SDL President Solomone Naivalu (left) with jailed SDL leader Laisenia Qarase (Photo:Fiji Times)

The former governing party in Fiji – the deposed SDL (Soqosoqo Duavata Ni Lewenivanua) – has issued a news release taking Grubsheet to task for our coverage of its reported desire to introduce a Christian state in Fiji. The following – a statement by SDL President Solomone Naivalu – was distributed to news organisations by SDL spokesman Mesake Koroi. It restates the SDL’s previous claim that while some of its members have made presentations to the country’s Constitutional Commission, the Party has yet to submit its formal submission. Reader will note that nowhere does the statement deny that changing Fiji from a secular to a Christian state is part of the SDL’s agenda. And in direct contravention of Mr Naivalu’s account, one of the Constitutional Commission’s five members, Penny Moore, says the submissions in question were unambiguously from the SDL and identified as such at the time. ( see story below)

The tone of the news release indicates a sense of mounting defensiveness over the public response to the SDL’s position position. It clearly isn’t able to issue a blanket denial that a Christian state is part of SDL policy and chooses, instead, to turn a blow torch on the messenger. As the old saying goes, the best form of defence is attack. Strange that the statement specifically targets Grubsheet when the same stories have been run by several outlets, including the Fiji Sun and the radio stations and website of Communications Fiji Limited. Our stories have clearly irked the SDL the most. The statement is also notable for making much of Grubsheet’s status as an outsider. It’s in line with the chauvinism that’s always been one of the Party’s hallmarks.  Grubsheet stands by its reporting.


SDL Party Official Media Release

The illegal regime’s apologist Graham Davis has worked himself into frenzy about what he thinks is the SDL Party’s official submission to the Yash Ghai Constitution Commission.

But that is typical of the likes of him shooting from afar pretending to be an expert on matters that are uniquely Fijian in nature.

Despite efforts by the SDL to clarify and correct the erroneous assumptions that the submissions made by individual party supporters are not necessarily those of the SDL as a party representing all the people of Fiji, Mr. Davis continues to ignore basic facts.

But that is no surprise considering that he is a well known apologist of the Bainimarama regime.

But be that as it may, let him be assured that the documents he referred too and not the party submission to the Commission.

The SDL Party submission is yet to be completed and indeed yet to be presented.

It will be ready to place before the Commission in late September or early October after consultations with our members.

So Mr. Davis will have to lick his wounds and contain his curiosity until then.

He can be rest assured that Party President Mr. Solomone Naivalu did not lead a team to present the document that has made Mr. Davis so agitated.

It is not denied that Mr. Naivalu was indeed present at the opening of the session when the document or rather the SDL supporters made their presentation.  He was there to observe how Professor Yash Ghai conducts the public submissions.  No more no less. Any responsible party President would have done the same.

Mr. Davis, an absentee commentator, is nothing but an arm chair critic whose views on political feelings in Fiji are obnoxious to the people making Fiji their home.

He is oblivious to the feelings of the people of Fiji and obviously harbors intense hatred for the SDL Party and its followers.  He equates party ideology and its membership as indigenous racist.

The matter is far from the truth.  In fact it is part of Fiji’s political mainstream. It won two elections back to back signifying that it is a PARTY THAT SHOULD BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY.

Perhaps Mr. Davis should educate himself about the party’s ideologies.

If he were well-informed he would have easily deduced that the SDL membership has always been multiracial.

In the 2006 general election the SDL fielded a multi-racial slate of candidates and won the election under the proviso of peace, multiracial harmony and prosperity.

Our Party Leader Mr. Laisenia Qarase, who has now been imprisoned, said in the 2006 manifesto that he hoped the election of that year would open the way for multiracial government by parties with shared ideals and a positive approach to nation building.

When the Bainimarama coup took place, Mr. Qarase was leading a broadly respected multi-party cabinet.

However, the SDL is motivated by the ideals and principles of Christianity but at the same time is not oblivious to the religious beliefs of other ethnic communities in Fiji.

It might be fruitful than for Mr. Davis to be balanced and objective for a change.

Mr. Solomone Naivalu
SDL Party

And now Penny Moore’s comments to Fiji Village that cast doubt on the veracity of the SDL statement. Digital recordings made of the submissions being presented also confirms that these were SDL submissions:

Constitutional Commissioner confirms SDL made submissions in Suva and Nasinu
Publish date/time: 15/08/2012 [17:13]

Constitutional Commissioner, Penelope Moore has confirmed that their records state that the SDL party made a submission in Suva and Nasinu.

Moore has confirmed that the submission clearly stated that it was from the SDL on both occasions.

Fijivillage has been informed that the SDL’s plan was to make the same summarized version of the party’s submission at different venues.

When questioned on this, Moore has said this can be done however the commission is also looking at diverse views.

Fijivillage has highlighted that senior SDL party officials had made the submission on the first day of consultations at the Suva Civic Centre.

According to our recordings of the submissions which are also recorded by the commission staff and confirmed by Commissioner Moore, the SDL officials said on the record while presenting their submission that it was being made on behalf of the SDL party. This was done in the presence of SDL President, Solomoni Naivalu.

Copies of the submissions presented were then given to Fijivillage and the commission staff by the SDL officials.

In the SDL submission to the Constitution Commission, it wants Fiji to be declared a Christian State, Christianity to be the state religion and Fijian to be the national language of the state.

SDL said in the submission that they also want the name “Fijian” to be reserved for the indigenous Fijians and all citizens to be called “Fiji Islanders”.

SDL also proposed that there should be no provisions for dual citizenship.

They propose that parliament and senate should be retained, some communal seats to be retained and the balance to be won under the one man one vote system.

On the appointment of the country’s President and Vice President, SDL has suggested that they should still be appointed by the Great Council of Chiefs.

Now SDL has released a statement saying it is not their submission and they will make their presentation in September or October.

According to a statement released by Mesake Koroi, Party President Naivalu said he was only present during the consultations to observe how Professor Yash Ghai conducts the public submissions.

SDL also said that it is a multi racial party.

However, the party said it is motivated by the ideals and principles of Christianity but at the same time is not oblivious to the religious beliefs of other ethnic communities in Fiji.

Story by: Vijay Narayan