The Need for Reforms
|L-R. Fr David Arms, me, Fr Kevin Barr|
Fr Kevin J. Barr
At the recent Attorney-General’s Conference in Natadola the Prime Minister pointed out the need to reform various laws in Fiji in order to remove long-festering problems in Fiji society. Those he mentioned were:
- The established privilege of career politicians that foster division;
- Elites who believe the laws do not apply to them;
- Dishonest civil servants who take bribes to do the bidding of others;
- Certain unionists who manipulate the law and destroy job opportunities for workers;
- Men who resist equal rights for women.
That is fine but why be selective? What of the need for reforms to address other long-festering problems and concerns:
- Those businessmen who colluded with those responsible for the various coups since 1987 and were never investigated?
- The influential lobby of businessmen who, over the years, have been responsible for delaying and reducing the wage regulation orders for workers in our country and so caused deeper poverty?
- Those who used their personal agenda against certain unionists in order to curtail the power of trade unions (which work for social and economic justice for the workers of Fiji)?
- Those responsible for allowing certain overseas investors to ride dry-shod over environmental concerns and the interests of indigenous land owners?
The Prime Minister also spoke some fine words which deserve our support:
“It is our goal to make sure that we establish and nurture a Fiji in which justice is
actual and permanent not only legal justice, but social and economic justice that
establishes a common and equal citizentry in all aspects of life.”
This is consistent with the demand that social justice be one of the “non-negotiables” for the drawing up of the new Constitution.
We applaud this demand for social justice because social justice challenges us to provide all people with equitable opportunities and rights in a real and substantive way. This means that all people have the right to participate fully in society. Moreover social justice demands that we challenge and change the structural injustices which disadvantage and marginalize so many of our brothers and sisters. Social justice calls upon us to stand up for those whose basic rights are ignored and who live in poverty. Social justice demands that those who have more than they need should share with those who lack the basic necessities for living a decent life. Social justice challenges us to work for the good of all – the common good – and not allow a few to exploit others and monopolise the wealth and resources of the earth which God made for all. Social justice seeks a more equitable distribution of wealth, power and opportunities and urges us to fight against exploitation both of our workers and the resources of our environment.
There has been much stress on the need to do away with corruption. We also need to see equal stress on the need to control greed –whether it be corporate or individual.