Voice of the people

Suva crowd at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hall during an Agricultural show in 1908. Picture: Fiji Museum/Ryan Wishart

Part 5: This is the final article based on letters written by A.J.C.Foster that appeared in

The Fiji Times of April 8, 1959.

 

There will be many who have to be convinced against their will or judgement.here is little more to be said on the subject of a change against someone’s will.

I am hoping that there are some government members who when everyone starts talking about the first step, will see the next step.

Ideas create their own momentum. The voice of the people cannot forever be ignored, and the stimulus of a vast concentration of public support upon a member must be potent.

This appears the only way in which we will eventually be able to coerce the Government into democratic rule – that it must occasionally listen to the voice of the public.

Give us, therefore, an elected council to transmit the public’s wishes to the Government, and so give someone a chance to say “I’m their leader – I must follow them”.

The great mass of human beings, absorbed in daily toil, are hardly conscious of the speed of progress in this century.

But studying the last 31 years since I first came to the Islands, there is no doubt at all that the face of the Pacific has changed, narrowed down, overlapped into so-called civilisation.

The people in the same time have entirely changed character. Let us all be alive to this fact.

“Government of the people for the people by the people” has lost its significance, but it is still a basic pillar of freedom.

A last thought on the subject already mentioned. In this Colony, with power politics, unconsciously exerted or not, there is a crying need for a better standard of living for the underpaid labourer.

Nevertheless, this labourer has to live and feed families. Large families or small, the principle is identical.

Any agitation to have wages raised meets with a scream of disapproval. Certain employers, taking advantage of the times, are actually working their labourer for eight hours and paying for six.

Such practices are common and I am not aware of any elected member doing anything to alleviate the conditions under which labourers are compelled to suffer or to suggest a rise in wages, or even legislation to control malpractices. Here is where an elected member could do some good work now.

To conclude, how is this elected council to be pressed upon the Government? Taxpayers’ Associations? Ratepayers Associations? Chambers of Commerce?

No! They may help but the remedy lies in the hands of the people!

 

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