Looking Back and Forwards

By Rodney Cole

I like to  think that Fiji entered the computer age in 1969 when, as Secretary for Finance, I signed a contract with ICL for the installation of a 10902A computer programmed to process both trade data and eventually the civil service payroll.  A giant of a machine taking up about half the ground floor of the former Suva Boys Grammar School.

Certainly Fiji has come along way since then having joined the cyber based communication revolution with enthusiasm. Nothing demonstrates more clearly this commitment to enjoying the benefits of  the world wide web than the growth of blog sites associated with Fiji’s current political situation. Sadly all but a few of these sites, offering as they do the opportunity for anonymity, have failed to encourage a level of debate which might have had a bearing on policy issues confronting the incumbent Fiji Government as it seeks to achieve a national constitution that offers a democratic solution as an alternative to the current military regime.

There is no doubt that those responsible for these particular blogs are intelligent and innovative but at the same time fail to exercise any degree of control over, or perhaps even encourage, blatant untruths, vicious innuendo or pure ‘tripe’, all of which is written by individuals who haven’t the courage to use their own name.

In the development of such a nationally critical political instrument as a constitution it would be hoped that those responsible would seek to benefit from serious, well argued comments be they offered in writing, verbally or via the internet. However given the standard of internet posts on Fijian political matters generally I would hazard a guess that those responsible for such matters would waste little, or no time, viewing the offerings of Fiji oriented blogs.  I am disappointed at having to express this view as I intend to comment briefly on the published draft Constitution of Fiji.

I make no pretension to having skills in constitutional law but common sense suggests that basic principle of a constitution seeking to establish a democratic state should envisage a society in which there is a formal equality of rights and privileges. In addition it could be expected to include provisions which allow for a range of acts and declarations directed at both fair and effective national governance.

The draft, now open for comment, contains these elements, indeed it appears to seek to be ‘All things to all men’. Such an instrument avoids the need for a plethora of legislation on individual topics, each open to endless debate. It would also obviate problems associated with transition from the current form of government by decree to one which enshrines the principles of true democracy.

While the approach chosen by the present Government has a deal to commend it, it does offer the opportunity for endless comment, both sane and unproductive. An alternative might have been to consider the type of constitution adopted by two quite different countries, the United States of America and Iceland. These are succinct but at the same time enshrine the principles of democracy and provide sufficient enabling provisions as to allow the legislature to provide the necessary mechanisms for a broad based administration and the conduct of government business in the national interests. A constitution for Fiji on similar lines might have generated less debate initially and been easier to gain general acceptance but to flesh out the machinery of government could have been complex and protracted.

There is no argument that the people of Fiji deserve the best possible constitution, one that enshrines the broad principles of democracy and allows for the establishment of an efficient and committed government that holds the interests of all citizens as paramount. The proposed constitution will undoubtedly reveal flaws over time, flaws that can be quickly put to rights by a progressive and caring administration but the important thing as of now, is that it represents the first important step towards a government elected by the people, for the people.

Of course it will generate unproductive criticism through the intransigent attitudes of those who can have little influence on the present government but whose interest and ambitions remain cloaked in anonymity.

It is to be hoped once a new constitution has been formally adopted it will offer a clear signal of the intentions of the present regime and encourage those whose bitter and unproductive criticisms have had so little influence to date to adopt more positive attitudes and use their undoubted internet skills to the benefit and well being of the country they claim to hold in deep affection.

Comments

No time for facist farkwits said…
This current military junta (which facist fools like to call a government) was conceived in thuggery and intimidation. It is a farce. The only cowardice witnessed has been by military thugs bashiung hog tied prisoners with iron bars. This is cowardice of the worst kind. Only facist cowardly fools could support such practices. Are you one of these cole? Or simply just a total farkwit?
Con beef with Rourou said…
Do pick up a dictionary sometime. You might want to look up the meaning of the word government.

You might also want to learn the meaning of military junta. You'll find that it is a form of government, and that it does not fit the description of Fiji's current government.

Bainimarama is not part of a junta... he needs not consult anyone. He is a dictator.
Gatekeeper said…
Mr Rodney Cole: you no doubt are well-meaning and your archive-worthy computer arrived in Suva about the same time we did! However, we had touched down in the West a trifle earlier. Before we move on to other things: is that original computer archived? Saved for posterity for Fijians to appreciate the great strides already achieved? Some investigation needed there. For some things have improved and 'moved on'.

The word 'intransigence' is a familiar one. Put to regular use in the past fifteen years or so. Not unlike "wilful ignorance". But in this case, the wilfulness of the ignorance works both ways. There is a distinct equality inherent in application. How dare anyone (and this does include your goodself) impute to the civilian population in Fiji that they hide behind 'anonymity' for any reason other than of acute necessity? Have you lived in a gulag, Mr Cole? Have you any remote idea as to what that might mean in terms of daily living? Earning your livelihood, preparing a future for your children without the overwhelming and looming presence of force majeure? By all means go to the late Chinua Achebe's works especially: "Things Fall Apart(1958), "No Longer at Ease" (1960). 'Proverbial language is woven into the books, providing the modern reader with a dynamic rather than archaic insight into traditional life'. 'Hopes and Impediments' (1988). How fortunate Nigeria has been despite its present demanding problems to have such a writer to convey the difficulty without fear of immediate and most personal repercussions (Achebe died two weeks ago while living in the USA). Living a Life of Lies constantly morphing themselves into quotidian reality is no mean feat. Give yourself some Time Out, please do, to reflect most earnestly. Might I possibly be mistaken? Have I grasped the true measure (emphasis on 'true')of what repression might be? Would you care to permit your children and your grandchildren to inherit a document next to incapable of enhancement or amendment? It is unimaginable, is it not? Beyond human credulity? Or it should be.
Best Practices in constitution-making said…
"There is no argument that the people of Fiji deserve the best possible constitution".

No doubt whatsoever. But the nuanced tone of condescension here is imprudent from someone outside the country. We use the term carefully, deliberately because we customarily accord a benefit of the doubt. However, this is a matter in which we, the people, deserve the last word. After three years of repression, alienation of all rights, suppression of freedom of expression by any means, we shall insist upon A Bill of Rights 'sans pareille'. We had one - in the 1997 Constitution which became law in 1998. We toiled over this constitution and its Bill of Rights at that time was second to none. There will be no 'throwing of babies out with the bathwater'. We have a future generation to be concerned with: Best Practices in constitution-making. We shall not be steam-rolled, imposed upon, ridiculed nor ever again lied to. We expect and require that Good Men and Women keep their word as a sacred and honourable bond. Our forebears died in two World Wars to ensure liberty to all who would oppress us, impoverish us and mortgage our collective future. State your positions and state them now. Declare your assets and every dollar of public money you have made use of in the past seven years. We shall begin for you: Ninety Dollars (F$90). Seventy dollars of USP Funds and Twenty dollars of Police Academy Funds. Please feel free to check. Dinners, lunches, Morning and Afternoon Teas are additional. We acknowledge that they were supplied using, in the main, taxpayers' money. Pro-bono publico services have been rendered FOC. A matter of record for ten years.

When inclined, try Chinua Achebe's novel :'Anthills of the Savannah': "A tremendous work and a brave one". (1987 Literary Review). Turn to pages 4,5,6,7. "Your Excellency, let us not flaunt the wishes of the people. 'Flout', you mean', I said. 'The people?', asked His Excellency, ignoring my piece of pedantry.

'Yes, your Excellency', replied the Attorney General boldly. 'The people have spoken. Their desire is manifest. You are condemned to serve them for life'. Loud applause and shouts of 'Hear! Hear!'. .....'I am no lawyer', says His Excellency......'Only a simple soldier. But a soldier must keep his word'.
The majority of Fiji's islands were formed through volcanic activity starting around 150 million years ago. Today, some geothermal activity still occurs
Turaga na Bete said…
@ Baju Batik Wanita

Yes, the geothermal activity is constantly on the boil. Then the thunder sets in from the Mountains of Nakauvadra: "Degei Speaks". Life is never dull. But then it never was - 150 million years ago! Turaga na Bete holds sway.
Hot air coward cole said…
@ Baju
By geothermal activity do you mean 'hot air'? A lot of this is coming from weasal arse coward rodney cole?
Rodney Cole said…
Hot air coward cole, I might be a 'weasal arse coward' but at least I was proud to use my name and not hide as you have done. Ni sa mce.

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