FIJI NEWS

Calling on new actors

By ROSIE DOVIVERATA Mosmi Bhim is not one to mince her words when it comes to issues of good governance, media freedom and human rights. The lecturer at the Department
10 Aug 2013 11:33
Gospel Students check out the collage of Foundation studies  during the University of the South Pacific Open day in Laucala.  Photo: PAULINI RATULAILAI.

Gospel Students check out the collage of Foundation studies during the University of the South Pacific Open day in Laucala. Photo: PAULINI RATULAILAI.

By ROSIE DOVIVERATA

Mosmi Bhim is not one to mince her words when it comes to issues of good governance, media freedom and human rights.
The lecturer at the Department of Ethics and Governance at the Fiji National University was also an advocate for the non government organisation (NGO) Citizens’ Constitutional Forum.
She is concerned that we do not have enough new actors avail themselves of the opportunity to help steer Fiji back to democracy.
“Indeed, this is worrying for Fiji, because it indicates that the cream of Fiji’s society is largely refusing to take an active part in the political activities of the country,” Ms Bhim said.
So, could the release of the Constitution later this month see the emergence of a new wave of young aspiring politicians?
Ms Bhim  talks about who these potential new political actors are and why they remain detached from the frontlines of politics.

NEW POLITICAL ACTORS?
“By new political actors I mean the younger generation and people who have not been in the public eye for the past 30 years.
“These would be the professionals in the 35-45 year age group, who would have adequate experience and knowledge and have bountiful energy and a new vision for Fiji,” Ms Bhim said.

THE IDEAL?
“It is important that Fiji’s military withdraws from public life and civilians are given control of key government positions. The military needs to refrain from commenting on or interfering in matters that are supposed to be civilian affairs of national interest.”
Ms Bhim said the government must be seen to be fair, transparent and respectful of people’s opposing views.
“People should feel free to express their views, even if the views are different from the military’s or the government’s,” she said.

 

WHY : our young professionals are not taking an interest to actively participate in the political process.
––– Mosmi Bhim’s views

1. “Firstly, these young professionals have just established their careers and have families to look after as well as mortgages to pay.
“In this money-driven world, people are extremely dependent on their jobs for survival. Over the past few years, some people who have expressed anti-government views have been terminated from their jobs or have been made to feel afraid for their safety and welfare.
“This perceived fear of government agents, who have the capability of having people terminated from their jobs is a major reason why young professionals are now choosing to be apolitical.”
She said many such professionals actually find it difficult to be apolitical.
“However, they do not want to live in fear every day. Therefore, many have chosen to work overseas – including many iTaukei graduates and professionals, who are choosing to contribute their expertise to other countries, rather than face the risk of being victimised in their own country of birth.”

2. “Young professionals are not actively taking part in political activities because of the fear of the military.
“The military has become an all-pervasive part of Fiji’s public life and is dominating news headlines every week. All key government institutions have some military influence.”
Ms Bhim said this was discouraging to ordinary citizens as examples from other countries indicate that normally, the military do not like to withdraw from power.
“Most young professionals do not want to risk their own safety. They want to express their views without having to fear the wrath of the military. So the dominance of the military in Fiji is a big deterrent to the emergence of new political actors.”

3. “The lack of predictability of having a stable elected government in future is a hindrance to new political actors emerging.
“The government placed a lot of pressure on people to contribute to the constitution-making process in a very short period,” Ms Bhim said.
“However, the government is showing no urgency or priority in releasing the new constitution to the public. Fiji has only a year left to go for elections.
“The lack of good faith by government in releasing the constitution is casting doubts about the sincerity of the government in having a fair and just constitution, and in having free and fair elections.
“New actors may not be willing to express themselves in such an unstable environment,” she said.



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