More Insights on the Leaked Constitution

Among the many comments on the draft constitution saga, three posted on the only "reasonable" anti-Government blog, Fiji  Today, provide interesting insights.

The Offensive DVD
Example of an offensive cartoon
First is the posting on Fiji Today by publisher "Peter Firkins" who says he will not be publishing anything on an "offensive DVD" that purports to explain the draft in Fijian and Hindi because the summary is accompanied by offensive illustrations likening Col Tikoitoga to Hitler, human rights to beating Jews, and amnesty to a firing squad.

The speedy production  of a DVD suggests a well organized opposition that could also have received early information on the draft, as I suggested yesterday in writing about the possibly flawed neutrality of the Commission staff and Mahendra Chaudhy's likely early access to draft material.

The Constitution Assembly will receive the draft constitution and an "Explanatory Report"  prepared by the Commission. One can see no useful purpose served by additional "explanatory" information in the form of a clearly biased DVD. It seems likely that the actions of Chaudhry and the producers of the DVD  are intended to preempt and influence the work of the Constitution Assembly

The 'draft' is still 'burning'
Given Fiji Today's applaudable announcement on the DVD's, I found it surprising that the blog  published a rant by exiled Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba's Council for a Democratic Fiji headed "Khaiyum orders burning of the draft constitution: Australian and New Zealand must withdraw their support for this dictatorship".   The blog usually publishes material written by others, adding only one-liner headings that point to its view on the article.  In this case, they repeated the false claim that it was the
draft that was burnt and its burning was ordered by the Attorney-General.

Wadan's analysis
They also published a lengthy analysis of the draft analysis and  the Explanatory Report written by "special guest contributor" Wadan Narsey. It opens poorly with Wadan confusing the decree for the draft but on the whole, it is a fair and reasonable analysis  from someone of Wadan's political persuasion.

I think he is overly optimistic about the likely behaviour of government opponents during the proposed transition arrangements. And, while Government may accept the proposed Transition Advisory Council, I doubt it will unreservedly accept a caretaker cabinet.  Some modifications must be accepted in the Constituent Assembly if their decisions are even to approximate a consensus. Radio Australia has also published an account of  Wadan's views.  I shall publish  and my account on the Constitution Assembly and the proposed transition arrangements soon.

Peni hopes PM will approve
Two other items of related news are the statement on Fiji radio by former Commissioner  Peni Moore that the consultations had shown how deeply divided, and mislead,  Fiji is, with both iTaukei and Indo-Fijians seeing themselves as "victims."

"As for submissions for a Christian State, only four percent of all submissions supported this. 'Really what they wanted were for people to be well behaved and good, and transparent and honest leaders, others were just told to say Christian State and they did but when we asked them what they meant, they didn’t know what they were saying.'

Yet at the time, the media gave the impression that most iTaukei  wanted a Christian state, even the Methodist Church and the SDL.

Peni believes the Commission has done the best it could. “I really and truly hope that both the Prime Minister and all his people including the Attorney General will read the constitution and the report and realize that we’ve given them the best document they could ever have.”

300 apply for Assembly membership
Finally, some 300 applications to serve on the Assembly have been received by the PM's  Office. Permanent secretary Colonel Pio Tikoduadua said applications were received from individuals, religious organisations, political parties, non-government organisations and civil societies. He  reiterated that membership would constitute a fair representation of society. Fiji Sun reports that FLP, SDL and UPP parties have applied for membership.

"The Assembly is also required to observe the purpose of the decree, which includes adherence to its non-negotiable principles and values such as the removal of ethnic voting, a common and equal citizenry and a secular state. To be eligible for membership of the Assembly, a person must be a citizen of Fiji, be a person of experience in public affairs and must have utmost honesty and integrity in every respect.

"The Constituent Assembly will hold its first meeting on the second week of January and its work is to be completed at the latest by the end of the third week of March." -- Fiji Live.

Notice Allen Lockington's column will be published a little later today, Saturday, probably in the late afternoon.


Anonymous said…
If Frank is not to stand and none of his cabinet are to stand for the next election I see no issue in then continuing right up until the new government is in place. If they are to stand then we definitely need a transitional government of some court.

Of course technically Frank should not stand as he lead the coup and interim government ( his early promise ) and he will have been in power for 8 years ( maybe hats a bit of the draft he does not like ! )
Anonymous said…
Croz, I'd be interested in getting your thoughts on the draft ? Two major parties supporting it does suggest the commission has done a good job. I have not heard much criticism of it ? Maybe because it was burnt all the naysayers assume it must be good !
Anonymous said…
The idea that reparations will be called for and that a Truth & Reparations Commission will be required for a return to democracy may concentrate our minds. If thinking about thinking is in place: ("Do I sincerely want to be right?" Prof Antony Flew), then we should be closely examining our concepts of this term 'Reparations'. It should be applied to 1987, 2000, 2006, 2009 and to all actors (known and yet-to-be-known). Reparation is "The act of restoring to a proper state"; "The action of repairing or mending"; "Spiritual restoration, salvation 1725"; "Willing to make reasonable"; "amends, compensation.
(The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary Vol 11). Such a Commission should be chaired by an independent and highly competent person with relevant experience in theatres of profound and prolonged conflict. There is now a compelling case to be made for reparation in Fiji.
reparations said…
How do we begin to repair the harm done by 1987? Isn't that what 2006 was all about? Isn't that why there is resistance in certain circles to the current government? It is because those who supported 1987 and 2000 have no regrets. They are only angry because their saviors in the military have refused to follow their narrow racist and economic agenda.Mark my words, the 87ists and 2000ists will never come out to admit what they did. So how can there be reparation?
Anonymous said…
There are some good things in the draft like the bill of rights and the preamble. But the independent services commissions seem to be weaker than they were, and the election of the President by an NGO group headed by the old President is non-democratic. As non-democratic as the Council of Chiefs which used to do that job. Why can't we elect a President from nominees suggested by Parliament? We should be moving closer to the people's choice, not further away.
Anonymous said…
Dear Croz
Not a bad draft but too weighted in favor of elite groups. The powerful civil society (which is really controlled by AUSAID, NZAIOD and EU) is given more power than in any country in the world I believe (correct me if I an wrong here) and the GCC is an advisory body on all Fijian affairs when there is already a Fijian Affairs Board which has that role. It is chaired by the President. I would have thought that this constitution should have set steps to help the Fijian communities to move towards democracy, not to entrench old power structures which have got them no where in the past. The involvement of chiefs in coups is well known.The Senate is abolished but a bigger, less representative and more expensive monster has taken its place - the National Assembly which has no elections at all. Fortunately it won't have a say in bills and laws except to advise everyone (sticky beak syndrome made statutory) but most importantly, someone should sit down and cost this constitution. It seems to be very expensive to implement.
Anonymous said…
Croz I would like to believe that Yash Ghai is an honest man but why did he lie about the alleged burning of the Constitution which it now is confirmed by Penny Moore was not burned? The story has spread like wildfire (pun intended) everywhere and it does not even exist! All the 599 copies are with the police according to Commissioner of Police.
Anonymous said…
Integrity test for human beings;

Does he or she lie?
Does he or she treat his or her enemies with respect, even if he or she believes the person is nor worthy of such respect?
Does he or she keep his or her word, and if this is not possible, does he or she go back to the promisee to explain why the word was not honored?
Is he or she capable of saying "I am sorry"?
Does he or she listen to both sides of a story?
Anonymous said…
"Misgovernment is of four kinds, often in combination. They are: 1) Tyranny or oppression 2)Excessive ambition 3) Incompetence or decadence 4) Folly or peversity

The March of Folly by now deceased Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian Barbara Tuchman has as the title for her first chapter: Pursuit of Policy contrary to self-interest. She gives numerous examples from Troy to Vietnam (including Germany's twice-attempted rule of Europe by a self-conceived master race).

The March of Folly was given to Prime Minister of Fiji Sitiveni Rabuka by the then US Ambassador Don Gevirtz in 1996. Subsequent copies have been given to subsequent prime ministers. May we humbly and respectfully suggest that if they have mislaid them, or failed to read them, the soon-to-be sworn in US Secretary of State, with President Barack Obama's blessing, might generously donate just one more? President Obama is to be sworn in on 21st January 2013 in Washington DC.
Anonymous said…

Further to the follies of misgovernance referred to by Barbara Tuchman, we might add the earlier views propounded about social reform in the work of the eminent philosopher Sir Karl Popper. His critical rationalism which has underpinned the thinking of many modern, liberal politicians of the past thirty or so years (of the Right and Left-of-Centre) rejected Utopian Social Engineering for what Popper terms 'piecemeal social engineering'. For the sound reason that he believed we learn by correcting our mistakes. We must use our imagination in proposing new possibilities and the use of our reason in exposing and eliminating error. How can this be achieved without the fullness of liberty and self-expression required to master 'Critical Rationalism'? We require freedom of choice to make mistakes and then to critically learn from them. The avoidance of error in future will be achieved when we learn that any hypothesis may prove to be false. Falsification must be built into our hypotheses. This revolutionary mode of thinking changes our lives when we apply it in practice. We welcome exposure to our errors especially in the field of politics and the adoption of any particular policy. It stands to reason that excessive legalism will prove death to the admission and correction of error. This is how Soviet Russia ultimately failed. This is also how around 40m Chinese peasants and intellectuals died in the Great Famine under Chairman Mao's leadership: The Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.
Anonymous said…
If we are to build a nation on the experiences of the past, we should not forget the past and its pain. The pain is a reminder of what we do not want to happen again. We should move on from the blame game though. Who caused the 1987 coup should change to what fears, and weaknesses led to that calamity in Fiji's history? The answer must go deeper than the insecurities of the itaukei, to what caused the insecurities? The manipulation of fears of eradication, or a reality of imminent eradication? Either cause needs to be examined without anger, rancor, or blame. Then on to 2000, 2001, 2006 and 2009. If previous governments have deliberately fanned a flame of racism by creating insecurity, the way Hitler did with anti-semitism in the 1930's, then that needs to be confronted, discussed, and deprecated, again, without anger, rancor or blame. Can we do it? The Constituent Assembly may be the first step towards it God willing.
Anonymous said…
Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?
The Attorney General.
Who brought Cyclone Evan to Fiji?
The Attorney General.
Who gave the orders to burn the draft constitution?
The Attorney General.
Who made up the story that the constitution was burnt?
The Attorney General.
Why do we believe all theses things about him?
He is an Indian, ergo he is the root of all evil.
Honi soit qui mal y pense said…
Some Swans are Black
Ergo theses must be capable of falsification
That is the route out of error
A swift correction is suggested
Or a spell in the Black Watch
Or the front row of the XVs Rugby Team
It is never too late to change course
Salus populi suprema est lex

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