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Fiji Regime’s PM questions 'western democracy'

Fiji Regime’s PM questions 'western democracy'

Date -- 1 February 2001 USP Pacific Journalism Online: Have your say:


By Michael Field of Agence France-Presse

WAIKIKI, Hawai'i (AFP): Fiji's military installed interim leader yesterday publicly questioned whether his politically unstable nation would ever want to accept "liberal western democracy", saying to do so would destroy its culture and traditions.

Interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase was speaking at the opening session of the Pacific Leaders Conference here, which is debating the impact of globalisation on island cultures.

He appealed to the International community to end its interference in Fiji, saying "solutions for our problems in Fiji lie in Fiji and interference from outside will not solve the problem".

Fiji's deposed President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara is chairing the sessions.

Qarase appears to have been socially isolated by leaders at functions here although, Ratu Mara, who is notably ill, has been well received.

Qarase told the conference that in the Pacific there was a debate over communal democracy, which he called "Point A", versus liberal democracy that was "Point B".

"I personally believe that most of us are probably in the middle of that journey; we have embraced a lot of things of liberal democracy and we continue to evolve and move closer and closer," Qarase said.

"Some of us will never want to reach Point B because by doing so we will embrace the adverse things that flow automatically from the principles of full liberal democracy.

"There is a big problem for us as leaders because some of these principles will tend to destroy our culture and our traditional values.

"That is why I said it is probably better for each of our countries never to reach Point B because by doing so we will lose quite a lot."

In communal democracy the structure was very clear, he said.

"There is a coalition within the society, there is dialogue and there is consultation and a lot of issues are resolved by consensus among the elders.

"In certain situations the chief makes the final decision after a lot of dialogue."

He added there were some principles that were good [in liberal democracy], such as individual freedom and rights, system of government and opposition.



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