Colonialism, Independence, Freedom

The late Pope Paul VI taught that participation and equality are fun­damental foundations of human dignity and freedom.
10 Oct 2022 14:53
Colonialism, Independence, Freedom
Head of the Catholic Church in Fiji, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong.

I was born in 1961 and therefore I experenced the last nine years of British colonisation.

I am what they referred to in those days, a half-caste, meaning part Fi­jian and Chinese.

Because of my mother’s itaukei relatives I am very itaukei-cul­tured.

In the 1960s, Fiji moved precari­ously towards independence.

The tension was high between Itaukeis and Indians.

Itaukei’s feared that the Indians with their money-power will win the elections and rule Fiji. I grew up with this fear.

My family lived along the Wain­alumu River, a tributary of the Rewa River.

The closest town was Nausori. When traveling to Nausori we go through the Baulevu area which is densely populated by Indians.

I clearly remember counting the number of Indians against Itaukeis in the bus, in case a fight broke out.

Fear and uncertainty were my ex­periences of the last nine years of colonialism.

Some itaukei people tell me that suppression and fear marked the colonial era.

I-taukei villages were governed by two legal systems, the Village Law (Native Administration) and Colo­nial Law.

The native policeman (ovisa ni yasana) is the most feared person. He comes looking for you if you don’t pay your native tax.

If a person broke a village law, he appeared before the native court.

Fear, uncertainty, and mistrust, were deep feelings during the last nine years of colonialism.

10th October 1970, Independence Day came. There was a lot of excite­ment.

We proudly held our blue flags. What did Independence bring? Have I gone past my fears, uncer­tainties, and mistrust?

The first fifteen years of Independ­ence and its dreams was short-lived with the 1987 coup.

Since then, we’ve had three other coups.

The Bainimarama-led 2006 coup was labelled as the ‘coup to end all coups.’

Today Fijians live in uncertain times. We live in fear.

It is dangerous to speak your mind for truth and justice. I have been threatened for speaking out.

Today, there are new colonial forc­es moving into Fiji.

There is the fear of China and Chinese extractive industries and companies.

There are powerful multinational corporation taking their places.

Big nations like Australia, USA, New Zealand and China are exert­ing political influence in Oceania.

This year Fiji celebrates 52 years of independence.

But are we truly democratic and free. Are we fear-free?

Catholic Social Teaching on


To promote a genuinely Independ­ent Fiji, the Catholic Social Teach­ing upholds two principles for genuine democracy. They are par­ticipation and subsidiarity.

  1. Participation

The late Pope Paul VI taught that participation and equality are fun­damental foundations of human dignity and freedom.

He said that there is a basic drive in human beings as they seek great­er development, that is, to share responsibility in decision making that shape their individual and col­lective future.

Patron-client politics and Globali­zation suffers from a ‘democratic deficit’. Globalisation has two weakness in decision making:

  • Local communities do not par­ticipate in decision making. Deci­sion about trade, foreign debt, and capital investments are made with little or no input from the majority of the people affected.
  • The divide between the state-elites and local communities hin­ders true participation

In sum, the democratic deficit of globalisation means that large numbers of world’s peoples do not participate in a meaningful way in decisions that will directly bear on their well-being.

  1. Subsidiarity

The principle of subsidiarity calls for local communities to assess, de­cide, and act at the most local level possible while still being effective in securing the common good.

The state should not take over du­ties and responsibilities that local communities can carry out them­selves.

In globalisation, nation states have not disappeared but they now operate within a different context.

Nation states retain power, but they must wield that power in col­laboration with other powerful nations and multination corpora­tions.

In reality, it is the multinational corporations’ that rule the world.

The Catholic Church has two key roles in Fiji’s political history:

  • To set forth the requirements of just social action set forth in the Bible and Catholic Social Teaching;
  • To denounce social, economic, or political actions and structures in the name of justice and Kingdom of God.

The Church wants to build a just society and it seeks to do so on the solid foundation of four fundamen­tal values: Truth, Freedom, Justice and Love. In its commitment to a just society, the Catholic Church seeks to enhance true democracy in Fiji.

On behalf of the Fiji Catholic Church, I pray that all Fijians col­laborate for a truly independent, democratic and just society where the principles of participation, subsidiarity, human dignity and freedom is practiced.

May God Bless Fiji!


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