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
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
Motion Moved by Hon. Mahendra Chaudhry on Lifting of the
"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The motion was later withdrawn when Government moved to repeal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: