GCC Bid A Lost Cause

Let’s listen to the people was the call from the Opposition in Parliament yesterday. They sounded as if thousands of iTaukei were lining up ready to march through the streets
26 Apr 2016 09:05
GCC Bid A Lost Cause

Let’s listen to the people was the call from the Opposition in Parliament yesterday.

They sounded as if thousands of iTaukei were lining up ready to march through the streets to bring back the Great Council of Chiefs.

We listened to the people in 2014 in the first truly democratic election and they spoke emphatically. They put their trust in the FijiFirst Party to form the new Government in an overwhelming majority vote.

If people wanted the GCC back, they would have voted against the FijiFirst party because it supported the Constitution and the abolition of the GCC. They would have voted in favour of the Opposition parties, SODELPA, National Federation Party, Fiji Labour Party and the suspended People’s Democratic Party. But they didn’t.

True, there were those who wanted the reinstatement of GCC and it showed by the way they voted.

But they were in the minority. The Opposition MPs were yesterday pandering to appeal to the base instincts of the iTaukei and the former privileged elite in a fresh attempt to resurrect a lost cause which was dead and buried in the 2014 general election.

SODELPA MP Salote Radrodro quoted the famous words of Abraham Lincoln of a government by the people for the people. That’s exactly what happened in 2014.

The Opposition petition to allow public submissions before a Standing Committee on the reinstatement of the GCC signals SODELPA’s opening salvo as it begins its election campaign two years away from the 2018 poll. It has obviously learned from its late start  in 2014.

SODELPA MP Viliame Gavoka, who introduced the petition, spoke with passion in his defence of the GCC. He talked about its stabilising influence. But we did not see that  in 1987 when ultra-nationalists, members of the Taukei Movement, started agitating against the newly elected Dr Timoci Bavadra-led NFP-FLP Coalition Government. The agitation developed into street demonstrations and culminated in the first military coup led by Sitiveni Rabuka.

Where was the stabilising influence of the GCC in 2000 during the George Speight coup? When people rioted and looted shops in Suva City streets, where was the stabilising influence of the GCC?

Mr Gavoka said the GCC’s abolition was cruel and unfair to the iTaukei. But he stood on weak  grounds to justify its reinstatement. It is common knowledge that the GCC was a hotbed for politics and power for the privileged elite. It was used by some politicians to propagate their divisive agendas in the name of iTaukei interests. Historically it was set up by the British colonialists to keep the ordinary iTaukei under control and minimise dissent.

The strong bonds between chiefs and ordinary iTaukei are founded on a cultural heritage, not on the GCC, a British creation. Not as claimed by some.

This is evident that without the GCC it’s business as usual although SODELPA MP Jiosefa Dulakiverata said iTaukei would never forget  what was done to them despite Government assistance.

The MPs are the voice of the people who voted for them so it’s not true that  they will be denied a voice if the petition failed.

It failed. Twenty nine MPs voted against it, 16 in favour and five MPs did not vote.

The five MPs who did not vote were:

             Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama who was on his way back from New York after signing the Paris Agreement on climate change

             Assistant Minister for Youth and Sports Iliesa Delana, sick.

             Government backbencher Viam Pillay, sick

             SODELPA  MP Niko Nawaikula was present during the debate but was absent during the vote

             An Opposition MP.

The Government side did not respond to the Opposition statements. There were barely audible interjections like “wait for 2018”.

But  the Opposition was not waiting, especially SODELPA.

The GCC petition was more important to them than questions on the Tropical Cyclone Winston rehabilitation which were supposed to be the first item on the Order Paper. Instead the Opposition MPs put the petition first even though they knew they did not have the numbers to push it through. They should drop the GCC. It is a lost cause.

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