9 Dec 2003

Jim Ah Koy becomes Fiji senator

11:19 am on 9 December 2003

The newest member of Fiji's senate, Jim Ah Koy, says his appointment to the Upper House by the Great Council of Chiefs is the final endorsement that he is an indigenous Fijian.

Mr Ah Koy, who is of part Chinese origin, used to be a member of Fiji's parliament 20 years ago as a General Elector, comprising the group of people not classified as indigenous Fijian or ethnic Indian.

After the imposition of the post-coup, race-based 1990 constitution, Mr Ah Koy applied to be classified as an indigenous Fijian on the grounds that his mother was indigenous.

After lengthy legal battles, Mr Ah Koy succeeded, was entered in the register of indigenous Fijians and was elected as the Fijian member for Kadavu province where his mother came from.

In the senate yesterday, Mr Ah Koy says his appointment to the Upper House was the crowning finale for him because the last act of endorsement and certification by chiefs ratified and stamped, once and for all, his Fijianness and his right to be considered an indigene.

Mr Ah Koy, a wealthy businessman, was the finance minister in the former Rabuka government.