Mr Aiyaz Khaiyum advises NGOs like Citizens Constitutional Forum to not play “Mickey Mouse games” before the elections (Fiji Sun, 5 August 2014). The public should consider that:
(a) The Bainimarama Government has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers money encouraging the voter registration of Fiji citizens living overseas so that they can have a say in electing some candidate for the parliament, even if they have Permanent Residency of and presumably some commitment to other countries.
(b) Civil servants, even if they have been out of the country for the last two years “on government business”, may still be eligible as candidates for the elections, and may even belong to political parties, according to the Permanent Secretary of the PSC.
(c) BUT an ordinary Fiji citizen, like Ms Makareta Waqavonovono, a former Legal Aid and committed senior Fiji government official, who has been overseas for more than 18 months out of the last two years, is declared legally ineligible to be a candidate by a sudden last minute change of the law on the 31st of July 2014, just a month before the elections, after Ms Waqavonovono has already been announced as a candidate by the National Federation Party.
The moribund Fiji Law Society or one of its members, might want to ask the general question if laws are being changed to suit a specific circumstance or individual.
But more specifically, the public can ask why Ms Makareta Waqavonovono, a former senior civil servant, has been overseas for the last two years.
First, she has been guilty of bringing great credit to Fiji by working for AusAID and the Australian Government, arguably the most important donor to Fiji.
Second, she has been using her valuable legal skills in the Solomon Islands, a valuable member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group which Fiji often takes pride in helping, by providing much needed skilled human resources, similar to those possessed by Ms Waqavonovono.
Third, Ms Waqavonovono apparently has had the unpatriotic desire to waste her time and money by studying overseas (in Australia) and acquiring further educational qualifications that will undoubtedly be of great benefit to Fiji.
But with this latest decree by Mr Aiyaz Khaiyum (Attorney General and, apparently without any conflict of interest, also the General Secretary of the Fiji First Party), Ms Waqavonovono has been banned from offering to voters, the use of her extensive legal experience in the Fiji Parliament, the most important public service arena there is, superior even to the Government..
Anyone with common sense knows who exactly is playing “Mickey Mouse” games in Fiji with the elections and our people’s lives.
Professor Wadan Narsey