News and Comments Wednesday 24 October 2012

TO HAVE OR NOT TO HAVE THE 1997 CONSTITUTION? I think too many people are making an issue out of this question.  

FijiToday even claims the "PMs Office interferes in the work of the the Constitutional Commission by stating what it can and cannot recommend",  and in their submissions the old political parties have asked for the resurrection of the 1997 Constitution saying there's little wrong with it that cannot be easily amended. 

This view also incidentally coincides with their own best political interests. Tinker with the election issues, leaving some communal (racial) representation, give more power to parliament and a little less to the President and the resurrected Great Council of Chiefs, and make sure Bainimarama is locked up for a long time.

Predictably, the Bainimarama side does not agree. People should forget about any possibility of the 1997 Constitution being reinstated, says Kisoko Cagituivei from the  Prime Minister's Office. He says their calls are impossible as the 1997 constitution has been abrogated; the position is accepted by the international community; and they only want the 1997 constitution because it is the only way for them to get back  into parliament and play dirty politics by using the race card for their political gain.

Well, yes and no. It is not impossible because of the Abrogation and I'm not sure the international community is overly enthusiastic about a new constitution. It's more likely they see it as the best way forward in the circumstances, but Cagituivei is right about the politicians' self interest.

My own view is: the Constitution Commission provides an ideal time for everyone to re-visit and improve on the 1997 Constitution as Sir Paul Reeves and other draftees intended. 

The question is a non-issue because there is no way the Commission will ignore the old constitution. It will be used as the frame on which to draft and graft the new constitution. For them to do otherwise would make no sense at all. 

CHAUDHRY AND THE FLP SUBMISSION. "Interesting submissions from Mahendra Chaudhry and the FLP. They want to retain communal voting and communal seats. This is the man who always accused everyone else about being communal. He campaigned vigorously against the 1997 Constitution and  accused Jai Ram Reddy of negotiating one less seat for Indo-Fijians than for Taukei. Yet now he is asking for only ten Indo-Fijian communal seats. He was once part of the Bainimarama government and did not protest the Abrogation of the 1997 Constitution. Now he wants the Constitution back!  What hypocrisy!" -- a Reader.

TAKING THE COUNTRY BY STORM. PNG investors are taking Fiji's business sector by storm, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy.To date, their investments are significant in the Bank of South Pacific, Credit Corporation, Mineral Resources Development Corporation which own the Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour, Naswan joint venture with the Fiji National Provident Fund and Lamana Development Company which are re-developing the old Grand Pacific Hotel site in Suva.   Click here for more details on PNG-Fiji investment, trade, volunteer scheme, MSG, military and mining co-operation.

WOMEN IN DECISION-MAKING BODIES. Women will soon be taking a lead role in decision-making bodies across the country, starting from the grass roots level when the village by-laws come into play where at least 30% of village development committees must be women, and then on tikina (district) and provincial councils. The Ministry of Women is vowing to enforce the laws as it feels women in the country have had little contribution in decision making over the years, not just in homes and villages but nationally as well. Minister Dr Jiko Luveni says having women involved in committees and boards will bring up more issues that affect everyday life and ensure there is a human touch to all decisions, .

METHODIST OLD GUARD IN COURT. Three of the four Methodist church ministers, the Reverends Ame Tugawe, Tuikilakila Waqairatu and Tomasi Kanailagi, charged with participating in a church meeting in contravention of the Public Emergency Regulations appeared in court on Monday. The fourth defendant Rev. Manasa Lasaro was not present due to a heart condition. The case was adjourned until February next year.

FIJI TO CHAIR ACP MEETING.Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum will chair the 16th Meeting of the ACP Ministerial Trade Committee, a high level meeting of the African, Caribbean and Pacific States, in Brussels in the next few days. He will also co-chair the 11th Joint Ministerial Trade Committee talks between the ACP and the European Union. It is hoped the invitation to chair the meeting will prove to be a step towards the resumption of European Union assistance suspend six years ago when Fiji forfeited  $350 million dollars of much needed assistance to the sugar industry. The Ministerial meeting will be attended by ministers from the 79 ACP countries.In its 37 years, the organization, working as a bloc, has been able to secure aid, trade and  investment treaties for its members with the EU. A sign of easing Australian sanctions is that the A-G was allowed to travel in transit via Sydney.

TAUKEI LANDOWNERS TO GET MORE. Landowners will get more money from their leased land after the PM announced a two-tiered reduction by 5% in the poundage paid to the iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) worth in excess of $800,000. The TLTB deducts 15% in administrative fees. In January next year this will be reduced by 2.5% and in July by a further 2.5%. The PM said the move was in line with Government's commitment to landowners made in 2009, that landownership system will remain and native title of land will not be converted to any other form of ownership, and that landowners will receive a fair return from leased land.

The distribution of lease moneys on an equitable basis means that "all iTaukei benefit, not just a select few,” the PM said. This move, however, has been criticized by chiefs who claim they cannot perform their chiefly functions on the smaller leased money they receive, and several submission to the Constitution Commission have called for a return to the old inequable system.

MORE ON RABUKA. Cafe Pacific published  this account.  My earlier blog posting drew the comment that I should have commented on Rabuka's statement. I replied that I thought my heading "Keeping Himself Relevant" said all.

WHEN TRANSPARENCY BACKFIRES. British journalist Charles Moore shows how freedom of information can sometimes backfire. Read his article Freedom of Information Act: The pursuit of transparency is leading to dishonesty and intrigue in The Telegraph.


rusi said…
you spend some time discussing the self-interest of politicians, yet don't ever feel the need to analyse the self-intertst of those currently in power in fiji, presumably you either don't think they are playing politics or running a campaign against an opposition, or you would rather just not look into it as it would be inconvenient given your support for the military regime. Where are your stories or comments about who has benefited from being in power, their families and cronies? You dwell very much on the old guard and those that WERE in govenrmentr some six years ago , but spend very little time looking into individuals who hold power now and their motives.
Anonymous said…
@ Rusi

There is no doubt that a big driver for Frank back in 2006 was staying out of jail (not being investigated) and that continues today although the stakes are higher - back then he may (slim chance) have been implicated in soldiers death back in 2000 but now it is very clear he is a coup leader. Even he now admits this although with claims his was somehow different.
Anonymous said…
Mr CW - Would very much like to hear your comments on the idea of allowing iTaukei landowners given a percentage of revenue generated from mineral resources - say at least 5%. Do you think this is a good idea so iTaukei's opposing VB are comforted that VB actually does care for the iTaukei's and landowners' interests?
Anonymous said…
Rusi makes a good point. For as much as FLP or SDL want to give themselves the best chance to win a election Frank wants to give them the least chance. In fact many believe he will do anything to ensure they are not back in power.

For all the talk of old politics and old politicians we should remember this government has been in power for 6 years. By 2014 that will be 8 years. I really like the idea that no PM can lead for more than 2 terms of 4 years. I doubt that will be accepted because everyone knows Frank plans to run and will organise to win.

More of the same said…
Dear Croz,

Agree with you about Mahen. He flip flops all the time. Right behind the coup when he was in power, big supporter of frank until he was thrown out. Big supporter of democracy until he had the chance to join the coup team in power.

The other flip floper is Frank himself. All for uholding the constituion until it didn't suit. All for no one benefiting from the coup until he and his soldiers decided to benefit. Supportet Qarase (2000) then didn't. Said he believed in democracy then said he didnt trust the people.

I really wish you would look at the current governments motives more closerly. The idea they are ultruistic and everyone else before them purely selfish is plain wrong.
Anonymous said…
I can't think of too many things that Frank has done that HAVE NOT been aligned to his political ambitions.

The public emergency decree - designed so he could squash anyone who had a alternate view and to shut up any nas sayers.

His backflip on 2009 elelction - because he would not have one

Abrogation of the constitution - becuase he had to give up power

Zero efforts to right size the military, Zero efforts to diversify recruits - because it is his power base

Come on Croz, you have been very very soft on Frank and his ambitions for some time.

There You Go Again said…
To Rusi, More of the Same, and all the Anonymouses above:

I think all of you would have flunked a basic essay test. The article is about Chaudhary and the FLP position, not about Bainimarama. I would suggest you stay on the topic and not see Bainimarama in everything,including why you confine your activism to blogging.

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