January 28, 2009

Our Constitution Needs Defending

While we applaud the recent PIF leaders hard-line stance against the IIG, just like Brij Lal we are not holding our breath. Bainimarama is after all military man. Have plan, will execute. Opponents will be crushed.

The fact of the matter is that Bainimarama needs to get rid of the constitution in order to make the changes that he wants. If he rids himself of the hassle of answering to the PIF while he's at it, he's sitting pretty.

Intelligentsiya has known for a long time that our Constitution is on its last legs. Many of you also know this to be true. How could it not be, when the IIG themselves have been saying so?

  • In March 2008, a Capt Suliasi Gukimaleya of the army’s Civil Affairs Department told civilians in Labasa about the junta's intentions.
  • In June 2008 Bainimarama said that scrapping it would be no big deal.
  • In July 2008 the FLP was applauding the Human Wrongs Rights Commission for an “independent” inquiry poking holes at the 2006 election results that poked more holes at the current electoral system and therefore the constitution.
  • In August 2008 Filipe Bole gave a convoluted statement about how the constitution could be changed but only with the consent of the people.
  • And of course it wouldn’t be a big deal for Bainimarama because he scrapped it once before during the 2000 coup.

But Fiji without a constitution translates to what he have now politically, and magnified a thousandfold. The Constitution is the legal guarantee of the upholding of our liberties as a People of Fiji.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. If you haven’t already familiarized yourselves with the document that keeps the country humming in accordance with law and order, do it today. You might not be able to enjoy the liberties they protect for very much longer.

The assault on media freedom is just the tip of the ice-berg. Next down the food chain is you. This is not scaremongering. It is the simple truth. Time will be our witness.

The fundamental nature of the Constitution is captured very humbly in its Preamble. Sadly we have never seen fit to inculcate a patriotic allegiance to our founding document in our schools. This may be why there is a limited appreciation about the significance of this document and what it safeguards for everyday people.

Perhaps the phobia of this document is heightened by an unfounded notion that it is the lawyers’ domain. It is not. It belongs to and protects teachers, taxi drivers, students, market vendors, fishermen, nurses, doctors, elders, housewives, farmers, retailers, civil servants, those trying to rebuild lives after the floods—all races—all creeds—all faiths—all genders—all ages. All of us. Even those in the military.

The Constitution was agreed by We The People of Fiji then that it would be the founding document for our nation. And so shall it be until We The People decide otherwise. Not Frank, not Chaudhry, not Qarase, not Pramod Rae, not Aiyaz, not Shaista, not Anthony Gates and definitely not Leweni, but We The People.

And We The People must defend the Constitution. Who else is going to do it? Not the IIG. Not the judges. Not the NGOs. Not the media. Not the politicians. Not the lawyers. We. The. People.

Read the preamble. Be inspired. Defend your Constitution.

SEEKING the blessing of God who has always watched over these islands:

RECALLING the events in our history that have made us what we are, especially the settlement of these islands by the ancestors of the indigenous Fijian and Rotuman people; the arrival of forebears of subsequent settlers, including Pacific Islanders, Europeans, Indians and Chinese; the conversion of the indigenous inhabitants of these islands from heathenism to Christianity through the power of the name of Jesus Christ; the enduring influence of Christianity in these islands and its contribution, along with that of other faiths, to the spiritual life of Fiji:

ACKNOWLEDGING our unique constitutional history:

(a) first, the Deed of Cession of 10 October 1874 when Ratu Seru Epenisa Cakobau, Tui Viti and Vunivalu, together with the High Chiefs of Fiji, signifying their loyalty and devotion to Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria, and their acceptance of the divine guidance of God and the rule of law, ceded Fiji to Great Britain, which cession was followed in November 1879 by the cession to Great Britain of Rotuma by the Chiefs of Rotuma;

(b) secondly, our becoming an independent sovereign state when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II promulgated the Fiji Independence Order 1970 under which the Fiji Constitution of 1970 came into being;

(c) thirdly, the abrogation of that Constitution in 1987 by the Constitution Abrogation Decree 1987;

(d) fourthly, after a period of 3 years, the giving to Fiji of the 1990 Constitution by His Excellency the President, Ratu Sir Penaia Kanatabatu. Ganilau, Tui Cakau, GCMG, KCVO, KBE, DSO, KSt J, ED, with the blessings and approval of the Great Council of Chiefs;

(e) fifthly, the review of that Constitution undertaken under its provisions; and

(f) sixthly, the conferral by the High Chiefs of Fiji in their abundant wisdom of their blessings and approval on this Constitution:

RECOGNISING that the descendants of all those who chose to make their homes in these islands form our multicultural society:

AFFIRMING the contributions of all communities to the well-being of that society, and the rich variety of their faiths, traditions, languages and cultures:

TAKING PRIDE in our common citizenship and in the development of our economy and political institutions:

COMMITTING ourselves anew to living in harmony and unity, promoting social justice and the economic and social advancement of all communities, respecting their rights and interests and strengthening our institutions of government:

REAFFIRMING our recognition of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all individuals and groups, safeguarded by adherence to the rule of law, and our respect for human dignity and for the importance of the family,


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are a candle in the wind KTF hope we will meet some day soon.