Once again the Methodist Church in Fiji leaders in Suva have made a statement that has upset the military interim government, this time in response to the plan to set up an action group/committee/forum/NCBBF (Fiji loves acronyms) to 'go forward'. Once again Rev Tui has led the church in a forthright statement. Last time this happened, the hierarchy backed down and dithered a bit.
So should the church be on about private spirituality or public life? Is the Kingdom of God about the here and now, or just about an imaginary future/Heaven? I like Tui and I find it offensive when writers in the 'comments' in the Fiji Times are mainly telling him and his like to get back to their soapbox preaching instead of being involved with politics. To me, to sit on the fence is wrong. Jesus was a political person too.
So will the military take offence now and say, hey you, we will send our 'watchers' to your conference in Macuata to make sure you don't incite people! Insight or incite - whatever.
from today's Fiji Times.
Churches oppose national council initiative
BRENDA RAGI and SERA JANINE
Thursday, June 14, 2007
TWO Christian church groups have opposed the setting up of a National Council for Building a Better Fiji.
The Methodist Church in Fiji which enjoys the biggest membership among the Christian churches claims it has the support of its 200,000-plus members. It released a joint statement with the Association of Christian Churches yesterday. The submission is one of the 50 received by the interim administration so far.
They had sought submissions from 150 organisations and individuals. Permanent secretary in the Prime Minister's Office Parmesh Chand said the submissions were being analysed before being taken to the cabinet sub-committee formed to look into them. The Methodist Church submission calls on the interim Government to immediately stop the council's formation.
This it says is because:
The interim Government has no popular mandate and should restrict itself to taking the nation back to civilian rule through a general election and the restoration of full democracy within the earliest possible timeframe.
After the 1987 coup, a similar operation named "Veivueti" was set up for the same purpose, which led to the politicisation and weakening of some institutions of State and the collapse of the National Bank of Fiji.
Policy initiatives should be left to the elected representatives of the people.
The charter specifies that to achieve its objectives, a 40-member council is to be set up by the President. The church says this is unconstitutional and illegal.
With the suspension of the members of the Great Council of Chiefs, the churches are concerned about the legality of any policy measures affecting Fijian land and administration.
Speaking on behalf of the churches, Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu stressed the concern over the exclusion of key people in the ousted government.
"The churches are concerned that in promoting unity, the interim Government has excluded a major political grouping and elected representatives of a large part of our community," he said.
"It is of serious concern that the nation's elected Prime Minister and the leader of the elected majority government ousted by the military coup in 2006 have been excluded from participating in the discussions on this charter." The churches also condemned the appointment of senior military officers to key government positions.
They specifically referred to the appointment of deputy military commander Captain Esala Teleni as Police Commissioner.
"The churches strongly condemn the politicisation of appointments, and say that it is the worst form of corruption,'' he said.
"The appointment of the deputy military commander to the position of Police Commissioner is illegal and morally wrong in view of pending cases against the military over the December takeover of the elected government."
The submission was sent to interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama on Tuesday and copied to the President, US ambassador, High Commissioners of Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, and the secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
Mr Chand said he respected the views of the churches.
"If they feel this way about these matters then it is well within their rights and we respect that,'' he said.
"This is the whole purpose of seeking submissions on the proposed set-up of the national charter, to get people's view on it."
He also clarified that the NCBBF has not been formed yet so people should not feel they were being left out.
The closing date for the submissions has been extended to Tuesday.
Submissions have also been received from the Fiji Muslim League, the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, the Fiji Islands Hotels and Tourism Association, Fijian Holdings Limited, University of the South Pacific, Fiji Disabled Peoples' Association, University of Fiji, Fiji Chamber of Commerce, the Catholic Church, the Rotuma Council, the Rabi Council and Tailevu Provincial Council.
An Anglican perspective on the situation in Fiji can be found in a publication from New Zealand.