The head of the Burebasaga confederacy Ro Teimumu Kepa has recommended changes to the proposed village by-laws.She made this submission during a Catholic Church of Fiji organized seminar on Reading The Sign Of The Times in Fiji - Catholic Social Teaching And Socio-Political Issues.
Ro Teimumu said that her presentation is based on the submissions heard from the nine tikina in Rewa who agreed, in principle, that the draft village by-laws, with a few proposed amendments, would be better in creating a more conducive environment for the people it is designed for.
She says what was stressed is that the laws to be enacted are to be for the good of the people as a whole rather than for any individual person.
Ro Teimumu says although people may be created in God’s own image and likeness, they, through democracy were given too much freedom.
She spoke about people participating in village commitments.
Ro Teimumu says presently there is no enforcement and an amendment was proposed by several tikina that a penalty fee of $200 to be included. She says some people’s religious beliefs prevented them from undertaking cultural activities, yet when it concerned them, they were beneficiaries of people’s kindness and generosity.
Speaking on the section concerning stray animals destroying crops in the village, Ro Teimumu said that conflicts should be resolved by peaceful means as the draft village by-law proposes that the crop owner after killing the animal is to inform the owner of the slain animal to remove it and if after 6 hours the animal has not been removed, the crop owner may utilize the animal meat. Ro Teimumu says submissions on this section from several tikina were that the animal owner apologize to the farmer and replace or replant the destroyed crops, or the village organizes an impounded area for stray animals.
She says most of the villages disagreed with the section of the draft village by-law that states that people intending to marry should be a home owner. Ro Teimumu says the villages felt this would be a hindrance to young people wishing to marry which will impact on the village population, although they agreed young men should have a plantation for food security.
She also spoke about rights and responsibilities. Ro Teimumu says the social teaching is that rights correspond to the duties and responsibilities to one another, to our families and to the larger society. She says one the concerns expressed in the presentation is the motion that individual human rights overrides group or communal rights especially when they hear people from Suva expressing forcefully through the media the power and authority of human rights.
Ro Teimumu says often quoted is that Fiji is a democracy and everyone has their rights meaning no one can tell a person how to dress or act in a village setting. She also said that Turaga Ni Koros should be well paid as they would be given added responsibilities and also raised the question whether they will be contracted like civil servants.
Ro Teimumu says the Rewans also suggest that the religious committee in the village monitor the activities of all church denominations in the village and for them to actively participate in vanua activities. She says it was also suggested that villagers should cooperate and collaborate in addressing issues of truancy, absenteeism and being used in child labour economic activities.
Ro Teimumu says villagers should also look after the environment. She says she is embarrassed to say that probably 90 percent of the household refuse is discarded through plastic bags into the Rewa River, travels down river, through the qoliqoli areas and ends up on the reef.
Other people present in the Catholic seminar included Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, Niko Nawaikula, Pio Tikoduadua, Fred Caine, some SODELPA and NFP youth, Peter Waqavonovono and Fiji Council of Churches.
We are currently trying to speak to Archbishop Peter Loy Chong. Stay with us for that.