Postdate: 12/ 06/ 2008
Fiji Daily Post
Letter to Editor
The leaked paper of Fr. David Arms that Tui Savu quotes from (DP 12/06/08) is an earlier draft of the paper on Electoral Reform that Fr. David Arms was commissioned to prepare for the NCBBF Working Groups. It represents his own view and not that of the NCBBF. The final edited paper that was considered by the Working Group on Electoral Reforms does not contain the personal view of Fr. Arms. There is no need for me to condemn Fr. Arms who I hold in high regard. Article 30(1) of the Constitution says:
“Every person has the right to Freedom of Speech and Expression including:
(a) Freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas”.
Fr. Arms has the right to impart his ideas to other though we may disagree with him.
With regards to Mr Savu’s wrong interpretation of the history of multi-party government, CCF is on public record as supporting the formation of multi-party government under the provisions of the Constitution by the Chaudhry-led government in 1999, as well as the SDL government led by Qarase in May 2006. CCF also publicly opposed the removal of the Qarase government before it happened and when it happened. We also worked behind the scene to try and prevent the possibility of another coup.
My involvement in the NCBBF is part of our organisation’s effort to help return Fiji to a Constitutional democracy that will be better and will not be threatened by coups in future. CCF takes a practical approach to achieve its aims.
With regard to the Qoliqoli Bill, CCF had opposed it because it was proposing to legislate a right that Fijians already have. It was merely playing to the emotions of extreme ethno-nationalists and there was no substance to the belief that Fijians would gain financially from having their customary right legislated. Can Tui Savu substantiate just what indigenous Fijians stood to gain concretely from the Qoliqoli Bill?
The Bill also gravely distorted customary rights and that would have been the cause of serious conflict between indigenous Fijians. The powers it created were likely to be abused, as this was already happening in anticipation of the Bill. Fishing rights owners were already demanding money from tourists for swimming in the sea and disputes between Fijians about undetermined boundaries were already escalating.
Mr Savu quoted from the Justice Scott Judgement and asked me to take note of what the Judge said. That was in relation to the Judge’s peculiar interpretation of the doctrine of necessity to justify the unconstitutional election of September 2001. Mr Savu needs to read the Court of Appeals Judge’s opinion of Justice Scott’s interpretation of the doctrine of necessity. They did not agree with him but then said it was a moot point because an irreversible election had already taken place.
I say, Justice Scott’s point about “excessive legalism” and the quotation from William Blake about the “errors of a wise make your rule, rather than the perfection of fools” are words that he himself needs to ponder in relation to his pointless criticism of the CCF and myself. Justice Scott’s advice is apt – if it applies to me, then it must also apply to Savu.
Rev Akuila Yabaki