Rodney Yee's Submission to the Constitution Commission

I publish this submission because it is succinct and covers most major issues.  Ed.

Submission to the Constitution Commission*
8th October, 2012

1. The Preamble - must acknowledge the protection of human rights, indigenous rights and the
protection of native landownership, the various beliefs, cultures, beliefs and the freedoms for all
that emphasises that the constitution is a living document that draws its legitimacy from the
people of Fiji.
2. NATIONAL IDENTITY - Citizenship to be clearly defined as non-ethnic and a national identity
that should be determined through a national referendum after a selection of top three choices
drawn from a competition by our next gen 6-18 years.
3. Citizenship education must be part of the national school curriculum. The distinction
between nationality and ethnicity must be emphasised.
4. Ethnicity – Protection of the rights of all ethnic groups including their cultural practices,
traditional and belief practices.
5. The National Anthem – A new national Anthem that reflects Fiji’s new Constitutional status and
in the three languages.
6. National Language – There will be three national languages English, iTaukei and Fiji Hindustani.
7. PRINCIPLES ON FAITH Fiji should be a country that is for all faiths and not for an exclusive
singular faiths BUT must determine to stand for a set of values that is common to all faiths.
interests and concerns of all Fiji's ethnic communities to be protected, acknowledging the unique
traditions and customs of each based on principles that supports equity, respect, love and the
dynamism of change.
9. Bill of Rights
10. Must draw from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and All the conventions drawn from it
and further from the Principles of Equality that protect the freedoms of all Fijians that addresses
their Civil and Political Rights protecting the Life and security, the democratic and civil rights, Nondiscrimination
and minority rights, the search, arrest and detention of all Fijians.
11. The Bill of Rights must further extend to include the freedoms and rights that ensure there is
social justice and economic justice for all. Economic justice must be determined by the three
essential principles which include (i) Principle of Participation, (ii) The principle of Distribution and
(iii) The principle of harmony.
12. In all aspects of the Bill of rights the context must be based on the protection of the dignity and
respect for all human beings not just limited to their nationality, race, physical ability, age, gender
or sexual orientation.
13. If there are to be temporary special measures these must be based on the Principles of Equality
(Refer EQUALS RIGHTS TRUST attached).
14. The Bill of rights and Human Rights must be part of the national School Curriculum.
15. Judiciary
16. The judiciary must adhere to the principles as determined by the Bangalore Principles and the
Beijing principles that ensure independence, accountability and transparency and good governance
dispensed without prejudice.
17. The judiciary as an institution must also allow for the same principles of fairness, justice to be
applied which must at all costs limit any forms of interference.
18. Instruments to clearly separate the roles and powers of the Judiciary from the State (executive)
and Legislature must be built into the constitution.
19. Government
20. The Size of the government must be limited to 51 with a Westminster structure.
21. All members of the government must be elected including the President and the other 51
22. The government must be along the Westminster format. All decision-making must be based on
23. The Office of the Supervisor for Elections appointed constitutionally must be responsible for the
functions and role as outlined under the 1997 Constitution and must also be extended to
determine the suitability of the registration of political parties and political candidacy based on a
set of criteria that is consistent with the principles and values of the new Constitution.
24. The cabinet must never exceed 25 and should be elected by all 51 members of the executive.
25. The remaining 26 members will make up the backbenchers.
26. Temporary special measures must require that all parties field at least 25% of women as
candidates based on merit.
27. Political parties are required to have a leadership mentoring programme that has a youth
leadership and women leadership focus.
28. The government will have a 4 year term only. This means that elections must be convened every
four years.
29. No one person can hold the position of prime ministership for more than two terms.
30. No one person can hold the position of presidency for more than two terms.
31. The 51 members of parliament must be drawn from the full 4 constituencies which include the
Northern, Western, Central and Eastern and Maritime. The numbers is determined on the
population ratio.
32. The Presidency
33. The position of Presidency should be an elected position.
34. The Presidency should be elected drawn from nominees made by the People. The nominees shall
be limited to only 3 nominees and shall be determined by a Presidential Commission who could
also be the same members of the Constituents Assembly.
35. Eligibility criteria for the President must be determined by a Constitution Commission who should
also be responsible for the appointment of all Constitution positions comprising the Prime Minister,
Chief Justice, three Cabinet Ministers including the Ministers for Women and Youth, Representative
from the Office of the Ombudsman and members of the Civil Society, Faith based groups and at
least 2 Provincial High Chiefs.
36. Public Accountability
37. All Public Office appointments will be subject to public accountability scrutiny based on the
principles of Good governance and to be undertaken by the office of the Ombudsperson.
38. The Office of the Human Rights Commission must come under the Office of the Ombudsperson.
39. The Office of the Ombudsperson will also be accountable to the same procedures of scrutiny
using the same frameworks and procedures with the chair determined by a committee of High
Court Judges appointed by the President under the office of the Chief Justice.
40. The Great Council of Chiefs
The Great Council of Chiefs will fall under the iTaukei Affairs Act and will be responsible for
provincial developmental work as a body that provides advisory role to the Provincial
administration structure.
41. Further as stewards of the Native Land Ownership they shall be responsible equally with the
Native Landowning units to play a decision-making role in the land utilisation decisions that must
be based on Economic justice and on sustainable cultural, land and environment management
42. The Military
43. The role of the military will be limited to border control and in the case of peacekeeping these
must be undertaken under the strict provisions of the UN Peacekeeping conditions and on return
must revert to civilian duty and on reserve until they are eligible for another sanctioned duty.
44. The Military must be reduced in size commensurate with annual budget allocation that must not
exceed 0.2 of the Annual national budget.
45. The President will be the Commander in Chief of the Military and must be civilian elected.
46. The military will only intervene into security and rule of law and order roles only upon the
instruction of the President at the request of the Prime Minister under State of emergency.
47. The size of the military numbers must never exceed as active military personnel a number that
does not exceed 500 personnel per annum.
48. The Police
49. The Police shall be responsible for the maintenance of law and order.
50. The Police force must fall under the office of the Minister of Defence and the Prime Minister.
51. The Police Commissioner is a public office appointment and falls under the provisions of public
52. The position of Police Commissioner must be made from a Police Career-person and must never
be from the Military or the Correctional Services.
53. The Police will only invite the Military for the purpose of national emergency and will be made to
the President as Commander in Chief.
54. Civil Society
55. The role and functions of all civil society is to be subject to the same rules of Public Accountability.
56. Civil Society must be represented in public bodies.
57. Their independence from the State must be recognised and their role as watchdogs to the State
must be institutionalised.
58. A national Civil Society regulating governance structure that is independent of the State will be
responsible for regulation of all civil society bodies.
59. Civil Society must be represented in the Public Accountability bodies and must also be included in
bodies such as the Higher Salaries Commission, Parliamentary proceedings disciplinary bodies,
commissioners for the Human Rights Commission and so forth.
60. The Constitution
61. The Constitution will be subject to full review every 5 years with provisions for review of specific
parts open to the government of the day and must be determined only after a period of civic
62. The Constitution review is for all parts of the document with no items given any exclusivity
63. The Constitution must be in the three national languages with translations also available in the
languages of the ethnic minorities.
64. The Constitution must be part of the National School curriculum.
65. The abrogation of the Constitution is to be viewed as a treasonous act with no provision for
66. All future coup-de tat act will be viewed as a treasonous act with no provision for pardon allowed
from hereon.
68. Any forms of immunity will be determined by national referendum facilitated by the presiding
69. Interim Administrations
70. Where elections are undertaken the presiding administration shall be determined subject to the
office of the President and only for the defined period.
71. The Interim Administration must be determined by the Full 51 members of the government
assented to by the President and must not be no bigger than 12 members.
Signed by:
Full Name:

* I thought Rodney touched most of the important bases and that his submission was worth sharing with readers.  Rodney works, or worked, as Programme Manager for the Citizens Constitutional Forum. 


Anonymous said…
Many have called for a smaller and accountable military. I seriously doubt zfrank will let that happen. It's his power base, he has blown budgets again and again, soldiers got regarded for their roles in the coup. Some even got away with manslaughter - think Francis Kean. No way Frank will give that up.

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