21 Apr 2004

Former Fiji Speaker and cabinet minister pays tribute to Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara

8:33 am on 21 April 2004

One of the three commissioners who helped draw up Fiji's 1997 Constitution says the former prime minister and president Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara's death may help achieve what he could not in life.

Tomasi Vakatora, who had known Ratu Mara since 1952 and was cabinet minister and Speaker of the parliament, had told Fiji TV that Ratu Mara's ideas on multi-racialism surfaced on the path to independence.

But Mr Vakatora says his ideals of multi-racialism did not suceed because some people both in his Alliance Party and in the National Federation Party did not believe in them.

Mr Vakatora says even today some people are saying that Fiji is not ready for liberal democracy but the country has to begin with it.

He says Ratu Mara's vision for Fiji was right and sympathy at his death may just edge the country onto this path.

Meanwhile the former opposition leader and now a judge of the International Criminal Court on Rwanda, Jai Ram Reddy, says Ratu Mara's death is an irreplaceable loss and will leave Fiji the poorer.