Showing posts with label Fiji democracy analysis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fiji democracy analysis. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fiji Foreign Minister Hints Of Not Returning To The Commonwealth.

Fiji's Foreign Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola hinted at Fiji's intent, with regards to returning to the fold of the Commonwealth Group of nations. In a response to the statement by the Commonwealth Heads Of Government (CHOG), regarding Fiji's continued suspension, Kubuabola stated in a Fiji Sun article, “Fiji does not need the Commonwealth because it is irrelevant.”

Although, the CHOG leader's statement pledged “unwavering solidarity with the people of Fiji and their expectation of Fiji's reinstatement as a full member of the Commonwealth family”, the caveat in the CHOG statement was explicit in that, reinstatement would only occur, "through the restoration of constitutional civilian democracy and the rule of law and human rights”.

Kubuabola mentioned, “We are really not over eager to go back to the Commonwealth and we're not asking to go back to the Commonwealth." Fiji's reluctance to be re-admitted to the Commonwealth closely follows in the wake of Gambia's withdrawal from the Colonial era institution.

The Gambian Government's statement  of withdrawal was scathing: "[The] government has withdrawn its membership of the British Commonwealth and decided that the Gambia will never be a member of any neo-colonial institution and will never be a party to any institution that represents an extension of colonialism." Whether Fiji shared Gambia's view of the Commonwealth is another question worth considering.

In the African Review article, Trevor Analo highlights the growing perception about the Commonwealth:
“Many people have derided the Commonwealth as an out-dated institution that has no role to play in the modern world. It is seen as an ineffective, powerless and expensive talking shop that does nothing useful except pass resolutions on democracy and human rights.”
American Street News analyst Sam Phatey, explained what the Gambia's withdrawal from the Commonwealth means and what the tangible benefits being a member of the Commonwealth really offers:
“ The recent withdrawal of The Gambia from the Commonwealth of Nations will not only affect The Gambia but has an impact on the Commonwealth has a whole. It is a call for the Commonwealth of Nations to look at its standing in the international community. The commonwealth is looked at more as a rotary club instead of an international institution. But if one asks, “What are the benefits of being a Commonwealth country or what has my country gained from being part of the Commonwealth?” It becomes highly debatable with most people strongly emphasizing that they have not benefited from this community of 52 nations. On so many forums I came across in my research, people in Commonwealth countries including Nigeria have firmly argued that they as Commonwealth citizens have no benefits.” 
The people of Fiji would certainly share the sentiments of the lack of citizen benefits, of being in the Commonwealth. Apathy seems to describe Fiji Government's current perception of the Commonwealth. This statement from Fiji's Foreign Minister is indicative that, the ranks of Gambia might be soon be growing. The number of cracks emerging from fallen masonry in the vestibule to the Commonwealth, could inevitably threaten the structural integrity of the edifice.

Club Em Designs

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fiji PM's Interview With Radio Tarana.

Fiji Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama's full interview with Auckland's Radio Tarana.

(Podcast posted below)

Club Em Designs

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fact Checking Comments- A focus on Fiji's Former Vice President: Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi.

Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi has been a frequent opinion maker of the direction of Fiji's socio-political landscape, some persuading, others confusing.

One interesting opinion of Madraiwiwi was framed in his speech (PDF) at the Pacific Cooperation Foundation and later featured entirely in a Fiji Times (FT)article. The following is the excerpt of the FT article:

Challenges in building a new Fiji with a common vision

Thursday, May 29, 2008

One people ... we, as a people, must unstop the reservoir of goodwill that exists despite the ravages of four coups in 20 years

This is the address by former Vice-President Ratu Joni Madrawiwi at the annual Pacific Co-operation Foundation in Wellington and Auckland on this month.

Where does one begin? If we accept that four coups in the last 20 years have blighted our progress as a nation, what is the alternative? There is as yet no common vision to which we can all commit. Nor is there an identity that we all share and affirm together.

Beyond a collection of polyglot communities with an uneven sense of being citizens of Fiji, there is still a lack of shared values and unity. The fissures in our midst are a historical legacy.

However the time for blame, whether it is our long departed colonial masters or ourselves, has gone. We are responsible for perpetuating these divisions ourselves. How are we to create a new society with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment from the old?

Let us begin with developing a vision. A vision that articulates the nature of the society we feel represents the best of us and for which we are striving.

Our identity as citizens of Fiji is the practical reflection of this vision. In creating this vision, the people's voices must be heard. I mean the ordinary men and women of our country. Mine is just another elitist perspective.

We need to listen to people and find out what is it they conceive our vision to be.
The respective medium of radio and television, between them, would effectively reach the entire country so the concept of a vision could be easily explained.

People's opinions could be obtained by various means: whether by way of a tribunal soliciting opinions, a series of fora held across the nation to hear what people had to say or working through established structures such as provincial and advisory councils.

From these submissions, we could then distill what would best reflect a consensus. This vision would then be a guide and a reference point to which all of us could commit as well as share with each other. Together with this initiative, there must be a conscious effort by our new leaders (whoever they are) to adopt a no victors, no vanquished' policy.

This was adopted by General Gowon in Nigeria in 1966 after the Biafran civil war.

There is a worrying sentiment among some Fijians of penalising the Fiji-Indian community for its perceived support of the present regime when the country returns to democratic rule.

There is no place for these kinds of feelings.

Just as there was no cause for the triumphalism among Fijians that emerged post-May 1987 and post-May 2000.

Both kinds of emotions are counterproductive and destructive. Because they simply prolong division and dissension. Leadership will place a heavy responsibility on those who assume power.

They must initiate a process of reconciliation and engagement. This is unfinished business as the one which the previous SDL Government embarked upon was not inclusive enough.

It left many wounded and festering feelings in the Fiji-Indian and other communities.

So careful thought and wide consultation among civil society and the faith communities will be required to ensure that what is envisaged is workable and broadly acceptable.

We have examples of the Truth Commission in South Africa and similar Commissions in South American States such as Chile to consider.

It would be foolish of me to deny the existence of ethnic feelings in our society.

They exist in all our communities, but are more obvious among Fijians and Fiji-Indians because they are the larger groups. Social integration has been slow for obvious reasons: People are more comfortable with their own.

However, there are a series of initiatives that could be undertaken to reestablish a sense of fairness and reinforce social cohesion.

These include ensuring the merit principle is closely adhered to in the public service, with allowances for ethnic balance where necessary. This must apply to statutory corporations as well.

Care must be taken to ensure the awarding of scholarships to all students is open and transparent.

Where affirmative measures remain in place, they must be monitored, open to public scrutiny, and have measurable guidelines as well as time lines.

In addition, appointments to statutory boards and corporations must be carefully screened by the relevant authorities. Too often they have taken on an ethnic slant as well assuming an element of cronyism.

The military must become more reflective of the general population in its composition.

And I echo calls made by Mr Mahendra Chaudhry and Ratu Epeli Ganilau on previous occasions that consideration be given to the Vice Presidency being held by non-Fijians.

The collective purpose of these actions is to re-establish confidence in there being a level playing field as well as conveying inclusiveness. Much of the issue of vision and identity relates to the ambivalence of Fijians about those concepts.

In challenging Fijian institutions such as the Bose Levu Vakaturaga, the Methodist Church and the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua party, the Commander has provided opportunities for reflection and soul searching.

What real difference do the Bose Levu Vakaturaga (BLV) and the Fijian Administration (of which the BLV sits at the apex) make in the lives of ordinary Fijians?

Does the latter serve any purpose in view of the fact that the Government has responsibility for infrastructure and economic development?

What place has the traditional system in the scheme of things?

The Fijians themselves need to be heard on those issues. Their leaders have a responsibility to listen and discern what it is they want. In what form do they wish their indigenousness (and all that attached to it) survive. My preoccupation has not been with the form and the hierarchy. It is with the values of kinship, reciprocity and mutual respect that provide a bridge to the other communities. These are qualities that can be harnessed to enhance the vision we seek.

The stated aim of the interim regime to remove the present electoral system is welcome. Because there is little argument that it has reinforced ethnic patterns of voting.

But the process has survived this long because all political parties were supportive of it. The concerns of some Fijians who resist any change because it would remove their ethnically entitled seats is understandable. But it is mistaken.

The preponderance of Fijians in the population, coupled with Fiji-Indian emigration, will ensure Fijian numerical superiority in the next elections however boundaries are drawn.

We no longer need those ethnically based seats from the Fijian point of view because their fears of being swamped no longer apply. However, the Fiji-Indian community may now be reconsidering the issue because under the present arrangement, they are guaranteed a certain number of seats.

The concern now is the protection of minorities.

Whether they are Fiji-Indian or from other communities, they must be guaranteed a voice in Parliament. The only system that assures that outcome is proportional representation.

That is what we need to be thinking about. It does not prevent ethnic voting but it does more accurately reflect the will of the electorate and the support for political parties.

There is space for parties that attempt to capture the middle ground.

Those who favour the charter process that has been initiated by the National Council for Building A Better Fiji, are fond of saying elections will not solve any of our underlying problems. That is not their purpose.

Elections create the basis for legitimacy. It is a mandate from the electorate. They begin the process of re-establishing democratic governance. That is why it is critical for there to be political engagement.

It matters not whether it is through the informal process sponsored by the Commonwealth Secretariat (Comsec) or the more formal joint UN/Comsec initiative proposed by the interim Government.

If one takes the interim regime at its word, the Constitution is intact. It cannot be amended by referendum or presidential promulgation. Therefore, the next elections will have to be held under the present electoral system.

All the more reason to encourage political engagement, dialogue and agreement.

Subsequently, the elections could then be held with the new Parliament then amending the Constitution in accordance with what had been agreed. In spite of the divisions that have been exacerbated by the December coup, it is absolutely critical that the next government is one of national unity.

The Constitution envisages a multi-party government but that could be altered to allow for more flexibility. The imperative for such a government is self-evident.

At a time when our country has been fractured as never before, it requires a government with which the entire nation can identify. It is a tragedy in hindsight that we lacked the courage and the statesmanship to do so after the upheavals of May 2000.

We need national solutions to our problems and we need a government that has a broad mandate to consolidate and deal with the issues decisively.

These are readily identified.

Re-establishing mutual trust and confidence between the government and the people as well as between communities will be a continuing preoccupation.

Restoration of the economy and our relationships with both Australia and New Zealand are critical. Economic growth has averaged 2 per cent for the last decade, which is inadequate to cater for employment opportunities, infrastructure, health and social services as well as alarming levels of poverty and related social ills.

Definitive solutions still evade the landlord tenant relationship in relation to native leases.

All these issues require the requisite political will and commitment to be dealt in an integrated manner. There is a legitimate concern about the absence of an opposition were there to be a government of national unity.

It is important to remember that this new government will have heavy responsibilities to meet and high expectations to live up to.

Not only will it have to restore trust and confidence in the institutions of state as well as in the community, it will have to build the economy and deal with rising levels of poverty and degradation.

We have become accustomed to thinking in terms of an opposition in the Westminster form of government.

Under our Constitution, there is provision for sector committees on various aspects of government. Given the appropriate understanding and agreement among the political parties, these committees have the potential to function as a check on the executive.

What is required is a redrafting of the Standing Orders of the House and Senate to reflect these changed circumstances.

There is an element of good faith as well that the major political parties will not use their numbers to sabotage these arrangements.

The immediate concern is the role of the military. They have been at the centre of the four coups we have had. Their pronouncements since the December 5, 2006, do not suggest any dilution of their assertions they are the guarantors of stability and order. To deny them any participation in national affairs for the foreseeable future would be unrealistic.

But clear protocols need to be developed between the government and the military.

Regular consultations need to take place as well. Discussions will need to take place about its size as well. A considerable portion of the budget is allocated to the military.

The starting point must be the question of immunity. It is an issue which divides those who opposed the coup of December 5, 2006. But it is a matter of realpolitik.

Without it the military will not engage let alone negotiate. But perhaps the nature of the immunity can be discussed. Because there are certain military officers who must be held accountable for some of the serious human rights abuses.

I accept the argument that this approach may encourage future coups. It is a risk we must be prepared to take. The room for maneuver is slight and this potential threat will have to be addressed over the long term. It will lie in the strengthening of democratic institutions and civil society as well as the inculcation of democratic values in the community.

Part of those developments must necessarily include greater engagement with the military in understanding its proper role in a liberal democracy. There is the challenge to build a democratic culture.

It needs to be inculcated in the hearts and minds of the people. Part of the problem is that the chattering classes themselves are ambivalent about the concept as can be seen in the coup of December, 2006.

Too often, principle has been sacrificed for political gain. As long as this continues, the military will be nurtured in its misconceptions. The creation of a democratic culture is a gradual process. It will require the concerted efforts of all sections of our society.

Introducing more horizontal structures and accessible forms of authority whether in the traditional sphere or the religious organisations which play an influential part in our lives would reinforce these tendencies.

What it takes is the empowerment of people within their own communities. To allow them to develop the capacities to be assertive and questioning of authority.

This would be achieved by encouraging them to participate in decision-making and in the discussions surrounding them. Civil society has played and is playing a significant role in this empowerment.

Many of them have given voice to those who otherwise would not be heard.

While there has been a split between those who had supported the coup for reasons of social justice and others who recognise the indivisibility of rights (political, economic and social), there is no denying the increased prominence to social issues given their advocacy.

In fashioning not so much as a new Fiji as a better one than we already have, an attempt has been made to put this in the context of the significant factors at play. The challenges do not lie in the actual economic, social and political problems that we face although they are in themselves considerable.

Those will always be there in one form or another.

The challenges arise out of the barriers we have erected, and perpetuated for one reason or another. They have created these distances between us as members of the various communities that comprise Fiji.

Time and again they have been manipulated for advantage by one side or another. In the latest twist, the spectre of ethnonationalism was used to justify the coup. We can dismantle these barriers because I still believe in our country and its people. In spite of our vicissitudes, there has been minimal violence.

There continues to be reservoirs of goodwill in spite of all that has happened.

They will be required to put in place a vision and identity that belongs to all of us, together with the actual practice of the democratic principles we all affirm, so that we break this cycle of instability that has been our albatross for the past two decades.

A particular line in Madraiwiwi's speech at Pacific Cooperation Foundation refers to the debate between the Charter and the Elections:

Those who favour the charter process that has been initiated by the National Council for Building A Better Fiji, are fond of saying elections will not solve any of our underlying problems. That is not their purpose.

Elections create the basis for legitimacy. It is a mandate from the electorate. They begin the process of re-establishing democratic governance. That is why it is critical for there to be political engagement.

Days after his Wellington speech, Madraiwiwi is a keynote speaker at the Fiji Institute of Accountants conference at a Sigatoka resort and stated that "There was no use to have an election" in a Q & A session published in a FT article. The excerpt is as follows:

No use to have polls: Ratu Joni

Friday, June 13, 2008

Update: 5:01PM THERE is no use having elections if the interim Government wishes to limit it, says former Vice president of Fiji and lawyer Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi.

He made this comments at a panel discussion at the Fiji Institute of Accountants Congress held in Sigatoka today.

Ratu Joni said: "I think the question one needs to ask is if the army commander does not want a party that has indigenous platform as part of the manifesto in the next elections, then really what is the point of having the elections at all.

"We need to have discussion and if the military and commander wishes to limit the elections then what is the point of having elections."

Ratu Joni was responding to questions raised by the Pacific Suns general manager Manoa Kamikamica who questioned the panelist in regards to whether elections were the best way forward.

The panelist included the Australian high Commissioner James Batley, Ratu Joni, Fiji Waters director of Marketing Margo Schmidt and Westpac Banking Corporations general Manager Fiji John Cashmore.

Fiji TV news captured segments of Madraiwiwi's speech at the Fiji Institute of Accountants conference.

Video 1 below: Madraiwiwi on The Abrogation of the Fiji Constitution and the future role of the Fiji military.

Video 2 below: Madraiwiwi on the Judiciary in Fiji.

Placed in context, Madraiwiwi had indicated in his Wellington speech, that his view is an elitist perspective. One may extrapolate that, most of Madraiwiwi's speeches and social circles are ingrained with elitism:

Our identity as citizens of Fiji is the practical reflection of this vision. In creating this vision, the people's voices must be heard. I mean the ordinary men and women of our country. Mine is just another elitist perspective.

Some readers may also detect verisimilitude opinions. Fiji Ombudsman labeled Madraiwiwi's comments as"running out of ideas" in a Fiji Times article. The excerpt of FT article:

Ratu Joni running out of ideas: Shameem

Friday, May 23, 2008

Update: 4:59PM Ombudsman Dr Shaista Shameem says people like former Vice President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi were running out of ideas about what to do with their political platforms.

She said Ratu Joni was threatened by the constitutional authority and legal effectiveness of the Fiji Human Rights Commission. [Shameem] said everyone knew the effectiveness of the FHRC since its inception and that the Commission no longer had to prove anything to anyone.

Dr Shameem said it was a waste of time and breath for Ratu Joni to keep harping about the FHRC because it was here to stay.

While Madraiwiwi called for the Fijian people to speak up, in the Wellington speech:

The Fijians themselves need to be heard on those issues. Their leaders have a responsibility to listen and discern what it is they want. In what form do they wish their indigenousness (and all that attached to it) survive. My preoccupation has not been with the form and the hierarchy. It is with the values of kinship, reciprocity and mutual respect that provide a bridge to the other communities.

Although, Madraiwiwi commented on the values of culture which he wants to keep intact, among these are kinship, reciprocity and mutual respect; perhaps all three values were instinctively demonstrated by Madraiwiwi, when he became a character witness to Alice Tabete, a former CEO of Fiji Sports Council, which an earlier SiFM posting "Ways and Means" addressed.

The "Tabete factor" undeniably taints the integrity of Madraiwiwi and his ability to speak on national issues. Madraiwiwi's role in helping the absconding Alice Tabete, was covered in a Fiji TV news article.

The excerpt of Fiji TV article:

Tabete applies for permanent residency in New Zealand
18 Feb 2008 00:57:35

It has emerged former Fiji Sports Council chief executive officer Alice Tabete has applied for temporary or permanent residency in New Zealand.

The information is contained in a letter of support written for Tabete by the former vice president Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi. The Bauan chief says in the letter Tabete is being pursued by authorities here for political expediency.

A copy of this letter was obtained by One National News.

Its dated 4th February 2008.

The former vice president Ratu Joni Mandraiwiwi wrote this letter in support of Alice Tabete. Ratu Joni says both Tabete and him have traditional connections.

He writes since 5 December 2006 when the Republic of Fiji Military Forces ousted the elected Government, our system of justice has been exposed to great pressures and compromised to some extent.

Ratu Joni then writes about the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption which is currently investigating Alice Tabete. He says investigations are usually commenced in a blaze of publicity with scant regard for the reputation of those accused.

Adding the entire point to this recitation of events is that Alice will most likely be treated in the same manner.

Ratu Joni writes in the nine months since her termination, Alice Tabete hadn't been charged and that she was prevented from living the country twice. He says Tabete was only allowed to leave the country after the Commander himself intervened.

Ratu Joni writes in light of the foregoing I have no hesitation in supporting Alice Tabete's application for temporary or permanent residence in New Zealand for the reason that the authorities wish to pursue her for political expediency to justify the clean up campaign rather than on substantive grounds.

In reply to our queries today Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi said he had no comments. Alice Tabete hadn't answered our e-mailed questions when this report was prepared.

A response to the Madraiwiwi's Pacific Cooperation Foundation speech was published in the FT Letters to the Editor column, authored from former Fijian Holdings (FHL)board member according to the FHL website, Radike Qereqeretabua. Indeed the questions from Qereqeretabua are pertinent but also belated, when juxtaposed with his tenure at Fijian Holdings, the supposed investment vehicle for indigenous Fijians, currently being under review by the Interim Government. The excerpt of Qereqeretabua's letter:

What difference?

I write to express my full support for the views of the Roko Tui Bau, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi (FT27/5), and I will be very surprised if most Fijians do not share the same sentiments, and indeed do ask the same question: "what real difference do the GCC and the Fijian administration make in the lives of ordinary Fijians".

One does not have to look very hard or very far to find evidence of the deterioration of the living standards and morals of the Fijian people in general, in spite of the long existence of these two institutions the Fijian Affairs Board, and the GCC.

We look at the prison population, the perpetrators of burglaries, break-ins, rape and incest; the dilapidated Fijian villages, the ever growing number of Fijian families in squatter settlements while some Fijian land lie idle.

We look at the poor shipping services for the maritime provinces of Lau and Kadavu, Lomaiviti, and Rotuma; the largely neglected roads in these islands including southern Taveuni the Garden Island of Fjii.

We look at the generally poor conditions of Fijian schools in the rural areas, yet we continue to wonder why Fijians are comparatively backwards in education results and achievements compared to our Indian counterparts.

Last year I questioned the wisdom of our Fijian leaders in their decision to build a $30m GCC complex while Indian leaders opted to establish the University of Fjii an affordable institution of higher learning for the nation's youth alike, an institution that will make a great contribution to their future livelihood, and to the nation as a whole.

I stated then that what the Fijian people need are "monumental decisions" from our chiefs and political leaders: decisions that will change our lives for the better: not monumental buildings which only serves the purpose of self-aggrandisement and the creation of inflated egos for themselves, but absolutely useless for the betterment of the lives of the ordinary Fijian.

Radike Qereqeretabua

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Barr's Expose On Equity- A Discussion On Fiji's Democracy

An article written by Kevin Barr was published in the Fiji Sun, and the content is illuminating. Fiji Times also published the article. The excerpt of the article:

A legal-illegal paradigm
Last updated 4/10/2008 9:25:29 AM

In the aftermath of the military coup of December 6th 2006 we have witnessed a lot of wrangling among the legal profession about the legality or illegality of legal decisions and legal appointments. Some good judges have not renewed their contracts while other equally good judges have been willing to take up appointments. There have been divisions within the Law Society and its members.

"The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. "

Some NGOs also have entered the fray and have refused to engage with the interim government on the grounds that it is part of an illegal regime. Others, while accepting that there has been an illegal overthrow of an elected government, have looked beyond legality issues and have focused on the issues of social justice which the interim government aims to address (and which were not adequately addressed under the previous “legal” government).

Is the Law our only guide?
In his recent book Living by Bread Alone (2008:78) Tui Rakuita writes:
“The predominant view of what occurred (in December 2006) is informed largely by the ‘legal paradigm’ resulting in the emergence of a legal/illegal dichotomy from which all other issues are analysed.

This widespread adoption of the legal framework also highlights the legalistic bent that is becoming more and more salient in our reasoning. Perhaps this is because the one-dimensional cognitive thrust offered by the legal community is convenient in a time of great transformation; in the face of uncertainty and flux this paradigm is offering certainty and conviction.”

[Rakuita] then goes on to say:
“However this stance is not without its concomitant costs. Our cognitive frameworks are so completely immersed in this duality that a certain lethargy in conceptual thinking has quietly crept in. This has been exemplified by a certain reluctance to see beyond the legal/illegal impasse. This is not in any way to dismiss the importance of the legal dimension pertaining to validity claims, but rather to point at other issues that do not derive their justificatory premises from the legal framework of understanding.”

He suggests that we need a broader, multi-dimensional approach in our thinking and reasoning.

In my booklet Thinking About Democracy Today (2007:36) I quoted the words of the French Minister for Foreign Affairs who said: “It is sometimes necessary to go outside of the Law in order to achieve justice.”

Of course, these are potentially dangerous words but they contain an important truth - especially where the law has been framed to protect those with wealth and power or those who promote an extreme nationalist agenda.

I also quoted the words of Thomas Jefferson - one of the signatories of the American Declaration of Independence from Britain (which was at the time an illegal, treasonous document):
“A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property … thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means.”
Thomas Jefferson Correspondence to John Colvin 1810.

Derek Roebuck (2003:83ff) in his article "Insights Into Equity" points out that no one has yet found a word or phrase to satisfactorily describe “equity” in English. However it is basically about justice and what is right. He traces its origins to Plato and Aristotle through Cicero and Justinian to the role of the Chancellors in medieval English times.

In his Nichomachean Ethics (5.10) Aristotle states:
[...]the ‘just’ and the ‘equitable’ are both good but the ‘equitable’ is superior. The difficulty arises because the ‘equitable’ is just but not ‘just according to law’.

It is a correction of legal justice. The reason is that every law is general and it is not possible to deal generally with some matters.”
[Aristotle] goes on to state that the law takes into account the majority of situations but is not able to account for every situation. So the legislator must make a decision to correct the law for those particular situations.

Justinian’s Corpus Juris and Digest spoke of the need to supplement or correct civil law and stated that “indeed in all matters, but particularly in law, equity must be observed”.
The prevalence of equity could hardly be more strongly stated than in the Emperor’s own instruction: “It is my wish that the leading principle in all matters shall be justice and equity rather than the strict law”.

In the great British legal tradition (influenced no doubt by Roman law) there grew up a body of law known as equity which originally came into existence in order to mitigate the rigid application of legal rules under the common law system.
Equity developed as a result of the injustices caused by a strict application of the common law and was originally based on popular notions of morality and natural justice.

The famous Earl of Oxford’s case in 1615 determined that, whenever there was conflict between common law and equity, equity would prevail. An important distinction that needs to be noted between law and equity is the source of the rules governing the decisions. In law, decisions are made by reference to legal doctrines or statutes. In contrast, equity, with its emphasis on fairness, natural justice and flexibility has only general rules known as the maxims of equity.

The primacy of equity in England was enshrined in the Judicature Acts of the 1870s. Although the courts of equity and the common law were then brought together into one unified court system and so are implemented by the same courts, the two branches of the law are separate. Where there is conflict, equity still prevails.

Roebuck (2003:93) in his article noted above has this to say about the relevance of
equity for lawyers and judges today:
“Those who try to dispense justice have to face the dilemma which Aristotle elaborated so well. The law tries to ensure consistency. Certainty is a value. But no law can be refined enough to meet all the contingencies that life presents. We are not just clever enough to foresee all possible future events and then put into words the rules we want to govern them. So we give our decision-makers discretion. As long as we recognise this inevitability, we can do our best to be fair. Fairness and certainty are both desirable.”

Then comes a statement which, I think, may be particularly relevant to our current situation in Fiji today:
“Some judges feel more comfortable if they work well within the rules. Some like to create more flexibility for themselves and are so uncomfortable with what they see as an unfair outcome that they cannot rely on the rules to relieve them from unease. For most judges, the nature of the dispute and the prevailing wisdom among their colleagues will influence which way they go.”

He concludes with the statement:
“In any legal system which claims to provide justice - and which does not? -
there must be scope for Aristotle’s equity, that which provides for exceptional and unforeseen problems to be dealt with exceptionally.”

Jesus and the Law

Some interesting anecdotes from the life of Jesus are also very illuminating.
He lived in a society which was dominated by a strict observance of the law and a rigid interpretation of the law. [Jesus] obviously felt very uncomfortable in such an atmosphere where observance of the covenant was interpreted in such legalistic terms and God was seen as demanding such strict observance of laws.
This did not reflect the God who described himself as “kind and merciful, slow to anger, full of compassion and love”.
In John’s gospel (John 8:1-11) we are told that a woman who had been caught in the act of committing adultery was brought to Jesus by the Scribes and Pharisees - the strict religious legalists of the time.
They pointed out that, according to the Law, she must be stoned to death but they asked what he thought should be done. It was a trap of course to catch him out.
What Jesus did is very revealing. He refused to dispute the law or give a legal response but simply suggested that those Scribes and Pharisees who were without sin should cast the first stone.

Then he sat and doodled in the sand waiting to see what would happen. One by one the woman’s accusers went away. When only the woman remained, Jesus, while recognizing she had done serious wrong, told her to go and sin no more.

The point is that Jesus did not deny the illegality of the woman’s action and did not dispute what the Law demanded. But he recognized that there was another very important dimension that was being neglected and that needed to be taken account of.
That was the whole dimension of compassion which should inform any legal decision. Jesus thought that compassion for people was of greater value than seeing that the demands of the law were implemented.

Of course this was not the only instance where Jesus showed that he valued compassion and concern for people over legality. In the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) the Jewish priest and Levite obeyed the Law and refused to touch the unclean body of the Jewish man who had been bashed up and left to die by the roadside.

They certainly obeyed the Law very strictly but they showed no compassion and concern for someone in need. It was the Samaritan - the religious ‘enemy’ of the Jews - who overlooked legality and undertook to take care of the man. Jesus praised him for his compassion and he has become a symbol of care and concern the world over.

Again, when asked by the Pharisees if it was lawful to cure someone on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:9), Jesus made a common sense observation that, if a sheep fell into a pit on the Sabbath there would be no hesitation in letting someone pull it out, so he saw no problem in curing a person of his sickness on the Sabbath.
Elsewhere he observed that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”. In other words laws surrounding the Sabbath must be interpreted sensibly and with compassion.

It seems that Jesus often bypassed the legal/illegal paradigm and saw it as unhelpful when there were bigger human issues to be dealt with. As he remarked: “I have come not to destroy the law but to bring it to fulfillment”.
He sees himself as not in opposition to the Law but seeing the law in a wider perspective - the perspective of his Father’s compassion and understanding love.


The current legal/illegal paradigm being pursued in Fiji today seems to be getting us nowhere. It simply creates an endless cycle of negativity and stalemates. While the law is extremely important and legal issues need to be pursued, it is extremely important to recognise that other dimensions also need to be taken into account.
There are considerations above and beyond the legal ones. As Tui Rakuita noted above, there are “other issues that do not derive their justificatory premises from the legal framework of understanding.”
A truly democratic society needs the rule of law but it cannot be built solely on the rule of law. It also demands that the law be balanced by principles of social justice, compassion and common sense. It may not always be helpful to fight for the rigid application of the law.

Barr, Kevin (2007) Thinking About Democracy Today (ECREA. Suva)
Radan, Peter, Cameron Stewart and Andrew Lynch (2005) Equity and Trusts (LexisNexis
Butterworths. Sydney)
Rakuita, Tui (2008) Living By Bread Alone (ECREA. Suva)
Roebuck, Derek (2003) “Ínsights into Equity” in Bond Law Review 15 (2) December

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Beta Democracy 2.0 -A Discussion On Fiji.

The opinion piece in the Fiji Times, written by Swani Maharaj was thought provoking and outstanding.

The excerpt:

"Thus the mindset of generations became based on kai Idia, kai Viti, kai Valagi, instead of as fellow citizens above and beyond race. When we think of any national issue we think from a racial perspective and not from a nationalistic one, or from the point of view of the good of the community in Fiji"

Only we can make it happen

SWANI MAHARAJMonday, March 24, 2008

Image (L):The various races that make up Fiji mingle in central Suva as they go about their business

The National Council for Building a Better Fiji is a dream. It is the dream of the interim Government to build a true democracy regardless of race, to unite the people of Fiji through equal value for vote, and to remove the inherent injustices imposed on many of the people of Fiji.

Whether it stays a dream or is translated into reality for the benefit of every citizen in Fiji is entirely up to us. The NCBBF hopes to produce a charter expressing the collective expectations of the people of Fiji from future governments.

This is not a unique phenomena the 1997 Constitution was itself the dream of people who genuinely wanted to build a better, more just, and truly multi-racial Fiji.

This is evident from Dr Brij Lal's comment (FT 3/3/08) that the letter as well as the spirit of the Constitution must be followed.

But neither was that dream was shattered by racial polarisation or perhaps by petty self interest which surpassed the interest of the nation either the leaders were so oriented or the people of Fiji were unable to consider themselves as people of Fiji rather than 'Indians", 'Kai Viti', etc.

So will the NCBBF succeed when the 1997 Constitution failed? Yes, it will if we do our bit.

This is the first time that the largest number of people from all walks of life, and not only political leaders can have their say. It will and it can because two coups later, and with demographical changes much has changed.

One important difference is that the 1997 Constitution was a result of the 1987 coup which propagated indigenous supremacy.

The NCBBF comes two coups later. Of these, the Speight coup was unable to effectively demonstrate that it did the ordinary Taukei any good.

And the 2006 'takeover' aimed to rescue a nation where racial discrimination masqueraded as 'affirmative action', where corruption was more pervasive than AIDS in Africa, and where the government was too arrogant to consider itself answerable to anyone be it the Opposition or the taxpayer.

This is an opportunity to rise to the occasion and speak up. To make a difference to the nation, to our future generations. It is a sacred responsibility.

A history of the politics of race

Our colonial masters laid strong foundations of institutionalised racial barriers in order to divide and govern Fiji. This racism permeated the deepest recesses of our psyche from our tender years we imbibed it in schools in which even the curriculum perpetuated racial compartmentalisation rather than integration and interaction.

Thus the mindset of generations became based on kai Idia, kai Viti, kai Valagi, instead of as fellow citizens above and beyond race. When we think of any national issue we think from a racial perspective and not from a nationalistic one, or from the point of view of the good of the community in Fiji.

The 1970 Constitution came with independence; its inherent racial compartmentalisation and the 1987 coup further entrenched the politics of race.

However, in 1996 there was a welcome and progressive change in the form of the Reeves Commission Report. This report was envisaged to become the basis of a united and consolidated nation as it laid the foundation for non-racial elections.

For the first time, it gave all the people of Fiji a say in the election of the President and Vice-President of Fiji.

Being based on true democratic principles, it reshaped the role of the GCC in the interest of uniting all the people of Fiji. Unfortunately, the leaders of the major political parties NFP, SVT and GVP changed the recommendations of the Reeves Report.

Sadly, for Fiji its recommendations were not incorporated in the 1997 Constitution. The members of the NCBBF could find valuable avenues and options in the Reeves Report to formulate the basis of uniting the people of Fiji.

Blair, Rudd and the NCBBF

In 2003 Tony Blair launched 'the Big Conversation' a kind of roadshow through which he endeavoured to talk to people from all walks of life by visiting churches, community halls, schools, and towns etc.

He appeared on TV-radio and was available on websites to listen to and address question by the average John Citizen. He shared his vision for the United Kingdom with his people and got their views as well. He won the election because it was a bottom up exercise that was all about listening and sharing his vision.

The NCBBF seeks to do the same. And Fiji must avail itself of this opportunity in order to work out its own destiny.

Two very important reactions to his summit are worth noting while the Opposition leader, Brendon Nelson, welcomed the summit, Alexander Downer, the former Foreign Affairs Minister, ridiculed the process saying "He is the PM, he should know what to do next, not consult a thousand people" (Courier Mail 4.02.08).

The NCBBF provides both an avenue and a challenge for the people of Fiji we can look at contributing positively through this avenue initiated by the interim Government. Or we can reject it out of sheer peevishness, small-minded self-interest or simply because we really don't want to make the effort to think beyond our noses.

It is a question of seeing the glass half full as Nelson sees it, or half empty as Downer sees it. We can be either optimistic or pessimistic the choice is ours. We can have our say and be heard it might make a difference. Or we can be quiet and deny ourselves the chance of being heard, let alone making any difference to our state of existence.

Under the 1997 Constitution, such a national consultation process is impossible. It would be superfluous a government voted in on the communal voting system, elected by one ethnic group, would work to sustain that vote bank and would thus have no reason to seek broad-based consultation or to formulate a national charter.

We, the people of Fiji, and our friends and well wishers in the international community, must appreciate that any so-called 'democratically elected' government in Fiji will never wish to engage in such an exercise.

Tradition and change

This is the reality of Fiji: One ethnic group is subject to 'traditional' controls clearly this does not constitute a democratic setup. And the other group exists in a partial and flawed democracy in which they do not have political democratic rights at all levels of government.

It is important for us to decide whether we want a modern day democracy and its benefits or we want to continue with this 'mutant' version of democracy. If we want a 'true' democracy, traditional institutions should be democratic in nature so that the population can benefit from their protection and guidance in which there is no opportunity for manipulation, or denial of democratic freedoms.

The voice of the commoner is equally important in a democracy by its very nature a democracy has no place for social hierarchies. Numerous advocates of 'democracy' and 'elected governments' fail to see this glaring anomaly, this flaw in the system.

Decisions in this regard must carefully consider the needs and values of future generations of indigenous people who will be living in a more materialistic world, in the digital age, competing on a level playing field.

The latest census figures show the rapidly increasing urbanisation of indigenous people tradition and modernisation can be conflicting realities for them, or they can be complementary realities. Perhaps the NCBBF is an appropriate forum to deliberate upon and arrive at decisions in this regard and embody these in the Charter.

A peep into the future

This brings us to the question of acquisition of land for the public interest in Fiji.

For example let us look at FEA. FEA has to pay over $ 50m in lease money in compensation to landowners every 50 years, that is $ 1m per year. Where does FEA earn this kind of money from? Obviously from its users. Before 1987, because of the larger population and urbanisation of Fiji-Indians, we may safely say that they may have been the group that primarily contributed to the FEA.

Twenty years from now, the Fiji-Indian population will be down to 20 per cent and the indigenous population will be the majority of electricity users and taxpayers they will then pay exorbitant rates in order to enable FEA to pay lease money. The recent payment by the Government for community-government school lands is a deterrent to public benefit and a huge burden on the taxpayers who will, in the near future, be ethnic Fijians.

Today, it is important to evaluate such payment arrangements from a non-racial perspective. The NCBBF may be the right forum to generate optional systems in the interest of public services such as hospitals/nursing stations, government offices, schools, airports, roads and wharfs.

This will avoid closures and demands which are detrimental to the economy and will also relieve the taxpayers' burden.

The views expressed are the writer's own and not those of the Fiji Chamber of Commerce of which he is president.

Interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama points out the resistance against the charter in a Radio Fiji article. The excerpt:

PM: Some resisting Fiji regimes effort
Thursday, March 27, 2008

NCBBF co-chair Commodore Voreqe Banimarama and John Samy (L)

Taken from / By: Fiji Broadcasting Corporation

Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama says there are some within Fiji and outside who have turned a deaf year and resisted change in the country.

Speaking at the second meeting of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji in Suva, Commodore Bainimarama says these very people have taken every opportunity to fault Fiji, stir up controversy and disrupt the Interim Government’s efforts to take the country to elections.

He’s told delegates at the meeting that what is more important is the fact that the Interim Government has not deviated from its fundamental purpose.

These are, he says moving Fiji forward, putting new policies for growth and development in place and putting Fiji on a path of sustainable democratic governance.

The meeting ends this afternoon.

Perhaps the individuals who stir up controversy, may also include Fiji Sun's acting Publisher, who wrote an opinion article published in Tuesday March 26th 2008 issue.

The excerpt of FS article:

Fijian protocol must be respected in the promotion of the People’s Charter. The interim government must tread cautiously when trying to convince the Fijian people to support the charter.

Already, the Fijian people are divided and the charter cannot be forced on them.
On the record paramount chiefs of Rewa (Marama Bale na Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa), Naitasiri (Turaga na Qaranivalu Ratu Inoke Takiveikata), Cakaudrove (Turaga Bale na Tui Cakau Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu), Nadroga (Turaga Na Kalevu Ratu Sakiusa Makutu), Tavua (Turaga na Tui Tavua Ratu Ovini Bokini) and Namosi (Turaga na Tui Namosi Ratu Suliano Matanitobua) are against the charter.

Usually, Fijians follow their chiefs although to some extent this has changed.
Religious groups including the Methodist Church, the Then India Sanmarga Ikya (TISI) Sangam, Shree Sanatan Dharam Pratinidhi Sabha have decided not to be part of the charter.

We must be mindful of the rights in the 1997 Constitution. People have the right to decide for themselves and in the current case must decide on whether to accept the charter or not. We must be mindful of the fact that the charter is a new political vehicle initiated by Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

The format, content and authority of this charter are not yet clear.
President Ratu Josefa Iloilo addressing the first meeting of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji (NCBBF) said the council would chart out a course for peace, political stability, good governance, harmonious co-existence and prosperity for all, the people of Fiji. In fact this is a way forward for a new Fiji.

The charter must be supported by the indigenous Fijians to make it effective. The religious body which represents the majority of the Fijian people, the Methodist Church of Fiji and the political party that represents majority of the Fijian people (Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua - SDL) is against the charter.

SDL leader Laisenia Qarase said Fiji does not need a People’s Charter to achieve true democracy. He said the charter should not be forced on the people of the country and the interim government should take steps to start dialogue on the People’s Charter before formulating the document.

Already I must admit the Fijian people are suspicious about the charter. They are not happy with the reforms made in Fijian institutions. They are not happy with the new Fijian Affairs (Great Council of Chiefs) Act. They are not happy that the new Act that has ruled out chiefs who are SDL members or public office bearers in 2006 to be members of the Great Council of Chiefs. They are not happy that the charter will not allow communal voting. They are not happy that election will only be carried out if they accept the charter.

They are not happy because they now realise that the way forward for PM Bainimarama and backed by the Interim Finance Minister and Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry involves cutting long-established government programmes for Fijians that the new government’s leaders label racist and divisive. They are not happy with the militarization of the civil service.

It is a fact that the government of the day must try to unite the Fijian people and get their support before preparing the charter. Because of the lack of support from the Fijian people, all efforts to put in place the for the charter will be meaningless.

They have given their total support to the 1997 Constitution. They know that there is no provision in the constitution for a referendum to be carried out in the absence of parliament.

Ousted Opposition Leader Mick Beddoes when asked about the referendum to get the people’s approval said - “In so far as the suggestion of a referendum to adopt this charter, I am aware that there is currently no provision in our constitution for such an undertaking so some type of promulgation will obviously be required to create a law to deal with this, so as to regulate how the various questions are to be framed.
In this regard, I would like to think that some ‘external international assistance’ is sought to ensure ‘impartiality’ on the part of the Interim government.”

Mr Beddoes said although the referendum would probably be extra constitutional, the result could possibly be acceptable as it will ‘from the people’ who are after all the real source of power and sovereignty."
Majority of the legal birds contacted said the charter has to be put in place by a democratically elected government. It will be interesting to see how the charter will be put in place. If it is through a referendum so that the voice of the people is heard, it will be unconstitutional because the Constitution is silent on referendum.

Outside observers have speculated that the PM might argue for the postponement of the election until a charter is put in place. Some critics have gone further, wondering if the People’s Charter might become a populist vehicle to legitimising the military regime, perhaps displacing the 1997 Constitution itself.

Well, with the division in the Fijian society, government must use the Fijian protocol to get the support. It must first of all seek the forgiveness of the chiefs and ask for their support to the charter.

Government must concentrate on its clean up campaign and bring people implicated to justice. The Fijian people want a democratically elected government to decide on the political future and changes for the nation.

With the current progress I must admit that the Fijian people feel they have been discriminated. According to Fijian academic and Rewa young chief Ro Filipe Tuiswau it is becoming more and more apparent that the Interim Government is fulfilling a pre-conceived agenda to weaken the core strength of the Fijian people.

When one looks at the events of Dec 2006 and the overthrow, he says, it is basically aimed at the Fijian people. “To date, no SDL MP has been arrested for corruption so the coup was really just a pretext to launch certain individuals to power, apart from hiding their own corruption and illegal acts such as tax evasion, as the sun was about to set for them. Not only that, it propelled into powers the Labour Leader, his cronies and failed New Alliance politicians. All of them were going out and this was their last chance of glory.

However, when you look at the suspension of GCC, targeting of Fijian executives and Fijian institutions and businesses, there is a clear agenda in place. This agenda can easily be linked to the recommendations in Saiyed Khaiyums thesis publicised in the May 2007 Islands Business magazine.

It recommended the restructuring and weakening of Fijian institutions so that their loyalty is redirected to the state rather than to their provinces and chiefs,” Ro Filipe said. He said the Peoples Charter aim to create a non racial Fiji is all part of the anti Fijian conspiracy.

It is time for the government to rally for the support of the Fijian people.
Fijians are divided between allegiance and support for the military-led government and the GCC. Because there is a definite split it is time that Fijian leaders sit down and talk with our current leaders..

It is also time that the relationship between the interim administration and the GCC also needs to be rectified. According to Dr Steven Ratuva it is time for a bridge to be built across it and talks to begin for the future of this country.
The way forward is not the Charter but the support of the Fijian community.

Accordingly, SiFm offers a rebuttal for the opinion piece. The excerpt of the rebuttal:

The opinion article that appeared in Fiji Sun, Tues March 25th, 2008 regarding the Charter compiled by the National Council To Build a Better Fiji (NCBFF) is disingenuous, divisive and deceptive.

The article opens with an obtuse generalization stating that: “Fijian protocol must be respected in the promotion of the People’s Charter”. It is no doubt that the article has the finger prints of Fiji Sun's acting publisher, Samisoni Kakaivalu all over it, based on his previous writings that carry the same DNA: oversimplification, overwhelmingly ethno-nationalistic and devoid of facts.

Clearly the Fijian protocol is not in contention and for the article to even suggest that is reprehensible. The opening statement, is merely the opening moves of an article, riddled with condescending logical flaws.

Kakaivalu drops the names of six chiefs who have not acceded their support to their charter, after stating that “the Fijian people are divided and the charter cannot be forced upon them”.

The article contradicts its opening premise on the chiefs decision by correctly alluding that: “Usually, Fijians follow their chiefs although to some extent this has changed”.

The article list the religious organizations which also do not support the charter and then follows up with the suggestion that under the 1997 Constitution, people have a right to choose on their own accord. That also means that, regardless of what the chiefs or religious organization have declared, the people will determine their own destiny.

Kakaivalu continues his ethno-nationalistic generalization of how the Methodist Church is made of majority Fijians, as with the SDL party and with a “Non Sequitur” inference, concludes that the decisions made by the Methodist church and SDL are best for the Fijian people.

The article quotes from deposed Prime Minister and SDL party leader Laisenia Qarase: “Fiji does not need a People’s Charter to achieve true democracy”.

According to Qarase's model of true democracy, raced based voting system is prevalent, where chiefs use their traditional authority to force their people to vote a certain way, where culture, religion and politics are so intertwined and blurred that people are not sure if they are voting for a lay minister or a chief.
"The ripples of fears emanating from the detractors of charter to take Fiji forward, are perhaps self induced doubts by those living in the past and like crabs in a basket, continue to drag back in, those trying to escape".
Under Qarase's 6 years of true democracy, the resources of the state where squandered in vote buying schemes known as the Agricultural scam and where $F20 million loan to construct the Great Council of Chiefs(GCC) complex was mysteriously converted to a grant. The legacy of Qarase's true democracy leaves a wake of poor and rural dwelling Fijians, clutching at unfulfilled promises.

Kakaivalu further outlines how the Fijian people are unhappy for litany of reasons, without providing evidence of his source. For all we know, the article's author could have plucked those supposed facts, out of thin air. The article quotes from people who undoubtedly have their own axes to grind and then continues with ethno-nationalistic fear mongering, a well used approach by Kakaivalu during his tenure at the Fiji Times.

The article further falls victim to “Post hoc, ergo propter hoc”, a classic logical fallacy when quoting from Filipe Tuisawau who was commenting on the charter:
“It recommended the restructuring and weakening of Fijian institutions so that their loyalty is redirected to the state rather than to their provinces and chiefs [...]the Peoples Charter aim to create a non racial Fiji is all part of the anti Fijian conspiracy”.
It is circular reasoning to conclude that that all Fijian people are first citizens of the provinces, subjects of their chiefs and not the state. The Fijian people use the currency of the state to purchase goods, not on monetary notes issued by the province. The Fijian people who travel, have passports issued by the Fiji Government, not by the provincial chiefs. Fiji is a member of the United Nations, not Rewa, Naitasiri, Cakaudrove, Nadroga, Tavua, Namosi or any loose alliances in between.

The Fijian people had watched the Fiji team play well during the last world cup and with the upcoming 2008 IRB Hong Kong Sevens tournament, the rugby team will be wearing Fiji jerseys, not provincial ones. Nor will the question of provinces or loyalties to a chief will be raised, because even the chiefs themselves will be watching the game in anticipation, as well as cheering when the Fiji team excels.

Being a chief is not the criteria for choosing the rugby team representing Fiji and if it would, the team would succumb to traditional protocol, just to figure out who runs on to the field first and who should be the Captain. Even the choice of passing, tackling and kicking the ball would have to be first determined under consensus using traditional protocol.

It would not take a rocket scientist to figure out the track record of such a hypothetical team and its ultimate fate; for certain it will be become the greatest laughing stock of the entire sporting world. We dare not think about the future of a state, under the same conditions of provincial bickering, handicapped by traditional protocol and governed by chiefly duplicity.

Fijian culture is not being threatened; for the arts and crafts, mannerisms, respect for the elderly are inherently safe and that knowledge is passed on from generation to generation.

The fear of divided loyalties, unfortunately lies solely with those disgruntled detractors who are aligned with the chiefly system. The detractors worry that, no longer will they have any subjects to rule and no longer can they influence people and arrest their god given right to choose, live and think for themselves.
Although, there is some legitimacy to the fear of change; people cannot be permanently paralyzed by all things new, as that will reduce the populace to the wasteland of a fortress mentality.

As the article pleads for the Interim Government to unite the Fijian people, it is rather ironic that the main thrust of Kakaivalu's article, magnified the matters the divide the nation and dismissing the ties that bind the nation together.

According to renown African American scholar, W.E.B Du Bois' 1944 essay: "My Evolving Program For Negro Freedom" :
“The hope of civilization lies not in exclusion, but in inclusion of all human elements; we find the richness of humanity[...]not in great aristocracies, chosen people and superior races, but in throngs of disinherited and underfed [people]. Not the lifting of the lowly, but the unchaining of the unawakened mighty, will reveal the possibilities of genius, gift and miracle, in mountainous treasure trove, which hitherto civilization has scarcely touched”.
As the charter proposes to steer the nation of Fiji on a new course for the future and inspires the building of bridges, as opposed to burning them; perhaps those who oppose that, are merely obstructionists for their own reasons, reasons far divorced from those of the nation.

The ripples of fears emanating from the detractors of charter to take Fiji forward, are perhaps self induced doubts by those living in the past and like crabs in a basket, continue to drag back in, those trying to escape. Undoubtedly people must be inspired to lift themselves out of the basket of hopelessness and misery, to a forge a new paradigm which the charter encapsulates. In order to ignore those fears of change, the slogan of the Barack Obama's US Presidential campaign is invaluable- “Yes we can!”.

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