22 Jan 2018

Call for a release of ethnic data from Fiji census

9:29 am on 22 January 2018

A former Speaker of Parliament in Fiji says the refusal to release ethnic data from last year's census is concerning.

Fiji flag

Photo: RNZ

The Bureau of Statistics collected data on the country's ethnic makeup, but will not release it unless it's instructed to do so.

The census commissioner, Epeli Waqavonovono, last week told The Fiji Times the decision to not release it came "from higher authority".

But Pita Nacuva, a former SDL MP and speaker until the 2006 coup, said that was concerning as all census data should be free and open.

Mr Nacuva said data on ethnicity did not have to be divisive, and could have critical uses.

"If there was a need to assist a particular race in terms of economic development. That does not mean that you are favouring one particular race. It is important to bring up others who are behind so that we can all be moving together."

The Bainimarama government has long maintained to not acknowledge the iTaukei-Fiji Indian divide, instead calling everyone "Fijian".