It's hard to get away from the media chatter about the 'charter' as the Methodist Church has come out firmly stating its position. Don't know the meaning of the photothough in today's Fiji Sun taken on the steps of Centenary Church!
August 26, 2008
From the Methodist Church in Fiji
The Methodist Church Conference has decided to reject the draft People’s charter on the ground that it cannot support a process and outcome that is not based on the rule of law, has no basis in the Constitution and where the enacting authority has no mandate from the people.
The Conference has decided instead to urge the interim government to honor the promise by interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to hold a general election by March 2009.
“The Conference is very concerned of so much suffering and poverty and the Nation and people must not be subjected to any further hardships which could result from further sanctions by our neighbors and the international community” says the General Secretary Elect Rev Tuikilakila Waqairatu.
In its submission to the interim Prime Minister in June 2007, the Methodist Church had asked that the interim government put a stop to its intention to enact a charter.
Rev Waqairatu says “In their annual meetings last May, fifty of the fifty divisions of the Church Fiji-wide have indicated they do not support the charter. The Church’s decision to reject the charter proposal is based on such mandate.
“While the charter proposes some noble principles, the Conference is of the view that the interim government and the National Council for Building a Better Fiji do not have any moral or legal authority to impose it on the people.”
“The draft charter proposes to develop a moral vision for the common good. However, there are numerous historical examples of the failure of moral declarations to create a good society. The inquisition, the repressive laws of fundamentalist states and coups that persecute and terrorize the community in our times are part of historical evidence which confirm the inability of human law to enforce morality in any society. True justice and morality cannot be created by legislation and coercion. It can come only as the fruit of free moral choice. Declarations in the charter and laws that are written in statute books but not in the hearts of people are not worth the paper they are written on.”
“The Conference holds that it is in all our interest to support the rule of law; any attempt to impose and legitimize the charter outside the Constitution and by an authority which does not have the people’s mandate is morally unacceptable. It defies God’s authority because it lacks any legal basis; and it limits the free choice of the people to act according to their conscience”
With respect to proposals in the charter to de-racialise politics by removing communal seats, Rev Waqairatu says: “We believe that the most powerful influence that drive communal politics is not race, but the perception of racial economic inequality. So de-racialising politics in Fiji cannot be successful without first de-racialising the perception of economic inequality between our racial groups. Therefore, any insensitive reforms to merely decentralize political communal representation will not lead to unity, but could instead be a cause of future contention.”
Rev Waqairau added: “The Conference holds that in our multiracial, multicultural Nation, it would be to our own detriment if race based, constitutionally allowed affirmative action and communal-based electoral systems were dismantled contrary to the expressed will of the majority and contrary to the rule of law and the Constitution.”
Concerning the proposal for interfaith services and dialogue, Rev Waqairatu states: ”The Conference affirms the pivotal Christian belief that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and salvation. So while the Methodist Church supports peaceful dialogue and a harmonious community, it cannot support a document which, for the sake of political correctness, sacrifices the very essence of the Christian faith.
On the proposal for a common name for all the people, Rev Waqairatu says that the Conference was of the view that the term ‘Fijian’ quite clearly refers to indigenous people of Fiji as stipulated in our Constitution. “The term ‘Fijian’ refers to the legal ownership of land and other assets. It would be more responsible if the NCBBF had instead recommended for more frank and good faith negotiation with the Fijian community on the matter of a common name.”