THE five members of the Constitution Commission were yesterday reminded that their roles would require patience and humility.
And they will be expected to demonstrate a willingness to listen and to elicit views even of the inarticulate or voiceless.
Chief Justice Anthony Gates made the comments during the swearing-in ceremony of the five Commission members in the High Court in Suva yesterday.
He said the event marked another significant step for Fiji along the path back to constitutionality and reform.
The members sworn-in were chairperson Professor Yash Pal Ghai, commissioners Penelope Moore, Christina Murray, Professor Satendra Nandan and Taufa Vakatale.
Justice Gates said the wording of the oath, which they had taken pursuant to section 11(2) of the Fiji Constitutional Process (Constitution Commission) Decree 2012, was also set out in Schedule 3 at the end of the decree.
"The business of taking an oath or affirmation is not a perfunctory step in one's role," Justice Gates said.
"It is a mandatory requirement and must be taken prior to the commencement of the constitutional process."
Justice Gates recommended that the Commission members referred to their oath "from time to time". He said their role was a quasi-judicial one in its insistence on political neutrality, openness, and avoidance of conflict of interest.
He said it was a solemn task that history suggested would prove formidable.
He said in a far corner of Fiji, they may yet to be presented with a "gem of wisdom", and in ascertaining the circumstances and needs of Fiji, the commissioners were urged to pay due respect to the views and aspirations of all its people.
"Whether you have special expertise in constitution making, few can confidently claim that they have special skills in divining the right constitutional document for Fiji in 2012," Justice Gates said.
"That will be discovered from your work as commissioners. In going about your work, the Code of Conduct will also provide useful guidance," he said.
He said their work, if transparent, would gather confidence both within Fiji and without.
He said it would lead to sensible debate, engagement of disparate parties and groups and enliven a sense of unity in the common noble aim of achieving something better for the country.