From Henry Enasio (19 July 2005)

Response to "Rotuma Council backs Bill"

When I first read this article in Fiji Times Online, I thought it was very brave of the Interim Chairman to commit Rotuma so early and to be upfront as to where we stand. Thus I am reminded of my late solicitor and AG mate, Bulewa, whose words I referred to in an earlier letter to the Forum. Allow me to repeat them again: he said to me that the Fijians know that Rotumans will always back them up. This, I believe, is why the Chairman issued his statement re the Bill. I know that the PM, Mr Qarase, has our interests at heart; his portfolio is responsible for Rotuma and it's natural to expect the RIC to back him. But I also believe that it would be nice to have on board the all the parties to the triangle, including the GCC and the FMF, as was the case on 14/5/87. These vital links are currently missing given the controversy between the Government and FMF Commander, and the GCC is yet to meet and declare it's stand.

Besides the GCC and the FMF I perceive some risks:

  1. What if the Government loses to the opposition, which opposes the Bill. Where will Rotuma stand then?
  2. The looming threat of an expected challenge to the Bill by the Fiji Law Society.
  3. The FMF's opposition to the Bill. It will impact them a lot given the involvement of the counter revolution soldiers.
  4. The Police Commissioner's opposition before he was told in no uncertain terms to pipe down (or else his contract won't be renewed, as I believe the case to be).
  5. The lack of grass roots consultation and the opposition of women's groups, etc.

Then I read Antonio Tanu's commentary. It seems that the Interim Chairman’s statement was made without the RIC meeting to discuss the Bill, and without discussion at the district level. According to Mr Tanu the statement was made at a workshop in which only four of the chiefs attended on the first day and only three out of the same four chiefs attended on the second day. A very valid point raised by Mr Tanu.

Would we call what transpired, consultation?! I'd suggest that the RIC take such an important issue to the district level and have it discussed, as they did it in 1987, before issuing a statement.

Henry Enasio
Sydney Australia