Opinion

EDITORIAL:Constitution: A Document That Directs Our Way To The Future

On this second Constitution Day, it is rather sad that Government critics are still criticising our Constitution after it has been acclaimed internationally. They should be reminded that the constitution
07 Sep 2017 15:34
EDITORIAL:Constitution: A Document That Directs Our Way To The Future

On this second Constitution Day, it is rather sad that Government critics are still criticising our Constitution after it has been acclaimed internationally.

They should be reminded that the constitution recognises the rights of all citizens including the iTaukei or the indigenous people, their ownership of iTaukei lands, their unique culture, customs, traditions and language.

It recognises the indigenous people of Rotuma, their ownership of Rotuman lands, their unique culture, customs, traditions and language.

It recognises the descendants of the indentured labourers from British India and the Pacific Islands, their culture, customs, traditions and language.

It recognises the descendants of the settlers and immigrants to Fiji, their culture, customs, traditions and language.

We should be happy that we have a Constitution that has a comprehensive Bill of Rights, which accords all Fijians civil, political and socio-economic rights.

The President, Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote, said while opening Parliament on September 4 that the Constitution “directs Government to take action to turn those ideals into policies, laws and — most importantly—practices.”

“Its language is clear: It uses words like ‘shall’ and ‘must.’ There is no ambiguity.”

Gone are the days when people were racially segregrated during a general election.

It fostered racial tension and division and encouraged racial discrimination.

At the welcome banquet last year for former New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, Mr Bainimarama said: “Ten years ago, some Fijians were more equal than others.

“Their votes carried more weight than others.

“They enjoyed a range of privileges that others didn’t share – such as special access to jobs and to education.”

Government introduced a Constitution that for the first time, established a common and equal citizenry, guaranteed equal opportunity under the law and provided every Fijian with an unprecedented array of social and economic rights.

And then on the basis of that Constitution, Government fulfilled its promise to return Fiji to parliamentary rule – true democracy – at a national election in September 2014.

That was also the first time in Fijian history to be conducted on the basis of equal votes of equal value.

Under the Constitution we are all Fijians united by a common and equal citizenry.

We should all join in today’s celebration and for those who do not want to be part of it they should be reminded that it is their right under the Constitution.

Today’s main programme will be at Churchill Park, and Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama will be chief guest.

Every Fijian is invited to the festivities beginning with a march from Shirley Park to Churchill Park in Lautoka, at 9am today.

We should all go out today and celebrate the document that has defined our rights as Fijians.

It has also established the foundation of our modern democracy.

Let us all support our Constitution and join the celebrations today.

 

Feedback:  maikab@fijisun.com.fj

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