News and Comments Monday 13 August 2012
THE NON-NEGOTIABLE PRINCIPLES. Those opposed to the Bainimarama government say there should be no non-negotiable principles in the discussion on the new Constitution. Bainimarama says the principles have already been accepted by two-thirds of the people in their acceptance of the People's Charter, and they are "universally accepted" principles by most states. Here they are for readers to judge for themselves:
• A common and equal citizenry • A secular State • The removal of systemic corruption • An independent judiciary • Elimination of discrimination • Good and transparent governance • Social justice • One person, one vote, one value • The elimination of ethnic voting • Proportional representation • A voting age of 18.
SDL Party president Solomoni Naivalu earlier said that his party was against the elimination of ethnic voting, proportional representation, and a voting age of 18.
PM TELLS SDL TO QUIT. The PM did not mince his words in his reaction to the SDL submission to the Constitution Commission. He told the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) party to “wind up now” because their submission summary supported the same things that led the military to take over leadership in 2006. “Our journey to a better and new Fiji will need new ideas and the SDL submission would take the country back to the early 19th century.”
The main objectives of Government as displayed in the People’s Charter, the Prime Minister said, was to rebuild Fiji into a non-racial, culturally vibrant and united, well-governed, truly democratic nation; a nation that seeks progress and prosperity through merit-based equality of opportunity and peace.
"We need visionary, transformative leaders who place the interests of the nation first including national development, good and just governance, and unity.” He said the SDL submission again promoted racism and racial discrimination. They have not learned from the past mistakes, and their proposal to bring back the political powers of the Great Council of Chiefs would never happen.He urged individual party supporters to make their own submission.
WHERE ARE THE EDUCATED SDL SUPPORTERS? A reader writes on the recent SDL submission: "I am simply stunned, speechless to be honest concerning the SDL submission to the Constitutional Commission.
Who are the people actually advising the SDL? Because anyone with a minimum of sociopolitical understanding must realize that communal politics, religious fundamentalism and tribalism are categorical non-starters in the modern world outside of the Islamic states. How is it possible that their well educated members and supporters,the itaukei middle class, many with degrees from overseas universities, have not put a stop to this nonsense? I can understand the old guard living in an insular society without the benefit or opportunity to interact beyond their immediate environs holding such views. But there is no excuse for younger generations that have had the benefit of education, telecommunication, and global exposure.This is so embarrassing. Their "culture of silence" and unwillingness to criticise their elders makes my criticism of the SDL seems almost unfair!"
LACK OF WOMEN. In other countries where Prof Yash Ghai has assisted constitution dialogue, women have been fully represented throughout the consultations. In Fiji, where three of the Commission's five members are women, they have come to the consultation venues and listened to submissions made by men, but only one woman has made a submission so far.
Professor Ghai said the situation is serious because women hold different perspectives of life, and the Constitution and laws that will result from the constitution process will affect everryone, including women. "I plead to all women to stand up and make their voices heard now," he said.
The commission is considering setting up special meetings where women can speak freely in the absence of men.
WHERE ARE THE INDO-FIJIANS AND OTHERS? More surprising than the absence of submissions from women is the almost total absence of submissions from Indo-Fijians and other ethnic groups. While most of what they would like to see in the new constitution may already have been heralded by the Bainimarama government, their absence could result in over-weight being given to iTaukei submissions.
FORUM BECOMING IRRELEVANT. With no invitation forthcoming to attend the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum meeting to be held in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, in little over two weeks' time, the Forum is making inself even less relevant to Fiji than it has been since its suspension four years ago. In the meantime Fiji has established diplomatic relations with 126 countries and is on the way towards formalising diplomatic relations with all member States of the United Nations. Speaking earlier, the PM said "after Fiji’s suspension it had made many friends (who had supported Fiji’s roadmap to building a better Fiji).
NO NEWS ON FLP AND SDLWEBSITES. The Fiji Labour Party website seem all but dead. There have been no postings for over a month during which time many important things have been happening in the nation. I urge them to use their site for discussion on the type of issues they will raise with the Constitution Commission.
It's worse with the SDL. Their Soqosoqo Duavata Ni Lewenivanua (SDL) party website seems to have died many months ago, leaving anti-blogs like Coup4.5 as the means to express their views. Though —given their denial of their recent "submission" to the Constitution Commission— they are likely to deny that.