The Rule of Law
Acting Secretary-General, Fiji Labour Party
Now that we are, more or less, gearing up towards the September 17 elections, it is important that when we cast our votes we tick wisely to those who we feel will best be able to represent us in parliament.
We should vote for people who, first and foremost, respect the rule of law. Do not vote for anyone who raped democracy and desecrated the rule of law and pretended that he was for the people when, in fact, what he did was to deny that very people the freedom that he and his cohorts have been enjoying these past eight years.
The yardstick of this election must be respect for and return to the rule of law as opposed to the dictatorship that we have been unpalatably exposed to in the last eight years.
Two people have, between them, virtually dictated to the nation what is good for Fiji and how they should be governed. This is not democracy.
You may ask then what the rule of law is. As defined by the World Justice Project: The rule of law is a system of rules and rights that enables fair and functioning societies. It upholds the following four universal principles:
1. The government and its officials and agents as well as individuals and private entities are accountable under the law
2. The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property.
3. The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient.
4. Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.
In simple words, it means a system of governance that is based on rules deeply etched on the principles of justice and democracy that encompass the ideals of fairness, equality of all and accountability and transparency.
Before, in Europe and elsewhere, where the king or monarch ruled, the order in society had always been “the King is law”. Now, in the modern age it is “the Law is King”.
None of the four universal principles of the Rule of Law, as stated by the World Justice Project, are applicable in Fiji under the current regime.
In the past week we have seen Voreqe Bainimarama going around campaigning for his proposed FijiFirst Party, in breach of the Political Parties Decree which states that no political party can hold itself up to be a political party unless it has first been registered under the Decree.
Bainimarama has not yet collected and submitted his 5000 signatures to the Registrar of Political Parties.
Does the law apply evenly to him? I think not. The media has not taken up the issue seriously, complaints to the Police by the United Front for a Democratic Fiji (UFDF), has thus far elicited no response.
Nor has the Prime Minister’s recent vote buying spree where he openly distributed brush cutters, chain saws, sporting equipment ruffled any feathers with the Electoral Commission, the Police or the media.
Yet, senior Fiji National University FNU lecturer, Pita Waqawai, was allegedly suspended for exposing the truth on the allocation of scholarships to indigenous Fijians.
Fiji has in the past eight years seen the use of “selective justice” where those opposed to the regime are allegedly targeted for prosecution or victimised in one way or another, while the law turns a blind eye to the wrong doings of supporters and cronies of the regime.
We in Fiji, for the past eight years, have been shackled with decrees that only generate a culture of silence within ourselves.
Let us get out of this cocoon and regain our freedom by voting for a free Fiji and a government that will be recipient and attentive to the will of the people.
Let us regain respect for the rule of law, the freedom of the people and parliamentary democracy.
Let us decide to put an end to dictatorship, nepotism and despotism by voting ourselves a better government than the one we have been forcibly subject to in the last eight years!
– The opinions expressed in this column are those of the Fiji Labour Party. They are published by the Fiji Sun to enhance free and open debate ahead of the General Elections.