27 September 2021 22:12

Fiji’s Constitution Day: The Way Forward towards Equality, Unity and Brotherhood

Fiji PM Frank Bainimarama gave a positive message “All Fijians share the same rights, same votes of equal value and the same national identity. "

Numerous brainstorming sessions of intellectuals and law expert of nations goes into making a constitution of any nation, the completing of the Constitution of any nation is a memorable, and it becomes even more valuable the day it is implemented.

It gives a deep sense of patriotism and establishes rules and principles of how the state will be governed, a framework of government legislature, executive and judiciary. This even defines the rights of the people that must be respected by the State, and establish a bond between the government and the people.

This prestigious day should be celebrated not only by enjoying the public holiday at the comfort of one home but also remember the ones who have developed their lives in the national struggle against colonization and gave them the independence to give an opportunity to prepare their own constitution.

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It is defined as “The constitution is something that sets the limits and boundaries of the governments’ interaction and powers. The Constitution works as a means by which the government in the rule knows as to what extent they can impose rules and regulations on the citizen of the country” https://www.airtract.com/article/why-is-the-constitution-important–7-reasons-.

Every human being needs a “the voice in the decisions that affect our lives, material well being such as food, shelter and education, security and protection from violence and discrimination, recognition and respect as individual and communities,….so people create government and delegate power to them to exercise for the common good of society”.

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Constitution provides “the supreme law that establishes organises and empower the government and determine how other laws are made and implemented” https://www.coe.int/en/web/human-rights-channel/-/what-is-a-constitution-  Most constitutions throughout the globe define the basic principles of the state, the structure and procedures of government, and the rights of citizens. A constitution is not simply a regular law; it is the ultimate law known as a constitution.

“Constitution is not a mere lawyers document, it is a vehicle of Life, and its spirit is always the spirit of Age,”

B.R. Ambedkar said.

Nearly all countries in the world have constitutions to establish rules to govern. Since independence, some nations have had one Constitution like India, while others like Fiji has noticed four in 1970, 1990, 1997 and 2013.

Since 7 September 2016, the Republic of Fiji is commemorating the third anniversary of their current constitution. This day is observed as a public holiday, but every nation is proud of their Constitution that gives them an identity and values of a nation in an absolute sense.

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The Republic of Fiji’s 2013 Constitution begins with a preamble, the state, bill of rights, define parliament composition and rights, executive, judiciary, state services, revenue and expenditure, accountability, emergency powers, immunity; commencement, interpretation, repeals and transitional, where each chapter defines the principles, right and duties of every citizen.

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It states,

“Every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection, treatment and benefit of the law” (Fiji Constitution 2013).

This article discusses some glimpse of the constitution in general, with particular reference to Fiji’s Constitution and its importance.

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Fiji: “First Constitution for All Fijians”

Today, Fiji PM Hon Frank Bainimarama gave a positive message “all Fijians share the same rights, same votes of equal value and the same national identity. “

“This #Constitution Day, we celebrate the Constitution that made all of that possible our first Constitution for All Fijians”

This is a message of democracy, equality and universal brotherhood that derive the nation into progressive pathways.  

Fiji’s 2013 Constitution begins with a preamble, but the principles of the first chapter “The State” need to be remembered where the Republic of Fiji is explained as a sovereign democratic state founded on the values that every Fijian should remember, that include

“(a) common and equal citizenry and national unity;
(b) respect for human rights, freedom and the rule of law;
(c) an independent, impartial, competent and accessible system of justice;
(d) equality for all and care for the less fortunate based on the values inherent in this section and in the Bill of Rights contained in Chapter 2;
(e) human dignity, respect for the individual, personal integrity and responsibility, civic involvement and mutual support;
(f) good governance, including the limitation and separation of powers;
(g) transparency and accountability; and
(h) a prudent, efficient and sustainable relationship with nature” (Constitution of The Republic of Fiji).

Further, it states…

“Constitution shall be upheld and respected by all Fijians and the State, including all persons holding public office, and the obligations imposed by this Constitution must be fulfilled”. 

The constitution gives “values that underlie a democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom” (Fiji Constitution 2013). Celebrations of Constitution day is itself a sense of pride and responsibility for all nations to abide by its regulations, and thanks to all those who made it possible.

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Although every constitution has provisions to make suitable changes as per the need of the society, that is for the common good of the nation to thrive for prosperity and progress.  

Conclusion: Significance of Constitution

Constitution is a foundation of every nation, as without is a proper implication, the law and jurisdiction would crumble, but they are supposed to remain firm. It embodies the basic rules and concepts of a nation, state and its people.

It includes all the rules and regulations that are created to develop to govern a nation and resulting in a constructed document. The constitution across the globe are unique in their own way, but the same common goal to ensure that nation remains stable and govern based on principles for the best interest of the citizens. 

Today, I would like to congratulate every Fijian for celebrating the Constitution Day that has given them the principles of governance and provides every citizen with fundamental rights. Lastly, Daniel Webster said, “One country, one constitution, one destiny” that reflect recapitulates the feeling of patriotism towards the nation.

Author: Dr Sakul Kundra, A.HOD Department of Social Science, College of Humanities and Education, Fiji National University.

Dr Sakul Kundra; Picture Source: Supplied
Dr Sakul Kundra; Picture Source: Supplied

Disclaimer: The views expressed are his own and not of The Australia Today or his employer. For comments or suggestions, email. [email protected]

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