Academic Dr Ganesh Chand has warned that a society where its “mirror institutions” have collapsed and the three arms of government are no longer independent,
that society will be doomed.
Speaking to the Labour Convention last Saturday, Dr. Ganesh warned that Fiji was heading towards the same road as Zimbabwe ie dictatorship, unless each of us stood up and fought against what was wrong.
In a democracy it is the people who rule collectively. Here we don’t have that, he said and asked:
“Who is in control in Fiji? It’s a small group of very very rich people. They decide on policies. They decide what happens.”
He explained there must be separation of powers between the three arms of government – the legislature, the executive and the judiciary and the processes that led to the judiciary.
There was not much hope for a society where this separation of powers had been destroyed, as was the case in Fiji.
Apart from these three arms of the government, there were institutions that acted as mirrors for society – the media, trade unions, NGOs, academic institutions such as universities.
“In the last 10 years, all these have been totally destroyed:
- The media has been totally controlled by government
- The NGOS have been totally silenced
- The trade unions have been totally silenced
- The academic institutions have been totally weakened.
“The situation in Fiji today is that we no longer have these mirrors for society. When you break a mirror where are you going to look for the true images?” he asked.
“The people of Fiji no longer enjoyed the right to dissent. In a society where you purge the right to dissent, that society will collapse, Dr Ganesh warned
“The right to dissent is a basic requirement of any democracy. In Fiji it is totally banned. If you show any signs of dissent, they will send FICAC after you, they will send the military after you – they will use the entire arm of government to crush you because they don’t want dissent.”
“They have done that to me, to Mr Chaudhry, to Mr Qarase, they tried doing it to Mr Rabuka, they broke the doors and windows in Ravindra Singh’s house, even Father Barr was not spared.
“These things are fundamentally wrong. They are abhorrent and it becomes our duty to change what is wrong.”
Dr Ganesh said that both the Geeta ( the Hindu scriptures) and the Bible taught that one must stand up against that which is wrong.
Giving his personal example, Dr Ganesh said he lodged a complaint with FICAC because “the 2013 Constitution had been severely breached by certain people in society”. He never heard from FICAC.
He lodged two other complaints with FICAC involving millions of dollars in corruption. He even asked FICAC for the reference number for his complaint – did not hear from it.
He then wrote to the President and was glad to report that last week the President wrote back to say that he had instructed FICAC to provide a progress report on the matters.
“This is the state of this country. I am an aggrieved party. If as a citizen, my right to redress for grievance is taken away, where do I go? Who do I turn to?
“We have been receiving pain and suffering for 10 years now. It is time for us to stand up and fight. Fiji has enormous potentials. We can build it up again but for that we have to stand up and take action.”
He used a quote:
“A body of men holding themselves accountable to no one,
are not to be trusted by anybody ”
“It is time for us to stand up and say I do not trust you,” Dr. Ganesh said.