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Date Posted: 03:27:41 04/14/04 Wed
Author: Jone Dakuvula
Subject: Open letter on Fiji's democracy
It is so good Jale Baba (DP 07/04/04) had found some time to get out of the wood and get among the trees of "liberal democracy" to engage in defence of Prime Minister Qarase's silly statement in Wellington telling New Zealand leaders that they do not understand Fijians and the context of the 2000 coup and therefore should shut up. What a patronising and ridiculous observation. Imagine how Qarase would feel if Helen Clark were to say in a dinner speech welcoming him that the problem with you Fijians is that you are just too immature to understand and be governed by the rule of law and democracy.
So is Baba going to explain to us now what he means by "conservative" liberal democracy that Fiji needs as opposed to a "liberal" liberal democracy that it does not need?
Whilst we are on this subject of communal seats and conservative democracy, let us look at Malaysia and Singapore, two countries that Prime Minister Qarase had recently publicly held up as models for Fiji. These are examples of conservative consensus model democracies with multiethnic populations similar to Fiji. They do not have communal seats. Their systems have been based on common roll, one person one vote since independence. Common Roll which has been the bugbear of Fiji nationalists like Baba for the last forty years.
Communal Voting is a strong feature of Malaysian politics but they have multiparty multiracial Government for decades and, in Singapore, a multiracial national unity Government for the same period. They have been winning elections without fail over forty years as consensus conservative democracies. Contrast that to the "Conservative" SDL which rejects multiracial consensus democracy and has been in power only for two years, elected on just over 50% of the Fijian communal votes and now struggling to remain viable is a "conservative" government.
I agree with Jale Baba that SDL (quote) "would do much better to learn systems adopted by different governments around the world". In the case of Qarase's latest "models", Malaysia and Singapore, Baba should advise him to ponder whether these two countries success in economic development and raising the standard of living of their people have something to do with their inclusive consensus approach to governance. If he can't do this, then he should get back to chopping other people's wood.
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