News and Comments Friday 27 July 2012

The A-G and the Commissioners
WEEKEND READING. • Allen Lockington column • Ratu Joni's Constitution-Making Address • Squatter Upgrading, the Lagilagi Project • Political Reconstructive Surgery
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE DIALOGUE PROCESS THIS WEEK?  The week opened with a dispute between the Attorney-General, who said an immunity provision must be included in the new constitution, and Commission Chairman Prof Yash Ghai, who said  a forced provision would not last. 

It ended more cheerfully with the launch of the 68-day national consultation tour heralded in with dances, poetry, artwork and ideas presented by primary and secondary school students, and the start of receiving oral and written submissions from the public.

Yesterday the five-member Constitution Commission team of Prof Ghai, Penelope Moore, Christina Murray, Professor Satendra Nandan and Taufa Vakatale, were sworn in by acting President and chief justice Anthony Gates. See also related story.

The Chief Justice reminded the commissioners of their difficult role, saying they would have to listen and to elicit views even of the inarticulate or voiceless and somehow divine "the right constitutional document for Fiji in 2012. 

He said their work, if transparent, would gather confidence both within Fiji and without, and hoped it "would lead to sensible debate, engagement of disparate parties and groups and enliven a sense of unity in the common noble aim of achieving something better for the country."

RATU JONI MADRAIWIWI ON RACE RELATIONS. I am not alone in my respect for this distinguished lawyer, champion of racial  equality and human rights, former Vice-President and  Bau high Chief.  My sentiments are shared by many who also hope he will soon return to play an important role in Fiji's future.  

Speaking recently to participants of the CCF Forum on Bringing Fiji Together - Addressing Inclusivity in Constitution Makinghe said race relations are "better than they ever were " but much more remains to be done. He credited Government policies and the demographic changes for the improvement.

 Ratu Joni said more work needs to be done to educate people on civic beliefs and he said great courage and wisdom is needed to ensure that everyone moves together as one nation.The focus should be on building on a national identity and social cohesion. Asked abut immunity that Government expected to be included in the new constitution, he said Government's position was understandable but it needed to be discussed fully if it were to be accepted. 

Looking back, he said it had been expected the "that the electoral system in the 1997 constitution was a system in transition" but none of former politicians had opted for change.

THE SUN AND ME. I was almost sun-burnt last week. Journalist Leone Cabenatabua published part of  my article on the CCF contempt case (Aiyaz: 100 percent right and wrong) but only that part in which I'd pointed to what I thought were CCF tactical errors. Here is the link to what he wrote.

 I protested in a comment to the post, and emailed editor Peter Lomas insisting my comment be published and a link provided to the original article. The Sun responded in good faith (Peter taking the opportunity to say the Sun has even published the views of Qarase and Chaundhry which even the Fiji Times did not do, so there was no problem with my article.  This is what they published on Wednesday.
July 25, 2012 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by: newsroom. By Leone Cabenatabua
Professor Crosbie Walsh, the respected academic and blogger, was concerned about an excerpt from one of his articles we ran here headlined ‘Netani Rika and the CCF’.
Professor Walsh wrote:
"Leone, This is not a fair extract.  You cite the part that queries the actions of the CCF but say nothing on how strongly I commended them, and the Rev Akuila Yabaki, for seeking the best for Fiji.
Nor do you say anything of what I wrote on the Attorney-General or my recommendation and cautions on Cabinet, team work and the vital need for good PR.You should at least have provided a hyperlink to the original article, and I invite you to do this now so that readers may judge its fairness themselves."
Readers, in the interests of fairness here’s that link for anyone who wants to read in full what Professor Walsh wrote:
THE MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES against FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry  have been dropped.  Chaudhry was charged with three counts of breach of the Exchange Control Act, five counts of money laundering and four counts of making false statements in his income tax returns. However in making his ruling Justice Goundar quashed Chaudhry’s charges on money laundering on the grounds that the court has no jurisdiction. 

Qarase --- Chaudhry
The court heard that charges of making a false statement in an income tax return under the Penal Code (counts 9-12) are permanently stayed for an abuse of process arising from the same conduct being time barred under the Income Tax Act. It also heard that no abuse of process was established in relation to the charges under the Exchange Control Act and the trial will proceed on counts 1 to 3 only. Charges one to three include failure to surrender foreign currency for allegedly retaining AUD$1.5 million for his own use without the consent of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji. He is also charged with lending money without the Reserve Bank of Fiji’s permission and failure to collect debts. 

QARASE TRIAL. The Defence and Prosecution have summed up their cases, and the three assessors (Fiji's equivalent of a jury) will consider their verdict after the summing up by presiding judge, Justice Priyantha Fernando on Monday.

'He loves me. He loves me not.'
TWO LOVE LETTERS FROM FANS published by FijiToday. "So now the facist fool from horowhenua [that's me] thinks there are two sides to a story of a human rights abusing junta that thinks it is ok to stump on pregnant women, overthrow an elected government and commit human rights abuses against its citizens. It is not ok and wil not be tolerated. Understood walsh you washed up facist coup groupie?"

... AND THE OTHER. "Oh us from the Croz Crock. It is bad enough that the Dickie Birds of Fiji Sun are circulating this nonsense as 'news' or 'opinion'."

Some people don't want to think things through in search of causes and consequences. They prefer simple black or white explanations.


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