Tuesday, May 27, 2008-www.fijitimes.com
A chief of Bau has questioned what real difference the Great Council of Chiefs and the Fijian administration have had on the lives of Fijian people.
Speaking at the Annual Pacific Co-operation Foundation in New Zealand, the Roko Tui Bau and former Vice-President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi said much of the issue of vision and identity related to the ambivalence of Fijians about those concepts.
"In challenging Fijian institutions such as the Bose Levu Vakaturaga, the Methodist Church and the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Party, the military commander, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, has provided opportunities for reflection and soul searching.
"What real difference do the Bose Levu Vakaturaga (BLV) and the Fijian Administration (of which the BLV sits at the apex) make in the lives of ordinary Fijians," he asked
"Does the latter serve any purpose in view of the fact that the Government has responsibility for infrastructure and economic development?
"What place has the traditional system in the scheme of things?
"The Fijians themselves need to be heard on those issues."
Ratu Joni said Fijian leaders had a responsibility to listen and discern what it is they wanted.
"In what form do they wish their indigenousness (and all that attached to it) survive. My preoccupation has not been with the form and the hierarchy," he said.
"It is with the values of kinship, reciprocity and mutual respect that provide a bridge to the other communities. These are qualities that can be harnessed to enhance the vision we seek."
Ratu Joni said the stated aim of the interim regime to remove the electoral system was welcome.
"Because there is little argument that it has reinforced ethnic patterns of voting," he said.
"But the process has survived this long because all political parties were supportive of it. The concerns of some Fijians who resist any change because it would remove their ethnically entitled seats is understandable.
"But it is mistaken. The preponderance of Fijians in the population, coupled with Fijian-Indian emigration, will ensure Fijian numerical superiority in the next elections however boundaries are drawn.
"We no longer need those ethnically based seats from the Fijian point of view because their fears of being swamped no longer apply.
"However, the Fiji-Indian community may now be reconsidering the issue because under the present arrangement, they are guaranteed a certain number of seats.
"The concern now is the protection of minorities. Whether they are Fiji-Indian or from other communities, they must be guaranteed a voice in Parliament.
"The only system that assures that outcome is proportional representation."