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'We listened to all'

Nasik Swami
Monday, January 07, 2013

THE work to draft Fiji's new constitution by the dissolved Constitution Commission, its chairman Professor Yash Ghai and members has always been neutral.

These were the comments made by one of the commissioners of the dissolved commission, Penelope Moore following various media reports questioning the commission's neutrality.

Ms Moore said various questions were surfacing following the fact that Prof Ghai talked to political parties.

"I think they (media reports) were questioning Yash Ghai and the fact that he talked with political parties. To be honest, we talked with every possible person we could talk to," she said.

Ms Moore said the reason Prof Ghai communicated with any other people outside was to hear their views.

"The word neutral is interesting. I think they (media reports) are meaning our opinions. Definitely our opinions came from what we learnt from the submissions," Ms Moore said.

"Therefore we did not have opinions. We were listening to people and hearing what people were saying. Some of the things concerned us greatly and we listened to them and some of the things that were not in line with the guiding principles, we also listened to it."

She said because the commission was guided by the principles it had to find ways to ensure submissions were accommodated as much as possible on all sides.

"The guiding principles and the other two conditions, one was looking at history and another was looking at the basic practices and how to move Fiji to a different form. So those were the conditions we upheld," the outspoken commissioner said.

"But that does not mean we did not listen to all sides. In order to hear and to make decisions you have to be able to and I guess in a way that's neutral."

Ms Moore said the commission was neutral in the way that it had the same respect for everybody irrespective of where they were from.

"The people in the commission were of great integrity. Professor Ghai is an internationally renowned person; commissioners were very hardworking with years of experience and knowledge. They were not biased and ensured that people were treated equally.

"I think that's why we were chosen," she said.





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