Ideas on Constitutional and Electoral Reforms I

 Satendra made these suggestions as a comment to a posting that has now moved down the page and will soon drift into obscurity.

That is why I would prefer readers to use the Fiji Political and Constitutional Forum Blog.

Nothing moves down the page and specific comments are entered in response to specific questions.  This will improve discussion by keeping everyone focussed on one question at a time.

But Satendra's opinions are too important to be left to the old posting.  That's why I've given his first 16 points (there are 30 overall) a full post of their own here.  ►Click or arrow< or > to read on.  Satendra, I'll probably publish your points 17-25 tomorrow and 26-30 on Friday but whatever I do, I'll really appreciate it if you would take time to slot each of your ideas where it can be fully discussed in the new blog.  And many thanks for these thoughtful ideas. Best wishes,  Croz

To other readers, I'd much prefer you to comment on FPCForum, writing your comments where each belongs, but of course I won't stop you commenting here.

Satendra Singh has left a new comment on your post "The New Forum":

CONSTITUTIONAL AND ELECTORAL REFORMS

Amend the Electoral System as follows:-

1. Lower house (House of Representatives) be downsized to 61 and new electoral system to be
designed which is not race based( ALL Open Seats) or simply 1 person, 1 vote, 1 and equal value ONLY and prefer still to use Preferential Voting system similar to 1997 Constitution.

2. Upper House (Senate to be downsized to 31 not race based( ALL Open Seats) or simply 1 person, 1 vote, 1 and equal value ONLY and prefer still to use Preferential Voting system similar to 1997 Constitution.

3. A minimum qualification, moral and ethical standards enshrined for all contestants of Senate, House of Representatives, Head of state and all other Govt CEOS and political and Constitutional Appointees.

4. Eliminate the race based ministries and Boards like Fijian Affairs (FAB), transfer FAB and provincial Fijian boards and management to NLTB and let them get their own funding from NLTB since NLTB owns 90 % of all land in Fiji. The taxpayers should not be burdened with any of the expenses related to FAB or GCC.

5. President to nominated by the Prime Minister and can be any person who is a qualified Fiji Citizen and not only reserved to indigenous High Chiefs and to be confirmed by majority in Senate.

6. The Prime Minister must command majority in House of Reps and shall be appointed by President.

7. All cabinet Ministers either from House of Reps or Senate, nominated by Prime minister and confirmed by majority in senate.

8. Other checks and balance-related clauses to be included so that all future based governments are based on Consensus rather then race or partisan politics.

9. Clause to prohibit and punish anyone who uses any race based slogans, intimidation, etc or Scare tactics or stirring of indigenous nationalism in Political Campaigns,etc.

10. Change the current legal Voting Age from 21 years to 18 years.

11. Cabinet size to be enshrined into the constitution and not to exceed 18 in any
circumstances unless approved by the legislature.

12. Remove all political powers of GCC from politics and downgrade and recognize GCC to that of traditional and cultural significance ONLY. This will enable all political powers including the appointment of President and Vice President to the elected people (PM, house and senate as discussed above) This will also Remove all VETO powers of GCC nominated Senators with major majority (2/3 or 66%) required in both houses to pass any legislation dealing with Indigenous Lands, Resources and Rights and protection or heritage. Since Indigenous population are more than 52% and thus will always be at least 52 % in the House so no such legislation can be passed without overwhelming indigenous support and as such they will remain protected BUT by the elected People and not some unelected body called GCC.

13. Remove the Multi Party Concept clauses as it creates more political and legal problems then it was actually designed to solve.

14. Redesign the electoral boundaries that is fair and representative of constituents including the current census for accurate voter counts and designing of a systematic and methodical voter
registration system that is fair and free of political bias with some audit trail to ensure that no voter is missed out or left behind due to corruption and political bias

15. Ensure that Elections office and staff are free from political bias to avoid any errors or mishandling including vote rigging.

16. Minimum qualification and character to stand for Public Office to include following:-
(1) At least High School Completion (Form 6)
(2) Must be of good conduct with no criminal records as required of any Govt Jobs
(3) Must have at least 5 years experience in Community service, Social service or at a supervisory level

Comments

Gutter Press said…
'1 person, 1 vote, 1 value' is a spurious concept that is impossible to attain unless all electoral boundaries are gerrymandered to contain the same number of voters. This is not the case in Fiji, or anywhere else in the world for that matter.

So the phrase is a pretty one, but it is not only meaningless - it is misleading.
Cin Cin said…
If this list warrants an 'Important' tag, I would hate to see the quality of those that fall into the 'Unimportant' category.

Since when did the NLTB own 90% of land in Fiji?
Scott said…
Satendra says:
6. The Prime Minister must command majority in House of Reps and shall be appointed by President.

7. All cabinet Ministers either from House of Reps or Senate, nominated by Prime minister and confirmed by majority in senate.

Both of these proposals will simply result in a return to what he hopes to avoid, a political system dominated by the past, especially the most reactionary elements of it, the rural chiefs and the buccaneering ethnic Fijian businessmen, of whom Laisenia Qarase and George Speight are the two sides of the same coin.

In most `Westminster model’ constitutions, the Queen/monarch only holds the first power in the most minimal sense: while the Queen or Governor-General anoints the PM, for example in Australia, this is pure ceremony. The last time there was uncertainty about who would be PM in Australia, after Harold Holt’s disappearance, the question was settled in the dominant party and their nominee was subsequently anointed. The Governor-General and Queen played no part and continued opening flower shows etc while the tussle went on in the Liberal party room and extra-parliamentary organs. So for suggestion 6 in Fiji, change appoint to anoint or swear into office or some such to indicate the role is only formal with no political substance of consequence. Again, my own view is that the President should be abolished, but if there is to be one, the person should have as little political power as possible.

On 7, what happens if the majority in the Senate is different from the majority in the House of Representatives? Enter the possibility of gridlock at the initial stage, of forming a government and before even matters of legislation come up. My own view is there should not be an Upper House, what Paul Keating called in Australia `unrepresentative swill’. Fiji is a small country, including in budget terms and simply can not afford to be over-governed in this and other respects. Giving the Senate the capacity to determine the composition of the Ministry would be an act of political suicide for reform. Confirm is not that far from determine. The PM’s nomination, having come from the leader of the majority in the popular house, should be final and no other possible outcome should be permitted.

Satendra is right in saying there is no case for having ethnic/racial organisations, such as the NAB and GCC-if anyone wants these let them pay for their operations not have them come out of the public purse in any way at all, including favourable tax deductions. Tax the chiefs more highly in a progressive tax system, don’t subsidise their largely parasitic existence.

Best wishes,
Scott
Scott said…
Gutterpress uses the term gerrymander in a peculiar manner and not its original or regular usage. Gerrymander is drawing electoral boundaries in a particular manner to include or exclude voters of a particular political persuasion, such as a Republican or Democratic gerrymander. One origin of the idea comes from the USA where a governor named Gerry had electoral boundaries drawn up in such a manner that they resembled a salamander.
However as nearly as possible one person, one vote, one value is now standard practice in many countries, including Federal Australia since the 1974 double dissolution election. This means seats with voter numbers roughly equal within a certain tolerance, eg X or Y per cent within the quota of all seats.
While there are always tussles between parties over exactly where boundaries are drawn, one route to deal with this is appoint an Electoral Commission whose mandate is to do its best to not favour/disadvantage one party or other. When proposed boundary changes occur, all parties/individuals have a right to lodge objections until the EC makes a final decision.
The objective of one vote one value is a goal whose purpose is quite different to that of gerrymandering.
I love User Friendly said…
Croz :
You have too many of these "Constitutional" blogs open. It's very confusing. Can you please have just one, maybe " Fiji Constitutional and Reform"? People are confused as to which blog(s) to use since there are too many with the same "constitutional" title attached. Thanks.
Croz Walsh said…
@ I love .... They are not blogs; they're postings, just like articles in a newspaper. I have two blogs, this one and Fiji Political and Constitution Forum (where I prefer readers to make their comments on the proposed reforms, but few have done so).

And then Satendra sent three postings, which I have published separately as I,II, and III. The content of each differs. Click the posting and you will see each has a different sub-title. To put them together would result in a confusion of comments on different aspects of reform.

If only people would use the www.Fijipcforum.blogspot.com blog for their specific comments, everything would be much easier. I appreciate your comment but to change things now would not be helpful. One more of Satendra's articles tomorrow. Then I hope all will settle down.
Satendra Singh said…
Actually, I am inclined to agree with Scot that Fiji should have as Model of Legislature that only has elected Housed of Reps and no senate at all, but how do we get there with all old rots, politics, racism, erc is big question and needs to be addressed via the formulation of new constitution.

Ideally all Fiji as a small nation needs is a house of reps, no senate.
Zero impact said…
Croz
Congratulations on your latest blog supporting the human rights abusing regime of bainimarama. It rivals na sala cava and lockingtons drivel for its overwhelming public support.

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