back to news archives for 18-31 August, 2000
USP Journalism Programme
BLUEPRINT WON'T WORK, SAYS BABA

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By Mithleshni Gurdayal
USP Journalism Graduate on the Daily Post

SUVA: While interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's blueprint is seen
as a "bible" by many high chiefs, ousted Deputy Prime Minister Dr Tupeni
Baba in the elected Chaudhry government thinks the document will only
assist elite Fijians and not ordinary Fijians.
Dr Baba said such programmes had been put in place before and only a
handful of Fijians had benefited.
The document will do very little to the lot of the ordinary Fijians, who
live in villages, housing estates and those who are civil servants like
police, nurses and other government workers," Mr Baba said.
"These are the kinds of promises the coup leader of the 1987 military
coups [Sitiveni Rabuka] made to the ordinary Fijians and we all know
that the living standards of these ordinary Fijians haven't improved
over the years."
Dr Baba accepted that indigenous Fijians had grievances which needed to
be looked at urgently.
However, he pointed out that some grievances were based on
misinformation and lies and therefore needed to be substantiated.
"If there are genuine cases where Fijians strongly feel that they are
being discriminated against then of course they need to be looked into."
Dr Baba said that people's grievances should not be used as a catalyst
to bring about changes to the existing constitution.
"There are so many other ways of dealing with grievances and surely
getting rid of the constitution is not the answer."
Dr Baba said the interim administration had not been able to explain to
the public ways in which the 1997 constitution had failed.
"Mr Qarase hasn't fully told us where the 1997 constitution went wrong.
All he said is about provisions on affirmative action but those
provisions have been catered for in the social justice and affirmative
action sections of the constitution.
"Then there is chapter 2 - the compact, which clearly outlines special
provisions for indigenous Fijians," Dr Baba said.
"The interim administration is living with the assumptions of coup-maker
George Speight that the 1997 constitution was discriminatory against the
Fijians."
Dr Baba said the only way forward for Fiji was a government of national
unity.
+++niuswire

Title -- 2932 REGION: Blueprint won't work, says Baba
Date -- 28 August 2000
Byline -- None
Origin -- Pasifik Nius
Source -- Fiji's Daily Post, 28/8/00
Copyright -- DP
Status -- Unabridged
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