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Civil Servants Asked To Make Political Submissions

Issue No: 265 7 December 2000

The regime has asked the civil servants to make submissions to its Constitution Commission.

In a circular to civil servants, the Public Service Commission stated that the Public Service Act and the General Orders "which deal with political neutrality of civil servants and the Public Service does not restrict civil servants and ministries and departments from constructively and positively expressing their views on the constitution to the review commission for the purpose specifically provided in the Terms of Reference. This is quite distinct from one expressing his/her views against government or a political party".

The Fiji Public Service Association says it is outrageous that the regime is politicising civil service. The FPSA Secretary, Rajeshwar Singh, said:

"Why is the PSC pressuring ministries and departments to put forward submissions?.. They have done an about-turn. It goes against the grain of the civil service which must be apolitical"

According to today's Fiji Times, the PSC relied on a wrong section of the Public Service Act to allow civil servants to make submissions. It states that the nearest which the Public Service laws allow a civil servant to go to political matters is to submit to make his department more efficient. The newspaper stated that the circular set a dangerous precedent. The PSC, it stated, "has no right to call on civil servants to make submissions on the Constitution through their ministries or departments". It further stated that the PSC "and its staff must quit the political scene now".

The circular came out only days after the High Court ruled that the Constitution Commission has no legal basis.

The Qarase regime has thoroughly politicised the civil service since usurping office. Appointments, promotions, transfers, and training have all been politicised by a few senior civil servants and the Qarase ministers. Numerous Permanent secretaries, including the Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office, Jioji Kotobalavu, and the Secretary of the PSC, Anare Jale, have during the recent months, openly taken political positions. During the People's Coalition rule, even the administratively proper transfer of a tea lady would attract media headlines. The situation now is reversed. Not only is the media silent, but all those who would create big fuss on small administratively proper matters in the old days, are tolerant of the decay.

Meanwhile, the PSC has not taken any action against the civil servants who had actively supported the terrorists. It is understood that one civil servant who was charged and detained with Speight and others, Rusiate Korovusere, is still on government payroll.

END 7 December 2000


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