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.


Raman Velji said…
It is not surprising that both FLP & SDL have gone silent. The submission of SDL is appalling. It simply puts a rubber stamp on what we all have been saying since 2001. SDL "WAS" a Nationalist Party."I was under the impression that after the death of Sakeasi Bakewa Butadroka in 2001, Fiji would move forward with time. Alas I was wrong.

There is no place for discrimination in this modern world. May it be race, religion, gender or sexual preference. We need to be tolerant and accept people for what they are. Let us all pray to Lord Almighty and ask to forgive this ignorant and selfish.
Anonymous said…
To be fair Croz it has not been a easy road for SDL or Labour over the last 5 years. They have struggled to even get permission to meet. Political parties require funding and that has been even harder. It's also been a very very dangerous place to speak out so you find only the more radical and those with everything on the line to lose (think the leaders) getting a voice. They have had to avoid jail, families have been targeted and the constant threat of the military.

I think we should be honest and say that Frank does not want any alternative party. He wants to crush SDL and Labour and he is doinga pretty good job. After having exercised his vendetta against both he can't risk retribution if they are around or in power. And he dosen't want a new party because he plans on being in power for a long time. Finally the threat of him being removed by a coup will be much less because he will still be in charge of the military....who we all know have been involved in every coup.

If you have met Frank you will know he does not come across as too sharp but he has played his power cards well. He is still in power, avoided jail and will come out the other side in power and stronger than ever with control of the military, police and government.
Anonymous said…
Where are the educated SDL supporters...or perhaps where are the educated full stop. Keeping there heads down I suspect. It would be a fool to get the might of the Military offside. How does Frank not mincing his words of SDL help encourage open, honest debate on the constituion ?
non negotiable said…
A few other non-negotiable principles (these ones I think everyone understands)

- Frank will support the process as long as it delivers the result he wants
- Frank will have elections as long as he is elected
- Frank will remain above the law
- Frank will have final say on the constitution
- Frank will keep all promises, until such time as he breaks them
Sadly divided nation said…
@ non negotiable
Your comments are spot on. Never has Fiji been a more divided nation than under this repressive regime. What is happening in Fiji under this despotic regime is unsustainable. It is becoming a powder key waiting to explode. And the Fiji military will never turn against their own people at the grass roots level. Of that you can be sure.
Anonymous said…
Hillary Clinton and a Chinese VP at the Forum - irrelevant? Who are you kidding?
Anonymous said…
So Croz... You were so quick to go on the attack in relation to the proported SDL submission and the party itself, I see that the SDL have confirmed that they haven't actually yet even finanised a submission, and the proported submission was made by individuals...where do you go from this?? All this confected indignation,bluster and threats from the regime and you both have managed to miss the target or at the very least jumped the gun, but i am sure you will just recycle the comments anyway for their actual submission, given your aprehended bias.
very selective said…
I love the selectiveness of the PM by pulling out the "accepted by 2/3 of the population" story. The same 2/3 of the population that agreed the constitution was the supreme law ? And we all know what happened there. He tossed it out as soon as it meant he would be tossed out.
Past mistakes said…
The biggest mistakes in the last 20+ years have been the military predeliction to undertake coups. What a pity the current military leadership has not learnt from 'past mistakes'?
Kai Gau said…
Selective Voreqe is kind of focusing on non-negotiables that are MOSTLY GIVEN in a world that operates by the RULE OF LAW. What the people should be focusing on and what Voreqe should be talking about is this - IMMUNITY FOR COUPSTERS, which includes Voreqe.

Section 8 entitled "Functions of the Assembly" in the FIJI CONSTITUTIONAL PROCESS (CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY AND ADOPTION OF CONSTITUTION) DECREE 2012 (Decree No. 58 of 2012).

Here is the immunity they demanding ...

(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Decree, when the Assembly adopts the draft Constitution, it shall ensure that appropriate provision is included in the draft Constitution for immunity which —

(a) shall not be reviewed, amended or revoked by the new Parliament or any subsequent Parliament;

(b) continues the immunity granted under Chapter XIV of the Constitution of the Sovereign Democratic Republic of Fiji (Promulgation) Decree 1990, as saved by the Constitution (Amendment) Act 1997;

(c) gives such immunity, as is provided in Limitation of Liability for Prescribed Political Events Decree 2010, to all persons listed as ‘prescribed persons’ under that Decree for all events defined as ‘prescribed political events’ in that Decree;

(d) gives immunity, in a form that is not in any way inferior to the immunity provided in the Limitation of Liability for Prescribed Political Events Decree 2010, to His Excellency the President, members of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Fiji Police Force, Fiji Corrections Services, and individuals appointed to Cabinet or to any State service from 5th December, 2006 up to the first sitting of Parliament elected under the new Constitution; provided however that any immunity for the period from the date of the commencement of this Decree to the first sitting of Parliament elected under the new Constitution shall not apply to any act or omission that constitutes an offence under sections 77 to 390 of the Crimes Decree 2009; and

(e) shall exclude the jurisdiction of any court, tribunal or any other adjudicating body from entertaining any challenge to the provision on immunity.


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