“The Electoral Commission and Rubber Stamps”. Letter to the Editor, 22 January 2014.
Letter to the Editor (Fiji Times, Fiji Sun, Island Business, Republika)
22 January 2014 (appeared 24 January 2014)
The Electoral Commission and “rubber stamps”?
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, Bainimarama purportedly 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.
Not only were they betrayed, but so also were the hundreds of thousands of the Fiji public who supposedly signed up in support of that Charter “referendum” organized by John Samy.
The public notes that contrary to the requirements of the 2013 Bainimarama/Khaiyum Constitution (BKC), 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 regime.
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 BKC, and not be used as a “rubber stamp” by the Bainimarama Government.
The public hopes that the Commission members will also be collectively and individually accountable to the public in fully informing them, should any untoward pressure be placed on them during their work.
Lack of resources for their work cannot be taken as an excuse, given that the Bainimarama Government has had seven years to plan the elections, and in the last two years alone, has allocated a massive 1 billion dollars to road building. There should be no need at all to depend on or use donor resources, despite their willingness to assist.
Professor Wadan Narsey