29 Oct 2004

Rabuka says critics of Fiji constitution making fools of themselves

4:15 pm on 29 October 2004

The former Fiji prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, says Great Council of Chiefs and government senators who have been attacking the 1997 Constitution in the Upper House are "making fools of themselves."

Mr Rabuka has told Radio Legend that the senators' remarks demonstrate their inability to consider constructively and objectively the processes that took place before the passing of the 1997 Constitution.

Mr Rabuka says it also displays their ignorance of the 1997 as well as the earlier 1990 and 1970 constitutions.

Mr Rabuka has singled out for criticism the paramount chief of Naitasiri and government senator Ratu Inoke Takiveikata who claimed that the 1997 Constitution did not protect the land and resource rights of the indigenous Fijians.

Mr Rabuka says all these rights have been protected under the Native Lands Act, the Native Lands Trust Act, the Rotuman Act, and the Banaban Act in all three constitutions Fiji has had.

Mr Rabuka says Senator Takiveikata spent a lot of time in Australia as an illegal immigrant and was deported and this means that he favours the lifestyle and customs of Australia.

Mr Rabuka says when you look at the personal background of these people, they have no right to be saying what they are saying.

Mr Rabuka has described the comments as a big lie to hoodwink the masses but he says the masses are better educated than them.

The senate has adjourned debate on Senator Mohammed Apisai Tora's motion calling for a commission of inquiry to determine the validity of the constitution to its next session in December.