On 5 March a grub emerged from seven years in a cacoon and began to flap around the land as a political butterfly.
No longer a Commander issuing orders, he’s now a politican trying to persuade voters that they should vote for him. He has to listen to their requests, their questions and their concerns.
As the campaign wears on he can look forward to people asking him about things other parties are saying when they visit. He can look forward to people asking him how their land is protected by his new constitution.
This is where he is going to have to come clean. He is going to have to spell out how it all works. He will find himself sitting in front of people with the facts in their hands – the words of his constitution. He will no longer be able to tell them that their land is better protected than it was under the 1997 constitution.
Bainimarama’s problem is that he accepts everything Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum tells him. If ASK says the land is protected it must be protected. The ASK answer is that all assets are protected and land is no different. The problem with is that it’s not true. The Land Use Decree gives the Prime Minister the power to issue leases of up to 99 years with rents set at whatever levels he chooses.
In setting rents the Land Use decree says the PM has to make sure “all land available are leased with the purpose of providing a livelihood for all parties concerned”. The economic rights of the tenant are equal to property rights of the land owners.
But it’s not only the tenants whose rights must be considered by the PM under the Land Use Decree – it says he “shall take into consideration at all times the best interests of the land owners and the overall well being of the economy”.
Is ASK’s property subject to these restrictions? Does he have to take into account his tenants ability to pay or the best of interests of the economy when dealing with his property?
I can’t wait to hear our newest politician’s answers.