Check out this article which states that Scientists at the University of Southampton have helped create a technique that can cause cancer cells to self-destruct
FIJI AIRWAYS ANNOUNCES FY2012/2013 FINANCIAL RESULTS
Investment in new aircraft, products and services key result-drivers
Nadi, Fiji – Air Pacific Ltd., which rebranded to ‘Fiji Airways’ just over three weeks ago, today announced its financial results for the fiscal year ended 31 March 2013 (1 April 2012 – 31 March 2013). Mr. Nalin Patel, Chairman of Board of Directors of Air Pacific Limited Trading as Fiji Airways, said that the airline and its consolidated group (Air Pacific Group) both made operating profits. (Air Pacific Group comprises Fiji Airways, its wholly owned subsidiary Pacific Sun, and a 38.75% stake in the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa on Denarau Island). Fiji Airways had another record breaking year in terms of its revenue and passenger numbers.
- Fiji Airways reported a profit before income tax of $18.0m, compared to a profit before income tax of $16.5m for 2011/12. Excluding prior period adjustments, Fiji Airways delivered an underlying profit before income tax of $9.5m.
- Air Pacific Group reported a profit before income tax of $22.4m, compared to a profit before income tax of $14.2m for 2011/12. Excluding prior period adjustments, Air Pacific Group delivered a profit before income tax of $13.4m.
On a net basis, Fiji Airways reported an after tax profit of $14.1m and Air Pacific Group reported an after tax profit of $17.8m (versus after tax profits of $11.4m and $10.7m respectively for 2011/12). In addition, and before any further increase in the size of its fleet, Fiji Airways increased annual revenue by $13.8m compared to 2011/2012, and by $104.3m compared to FY2010/2011. The airline also carried 14,167 more passengers than in 2011/12, and 99,649 more passengers than in 2010/2011.
Mr. Patel attributed the airline’s decrease in underlying operating profit this year to the floods in April 2012, Cyclone Evan in December 2012, expenditures related to rebranding the airline, and costs related to preparation for induction of its airline’s new fleet of Airbus A330 aircraft.
“Given that we initially expected to make a loss during this transition year, wherein we are exiting our older B747s and inducting our first ever owned A330 wide-body aircraft, I’m quite pleased with our results for 2012/13,” Mr. Patel said. “These results handily beat our business plan, and I continue to be thrilled with the successful turnaround of Fiji’s national airline. Credit for this must be given to our dedicated and hard-working employees.”
“Just three short years ago we experienced the biggest loss in our history, so a second year of sustained operating profit is a good result. Our focus is now on inducting our new A330s and expediting efficiencies in our fleet and schedule this year.”
Mr. Patel added that confidence in the airline’s business plan was underscored by the support of German banks KfW IPEX-Bank and Helaba, who are financing the airline’s brand new A330 aircraft, backed by the Export Credits Guarantee Department of the British Government (ECGD).
“We have consistently stated that our restructure and turnaround plan is an on-going process, and we are still not done yet. Our team knows that there is a lot of hard work and commitment required to see the changes through to completion. Our plan is to build a platform to be sustainably profitable and to allow our staff, shareholders and the entire country to benefit from our success.”
“We remain ever mindful of the possible challenges posed by market uncertainty, a slowdown of major world economies, and the ever-present threat of further volatility in oil prices. Just three weeks ago we re-launched Air Pacific as Fiji Airways and we are thrilled by how well our rebranding efforts have been received both here in Fiji and abroad. We have always felt we are a small airline which punches well above its weight, and public and customer reactions to our new planes and new branding are proving us right. With brand new aircraft, new on board features like angled lie-flat beds, state of the art Panasonic in-flight entertainment, and a new Fijian service proposition, our customers will definitely have the best flying experience in the South Pacific.”
The draft 2013 Fiji Constitution released on March 21 by the Prime Minister has attracted much criticism, not all of it fair. There has been a lot of hoopla associated with the Bill of Rights (Chapter 2) provisions in the draft, for example the strident claims that they are not the same as the rights provisions in the 1997 Constitution or other constitutions. An interesting criticism is that the limitations to rights in the government’s 2013 draft are longer than the rights themselves; however, everyone should look at the limitations in the 1997 Constitution before coming to that conclusion.
In addition, these critics should carefully study the 1970 Constitution’s Fundamental Rights chapter (Chapter II) to note the limitations set out there. Even the right to life is limited in identical terms as in the government’s draft. A recent comment from one of the NGOs was that the ‘right to life’ should not be limited. If that were the case, a government could easily find it appropriate to prohibit the right to abortion. Even the UN”s Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains a blanket rights limitation- note Article 29. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Human Rights Committee do explain what these limitations mean.
In the fervour to protest against the government’s draft constitution people need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water!
Of course there are some serious deficiencies in the government’s draft, including in the Bill of Rights provisions, but rights limitation clauses are not the main problem. The main problem is that there is no definition of ‘human rights’ in the interpretation section of the Constitution and one has to rely on the definition provided in the Human Rights Commission Decree 2009 which is, of course, quite wrong.
There is a very good reason for convening a constituent assembly as promised and that is that some of the inconsistencies in the government’s draft can be discussed and ironed out. The public meetings that are being held currently by the government are not sufficient for the technical exercise that is required to draft a legally robust constitution for the future.
Dr Shaista Shameem
April 6 2013.
The AG’s Golden Boy, will not be here to see the Airbus restructure completed, the big spender is now the Big Sprinter, what will the AG do now ??
Pflieger’s record as CEO needs to be contextualised on the basis that he could not get commercial banks to fund his plans but from a pension fund, with help from an illegal regime. It seems normal market forces had no faith in his plans.
So Pflieger has nothing to show for during his time as CEO except perhaps an impending disaster waiting to unfold in the wake of the mess he left behind if comments on this blog from seemingly well placed sources are anything to go by.
Fiji Man February 10, 2013 at 9:37 PM
HE Ratu Epeli Nailatikau LVO, OBE,CSM,MSD,OStJ, jssc,psc
Republic of Fiji
re: Proposed constitutional process and
Fiji’s return to democratic rule
We, the legitimate representatives of an overwhelming majority of the people of Fiji, write to you to express our anxiety at the manner in which the proposed constitutional process and the return to democratic rule via general elections is being driven by the current administration.
First and foremost, Sir, it is imperative to ensure the credibility and legitimacy of any roadmap that is adopted to return our nation to constitutional rule.The roadmap proposed by the interim Prime Minister does not meet this important requirement. Further, we are concerned that it has been unilaterally imposed on the people of Fiji without any consultation with the legitimate representatives of the people.
In our view, the legitimate way forward for the country is to abide by the decision of the Fiji Court of Appeal judgment of 9 April 2009. As advised in the judgment, a caretaker cabinet should be appointed with the specific mandate to oversee the process of holding general elections and restoring constitutional rule within a realistic time frame.
The Constitution Making Process
Firstly, members of the Constitutional Commission were appointed by the regime without any consultation with key stakeholders. There are serious reservations about the independence of certain members of the Commission who are perceived by the people to be too close to the current administration.
Secondly, the restrictive environment in which the constitutional process is taking place, will not encourage free and open discussions on the subject. Draconian decrees that suspend and violate human rights especially the right to freedom of expression, assembly and association, remain in force as instruments of fear and intimidation. The local media is still operating under constraints that undermine its freedom to disseminate news fairly and in a balanced manner without fear of repercussions from the regime.
There are credible reports of a certain media organization being threatened by the interim Attorney General following its interviews of two prominent leaders of political parties.
A State sponsored civic education programme on constitution making has begun but key stakeholders, such as, political parties, trade unions and other important civil society organisations have been excluded from participating and/or playing an active role in this exercise.
It is also a matter of grave concern that military officers and civil servants are assigned to head the civic education programme.
Moreover, threats by the RFMF warning people not to “mess with the Army” make a mockery of the initial assurances by the interim Prime Minister that people will be free to openly state their views on the proposed constitution.
The requirement that political parties and trade unions seek separate permits for each consultation/discussion meeting has now been relaxed but political leaders and party activists are still being closely monitored and harassed by the security forces.
We re-iterate, no meaningful dialogue or consultations can take place in such a restrictive climate. In short the process is not inclusive or participatory and it lacks credibility and legitimacy.
Thirdly, the composition of the Constituent Assembly which according to the interim Prime Minister’s statement of March 9 will finally decide the constitution, has not been fully disclosed. There is widespread concern that it may be stacked to ensure a particular outcome. The Prime Minister has full control over appointments to the Assembly. This, in itself, undermines its independence and integrity.
We note with some concern a recent government announcement that chair persons of provincial councils will, from this year, be appointed by the Minister and not elected by members of the respective councils as had been the case in the past. There is little doubt, judging from past practice in such matters, that provincial councils will be invited to be members of the constituent assembly.
Furthermore, why are appointments to the Constituent Assembly put back to December 2012, just days before it is to begin its deliberations? Why has there not been any consultation on the subject?
The Role of the Military
There is one significant omission from the interim Prime Minister’s list of essentials that must be written into any new constitution. We refer to the role of the military in any future governance of Fiji. We note the reluctance of the regime to permit free and full discussions on the role of the military.
Whether the constitution is re-written or not, the role of the military has to be thoroughly considered and finalized once and for all. The Army has been responsible for trashing our constitution thrice. Fiji has to ensure this does not happen again otherwise the nation could be treading the same path again and again in the future.
The Electoral System
The interim Prime Minister says the subject of an electoral system is non-negotiable. The regime’s position here is for proportional representation based on one man, one vote, one value. We disagree. This is a crucial issue in ensuring racial harmony and political stability in the future and must be put to open discussions so that a fully representative system which respects the rights of the minority communities can be found.
The significance of reserved seats for different ethnic communities that make up the nation cannot be brushed aside in a multi-ethnic and multicultural country like ours, more so, in light of our political history.
The Electoral Process
There is much that is questionable about the manner in which the electoral process is being implemented. The Attorney General’s office has taken charge of the voter registration process when it should be the responsibility of the Office of the Supervisor of Elections. In the interest of credibility, it is vital that the entire electoral process, including that of voter registration, be completely detached from the current administration.
The provisions of the Electoral Act and Regulations were arbitrarily amended by a Decree to assign this responsibility to the Attorney General’s office. The chair of the Constitutional Commission has also been critical of the interim regime assuming charge of the electoral process, saying that it undermines the integrity of the process as it is likely that some members of the current administration may be competing in the forthcoming elections.
The following appointments are essential to oversee the entire electoral process, independent of the regime and political parties:
Supervisor of Elections
In the absence of a Constitutional Offices Commission (1997 Constitution), these appointments should be made by the President on the advice of a caretaker administration(see Para 24) after due consultations with key stakeholders.
The promulgation of Decrees 57 and 58 undermine the independence, integrity and credibility of the process. The provisions therein relating to the grant of immunity from prosecution to the perpetrators of the 2006, 2000 and 1987 coups and the absolute powers of appointment of the Constituent Assembly conferred on the interim Prime Minister, make a mockery of the entire constitutional process.
It is significant that the Chair and members of the Constitutional Commission have said that as much and we quote below from the media release issued by the Commission on 19 July 2012:
“Nonetheless there are a number of aspects of the Decrees about which we are concerned.
First, although the Constituent Assembly Decree lists some of the groups that will be represented in the CA (such as political parties, trade unions, women, the military, and civil society etc.), it gives the Prime Minister full control over the size and composition of the Constituent Assembly. There is no indication of how many members will be drawn from each sector or what other sectors might be included. There is also no provision giving the groups that are represented a say in who should represent them in the Assembly. The Prime Minister will also appoint the Speaker of the Assembly.
These arrangements effectively mean that the essential principles of democracy are ignored and the independence of the Assembly is negated. In the light of the fact that members of the present government may wish to compete in the forthcoming elections, it is particularly important that they should not control the process that will, among other things, set out the rules for the elections. This will undermine the credibility of those elections.
Secondly, the Decrees require a broad immunity provision for the 2006 and earlier coups to be entrenched in the new constitution. Among other things, the new constitution is to grant the same, broad immunity for actions up to the first meeting of a new Parliament to members of the government, administration and security forces as was granted by decree in 2010. This type of prospective immunity is most unusual, perhaps unique, and, we believe, undesirable. The only exception is that the new constitution is not required to give immunity for common crimes (such as murder and assault) committed after the date of issue of these Decrees.
The Commission recognizes that immunity has been given in the past and that the immunity required in the new constitution is similar to those immunities and it also understands that the issue of immunity must be considered in the process of transitioning to democracy. However, we are concerned that the people of Fiji have not been consulted in any way on this important matter.
We believe that a better approach would be for the question of immunity to be part of the constitution-making process. If immunity was part of the process, it could be discussed through submissions to the Commission and debate in the Constituent Assembly. Then a solution could be reached that citizens believe would promote the transition to democracy and contribute to a sustained democracy as envisaged in the Preamble to the Decrees.
Thirdly, although the temporary suspension of the requirement of permits for meetings is an important step forward, we are concerned that the current atmosphere in Fiji is not conducive to an open process in which Fijians can debate their future properly. Controls over the media and the wide reaching powers of the security forces in this regard are particularly worrying, as is the fact that generally people have no redress for actions taken against them by the state because the right of access to the courts has been removed.
An important part of the process for the constitution making should be the bringing together of all the people of Fiji to discuss freely, and agree on, the future of their country. It should be an occasion for national reconciliation, acknowledging the violation of human rights and other abuses of power, and to commit the nation to a vision of Fiji based on democracy and respect for human rights, and a determination to overcome the divisions of the past. This task requires the full participation of the people in the process, and the freedom of their representatives in the Constituent Assembly to negotiate a settlement that enjoys wide support in the nation.”
These comments must not be taken lightly. Indeed, they make a highly cogent case for not proceeding with the constitution making exercise as fashioned by Decrees 57 and 58 to which Your Excellency, most regrettably, gave his assent. The Commission clearly recognizes that the process is being controlled by the interim administration to protect their own interest. In the event we urge Your Excellency to consider the alternative which we outline hereunder:
The Legitimate Way Forward
In our view, the only legitimate course of action that should be followed to return to the rule of law and constitutional rule, is to revert to the Fiji Court of Appeal judgment of 9 April 2009 (Qarase vs Bainimarama-Civil Appeal No ABU 0077 of 2008s).
The Appeals Court had found that the dismissal of the SDL government and the dissolution of Parliament were unlawful and in breach of the Fiji Constitution; and that the 1997 Constitution was still in force and had not been abrogated. It further held that the appointments of the Army Commander, as Prime Minister, and that of his ministers were not validly made.
In acknowledgement of the realities of the situation, however, namely, that a defacto government had been in office for the past two years, (in paragraph 156 of the judgment)their Lordships held that:
“The only appropriate course at the present time is for elections to be held that enable Fiji to get a fresh start.
Taking cognizance of the principle of necessity… for the purposes of these proceedings, it is advisable for the President to appoint a distinguished person independent of the parties in litigation as caretaker prime minister to advice dissolution of Parliament and direct the issuance of writs for an election under s60 of the Fiji Constitution. This is to enable Fiji to be restored to constitutional rule in accordance with the Constitution.”
Your Excellency, we hold that the course of action advised in the judgment should be followed. A caretaker administration should be appointed with the specific mandate to oversee the process of holding general elections and restoring constitutional rule, within a realistic time frame. This should be no longer than 12 months as we deem it is possible to hold credible elections within that period.
We, respectfully, propose that Your Excellency give serious consideration to act on the advice rendered in the Fiji Court of Appeal decision to appoint a caretaker Prime Minister – a distinguished person, independent of the political parties and the regime and one in whom our people can repose confidence – to advice dissolution of Parliament and direct the issuance of writs for an election under Section 60 of the Fiji Constitution.
The caretaker administration should then assume full responsibility for the constitutional and electoral process.
A President’s Political Dialogue Forum (PPDF) can be established following the appointment of the caretaker administration. The mission of the PPDF would be to assist the caretaker government in obtaining consensus on the roadmap for the restoration of constitutional government via free, fair and credible general elections.
Our feedback from the people is that there is overwhelming support for the 1997 Constitution to be retained. Any changes to it can be discussed and agreed to in the PPDF. The constitutional Commission can be tasked to write a draft national charter using the 1997 Constitution as the base (reference) document. There is no need to rewrite the entire constitution as the 1997 Constitution was promulgated after wide consultations with the people.
Your Excellency, Fiji no longer has the luxury of time on its side. Conditions have deteriorated considerably in the past five years and our people are being held to ransom while those in authority abuse the power that they have usurped.
The President’s mandate to the interim administration given in January 2007, remains unfulfilled. There has been constant rhetoric from the regime that it will spend the first three years (2009 to 2012) on “reforms” such as rebuilding the economy and fixing up the infrastructure. To date, there is little to show for it. The economy continues to be in recession and much of our infrastructure has deteriorated considerably, both in the urban and rural areas.
State finances are more precarious now than they were in 2006; the national debt crisis has deepened with State borrowings having risen sharply in the past three years. We are now borrowing new money to repay old debts.
Poverty levels have escalated with at least 40% of the population living in absolute poverty according to credible sources – indicative of the hardship facing our people. Business confidence is so low that private investment levels sank to a worrying 2% of the GDP last year.
FNPF’s decision to cut pension rates down to 8.7% from the current rates ranging from 25% to 15%, will cause severe hardship to many of the nation’s elderly. It is a worry even for future pensioners considering that some 60% of Fiji’s workers receive wages that are below the poverty line. In a country where there is no social security net, the majority of Fiji’s senior citizens will no longer be able to retire in dignity and on a livable pension.
Key sectors of the economy are deeply troubled. The sugar industry is in a highly critical state with sugar production virtually halved, down from 330,000 tonnes in 2006 to 165,000 tonnes in 2011. The Fiji Sugar Corporation is insolvent, surviving on borrowed funds and government grants.
The Corporation registered a loss of $37m for the 2011 financial year, its total borrowings stand at $218m and it faced debt repayment commitments of $113m for the year ending 31 May 2012 which it was unable to meet, according to the 2011 report of the independent auditors of FSC.
Air Pacific is similarly placed with heavy financial losses -$92million sustained in the 2010 financial year, reduced to a $3.6m ‘book’loss last year. But the actual loss is believed to be much higher. Recent announcement of a$11m profit last financial year is viewed with a great deal of scepticism by financial experts in the absence of published audited accounts of the airline.
Other troubled public entities are: FNPF, PAFCO, Hardwood Corporation, Telecom Fiji, Post Fiji and Tropik Woods.
Official corruption is rife and there is no accountability or transparency in government’s dealings. Government accounts and the Auditor General’s reports have not been published for public scrutiny since 2008. It is significant that Transparency International gave Fiji zero out of 100 points in a survey about budget transparency in 2010, saying it is “virtually impossible for Fiji citizens to hold its government accountable for its management of the public’s money”.
The Asian Development Bank in its latest economic survey, Outlook 2012 released in April has warned that unless the debt to GDP ratio is reduced significantly, there would be little scope for further fiscal expansion and the provision of public services would be adversely affected. It also warned that Fiji’s medium term macro-economic outlook was “weak and foreshadows greater poverty challenges”.
Your Excellency, urgent action is needed to stabilize State finances, revitalize the economy, restore investor confidence, and deal with the worsening social issues of poverty, unemployment, housing, health care and rising crime levels.
The current administration has been unable to demonstrate that it has either the competence or the acumen to deal with these issues. The past five years have illustrated this quite graphically. It has failed on various counts with dire consequences for our people and the future of Fiji as a viable State.
The following developments also cause a great deal of anxiety about Fiji’s future: massive outmigration of skilled people who do not see a future here influx of foreign nationals with questionable intent. There are reports linking them with drugs, prostitution and gambling rackets etc high rate of unemployment among youths the dismantling of democratic entities and traditional indigenous Fijian institutions serious violations of human rights – as cited in independent reports (Amnesty International, UN Human Rights Council, US State DepartmentReport on Human Rights, ILO Report on Trade Union rights – ILO Case No. 2723) promulgation of draconian decrees which curtail or completely deprive the workers of their rights to organize and bargain collectively – a gross violation of ILO Conventions 87 and 98 which have been ratified by Fiji interference with the independence and integrity of the judiciary is respect for the rule of law as clearly demonstrated by the promulgation of various draconian decrees that debase human rights and compromise the rule of law, including interference with due judicial processes
The entire nation is held to ransom by a small group of individuals who have usurped lawful authority for their own benefit. These same individuals continue to use the Military and the Police to remain in power.
Failure to come up with a credible roadmap to restore democratic rule in the past six years has resulted in our isolation from the international community. We have been suspended from the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum, while hundreds of millions of dollars of much needed development aid has been withheld by the European Union.
This is the stark reality about our Fiji today. Ordinary people are getting restive as they find it difficult to meet even the basic needs of their families – to put food on the table and to provide for other essentials. The rising rate of malnutrition among our children, increasing incidence of diseases such as TB, substance abuse and suicides are all indicative of the worsening poverty situation in our country.
Your Excellency, we call on you as the Head of State with executive authority to take action now to halt this rapid decline of our nation. This can be done through steps we have proposed in this petition. We entreat you, respectfully, to act with due urgency in the interests of Fiji and her people.
Dr Shaista Shameem’s written submissions to the Constitution Commission on 10th October are in the form of amendments to the text of the 1997 Constitution. The new Constitution is referred to as Constitution 20XX.
The draft text is available at the link shown at the end of this text.
The main proposals are:
- Constitution 20XX represents the Social Contract between the People of Fiji and the State. The People and the State have rights, duties, responsibilities, obligations and commitments to each other. These are set out in the Constitution.
- The Bill of Rights is considered to be the heart of Constitution 20XX, following from the tradition established by the Kingdom of Fiji Constitutions, the 1970 Constitution, the 1990 Constitution and the 1997 Constitution.
- All other constitutional provisions must be in compliance with the Bill of Rights, including governance, representation in parliament, presidential elections, administration, accountability of the State, role of the judiciary, economic and social development, and delivery of all services by the State and its institutions.
- The Bill of Rights has been expanded to include economic social and cultural development and social justice, right to environment, governance and administration of the State, and accountability of public offices.
- Constitution 20XX emphasises consensus-building governance, and less autocratic or authoritarian rule.
- The public accountability mechanisms present in the 1997 Constitution have been strengthened in Constitution 20XX. Two new accountability institutions are added- (i) a Constitutional Court and (ii) a Charities Commission.
- The Human Rights Commission will have 7 members with a full time Chairperson and Proceedings Commissioner. Five of the members of the HRC will be responsible for specific mandates- Children, Development and Social Justice, People with Disabilities, Race Relations and Conciliation, and Gender Equality. The positions of Ombudsman and Chairperson of the HRC have been separated. The constitutional oversight of the Commission has been strengthened in Constitution 20XX.
- More checks and balances are proposed across all the arms of the State- the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. Separation of powers between the different arms of the State is exemplified in the strict requirements for an independent judiciary. The judicial oath in Constitution 20XX includes an express clause on the UN Basic Principles on Independence of the Judiciary.
- A new Constitutional Court is proposed which will have original jurisdiction in matters of interpretation of the Constitution. Its decision shall be final. Anyone can make an application directly to the Constitutional Court.
- Parliament cannot pass a law that is inconsistent with the Constitution.
- Councils of Influence are proposed- consisting of the Bose Levu Vakaturaga and Councils of Elders to be formed by each community for the purposes of assisting the President and Parliament to understand the issues facing each community. A joint Conference of Councils of Influence is to be held for the purposes of discussing national issues. The Joint Conference will be convened by the President annually.
- The President is either appointed by parliamentary consensus or, if there is no consensus, he or she is elected by an electoral college consisting of both Houses of Parliament convened together for that purpose. Nominations for the position of President are to be made according to a strict procedure set down in Constitution 20XX to be followed by Parliament.
- The Constituent Assembly will decide the appropriate voting mechanism to be employed in elections. In complex societies such as Fiji, Centrapetalist Consociationalism is reported to be most effective technical method for delivering representative democracy because it allows for active participation in governance by both majority and minority groups. However, the method is to be determined by the Constituent Assembly after technical presentations have been made to the members on the different models, and their results and outcomes in real situations explained, so that an informed decision can be made on the best voting method for Fiji. The kind of voting method to be used in Fiji should be a democratic decision.
- In Constitution 20XX, the primary constitutional duty and responsibility of the President is to protect and up-hold the Constitution by all legitimate means available to him or her. He or she is the Commander-in-Chief of the military forces and Chief Authority of the Police and Prisons Departments.
- The role of the RFMF is to protect the President in his or her role as protector and defender of the Constitution, to protect the Houses of Parliament, and to ensure the Constitution remains in place.
- It is also the role of the RFMF to devise a scheme of National Service to be part of the formal educational curriculum.
- The RFMF shall continue to support international peacekeeping but its role would strictly be to monitor and respond to human rights crises in other countries.
- Decree No 57 of 2012 is added to the Preamble of Constitution 20XX in recognition of its position as a non-negotiable principle; however, the fact that reparation is necessary is added to that preambular clause.
- All Acts, Promulgations and Decrees are to be made consistent with the Constitution and parliament shall decide which of them should be enacted as law after the due process in passage of legislation has been followed.
- Repeals of legislation, including any clauses of the 1997 Constitution, will be decided by the Constituent Assembly. Click the following link for full submission:Subs to Const Commission Oct 10th 2012
Synopsis of the Key Issues in attached Submissions to the Constitution
Commission on Constitution 20XX of Fiji
Dr Shaista Shameem
10th October 2012.
The submissions presented to the Constitutional Commission are in the form of
amendments to the 1997 Constitution for three main reasons:
(i) The 1997 Constitution clearly needs amendment- parts of it were excellent
but other parts did not make sense in the general scheme of things causing
a tension between the Bill of Rights provisions and the governance
(ii) In 1997 good governance, transparency, accountability and good
administration were not considered to be human rights issues, but now
they are incorporated into international law. The new Constitution of 20XX should reflect that shift in constitutional law towards postmodernity.
(iii) The 1997 Constitution was adopted by consensus and enacted as law.
Justice Gates said in his Chandrika Prasad decision, which was up-held by
the Fiji Court of Appeal, that “the presumption is that the Constitution
remains unimpugned until pronounced otherwise in court”. If we abide by
the rule of law and undertake to do so in future under another Constitution,
we must presume that the court must have the final say in the matter of
abrogation. This has not yet been tested. Therefore our discussions must
begin with the 1997 Constitution.
The 1997 Constitution is amenable to amendment because that document itself makes
it possible to do so (the 1997 Constitution was an amendment of the 1990
Constitution), and also because amending it is the only possible method for making
important changes in the body politic of Fiji, particularly if significant interest groups
still speak favourably of it.
It is no secret that the very first paragraph of the People’s Charter for Change, Peace
and Progress (2008) states that ‘we the people of Fiji affirm that our Constitution
represents the Supreme Law of our country, that it provides the framework for the
conduct of government and the people’. The reference to ‘our Constitution’ in the
People’s Charter meant the 1997 Constitution. This paragraph in the Charter provides
us with an effective rite of passage between the 1997 Constitution and the new one,
without a break in the grundnorm of the nation which was established well before
colonialism, and is an important legal consideration for change.
However, clearly there are parts of the 1997 Constitution that are autocratic and
authoritarian and must be removed. My amendments of the Constitution consider how
best we can retain the democratic and consensus-building parts without the patriarchal, linear, binary and hierarchical governance provisions which give primacy to undemocratic structures in civil and political life. At the same time, I keep in mind the non-negotiable principles established by Decree No 57 of 2012 without which any submissions are unlikely to be accepted since the Constitution Commissioners have, by law, agreed to work within these parameters in taking up their appointments.
My proposed amendments of the 1997 Constitution are based on the following
(i) The amended Constitution emphasises the social contract principle by
defining rights, duties and responsibilities of both the state and the people
from the Bill of Rights perspective so that governance and administration
are understood as a ‘rights and duties’ commitment.
(ii) The Bill of Rights is expanded to include duties of the people to each other
as well as to the State and Government, equal representation in parliament,
and responsibility of the public service and all arms and branches of the
State, as well as the judiciary.
(iii) It is the duty of the State to ensure that every institution within it, as well
as its laws, reflect and consider all views and opinions and give effect to
the social contract perspective of governance.
(iv) The amended Constitution emphasises the accountability principle.
Accountability is required from the very top- from the President, the
House or Houses of Parliament, and from all public officials including the
judiciary. Accountability is expected of anyone who is funded by the State.
The Government, if it expects state funding to come from taxes and other
non-monetary contributions of the people, will have to account for its own
behaviour and those of its state institutions while in power.
Accordingly, the amended Constitution, attached, proposes the following:
(a) The Head of State is appointed by consensus or elected (by the
electoral college of Parliament)
(b) Senior appointments to any public office are made after rigorous and
full consultation with all the people’s representatives in parliament.
(c) Additional independent mechanisms of accountability are included to
give effect to the social contract principle of governance.
(d) New voting mechanisms will closely follow the standards of
representation satisfactory to all communities whether in majority or
minority and conform to international post-modern standards for
voting in complex societies.
(e) The voices of minority groups are heard in concert with majority
groups as a conversation, and not a monologue or diatribe.
(f) As an additional mechanism of accountability, the full spectrum of
rights in international law is confirmed to be an indispensable part of
Fiji’s commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and
all its instruments are considered as part of Fiji law.
(g) Everyone’s right to social development, social justice and social
security is protected by the State.
(h) The mechanisms of parliamentary law-making can be independently
assessed against the Constitution and there are checks and balances in
place to ensure that any proposed legislation likely to have an effect on
the rights of people has been properly ventilated and a knowledgeable
decision reached by consensus voting if possible.
(i) Autonomy and self-determination of persons and groups are
accompanied by mechanisms of power-sharing, or joint responsibility,
both vertically (State / People) and horizontally (among families and
(j) The security services are fully responsible for protecting the
Constitution and parliament and their role includes helping to educate
young people, as part of national service, to understand and commit to
integrated civic responsibility.
(k) The security services will continue to provide assistance internationally
to those in need in other countries whose rights are being violated and
diminished, as part of Fiji’s international responsibility to the world
(l) The security services at all times will keep the people of Fiji fully
informed through the mechanisms of reporting to parliament which
includes the President, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.
(m)The security services shall consider the preamble of the Constitution in
relation to Decree No 57 of 2012.
(n) The Judicial branch of the State will guard its independence with due
diligence and at all times without fear, favour or prejudice.
(o) The Judicial branch will exercise its responsibility to protect the
Constitution through proper resourcing of the Constitutional Court in
particular, and of all other courts of Fiji.
(p) The independent commissions will, at all times, without conflict of
interest, fully exercise their responsibilities pursuant to their mandates.
(q) In situations of crisis, when an emergency must be declared by the
President or appropriate authority, the well-being of the people shall be
of paramount concern in any decision to protect the life of the State.
3.0 Specific Recommendations
The following specific recommendations are made in these submissions:
(i) The Bill of Rights is the core part of the Constitution and all aspects of
governance, administration, state services, representation, accountability
and institutions, including the courts, are based on adherence to the idea of
primacy of rights and duties.
(ii) Parliament (includes the President and two Houses or one) is to be elected
on the basis of an electoral mechanism which gives full effect to rights of
majority as well as minority populations and groups in light of section 30
(2) ‘right to be free from unfair discrimination’.
(iii) The Head of State’s main duty is to protect and up-hold the Constitution
(iv) The primary duty of the security services is to ensure that Parliament is
protected as it does its work in up-holding the rights of the people of Fiji
and makes laws for the betterment of the community of Fiji; a duty that
extends also to devising a scheme of national service as part of the formal
(v) The establishment of the Councils of Elders alongside the Bose Levu
Vakaturaga, as a formal constitutional entity indicating self-determination
and autonomy protected by international law, is for the purpose of
providing all the communities in Fiji with the opportunity to converse with
each other on matters that affect them and to advise the President and, in
turn, receive sage advice from him or her on national issues and concerns.
(vi) The terms of reference of the Councils of Influence shall emphasise
expression of community spirit in the national interest.
(vii) The establishment of the Constitutional Court is a necessary part of the
mechanisms of constitutional protection and is modelled on the South
African Constitution with some significant differences.
(viii) A Charities Commission is proposed to ensure that the public benefit
objective of charities is transparently exercised and accountable to the
people it is designed to assist. It is based on the UK Charities Commission
but other jurisdictions may be considered to decide the best model for Fiji.
(ix) The Human Rights Commission is provided with primary responsibility to
ensure that the rights of everyone in Fiji, particularly the vulnerable
groups, for example, children, disadvantaged persons and groups, women,
people with disabilities, and minority groups are promoted and protected.
(x) In situations of emergency, when the people of Fiji and the life of the State
are threatened, a number of core rights cannot be suspended. Full
consultation with members of parliament and security services is proposed
before a declaration of emergency can be pronounced.
(xi) The oaths of allegiance and office are amended in the Schedule to include
‘up-holding the Constitution’ as a fundamental undertaking of the officers
of the State.
3.0 Role of the Constituent Assembly
The first duty of the Constituent Assembly would be to determine, preferably by
consensus, the principles upon which the governance of the State shall be based.
The discussions should then focus on the types of institutions and voting mechanisms
that would give full effect to those principles.
I am very grateful indeed to the following for making helpful comments on my early ideas
and various drafts: Professor Bradford Morse, Dr David Neilson and Mr Logan Moss
(Waikato University), Dr Chris Wilson and Dr Stephen Winter (Auckland University), and Dr James Anthony and Mr Peter Prasad.
Click on the following link for the full transcript of Dr. Shaista Shameems Submissions to the Constitution Commission.
Political Parties must promise to restore Fiji National Provident Fund pension contracts.
Suva pensioner, David Burness, who in 2011 led the class action against the Fiji National Provident Fund and the Attorney-General to save FNPF pensions from being slashed, says that he and other pensioners like him will campaign and vote only for the political party that promises to restore their pension contracts.
The contracts were cancelled by FNPF and Government early this year leaving many elderly people without sufficient means to support themselves.
Mr Burness said that the FNPF Decree promulgated by Government in March stopped elderly people like him from having their pension contracts up-held by the courts and from exercising their just rights as citizens of Fiji.
He said that he and other FNPF pensioners who were badly affected by cuts to their pensions, in some cases by much as 60%, will, in the next elections, campaign and only vote for the political party that pledges to restore their FNPF contracts.
“We don’t buy FNPF’s argument that there is no money to pay our pensions. The FNPF bureaucracy needs to be investigated for the investment decisions it made in the past and continues to make at present” Mr Burness said.
“Therefore, we will actively campaign for the political party that gives us back our just entitlements and also respects the rights of the elderly to a decent life in old age”, Mr Burness said.
The only political party that has so far promised to assist the pensioners and restore their FNPF contracts is the Green Party of Fiji.
David F Burness
Suva’s best-known retirement residence, the Pearce Home, now welcomes long and short-term stayers.
And if you’ve business or other matters to attend to in the capital for a day or two, or three, inexpensive accommodation and meals are available.
The Home also offers respite stays. Those without home help may wish to leave an older family member in the good hands of Home staff while they attend to business or run important errands in town.
The Pearce Home is a secure, well-maintained oasis on Butt Street beside its long-time neighbour, The Fiji Times. It has retained much of its colonial design and charm and is managed and run by friendly, qualified staff. Facilities include a common dining room and spacious lounge area with television, piano, library and other recreational activities.
The Home is an easy walk, or a short cab ride to shops, restaurants, clubs, pharmacies, doctors, hospitals, supermarkets, places of worship, government buildings and the city’s central business district. Bus stops and taxi stands are close by.
Rooms are well appointed and serviced daily. Meals, including morning and afternoon tea, are wholesome and inclusive of board rates.
Daily: F$50.00 all inclusive (accommodation, meals, laundry service etc)
Monthly: F$900.00 all inclusive (accommodation, meals, laundry service, power, water etc)
The Pearce Home is operated by the Suva Relief Fund Trust under the direction of a Board of Trustees. For information/reservations contact Resident Manager, Matron Ruci Kava (Tel: 679 3302396, M: 9765485), Trust Secretary Reubina Ram, 3304871, 9939799, E: email@example.com, or Trustee Emelita Wilson, 3300288, 9496332, firstname.lastname@example.org.