Showing posts from August 19, 2012

Fiji - A Secular State

Does Religion Have a Role to Play in the State? Fr. Kevin J. Barr
Today, in most countries of the world, there is a recognised separation of Church (or religion) and state. Both are autonomous and one is not subject to the control of the other. Where this separation of religion and state is recognised we say that society is “secularised”. Peter Berger defines secularisation as “the process by which sectors of society and culture are removed from the domination of religious institutions and symbols”. In a secularised society institutional religion in the form of a state religion ceases to impose order on the world by way of external controls.
However one of the characteristics of a secular state is that it recognises the freedom of its citizens to practise the religion of their choice and respects their religious traditions – be they Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sihk – or perhaps non-religious stances such as humanism or atheism.
The secularisation of society has given rise to two differ…

Should the Constitutional Review Process be Looking at the Fijian (iTaukei) Administration?

Opinion by Crosbie Walsh
The itaukei administration is in several respects a government within a government that has a special role to serve the itaukei population.

It may be compared to an  outrigger to the main Government hull,  comprised the Bose Levu Vakaturaga (Great Council of Chiefs), Bose ni Turaga (all chiefs), 14 Provincial Councils, and further down, Tikina (district) Councils, the Turaga-ni-koro and village (koro) councils.

The platform linking the hull and outrigger comprises the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, the iTaukei Lands Trust Board, four Divisional Commissioners, and the government-appointed Roko Tui who generally serve as the CEO's of the 14 provincial councils. Provincial Councils are partly elected and partly appointed. Their most important member is usually the most senior traditional chief. Hence Tui Namosi, Tui Serua, Marama Roko Tui Dreketi (Rewa) who often chair the Council meetings.

Most Provincial Councils have business arms such as Yasana Holdings and…

Prasad: Political Stability Vital for Healthy Economy

6:12pm Jul 28 POLITICAL stability and certainty are vital for our economic progress, says University of the South Pacific's Professor Biman Prasad.

Prof Prasad said political stability was important for economic prosperity.

"I know what some bloggers and my critics say but that is what you have been saying for a while," he said.

"Yes we know, but the issue of political stability in my view is one of the missing links in our prosperity and one that we have to understand is the cause of a lot of economic problems.

"If there is one lesson we should now learn as we move towards the formulation of the new constitution, that is, political stability and certainty is vital for our economic progress."

Mr Prasad made the comments yesterday at the Citizens Constitutional Forum Ltd organised seminar on "Bringing Fiji together — Addressing Inclusivity in Constitution Making".

"If one were to take stock of the progress we have made in the la…

Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

The Mango Season
The mango season will be with us soon. All over Lautoka thousands of trees can be seen flowering and many of us are looking forward to when we will have mangoes in abundance. We will have mango chutney, mango juice, plain mango and many other stuff.
I have a unique story to tell. I have a hybrid mango tree at the back of my home in Lautoka which used to bear fruit that was not good to eat. It was sour and bitter sweet and the flesh of the mango is stringy and it used to have worms. The tree is huge and during the cyclone season it’s a threat to my neighbours home including mine. So we decided to make our place safe and we debarked the tree. It has been six months and the tree is dying a slow death.  Since the debarking, we have had fewer  fruit but they  are no longer bitter sweet and are nice to eat.   I look up and I see the  tree is again in full bloom. Soon we will be having mangoes.
One day as I sat under the dying tree, I looked up and said, “Are you …

Changes in Constitution-Making in Fiji. Part II: After the 1972 Elections

WEEKEND READING • Allen Lockington column  • The Secular State: Does Religion have a part to play? by Fr Kevin Barr • Political and Economic Stability by Biman Prasad • Should the Constitution Commission be Looking at the iTaukei Administration by Crosbie Walsh
By Subhash Appana
My last article focused on the process and context that gave Fiji its 1970 constitution. It needs to be noted that in the lead-up to independence in 1970, the two main communities in Fiji were distinctly separate not only in appearance, but also in terms of administration and government. Both communities had very different colonial experiences – one was a favoured child while the other a dangerous threat to be used to the full at any and every opportunity.
It was this threat that had to be roped into a constitutional framework that not only neutralized the threat, but also ensured a smooth transition to independence without changing any of the power positions. To this end, a number of assumptions were made. One,…

Not Published by the Fiji Media,So published Here

MEDIA RELEASERegime abandons workers again; Union power is the answer. The poorest of our workers have once again been denied long awaited and well deserved wage increase by an illegitimate regime. This regime has done so the third time in four years, says the outgoing Chairman of the Wages Council, Fr Kevin Barr who has reportedly resigned over the Labour Minister's refusal to adopt the recommendations of the wages councils and for acting unilaterally. The Labour Minister must realize that by bowing to the pressure from the rich and powerful employers he has not only abandoned around 60% of our workers who live below the poverty line, he has also abandoned the core purpose of his ministry of fairness and justice in the workplace. The workers of Fiji have received nothing but third grade treatment from this regime from the day it usurped power in 2006. There is little doubt that this regime it is not only pro rich but blatantly anti poor. It has also attacked unionised w…

"Constant Beautiful Statements" Not Enough

Why I Resigned as Chair of the Wages Council
Fr Kevin Barr
(Subheadings added by Editor.
Reply from the Minister and my comment added at the end.)
In 2008 I was persuaded to accept the position as independent Chair of the ten Wages Councils under the Ministry of Labour and Industrial Relations. When we began our work there had been no increases in worker’s wages for three years. 

Our first set of wage proposals was due to come into effect on the 1st Feb. 2009. Without any consultation the PM announced that, under pressure from a strong lobby of employers, he was deferring the Wage Regulation Orders to 1st July 2009. 
The second set of wage proposals was then set to come into effect on the 1st July 2010 but again was deferred for ten months until the 1st May 2011 and was reduced by 5%. All this was done without any consultation with me or the Wages Councils. 
In 2011 there were no meetings of the Wages Councils due to the stubborn determination of the …

The 1997 Constitution: Its Opening Prologue

A number of people making submissions to the Constitution Commission have said they want to keep the 1997 Constitution and, like sunrise,  I have to agree it starts well. It is only some of its 'sunset' provisions that need to be deleted or amended if Fiji is to become a united nation where each community respects the rights of others.

But what a beautiful prologue!

The Constitution preamble  reads:

SEEKING the blessing of God who has always watched over these islands

— and, after recalling historical events that have shaped modern Fiji, continues:

RECOGNISING that the descendants of all those who chose to make their homes in these islands form our multicultural society:

AFFIRMING the contributions of all communities to the well-being of that society, and the rich variety of their faiths, traditions, languages and cultures:

TAKING PRIDE in our common citizenship and in the development of our economy and political institutions:

COMMITTING ourselves…

Indigenous Rights and the Proposed Constitution

Opinion by Crosbie Walsh
In an earlier article I said that fear and lack of knowledge seemed to be major influences in many of the ethnic Fijian submissions made to the Constitution Commission. The fear I referred to was that of losing their land,  institutions, culture, language and customs.  There seemed to be confusion among many iTaukei on the rights and attributes of their indigenous ethnicity (what others call First Nations) and their rights —and others' rights— to full and equal citizenship.

A recent posting on  Luveiviti, one of the older anti-Bainimarama and pro-ethnic "Fijian rights" blogs, seems likely to add to the confusion.  In a  recent posting they published the opinions of a "Mr Peter Jones" on the current constitution dialogue and what it could mean for ethnic Fijian rights.  I do not know of Peter Jones but the blog  credits him as "One of our much valued Indigenous experts."

What this says for their other experts, I do not know but I…