Fiji Sun Editorial 08/08/08
The draft People’s Charter must be rejected. It must be rejected emphatically and finally. Behind a very thin veil of “motherhood” statements on transparency, equality, good governance and unity it is no more than a blueprint for military dictatorship. The so-called expanded role of the army sets it above parliament and above the constitution that it claims to support while that same army over the last 18 months has showed not the slightest inclination to embrace the principles the charter so devoutly proclaims. The charter will hand control of our economic, social and even legal lives to an unelected military that has an agenda of its own. At the same time, as all can see, its record of running the nation over the past 18 months has been less than inspirational. It has lost the confidence and the support of the people to whom it must now hand back power at the earliest possible moment. The charter consultation process is aimed purely and simply at contriving a semblance of public acceptance for a document whose comforting rhetoric fails entirely to conceal its chilling reality. More power for the military, more power for the ombudsman, more power for the Fiji Human Rights Commission – do they really think the people do not know what that means? In the “newspeak” of the draft People’s Charter it means more power to the organs of repression and suppression. And it renders all the more urgent the establishment of a human rights body that will actually stand up for human rights. And what of the Fiji Islanders who have collaborated in this? The place seekers and the power hungry can be understood if not forgiven. But the rest have sucked contentedly at the public breast while selling out the rights and freedoms of their fellow citizens. And now they ask for more. Shame on them. Shame on every single one of them. Fiji’s best, perhaps only, hopes now are the constitution and the judiciary. The constitution must be upheld as the supreme law of the land as passed by an elected parliament and that can only mean outright rejection of the draft People’s Charter once and for all. The notion that the charter will somehow support the constitution is pure nonsense. How can it support something it so plainly subverts? For all its talk of abolishing poverty by 2015, this charter through its creation of an unelected minority that will hold the real power will perpetuate and increase it as the twin cancers cronyism and corruption invade all unelected regimes. For Fiji’s sake, this has to be rejected.
And by the way
This newspaper wholeheartedly supports interim finance minister Mahendra Chaudhry in his call for an election now that the draft People’s Charter has been published. In fact the interim regime could save the people of Fiji millions of dollars by abandoning the charade of public “consultations” on the charter when the outcome is a foregone conclusion. This would give the state apparatus sufficient time to prepare the election machinery in time for the promised poll in March next year. Let the regime impose the charter if it so wishes and let the election be its proper consultation process. It’s time to let the people decide. And the only reliable way is through an election.