SODELPA parliamentarian Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu failed in his attempt in parliament today to try to get Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum to stop talking about the SDL government converting the iTaukei land in Momi to freehold land during Ratu Naiqama’s term as Lands Minister.
Ratu Naiqama rose on a point of order, saying that the cabinet decision on the conversion of the land was confidential.
Sayed-Khaiyum raised the issue to highlight that some within SODELPA including Ratu Naiqama who are calling for a change in the constitution were actually involved in permanently alienating iTaukei land in Momi.
He said the same was done in Denarau.
Speaker Doctor Jiko Luveni said that the parliamentarians enjoy freedom of speech and Sayed-Khaiyum has the right to speak on the issue.
He says the law was profoundly flawed at the time as it meant that the then government converted iTaukei land to freehold land and permanently alienated it from the landowning units.
Sayed-Khaiyum says under the 2013 constitution, no iTaukei land can be permanently alienated.
He says there was no constitutional provision in the 1970, 1990 and 1997 constitutions that iTaukei land can never be permanently alienated.
He also said that a group of men decided at Marlborough House what should be in Fiji’s 1970 constitution, and after the two 1987 coups staged by Sitiveni Rabuka, the 1970 constitution was abrogated and then a 1990 constitution was brought in which entrenched skewered ethnic voting and did not get approval by parliament.
Sayed-Khaiyum said that during the review of the 1990 constitution, the Reeves Commission recommended that we need to move away from race based voting and there should be more open seats than ethnic seats.
However this was not followed as majority of the seats were race based seats in the 1997 constitution where only people belonging to the same ethnic community could only vote for a person who belonged to their own ethnic group.
He says even before independence in 1970, the NFP which was then led by AD Patel and SM Koya had stressed that there should be open seats and no more race based seats after independence.
SM Koya and AD Patel
Sayed-Khaiyum says the Sir Lawrence Street Commission had also recommended that Fiji should move away from race based seats however the then Prime Minister, the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara did not action this.Listen to the latest news on our 5 radio stations Legend FM, Viti FM, Radio Sargam, FM96 and Navtarang.