2013 Constitution doesn’t deserve a public holiday
September 7, 2021
Fiji has many things it could celebrate with a national holiday. The 2013 Constitution is not one of those things.
Every year the Fiji First Party desperately attempts to talk up the Constitution. It even tries to suggest that it is one of the world’s best. Yet no serious constitutional lawyer believes so. Around the world it is widely rejected. In Fiji it is frequently ridiculed.
A Constitution is nothing more than a piece of paper if it is not honoured in spirit.
In Fiji the Constitution does not belong to the people. The people live in fear of its institutions.
Most people live in fear of the Government. Many fear Police assaults, which are now routine.
Other people fear being identified with the Opposition, because they will be denied Government benefits.
People who do not want to be vaccinated are denied welfare. Those who dissent with the Government line on vaccinations are arrested.
Laws such as Bill 17 are rammed through the Parliament without consultation. Even MPs who criticise these laws are detained and questioned by Police.
Under our Constitution people have a right to health. Yet this Government’s shocking handling of the Covid-19 second wave has led to hundreds of deaths, both from the disease and from denied care. We have had some of the highest Covid infection rates in the world.
Trade unions are refused the right to march to demand workers’ rights. And the Government has not increased the already pitiful minimum wage for nearly five years. Even people with full-time work live in poverty.
Our Human Rights Commission is supposed to enforce and protect our constitutional rights. Yet it is widely ridiculed as a pro-Government mouthpiece and a national joke.
This is the Constitution as Fiji lives it today – the so-called “reality of the matter”.
A National Federation Party Government will abolish “Constitution Day”. We will instead create a Founders’ Day – a day to commemorate the great leaders of Fiji’s past, a reminder to all of us about those who led us in the lead-up to independence and helped to create our country. A NFP Government will also reinstate Ratu Sukuna Day as a public holiday.
We have been blessed with sound, wise leadership in the past. One day, good leadership will return to our country.
Professor Biman Prasad