Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama told the UN General Assembly of how he “fashioned” democracy in Fiji “on dedication to the rights and dignity of each person in Fiji”.
We wonder what he is talking about? The Prime Minister in his Qorvis written speech obviously forgot that the world is aware of the imposed constitution and the draconian decrees that suppress individual rights, freedom of assembly, association and expression in Fiji.
He forgets that his 2013 imposed Constitution, the supreme law of the land, stands universally condemned and was criticised by the UN Human Rights Council when it examined Fiji’s Human Rights situation in November 2014. The Council recommended the setting up of a Constitution Review Commission to undertake a comprehensive review to reflect the will and aspirations of the people of Fiji in order to create a more stable society; a constitution that will allow for separation of powers, and guard against interference in the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession.
The UNHRC wants the scrapping of decrees that curtail human rights in particular the Media Industry Development Decree in order to remove elements of fear and intimidation that undermine the peoples’ right to express themselves freely.
He forgets that Fiji is facing the threat of a Commission of inquiry from the governing body of the International Labour Organisation in respect of draconian decrees that violate core ILO Conventions on collective bargaining and freedom of association.
He speaks of parliamentary democracy but we all know that Fiji’s parliament is a sham. Its
Standing Orders have been specially crafted to curtail debate, disallow questions and permit the manipulation of parliamentary processes when it suits the government.
Under these Standing Orders, the Opposition has found itself ham strung and unable to expose instances of corruption, abuse of office or authority, and instances of perversion of the cause of justice so prevalent in the post-coup Bainimarama administration.
Parliamentary questions are now vetted by the Business Committee of the House where questions likely to embarrass government or expose impropriety on their part, are disallowed.
People have witnessed and commented on the manner in which the affairs of parliament are handled by the Speaker whose appointment itself was quite unethical. She is perceived by many as leaning too much towards the government.
The most shocking instance of abuse of power and derailment of democracy by the FF government is to restrict parliament sittings to just 4 weeks a year. It is nothing short of gagging parliament and was imposed despite strong objections from the Opposition.
Such a ridiculously short calendar allows virtually no time for the Opposition to raise matters which they consider to be of national importance. Past Parliaments set for at least 10-12 weeks in a year thus allowing ample time for parliamentary business to be conducted in a dignified manner.
On another note, the Bainimarama government remains scandalized as the most corrupt administration in Fiji’s history. The institutions which have been set up to curb corruption and abuse are but instruments working to the directions of the administration itself.
The Constitution which has been deliberately kept void of fundamental provisions requiring the separation of powers between the different arms of the State, ensures the supremacy of the Executive over the legislature and the judiciary.
That certainly is not democracy, Mr Bainimarama. Indeed, it exposes the farce in your so-called “democratic” exercise.