Monday, April 13, 2009

Sanction Kevin Rudd---Not Fiji! Our ignorance is not bliss.

Sometimes 'ignorance is not bliss', as my mother used to tell me.

And the late American comedian Will Rogers told us that 'we are all ignorant, but on different subjects'.

The memory of these little words of wisdom were provoked by the Fijian 'crisis'.
Over Easter I considered it further. The High Court had last week determined that the Government was not legal and the President should appoint an interim government and proceed with elections.The President moved to appoint himself as Head of State under a new legal order and revoked the 1997 Constitution and that of the High Court. He also appointed Commodore Bainimarama as the Acting Prime Minister.

From a cursory glance it seemed that perhaps Fiji was moving towards a Zimbabwean 'state of chaos' and I expressed as much in a Twitter post.

But the power of social media came to me via a correspondent who communicated the background situation to me and pointed out the stark contrast between the events in Zimbabwe and the events in Fiji.

I was truly humbled to receive the 'good oil' and to be reminded without rancour that it is difficult to get a bead on the affairs of a country from outside its borders.
My correspondent pointed out to me 2 troubling aspects of the present Fijian Constitution:

"The constitution that's just been abrogated has two worrisome provisions in it. The one that's effectively caused the current situation requires that people can only vote for a member of their own race. Voter registration has to be redone for EVERY election -- a big mess. Secondly, the constitution requires that if one political party doesn't have a majority, they MUST "share" government with the second largest party. Not a "coalition", full-out sharing. "

My correspondent then proceeded to speak of the actions of Bainimarara

Bainimarama formed a group of NGO's, politicians and "regular people" to draft a Charter. It's stated objectives are pretty simple: (1) One man - one vote instead of race-based voting and (2) get rid of the endemic corruption in government. Supposedly, 64% of Fiji residents support it -- I don't know how the polling was done which is why I say "supposedly" -- but it's a GOOD document. Idealistic, but good.

Now when it comes to the crunch all that seems quite reasonable. Very few people would support a race-based voting system and the notion of a 'forced' coalition is one most would recognise as being tenuous.

So why does Kevin Rudd condemn these actions in Fiji and mention the possibility of sanctions? Surely he knows more than I do about the situation. He has the Department of Foreign Affairs and the various intelligence agencies to support him and underpin his position.Or is it just spin?

The Fiji Times has today asked that the interim administration 'immediately draft a code of conduct for all holders of public office'. We are used to this type of transparency standard in Australia. Why would we not support an administration in Fiji which is seeking to clean up corruption ?

Lets hope that during the next few weeks and months Australians, and the world ,can come to appreciate what the President of Fiji is trying to achieve.

Fiji deserves our support--- not sanctions!

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