Commission and ‘rubber stamps’
Professor Wadan Narsey Suva It might reassure some that the Electoral Commission has announced that it will not be a “rubber stamp” for the Bainimarama Government. Unfortunately, some members come with historical baggage. Some of the Commission members were part of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji, which produced the People’s Charter, the first paragraph of which declared that the 1997 Constitution would be supreme. However, when the Court of Appeal 2009 judgment declared the Bainimarama Government to be illegal, the Bainimarama Government abrogated the Constitution, with not a single public protest from the members of the NCBBF, including some who are now members of the Electoral Commission. The public notes that contrary to the requirements of the 2013 Constitution the Commission members have all been appointed by Bainimarama without any consultation with other political parties, and most are either open or closet supporters of his Government. One member of the Commission, through her accounting company, is clearly also playing ball with the Bainimarama Government in what economists would see as a totally undesirable distortion of the Permanent Secretary salary structure, announced just two weeks prior to the last budget. Nevertheless, the public can still give these Commission members the benefit of the doubt and hope that as otherwise decent individuals, they will do their utmost to ensure free and fair elections as is required by the 2013 Constitution, and not be used as a “rubber stamp” by the Bainimarama Government.