Sincere Suggestions to the PM and Government

Given the published reactions to the Government’s draft Constitution 2013, it would be sensible to hold the promised Constituent Assembly in the terms that were decreed by your Government initially.
While it may be correct that not all political parties have been registered, for various reasons as you pointed out in your address to the nation on March 21, the Constituent Assembly does not have to include individuals who represent only political parties; it could instead include their opinion-shapers and policy makers, and others in the body politic in Fiji, for example religious leaders. Everyone should be part of a publicized discussion on what the next Constitution of Fiji should look like, including people whose views we do not like or who have, in the past, expressed objectionable opinions based on race, gender or any other kind of prejudice.

For the Constituent Assembly, the Government’s 2013 Constitution can be the main document on the table for discussion but people should not be prevented from debating aspects of Fiji’s previous constitutions if they are relevant to the Government’s draft Constitution.

Such a Constituent Assembly should comprise individuals and representatives who sent their names to your Permanent Secretary on or before the deadline of 30th December 2012, as stipulated. 

This process would allow members of the Assembly to (i) fix up the weaknesses in the drafting of your Constitution 2013 and (ii) debate issues intelligently with each other, with a view to the national interest, and make recommendations to the Government on what the new Fijian Constitution should be, in light of the Preamble of the current draft which states…”We the People of Fiji…hereby establish this Constitution for the Republic of Fiji”. How can people respect the next constitution of Fiji if they feel they have not actually been given the opportunity to ‘establish this Constitution of Fiji’ as the Preamble says?

In order to make it inclusive for everyone, the Assembly’s proceedings should be transmitted live to the public via the media. 

Whether or not any political parties have been correctly or legitimately registered should not detract the Government from the very important fact that the 2013 Constitution will represent the ‘social contract’ between the people and the Republic of Fiji. As in any legal contract the two parties to it should have an equal say in the clauses that are to be included in this very important basic law document so that it can be sustainable for generations to come.

Dr Shaista Shameem


Watch the space said…
Without a doubt the biggest losers from this thug junta in the long term will be indo-Fijians. Apart from a view symbolic tortures of Fijians such as 'prisoners' the i-Taukei will come out well on top. They know it, the desperate dictator knows it and khaiyum knows it. That is why he will do as he is told until it is time to waste him. It is very interesting how so many of the unthinking indo-Fijians who initially supported this junta are now eating their own vomit. Watch the space - there will be many more as they start to see just how this i-Taukei military will really run the show. It is simply one buch of i-taukei chiefs replaced by another (more vicious) bunch.
Marika said…
Another shot in the foot for the credibility of the regime... keep it up boyz.
Anonymous said…
The flaw in this article is the assumption that the only way to get public views is through the Assembly. Direct participation is much more democratic as long as the media plays its part in getting discussions going. The Assembly was just going to be the cocktail party perdiem and business class elite. No thanks.
Anonymous said…
It took 4 SS officers to make 1000 Jews to walk into gas chambers.

Fellow Fijian brothers and sisters lets unite and have the guts to say this constitution is not for us. Lets not walk into the gas chambers and be killed without a fight. Remember we can count how many of them on one hand. I don't want our children's children's reading about us in 100 years time and say if only they stood up to these thugs.

Everyone please make sure you write either by post or email or in person to protest against this constitution.
Equal said…
What a vicious and racist person you are Watch This Space. Why class the people of one race in one group having the same aspirations? The poor of all races have more in common than all the people of one race. Wake up to the new Fiji. Your comment demonstrates why the Assembly had to be cancelled. It would have been the place to spew racial and religious hatred.
The Pursuit of Happiness said…
@ Equal

You need to enquire into the meaning of this word 'sincere'.

"The syncere and pure doctrine of Goddes (sic) words" (1536)

But even more telling than the above is this about the word 'sincerity':

"There is nothing so pitilessly cruel as sincerity formulated into dogma" ((1870) Shorter Oxford English Dictionary

There is no clarification as to who is to be sincere with whom? For the onus is on the State itself. See what Philip Bobbit has to say in his compulsory-read: "Terror and Consent" (2008). In the foreword he quotes the poet Czeslaw Milosz from "A POEM FOR THE END OF THE CENTURY"

'What oppressed me so much
Was a bit shameful.
Talking of it aloud
Would show neither tact nor prudence.
It might even seem an outrage
Against the health of mankind'.

Of course we are equal in our opposition to and our experience of terror. Too many of us have witnessed and spoken to those who have suffered it in the past twelve years. But what went before is also relevant. It will be more so in the coming twelve. Make no mistake about that. Are we a a Nation of Consent? Does it feel as though we are? In our bones do we 'know' it? Because if the answer is 'No', then we must gather up our senses and defy it. The State, the Nation-State owes us its protection in defence of our

"..Certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to protect these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed". (Thomas Jefferson's Open Letter to His Majesty King George III of England).

Bobbit reminds us: "The Declaration directly addresses the British sovereign and is, in fact, an attempt to redefine the sovereignty of states. "The purpose of government is not to grant rights but to protect them, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed". He also makes clear that "it is only those delegable powers that are in fact allocated to government by the People (that) can serve as the basis for legitimate action by the State".

This is the essence of succintness. This could not be made more plain. That the people consent to their governance and their inalienable rights are to be protected by the State. It is terror itself that we must organise against and that makes all civilians equal.
Equal said…
Correct Sincere. But how are they to consent? Through the creation of elite groups who are strong enough to demand representation on an appointed Assembly? Or by referendum? In which case the elite will say in a patronising way that the poor understand nothing and must be represented by the rich, or articulate. If rights are to be protected, they will not be protected by the rich and powerful, nor by the NGOs who have created elitism. Nor by the foreign missions which fund the NGOs on their own terms.We should put the Constitution to a referendum, but only after there have been extensive discussions on its provisions in the media. In all the languages.The Assembly was always a waste of time.
Anonymous said…
But what provision specifically is objectionable? Reads like a very simple and pro people Constitution.
Anonymous said…
AnonymousSunday, March 24, 2013 at 12:16:00 PM GMT+13:00

Short memories indeed. What happened to the people's voice in the Ghai Draft constitution. Out the window i recall
Anonymous said…
While there have been many negative comments in the last few articles on this blog in relation to the process the government is now following, there have been very few comments criticising any part of the content of the draft constitution. I think I remember something about the immunity, but that will always be in any new constitution.

Come on all you government haters out their, please let us know what is specifically wrong with the current draft.
Rights and Freedoms said…
Looking at that crazy guy Bullard's opinion it seems he is left with nothing to say, because all he can say is why is FICAC given powers to prosecute (umm it always did, like ICAC in Hong Kong, it is not a Commission of Inquiry, it is a law enforcement agency))and why the CJ controls the Judicial Services Commission (who should control it-- the government?). In fact the Bill of Rights is much better than the old one with rights to water and food added and also to housing. Plus the independent institutions are less open to government pressure through budgets as they will now handle their own budgets. The only people who won't like it are the ones who do not want the institutions to be independent. The constitution should not be drafted on the basis of office holders now whom we dislike, but on the basis of offices in the next hundred years. So you don't like the current Chief Justice, good for you, but the Constitution isn't about individuals its about offices.
Ghaiya said…
Was Ghai listening to the people? Or to his own circle of elitist friends all of whom were hostile to the government? It is Ghai who is out of the window, and in the nick of time.
Just another ghoose like bhaini said…
when you say government do you mean human rights abusing illegal junta? Fiji no longer has a government - it was trashed by scumbag thugs remember Thikwit Ramshit?
Reality said…

All suggestions are rejected by the military - sincere or otherwise.

Con beef and rourou said…
@Just another ghoose

Who school you?

Methinks you don't know what the word government means. Legal or illegal, respected statesman or thuggish human-rights abuser, whoever controls the civil service and directs its work, is the government and the prime minister. And that is regardless of whether you like it or not.
Yawn said…
@ reality
Really? Have you sent one yet? Do you even have a cinstructive suggestion?

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