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Civil Servants lead attack against Democracy

Civil Servants lead attack against Democracy
Issue No: 207; 17 November 2000

Prominent civil servants are leading the attack on democracy and good governance in Fiji. The assault comes through their active roles in advising the (Indigenous Fijian) provincial councils on how should the political affairs of the nation be organised.

The Permanent Secretary for Justice, Sakiusa Rabuka and the Permanent Secretary for Work, Anasa Vocea are members of the Committee established by the Cakaudrove Provincial Council to prepare its submissions to the regime's Constitution Review Committee. The committee says it wants the 1990 Constitution to replace the 1997 Constitution. Vocea was recently implicated by the military in the attempted coup of 2 November.

The Permanent Secretary for Labour and Industrial Relations, Apisalome Tuidreu is the chairperson of the Macuata Provincial Council's think tank on the Constitution. According to today's Fiji Times, he informed the Council that the President should be an ethnic Fijian and the Prime Minister should be selected by only the ethnic Fijian members of the Parliament. He also stated that the Fijian Affairs, Immigration, Lands, Agriculture, and Foreign Affairs portfolios should always be held by ethnic Fijians. Further, he stated, the landowners should be give the right to resources of the ocean, a provincial council member should sit in the cabinet, Fiji be declared a Christian state, the Fijian language be accepted the language of the state and all written records be translated in Fijian, and interests of Fijians in business, education and other development programs be highlighted in the constitution. He also proposed that the sexual orientation clause be scrapped from the Constitution.

The Permanent Secretary in the interim regime Prime Minister's office, Jioji Kotobalavu has also been making political statements. The Fiji Public Service Association lodged a complaint against Kotobalavu's political involvement. It also lodged complaints against the utterances of the Secretary for the Public Service Commission, Anare Jale.

Jale, Tuidreu, Vocea and Rabuka were rapidly promoted by Sitiveni Rabuka during his reign as Prime Minister from 1992 to 1997. They bypassed many other more senior civil servants of merit within the service.

Other prominent ethnic Fijian civil servants have also been involved in influencing their provinces on political matters.

The code of conduct for civil servants clearly states that the civil servants should not actively engage in politics. But with the breakdown of law and order, the Public Service Commission has been unable to enforce the public service regulations.

END

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