who said, "At the risk of sounding like a cheerleader for the commodore, I think Fiji finally looks like gaining economic traction as well as diplomatic credibility."
GRUBSHEET. " Lights go on in 'God's Zone'".
FIJITODAY JUMPS THE GUN. FijiToday reports that people "attending the constitutional consultation sessions held by the regime have expressed overwhelming support for the 1997 Constitution. So far sessions have been held in Lomanisau, Nabitu and Muaniweni in the central division. Those attending have questioned the need to rewrite the constitution."
Correction: The Constitution consultations have not yet started and when they do they will be conducted by the Constitution Commission chaired by Prof Yash Ghai. What FT described is the civic education programme preceding the Commission's work that began this month and will continue until July.