By Tupuola Terry Tavita
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi this week waded in with some straight talking on the ongoing constitution controversy in Fiji and the apparent silence from regime leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama.
Tuilaepa was asked of his views on the recent turn of events in Fiji that involved shredding and torching of constitutional draft papers by Police in front of prominent Kenyan lawyer Professor Yash Ghai, who headed the five-member Constitutional Commission.
“It’s just a despicable act of intimidation," he says. " First they bring over this respected internationally-recognized man who has drafted numerous constitutions around the world to help them draft a constitution document. Then they do this to him? Where is their responsibility to New Zealand and Australian taxpayers who contributed to funding that constitutional draft? Just no respect.
“The military is not fooling anybody. Most democratic countries know a lot more about constitutional processes than the inexperienced military gang in Suva. Any constitution has to be widely consulted and commented on in the public arena. Samoa’s constitution had to be endorsed through a nation-wide plebiscite. It is now over fifty years old and still very relevant.
“This latest incident in Fiji just reinforces what we have known all along. That all this is just plain bullshit. It’s just dirty tricks to engineer a constitution that will save their skin and legitimize their hold on power. The military regime has no intention of relinquishing power and ushering in a democratically-elected government.”
“And where is Bainimarama in all this? Where’s he hiding? All we’ve been hearing are these morons like the Police Commissioner and Land Force Commander whatever-his-name-is making a lot of silly threats. Bainimarama has already promised general elections next year. He has had over six years to prepare for it. It’s time he came out and showed some maturity and take responsibility. Enough of this kids rubbish.”
When told that the military has since denied torching constitution draft papers, Tuilaepa frowned, saying; “Who would you believe? An internationally-acclaimed professor of law or a dumb foot soldier?"