Professor Wadan Narsey
James Cook University
In the Fiji Sun article (June 15) by Graham Davis, he quotes some unnamed “fellow senior academic” that my opposition to the Military Regime in Fiji is because of “family resentment about the abrogation of the 1997 Constitution that Brij Lal (my brother-in-law) co-authored”.
I wish to correct him on this allegation (which he has repeated several times), and several other equally incorrect allegations.
First Professor Brij Lal was a co-author of the Reeves Commission Report, on which the 1997 Constitution was largely based.
But the 1997 Constitution that was passed by the Fiji Parliament went beyond the Reeves Report in the multi-party Cabinet requirement.
While this element did not work in 1999 and 2001, I believe it was beginning to work in 2006 when the experiment was cut short.
I believe that this provision, if maintained by the Yash Ghai Review, offers great hope for any minority ethnic group (such as Indo-Fijians) or disadvantaged regional group (such as a hypothetical Vanua Levu Party) to protect their interests in Cabinet.
Second, Professor Brij Lal and I have not been in communication since 2006, when we heatedly polarised over our disagreement over the electoral system which I had criticised in 1996 even before the 1997 Constitution was passed, and many times since.
It appears that even professors cannot agree to disagree in a civilised manner, and blood appears not to be thicker than ink or ideology.
Graham Davis is wrong to claim that I do not have any enthusiasm for the regime’s multi-racial agenda.
The Bainimarama regime knows quite well, from all my writings and workshop presentations over the last thirty years, that I am strongly in favour of non-racial policies.
They also know I have been critical of both major political parties on some of their policies, and I still maintain a politically neutral stance in Fiji as an economist and educationist.
Let me state categorically, I ended any political affiliation after the 1999 elections.
Contrary to Davis’ claim, I have no resentment at all against the regime for pressurising the University of the South Pacific to end my tenure as Professor of Economics.
While I was personally disappointed with the manner in which USP saw me off after decades of work, the regime probably did me a favour, in several ways.
Graham Davis’ claim that I am now “in exile” living in Australia, is simply not true, although I would not mind such a heroic image.
I am here at James Cook University on a purely visiting appointment which will end soon.
I will be returning home to continue my academic and community education work, as well as contribute to the Yash Ghai constitution review exercise which will hopefully mop up the “spilt milk” that Graham Davis rather euphemistically refers to, but in a lawful, constitutional, and nationally co-operative manner, that has unfortunately been missing so far.
Yes indeed, the method is just as important as the cause.