Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Draft Report on Constitution Further Weakens Taukei Fijians Link to the State

It is only to be expected that the draft Constitution will spell the death of Fijian connection and links to the State as commenced by the current illegal regime's approach to government. Yash Ghai and his team have, in their draft memorandum on the Constitution document, merely formalised what Bainimarama and his illegal regime have begun - the subjugation of the Fijian people by cutting the umbilical cord that has connected them to the State since 1874. Whether even in the Preamble will this link be recognised, remains to be seen.

I have argued elsewhere that this decoupling is not necessarily a bad thing for Fijians. But it is the underhand and deceitful way it has been brought about and used as a basis for justifying other attacks on Fijian institutions and place in their own homeland that is repugnant.

While suggestions relating to the structure and workings of Parliament and government will receive some positive feedback, it is the eradication and lack of regard for native Fijians as original inhabitants of Viti that will raise the ire of the majority population. The Commission has taken its cue from the illegal regime in not recognising the GCC, thus conveniently providing it with the basis for not having a Two Chamber parliament.

Limiting the term of office of the PM don't seem to make sense in a parliamentary system of government. You wonder if it is more designed at targeting current leaders opposed to the regime and associated with the current situation in Fiji.

The elevation and formalisation of various social and economic rights in the draft Constitution will only raise expectations of the people and bound to tie Government in endless litigation. Public policy matters are best left to governments of the day but that the Constitution recognises its importance in fulfilling the values and principles in the Constitution as they were in the 1997 Compact Statement.

The removal of constituency members places a great deal of reliance on party system in the representation to parliament. Setting up an outside body to select a President runs counter to suggestions for parliament to perform such a role or retain the Great Council of Chiefs as in the 1997 Constitution to select the President. 

I can't wait to see the section on the Disciplinary Services and the role of the military. Perhaps they are waiting for the Military itself to draft it for them as it has not submitted its piece to the Commission unlike the rest of the population. My guess it will be along the lines of:

"it having a role in protecting (not upholding) the Constitution" If so worded, it leaves open the possibility for ongoing intervention by the Military. Let us wait and see!
Bainimarama & Yash Ghai - may be helping each other out

read below excerpts from the draft report

"Due to Fiji’s colonial history and contemporary politics, state and society became deeply entangled, society (or more precisely, ethnicity) becoming the basis for the policies and structures of the state. The principal task of the state became the management of ethnic claims, entitlements and relations. The principles and values in the Decree would seem to require a considerable degree of separation of state and society. This would make society less dependent on the state--and ultimately both more responsive to social and economic change, and the vitality of culture. This would have particular significance for iTaukei who are more extensively and deeply connected to state institutions. Some distancing of the state and cultural communities is necessary—both for the vitality of the communities and the role that civil society should play in a democratic state. We have acknowledged this role in the Draft Constitution.

The above approach will have a major impact on another major issue—a non-ethnic approach to the values and structures of the state. The shift to non-racial state values and structures would be easier if the values, culture and practices of ethnic communities became their own responsibility. In this way institutions like chieftaincy or religious practices would not be threatened or undermined but become matters for the community. The separation of state and society will both protect culture and make it possible for members of ethnic communities to co-operate and work constructively in the public sphere, in the affairs of the state as well as the economy. More than in most countries, the challenge of balancing nation building (common identity and values) and the restructuring of the state seems extraordinarily difficult. The approach of the Decree seems to be to build the framework for nation building and then structure the state accordingly."

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