In 2001, while writing his thesis on the "Final Solution" to ending the Great Council of Chiefs, the young Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, an Ahmadiya Fiji Muslim, had taken a swipe at the predominantly Sunni Fiji muslims and their corporate body the Fiji Muslim League. Now that he has succeeded in convincing the dictator and the puppet president to de-establish the GCC, we wonder if he will axe the Fiji Muslim League, which he accused of acting as “a fiefdom”? See below his Letter to the Editor in the Fiji media in 2001:
|Dean and Khan with Bainimarama|
The claim by some executive members of the Fiji Muslim League ('League') that Muslims support a review of our Constitution and demand separate seats merely because the executive says so is a gross misrepresentation of the views of the everyday and majority of Muslims in our country.
The executive lack the mandate to speak as a representative body for Muslims since the League has been and is essentially an administrative institution managing and maintaining mosques, schools, orphanages, a sugar cane farm and real estate.
In addition to the lack of mandate the arguments and justifications espoused by the executive for a review and separate seats are flawed. They are flawed because our Constitution, in particular the Bill of Rights, namely sections 38(2) and 35 more than adequately guarantee and protect religious freedom and minority rights.
Indeed if an almost identical South African Bill of Rights provision protects the rights of the minority South African Muslims then what is so special about and differentiates Muslims in Fiji?
On the basis that last century the then nascent League made submissions on separate seats, it is argued today that so called Muslim rights will be achieved if these seats as submitted then are allocated now. To refer to a resolution passed some seventy years ago, in an era with its own specificities and dynamics, as justification for separate seats in today's Fiji illustrates a complete ignorance and denial of our political, social and constitutional history/experience as a nation-state.
Indeed if we were to hark back and uphold the standards of 1929 then commoner indigenous Fijians and women would not have the right to vote.
Fiji and the rest of the world have moved along. Clearly such absurd referrals to the past illustrate an enormous vacuum in basic critical thinking and analysis, discourse and a general prevalence of obscurantism within the executive.
Furthermore, it aptly demonstrates a complete ignorance of contemporary developments in and interpretations of Islamic law and jurisprudence vis-a-vis constitutional, human rights and international law and conventions. More tragically, however, the opportunism of the executive displays the absence of and lack of belief in justice, compassion, selflessness and basic human decency.
Most Muslims in Fiji know that certain officials treat the League and its branches as their own little fiefdoms. Fiefdoms, where nepotism is known to be rampant at most times; where certain families and individuals have reigned as executives literally for decades; where children and families of well-to-do officials benefit from scholarships which were and are meant for poor students; where chairs of numerous committees are held by single individuals; where businessmen and business interests are over represented; where women, the youth, various provinces and other denominations are either underrepresented or not represented at all; where appeals to religious dogma and unity are utilized in response to queries of administrative/financial discrepancies and where certain individuals view the League merely as a means to acquire access to power, influence and ultimately money - all under the guise of "protecting Muslim interests."
Indeed the absence of proper representation, transparency, accountability and ultimately legitimacy also plague other local institutions in contemporary Fiji.
The executive of the League cannot and does not represent the political opinion, views, philosophies of individuals or the bulk of Muslims in Fiji. These self appointed guardians do not speak for the masses. Therefore, the current administration and all Fiji Islanders must understand and recognize the majority of Muslims who believe in basic human decency, justice, democracy and constitutionalism reject the idea of separate seats and/or a review of our Constitution.
University of Hong Kong