Saturday, July 19, 2008

No shortcuts to political and electoral reform: Leung

No shortcuts to political and electoral reform: Leung


There can be no shortcuts to political and electoral reform, says former Law Society President, Graham Leung.
Mr Leung said at the Fiji Law Society Conference yesterday that the constitution of Fiji was the supreme law of the land, and it was the constitution alone that determined how it could be changed.
He said people only picked certain parts of the constitution for their political agendas.
He warned that attempts to change the constitution using a mechanism outside it would be illegal and unacceptable.
Mr Leung said it was pointless talking about good governance if we did not practise it.
“Good governance starts with complying with the constitution,” he said.
“You can’t pick and choose which parts of the constitution to follow. You can’t choose to pick parts of the constitution and ignore others. It’s not like a smorgasbord lunch where you have choices. There is no choice except the constitutional path to changing laws.”
Mr Leung said the quicker Fiji’s leaders accepted this simple fact, the quicker country would proceed to elections and legitimacy.
Parliament alone was the best forum to build a consensus on political and electoral reform. Mr Leung said that however long and drawn out or messy, there was no alternative to building a fairer and just Fiji except through an elected parliament following the correct legal processes.
“We can’t take shortcuts to produce the ideal society overnight,” he said.
“It might sound appealing to some but history will tell you that in the long run dialogue and broad based people participation are more likely to succeed than coercive pressures on people.
“People don’t want changes shoved down their throats.
“Ultimately forced changes to the law outside the constitution are destined to fail.”
He reminded delegates that the courts had already given clear guidance on the implications of not following the constitution.
Mr Leung said in the well known case of Chandrika Prasad Justice Gates had decided that a usurpation of the power of parliament by subverting the constitution was illegal.
“We’ve had long speeches about good governance. Its now time to ‘walk the talk’. Talk is cheap,” he said.

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