For and Against: Coups and the 2013 Draft Constitution

METHODISTS NO MORE SUPPORT FOR COUPS.The Methodist Church will not support any future coup as part of its policy and regulation under the church’s draft constitution. Church legal adviser Rev. Solomone Vakaliwaliwa presented the review of the constitution to the members of the conference at the Centenary Church yesterday. He said action will be taken against church ministers who show their support to any coup, and church ministers should resign if they want to enter politics. Church President Rev. Tuikilakila Waqairatu said the review of the church’s 1984 constitution, expected next year, is the way forward for the church to clean the defilements of its past.

In 1987, the then President of the church Reverend Josateki Koroi was ousted by Reverend Manasa Lasaro after the coup. Following this they pushed for the Sunday ban to restrict all public events on Sundays and also openly supported the 1987 coup. Leading up to the 2000 coup, there were also reports of some Methodist Church ministers openly making racial attacks from the pulpit. After the George Speight coup in May 2000, the then President of the Methodist Church, Rev. Tomasi Kanailagi visited the parliament complex where the members of the People’s Coalition government were held in support of the coup.

More background
  • I-taukei nationalists dominated the church from the 1980s, leading to the imposition of Christian laws on non-Christians in Fiji after the 1987 coups.
  • In 1987, the then President of the church Reverend Josateki Koroi was ousted by Reverend Manasa Lasaro after the coup.
  • Following this they pushed for the Sunday ban to restrict all public events on Sundays.
  • Leading up to the 2000 coup, there were also reports of some Methodist church ministers openly making racial attacks from the pulpit.
  • After the George Speight coup in May 2000, the then President of the Methodist Church, Reverend Tomasi Kanailagi visited the parliament complex where the members of the People’s Coalition government were held. A letter of support from Reverend Kanailagi to George Speight was also made public.
  • Over the past years, the Methodist Church has also called for Fiji to be declared a Christian state.
When questioned on the ethno-nationalist views within the church from the 1980’s onwards, Rev. Nawadra said the Church is already focusing on ensuring that it is seen to be more than just a representative of one ethnic group.

Related news
Koroi praises reconciliation earns honorary doctorate
Waqairatu earns honorary doctorate

GOOD MODEL FOR ANY COUNTRY: AUSTRALIAN JUDGE. Former Appeal Panel Judge in the 2009 constitutional case, Randall Powell, said, putting the immunity section aside, the constitution is a good model for any country. He  refuted some claims that the  military is entrenched in the Constitution. It is not. But he questioned  its legitimacy in the absence of a referendum.

OLD PARTIES WANT OLD WAYS BACK. The United Front for a Democratic Fiji, made up of  the Social Democratic and Liberal Party (the old SDL), the Fiji Labour Party and the National Federation Party are now raising concern on the disestablishment of the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC)  and  the restriction on the Methodist Church to have its meeting for only four days, according to spokesperson, Mick Beddoes, who  said "these institutions are for the i-Taukei".(See Rev. Nawadra's contrary comment above.)

It should be noted that the FLP and the NFP did not call for the retention of the GCC in their submissions to the Ghai Commission, and the Commission recommended it be stripped of the authority it enjoyed under the 1997 Constitution —that, note,  the UFDF wish to reinstate. 

I am also reminded that it was a statement from Mike Beddoes about the Methodist Church's excessive calls for financial support from the poor (mainly during their annual conferences) that led me to fall foul of  former Methodist President Senator Tomasi Kanailagi.  Visiting Fiji in 2004, I was invited to give a public lecture on poverty alleviation at USP and, gaining confidence from Beddoes' frank public statement, I also called for easing the load on the poor.  The Rev. Kanailagi attacked me in Senate, calling me a fly-by-night expert ignorant of the relationship betwen the lotu, vanua and matanitu (church, land and people, and government), "insulting Fijians", and a number of other unpleasant things. (The Daily Post, 20 July 2004). 

Government limited the Conference to four days this year so the church could deal with organizational and spiritual matters, with less emphasis on fund-raising.  Longer previous conferences also involved extensive fund-raising and much political discussion. It is in this context that it is particularly pleasing so see the Church turning its back on  political and racial issues which caused division within the Church, and a misguided ministry.  

What the United Front is trying to show is that i'Taukei rights are being undermined by the draft constitution, and the only way for iTaukei  rights to be protected is to support them against the Bainimarama government.  First it was land, now it's the GCC and the Methodist Church, tomorrow it will be anyone's guess.  That should win them some i'Taukei votes.  Labour's Chaudhry is also playing his part in spreading misinformation which should win the FLP some trade union and Indo-Fijian votes (see item below). 

But the United Front is severely fractured. The NFP is there on principle, in support of the 1997 Constitution.  It has little in common with the other old parties. One only has to read their accusations against these parties made in their submission to the Ghai Commission. Chaudhry's FLP is dominated by Chaudhry and many former members, including some trade unionists,  have resigned.  The SODELPA is still the old tainted SDL to most people. Spokesman Beddoes once led the minority races UPP but with the abolition of race-based voting,his only way to stay in parliament was to join one of the two larger old parties. I don't think he particularly likes or trusts Chaudhry so there was no real choice.  The other SODELPA spokesman is Dr Tupeni Baba who was so disenchanted with Chaudhry that he left the FLP and formed the New Labour Party in opposition. The left-leaning political views he might once have held are now submerged in a party backed by extreme ethnic Fijian nationalists.  The United Front is a classic marriage of convenience, held together only by a common desire to get back into parliament. 

CHAUDHRY SLAMS AUSSIE LABOR.Mahendra Chaudhry expressed disappointment that Australia's Labour Government Foreign Minister Bob Carr had welcomed the release of the draft consitutution. "All political parties here have rejected the constitution and they are quite appalled at its content. It's very unusual that a Labor government should welcome a constitution which is lacking in human rights and trade union workers' rights. If the constitution does not meet the requirements of a democratic state, then one should be brave enough to say so." 

But it's Chaudhry that's wrong. It's only the old political parties that reject the constitution, not the new ones.  And the constitution is explicit in protecting trade union rights. What it does do, however, is state that existing Decrees, two of which could be seen as anti some unions, will remain in place until the 2014 Elections, but they can then be endorsed or rejected  by the incoming government. Chaudhry accuses Carr of not reading the constitution, but it is a Chaudhry so angry that he cannot read the words. A Fiji Times article on Wednesday succinctly spells out trade union rights under the constitution. Click here..

ILTB SUPPORT THE CONSTITUTION. The i'Taukei Land Trust Board, that is responsible for most native land leases and rental distributions has welcomed the draft constitution, saying most of its submissions have been incorporated. It is particularly pleased with section 30 on the rights of landowners to a fair share of royalties for extraction of minerals.

Ownership is still vested with the state but while previous constitutions said landowners were entitled to compensation this Constitution now guarantees it.

KADAVU PROVINCIAL COUNCIL. Following some points of clarification on native land by the PM on Monday, the Kadavu Provincial Council says it supports the 2013 Constitution.

NEW PARTY WOULD REMOVE SOME DECREES. The People’s Democratic Party spokesman  Nirmal Singh  said the PDP accepted the draft constitution  but would rescind decrees curtailing human and trade union rights if it becomes the government. The A-G had previously made it clear that parliament could make decisions on any of the decrees, but no court or tribunal may challenge the legality of any promulgation, decree or declaration from December 5th 2006 to the first sitting of parliament.


Anonymous said…
i-Taukei military or i-Taukei GCC? Take your pick. Khaiyum and his fellow treasonous criminals can be window dressing but in the end it is obvious who will run the nation. For the moment, and after the sham election, it will be the I-Taukei let's have the next coup that croz can support?
Anonymous said…
Hahahaha I like the rebut of micky mouse beddose about the poor and his about turn now.

Mick you have my last vote
Tin Con Beef said…
What are you talking about? There is no about turn. An about turn refers to changing your opinion about a single thing.

Today: I like oranges. Tomorrow: I hate oranges. That is an about turn.

Almost NINE years ago, Beddoes attacked the leadership of the methodist church for placing too heavy a burden on the poor. Maybe he still feels that way today, maybe not.

Recently, Beddoes attacked the government for limiting the right of methodists to assemble for as long as they want to. He has a good point here, and I'm surprised that you are Walsh are negative about it.

You seem to think that if he didn't like something the methodists were doing nine years ago, that he should still dislike them today, and further, that he should not defend their rights just because he doesn't like their leadership.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

Anonymous said…
I am more interested to find out if khaiyum and his family will support any more coups? Or does he only support coups that benefit himself and his clan?
Anonymous said…
Mick speak one thing but does another. He owes money to NBF I.e. Tax payers money. He can afford to pay. Why is he paying peanuts.

Politicans think they can get away with anything.
Tin Con Beef said…
LOL anon, so you can't back up your earlier assertion so you change gear and try to talk about something else? haha, must be from c45.

> He owes money to NBF

Please provide evidence of this. Also tell us why NBF has not bankrupted him if that was the case. By the way, what taxpayer money are you talking about? Thousands of people borrowed money from NBF, and ANZ, and Westpac. Also courts/mh (hire purchase)... people borrow all the time. Almost every adult in Fiji has borrowed at some point. Some pay back, some aren't able to do so. Such is life... and that is what lending institutions have to deal with and handle every day. No big deal.

With NBF, it was a corrupt government that bailed them out. That is the SVT and their supporters (current supporters of SODELPA).

Tom borrowed money from Dick, and then Harry came along and paid Dick. If Harry was actually using your money to pay Dick, why are you blaming Tom?

> Mick speak one thing but does another.

Please provide examples with citations. Also, to be fair, give us a name of your preferred leader, so that I can reply with real examples of ways he has said one thing and done another. Unlike you, I will back that up with links to news articles that back up my claims.

Mick has been in opposition for a long time, not in government. If you are angry about the state of Fiji, you need to be angry at people who had all the power, and who caused all the problems. No use being angry at people like Mick who were actually fighting against the people in power to try and keep them honest.

> He (mick) can afford to pay.

Please provide evidence of this. As far as we in the west know, he lives a simple semi-retired life on his farm and doesn't have much wealth or property at all. As far as I know, we (taxpayers) have not paid him the money we owe him (leader of opposition salary as per the 1997 constitution).

You fallahs in the government like to attack mick, but he has done more for the people of fiji than you have ever done. The only parliamentarian who treated the whole of fiji as his constituency before even this new constition made that so. He visited people in suva, savusavu, labasa, taveuni, navua, etc three times a year to hold meetings where anyone was welcome to speak and criticise him openly. A true believer and practitioner of democracy.

paulini said…
I would call for a commission of enquiry to expressly look into the events from tne last coup until now. While this regime is keen to grant themselvee immunity with the obvious backking of CROZ, it does not prevent any future government requiring them to attend and tell the truth regarding their actions even if a penaly cannot be imposed. Penalties can be imposed though for contempt which might be a lovely work-around the immunity provision. Lets see if we can't tie these thugs and their cronies up in a legal fight that will cost them millions. The government of the day is not required to provide them with assistance either.
A nebulous idea said…
A Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission was asked for in 2004 on multiple occasions. The then Permanent Secretary for Reconciliation (there was a Ministry dedicated to this nebulous idea)is now embedded in the Transparency International Fiji office. The term 'reconciliation' has become overused and meaningless: a version of Newspeak from '1984'. If we had truly wanted a Commission in 2004, we should have exerted ourselves more robustly. We did not. What makes 2013 so different?
The true lie said…
There is something revolting, repugnant even when those who term themselves 'Anonymous' attack persons. In particular, when they show no element of fairness nor justice towards those who may in good faith have tried to do their level best for the powerless in a minefield which is what Fiji has now become. Lay Off! And check on the mote in your own eye first. Pay heed - for your harping reveals too much about your own state of being. Close self-examination is recommended for the unexamined life is worthless (to parody Socrates).

"The lie in the Soul is a true lie"

Benjamin Jowett (1817-1893) From the Introduction to his translation of Plato's Republic.
Anonymous said…
I understand Socrates was quoted by soldiers and police whilst they were beating defenceless prisoners, banning public meetings and in the early days of the regime, as human rights activists were threatened with rape and beatings......How anonmous is 'The true lie' as a handle?
Koi Nadi Ko said…
Hi Croz, don't you think its time all these Anonymity get banned from posting on this site? They need to come up with a proper name or mouth off somewhere else.
rusi ....if it makes you feel better!! said…
what is identifiable in the name Koi Nadi Ko? isn't this just as a Anonymous??, perhaps Croz might require an actual name and address, sounds like a regime tactic to me.
Human frailty and folly - the Nadi KO said…
Nadi Knock Out? Who knows? But there will be no banning from an intelligent and sensible site. Not while there are ideas to be sown which matter.

General Pinochet's judges have yesterday apologised to the Chilean Nation for failing to uphold their full quota of human rights during his 'dictadura'. No me digas! And this, a full forty years on from 1973.

"Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought. And enterprises of great pith and moment with this regard their currents turn awry, and lose the name of action".

(Hamlet Act III i.56 - W. Shakespeare)

What a magnificent opus is this play! Redolent of ideas and reflections upon human life with all its frailty and folly.

Anonymous said…


%$#@! said…
what on earth is the link presumtion - old and corrupt and new and incorrupable?? There is a certain type, and certain cultures that are very comforatble with what we would call corruption. This regime has not be able to find one instance of corruption in their 7years and it entirely because they will not anyone look and don't want to know. This regiem would hardly be called transparent by anyone. Even their own cronies will suggest this level of paranoia and hypocrasy is all necessary to make Fiji a better place ??!!
The 'Givers of Life' - UN Women's First CEO Mme Michelle Bachelet said…
Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile from 2006 - 2010 and first CEO of UN Women visited the place where she was held prisoner and tortured following the coup d'etat by General Augusto Pinochet in 1973. Her own father, a Chilean Air Force General, was taken prisoner and tortured daily for over a year before he suffered a cardiac arrest and died in captivity. Madame Bachelet is now campaigning in Chile for a second term as Chilean President having resigned from UN Women in March 2013. Prior to becoming the first woman President in Chile's history, she was Minister for Defence. A very able one it would appear and well-qualified. She introduced during her Presidency the first 'bono' for all women who have given birth to a live baby. A most innovative social benefit. Also, layettes were provided for each and every baby born in a Chilean Public Hospital by the Ministry of Health. A very womanly and compassionate understanding of the unique situation of mothers and babies and the role of women as 'Givers of Life'. These are ideas worthy of emulation by all governments mindful of the role and standing of mothers in national development.
What are the limits of conscience? said…
Forty years have passed since General Augusto Pinochet brutally took over Chile in 1973 torturing, killing and bombing all in his path. In his preface to 'NIGHT', the Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel reminds us what torture and oppression, Crimes Against Humanity, bring in their path. He writes of the horror of leaving his father to die alone in Auschwitz, overcome by terror and fear:

"I remember that night, the most horrendous of my life:

"...Eliezer, my son, come here ...I want to tell you something ....Only to you...Come, don't leave me alone ...Eliezer.."

I heard his voice, grasped the meaning of his words and the tragic dimension of the moment, yet I did not move.

It had been his last wish to have me next to him in his agony, at the moment when his soul was tearing itself from his lacerated body-yet I did not let him have his wish.

I was afraid.

Afraid of the blows.

That was why I remained deaf to his cries.

Instead of sacrificing my miserable life and rushing to his side, taking his hand, reassuring him, showing him that he was not abandoned, that I was near him, that I felt his sorrow, instead of all that, I remained flat on my back, asking God to make my father stop calling my name, to make him stop crying. So afraid was I to incur the wrath of the SS."

Too many people are afraid now. Too many suicides and too many still planning through fear a quick 'Way Out'. Can our consciences be purchased by Pay Rises of the Order now mooted? Can we truly believe ourselves to be above not only the Rule of Law, but of God's Law? For if we believe so, then we are truly lost. Or, we are deceived and all is deception and lies. Our death rate is becoming an embarrassment, a humiliation and it will never be expunged. For each soul will require requiting: decades hence.

('NIGHT' - Elie Wiesel, Nobel Laureate and writer of the horrors of Auschwitz and the Aftermath : in translation from the French edition).

What are the limits of conscience?
Protection of Children Injured by States of Emergency Foundation - CHILE said…
The Protection of Children Injured by States of Emergency Foundation

A Michelle Bachelet-inspired non-government organisation in Chile helping children of the tortured and missing.

Mme Bachelet's non-attendance at General Augusto Pinochet's funeral in December 2006 was explained when she said: "It would have been a violation of my conscience".

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