PR is best for Fiji

The long term solution for Fiji lies neither in communal seats nor in a one vote, one value electoral system but in proportional representation that provides the most appropriate safeguards for minorities, says Bau high chief Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi.

Speaking at the Fijian Teachers Association AGM, Ratu Joni said in the present highly-charged political environment, there has been considerable debate about the electoral system and governance generally. 

He said both the Interim regime and the National Council For Building A Better Fiji have provoked the ire of certain sections of Fijian opinion by advocating a one vote, one value electoral system. 

“Fijian protagonists have interpreted this as an attack on indigenous identity and the right to have their representatives elected on their own electoral rolls. 

“Articles 3 and 4 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples guarantee the right of self determination. 

“Article 5 assumes the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political institutions.  Those views are held passionately and sincerely,” the ousted vice president said.

But he added that, in our present circumstances the rationale underpinning the
Declaration does not equate. 

He said if one accepts that the principle of self-determination enables indigenous people to govern themselves, the dynamic must necessarily change where they form a majority. 

The paramountcy of Fijian interests as a protective principle (as stated in the Compact of the present Constitution) more aptly captures the spirit of the Declaration, he said.

“As opposed to the paramountcy claimed in the 1990 Constitution.  In the present situation, Fijians are able to exercise predominance over other communities as well. 

“So the insistence of having separate electoral rolls and representatives becomes less obvious.  The irony is that in this different setting, it is the minority communities who then need to be protected.”