Skip to content

Koyamaibole: Fiji’s Land Liar

May 6, 2013

By Isireli Koyamaibole

It is not a good feeling to be labelled a liar in a national newspaper, not once but three times, by people who purported to be running this illegal government. Both the illegal PM and his illegal AG have made very wide ranging, vicious and unprovoked attack on some of us about the security of i Taukei land.
Unfortunately, our side of the story, the alternative view, has never been considered important to illustrate what balance reporting is, and the meaning of world best practice in journalism by the Fiji Sun. This is despite our supplying the Fiji Sun with written text as a right of reply being the aggrieved party.
I invite you all to earnestly engage yourself in reading up s185 and s186 of the 1997 constitution on Group Rights; Article 11- through to Article 17, particularly Article 17 of Ghai Constitution CommissionDraft, 2012; and Article 27 of the Regime’s Constitution Draft, 2013; those are the specific provisions given to us that focus on safe guarding and the protection of i Taukei land.
Land agenda: Khaiyum and Bainimarama. MinfoOn comparison, one will find that Article 27 of the Regime’s Draft does not address the “mataqali’’ or group ownership of land which is customary among the i Taukei. What you will find is that the entrenched protection for the i Taukei land that was the hallmark and available in the 1997 Constitution and the Ghai Draft 2012, is conspicuous in its absence in the Regime’s Draft, 2013.  Whether deliberate or not this is designed to remove the entrenched provisions under group rights as opposed to individual rights under Article 27 of the Bill of Rights in the Regime’s Draft 2013.
As a matter of fact the entrenched protection for all the key legislation namely I Taukei Lands Act, I Taukei Land Trust Act, Rotuman Lands Act, Banaban Lands Act, and Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act, has been effectively removed in the Regime’s Draft Constitution, 2013.
The implication is that these Acts can be amended or repealed in parliament with a simple majority of 23 out of 45 votes in the Regime’s Constitution.
Illegal PM Bainimarama should stop making unfounded remarks, come to the point, and explain whether he understands his own draft. He claimed in Fiji Sun 19/05/13  that “…. If a change in the i Taukei land legislation is proposed in parliament it has to be passed by three-quarters of the members. When this is done, Prime Minister added, the Electoral Commission will conduct a referendum for all registered voters on the matter. And again for the proposed legislation to then be enacted it required three quarters majority in the referendum.’’
Careful analysis of his Regime’s Draft will show there is no connection between the quoted statement and what is actually provided in the draft for the iTaukei land.

For the simple reason that there is none. Anyhow, the people of Fiji, particularly the indigenous Fijian deserve an unreserved apology for the manner in which they have been constantly misled to believe what is obviously non-existent.

One would then wonder at the level and quality of advice that is fed into the illegal PM”s propaganda machine for distribution to the unsuspecting members of the public who are the subject of selective censorship.
However, in a related matter, readers are also invited to read up Article 169 of the Regime’s Draft 2013 on  Preservation of laws, where various written laws and decrees which were…..”in force between 5 December 2006 until the date of the first sitting of the first parliament under this constitution shallcontinue to be in force in their entirety.’’ (Note that even the decrees yet to be drafted/written are already included).
It is important to remind ourselves at this juncture that even though the 1997 Constitution was abrogated by Bainimarama the Fiji Court of Appeal celebrated judgment on 9th April 2009 had declared the regime unlawful. That decision has not been repealed not challenged by anyone up to now.

Nevertheless, ever since the coup of 2006 this country has continued to be ruled by decrees.

Article 169 is the section used by the propaganda machine based at the illegal PM’s office to spread the propaganda to the people of Fiji, particularly the indigenous population. In that, they claim that all the entrenched laws governing  iTaukei land continues in the Regime’s Draft 2013. But as we have seen above, there is no truth in this, because Article 27 of the Regime’s Draft has no provision for the group rights but only for individual rights. All the I Taukei, Rotuman and Banaban laws therefore are not protected in this 2013 draft constitution.

This means that they can be amended or repealed like any other ordinary legislation.
Some of the notable decrees continued under Article 169 that have been systematically and strategically orchestrated since December 2006 to dismantle the indigenous institution enshrined in the 1997 Constitution are:
  • Decree no 31 of 2009 I Taukei Land Trust Board (amendment ) Decree to remove Fijian Representation in the Native Land Trust Board that were up to then appointed by the Bose Levu Vakaturaga (BLV);
  • Decree no 31 of 2010 that took away the name Fijian from indigenous Fijian and left them with the I Taukei label;
  •  Decree no 36 of 2010 – Land Use Decree (LUD) that established the Land Use Bank, as a rival to the Native Land Trust Act. The NLTA is primarily for the benefit of the Fijian landowners while the LUD is for the landowners interest AND the economy. As a matter of function there is nothing proposed in the LUD which cannot be undertaken within the bounds of the NLTA.
The LUD creates an unprecedented concentration of power in one single person thus making the Prime Minister whoever he/she is a very powerful person. Once the land is put into the Land Bank the Landowners no longer have any say in its use for the period of lease which is not more than 99 years. At his own discretion the Prime Minister shall designate land for utilization under LUD for four generation of people. Notice how the control of this land slips away from the hands of the ITaukei Land Trust Board (on behalf of the landowners) into the hands of the Director of Lands, a civil servant, who now has a free hand to do as he / she pleases in accordance with the national interest. In whose judgement  a project becomes a national interest is anyone’s guess. For certain, this is a major deviation from the NLTB’s founder, the late Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna’s thinking for the  board.
There are no provisions for the rental paid or any notice for re-assessment of rent. Other terms of lease and other conditions are not catered for in the LUD. Without this transparency, it is likely that these are hidden away in the Land Use Regulations. These regulations are changeable in future to meet the ministers need without any obligatory requirement to consult with the land owners. Effectively this would imply that the Minister can make any new laws without the approval of parliament.
One can summarily conclude that land has been taken out of the hands of parliament and courts and handed straight into the hands of the Prime Minister.
In clause 9(i), “This Decree has effect not withstanding any provision of the Native Land Trust Act(Cap.134), Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act ( Cap.270), Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Ordinance 1966 or any other law.’’The LUD supercedes  and over- rules every other law of the land. This is directly inconsistent and in contrast with all previous constitutions and Ghai’s Constitutional Draft 2012. 

In terms of these previous constitutions and Ghai’s Draft, the LUD is an UNCONSTITUTIONAL arrangement. 

Additionally, as is consistent with all the illegal AG’S decree none of this provision can be challenged in court, tribunal, commission, etc, etc, as in clause 15 of LUD.
Furthermore, other insidious actions taken by the regime are:
  • Decree no 20 of 2012, I Taukei Affairs Amendment Decree, terminating the role, power and existence of the Bose Levu Vakaturaga . While the indigenous people of this country were busy struggling and sweating for their survival here in Fiji, a report on their behalf was made to the 81st session of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva in August 2012. It was tabled by the representative of the illegal regime. The report confirmed to the CERD committee, the regime’s contention to dismantle the indigenous Fijian entrenched institutions established far back in the colonial era to protect Fijian interests and amongst them was the BLV;
  • The new amendment to Regulation 11 of the Native Lands Lease and License Act (NLLLA) which  came into effect on January1, 2011. It demands certain level of payments and sharing of lease monies within Fijian landowning units and members. The chiefs, turaga ni mataqali, turaga i taukei and turaga ni yavusa were entitled to bigger shares of money unlike members of the mataqali. By taking away a large share from the chiefs, especially done to assist them to carry out their traditional roles this regulation has effectively disempowered them;
  • In addition, is the promulgation of the Surf Decree and its subsequent effects on Qoliqoli Rights. Hoteliers are now using the decree to stop all payments once made to traditional qoliqoli owners to access these areas for commercial activities. There is a sense of unfairness and exploitation when foreigners use the qoliqoli areas commercially and yet indigenous Fijians receive no compensation. This has aggravated their sense of insecurity as the qoliqoli ownership was not returned to them as originally understood through the terms of the Deed of Cession and they have felt aggrieved ever since.
It is evident from the above that not only are the indigenous Fijians being weakened in their positions as landowners; there is also a concerted effort  to dismantle indigenous institutions in the pretext of non-discrimination principles; marginalization from economic power and participation with the discontinuation of affirmative action programme  to encourage and develop Fijian business; and the weakening of their political voice as any propagation of indigenous rights and issues is now termed racist and discriminatory, etc.
Finally one must not forget that all the decrees and laws mentioned above were imposed on the people of this country by this illegal regime. Even for matters concerning indigenous people which are very dear to their hearts and have withstood many years of test and tribulations, there was no consultation with them.

How can we give our youth a better hope and a good future when their fathers and mothers suffer the humiliation of ostracism and were never consulted publicly or otherwise in what was best for our livelihood. I stress the wisdom of open consultation which reflects understanding, co-operation and togetherness, only then we can claim legitimacy and true ownership.

Au na maroroya ka taqomaka na vanua e turu kina na noqu dra kau vola kawa bula kina.

Source:; Posted by Rusi Varani for SWM

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: