04 October 2016: NFP Tribute to Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi
Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi is best remembered as a person whose reputation for integrity was intact because he did not succumb to the trappings of power and compromises to the rule of law in a nation plagued by military coups and political upheavals in the last 29 years.
Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi was one of the very few leaders who assumed multi-ethnic statesmanship in a country that is still at odds with itself in trying to achieve lasting social, economic and political advancement.
One should never forget that Ratu Joni was twice a victim of military coups in this country. Following the May 2000 coup, Ratu Joni resigned as a Judge of the High Court after then government was toppled at gunpoint and the Military abrogated the 1997 Constitution.
In December 2006, in his second year as Vice President, Military Commander Voreqe Bainimarama dismissed Ratu Joni from office when he did not agree with Commander Bainimarama’s plans to execute a coup to overthrow the then democratically elected government.
Democracy, rule of law and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms were the cornerstone principles of Ratu Joni throughout his career as a lawyer, a Permanent Arbitrator, Sugar Industry Tribunal, a Judge, as a Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner in the Solomon Islands, as Chief Justice of Nauru and above all as a high chief.
Humility, care and concern for the ordinary people was also at the forefront of Ratu Joni’s public life, despite the fact that he was a high chief and the Gone Turaga Roko Tui Bau. He was truly a “man of the people”.
Ratu Joni was twice the keynote speaker at National Federation Party Annual Conventions of July 2001 and March 2014. This is symbolic because both those conventions were held on the eve of the general elections in August 2001 and September 2014 respectively. He also delivered words of wisdom to cane growers at the Fiji Cane Growers Association AGM in July 2005.
Ratu Joni brought dignity and decorum to any position and office that he held throughout his illustrious and unblemished career.
The NFP believes Fiji has suffered an irreplaceable loss of voice of reason, national conscience, hope and a unifying force in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural country.
As leaders we would do well to try and emulate Ratu Joni’s principles if we genuinely believe in genuine democracy, rule of law and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms at all times.
Hon Professor Biman Prasad Leader, National Federation Party