Monday, February 25, 2008

Making the Right Choices

Sunday, February 24,

The Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa, front, makes her way to the Great Council of Chiefs meeting held last year. WIll she be one of the chiefs disqualified from sitting on the new GCC + Enlarge this image

The Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa, front, makes her way to the Great Council of Chiefs meeting held last year. WIll she be one of the chiefs disqualified from sitting on the new GCC

NI sa bula. What a week! Still, it was a great week!

It was a great week because we now know one of the things that Frank believes will continue to build a better Fiji a good council of chiefs.

Before Cession, Ratu Cakobau at his chiefly home knew exactly who he needed to agree with him in his move to cede Fiji to Queen Victoria.

He asked them to support him on his understanding that these chiefs' word was law in their vanua, kingdoms, confederacies or alliances.

Ratu Cakobau had known of their prowess in battles, their powerful leadership of their subjects in social development and cohesiveness.

The result of his careful choice of the chiefs he wanted to sign the Deed of Cession with him is that the pacification of the rest of the chiefs was not as drawn out or as bloody as could have been, had he not scouted properly for whom to come to the signing table.

Such is the importance of having wisdom in the council of chiefs.

Frank has timed the changes well, by design or by accident to bring in the "qualifying" clause of who a chief is deemed to be.

We are lucky indeed, for if the "installed" clause had been brought in 50 years ago, many of the great national mission and vision deciders would not have qualified.

And if Frank had brought in the "legitimacy" question, we may have to repeal many of our statutes because many authors in the past would not have been qualified to rise to national leadership for being illegitimate. My favourite uncle once told me there are no illegitimate children only illegitimate parents who refuse to accept their responsibilities.

I quite agree with that, for why should we look at the absence of a participating father if the issue of his union with a willing mother becomes a successful man or woman.

Why should we disqualify someone just because he or she is illegitimate?

Well, we are all glad that this issue is not a "disqualifying" factor.

But what of their other "disqualifying" factors like previous service to the nation in Parliament, not being an "installed" chief, being an ex-con etc.

It would be interesting to hear the views of the champions of our constitution like Akuila Yabaki, Dakuvula, Barr and Mataca on whether these provisions in the new Fijian Affairs (Great Council of Chiefs) Regulations 2008, contravene certain parts of Section 38 of our 1997 Constitution.

While the new Commissioner of Prisons is doing his best to destroy the past image of prisons and prisoners and make inmates ready to be totally absorbed back into society on their release, it is rather incongruous that the new regulations will perpetuate the stigma but only at a certain level of the indigenous society.

While my cousin Peniela will be ready to come and live his full village life in Drekeniwai, my paramount chief (and properly installed one at that!) will not qualify to represent his subjects in the council that his erstwhile forefathers had taken almost for granted was God's calling on them to be members in.

Ioane took some high profile prisoners to their former work places where they shared morning tea with former and possibly future colleagues, to drive the point home that the law brought in by the SVT government on "spent conviction" is the way to go for this young and close-knit nation.

With these in mind, it is such a pity that the Fijians will be deprived of the services of some very highly qualified chiefs, two in particular one of whom has spent all her life teaching, counselling and serving others in her chosen career and in Parliament, and the other who had gracefully accepted the court's verdicts and served his time for his past.

Prior to that he had served the Fijian people in the Native Land Trust Board, accepted being made redundant by one of his own subjects from his province and served the nation in Parliament.

And, not many Fijians can boast a Harvard education!

With all these things happening, it is going to be interesting to see if the economy will grow, so it is very important to have someone who knows the tricks to be the catcher of tax dodgers and be the national official receiver, because it takes one to catch one!

Have a great Sunday and another great week

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