Jagath Karunaratne attended the Rishikul consultation session on Wednesday night and posed some hard hitting questions as an individual and a member of a society group.
|Karunaratne at court in 2012.|
"Today, we are accused of going against the same regime, hence in the process we are also involved in the same chaos. SO why not immunity for us as well?"
He was told by Khaiyum that since he is an accused, he should raise it with the court. Karunaratne says: "I am only an accused whereas he has been convicted by the 2009 ruling that found the 2006 coup was illegal!"
Karunaratne posed another biggie to Khaiyum: "Are we living in a dictatorship, if not what is it? Are we the servants while you are the master who knows it all?"
He urged Khaiyum to hold a televised debate where people can participate by texting and calling in, pledging to get people involved. He says Khaiyum couldn't give him an answer but said he'd take his suggestion as his submission.
Coupfourpointfive approached Karunaratne about sharing his views further and compiled the following from the interview.
Straggly media and hard questions
First of all, I would like to challenge the local media on their media ethics: what has happened to unbiased reporting and freedom of media and speech? After attending the constitution session at Rishikul, I can clearly see that the media is not reporting the issues as transpired at the venue, but articles are published by giving prominence only to the current administration.
Since the burning issue today is the draft constitution, I have urged Aiyaz Khaiyum to have an open session on national TV as part of the consultation or briefing sessions around the country.
This would no doubt give us the opportunity to ask and clarify many issues in front of a mass audience rather than spending time and money on travelling to various places in Fiji.
In my personal experiences of communications with the society it is clear that there are many issues affecting them.
The mistrust, fear, ignorance due to the conception that their voices will not be heard and things will be forced upon people, are still haunting on people’s minds. It also clearly shows that the constitution process initiated by the current administration is not reaching the general public. The only people who are showing interest are the ones who have keen interest in politics or individuals who are familiar on issues to do with law and constitution. The issues of public vary from bread and butter issues to land, indigenous rights then to bill of rights.
I sincerely believe that Mr. Khaiyum would show his transparency and the credibility in the process by accepting my invitation.
I cannot agree or accept the current administration because they are unelected and acceptance by the people has not been proved, despite the claims they had genuine reasons to overthrow the elected government in 2006.
My intention is not just to attack the current administration, but to seek answers from everyone who are seen as leaders. Once I am clear in my own mind, I will readily declare who my support will go to.
My questions to the current administration:
• How can we believe in free and fair elections when we clearly see the obstacles and hindrances placed by way of law on political parties?
• Haven’t you failed the people of Fiji over the past six-plus years, hence your reluctance to accept a broader participation of people and their views?
• As claimed by you, you have a nationwide support on the reforms you are still in the process of implementing. Who are the major society groups, NGO’s, religious groups and others who are supporting you?
• I believe as an individual I would be ashamed to hang on to something which does not belong to me. Do those of you who are holding the title “Minister” feel the same?
I understand the fact that the very existence of a political party is elections, confidence in their numbers, gathering support to their respective parties and at the end win elections. While they are struggling to bring out the truth to the public due to the prevailing conditions in Fiji today and the obstacles placed upon political parties, they are finding it difficult to play their usual role as political leaders.
What are our leaders doing?
We currently have the political leaders who are issuing statements every other day screaming for democracy, claiming the current administration is not legitimate while abiding to every single decree thrown at them which is clearly confusing the general public.
Personally, I feel that it is rather amusing and conflicting as per what I see them say and do. But I am unable to see a vision and plan for the people of Fiji, in the event they succeed in overthrowing the current administration.
As people of Fiji, we would like to see a principled approach to address all the issues which you yourselves as traditional leaders are raising as real issues for Fiji and her people.
We hear calls for a referendum for people to vote on the draft constitution. Once again this is adhering to the process of an illegitimate administration while opposing the same. We are simply endorsing the constitution process and falling directly in to the hands of the opposition.
What if a referendum is called to get the acceptance by the people together with an appointment of the next prime minister as per to the new constitution? In this case people will have to ‘tick’ twice on the ballot paper to say “yes” to the constitution and another “tick” on the candidate of their choice. In this scenario, as political leaders are you ready to take up the challenge?
Or are you going to again oppose it, saying that we only asked for a referendum on the draft constitution? Aren’t we going to become a laughing stock? Most of all a scenario as such goes ahead with a referendum and any possible win by the current administration will make their whole process legitimate and firm as a rock.
As political leaders you need to change your game plan, come up with a road map for new Fiji, how are you going to remove the current administration and adapt your road map, how is it going to affect the people in Fiji as a whole, how are you planning to address their issues and most of all who are proposing as the next possible administration whether it is interim or otherwise. This is where you confuse the people and also show them that you do not have a plan A or B or C.
If you are unable to come up with a road map for Fiji, then we as people of Fiji would accept the known devil than the unknown angel as the only leadership we can see with at least some plans.
If you do not have a clear roadmap then how are you going to get the international community on your side as by the looks of things the only thing they care now is elections? They are eagerly waiting to the current administration to be legitimized to join hands openly and go on their usual business.
The mana of chiefs
The international community does not care about general public and why would they when there is no clear visible opposition shown by the general public of Fiji apart from the usual bunch of politicians opposing every single thing the current administration is proposing and this is seen only as a survival in the political arena and to show your existence.
I admire the courage, simplicity and humbleness of the paramount chief, the lady Ro Teimumu Kepa and her continuous efforts to be a voice for people of Fiji. In the mean time, I also applaud the traditional chiefs who are openly supporting the current administration.
The title “chief” is believed to be anointed by God at birth as guardians of the nation. It also comes with respect, benefits and most of all enormous responsibilities to the people and the nation as a whole.
I personally believe that the traditional and religious institutions are the pillars of a nation, which binds people with their land and dignity as a race. Once they are disturbed and disarrayed, the nation becomes a floating nation which is vulnerable to local and international threats and at times the devil is living amongst us.
You have seen the GCC being abolished and the chiefs have admonished the decision possibly with a tear in their eyes and there are claims that the rights of indigenous people are at risk. And yet many of you have still failed to admit or deny the very fact. As traditional leaders of a nation, I believe it is your responsibility to guide the people by showing your acceptance or rejection of the ruling administration. This will clearly guide the people of Fiji from their current confused state of mind.
I believe that the people of Fiji are the most humble, innocent, who respect the elders, respect the chiefs, respect the leaders and most of all respect the religious leaders and lead a life as per to their religious beliefs.
And yet the very same good and human aspects are somewhat hindering their progress, speaking their hearts and mind and in turn living a life in a self-created shell. I hear statements from certain entities saying they do not wish to be involved in politics. I believe that the very statement is politicized and an indirect attempt to have a mask around the face.
I also believe that every single person is part of politics as the meaning of politics is administration of more than 2 people for the betterment of the society and to ensure the respect to rule of law. The religious entities are administering a major part of the population on what is right and wrong and spreading the word of God.
As spiritual leaders and agents of God, you have a responsibility to guide people only with truth and nothing but the truth. Your concern should only be people and nothing but the people.
I value myself as an individual and I believe that every single drop of water fills up the jar.
I will surely endorse my support or the rejection of the current administration and also the other leadership of this country when I feel so am RIGHT and only the right thing to do.
I am willing to be the test of freedom of speech, justice, abuse or respect of human rights and many other values that are spoken openly by our leaders as their values and vision for the nation.
As Mahatma Gandhi said “be the change you want the world to be”. I do not believe in people fearing to voice their opinion. Why would we fear and for whom? - as we are all human beings act differently as per the circumstances.
You are not alone as you belong to a society and whatever happens in the society affects you as an individual. The society and the circumstances create leaders whether they are good or bad, Adolf Hitler and Mahatma Gandhi to name a few.
Lastly, I would like to apologise anyone whom I may have offended in the process and it could be only due to my ignorance and lack of knowledge.