Sunday, July 22, 2007
Do Fijians speak up for themselves?
An interesting point was raised at the Fiji Law Society's Annual Convention this week, (among other politically focussed matters) about consultations at the grass roots level with Fijian people about what they really experience and want for their futures. Often it is 'experts' or academics or paternalistic 'carers' or politicians or people with 'status' who speak on their behalf, the speaker implied.
A few decades ago it was considered proper and polite to be silent, not to question, not to argue a point. These days many young educated Fijians do speak up loud and clear - well, some are on blog sites, or forums, or write letters to the editor of the papers and do have their say. And there certainly is a variety of views. So the lawyers who put the case of not being consulted have over-stated the case.
However, Fijian people, especially men, are often meeting and discussing issues about their lives. The difficulty is whether anything ever get done! Another problem is that more often than not, the conservative voice gets heard loud and clear and the dissident or imaginative younger men's and women's views are dismissed.
Is that so, or have I misunderstood?
23-Jul-2007 10:31 AM
Fijian people must be heard: lawyer
THE Fijian people must be consulted if efforts to review the Fijian administration adversely affects them, says a prominent Fjian lawyer. Kitione Vuataki says any such review must also take into account the concerns of the indigenous population.Vuataki made the comments while speaking at the Fiji Law Society’s 51st Annual Convention in Nadi yesterday.
“Unilateral review is not the binding of us together under the law as stated by Cakobau on HMS Dido on September 25, 1874, or under Section 6(d) of the 1997 Constitution,” he added. “The task of Fijian administration to find out through its various councils what is best for the Fijian people is now overlaid with the constitutional role of the Great Council of Chiefs to know what is best for all people in Fiji with regard to the positions of president and vice president of Fiji .”
He added that although the country had come a long way from HMS Dido, hopefully binding the people together by law as hoped for by Ratu Seru Cakobau would continue.
“The canoe is sailing but he who takes the helm must always have this duty in mind whether a passer-by as spoken of by Ratu Cakobau or even from within,” Vuataki stressed.
Meanwhile, former Vice President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi echoed similar sentiments saying that he could uphold what Vuataki said about the need to have an enagagement with the Fijian people at all levels particularly at the village and in the urban and peri-urban areas.
“The ordinary Fijians’ whose voices in all of this is often lost because other people speak on their behalf whether its chiefs, their ministers, their mataqali or yavusa leaders and their voices don’t often get heard in this discord,” Ratu Joni said. “And there is a very real need to hear what they actually think but it will be a difficult process because it will also depend on how you both phrase the debate and shape it.
“Often it is very difficult to get the sense of what people really think unless you have them on their own and you are having a very frank and open discussion and lets you actually know what they want to say and not just what you want to hear.”
By KIRTI SHARMA