10 Apr 2003

Fiji government defends ethnic policies

1:58 pm on 10 April 2003

The Fiji government has defended its ethnic policies against criticism of the chairman of the great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Epeli Ganilau.

Ratu Epeli this week urged the government to ensure that its policies are fair, ethical and inclusive, adding that the state has a moral obligation to treat all citizens equitably, regardless of race, colour and creed.

He called for a sensible analysis and review of current exclusive policies, which he said could exacerbate imbalances and disparities.

But the minister for information, Simione Kaitani, has told the Fiji Times the government's stand on affirmative action for indigenous Fijians is essential to return the country to normalcy because they have been neglected by past governments.

Mr Kaitani says the government has the mandate of the people and tailors its policies to suit its goals in the national development.

And a member of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Tevita Bolobolo, says while Ratu Epeli is entitled to his views, every visitor and foreigner in Fiji should understand that the native people will not sell their birthright for some kind of western-based democratic system.