Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fiji Citizens Demand Transparency from Fiji's Evil Diktator!

Bula All,
It is obvious that the current Fiji regime is working in over-drive mode to keep itself from collapsing. It is encouraging to see that our Political Parties and Trade Unionist as well as Activists are demanding the diktator and his cronies to answer to the Citizens of Fiji.
 
Fiji has been the subject of much discussion within the Nation and the outside world. Now its time to really examine and question the spending of the current regime. Where and how funds donated by International source and local businesses are being spent. 
We certainly, are enjoying watching how these regeime is rounding around in circles to right itself whilst the Citizens of Fiji are now putting the pressure and demanding their 'pound of flesh'! Lets continue that pressure and show where this diktator and his goons will go. Come on Fiji!
Luvei Viti Think Tank Team

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via Coupfourpointfive by Coup fourpointfive on 1/21/13

Show us what's in YOUR offshore accounts and tell us why you refuse to publish government accounts, especially the Auditor General's report.

Khaiyum's aunt, Nur Bano Ali.
That's the challenge today from the country's main four parties and the trade union, FICTU, who've sent a joint statement to the regime demanding it reveal its books and personal funds.

It follows the release yesterday of the Political Parties Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosure Decree, which stipulates political parties re-register within 28 days or otherwise lose their assets to the 'state.'

The decree also threatens political parties who fail to wind down with $50,000 fines.


SDL, the Fiji Labour Party, the United Peoples Party, the National Federation Party and FICTU say Frank Bainimarama and Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum should disclose monies they hold and show transparency in the dealings of family members - a particular reference to Khaiyum's accountant aunt, Nur Bano Ali, who is known to have her fingers in many pies.




The statement is as follows: 


Political parties call for accountability and transparency from the Prime Minister and the Attorney General

1.    In a joint statement issued today Fiji's major political parties have called on the Prime Minister and the Attorney General to disclose their incomes and assets, including properties they have acquired since seizing power.

2.    They should also disclose moneys held by them in their overseas accounts and properties held there, if any.

3.    The statement said that it is a well-known fact that the Prime Minister and the Attorney General and their close family members have acquired several up market properties in Fiji since 2006. They must in keeping with their oft-repeated calls for transparency and accountability declare their finances and assets and liabilities to the nation ahead of asking political parties and their officials to do so.

4.    The Prime Minister must also explain to the people why, as Finance Minister since 2008, he has refused to accede to repeated calls to publish government accounts and finances and the Auditor General's reports thereon, as required under the Finance Management Act.

5.    Why is the Prime Minister flouting the law on government finances? He must also explain why the audited accounts of the Prime Minister's Flood and Cyclone Relief Funds are not published for the information of the people and the donors.

6.    And why, we ask has he continued to block the audit and publishing of the RFMF Regimental Funds?

(Page two of the statement)

1.    If the Prime Minister and the Attorney General refuse to themselves submit to the accountability and transparency requirements they are demanding of the others, then it is plainly obvious that they have much to hide from the people.  

2.    It is well known that official corruption is at an all-time high under the current administration. Indeed, Transparency International has excluded Fiji from its Corruption Perception Index listing 178 countries because of a lack of data and in its last 2010 survey on Budget Transparency it gave Fiji zero out of 100 points saying it is virtually impossible for Fiji citizens to hold its government accountable for its management of the public's money. 
                    
                                                                                                
Ratu Jone Kubuabola                                                Mahendra Chaudhry           
Member Executive Committee                                     Leader    
Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Party                   Fiji Labour Party
                                                                                       

 Mick Beddoes                                                                Pramod Rae
 President                                                                       General Secretary
 United Peoples Party                                                    National Federation Party

Attar Singh
General Secretary
Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fiji Citizens Are Being Abused By the Evil Diktator Frank Bainimarama!

 
 

Bula all,

Article posted below by Coup 4.5 is evident of what Frank Bainimarama & his legal advisor Khaiyum Aiyaz Saiyed resort to when things do not go their way.
 
We all know Fr Kevin Barr was very much aligned to Fiji's Diktator post 2006 coup. Why? Only Fr Barr knows. Like everyone else that joined Fr Barr and believed in what Bainimarama was doing initially, have all fallen by the wayside. Somehting has gone awfully wrong.
 
Without boring you all with the same old story, one thing is for sure, Bainimarama is hungry for power and wants to hold on to it come hell or high waters. Anyone caught in belittling his plans or exposing him and his cohorts face the same nastiness that had been dished out to Fr Barr. Thats where they all end up or even worse they get bundled up to the Nabua Military Beating camp and get killed or get raped or bashed up. Thats the order of the day under this evil man Bainimarama.
 
Yet while this is happening some segment of the International Community still wants to play that Rational Do Positive Game and give this Fiji Diktator a platform to run riots and create havoc in an island nation that barely has a million population. In fact in the last count Fiji only had approx 890,057 [CIA]
 
When will be 'Enough is Enough'; get really carved into these countries that are propping Bainimarama and his regime?

When will those Fijian soldiers and policemen realise that the diktator is now following the very same path that Hitler followed. The only difference, Hitler is from Germany a much bigger Nation than a small island one in South Seas Island. But the 'evil' figments of Bainimarama & Khaiyum's dream of a renewed Fiji is becoming the worst Nightmare for these group of Fiji Citizens and their Island neighbors.
 
Luvei Viti Think Tank Team.

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via Coupfourpointfive by Coup fourpointfive on 1/15/13

Bainimarama is mouthing niceties in New York where he is chairing the G77 forum but back home where people really know what he's like, it's been revealed he abused former Wages Council chair, Father Barr, via text. One of his text messages was 'Fuck U arsehole'

 

A SURPRISING DAY IN MY LIFE

On the 8th January 2013 The Fiji Sun published I short letter I had sent in to them. The letter noted that a change was to be expected in the Fiji Flag to represent changed realities in Fiji. With tongue in cheek, I asked: "Is the rumour true that the Union Jack is going to be replaced with a small version of the Chinese flag to show that our old allegiance to Britain is being replaced with a new allegiance to China?"

On the morning of the 10th January I was at my desk at the PCN Office when the phone rang and someone who said he was a Colonel in the Prime Minister's Office asked if this was my number. I said it was and he hung up. 

A few minutes later I received a call from the Prime Minister. I greeted him and wished him a happy New Year. Then in a very angry voice he said that I should apologise to the people of Fiji for my letter concerning the Fijian flag in the newspaper. I said that I thought it expressed a real concern with a touch of joking humour.

The PM said it was irresponsible coming from a recognised leader in the community. He stated he was not a Catholic but a Methodist. 

He then called me "a fucked up priest" and said I had become anti-government. He said he used to try and help me but would do so no longer. I said I would be prepared to come and speak with him. Instead he repeated I was a "fucked up priest", threw in a few swear words, told me to go back to where I came from and put down the phone. 

His tone was angry and really over the top.

Our Director (Semiti Qalowasa) and Assistant Director (Savu Tawake) were in the room and were able to pick up most of the angry statements of the Prime Minister. They were rather shocked and remarked that the words about China must have hit a sore spot.

A few minutes later there was a text message on the phone from the Prime Minister which read: "I think you owe the people of Fiji an apology for your childish comments. You give all Catholic priests a bad name." 

It seemed more of a calm message. I replied saying I was sorry if he was upset by my letter and I apologise. However many people were concerned about the influx of Chinese into Fiji. I said I would always be happy to meet with you and discuss issues. I am not anti-government but disappointed with some developments.

I was about to go to lunch when another text message arrived saying: "Fuck U arsehole. Stay well away from me." I texted back: "Thank you Sir for the nice words. If you want me to apologise I will do as you wish."

As I was having lunch another text arrived: "Start saying your goodbyes Father Kevin James Barr, Australian national, work permit as a missionary, expiry date for permit 31/12/2013." 

I did not reply. Then came the final text: "Go and be a missionary in China".

I laughed as there was a touch of humour there.

When I returned home about 4.15 there was an apologetic call from the Ministry of Housing saying they had been directed by government to withdraw my membership as a Member of the Housing Authority and Public Rental Board and that a letter would soon be delivered to me on that issue. 

In some ways I was expecting this vindictive reaction. I also suspect that others apart from the PM were involved. The Land Force Commander is noted for his coarse language and the AG for his vindictiveness.

What surprised me was not only the coarse language used by the Prime Minister but his over-the-top angry and uncontrolled reaction. I have heard that he has treated others in a similar way and aims to intimidate.

Those who heard of the above exchanges were shocked and very concerned that the Prime Minister could act in this way. 

They were also concerned for me. I do not intend to be intimidated.

(Fr Kevin J. Barr)


 
 

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Fiji's Regime Trying to Catch It's Tail it seems!!

Reflections: 
In late Novemebr into early December 2012, an article posted by a Fijian woman in a PNG Mining Watch site, saying that the Tui Namosi Ratu Suli Matanitobua appeared to be raking the wealth of this Namosi Mining Deals all to himself. The article even went further to assert that the Vanua of Namosi and its people were aligning with the current Fiji Diktatorship.
How wrong she was? Over time, it is surfacing that this all appeared to be a framed allegations. In essence, the people of Namosi and their Chief Ratu Suliano Matanitobua have always been adamant that there were protocols to be followed by Bainimarama & his regime. Not the other way around. 
   
As highlighted below in Coup 4.5's article, Pita Waqavonovono has been taken to task for comments he made on facebook. We are all aware that Pita was one of those youths that got bundled up to the Nabua Military Camp and given the run-araound & perhaps beating as we all now know that these victims are suppose ot seal their lips when back out in public otherwise they get beaten up. As we have always stated, Bainimarama & his cronies MUST FACE THE PEOPLE OF FIJI AND BE MADE TO ANSWER FOR ALL THE SUFFERINGS THAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE COUP 2006 TO TODATE.
Interestingly, the regime is now hounding Rajendra Chaudary and those that are connected with him as in this case of Rajendra's 'meimei' being hounded and made to feel intimidated. Perhaps is one of those who is an expert in interpreting the 'Rule of Law' in Fiji and the regime is desperate to get their hands on him to shut him up. We are watching you Baini & Khai!!
 
Luvei Viti Think Tank Team.

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via Coupfourpointfive by Pacific in the Media on 1/6/13

Ongoing police surveillance of citizens but is the worm turning?

Police visited the house of Rajendra Chaudhry, the Fiji lawyer and son of Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, on Sunday and today the intimidation practice was outed on the widely-read Facebook.

A week ago, youth advocate Pita Waqavonovono, also revealed police were harassing him saying he had them at his home at 4am in the morning after he posted on Facebook that 'living in a military dictaroship sucks'.


Controversy under surveillance: Mining in Namosi
Chaudhry says the police were sent to his Suva home last night at 8pm by a special branch officer named Jese Malewa.

 "The goons spoke harshly and rudely to my house maid and she was scared but regained her composure. The goons apparently have orders to arrest and question me on my facebook postings. Some one is not happy. So we must all be doing the right thing eh friends? Lets keep on keeping on till we get democracy in Fiji. Nothing is too hard if we try."

He told Coupfourpointfive the regime seemed upset most about postings about the Constitution review and the hurricane relief funds.

It is the second time in two weeks police have reacted to his postings. 
 
Morris: falsely accused
Waqavonovono revealed police accused him of trying to lead an exodus of people out of Suva for New Year's after he posted he was going to another town to see in 2013.
"I refused to change anything, requested a warrant, told them to go away, and come back with proper papers and preferably at Godly hours."
It is widely known police and military officers monitor citizens and have a number on a regular watch list. But how reliable is their information?

A surveillance list by Fiji intelligence from late 2011 obtained by Coupfourpointfive said freelance journalist Ricardo Morris was seen posting banners against mining at Nasale Village in Widina, Naitasiri for the Social Empowerment and Educational Programme (SEEP) with another official on December 12 2012.

Morris told C4.5 and posted on Facebook last week that he has never been to Nasele, much less put up banners there with the SEEP officials named by police. He also noted, as did C4.5, that the date was 2012 in the police report when it was still 2011. 
He added, though, that he had posted photos on his  Facebook page of banners and posters in Naitasiri protesting the mining development.
"The photos were passed on to me by a fellow media person who was afraid to post it themselves."
Karunaratne to appear in court again  
Jagath Karunaratne: 24/7 watch
Questions also hover over the charges against the Sri Lankan national, Jagath Karunaratne, who is due to appear in court again this week on Thursday.

Karunaratne, who is now a Fiji citizen, was originally charged last year with several others for writing graffiti. A second charge - urging political violence - was added recently (he was charged alongside trade unionist Daniel Urai) and while he has been allowed out on bail, is on 24/7 surveillance according to information from police sources.


Karunaratne and Urai were charged on the basis of a statement by Taniela Ligairi, the son of the former commander of the CRW (Ilisoni Ligairi) who claimed he was offered $20,000 and $1 million by the pair for 'the assistance' of the special forces and his father. 

It's believed most of the accused said in their caution interviews the planning, dispatching teams for graffiti, funds distribution etc for VRF were done at Ligairi's house and he played a major role. 

Information seen by C4.5 shows Ligairi was taken in to custody but his 73 year old father and former British SAS soldier, apparently made a call to police commissioner, Ioane Naivalurua, and told him that his family should not be touched.

Ligairi, who was also reportedly in contact with New Zealand media on behalf of the VRF group, was allowed to go home every day after questioning while others remained in custody.

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Blast from the Past: FIJI: THE FAILURE OF LIBERAL DEMOCRACY? - Jone Dakuvula

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via Intelligentsiya by Keep The Faith on 12/20/12

Credit to the Stuck in Fiji Mud blog for this piece.
 



Asia-Pacific Network: 24 July 2000
FIJI: THE FAILURE OF LIBERAL DEMOCRACY?
A response to Dr Robert Wolfgramm of Monash University published in Fiji's Daily Post on July 15. This article was published in the Daily Post on July 27.

By JONE DAKUVULA in Suva

Dakuvula defends 1997 constitution: Who were the rapists of democracy?.

DR ROBERT WOLFGRAMM, of Monash University, published a long article (Daily Post, July 15, 2000) under the title "Why Democracy Has Failed" amongst Fijians. He did not define his subject, "Democracy", and particularly what it means in an ethnically divided country such as Fiji. Democracy as I understand it in a limited sense means elections, civil liberties and the right to organise. 

It could have a more radical meaning but that is the fundamental challenge facing all people of the world including indigenous Fijians in the 21st Century. Wolfgramm asserts that indigenous Fijians have never been asked whether they want constitutional democracy and its values. He believes Fijians still prefer their vanua and to be ruled by their Chiefs. This is like saying indigenous Fijians have not been asked whether they should have the Methodist Church, Capitalism, the modern state, public roads, Fiji Bitter, or academics analysing them for that matter.

Dr Wolfgramm should read Dr Esther Williams' and Kaushik Saskena's (of U.S.P) book, "Electoral Behaviour and Opinion in Fiji". This comprehensive study showed that 44% of the voters said the Chiefs had no influence over their votes in the 1999 General Election. Only 9% said the Chiefs did influence their votes. 36% (mostly Indo-Fijians) did not answer the question.

Contrary to what he asserts, a form of liberal Parliamentary system of Government based on regular elections and written Constitutions (albeit four so far) had operated quite successfully in Fiji for close to forty years since before the close of the colonial era. For most of that period, indigenous Fijian leaders held political power in the modern state, only briefly interrupted by about 13 months of two Fiji Labour Party Governments. Dr Wolfgramm should have asked the more specific mundane questions, such as for example: Why were there military-inspired Coups that overthrew these elected Labour-led Governments? And the answers are fairly pedestrian.

In May 1987 and May 2000, characters such as Sitiveni Rabuka, Apisai Tora, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and George Speight and their followers did not like the result of the Election and got supporters in the Fiji Military Forces to help over throw the newly elected Labour Government. And did they consult the Vanua, Fijian Chiefs or for that matter the Fijian people before they organised the Coups? But rallying some of them after the act was done was convenient and easy because many indigenous Fijians in the vanuas believe that the modern state also belongs to the Fijians, or to the "Vanua," and not to "others".

It is unclear whether Dr Wolfgramm is in favour of election as mechanism for changing government and holding our political leaders accountable. I might be wrong, but he seems to favour the old Colonial System of the Council of Chiefs nominating our Fijian Members of Parliament. He needs to tell that to Speight and his "wannabee Ministers" who prefer to dictate to the Chiefs who they should accept.

But if he still believes in General Election then, the more relevant question is, what type of electoral arrangement and Parliamentary system of Government is more likely to produce results that might avoid characters like Tora or Kubuabola, resorting to other methods that overturn the result! Notwithstanding my reservations about the Alternative Vote Electoral System, I thought the device of requiring the leader of the major party after an Election to invite the parties with more than eight seats into Cabinet is a pragmatic solution to the problems of governance here.

It ensures that all political communities are likely to be represented in a Coalition government. It was not fool proof solution especially with the S.V.T not included, it was free to arouse the Fijians. Any system can be wrecked by fanatics, as we have learnt to our cost.

The 1997 Constitution
Contrary to Dr Wolfgramm's belief, the 1997 Constitution was not the work of what he calls "Constitutional Romantics". The Members of the Reeves Commission were very experienced hard-headed "Constitutional realists". Over a period of 18 months, they received thousands of submissions from individuals, community groups, religious groups, organisations and political parties. They also had the benefit of advice from local and overseas scholars and experts on specific subjects of relevance and from all these, the Commissioners produced their Report with 694 recommendations for changes to our system of Constitutional Government.
Wolfgramm judged the Reeves Report thus:
Realists argue that democracy cannot force itself, it cannot be imposed against the consent of the affected. To do so would amount to constitutional rape.
He makes this assertion even though the Commission had undertaken the widest and most intensive public consultation ever since independence. Thereafter, the Report was discussed over a period of about six months by the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution and, most of its recommendations were adopted with some modifications. A Fijian version of the Report was unanimously endorsed by the Bose Levu Vakaturaga.

In both Houses of Parliament, the Constitution was also passed unanimously in June 1997. If that process is what Dr Wolfgramm calls a "constitutional rape" then we must wonder about his credentials as a student of Fiji's political history.

However, the problem of Dr Wolfgramm is not his scholarship but rather his political beliefs. He seems to support the George Speight-led Coup, whose moment of "Constitutional revolution" was inscribed in Clause B(b) of the Muanikau Accord thus:
The 1997 Constitution which they believe are repugnant to the preservation and protection of the rights and interests of indigenous Fijians in Fiji.
Who were the actual rapists of democracy?
It has been argued by some of Speight's supporters that the majority of Provincial Councils had rejected the Reeves Report, and that this was evidence that the majority of indigenous Fijians had repudiated the 1997 Constitution. And that Prime Minister Rabuka's Government had unwisely implemented the Reeves Report against the opposition of a majority of Fijians.

There is really no firm basis for this belief. Dr Williams' study that I have referred to above revealed 39% of the voters in 1999 thought the new Constitution was a good one, 24% said it was not a good one and 37% either did not know or had no opinion.

At the end of July 1996, Commissioner Tomasi Vakatora was asked by the Prime Minister to explain their Report to the Provincial Councils. He started with the Lomaiviti and the Nadroga/Navosa Provincial Councils. Both Councils supported the Reeves Report.

At that stage however, opponents of the Reeves Commission in the S.V.T. intervened at the Prime Minister's Office and directed that Tomasi Vakatora should stop his visits to the Provincial Councils because they argued it was not his responsibility to explain the Report to the rest of the Councils.

This was to be left to the Politicians. It was these Politicians, Jim Ah Koy, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Koresi Matatolu, Berenado Vunibobo and others, who then successfully campaigned in the other Provincial Councils for the rejection of the Reeves Report, in the expectation that this would put a stop to any further progress at the upper levels. These opponents of the Reeves Commission even succeeded at the S.V.T. Caucus in persuading Prime Minister Rabuka that they be free to vote according to their conscience in Parliament. They were permitted to do so. They did not vote against the Constitution Amendment Bill.

Post 1999 General Elections
However, when the S.V.T. was defeated in the 1999 General Election, they then agreed with members of the Nationalist Vanua Takalavo Party (with Rabuka sidelined to the Great Council of Chiefs Chairmanship), to campaign for the removal of the Chaudhry led-Government. They used the earlier rejection of the Provincial Councils as justification for the removal of the 1997 Constitution. Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and his men from Queen Elizabeth Barracks agreed. They compelled the President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara (illegally and against his will) to step down so they could introduce an "Abrogation of the Constitution Decree". Dr Wolfgramm argues later in his article and I quote:
Those who have had democracy imposed against their wishes will soon want to repudiate it. They will, having had bitter experience of it, become understandably suspicious of its purveyors.
This statement again presumes that there was was widespread repudiation of Constitutional democracy by indigenous Fijians two years later, in 1999. In the last election, many Fijians were disappointed especially with the unexpected result for the S.V.T. under the new Electoral System. But again it cannot be claimed that a majority of Fijians had rejected democracy either in May 1999 or in May 2000. In the May 1999 Election, the S.V.T. got only 34.4% of the Fijian votes. The Fijian parties who joined the Government had 61.3% of the total Fijian votes.

It was clear that there had been a massive rejection of the S.V.T in the last Election by the indigenous Fijians who voted for other parties. In the 1992 and 1994 Elections, the S.V.T. had received about 66% of the Fijian votes. The marches in May 2000 leading up to Speight's coup numbered at most 10,000. They were the consequence of a relentless propaganda campaign, for about one year by the S.V.T. and the N.V.T.L.P, based on misinformation and sometimes out right lies about the Governments Policies. The indigenous Fijians were aroused to a level of suspicion and hatred of Mahendra Chaudhry and Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, and even Sitiveni Rabuka, as evident in the distorted and false pamphlets written by the S.V.T. and Speight's supporters. These were distributed widely all over the country before and after the coup.

Fijian Chiefs
Wolfgramm claimed that the coup of Speight demonstrated that Fijians were as dedicated as ever to their Chiefs. What in fact the Coup showed was the ruthlessness of some ambitious Fijians who are not chiefs, but who merely wanted to use the Chiefs to get into positions of political power. At the last B.L.V. meeting, George Speight's agents strongly pushed for the B.L.V's final endorsement of all that Speight's group wanted. They were unsuccessful because of the resistance of some Chiefs, who demanded the release of all the hostages first before they could proceed to decide on the Presidency and Vice President.

It may be bad news to Dr Wolfgramm that the last Council of Chiefs Meeting had not changed it's earlier resolutions on how the current crisis should be resolved. The May 25th resolution had supported the 1997 Constitution as the appropriate framework for resolving the crisis. A leading Chief who had attended the last meeting told me that most of the Members of the B.L.V. had not accepted the Military's purported abrogation of the 1997 Constitution. Their understanding is that they had merely supported the review of the 1997 Constitution and with possible changes to it if George Speight's grievances, upon examination, are found to be legitimate and amenable to a "Constitutional Solution."

Dr Wolfgramm also seems to be sceptical about the relevance of modern principles of good governance to Fijian institutions such as the Provinces, the Vanua, the Chiefly system and the Native Land Trust Board. I believe that the endurance of the Fijian Vanuas and the system of Chiefly leadership can only be strengthened through the development of a culture of respect for the rule of law and adoption of modern principles of leadership and accountability within the indigenous Fijian social world.

We have to reinvent our traditions. I do not agree with Wolfgramm's thesis that we indigenous Fijians have to choose between liberal democracy and chiefly rule. He has utterly failed in his article to make a credible case that the values and institutions of a liberal constitutional democracy are hostile to or destructive of indigenous Fijian Vanua values. Indeed I believe the continuation of Liberal Democracy and its values is vital for the survival of the indigenous Fijian identity and the Vanua. In his ancestral homeland, Tonga, there is a movement gathering strength for a Tongan version of liberal democracy. In time it will succeed in bringing about popular changes that will give a new lease of life to the Tongan Monarchy. I doubt that even George Speight's supporters will agree with Dr Wolfgramm's argument that indigenous Fijians prefer Chiefly rule to liberal democracy, even though they seem to want to take us to a type of country where competing Vanua and Provincial Warlords decide who will be in power.

Wolfgramm's argument that Fijians prefer autocratic Chiefly rule to democracy therefore has no substance. What does Wolfgramm then make of Speight's supporters' success in rejecting the Bose Levu resolutions of May 25th? Or their persuasion of the F.M.F to force the resignation of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara from the Presidency? Their threats against Ratu Josefa Iloilo? Or their attempt at the last meeting of the B.L.V. to denigrate and diminish the status and influence of the members? Where is the traditional principle of respect and reciprocation that Wolfgramm harps so much about in these action.

Constitutional Change
All that Dr Wolfgramm is doing in his pontifications in the Daily Post is pandering to Fijian nationalist prejudices with his simplistic labelling of people as "Constitutional Romantics." It is he who fits this label, not the U.S.P academics that he wants to denigrate. We are now having to learn the hard way that democratic principles such as equality before the law, equal political rights, indigenous group rights and general human rights are important not just to us but also other nations with whom we have relations in an increasingly inter-dependent global economy. Fijian indigenous rights in particular must be protected in accordance with principles that are universally accepted.

The 1997 Constitution had achieved that, and recognised the Paramountcy of Fijian interests in the COMPACT Chapter as a guiding principle for resolving political conflicts. That is far as we can go, short of introducing political apartheid. We cannot have one special rule for indigenous supremacy for us Fijians and demand that the world either accept or "butt off". Should Speight and his gang win total political power, they will in due course find that their utopian dream of a modern and dynamic Fiji, based on a vague notion of indigenous supremacy will be meaningless with a run down economy, widespread unemployment and poverty, and qualified people deserting for other countries. A Constitution that satisfies the prejudices (or the "souls" as Wolfgramm puts it of the minority extremist nationalists who support George Speight) will then not be worth the paper it is written on. For how can we expect people of George Speight's ilk to respect a new Constitution that they want to dictate to us when they will not abide an imperfect one that had been democratically implemented? If we are to change the 1997 Constitution, let us do it the right way, under the procedures of that Constitution.

The international community is telling us that we risk international isolation and severe decline in our standards of living, if we do not restore fundamental democratic and human rights values in our system of national government and dare I say, in the culture of the Vanuas. Having a totally Fijian Parliament, such as Speight's group are demanding, and depriving our fellow Indo-Fijian citizens of their political rights is not going to do us indigenous Fijians any good. It will reduce us to the status of a Pariah State in the international community. In such a situation, Speight's Fijian supporters will inevitably turn against him and his office seeking colleagues. Meanwhile, Dr Wolfgramm will remain a long distance student of Fijian political changes, enjoying the comforts and security of University in a liberal democratic country, whose democratic values he believes we indigenous Fijians are not good enough to have and to treasure.

Jone Dakuvula is a political commentator and researcher with the Fiji Citizens' Constitutional Forum.

Copyright © 2000


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