Vere’s claim needs to be seen first

Postdate: 8/ 12/ 2004

8th December, 2004 Fax: 3301521 Editor Fiji Times SUVA.

Dear Editor Nothing in what Ravuama Vere (8/12/04) said about how voters go about forming their opinions stands up to scrutiny. Vere’s claim for majority Fijian support for the SDL party needs to be seen first from the perspective of the 2001 General Elections result. Of the total of 649,773 votes cast in the Communal and Open seats constituencies, the SDL got 169,227 or 26%. Of the total votes cast in the Fijian Communal constituencies, the SDL got 83,506 or 50.07% of the Fijian votes. Just barely half of the Fijian Communal votes and just over a quarter of the total national votes is not credible basis for Vere’s claim that the SDL had a majority mandate to govern. Furthermore, the majority Fijian support he claims for SDL is waning as per Tebutt Times Poll published in your paper the same day. Prime Mnister Laisenia Qarase’s Fijian support has declined from 81% in August 2004 to 72% in December 2004. Qarase’s Indian support has dropped as well from 38% to 34% in the same period. With Mahendra Chaudry as FLP Leader his Fijian support has grown from 28% to 37%.

In another report the same day the Naitasiri Provincial Council took decision to stand for equality under the rule of law and not to seek either CSO or a Prerogative of Mercy Commission consideration for their imprisoned high chief. Why the shift, one might ask. One response could be that the decline in support for the SDL is attributed to a sea change now emerging in public opinion. The SDL party could be left stranded, courting an ethno-nationalist agenda which is a figment of its own imagination when voters have become wiser and calculating and may be willing to move into a multicultural mode. . At a time when they need their leaders to be visionary and inclusive all our voters get is manipulative rhetoric uttered by some Senators whose very existence is in itself a threat to the rule of law. There you have SDL Appointees who make a living from attacking the constitution, the rule of law and the judiciary. If Senators like Apisai Tora were allowed to have their way, it would be a recipe for turning Fiji into a banana republic. Voters are turning their backs on the coup culture and through rethinking and reassessing the quality of leadership they have had to put up with are turning towards observance of the rule of law for the good of their children and their children’s children.

Vere should accept the fact that people overseas have legitimate concerns for happenings in Fiji hence they have every reason to comment. Any slight instability in the region is a matter of concern to Pacific Forum countries as signified in the Biketawa Declaration, for instance. Any diminishing of respect for law and order in one country whether we like it or not is the business of others in the region. More of that I am afraid is going to happen in the 21st century.

Sincerely Rev. Akuila D. Yabaki CCF, Suva.

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