Peace - Justice - Freedom - Democracy

 



 

Achievements of FLP

1987 General Elections

The 1987 General Election saw the defeat of Great Council of Chiefs backed Alliance party which had ruled for 17 consecutive years after the Independence.

Sunday Observance Decree

As Fiji began to put on the visage of a progressive, modern State with the return to a form of Parliamentary democracy after 1992, it became obvious that the reactionary Sunday Observance Decree must go. Despite this, under the influence of the Methodist Church hierarchy, the Rabuka Government continued to resist all pressures for the decree to be lifted.

But as 1994 progressed it became obvious that Fiji was increasingly held to international ridicule because of the Sunday Decree. Not only was it retarding economic growth, it was also a serious blight on Fiji's human rights record. Moreover, the Government faced a painful parliamentary debate on the issue with the filing of a Labour Party motion seeking to have the decree lifted.

Motion Moved by Hon. Mahendra Chaudhry on Lifting of the Sunday Ban:

"This House having due regard to the social, political and economic rights of all citizens of Fiji, resolves that the Sunday Observance Decree (no. 20 of 1989) be revoked forthwith".

The motion was later withdrawn when Government moved to repeal the decree and a Bill to this effect had an easy passage through the House of Representative. Labour leader was the only Indian who spoke on the Government Bill hailing it as a step in the right direction in returning the country to true democracy. Mr. Chaudhry pointed out that while the Sunday Ban had been anathema, to all liberal thinking people in Fiji it had been to the Indian "an instrument of persecution symbolic of the loss of his citizenship rights following the 1987 coups".

The Bill was later rejected in the Upper House, as the conservative elements backed by the Methodist Church and several protest marches, voted against the repeal, thus defeating the Bill.

The Real Opposition

Following the 1994 snap elections, the National Federation Party with 20 seats formed the main Opposition in Parliament. However, if one were to go by performance inside and outside Parliament through motions, media statements and other initiatives, it is clear that the most vigorous and consistent opposition was in fact provided by two minority parties, with Fiji Labour Party leading the way and giving a close brush to the Government on a number of important issues and motions.

Review of the 1990 Constitution

The Fiji Labour Party had from the beginning demanded that a Parliamentary Select Committee be appointed to review the racist and undemocratic 1990 Constitution. This is why the party's Parliamentary group refused to participate in the extended Cabinet sub-committee. Our pressure prevailed and in the end, government was forced to succumb to the wisdom of appointing a Parliamentary select committee to assist in the review process.

The three Labour MP's appointed to the committee were: Hon. Mahendra Chaudhry, Krishna Datt and Hardayal Singh.

The Fiji Labour Party had made it clear that it had serious reservations on the existing terms of reference of the review commission. The Party felt that the interests of the main victims of the 1990 Constitution, the Indian people, have not been adequately addressed under the terms of reference and felt the rights of the aggrieved Indian Community may well have been compromised under the restricted terms of reference of the Commission.

The Fiji Labour Party fought for a fully democratised constitution. This meant that:

bulletThe electoral system must be overhauled to allow for free and fair parliamentary elections. There must be no gerrymandering of boundaries as in the 1990 constitution. 
bulletThat the 1990 Constitution was a complete travesty of democracy is evident by the fact that those with only 35% of the votes are ruling the country while people with 65% of votes are sitting in opposition.
bulletThe communal voting system must be abolished and replaced by a system of cross voting.
bulletThe elected representatives of the people must run the State.
bulletAll vestiges of racialism and elitism must be removed from the Constitution.

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